by Lenore

Summary: Rescue. Finally. Spoilers for "Shattered."

Warnings: Rated NC-17. m/m

The first time he realizes his thoughts are not entirely his own he is standing on the wind-swept roof of a skyscraper, pointing a Kryptonite laser at the alien's chest, his latest effort to reduce the Man of Steel to a stubborn stain on the concrete.

He's tried before, and failed before, but he still faces the alien with a swagger. Determination runs through him like a river, a steady stream of hatred flowing through his head. The alien will die. The alien will die. Everything will be better when the alien is dead.

"Luthor." The alien spits out his name like something that tastes bad. "Aren't you tired of this game by now?"

"Why would I be when I'm just about to win?"

This close to the alien the Kryptonite ring he's wearing springs to life, pulses with energy, sending a sharp buzz up his arm. His grip tightens on the weapon. The chorus of bloodlust swells inside him, almost deafening as he starts to squeeze the trigger.

Then all the noise just abruptly stops, mid-rant, and there's silence in his head for the first time since--he can't even remember. The odd quiet sends a shiver down his back. His hand convulses on the weapon, as he gropes around for his old sense of purpose. Alien scum, he tries to think. Dangerous freak. But it sounds forced--foreign, even--though only a moment ago he would have sworn it was his raison d'etre. The alien eyes him curiously, and he can feel the heat gathering beneath his collar as if he might actually start to sweat.

Just when he thinks he can't stand the silence another moment, a cry comes from some forgotten corner of him. Clark! He blinks. It's not the voice he's used to, and he has no idea what it means.

A moment later, the usual monologue snaps back online, as seamless as ever, the interruption apparently only a temporary glitch. Alien scum, alien scum. Only it sounds different now, scratchy and farther away, less like his own thoughts, and more like something playing on a tape recorder.

Superman watches him, his expression long-suffering and superior, and it should make Lex eager to wipe that look off his face. Should. But he feels frozen to the spot, staring at the weapon in his hand as if he doesn't quite know how it got there. His sweaty palm slips on the grip. There's a taste in his mouth like rusted metal. The old, familiar message rattles on, but the new voice throbs just as loudly. Clark! Clark! A war zone in his head, and he looks around wildly, for some sign of what he should do. He can't remember the last time he was anything less than certain that Superman had to die.

When Lex doesn't move, doesn't threaten, Superman's hard glare gradually gives way to something softer, something that looks surprisingly like concern. Alien! the old voice screams at him. But it's as if his eyes have become disconnected from it, and all he can see is a man.

Everything else recedes like some half remembered dream. Maybe it even is a dream. It has that same texture, flimsy, nonsensical, gaudy with theatrics. An empty rooftop where he has no business being. The sound of his jacket flapping around him like special effects from a B-movie. The melodrama of his own internal sound track, Kill, destroy, destroy, kill. The only thing that feels real at all is the weight of worried eyes fastened on him.

"It's okay." Superman's voice is gentle, reassuring, not the way a mortal enemy is supposed to sound. He takes a step closer, but the ring on Lex's finger glows brighter, and he's forced to stop. "I can help you if you'll just let me."

Help. The word vibrates through him, and suddenly there is a riot of voices, a rush of memories.

A woman's sad brown eyes, her dark, serious face, hand cool as she cups his cheek. I'm sorry. I thought I was helping.

Other hands, not gentle, holding him down. Don't fight us. We're only trying to help you. The hot sting of needles, chemical fires burning in his blood, a rage of pain sending his brain up in smoke.

His father's voice, low and menacing, against his ear. You can't really think anyone is coming to help you?

He drops the weapon and staggers back a step.

"Wait!" Superman says.

He runs instead.


By the time he gets back to the penthouse, he has regained at least the appearance of composure. He is met at the door by Vasulka, his psychiatrist, who kisses him open-mouthed, a glaring breach of doctor-patient etiquette it has never before occurred to him to question. When he searches his memory for the last time he questioned anything, he draws a terrifying blank.

"How did it go?" she asks, arms looped around his neck, dark doe eyes blinking up at him, wide with expectation.

The tape unspools in his head, Vasulka takes care of me. Vasulka knows best. I can trust Vasulka. But he finds himself paying attention to things he's never noticed before. A discolored tooth. The way the makeup cakes unpleasantly at the corners of her mouth. That she's slightly wall-eyed.

She runs the back of her brightly lacquered nail across his cheek. "Come. Don't keep Vasulka waiting. Tell me, is the alien dead?"

"No. The weapon didn't work," he lies smoothly, surprising himself. "The alien escaped."

Her bright red mouth twists into a pout. "That does not please me. And when I'm not pleased...I can't please you." She runs her hand down his chest, over his stomach, to his crotch.

He immediately hardens at her touch, but it is as if his penis has nothing to do with him. There is something worn and hardened about her, the same look aging prostitutes have, and she smells of antiseptic. When he thinks about all the nights she has come to his room, climbed on top of him as if he were a carnival ride and given him his "reward," all he feels is revulsion.

One last squeeze, and then she pulls her hand away. "Ah, well. Maybe you will do something to please me tomorrow."

Her smile is obscene, and for the first time Lex can remember, he finds himself wondering if she is a psychiatrist at all.

"Let's not forget your medication." She pulls a prescription bottle out of her pocket, presses two pills into his palm, pours a glass of water and hands it to him. "There you are." When he hesitates, she frowns. "You're not going to be difficult, are you? You know how that displeases your father." She takes a step closer, brushes her lips against his ear. "You don't want to displease your father, do you, Lex?"

An involuntary shudder runs through him. He shakes his head.

"Good." Vasulka's teeth are sharp when she smiles, like a jackal's.

He puts the pills in his mouth, drinks the water. She takes the glass from him.

"Now go to your room and think about how you'll succeed next time."

His feet obey. Must succeed, must succeed thrums through him. But there is some part of him that feels as if it's just woken up, racing with questions. Why does his doctor live with him? Why is she sending him to bed like he's a three-year-old who's misbehaved, and more importantly, why is he letting her?

What kind of name is Vasulka anyway?

In the bathroom, he spits out the pills and flushes them down the toilet. Stares into the mirror. He presses his fingers against his cheek. The image in the mirror does the same. And he feels it, everything, pressure on his face, the sensation of his own skin beneath his fingers. He blinks. He's real. A real person. He's not sure why this comes as a surprise, but it does.

He pads into the bedroom. It's not really late, but he's tired. He strips out of his clothes, climbs into bed. Closes his eyes, and his brain takes off. There is a buzz of energy all through his body, and it seems to light up his mind like a stage. He can't recall the last time he dreamed. His head has been dark for as long as he can remember. This realization is disconcerting, but so are all the pictures springing to life. A cornfield. Blue sky. Water closing over his head. Swaying green leaves. Yellow house. Stone castle. And the one that compels him the most, a boy he doesn't remember, his smile flashing like the brightest thing Lex will ever see.

That stray word from the rooftop, Clark!, pulses through him like a battle cry, demanding action. If only he understood what it meant, maybe he could do something about it.


The next morning, Vasulka is sitting at the table when he comes to breakfast. There is a place set for him, a glass of orange juice, cup of coffee, two blue pills laid out on the white plate. He pops them into his mouth mechanically, the way he did before he woke up, only now he carefully tucks them into his cheek, pretends to swallow.

Vasulka beams at him. "Very good." She holds out a platter of croissants.

He shakes his head. "I have work to do."

She looks even more pleased. "They'll be waiting for you at Cadmus."

He nods, gets up. When she turns her head for a moment, he carefully palms the pills. She always kisses him goodbye. At the door, she takes his face in her hands and explores his mouth as thoroughly as if she were giving him a medical exam. It takes discipline not to flinch, but he lets her do her job, lets her convince herself that he's really taken her poison.

"If you succeed today, I'll be here to reward you." She smiles, and he's barely able to suppress a shiver of disgust.

He waits until he gets to Cadmus to dispose of the pills, in the dirt of a potted palm in the lobby, as he pretends to tie his shoe. He rides the elevators three levels down, swipes his card key, types in the code, stands still as the red beam scans his retina. The door to the secret lab opens with an ominous groan of metal.

Inside, there are people in white coats working quietly at long tables. He's never noticed before the sense of strain that hangs over the room, but it's palpable today. A woman with graying dark hair frowns as she stares into a microscope, her mouth a thin, worried line. A man several tables over looks up from his beakers, meets Lex's eyes and quickly goes back to work, with renewed industry.

A balding man with wire-rimmed glasses beckons to him. "So, um--" There's a fine sheen of perspiration on his forehead, dark stains beneath his arms. His hair sticks out in all directions, and he's glassy-eyed, as if it's been too long since he slept. "Can you tell me anything about what went wrong yesterday? Did the weapon fail to deploy altogether? Or was it simply ineffective?"

Lex keeps his face blank. "It didn't work." It seems safest to be vague.

The man lets out his breath. "O-kay. I guess I'll have to go with my gut." He hands Lex another weapon, seemingly identical to the one from the day before. "I've made some adjustments to the power source and the beam distribution and--" He swallows hard. "Anyway, I don't see why it shouldn't work this time. Just be careful with it. Please." His eyes shift away, not just nervous, but terrified. "Your father is getting impatient. He wants results."

Lex experiences the first real spark of anger he can remember in a long time, so very different from the cold, impersonal hatred he was convinced he felt for Superman. Leave it to his father to cast him in the role of guinea pig, and if one more person mentions how important it is to please the old bastard, he's going to have to smash something.

He takes the weapon and walks away without a word.

"Hey, you do have some plan for getting the alien's attention, right?" the researcher calls after him, his voice a high-pitched squeak.

Lex doesn't turn around.

His plan, if you can call it that, is simply to go back to where the break first started, that same rooftop high above Metropolis, and wait for something to happen. He stands there in the strong wind, and the pictures from the night before come rushing back, only now he's awake and he doesn't have the luxury of calling them dreams. He waits, no real idea what he's doing. The images in his head take on a life of their own, and for a moment, when Superman lands, he's not even sure it's real.

"Luthor. Back for more?"

Alien... The old recording tries feebly to start up again. Scum... But it stutters like a scratched record until it finally just dies altogether.

Superman narrows his eyes. "If this is some kind of trick--"

Lex doesn't move, can't speak. The sky and the water and the green, green fields, and his head starts to swim. He's not sure anymore whether these are images in his mind or actual things in the world. That important dividing line between what's real and what's not has given way, and it's all blurred together. He thinks he might be insane, because he can feel that water closing over his head, almost reach out and touch the yellow house, the stone castle. The boy's beautiful smile shines, and there's the deafening cry of "Clark!" and the alien's forehead wrinkles in concern. And it all merges together, the way a picture does as it comes into focus, the word and the smile and the alien. And he can finally see. The boy who was his friend and the alien who is that boy. Who is...

"Clark?" he says, unsurely.

The alien's--Clark's--eyes go wide, and then he takes a hesitant step toward him. "What did you say?"

There's a loud rushing sound in his ears, and it's suddenly too crowded in his head. Some invisible barricade has collapsed, and he's swamped by pictures, smells, sounds, fragments of the past, sheer pandemonium. He claps his hands over his ears, but the noise is inside. "Make it stop! Please!"

His knees start to buckle, and he expects to fall, but strong arms go around his waist. He can feel Clark scrabbling at his hand, pulling the ring off, hurling it away.

He wants to ask for help, but his mouth doesn't trust that word. He says instead, "Clark." And thinks maybe it means the same thing.

Clark tightens his hold on him. "I've got you." Light brush of lips against his temple. "Lex."

It sounds surprisingly like a promise.


When he wakes up on a cold metal table, he panics. Strong hands try to still him, and he struggles harder.

The hold on him instantly eases. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to-- But you don't have to be afraid. Nobody's going to hurt you here. I swear."

Gentle voice, the alien's, but not exactly. Clark, he remembers, and stops fighting, although he's still coiled, ready, if he needs to be. He squints and manages to focus his eyes. He looks around, and the images of other rooms collide behind his eyes, bad rooms where bad things happened to him. This place is similar, but not anywhere he's been before, and he relaxes, just a little.

There is a soft whirring sound, and a robotic arm swings out, a syringe held in its metallic grip.

He scrambles to the far side of the table. "No! Clark!"

"It's okay." Gentle fingers stroke over his forehead. "This is going to help."

That word again, and he meets Clark's eyes, trying to see something, anything, that will make him think this is different.

Clark's expression is solemn. "I promise." He laces his fingers through Lex's.

Another robotic arm swipes alcohol over his skin. He doesn't fight. There's a sharp stick, and then his eyes feel heavy. The room starts to go black, and he distantly thinks that maybe there really will be help this time. Nobody else who's stuck a needle in his arm has ever bothered to hold his hand.


There is a woman. Or women. The face keeps changing, although they all resemble one another, sometimes light-eyed, sometimes dark, always with long, brown hair. The only one he recognizes with certainty is Vasulka, but they all seem familiar. They call to him with sweet, siren voices. He's so thirsty, and they hold out a glass of what looks like wine, tempting him. But when he draws close, they throw it in his face, light a match and toss it at him with casual hatred, sending him up in flames.

"No!" he tries to scream, but the heat parches his mouth and nothing comes out.

"Ssssh. It's okay. You're all right," says a distant voice.

He jolts awake. Clark bends over him, looking worried. Just a dream, he realizes, and yet he's still burning up. He's lying beneath a mound of blankets, and he tries to throw them off.

Clark smoothes them back down. "I know you're hot. The AI came up with an antidote for the drugs they were using on you, but everything has to work its way through your system. The AI says we should keep you warm and hydrated, so you can sweat it out." He presses a cup to Lex's lips. "Here. Have some."

Lex's throat works greedily, and he starts to choke. Clark pulls the cup away, rubs his back until he stops coughing.

"Please." He's so thirsty.

Clark gives him the cup again, but says, "Take it slow, okay?"

He sips more carefully, until it's all gone. Clark fills the cup from a pitcher sitting on the bedside table. "You can have all you want. It'll be right here."

Lex drinks a little more, but sleep is coming on fast. His eyelids droop. Clark strokes a hand gently over his head, like a blessing.

"Everything's going to be all right now."


He dreams that he's armless and can't move. The dark woman with the sad eyes says, It wasn't supposed to be this way. His father is rocking his brother Julian, hand over his mouth, telling him that Lex didn't mean to do it. Someone is singing him a lullaby. Hush little baby... His father's voice rasps malevolently against his ear, You won't be able to say a word. The woman reaches out to him, gives him his arms back, her hand clutching his, saying, Come on, there's not much time. His father pops up from the floor, and then the woman is spiraling away and he can't reach her.

He thrashes fretfully in his sleep, and the scene shifts. There's music like an old-fashioned carnival, and he seems to be in a shooting gallery. Or rather, he seems to be the shooting gallery, lined up with other people dressed as targets. Most of them he doesn't recognize, but the woman with the sad eyes is there and so is his mother, Julian, a gray-haired couple he vaguely recognizes as his grandparents.

His father stands on the other side of the counter, a toy rifle in his hands. He lifts it to his shoulder, puts his eye to the sight and fires. One by one, the people in the line fall, but they don't get back up and Lex starts to realize this isn't a game.

"No!" he screams, starts to struggle, but he can't move.

His father only smiles and keeps shooting. His grandparents. Julian. Getting closer and closer to him. Lex looks around wildly, desperate for someone to help him. He notices, for the first time, Clark hovering in the background, watching him sadly.

"Help me!"

But Clark doesn't move.


"I'm not human, remember?" And he disappears.

His father smiles more smugly. "Don't you know I always win?" He aims the rifle at Lex.

Lex wakes up remembering glowing green rosary beads and a car bearing down on him and a miracle that turned out to be just another Judas kiss. He sits up. Clark, slumped in the chair beside him, looks startled by his sudden agitation.

"You let them take me." It makes his throat hurt to say it.

Clark goes instantly pale, and that's all the confirmation he needs.

"Why?" His voice shakes, his hands shake.

Clark's eyes shine with guilt and what may be grief. "I'm sorry," he says, voice scraped raw.

Lex glares, his chest constricting with the familiar rage of betrayal. "Did you even try to get me back? Did you even want to save me?"

Clark looks helpless and says again, "I'm sorry, Lex."

Lex stares at him. The waste of years, and that's all he can say? No explanation, no consolation, just...sorry? He turns on his side, giving Clark his back, shoulders stiff with fury, staring holes of fire at the wall. He can feel Clark hovering by the side of the bed, but Lex doesn't speak and eventually he goes away.

He thinks he is too angry to sleep, but underestimates how weakened his body is. He drifts off, and other dreams slip over him, almost like a rebuke. Sawdust-strewn floor, center ring at the circus. A larger-than-life-size picture of Clark glows blue in the background. Acrobats do somersaults over the twisted wreckage of a car. One of the women with dark hair balances on a wire high above them, a vial of blood in her hand. A man with a hole in his chest videotapes the action. Story of the century. A blue spotlight moves along the floor and finally stops on a cage. Inside is Clark, pressed against the bars. You're not even human, the invisible audience jeers at him.

Lex opens his eyes, the stricken expression on Clark's face still shimmering on his retinas. He's not sure it makes it better, exactly, that Clark left him because he was afraid, but it is different than thinking he simply didn't care enough to stay.

He decides to get up, go look for him, but this proves more of an undertaking than he expects. All his strength seems to have turned to dead weight. His legs shake under the strain of keeping him upright. He takes his first unsteady step, grasping onto the wall for support. His second step is a little easier, and by the time he gets to the door, he's carrying himself almost as if he hasn't spent the last seven years in a walking coma.

He goes down the hall, makes one turn, then another, letting instinct guide him and eventually comes upon Clark. He's standing in front of an enormous window, staring off into space. Outside, everything is white and frozen and deadly looking.

Lex joins him. "Interesting view."

Clark doesn't look at him. "Yeah."

"Where are we?"

"The Arctic. Kind of my hideout."

He stares out over the snow, and pictures seem to move across it like a movie screen. Clark pulling him to safety from a dangling catwalk. Breathing life back into his body. Looking away when he asks questions. Smiling while his eyes lie. Clark there when he needs him, but then not. Choosing him, only not quite enough.

He'll never have the luxury of feeling just one way about anything that's happened, he understands that now, but he does get to choose what happens next.

He lets out his breath. "I can't hate everyone." He looks at Clark. "I don't want to hate you."

Clark meets his eyes, and there's such a sweet, sweet painful mix of surprise and yearning and regret in his face that Lex is suddenly moving toward him, body on body, mouth to mouth. He kisses Clark so long and hard the inside of his head starts to burn from the lack of air. His hands scrabble at Clark's shoulders, trying to find purchase, like an adventurer clinging for life to the side of a mountain. Lex knows how it feels to freefall, and he doesn't ever want to do that again. Clark, even imperfect, gives him something to hold on to.

"Lex. Lex, wait." Clark's hands close on his shoulders, but Lex knows he's too worried about being gentle to really make him stop.

"No." He pulls frantically at Clark's clothes,

"At least--"

"No. You owe me, and I want this."

There's a long pause, and then Clark relents, a pawn of his own guilt. His arms close around Lex, and everything blurs. They end up in the bedroom, on the bed. Clark lies beside him, watching, but he doesn't move. This is for Lex, and he's not going to take advantage. And that suits Lex just fine. It's been too long since he was the one making the decisions.

He rolls on top of Clark and kisses him, sharp bites to his lips, the slick thrust of tongue. Clark strokes a reassuring hand over his head and lets him, and maybe if things were different that would not be enough. But things are the way they are.

"Do you have stuff?" he asks.

Clark nods toward the bedside table. Lex opens the drawer, finds a bottle of lube. It occurs to him to wonder why Clark has this here, but he doesn't ask. He concentrates, instead, on getting out of his clothes, getting Clark naked. He stretches over him, so they touch everywhere, chest to chest, thigh to thigh, cock to cock, the glorious kiss of skin. Lex takes his mouth, and Clark is not such a Boy Scout that he can deny himself forever. He starts to kiss back, to touch in return, rocking his body against Lex's, and it feels so intensely good, in a way he's even forgotten that things could be good.

But he doesn't get hard.

He closes his hand around Clark's erection and pumps, once, twice, little flick of his wrist, as he works the head. Clark whimpers, and his gaze is locked onto Lex, eyes glittering. Triumph surges through Lex, vivid and personal, and he's forgotten this, too. The ability to want something and get it and enjoy it. For years, there has only been what his father wanted, what he feared or didn't understand, the false urgency leading him in meaningless, hate-filled circles. But now his sense of agency is back, sharp and sweet. This has always been a heady thing for him, to be able to act, exert his will, the biggest turn on of them all.

He still doesn't get hard.

"Let me--" Clark reaches for him.

Lex bats his hand away. "No." He knows it won't help. His sexual responses have been hijacked, just like the rest of him.

Clark's eyes fill with concern. "We don't have to--"

"Yes, we do! I have to."

He viciously squeezes the bottle, and thick liquid squirts all over his hand, dripping onto the sheets. He reaches behind himself and shoves his fingers inside, not carefully. It's not even about the pretense of pleasure anymore. It's just about proving he can.

He opens himself as much as his patience will allow and throws his leg over Clark's hips. Despite his earlier reluctance, Clark is breathing heavily now, cock curved toward his belly, red and swollen with blood. Lex presses back onto him and gasps in pain.

Clark's hands tighten on thighs. "Don't. Not like this."

Lex pays no attention. He wants to and he can and he will. It doesn't matter that he's still soft. If he thought about Vasulka, he could probably get an erection, but he's not going to do that.

"You'll hurt yourself," Clark warns.

And he's right. It does hurt, burning, wrenching pain. It makes his eyes water. The water runs down his cheeks. But it's real and it's honest and he's making it happen. That's more than he can say about anything for the past seven years. So he doesn't stop.

Clark stares up at him, his face twisted. "Lex!" As if his own pleasure is hurting him, and Lex gets a vicious sense of accomplishment out of that.

He shoves his ass down hard. "Come on! Come on!"

And Clark does, eyes fluttering closed, mouth a tight line. No release for Lex, but there is a certain satisfaction in being able to make Clark do what he wants. He's drained now, his strength gone, and Clark pulls him down onto his chest, wraps his arms around him, brushes tender kisses over his head.

"Are you okay?" he asks, softly.

Lex nods, although he doesn't honestly know the answer to that. Doesn't know if he ever really will be okay again. But at least he hurts like a real person, and that's something.

He closes his eyes, and Clark doesn't make him move, just rubs his hand in comforting circles over his back.

He is almost asleep when he hears Clark say, "I know it doesn't make it better, but I'll regret that day for the rest of my life."


Lex gradually gets his strength back, and Clark comes and goes more often, always with a look of apology, heading off to make something right out in the world. Lex puts himself to work on such time-consuming tasks as figuring out what he'd like for lunch and picking out clothes to wear. The personal will is a muscle, and his hasn't been exercised in quite some time.

He sleeps alone. They've barely touched since-- he doesn't even know what to call that sex. Reunion? Revenge? Therapy? When Clark is away, Lex uses the computer to fill in his still-spotty memory. He pours over old newspaper stories. Dr. Claire Foster dies in car crash, cause remains mysterious. LexCorp absorbed by LuthorCorp in uncontested takeover, complete with family photo, his father smiling, his own expression blank, erased.

As he reads, more parts of the past start to resurface. A boy standing under a cluster of trees in the rain, calling to him. You have to come with me! His father's hand on his shoulder, tightening its grip. A blue arm like steel wrapped around his waist as he struggles to get away. This is for your own good, I swear! The cold hatred icing him over, freezing out his will, his memory. The screaming front-page headline, Superman accused of attempted kidnapping of Luthor heir.

It doesn't really change anything, but he does feel different knowing that Clark tried, that he was worth saving.

He spends the rest of his time using the AI to hack into LuthorCorp systems, gathering information, designing elegant plans for retribution. His father has not felt the need to hide anything from him these past seven years, and Lex knows where to find what he needs, all the most damning evidence. It doesn't matter that his passwords have been disabled since his disappearance; even state-of-the-art security is no match for the stealth of alien technology. He likes to imagine the look on his father's face when he sees his zombified son, awake again, come to serve him the destruction he's earned.

There's no real sense of night and day here, the sky almost perennially dark, and he's been living outside of time for so long anyway. He works until he's tired and then he goes to the bedroom to sleep without ever bothering to consult a clock. He takes off his clothes, lies down, closes his eyes, and there's yet another picture in his head. A package mysteriously arrived on his desk, inside a ring with a bright green stone. He assumed it was from his father and put in on dutifully. It's only now that he realizes the truth. Clark didn't just try to save him. That thought wraps around him as warmly as a blanket, and he sleeps.

When he wakes, the room is still in shadows, and he senses someone's presence. Looks and finds Clark hovering in the doorway.

"Don't you ever sleep?"

"Not very often."

Lex scoots over, makes room. Clark hesitates, but he does finally slide in next to him. He lies flat on his back, staring at the ceiling, careful not to touch him.

"How did you get the ring to me?"

He feels the surprised hitch in Clark's breath. "There were still people at LuthorCorp loyal to you. People who couldn't stand to see what your father was doing to you."

"Why Kryptonite?"

"It accelerated your body's ability to repair itself before. I hoped it would again."

He turns on his side toward Clark. "So you never gave up on me."

Clark looks at him softly. "I wanted you back too much to give up."

There's something else he remembers, too. "I kissed you that day in the barn, when I was hiding from my father."


"I wanted to be with you but--"

"I said we should wait until your head was clear and you really knew what you wanted."

Their eyes meet sadly. Neither of them could have realized how long it would take.

Lex cups Clark's cheek in his hand, thumb stroking over soft skin. "I know what I want now."

The first tentative touch of their lips sends an electric spark all through Lex lighting up places in him that have been dark and empty for years. He sighs and opens his mouth and kisses more deeply, need thrumming through him, sharp and urgent and real. This time, Clark offers no protest, makes no pretense of holding back. He uses his speed to undress, and it seems Lex is not the only one who knows what he wants. Clark moves over him hungrily, touching everywhere, pressing his face into the curve of Lex's neck, stringing kisses over his belly, exploring him with shaking fingers.

This is not like the other time. Now Lex's body belongs to him, and he's hard and aching and every touch sends a hot shot of ecstasy arcing through him. Because he's real, made of flesh and nerve and a will that's all his own. When he comes, he's sobbing, Thank God.

Afterwards, they lay sticky and tangled together, and Lex never wants to move. It seems safe here, apart. Back in the world, there will be questions to answer, battles to wage, and he wants to hold on to this odd interlude of peace for as long as it can last.

Clark strokes a tender hand over his head, and perhaps he's able to feel the shapes of Lex's thoughts because he whispers, "No matter what, I'll never leave you again. I promise."

Lex holds on to him and closes his eyes. All the people who have abandoned him, and Clark is the only who ever came back to get him. It doesn't make everything better, but it does make a difference.

He'll have to trust that it's enough.


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