Season 3, sometime after "Phoenix"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read Chapter 6 here.
Read the story from the beginning here.
The elevator's door slid open noiselessly, and Lex stepped out into the foyer of his penthouse. Clark followed him, still feeling embarrassed, off-balance, and anxious. Lex hadn't said anything else to him, and Clark was worried he'd made Lex mad somehow. The last thing he'd ever wanted to do was screw up their friendship.
"Lex..." he began hesitantly.
Lex stalked into the penthouse and flipped on the lights. He didn't look back over his shoulder. "Go to bed, Clark."
Clark paused uncertainly. He wanted to follow Lex across the room, to turn him around and confront him, but he didn't quite dare. "You're mad."
"Of course I'm not mad. You said you were tired. Go to bed."
Clark shifted his weight from one foot to the other. His shirt was gaping open, and he still felt exposed and vulnerable... but he couldn't just back off. Something was obviously bothering Lex in a big way.
"Lex," he said, hesitantly. "What did I do wrong?"
Lex's head jerked around, and he glared at Clark. "Just get to bed," he said through his teeth. "I'll drive you home first thing tomorrow morning."
"Tomorrow?" Clark's mouth fell open. "But I thought-- you said--"
"Forget what I said." Lex turned and stalked away, toward the bar in the living room. "Just forget everything I said. I made a mistake, Clark. You should be at home with your parents."
Clark stood there, staring blankly, utterly bewildered. Obviously he'd screwed up somehow. But he couldn't begin to guess how. The encounter in the elevator hadn't been his idea, after all. Lex had grabbed him by the tie and yanked his shirt open. He didn't quite understand why Lex seemed to be blaming him.
"Lex..." He followed the older man and spoke plaintively. "I don't want to go home."
"Quit arguing with me." Lex had poured himself a glass of Scotch, and he took a deep swig of it. "Just go to bed, Clark."
"Can you just tell me what I did to piss you off? Please?"
Clark knew he sounded desperate, but he didn't care. Somehow he'd messed up his friendship with Lex, and that was the one thing he'd never wanted to do. He would gladly have erased those moments in the elevator, ecstatic though they'd been, if it meant keeping his friendship with Lex intact.
"You didn't do anything," Lex answered, taking another swallow of the amber liquid.
"Then why are you acting like you found me dropping a dead body into the bay?"
He saw Lex's mouth twitch. The other man took another long sip of the Scotch, then turned to face him.
"Look, Clark," he said, more gently, "I promised your parents I'd look out for you. I really don't think they'd be happy about what just happened."
Clark blinked. For the first time, it occurred to him that maybe Lex was mad at himself, not at Clark. It sounded almost like he was feeling guilty. Clark could kind of understand that. He was just seventeen, after all, and he knew as well as Lex did that his parents would not be pleased about him getting intimately involved with a guy, particularly an older one.
"Okay," he answered, nodding. "You might be right. But it's not like we planned that. It just sort of… happened."
Lex looked at him for a long moment, then, abruptly, spun and flung the crystal tumbler into a wall. It shattered, and Clark jolted, startled as much by Lex's sudden display of temper as by the noise.
"Of course I planned it!" Lex's voice wasn't calm and quiet any more. Suddenly it was an angry roar. "How naive are you, Clark? Did you really think I bought your parents' farm for them without any ulterior motives whatsoever?"
"But..." Clark gaped at his friend, confused. "When you bought the farm... you saved us, Lex."
"That makes my motives sound very noble, doesn't it?" There was an unmistakable note of self-loathing in Lex's voice. "Too bad I've never been noble in my life. No, Clark. I knew if I purchased the farm, your parents would let me get away with a lot more where you were concerned."
"No, Lex. You didn't... you wouldn't..."
"Oh, I definitely would. I bought your parents off, Clark. They knew it as well as I did. But I also knew they wouldn't be able to say no. They love that farm too damn much."
Clark stared at him. "So you're saying..."
"I'm saying I found their weakness, and I exploited it. Just like I always do. They never would have let you come to Metropolis with me for a weekend if they hadn't felt like they owed me a debt."
Clark shook his head, slowly but with certainty. "I don't believe you, Lex. You saved the farm because you wanted to help us out."
"Don't be more naive than you have to be, Clark. I was just manipulating your parents. I manipulate everyone, damn it. No matter how decent and upstanding and good people are... I find a way to corrupt them eventually."
Clark stared at him. Anger was beginning to simmer in his chest, and he wasn't sure if it was because Lex had manipulated him and his parents... or because Lex didn't seem to want him any longer.
Maybe, he thought, it was both.
"So why send me home?" he challenged. "If you went to all that trouble to get me here, why not take advantage of the situation?"
Lex stared at him a long moment. Some of the rage drained out of his eyes.
"Because..." He swallowed, and his voice dropped to a whisper. "The truth is... that's not the person I want to be, Clark."
Clark heard the unmistakable regret in his voice, and his moment of anger faded. He stared at his friend, baffled. He'd always had a hard time understanding what motivated Lex, what drove him. He and Lex simply didn't look at the world the same way.
"Lex," he said at last, very softly. "Why now? I mean, you've known me for over two years. Why did you decide you want me now?"
"I..." Lex closed his eyes, and spoke in a hoarse whisper. "I was alone on that island for three months,Clark. I didn't have anyone to keep me company except my own darkness. I've never been so alone in my life. And when I came home... I just didn't want to be alone any more."
Clark studied him for a long moment. He'd never seen Lex look so vulnerable, never heard such a fragile note in his voice. But he could understand why Lex felt that way. Suddenly his mind flashed back to the memory of Lex's memorial service, and he remembered seeing the obelisk with Lex's name on it, remembered his own grief and emptiness at the loss of his friend.
He knew what it was like to be alone and lonely.
God, he knew.
Very slowly, he walked over to Lex. Lex watched him warily, but didn't back away.
Clark put his hands on Lex's cheeks, cradling his face, then tilted his face up and lightly brushed a kiss over his mouth. He pulled back, just an inch or two, and stared into Lex's eyes.
"You're not alone now," he said softly.
Read Chapter 8 here.