Learning To Breathe - Part I

For the first time in years, Clark feels totally out of place standing in a library. Usually they're great places; they smell like book dust and sunlight. Clark's spent hours in libraries, because for a foot in the door of the Daily Planet, you have to start in the microfiche room. But this place... this is different. Blinding daylight pours through the huge window, and all books are old enough to be antiques, but their scents are dimmed away by the building's air filtration system. The last time Clark felt this uncomfortable in a library, he was standing in a mansion in Smallville, not trusting his own voice to keep his confidence.

But then, that's fitting. This is about how Clark remembers Lex's office, back home.

Clark's been waiting twenty minutes now. You'd figure that after ten years Lex would quit making power plays, but being as how Clark's known all about those power plays for ten years and keeps walking into them, he can't exactly complain. He knew what he was in for when he picked up the phone a week ago.

I need money, he'd said. They're going to take the farm; I can't pay the mortgage on the salary they pay a cub reporter and Mom'll kill me if I try to put anything in hock again. I'm offering... anything. Anything you want. I'll take a sick day; I can tell them I ate shrimp.

He'd blurted it all out before Lex had a chance to say anything, and the silence stretched out until Clark's heart was hammering in his chest, his breath catching. Finally, Lex's voice had come smoothly over the line, so calm: Anything I want, he'd said. For one full day.

Clark worried his lip. That's right.

Deal. Come to the penthouse at eight in the morning, Saturday. Use the front door, and your real name.

Clark had obeyed, and now he feels the dawn warming his face through Lex's window. He fights down the urge to spin the kinetic steel helix sitting on the desk, because it's his nerves getting the better of him. He needs to calm down. What's the worst that can happen? It's not like Lex can force him into anything, and Clark's ten times more comfortable when Lex's attention is focused on him, instead of nuclear physics or Metropolis's sewer system or whatever it is this week.

When Lex arrives (after another ten minutes, but hey, it's his day) there is a storm of sound that comes with him. A man and a woman trail along behind him and he has a cell phone to his ear, and Clark watches with interest to see if he can figure out how they know which order is intended for whom. They scramble in what looks like an organized fashion, and Clark narrows his eyes at them, but nothing resolves itself so he gives up and sits back in his chair.

"I'm still waiting, doctor. A week should be more than sufficient for what we agreed on. I regret paying your salary already." Lex tosses the phone at the guy with the spiky blond hair, who passes him a black plastic bag.

"That should be it," says Blondie. "You're all set."

The woman scowls grimly. "Please reconsider, sir. It's my responsibility to-"

"Mercy, make sure to ride that prokaryotics lab. I want a full simulation by noon tomorrow. And now you're cutting into my time."

Clark can see Mercy's teeth gritting, the muscle jump in her cheek. "Sir."

The office is quiet once they've gone. Lex's eyes are steady, guarded, and Clark breathes carefully and lets himself be looked at. It's Lex's day, he coaches himself. He's paying for it. Of all the things he could be doing right now under the terms of this deal, this is pretty mild.

"I suppose," Lex says quietly. It should have something after it, Clark thinks, but Lex doesn't finish it.

Clark licks his lips and stares at the desk toy. It seems safest.

Lex loosens his tie. It's possible he's been wearing it all night; the suit looks a bit rumpled, though it has to have cost the approximate gross national product of Zimbabwe. He puts the plastic bag down beside his feet, and Clark's tempted to x-ray it, but he figures that if Lex wanted him to know what was in it, he'd dump it out on the desk. And if he wants it to be a surprise, well... it's his day.

"Strip," Lex says in that same quiet, reasonable voice. "Down to the skin. Lie down on the couch when you're done."

Clark feels his breath catch in his throat immediately. He'd have to be seriously impaired not to have seen this coming, but he didn't think it'd be so... fast. He'd pictured some talking first, maybe some stinging remarks about if his mother knew, that kind of thing. He stands up and takes the hem of his t-shirt in his hands, worrying at the fabric for a second before tugging it up his chest in small increments. That's how the guy at the strip club did it; at least how Clark remembers from the one time he was there. He knows he should be looking into Lex's eyes, too, but he can't seem to make himself, and Lex didn't ask.

"Stop," Lex says, and Clark can hear the hint of a smile. "It's not that I don't appreciate the effort, Clark, but you can just take your clothes off. I don't need a show."

He's startled into looking, then. The smile he heard is nowhere in evidence on Lex's face, and Clark looks away again before he can get caught staring, caught thinking. He tugs his shirt up over his head and lays it on the chair like he's at home. There is no further commentary from the peanut gallery, so he slides out of his shoes, his hands busy with belt and buttons. He shucks it all down at once, before he can change his mind.

Clark doesn't know what to do with his hands when he's naked. Blessedly, there's a couch to go to. It's leather, so Clark picks up a throw blanket and lays it on the cushions. It's probably a designer blanket, just as expensive as whatever the couch is made out of (elephant, rhino, Thanagarian war pig), but at least it can be picked up and carried along with him.

If that should prove necessary.

Lex is at the bar, and when he turns toward Clark, he's got a blue bottle in his hands. Clark blinks to see it - it's been a long time. He watches Lex find an armchair opposite the couch and slide down into it, twist the cap off the bottle and touch it to his lips. "Lie down," he says, a gentle reminder.

"Oh. Right." The throw is woven in just such a way; lines of texture criss-cross Clark's skin, pressing into his back and ass. But he settles as comfortably as he can and puts an arm behind his head so that he can see Lex's face if he wants to. Right now, he's pretty much staring at the Rothko on the wall.

"Tell me what you think about," Lex says. He sounds so patient, so calm.

Clark doesn't pretend to misunderstand. "You mean when I'm, uh."

"Yes." There's that hint of a smile in his voice again.

"Um. Angelina Jolie?"

Lex laughs, soft and dangerous as a viper. "You and half the known world. Try again."

Clark smiles. "Brad Pitt?"

"What about Lois?" Lex counters.

The coughing fit that results from Clark trying to breathe his own tongue is amusing to Lex, at least. "No," Clark blurts. "She's my partner. And kind of inconsiderate."


"She makes me bring her coffee," Clark shrugs. "And she only remembers to pay me half the time."

Lex sips from his water and Clark carefully does not look at him. "Still," Lex murmurs. "You're saying she never got face time?"

Clark flushes, head to toe. He's been trying like mad to hold it back, but it's like trying to not have black hair. "Maybe once or twice," he admits, his face burning.

"Tell me," Lex says, settling back against the chair's cushion. "Tell me about that one."

Clark squirms under that cool blue gaze, fighting the urge to cover up. "There's not much to say, Lex. Make a fist, picture a pretty girl, repeat." He demonstrates on the air, his fingers curled loose in suggestion. "You want me to...?"

Lex makes a cautious sound. "Not yet. There has to be more to your fantasy life than that. What about your... other friends?" He draws a lazy circle in the air with one manicured fingertip.

"What, you mean, like... um. Co-workers?" The bright colors of the Justice League line up behind his eyes.

"I'm not recording," Lex says, strychnine lacing his tone.

Clark shrugs and sidesteps the offense with a partial truth. "Sometimes. Some of them."


"Well, I... can I use initials?"


"Well, W, for sure."

Lex sighs. "Wally West or Wonder Woman?"

"You realize I officially have to tell you I have no idea what you're talking about."

Lex scowls. "Fine. Unrelated to anyone you may or may not spend time with or have met in person, if there even is such a person, you can now describe to me in detail any fantasies you have about the Batman. Or you can get out."

Clark coughs again. He has to close his eyes; he can feel the heat on the back of his eyelids. "Um."

"Feel free to gather your thoughts," says that smooth, polished voice, and Clark hears Lex relax again.

His instincts are still perfect, Clark thinks despairingly. He would have to pick Bruce. Clark licks his lips and tries to relax, shifts his hips and shoulders against the press of the throw underneath him. He pictures the shadows that cling to cape and cowl, the artificial rasp of Bruce's voice and the real vibrato behind it. Hours clocked fighting at his side, throwing the bad guys into his fist; sooner or later Clark's interest in the same sex would have to assert itself because Bruce is nothing if not a fine god damn specimen of a man and his five second crush on Ollie flew right out the window when he met the Dark Knight.

"I like him," Clark confesses, picking words out of his psyche that are safe to say. "He's not really as bitchy as they say he is."

Lex makes a smug sound against the back of his teeth. "Cursing. What would the press say?"

Clark ignores that, his eyes still firmly closed. It's helpful not to be able to see. "I always thought he'd be really intense in bed, but now I think it might be the only time he'd relax. He might have fun with it, like it's supposed to be. He's got a wicked sense of humor."

"Mm. What would he do to you? Imagine it."

"I think he likes to kiss," Clark says, shifting a little on the couch to get more comfortable. He seems like the kind of person who'd kiss you for hours, y'know? Whether it's your mouth or your... y'know, wherever else." Lex hums appreciatively, and Clark takes that to mean he should go on. The pictures are fading through his mind, familiar edges worn soft by his memory. "I don't know if he likes guys, but if he does I bet he's a top. He's a huge control freak, but I'm sure he'd never hurt me. I think if he wanted to, y'know, drive, I'd let him. He's really good, like, good to look at. And I know I can trust him."

"Clark," Lex murmurs, his voice like old silk, tender and rough. "You're hard."

Surprised, Clark opens his eyes and peers down his belly. Sure enough.

His hand is resting on his hip, and he wants to move it, but he knows he's supposed to ask first. That much he can sense. Clark bristles a little on the inside; he's the most powerful being on this planet, and here he is asking permission to touch his own cock just because Lex Luthor gets off on it.

He needs to get some of his own back, so he looks over at Lex, meets those dark, focused eyes, and bites his bottom lip. "Now?" he asks, and lets his voice plead a little.

There's that jump of muscle in Lex's is cheek, the same one Mercy made earlier, so righteously pissed off.

Clark blushes at being caught playing games; should have known better. He lets his eyes fall back to the painting on the wall and sighs. "Sorry."

"Don't let it happen again," Lex says softly, and sips his water. "Now put two of your fingers in your mouth and suck them like it'll buy your next meal."

That's a little too much for a boy from small town Kansas. Clark turns his head to look at Lex incredulously. "Could you repeat that?"

Lex smiles cheerily. "Breakfast actually is riding on this, just so you know."

His cheeks flame instantly. Nobody can make him do that like Lex can, and there's nothing new about that. Clark lifts up his left hand and brings it to his face, licks his lips.

Over in his armchair, Lex shifts. Clark doesn't look to see why, because he's pretty sure he'd have to do something drastic if anything was happening over there that involved nakedness. All he can do is tuck the tips of his fingers into his mouth and let his tongue wet them down, let his cheeks hollow out, let his eyes close. It's soothing to lose himself in that motion, and he uses his mouth to play around for a bit before he remembers that he's supposed to get breakfast out of this. He considers for a half second what would be best from Lex's point of view, and as soon as the thought occurs to start fucking his mouth with his fingers, he's doing it - open wider, tilt head back, push in as far as possible.

Lex watches that for maybe five seconds before making a sound, something deep and grudging and gritted. "That's enough," he says. "Stop."

Clark pulls his fingers out of his mouth and rests them on his hip again, as close to his cock as he dares. "Do I get the eggs benny?" he asks, licking his lip.

"Yes." Lex pauses for a long minute, taking it in or calming down or something.

Clark hasn't opened his eyes and has no intention of it, so he's not sure. But at least he's gonna eat. Tension's thrumming through his body and he shifts a little, his dick thumping insistently down against his stomach.

"All right, Clark," Lex says, his voice caressing, soft and kind and other things Lex isn't. "Take your cock in your hand and squeeze for me. Nice and tight."

Clark does that, and the tension in him doubles. He's throbbing hard, instantly; a little touch makes all the difference. He can feel his balls draw up and so he crooks one knee, leaning it against the couch so Lex can see, so it's all framed for him. Clark's eyes are still closed, but that doesn't mean he can't imagine Lex watching him, filling his eyes, years and years of wanting-to-know making a huge hollow void that Clark couldn't fill if he stayed here a week. A year wouldn't be enough. Lex will always want more, and the thought sends blood firing through him, shivering sweet. "Can I move?" he asks, and this time the wavering in his voice is just biology, no games anymore.

"Open your eyes first," Lex murmurs, almost gentle.

Oh, no, that's not good. What if he's naked? Clark thinks frantically. No, there would have been more sound than that, something would have given him away. Clark squeezes his cock again, buying more time, and then carefully pries his eyes open and turns his face.

Lex is sitting in his armchair, perfectly arranged. His legs are crossed at the knee and he's leaning back in the chair, his elbows on the arms and the fingers of one hand resting soft against his lips. He looks cool and calm, in perfect poise, and Clark's dick leaps in his hand, demanding, making his brain buzz and short. He starts to strip at it, squeeze and lift and squeeze again, running the insides of his fingers over the crown. He's not looking to draw it out. He needs to come, fixed on Lex's bottomless blue eyes, not a thread out of place, perfectly calm.

In the next twenty-four hours, Clark promises himself, he will make Lex absolutely lose it. He doesn't know how, but he'll do it, and it'll be the greatest thing he's ever seen, which includes sunrise in the arctic. He bites his bottom lip and watches Lex wanting him, holding back, and he is seized by a terrible urge.

"Tell me what you want," Clark whispers, his voice dying, uncertain. The air smells like him, like sex. "Tell me something I can give you."

"Not yet, Clark," Lex murmurs, his hands tensing on the arms of the chair. "You can come any time."

He meant to draw it out a little longer, but it's not an option; Lex has always been good at getting him to do the thing he wants, instead of the thing he knows he should. His hips move without his instruction, a jerk and pull at his belly that has his body moving on its own volition, velocity. Clark's hand slides on his dick too hard, too rough without anything to ease the friction, but the heat burn digs under his skin and into his balls and he can't stop, he can't. He shields the slit with the edge of his thumb and drips all over himself, but he can't manage to care. His voice is ringing against the ceiling, and his whole head feels like it's on fire, because this is Lex right here, with him, finally. Finally.

But he buried that need long ago. Shoving it back down is second nature.

Clark wrings the last couple of aftershocks out of it and then relaxes back onto the cushions, eyes closed, catching his breath. There is no sound from Lex's chair, so Clark just lies there and allows his body to shudder back to its resting state, unspool and unwind. He smiles when he thinks to himself that Lex is allowing for afterglow; it's probably some kind of ploy to make him ready for whatever's next.

"Good," Lex says, and his voice has an unsteadiness that makes Clark's smile go wider, show his teeth. "Now get dressed," Lex continues. "We're going out."

Clark opens his eyes, wipes his thumb on his thigh. "Okay. Just let me clean up and-"

"Clark," Lex interrupts firmly. "I said get dressed."

Oh, Clark thinks, and feels the blush slip down into his chest. That's what's next. He makes a sacrifice and grabs his boxers, uses them to mop up the worst of things, keenly conscious of Lex's unrelenting gaze on him. When he's done, he balls them up and leaves them on the sofa, climbs into his jeans and t-shirt and then takes his dress shirt by the collar.

"Not that," says Lex. "Leave your shirt and jacket behind."

Clark bites back a retort and sternly reminds himself that he's here to follow orders, even if they're terse and irritating. He drops the forbidden items of clothing over his boxers, thinking to spare any cleaning staff an unpleasant surprise. Then he picks up his glasses, thick and black and ready to hide behind. When he first put them on about four years ago, they were more of a nuisance than anything, but they've become a big comfort. When he puts them on, Superman's gone, safe in his fortress, and all that's left is just Clark Kent.

Lex holds out one elegant, manicured hand. "Give those to me."

Clark has to meet his eyes then, and is surprised to see a vicious edge in that icy blue. That's a bigger reaction than anything else has gotten so far, which is a big deal given that, hey, there was nakedness. For curiosity's sake, if nothing else, Clark hands them over.

Lex takes the two lenses between his hands and twists. The plastic crunches in his hands and Clark exclaims. "Hey!"

"I'll buy you four more," Lex smiles, and pulls the arms off the broken frames like a boy pulls the legs off a fly.

Clark plants his hands on his hips, scowling. "Can I at least fix my hair?"

"No," Lex says, standing up to put the remains of the glasses in a garbage can, dusting off his hands.

"Can I wash my hands?"

"Probably soon, but not now."

"You want me to stick a post-it note to my head that says I just had sex?"

Lex turns to grin at him, wide and warm and utterly disarming. "If you really want to, Clark."

It's disappointing and irritating. It's outside the rules, and Lex always plays by the rules, so Clark thinks it's perfectly reasonable to call foul. "I can't go out like this," he says. "We agreed on a day, one day. My life has to go on as usual tomorrow, and that doesn't include everybody I know thinking that I'm having sex with you."

"Clark," Lex scolds, still smiling. He closes the distance between them and ruffles Clark's hair so that the few strands that were still in place immediately tumble into disarray. Clark looks like a kid without his hair in order, and he struggles against the urge to move his head away. Lex's smile sharpens. "Come on. I have a reputation to maintain. Nobody will recognize Clark Kent, or Superman. You show up with me, looking like this, and all anybody's going to see is the next in a long series of conquests. Anonymous, pretty, disposable. Think of it like your glasses, only... better."

"Better for you," Clark frowns, but more for show than out of any real resentment.

Lex shrugs. "It's my day."

At breakfast, Lex orders for him. Clark's annoyed at first but it fades fast, because it's nice to have somebody else make the decisions for once. He's a little surprised by how people don't stare. Executive President CEO Mister Luthor is having breakfast with some dishevelled punk in a t-shirt; if he had his reporter hat on today, he'd be curious. But nobody here seems especially interested, and Clark wonders vaguely if Lex paid them all off in advance or something.

Whatever magic he's worked, it continues right through the toast and coffee, through the bacon and, yes, eggs benedict, through everything up to the fruit tray. Lex tells Clark to feed him a piece of melon, which sounds pretty innocent, so Clark dips some honeydew in the cream cheese thing and pretends to be the kind of disposable person that'd have fun with something like this. It kind of is fun, when he thinks about it - no demands, no expectations. He can almost pretend he's here because it feels good, that tomorrow he'll go back to his life and it'll be like he's had a vacation. He touches the melon to Lex's lips and then pulls it away a half inch, smiling.

Lex narrows his eyes and then grips Clark's wrist to hold it in place. Clark laughs and stays still, but the sound dies in the back of his throat when Lex sucks the sheen of juice from Clark's fingers. He can't help but remember that Lex hasn't let him wash his hands yet, that there's more than melon on his fingers, and Lex bites down like he'd eat it all, like he might bite down in... other places.

Suddenly Clark's face is burning again, and Lex pulls away and dabs at his mouth with a napkin.

After breakfast, they go to the second floor of a non-descript old brick walk-up. There's no sign or anything on the door, and inside it's a tiny space filled with mannequins, chairs and display cases full of accessories. There aren't any visible clothes, and Clark figures this is because the place is so exclusive that only, like, world dictators and the Fortune 500 gets to shop here. Maybe there's a card or something that you get when you earn your first billion.

Lex chats with the proprietors in Vietnamese for about five minutes before they beckon Clark over. Clark speaks Vietnamese just fine, but he chooses not to eavesdrop anyway, examining a rack of hand-stitched scarves with no label. Lex follows, and they're led down a hallway that has dozens of doors off it. The man leading them opens one of the doors and tells Lex that it'll be about thirty minutes until the fitter is ready for them. Lex thanks him, and Clark tries to do the same, but he doesn't so much as look in Clark's direction.

There could be any number of explanations for that, but it stings Clark's pride all the same.

Lex shuts the door and draws Clark inside. "Stand here."

The room is dominated by a raised pedestal in the middle of the floor. There are a number of strategically arranged mirrors designed to give the person on the pedestal an easy 360-degree view of themselves. Clark hesitates for a second, but then he spies the table with the huge array of needles and thread, of pins and tape measure and assorted tools of the trade. He sighs, walks over and steps onto it.

"What's the matter, Clark?" Lex asks softly, just out of sight. "I would have thought you'd be used to being up there by now."

"Not from you," Clark says, looking idly into the mirrors. "Not for a long time, now."

There's a moment's pause. "Well," Lex says. "I guess not."

Then comes the sound of water running, fingers testing the temperature. Clark closes his eyes - he'll find out soon enough, and Lex will like it better if he doesn't know.

"Clothes," Lex says after a minute or so, and Clark gets rid of jeans and t-shirt with relief. They're pretty funky by now, so he kicks them to a corner.

Then Lex comes into view and Clark feels his knees go weak. He's ditched his jacket somewhere and his tie is loosened just enough to undo his top button. He's rolled up his sleeves to the elbow, enough to show off the curve of his arm. Between now and when he left Smallville he must have hired a personal trainer or something; his lithe, slender build has the beginnings of muscle now, thicker and heavier - he was the hottest person Clark knew in real life before, and now it's the same thing only a different, equally awesome shape.

He's carrying a small table with a basin on it. There's a towel hanging from the side and a big, fluffy sponge in the water.

"You're kidding," Clark says.

Lex looks up at him with eyes like the center of a glacier. "Feet apart."

Blushing furiously, Clark spreads his feet on the pedestal. He fights the urge to cover himself; if there's anything more exposing than this, he can't think of it. He shuts his eyes again so he won't have to see the reflections, endless naked versions of himself. When he's safely hidden behind his lashes, he wonders if some of those other Clarks are here for different reasons. Maybe one of them let Lex buy his friendship all those years ago and rejected his parents. Maybe one of them is on red kryptonite and just doesn't care anymore. Maybe.

The sponge splashes when Lex wrings it out, and Clark's self-enforced blindness makes the sound very loud. He can feel the air on his skin, by turns cool and warm. The first touch of the sponge is just right, low on his belly, and Clark sighs as it slips down across his hip, over his thighs, licking up under his balls. If there is one downfall of this, it's that he can't actually feel Lex's hands on him, but he's willing to wait.

"Ask me, Clark," Lex says, his voice soothing in the cool air. "Tell me what you want."

Clark blurts it out before he can think too much, before he can work through the implications. "Touch me," he breathes, not daring to open his eyes. "Please."

"Mm. I like that."

The sponge hitches its way across his skin, down his thighs and back up. Water drips down his legs and onto the floor; it smells like lilies. Clark can't help but notice that he isn't being touched, hello, touching seems appropriate, but he doesn't dare accuse when he's already halfway to hard. He wracks his brain for something that would be the right thing, something Lex would like. When he clasps his hands behind his back and holds them there, the ghost of heated breath across his hip tells him he made the right decision. "Please," he tries, and tilts his hips forward.

Lex's sponge comes brushing up underneath again, lifting him softly. "If you insist," he says, his voice feather-light.

And just as soft, Clark feels the brush of a hot, slick tongue come dragging up the underside of his cock. His eyes fly open, and the sight of those cruel, soft, scarred lips closing over the head is instantly unbearable. He hears himself make a terrible sound but he can't hold it back, can't be bothered. He puts his hands on Lex's head without thinking, and Lex immediately draws back.

"You don't touch until you're told," he orders through perfectly white teeth, angry eyes burning up at Clark, almost offended.

Clark hurries to put his hands back where they were, clasping them hard enough to make his shoulders ache. "Sorry," he blurts, flushing with embarrassment. He should have known better. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..."

Lex glares at him for a minute, but then lets his mouth twist wryly. "No, you didn't. But I don't give passes for ignorance, Clark. This is two."

"Three strikes," Clark nods hastily. His body is screaming for Lex's mouth, demanding he do whatever it takes to get it back. "I got it, I promise."

Lex nods. He looks over Clark's body, what's on offer, and the annoyance in his eyes softens, crowded out by heat. "I'd hate to waste this opportunity. You look beautiful like this. I always knew you would, but it's something else to see you like this. Naked. In front of me."

He reaches out a hand and runs it over the air above Clark's skin. Clark can feel the heat from his palm, but not the friction, and it's terrible to endure but he manages not to move, not to reach. "You have me," he says, his voice beat to shit. He tilts his hips forward again, just enough to draw the eye. "I'm yours, okay, just please, Lex..."

"You don't really mean that," Lex says, leaning down to draw his tongue over the hot skin. Clark gasps, digs his nails into his wrist behind his back. "But you will."

"Okay," Clark says, past caring. "Okay. Lex. God, please..."

Lex slides down onto him again, his mouth so tight and perfect. Clark has a moment's totally insane rage when he realizes that Lex must have practice at this, and it makes absolutely no sense because he's always known Lex has more experience. But then he imagines Lex doing this for someone, his tongue and his cheeks and his perfectly imperfect lips, and that person failing somehow to appreciate how serious it is that Lex is allowing it, and suddenly Clark's so jealous his eyes are a shade greener. He wants to hold Lex by the back of the neck, to touch him as he's doing this, and that he isn't supposed to seems like the cruellest thing since Stalin.

There's some twisty, flickering thing going on just underneath, and Clark is driven higher by it almost instantly. Once again he'd like to hold out, to enjoy it for a little longer, maybe push into Lex's mouth just a little bit, but Lex flicks his tongue again and Clark is gasping, right on the edge. "Oh, God," he whispers through his teeth. "Lex, I'm so close..."

Lex stabs his tongue at that spot again, and without any kind of hesitation he just slides straight down, all the way down, and before Clark knows it he's coming, shivering and desperate and clinging to his own wrist so hard he thinks it might just bruise.

In the aftermath, Clark tries hard to remember not to sit down. Lex pulls away from him and starts to wash his skin again, and that's very relaxing. Clark forgets all about the mirrors or the need to do pretty much anything except stand here and let Lex do anything he wants, and that seems to be what Lex is going for, so everybody's happy. By the time Lex towels him off, he smells like lilies and soap. Lex hands him a pair of briefs to put on, and though they have far too little fabric for someone who grew up on a farm, they do cover the relevant anatomy. Mostly. Clark puts them on and Lex takes the basin back to where it's supposed to be and then sits down in one of the chairs to flip idly through a magazine.

"Lex?" Clark asks tentatively, after a minute.


"Who's running your empire right now?"

Lex looks up at him, both suspicious and curious. "Why do you need to know?"

Clark shrugs. "No reason. I always liked to think that you were leaving it to be with me, but it probably just runs itself."

There's a significant pause, and Lex opens his magazine again. "It does. But I turned my cell phone off. I'll be getting dirty looks from the Chinese ambassador for a month."

Clark smiles, hiding it against his shoulder, and they don't say anything else until the tailor arrives.

All sorts of things are measured in the course of the next hour. Clark stands with his hands out to his sides for most of it and thanks God that his shoulders can't really hurt from something like that. He pretends it does now and then for the benefit of the tailors, and Lex glowers each time until Clark stops feeling guilty and starts playing it up just to give himself something to do. He sighs and winces and rolls his shoulders; he sighs deeper when Lex is nearby and waits for the tailors to leave the room so the martyr jokes can start.

When the room is finally empty, he's surprised at the silence, but that's only until Lex comes around to stand in front of him. He looks angry, which Clark expected, but he's not expecting the firm hand at the back of his neck, the relentless pull that he could resist but doesn't think he should. He ducks his head, then stoops his shoulders, and when Lex keeps pulling he gets the idea to fall to his knees, which is maybe the best idea he's had in a long time. Clark spreads his knees and sits back on his heels so he can look up into that familiar face, watch the lust gathering like storm clouds. Lex is always so angry when he's turned on; it's been a serious mindfuck in the last few years, Clark doesn't mind admitting that.

"What's wrong?" he asks, though he didn't expect to be breathless when he did.

Lex wraps the hair at Clark's nape around his fingers. He clenches his fist and Clark is bending back before he knows it, before it's really registered. It's not the physical strength that makes him do it; no, it's something else. "I suppose you thought I'd like it – being in on the joke, this time," he murmurs, his breath brushing soft across Clark's neck.

"No," Clark says, meaning the idea of there being a joke, or that it would be played on anybody but himself.

Lex smiles against the line of his jaw. Clark can feel the vicious curve, the glancing score of teeth. "I did like it."

Clark wants a kiss so badly he can almost taste it. It's been a long time coming and he can almost feel the scar line under his tongue, the straight edge razor of teeth at his lips. In his mind, Lex tastes like cucumber and pepper, the sea right before the storm, crackling energy seething under silence. Clark's pictured this kiss for a long time, and even though it's not what he dreamed up when he was fifteen and dumb enough to dream, he'll take it.

Two cool, steady fingers come tracing over the curve of his shoulder. The touch is shocking in how erotic it is - Lex has touched him many times, but never anyplace that could be innocently described as under his clothes. So far, every touch of his hands has been as platonic as it's possible for Lex to be, and though his eyes told a vastly different story and though Clark has actually had his cock between those lips, nothing seems to really count before this. Fingertips bleed softly across his arm and then back, circling around to cup the back of his head again, just to hold him there. The fist in his hair unclenches, so Clark figures he has a little room to look - he lifts his head just a little and finds Lex's eyes, far above him again. He's close now, his belt is right there, Clark could...

"Do you want me to?" he asks, licking his lips in case Lex is somehow unclear about what he means.

Those storming eyes tell the real story, still, even as that wicked mouth smiles and lies. "Not right now. Just think about it. It's going to happen today, sometime, and I want you to think about it." Lex draws a thumb over Clark's cheek and his smile turns sharper, more real. "There might be a test."

Lex lets him go after that, and Clark fights to stay on the pedestal instead of using every superpower he has to convince Lex that it'd be a good idea to just get straight to business, never mind this whole Eliza Doolittle thing he's got going on. But it's not long before the tailors come back, and Clark winds up feverishly calling up baseball stats in his mind, because he's standing here in underwear that's really way too small and he's not exactly idle, if it can be called that. He's the color of a fresh cooked lobster in no time, and he actually hears Lex laugh when they start putting him into the suit parts.

The bastard.

"You're a bastard," Clark informs him, once all the fitting and pinning is done and the tailors have whisked off again.

Lex laughs again. "They were many things, but my parents weren't single when they had me."

"I meant as in jerk," Clark retorts, resisting the urge to turn around and say it to his face. There's a perfectly good mirror to glare at right in front of him.

"I know what you meant," Lex chuckles, and then the soft pads of his fingers trail over the small of Clark's back and Clark nearly falls down as all the blood in his body rushes to a single point. "Once that suit's finished, we're going to have to stop somewhere private. I like anticipation as much as the next guy, but after a few years it plateaus."

Clark can't argue that, as the buzz in his own mind is drowning out everything else at the suggestion of improper touching. It only takes a half hour to get the finishing touches on everything and have it all packed into bags. Clark can't help but notice that there appear to be too many bags for just one suit, but unless there's a French maid outfit hidden in here somewhere, he can't think of anything he'd object to. So he shrugs, figures if he sees anything like lace he can just laser it to death, and lifts everything into his arms.

Between the trunk and the miniscule backseat of Lex's car, they get everything packed in. Clark jams the seat back and stands up to find Lex looking at him speculatively. He lifts his keys, letting them jingle silver in the air. "You wanna drive?"

Clark squints at him, suspicious.

"Might be your only chance today," Lex says, enticing.

He can't help the smile that forces its way onto his face, so he doesn't try. Clark lifts his hand and catches the keys out of the air, and they switch sides. When Clark drops into the bucket seat, he can instantly tell that the memory foam (or whatever they call it) hasn't shaped itself for him. The imprint of Lex's body is all over this car, and he doesn't glare when Lex slides into the passenger seat. He just grits his teeth, shoves the key in the lock, opens up the engine and roars out of the lot.

"Easy!" Lex snaps, grabbing Clark's wrist.

Clark grins at the road and shifts up, tearing past a soccer mom's minivan. "You're the one that taught me to drive a Ferrari," he accuses.

Lex's grip doesn't ease. "I taught you to show respect to fine machinery. You wanna drag? Get your own damn car."

Clark reluctantly slows down when Lex points out that he doesn't know where he's even going. He follows the instructions he's given, then, taking corners fast enough to make his mother scowl but not fast enough to get himself booted out of the driver's seat. When he goes too fast, Lex has to brace a hand on the door, and Clark feels a selfish little thrill at having affected mister cool and collected billionaire. It's childish, maybe, but it doesn't hurt anyone, so Clark indulges.

"Right at the corner," Lex says, "and park."

"You sure?" Clark says, peering around as he pulls up beside a meter. They're in one of the vaguely seedy elbows of downtown Metropolis, just verging on the old city but not quite in Suicide Slum yet. Still, it's not the kind of place that a million-dollar cherry red sports car is going to go unnoticed.

Lex climbs out and straightens his suit. "Nobody's going to touch my car," he says, the way people say the sun rises in the east.

Clark tosses him the keys and joins him on the pavement. "But how long before somebody decides to freelance for the Inquisitor?"

"Don't worry about it," Lex smirks, touching Clark's jaw with fleeting fingers. "They're used to it."

When Lex takes his hand and leads him up to a nondescript door, Clark follows as docilely as possible. He's fully aware that whatever is coming next, it'll probably be designed to make him as crazy as possible, but if Lex says this place values discretion, Clark knows better than to question. Few people know discretion better than Lex Luthor.

They walk down a hall and check in with a bouncer who remembers Lex from a long time ago. Clark listens to them trade a few polite words, and then Lex gets two keys and the heavy metal door beside them buzzes. Lex draws him through and the wave of steam that hits Clark in the face is rife with sweat and come, cologne and linen and money.

"You brought me to a secret elite bathhouse," Clark says, just to bring it back to earth.

"Shut up," Lex says, and Clark swears he can hear a smile in it.

There are rows and rows of what looks like tiny private changing rooms. Lex disappears into one of them with both keys, and Clark huffs a sigh and goes into his. There are towels and lockers and a wide bench along one wall that's pretty obviously not for sitting, and Clark can feel the redness climbing up his cheeks. He figures that superspeeding out of his clothes would be cheating, so he crams his jeans and t-shirt into the locker at a more normal pace. He only hesitates for a second before peeling out of the briefs - it's not like they covered all that much anyway, and God help him if Lex caught him trying to sneak some modesty.

When he comes out into the big main room, he's gripping the waist of his towel tightly. It's not tiny but it isn't exactly a bath sheet.

Lex is reclining on one of many white chairs, talking with another manicured young professional. They're relaxed with each other, Clark can see, and he immediately wonders if Lex has slept with this man. Two sets of eyes sweep toward him and the manicured guy whistles, low and drawn out.

"Believe me," Lex grins, standing up. "You're not his type." The way his towel folds across his hips suggests a roman senator, a kilted centurion. Maybe it's one too many art history classes, but Clark knows he's supposed to be the Ganymede here, so he ducks his head and waits for Lex to tell him what to do.

Lex runs two gentle fingertips over the swell of Clark's mouth, and even though that's technically an over-clothing area, it still feels horribly intimate. It might be the first time that Lex has directly touched Clark's lips, and the white noise that produces in his mind is almost enough to make him forget there's somebody else here.

"Come on," Lex murmurs. "Let's go find someplace comfortable."

They pass through wide rooms, each with a different theme. There's a sub-lit crystal blue pool, a brick and whitewashed concrete sauna, a faux hot spring with greenery, and more beyond. Each room has a few people in it, and Clark has the sense that there would be a lot more if they had come here in the evening. Sometimes they're actively having sex, sometimes they're getting ready for it, sometimes they're taking some form of drug. Clark resists burning it away with his eyes.

"I won't take you downstairs," Lex grins. "I considered it, but seeing the shock on your face really wouldn't be worth being expected to actually do something down there."

Clark's mind instantly fills with the most nefarious kinds of sexual torture devices known to man, which is probably exactly what Lex wanted, but he can't help himself. It's never been clear to him what exactly people get out of that stuff, but he's seen enough on the internet to picture for a half second a nightmare vision of himself strapped to a big black cross, Lex standing over him with a kryptonite bullwhip. He almost laughs, but the shudder of revulsion shakes him out of it at the last second.

Lex catches the motion out of the corner of his eye and laughs, drawing eyes as they walk on.

Honestly, the only thing keeping Clark's libido interested and alert is the fact that, as they walk along, he gets to watch Lex's naked back. This is, without question, the longest he's ever been exposed to Lex's nakedness at a time. Every time he feels someone else's eyes from the corners of the room, the pale, leanly muscled body in front of him draws his eyes, his attention, even his hand once or twice, before he remembers that he's supposed to be an ingénue. When he thinks of how much a place like this has to cost, he loses track of the math in how he can just barely see a hint of Lex's hipbone as it disappears under the white towel. The curve of his bare head, always naked, breaking the clothing rule again. The way his legs are bare, too, like a swimmer. Clark had always privately suspected that Lex out of clothes wouldn't be much different than Lex in clothes, as far as demeanor goes, and he's sure now that he was right. When the towel comes off (it must be coming off, there has to be a point in the very near future where it's coming off) he'll have every bit the bearing of a king as he does right now.

A frowning king.

"What's wrong?" Clark asks, in the spirit of their deal.

Lex crosses his arms over his chest, looking thoughtful. "I can't find a place I want."

Clark perks up. It's supposed to be Lex's choice, but if he can't make one... "Maybe you're thinking too hard," he suggests, stepping close enough for a private conversation. He almost puts his hand on Lex's shoulder, but stops himself at the last minute - too presumptuous. "I'm actually kind of surprised. I thought I'd be face first in your pillows by now." It's a joke, but Clark blushes hard, because he really did think that. He's never seen the bedroom at the penthouse, but that didn't stop him from imagining it – not when he made the call last week, and not when he was sixteen years old, either.

"Oh, you did," Lex says, turning an arched eyebrow toward him. This is a whole different view for Clark, broad chest and bare stomach straight down to the white rim of the towel. He yanks his gaze up again and is knocked a little breathless by the way Lex is watching him. "Tell me."

"Tell you what?" Clark blurts out before he can realize how dumb that sounds.

Lex presses close, runs an open palm along Clark's waist. His skin is damp with the mist here, flush and heated. "What you thought it'd be like," he murmurs into Clark's ear. "When you called me, what did you think I'd make you do?"

Clark's throat goes dry. He badly wants to touch Lex, and as it hasn't been forbidden, he thinks he can get away with maybe something innocent-ish. He closes a hand around the pale curve of one shoulder and wets his lips. "Um. I was pretty sure that, um. We'd. Y'know."

"Fuck," Lex says, smooth as silk against his ear.

"Yeah," Clark agrees, nodding like an idiot. "I thought you'd be, I thought you'd probably make me do things that I wouldn't usually but... I thought it'd probably be sexy anyway."

"Because of me," Lex guesses, and Clark can feel the grin there, pressed against his neck.

He nods, finding it hard to speak.

Lex presses his hip against Clark's cock, cups his hand behind Clark's neck. "Because if I'm doing something, you think it's hot, no matter what it is."

Another nod, and this one is a very definitely guilty confession. Clark swallows against the dryness in his throat. He can feel Lex's erection now, the bump and press of it against his hip through the terrycloth. He makes sure he's not gripping Lex's shoulder too hard, because he's sure he could do some damage right now if he wasn't -

"For a long time," Lex says. "Since we were kids."

"You were n-never a kid," Clark stutters, biting his lip.

Lex gives a low half of a laugh, a thump of sound that's not really amusement. "I was going to make you suck me off in front of these strangers," he says, so soft. Clark's knees almost give out right there, but Lex's hand is hard in his hair, holding him close, and he can't bear to detach from all that soft, clear skin. Lex rubs his cheek along Clark's neck, dragging his lips along the skin. "Can you tell me why?" he breathes, but the question's so important.

Clark closes his eyes tightly, so he won't accidentally burn the ceiling, and then nods. "So I know how far I'll go for you."

Lex rolls his hips, then; a nice, long, slow press just where Clark needs it. "Good."

"I'll do it," Clark says, aware he shouldn't be talking. His eyelids are so hot that he thinks he can see through them. "They can... watch me. I will."

He laughs again, a warm, delighted thing this time. It sounds so good that Clark can't resist pressing his own hips forward, using them to ask, to plead. Lex bites his earlobe too hard, hard enough to hurt a normal person. To Clark it only feels like a secret they're sharing, hidden in plain sight. "Now I don't want it anymore," Lex tells him, still laughing. "I thought I did, but now I'm pretty sure I'd have to have them all killed."

"Oh," Clark says, starting to sweat. It's not that it's all that hot in here, not for somebody who's been pretty damn close to a sun, but that doesn't mean his body doesn't have certain natural responses to stress. "But not now, right?"

"I'm not sure, to be honest with you," Lex says, biting at his skin between words. "I might need to pull off your towel right here, and then they'd see too much. Curtains."

Lex teasing him over a question of murder is unnerving enough without the added possibility that it might yet become not a joke, so Clark makes a fast peruse of the people here. Nobody's watching, so he wraps an arm around Lex's waist and speeds them back into the changing area. The guy has gone and it's just them, so Clark is spared having to choose which of their rooms to go into. The world resolves around them to a normal speed and Lex pushes out of his arms. "I hate that," he scowls. "I hate when you do that."

"I'm sorry," Clark winces, holding out his hands. "I thought you'd want to go back to -"

Lex grabs his wrist and drags him over to the far change room, the one Lex chose when he got here. "Don't do it again," he orders, opening the door and hauling Clark inside. "Not today."

"I won't," Clark hurries to say, trying hard to be where Lex wants him. "I promise, I won't, I'm sorry."

It's identical in here to the room Clark had, and Lex pushes him down onto the bench without hesitation. He puts his hand in Clark's hair and forces his face to turn up. "Your towel stays on," Lex instructs, his cheeks flushed and his eyes hooded. "You don't touch until I say; you don't move until I say. Understand?"

Clark nods as best he can, which isn't much. "Yes, Lex."

"Open your mouth."

Hesitant, Clark does as he's told. He chooses something between breathing and dentist, and when two of Lex's fingers slide inside, Clark can't keep his eyes open. He closes on them without thinking, but he has the presence of mind to just allow them to rest there until Lex tells him to suck. He does his best, which he thinks is pretty good, tonguing along the middle and swallowing around them. Every two seconds he has to remind himself that he's not to move his hands, that he has to keep them still and not reach for Lex's hips, not pull away the towel. When Lex starts to move his hand, to push his fingers in and out of Clark's mouth, it's easier to remember to just take it.

"That's good," Lex says softly, steel in his voice under Luthor velvet. "You look good like this, Clark."

Clark keeps his eyes tightly closed and tries to allow Lex further back in his mouth. Stop talking, he thinks. Don't say that.

"I'd pay extra for pictures," Lex murmurs, his voice shallow and breathless. "No property taxes for two years."

He hasn't said to stop, so Clark settles for lightly scraping his teeth over Lex's fingers.

"One picture," Lex groans. "Five years. Answer me."

Clark pulls away and ducks his head, unable to meet those eyes. "I can't. You know I can't."

Lex drags on Clark's hair again, pushing his face forward. When Clark's nose bumps against the unbearably soft skin of Lex's stomach, he nuzzles into it so he won't have to look up. "You said can't," Lex whispers. "Not won't."

"Same difference," Clark mumbles into the skin under his lips.

"Not to me," Lex breathes. "Use your teeth. Take off my towel."

Clark does that, tugging at the terrycloth. It smells like water and Lex's smooth cologne. When it falls away, there comes the sharp, strong scent of salt and chili peppers, like some faraway exotic thing that Clark would never know existed if it weren't for Lex. (Once they made a bet that Lex couldn't sink the eight ball using a two-bank shot. He did it, so Clark had to try some kind of tentacle sushi. It was pretty good, but Clark had insisted that Lex only liked it because it was purple.)

This has been a long time coming. Clark keeps his eyes closed for a long minute because Lex hasn't told him to do anything else, and he thinks of all the things that have led them to this. He thinks of being hit by a Porsche, of the marriages and the mind-altering substances, of friends and parents and the day Lex finally found out who Clark was.

This isn't the way he thought it'd happen, but he'll take it. He's got to take it while there's still time.

He opens his eyes and sees the naked body in front of him like a gift, and it's all he can do not to immediately dive for that thin, pale skin. It's one thing to dream, in a vague way, about Lex being pure skin everywhere. It's something entirely different to sit here with his nose a half-inch away and know for a fact that the meteors took every bit of hair on his body. Clark knows he isn't the only person who's ever known this about Lex first-hand, and again, he finds himself burning with jealousy. The urge to protect Lex has been strong since they met, but right now it's like somebody cranked a dial in Clark's head: Normal, Protective, Paranoid, Kill Everyone Who Looks At Him.

"What are you thinking right now?" Lex asks, brushing Clark's hair behind his ear. "Be honest."

Clark hesitates. He should be truthful, but the chances that Lex will put a halt to everything right this second if Clark says what he's thinking are probably about 50/50. Not good enough. "The time you got me to eat tentacles."

"Tako," Les corrects, his voice reserved and smooth. "Octopus sushi. It's a delicacy."

"Tako," Clark repeats obediently.

Lex brushes a thumb across his lips, voice like whispering satin. "Good. Now suck it. And be nice, Clark."

Clark stares at the body in front of him for a second, unable to believe he really heard that, that it didn't come out of his own head, that he isn't dreaming. When Lex tugs at his hair, he wets his lips and tries to breathe, to ignore the suddenly insistent throbbing of his dick, straining against his towel. "Okay," he says, sliding forward on the bench, situating himself. "Can I hold onto your hips?"

"All right," Lex says, petting his hands over Clark's neck, the back of his head. "But don't use your hands for anything else. I want your mouth."

Clark's eyes almost cross. "Okay," he says, ragged and deliberate. "Okay." He licks his lips and leans forward, presses his open mouth against the slick head of Lex's cock, and hopes it all goes to plan. It's bigger than he thought; it makes him open wide and breathe through his nose, panicked, before his brain overrides his instincts and reminds him that he doesn't have to breathe. Lex said to be nice, so Clark tries to make it as soft as possible: keep his teeth out of the way, use his tongue as much as he can, whatever he can think of. There's not a lot of room to maneuver, but he takes it slow and taps his tongue against the head, makes open-mouthed kisses over it and clings to those warm, narrow hips. They're the best anchor he has.

Lex tastes clear and pure. It makes Clark a little dizzy. He thinks that, now that he's been this close, he could stand on the North Pole and breathe really hard, and he'd know that Lex was on the tenth floor of the Gran Melia in Jakarta. He opens a little wider, letting Lex in as far as he can.

Softly, Lex begins to rock his hips. It's just an inch at a time, hardly anything, but it takes things from Clark doing the sucking to Clark just holding on for the ride, and he feels his face go red again. "That's good," Lex whispers, barely making any sound at all. "Take it in. Let me feel the back of your throat."

Clark tries hard, but when that pressure hits the end of his tongue he can't help the reflex that pushes him away. He pulls his head back and coughs, grateful when Lex allows it.

"I wasn't sure that would happen," Lex says, his quiet voice sounding awed.

"Sorry," Clark whispers. "Let me try again."

Lex rubs his thumbs over the back of Clark's neck. "Okay."

He makes it far enough for Lex to actually slide into his throat this time before he has to pull away, his eyes watering, his tongue scratchy and tickling. He coughs again, his lizard brain insisting that he has to breathe, has to get some air, and Clark feels tears slip down his cheeks as he forces his lungs to stay put.

"It's okay," Lex tells him, gentle fingers coming around his throat, massaging gently. The muscles stop spasming and Clark is flushed with gratitude, tries to go right back to it. Lex pushes him back by the shoulders. "Get your breath," he instructs, his voice soft as falling snow.

Clark does that, and feels Lex's thumb brushing the wetness from his cheeks. "Do you want me to keep going?" Clark asks, carefully keeping his eyes closed.

"When you're ready," Lex tells him. Clark feels a soft brush against his forehead and takes a half second to realize that Lex has kissed him, right there, actually kissed his head like he's such a precious child. Part of him wants to rebel, to show Lex that he can be as dirty as anybody else, but part of him has always felt like that child next to Lex's older and wiser experience, and it feels like approval and blessing to be revelled in.

When he's caught his breath again, Clark opens his eyes. Lex is looking down at him, not giving away any of what he's thinking. He's got one elegant hand on his own dick, stroking languidly, his thumb pressing against the head, into the slit before sliding back down. "God, Lex," Clark says, feeling for the nth time like he's too big and clumsy to be allowed in the same room with a man like this. "My turn?"

"Go ahead," Lex says, pulling his hand away.

Clark considers trying to take it all again, but he really wants to get Lex off, so he decides to try something a little more inventive. He tries pressing his tongue at the tip, the way Lex had pressed his thumb. It's not exactly nice, but maybe Lex will like it anyway.

"Clark," Lex growls warningly. "Be careful."

"Do you like it?" he asks, mouthing down the shaft. "I'll be careful. Just tell me what to do."

Lex's hands go hard in his hair again, gripping the strands in warm fists. "I liked it," he grudgingly allows.

Clark immediately does it again, flicking his tongue in and around. He's rewarded by a sharp gasp from Lex, a tightening of the fingers in his hair. He attacks the spot as hard as he thinks he's allowed to, sucking greedily.

Lex makes the smallest sound, deep in the back of his throat. It's dismayed, almost - broken up and stifled, but it's there. Clark made that sound come to be, he knows, and he rubs his thumbs across Lex's hips and lets his cheeks hollow out as he coaxes more of that taste onto his tongue. His cheeks are flaming red, he knows, because he can feel Lex's eyes on him, but if he can get even one more sound like that, if he can guess just the right way to make Lex be pleased with him, he'll do it. It's one of the few things that're his to give.

"Tell me," Lex murmurs then, breathless and raw, pulling his hips away. He closes his cock in his hand and presses closer, wringing at himself, up and down, knuckles white. "Tell me you've never done this before. Say it's your first time, Clark, even if you have to lie, just say it."

Clark makes his mouth as soft as possible, brushing the tip of Lex's cock as it peeks in and out of his hand. His whole face is in shadows; Clark can't really see him. "You're the first person I ever did this to," he whispers. "It's the truth."

"I know," Lex says through his teeth, and then straddles Clark's lap without a second's hesitation. He keeps stripping his cock, faster and faster, and his face is so close, his eyes brilliant, blinding blue. "I always know," he breathes, and in the moment that the first drops start to hit Clark's belly, Lex leans in and kisses his mouth. It's open and giving and perfect, and Clark wraps his arms around Lex's back, holds him close and kisses him with all the desperation he's ever felt to make Lex happy.

Lex shudders in his arms for long, painfully good seconds. Clark can't imagine wanting anything other than this ever again.

By the time Lex finally drags himself upright again, he's smiling that same old grin he used to get when he'd put one over on the principal to help Chloe print an article, when he would give Clark tickets to some ridiculously expensive event and Clark couldn't find an excuse to say no: victorious, warm, unguarded, the kind that made Clark want to be his friend in the first place. "Man could get used to that," he says, slurring a consonant or two.

Clark glows with pride. He can feel it thrumming through his chest, filling him up, making his spine straighter. "I don't think you could afford it," he teases.

"Probably not," Lex laughs. "You're not a cheap date, and I'd know."

Clark bites his bottom lip, because by some miracle they seem to have come through that unscathed and he refuses to be the one to fuck it up.

Lex climbs up to his feet and stretches his arms up to the ceiling. Clark enjoys the view as Lex pads into the shower stall. "Go on," Lex says. "We won't both fit in this one, and we have to get going."

Clark blinks. "Um."

"And no cheating," Lex instructs, soaping himself down, not even looking to see Clark's growing dismay. "I'll know if you do."

Clark manoeuvres himself around the shower and back into his clothes with an intense amount of difficulty and a growing sense of resentment. By the time ten minutes have gone by and he's crammed back into his jeans, he's completely reversed his position on ever doing anything nice for Lex again. This is cruel and unusual punishment. Technically he's not sure that the Geneva Convention applies to aliens, but if it did, Lex would be in serious trouble. Clark stands in the waiting room, sweating through his clothes, tiny briefs tucked into his pocket in a vague attempt at concealing his erection by creating a second bulge. It's not working too well, and Clark fumes and leaves some defiant fingerprints in the brick wall as he taps his fingers, waiting.

When Lex emerges from his room, he looks like he stepped out of GQ. His collar is open by precisely the right number of buttons, his cuffs are unlinked under his jacket, and the steam has softened his creases just enough that he looks perfectly at ease. "Come on," he says, tugging lightly at Clark's sleeve, a teasing smile on his face. "You have an appointment. Don't want to be late."

Clark's curiosity just barely overrides his urge to get bitchy, so he follows Lex out to the car without a word. He doesn't like it, but it seems best.

Lex drives this time, and Clark refrains from pointing out that he is at least as much of a maniac as Clark was being earlier, if not more so. They squeal through tax brackets, climbing through the ranks until they arrive in the heart of the island. Right next to the high double doors of Spiffany's, there's an equally expensive looking shop that Lex parks in front of like he owns the street. (He might.) He and Clark get all the garment bags out of the car and take them inside.

"Mister Luthor," says a throaty, feminine voice. Clark juggles the bags so he can see and finds Lex air-kissing with an achingly beautiful woman in, perhaps, her late forties. Her hair is a brown so dark as to be almost black, and she's wearing a summer dress that accents her generous assets with just the right amount of class. Her heels are so high that Clark wonders how it is that she doesn't fall over, but she glides along like she was born on them.

"Emily," Lex murmurs. "I'm sorry, I don't get to see you much these days."

She waves that away. "You're married to your work now. I know how it is with men like you; I married two of them."

Lex laughs, polite but warm. "Sure you won't go for a third?" Clark gathers that this woman is a paid professional, and that she has managed the miraculous feat of getting Lex to like her anyway. She must be really, really good at her job.

"I told you, get me the Hope diamond on a gold band and we'll talk." She grins at him, and then the two of them turn to Clark. "Oh," Emily says, pressing a hand to her throat. "Oh, Lex."

"Now, now," he cautions. His voice is light, but anybody who knows him can hear the steel under it. Clark can, and he wonders if Emily does too. Lex touches her wrist. "He's spoken for."

"And we must ensure that everyone despairs of that," Emily insists, and steps toward Clark with a narrowed eye. "Why don't you go change into your suit, honey? I'll need to see it before we start."

Clark presses his lips shut. He doesn't like this woman, but he was raised a certain way and she's not going to change who he is, so he puts his hand out. "My name is Clark Kent," he says firmly, insisting on a reply.

To her credit, she hesitates only a moment before taking his hand. "Emily Sheridan," she says. "I apologize, Mister Kent; I must have forgotten my manners at home this morning. It's nice to meet you."

"You too," Clark says, feeling slightly mollified. He turns to Lex then and lowers his voice. "Can I ask?"

"Sheridan's is a salon," Lex explains. "We're both getting a full workup."

"Oh," Clark says, not a little flummoxed. "Um."

Emily lays a finger along her jaw. "We are a men's salon, Mister Kent. If you wondered."

Clark feels mollified again, despite the fact that he's absolutely certain he'd never live this down if Pete ever found out. But it's Lex's day, which means he gets what he wants, and if what he wants is company while he gets a facial peel, Clark's just going to have to find a way for it to happen. Now all he has to do is think of a reason that he has to cut his own hair.

It's a three-hour process. Clark had no idea that personal grooming could take so long, or had so much to take off. Some of it doesn't require anything on his part - he lets them put goo on his face and massage his hands and soak his feet, which is even kind of nice. He winds up accomplishing most of the super-hair sleight of hand by bouncing his heat vision off a series of mirrors just as the scissors or clippers or, God help him, wax touches down. (He does not let them below his collar because that is undignified and that is all there is to it.) Their tools give him a guide to follow as far as where to aim, and after a few mishaps, he gets the hang of it and the stylists seem satisfied. Once his hair is cut they put styling stuff in it and dry it, which also takes no effort from Clark, and it smells nice. They let him pick a cologne and they bring in a pair of brand new black dress shoes they say Lex had specifically selected.

Not that Clark would know, because he hasn't actually seen Lex since they arrived.

Emily walks in toward the end, and claps her hands when she sees him. "Oh, if you don't look a picture. Lex will be beside himself."

"You think so?" Clark asks her, unable to help the smile.

"Honey," she says, linking her arm with his. "I know so. Here, put these on."

She hands him a pair of sunglasses and Clark shakes them out, puts them on and looks at her. "Good?"

"Good," she smiles, and this time Clark really feels she's smirking with him, so he beams at her and follows her gentle lead into the foyer.

Lex stands waiting for them, chatting with a girl at the counter. She hands his black credit card to him and giggles at something he said, and he tucks it into his wallet with a smile. Beside Clark, Emily makes a little sound, and Lex looks up to see them both there together. His eyebrow rises all the way up, and he doesn't bother hiding it when he looks Clark over. "Emily," he says, not looking at her. "Your work is spectacular. It's not often I have the pleasure of telling someone that."

Clark flushes and Emily pats his arm. "We work with what we have," she says modestly.

Though Clark is sure that Lex has also had some kind of treatment, he looks indistinguishable from the person Clark left three hours ago. Maybe it wouldn't be noticeable on him, maybe it was only maintenance of some kind, but he just looks like Lex. Clark walks over to stand by his side and is stunned into immobility when Lex leans in and kisses his cheek.

Emily beams at them, and Clark turns purple.

"Dinner awaits," Lex says.

Clark blinks at him. "We're going to dinner?"

"You didn't think I'd starve you, did you?" Lex smiles, a tiger in the grass. "It's just a couple of friends."

Clark waves at Emily and hurries to follow Lex out of the building. "You mean your friends?"

"I don't mean Chloe and Pete."

Sunset in Metropolis is beautiful. The air is clean as they step out of the restaurant, fresh from a brief pattering of rain.

Lex snatches the keys out of the valet's hand, and the kid almost jumps out of his red vest. "Your car, Mister... Luthor..." Lex pays no attention to him and stalks over to the driver's side.

Clark, well fed, hugely pleased with himself and thus in a generous mood, tips ten bucks. "Thank you," he says, drawing the kid's grateful eyes.

"Thanks for visiting La Place," he calls hopefully.

Clark waves at him as he climbs into the passenger seat and almost has the door closed when Lex roars off into the streets.

They drive in silence for a few minutes, and Clark wallows in his smugness. They're going to the penthouse now, and Clark's pretty sure Lex wasn't expecting dinner to end this way.

"Clark," Lex says, his liquid menace filling the air between them.

Clark remains unfazed. For once, he's won one of their strange contests, and that's not leaving his ego any time soon. "Lex."

He grips the wheel hard, racing through streetlights, breaking a dozen laws a minute. "I imagine you thought that was clever."

"Well, it didn't take a rocket scientist, but I was kind of proud of it." Once Clark had relaxed into the role of Lex's flavour of the month, it was pretty fun to let other people carry the conversation while he got bold under the tablecloth. And of course it drove Lex completely insane, which is what prompted the exodus. Yeah, Clark's proud. It's not every day you get to make one of the richest men in the world haul you off for sex.

Lex turns a corner with precision control. Four cars honk angrily behind him. "Do you realize what it would have meant if I'd lost control in there?" he asks, running his fingers down the wheel's bumps and divots. "You think I don't know what it means, that you brought this deal to me?"

Clark's blood turns to ice. "What?" he asks carefully.

If Lex notices the sudden drop in temperature, he doesn't acknowledge it, his eyes burning up the road. "You were asking for it, Clark. All the times you lied and twisted things around, every time you hid things from me, I could have... if you knew the ways I planned to get it out of you... I never did. But you kept pushing, just like you pushed me in there. What did you think I'd do, Clark? What were you hoping I'd do?"

Clark's veins have gone from arctic to lava in the space of a few seconds, and he thinks he must be suffering from some kind of shock, as it is the only thing that explains what he says. "You could have," he confesses, the terrible secret he's kept hidden for so long. "Years ago, and I would've..."

"You think I don't know that?" Lex cuts him off, ripping at the road with his tires. "You were a teenager, for Christ's sake, you might as well have been sending engraved invitations. Subtlety has never been your strong point, Clark."

He blinks. "But... if you knew..."

"Your father. My father. My company. I can keep going, if you want." Clark hears the implied meaning: I could keep coming up with plausible reasons that aren't the truth, and you'd know I was bullshitting you, but why waste my breath?

There's no reason he should, so Clark decides to save him the trouble. His heart thumps painfully in his chest, but he talk through it. "You didn't want to take advantage of me," he says. "You thought I was too young."

Lex grits his teeth and says nothing, and that's how Clark knows it's the truth.

To escape the tension, he turns to look out the window. The streets flash by, dingy and gray, and Clark blinks. "Wait, this is -"

"Not the penthouse," Lex confirms. "I hope you have your keys."

He does; the metal lump is in his pocket. "I forgot them," Clark says. "I left them at your place."

"You can fly us up to the fire escape," Lex says, a wry, vicious smile curving the corner of his lips. "I'm sure you've left your house keys in Lebanon before or something."

"But," Clark tries, sounding ridiculous even to his own ears. "My super doesn't like to, um." The look Lex gives him is so scathing that he feels his cheeks burn. He drops his head and digs his keys out of his pocket. "Nevermind. Found 'em."

"Anything I want, Clark," Lex says quietly.

"I know."