God didn't love aliens. Look at all the science fiction movies. It was all bombs in their mother ships and splattered alien guts. God never showed up, glowing and taller than a mountain, saying, "Harm not the space freaks, for they are not thine enemy." Even the smart movies-guys thought killing them was cool. Pete's cousin looked like Will Smith, who'd racked up more alien kills than just about anyone. He had the same small head and sticky-out ears, and every time he visited, Clark always went out of his way to be very earth-boy, which meant talking about football and breasts. Sometimes the aliens should win, sit down with the humans and have a picnic or something.
Space was infinite, but Heaven wasn't, or Earth would be in it. Hell, too. Since Clark wasn't from Earth or Hell (he'd checked himself for triple-digit tattoos just to be safe), he worried that being born in some dark unsheltered corner of the universe meant slipping under God's radar. Convenient when he lied to his parents or spied on Lana, not so good for things like forever. Only another alien could understand, and in Smallville, you were either human or a mutant, and the mutants were fat-sucking vampires and old-man serial killers. There was only one other exception.
Lex had skin like vanilla ice cream and moved like he was melting. He lived alone in a castle, the kind that should sit on a cloud, and when he talked to you, everyone melted but him. People listened to him, but didn't always like him, a combination of that ice cream skin, too much money and the old rumors that still trickled in from Metropolis. Also, Lex knew too much and reflected this back in his smile. He kept his sense of humor a secret; you watched his eyes to find the joke. Clark watched Lex's eyes a lot.
"Clark!" His mother's voice floated up through the floor boards. "Phone! It's Lex."
He picked it up and flopped back on his bed. A wrinkled shirt fell to the floor, landing in a pile, and the Sharks poster rustled on the wall behind him. "Hi."
A click as the downstairs phone fell into the cradle. Then, "Clark, you like aliens, right?"
Lex wasn't psychic. He just put pieces together, like the world was a puzzle.
"You ever see Aliens?"
"No one's seen any aliens, Lex. They don't really exist."
Not a mean laugh. Amused. "No, I mean the movie. With Sigourney Weaver. The second one, where she goes back after fifty years to the plane, and it's been colonized."
"Once, a few years ago. Pete rented it on Halloween."
"You saw it on tv? Definitely a big-screen experience. And you're in luck. It's playing tonight at The Helicon. I'll pick you up in twenty minutes."
"Okay. See you then." He hung up, put on a clean shirt, blue, because he'd once read that people trusted that color more than all the others, then went downstairs. His mom was in the kitchen, making a pie. Apple, and he stole one of the slices while she batted at his hand with her own floury one. "I'm going to a movie with Lex. I won't be home late. Yes, my homework's done. Yes, chores, too."
"Is he coming here to get you?"
"He'll be here in a few minutes." He leaned against the kitchen table, watching her hands move. "You like him, right, Mom?"
Her hands slowed. "I do, Clark. I know some people think he's all about money, but I also think he's loyal to his friends. He's certainly been good to you."
"Dad doesn't trust him."
"You know what your father's like when it comes to the Luthors. And the fact that Lex could've killed you when he drove over the bridge--"
"That wasn't his fault. There was this roll of wire on the road and--"
"I know," she said, and offered him another piece of apple. "It was an accident. You know, Clark, that night we were at Lex's house when Sean went crazy...Your dad was impressed with how Lex handled Lana and Whitney after the car accident."
"Just not so impressed with how Lex got him over there in the first place."
"Your dad likes things straight and clear. Lex can be a little complicated."
"I know, Clark. He means well. It's just his methods sometimes..."
"You said you liked him."
"I did. I do. I'd just be careful around him. He's very charming, but--"
The car engine cut them off, and Clark grabbed his jacket. "See you later." He kissed her cheek, got a mouthful of red hair, and hurried out.
Lex had his door open and one foot on the ground. "I thought I'd say hi to your parents."
"Let's just get out of here." The leather creaked as Clark settled back. In a holder beside him, a cup from The Beanery wafted cinnamon-sweetened coffee. "Is that where you called me from?"
"The coffee shop?" At his nod, the engine started, like Lex was a key. "I was doing some work there, got bored, and started flipping through a program for The Helicon. The rest is history. So, is everything back to normal?"
The hardest part about talking to Lex was remembering that he only acted like he knew everything. "What do you mean?"
"I don't know, Clark. Just the body your mom found in the silo."
"That. Yeah, she's okay. It was just some old guy who wandered away from the nursing home." The truth was tangled up in Clark's secret, and Lex was the kind who pulled too hard.
"An old guy who just happened to find his way into your silo. And I guess you don't know anything about the murders?"
"Only that they stopped. Besides, why would I?"
"You're volunteering at the nursing home, remember?"
"Cassandra told me that you came to see her."
"You talked about her so much--I was curious."
"Did she tell your future?"
"I didn't ask her. I know what I'm doing. How does President Luthor sound?" Lex grinned, then steered the car into the alley behind the theater.
"I'd vote for you," Clark said, climbing out.
Lex looked at him over the Porsche's silver roof. "Your father would disown you."
"I don't do everything my father says."
"Maybe you should." Lex was a road with potholes. "Maybe he understands things you don't."
Built in the forties, the theater stood on the corner of Oak and Twenty-First, a two-storey, red brick building with a church's tall arched windows. The horizontal marquee ran above the entrance, screaming ‘Aliens' in big red block letters. In case anyone got confused, it said in smaller print underneath, "with Sigourney Weaver." Movie posters lined the wall behind plate glass, each lit inside by small fluorescent bulbs surrounded by the carcasses of bugs smart enough to get in, but not smart enough to get out.
Even as they stepped up to the ticket booth the street stayed empty. "Slow night," Lex said to the woman at the ticket counter, as he waved away Clark's money.
"Big, shiny new movie opened tonight at the multiplex." She cracked her gum, a big pink wad of it. "No one appreciates the classics."
Butter and salt filled the air--and the carpet of fat roses with worn sticky faces. "You know, Lex, I'm not ten," Clark told him. "I understand plenty."
"Clark Kent, man of the world. You want popcorn?"
"And a drink. Goobers. Or some licorice."
"Right. You're not ten. Go get us seats, Clark. I'll meet you in there."
In there was very red and really fancy if he didn't look hard. Red velvet curtains with gold tassels hid the screen, and the same fabric, worn in places, covered the squat seats and the walls. Hot, too, like a sauna, and dim, with only a yellow glow from old-fashioned lights that looked like candles. Strange, fat-cheeked little creatures decorated the ceiling. Not cherubs like the kind on Valentine's cards, but smirking demons. People had strange taste in the olden days.
The empty balcony jutted above him, and Clark climbed the stairs to it, taking a seat a few rows back. He tossed his jacket beside him and watched the people below.
A few minutes later, Lex appeared, his arms full as he walked between the velvet chairs. "I don't want you to think I'm a cheap date, but I only got one container of popcorn and one drink. Couldn't carry any more."
"We can share." He accepted everything from Lex, who removed his jacket before settling down to Clark's right. "Are these seats okay? We can move if we're too far back."
"These are great." Settled, Lex took the drink, sipping from the straw. "Want some?"
"Don't worry--I don't have anything contagious."
"I trust you," Clark said, and bent over for a long sip before he realized that Lex was joking. But when he sat back, licking the Coke from his lips, and looked over, Lex had this weird look on his face. Blanker than usual, except for his eyes, very dark and narrow. Their knees touched and Clark shifted, picking up the box of Goobers resting beside the popcorn on his lap and tearing it open. "Want some?"
"Yes," he said, but when Clark offered him some, Lex shook his head. "You eat them. I'll watch."
Clark tilted back and emptied the box in his mouth. Crunchy sweetness, salt underneath, and he chewed happily.
"Your mother doesn't feed you enough?"
"I'm still growing," he said, his mouth full.
"You've got nowhere left to go. Grow any more, and you'll be some kind of super-man. Maybe you should take up smoking. Give the rest of us a break."
As Lex took another drink, Clark saw the pink tip of his tongue. "Can I have some of that after you?"
A long, slow sip, then Lex held out over the plastic container. "Take as much as you want." He didn't let go, so Clark bent his head again. Sweet and cold, the Coke tickled his nose and bubbled down to his stomach. "You've got a drop..." Lex reached over and wiped the side of Clark's mouth, catching the edge of his bottom lip. "Better," he said, and sucked the tip of his finger.
"Is there a problem?"
"No." Not Lex's fault that he could stop normal brain function. "I just wanted to know where you saw the movie the first time."
"I saw it in Metropolis. With some people I knew."
"I wouldn't go that far."
"Why did you hang out with them if they weren't friends?"
"To annoy my father."
"Did it work?"
"Probably, but he never lets anything show. Thinks emotions are a disease."
"You still love him, though, right?"
"Love him? Just because he came inside my mother one time?"
"What does it take for you to love someone?"
"I'll let you know when it happens."
A faint rumble as the curtains opened. The lights dimmed, and for a second the theater was pitch dark. Then the screen filled with an ad for the Metropolis Film Festival: a group of puppets designed to look like famous actors who sat around a pool in California talking about their sun tans and cars. "I guess that's supposed to be ironic," Clark whispered.
"Isn't everything?" Lex whispered back. Leaning close, he brought them thigh to thigh, staying that way while he grabbed more popcorn from the bag on Clark's lap.
"Not everything. Sometimes things are just what they seem." This near Lex smelled like Coke, soap and leaves in fall. What would he taste like? Stupid, go-nowhere thought. Ahead, Ripley dreamed about an alien inside her. Lex defined untouchable, Lana maxed to infinity. Even if, sometimes, Lex watched him boiling-pot hard and stood closer than anyone.
Clark's father always warned him about conclusions and jumping too fast; he even had a story to go with it, about a honest farmer who put one over on a crooked tycoon. It ended with the tycoon covered in pig shit, and his dad smirking. ‘Never mess with a farmer, son,' he'd say. ‘We've got more smarts than a hundred Luthors.' His father was also subtle as a pile of pig shit.
On the screen, the crew gathered around a table in the mess hall, with Ripley mad because Burke brought an android on board. Clark liked the android Bishop more than anyone else except Ripley and Hicks; he never got mad, even when Ripley went ballistic on him, and in the end he died to save her. Built to be like the humans, he had to hurt underneath, but he never showed it.
"He's the one you like," Lex said in his ear. "The repressed android."
"What about you? Who do you like?"
"Burke. The corporate villain."
"But he lies. He's the reason almost everyone dies."
"Yeah, but he pays for it."
Clark ate another handful of popcorn and shook the almost-empty bag at Lex, who held up his hand. "That doesn't count." He put the bag on the floor.
"We can't all be heroes. Sometimes we've only got one shot. Sometimes not even that." This time, Lex didn't sit back, but stayed angled toward Clark, who did the same.
Their knees were touching again, and their shoulders, but Clark didn't move. "What do you think about Bishop?" By accident, his cheek brushed Lex's. Smooth and warm like a sheet washed a hundred times and taken straight from the dryer. It sent a tingle creeping down his back. At home in bed, he used his hand to help that feeling spread. He forced himself to concentrate on the movie, only the screen showed his least favorite scene: the rescue team in the med lab, finding the dead aliens, ugly things that the humans had been studying. Alien Anatomy 101.
"He's programmed to be good, so that's what he does," Lex said. His voice always sounded like it traveled far to reach the surface, an old, low echo. "It's easy for him. When Burke makes his sacrifice, it matters more. Not that I believe in sacrifice," he added.
Clark turned too soon, and Lex was right there, close enough to kiss. "Why not? What's wrong with sacrifice?"
"This isn't the Middle Ages, Clark. Sacrifice won't get you anywhere. It's not practical."
"People don't sacrifice to get something back. You do it to help people. Because you can. It's not a business deal."
"You sound like your father."
"Maybe you sound like yours."
No answer. Lex just pulled back, slouching in his seat, and looked up at the movie. Was he mad? Should he apologize? Clark never had to at home. Things solved themselves--by the next day at most, no one remembered the fight, or cared about it. Sometimes over the breakfast table, his dad would reach out and ruffle his hair, or his mom would make blueberry pancakes instead of scrambled eggs, while Clark would fix the fence without being asked, or load the dishwasher. Only Lex didn't have a fence, and he'd probably be very confused if Clark offered to put away his dirty dishes.
Minutes passed, and he tried not to look over too often, so Lex wouldn't think he was weird. Even Pete and Chloe looked at him funny when he beat them to school, or when he looked into a cabinet and knew a dead body was inside. Okay, so he was weird, but Lex didn't need any more clues. He'd start to think that Clark liked him as more than a friend, and if cars and lightning couldn't kill him, that would.
Only what if Lex liked him that way? Chloe had made a few cracks, subtle for her, about how much time he spent with Lex, and how much time Lex spent with him. But they were friends, and that's what friends did. Okay, they talked a lot on the phone, too, and it wasn't always Clark who did the calling. Lex also showed up at the farm a lot, and the coffee shop, and everywhere. He'd asked him to the movie, and he'd bought him popcorn and touched his mouth. Sure, he and Pete went to the movies, but Pete would never touch his mouth. That would be weirdness, and he and Pete were all about straight, football-type stuff.
He'd saved the guy's life, that was all. It gave them a connection, made them closer than anyone else. Nothing dirty in it. Lex didn't stay up late picturing them doing things Clark heard about in the locker room, cock-sucking and rimming and other stuff he wasn't sure he understood, but wanted. Great. Now look what happened. Stupid body had a mind of its own. He squirmed in his seat.
No way could Lex know. It was too dark. "Yeah?"
"What do you think about Ripley? Pretty nice?"
"She's okay. Kind of scary. She's so serious all the time. Intense."
"She reminds me of the first girl I ever took to bed. Well, she took me." Lex's voice slid lower. "That was a good night."
Another movie began to play in Clark's head. "Where is she now?"
"Still lives in Metropolis. Works for an ad agency. Think I should give her a call, Clark?"
"If you want."
"You wouldn't like her. She's not like Lana. More like me."
"Then I'd like her." When Lex moved, Clark thought he'd said the wrong thing.
But Lex just slid his arm along the back of Clark's seat. "When I said ‘like,' I meant ‘want to fuck,' Clark. Like you want to fuck Lana."
"Don't tell me you don't want to fuck her. I've seen how you look at her. Or were you going to say something else?" Lex didn't bother turning back anymore, just leaned into him.
"Very pretty. Is that what gets you hot, Clark? A pretty girl like Lana?"
"She's a good person, Lex."
"Sure, but when you're in bed with someone, you're not thinking about how good they are."
"What do you think about?"
"Depends who you're in bed with."
Like Lex, most of Clark's weight rested on one hip, and he put his right hand on the arm of the seat, holding it tight, letting the other one lie on his left thigh. Every deep breath after that brought his thumb against the side of his cock. "What do you think...I mean, what would someone would think about if they were in bed with me?"
"You mean what Lana would think?"
"Even a guy?"
"Sure," he said, not sure at all.
"Because I couldn't tell you what Lana would think. I could only tell you what I might think."
"That's...That's okay." A tiny tear in the screen gave Ripley a shifting scar. Everyone in the crew had a scar at some point, and Lex was saying things that sounded like flirting, only dirtier. Clark breathed, or tried to, air that was sticky and hot as dozens of people breathed with him in the dark.
"With you, it would be all about getting you to lose control."
Clark's hand moved a little higher. "Why?"
"Because I know you don't like to. Because you have secrets. And I'd want you to give it all up for me."
Clark shivered. Time to stop this, to focus on the movie and pretend. "Give it up how?"
"I'd want you to come for me."
Just one touch, for relief. Lex would never notice. One long stroke through his jeans. "How?"
"How would I make you come? Is that what you want to hear?"
"This is just idle speculation, you know."
"You've never had your cock sucked, have you, Clark?"
He kept his hand where it was. Had to, thinking about Lex on his knees doing that. Lex's mouth on him. "Never."
"You'd love it. Nothing's better than a hot mouth on your cock. Almost nothing." His teeth gleamed in the dark. "But that would come later. First, I'd get you in the bedroom. Close the window. Lock the door. Take the phone off the hook. I don't want anyone hearing you. Only me. No one interrupting. Then I'd strip you. Can you picture that, Clark?"
"I have," he said, without thinking, still stroking himself. "I mean, I can." His words tripped, and Lex couldn't actually be saying this stuff, whispering in his ear while Burke died in a tunnel onscreen. "Lex."
"You want me to stop?"
"So you're there. Naked. Waiting. Are you hard for me, Clark?"
Unsure if Lex meant now or in the fantasy, he nodded. He had to keep his head straight so Lex's mouth could fit against his ear, and couldn't tell where Lex was looking, if he saw where Clark's hand was, what it was doing. Wrong to do this, to sit in the dark touching himself, even through his jeans. His dad would never do anything like this, let some guy whisper in his ear about blowjobs and hardness. Especially not Lex. For once Clark was glad he wasn't his father.
"Say it, Clark."
"I'm hard for you."
"I'm hard for you, Lex." Heat in his cheeks, but hidden by the dark--unless Lex could feel it, with his mouth so close. His mouth. Close. Clark rubbed harder, and the heat spread.
"I wouldn't have you lie on the bed. I want you to see me doing it, so I push you back against the wall. Then I get on my knees."
He moaned, a low rumble deep as Lex's voice. More heat, and Clark was sweating now, damp under his hair and eyes. His jeans minimized the friction from his hand, unfair, with only a button and a zipper to stop him from doing it right.
"Do it," Lex said. "Do it while I suck you."
The button opened easily, the zipper slid down, and he wouldn't look at Lex, couldn't, as his fingers closed around the damp, warm skin of his own cock. Part of him wanted to ask for it, God, just beg Lex to do it for real, but he didn't, just started to stroke himself while Lex talked about tasting him. On the torn screen, Ripley fought hard.
"I put one hand on your thigh for balance and hold you with the other one. Then I lick the head of your cock, where it's wet. I like that you're wet for me, and I like knowing that no one else has done this to you, that no one else knows what you taste like."
Easy to ride Lex's voice, let it move his hand. Unreal, floating in this cocoon of Lex's words, and his hand moved faster. His eyes closed, while he imagined Lex's mouth doing this to him, licking and sucking. He invented a sound, and when Lex's hand covered his mouth, it tasted like butter and salt.
"While I'm holding you there, I lick your thighs. Your balls. I want to lick you everywhere, but it's your first time, and you'll come too fast. I need to have you in my mouth when you come."
So hot in here, his hand moving faster, and Lex's stayed against him, keeping in the moans. He couldn't stop, not with the words and the heat in his cock, and Lex's mouth so warm and wet on his ear.
"I know you want it, but you have to ask for it. So I stay there, not touching you, until you say it." Lex pulled his hand away. "Say it, Clark."
"I...Suck me, Lex." His hips rose, his blood speeding rollercoaster-fast. More sounds, but his mouth stayed free.
"I lick you some more, around the head, but you're like you are now, Clark, so ready for it, that I just take you in my mouth and suck hard. Look at me. Look at me when you come. I want to see you."
So easy to keep his eyes shut, but Clark turned. One look at Lex's pale face in the thin dark and he lost it, head back, hot hot hot pulse in his hand.
"Tell me, Clark. Tell me the truth."
And he did, only he couldn't even do that right. "I hate this movie," he gasped. "I hate this stupid movie."
It was a confession, but Lex missed it. Even while Clark sat there, learning how to breathe, Lex, so warm and open before, went smooth and blank, retreating back to his seat. Kind of funny if it wasn't so sad, since Lex liked games and signs. The next time he and Lex went to a movie, he'd suggest E.T. If there was a next time. It didn't seem likely.
"Here." Lex offered him a bunch of napkins.
He wiped himself up quickly, avoiding Lex's eyes, and stuck the damp napkins into his empty popcorn bag. For the last ten minutes of the movie, they sat together quietly, not touching. Still nothing while they filed out, past small cliques of excited fans. Clark kept his popcorn bag tight against his chest, dropping it into the first red-lidded garbage can.
Cold outside, sharp wind that ignored his jacket, but he turned down Lex's offer of a ride. "I want to walk."
"You sure? It's the least I can do."
Not sure what that meant. Lex felt sorry for him, sorry that Clark was such a freak. And he didn't even know the half of it. Clark watched a young couple walk behind Lex toward their car, a rusty Chevy older than him. It would take a miracle to get that thing going. "No, I'm good. I need some air. I'll see you around, Lex."
"Thanks for the movie. And...Everything."
"You mean the popcorn?" Lex gave a small smile.
"That, too." Clark pushed his hands deep into his pockets, and waited for the Chevy's engine to stop barking. "I'm going to see Cassandra tomorrow. Want to come? I mean...Come with me? To visit?"
"Nothing's changed. I know exactly where I'm going." He smiled again and headed into the alley--
--only Lex, who moved like melted ice cream, tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. No fall, just a broken step.
Clark didn't move. "You okay?"
"Yeah." Lex held onto a lamp post, and the light made him glow. His shadow was very tall. "Clark?"
"What?" His heart did a stop-start jerk like the old car starting. Please. Please. Please.
"I'll see you tomorrow." He smiled again, and headed into the alley, where the night closed like a curtain around him.
The sidewalk stretched ahead, and Clark begin to walk. He might've hummed.
Score one for the aliens.