It was the flowers that sent Lex to the elevator. A perverse custom, and the smell was worse than a slaughterhouse, thick and obscene, like being surrounded by an army of whores. If he fell asleep at his desk as he'd done for the last few months he'd awake in the morning leeched of blood and come, the flowers' white faces flushed like vampires.
And suddenly through the pills and the caffeine he was exhausted, sick with it, and nowhere to sleep in peace, the phone always ringing, faxes pouring in, email, all blandly sympathetic but smug underneath, like the faces of more flowers. He listened again to his father's last lie, the oily voice so alive in his ear, so slick over the hate you'd never guess that destruction was his favorite pastime.
Outside. No more flower stench, recycled air, old cologne, stale ink, and only the top of Luthor Tower could give him this freedom to breathe. The wind whipped his tie, hissed cold against his skull, and with his rubbery knees standing was too hard, so it was less a jump than a fall, his father's last lie burning inside him, frigid air scraping his lungs. No fear, just this fierce need for the slamming goodnight kiss of concrete, the quiet of nothing.
And he nearly made it, the ground blooming close, a row of concrete flowers in the moonlight, rush like a fatal orgasm, then --
A stop so sudden he almost puked. What felt like a warm cage, bars covered cloth, surrounded him, like the night really was alive and freakishly strong, then Lex was rising, shooting cloudward before the truth hit him like pavement. He screamed, mouth against that goddamn "S," the purest rage ever, and it went on and on and on, until his throat was skinned, until his whole body convulsed, until it seemed like he was going to die here trapped against Superman.
When the shaking slowed, the swearing started. Lex had learned a few choice expressions over the years -- nothing like a righteously-screwed guy to let off a creative string -- and he unleashed it, hours of obscenity. Demands for release between shouts of "Cocksucker!" met with heroic silence, the muscular stoicism that had always infuriated Lex and now made him livid. He gnashed his teeth, launched a few useless punches, insulted Superman's dick size and IQ. Still nothing.
His energy finally gave out sometime around dawn, the sky suicide-red around them. His lids fluttered like birds, his mouth opened only for jaw-cracking yawns, and to his shame Lex couldn't even struggle, just lay like the corpse he should be in Superman's arms.
Red turned to black, and Lex woke up in his own bed, alone, naked. He knew it wasn't a dream because of the bruises, five-fingered ones on his biceps, the ache in every muscle like he'd nearly been torn apart. At least there was no pamphlet for "People in Crisis" waiting on the pillow beside him, no self-help book on "How to Survive a Fucked-Up Life."
Lex went into the kitchen, poured himself a glass of orange juice, then he threw the glass into the wall where the juice left a coffin-shaped stain. The shards glinted in the light from the window but he left them there for the maid. He was strong. He was Lex Luthor. He'd beat the bastards. He'd beat them all.
When the courier delivered the package from his father, the one full of "proof," Lex threw it in the garbage.
The next time Lex was more discreet, climbing behind the wheel of a black Lamborghini with no working airbag. He drove to a cul de sac above a ravine and kept to the speed limit until the last minute, then slammed down his foot. The guardrail broke with a shriek, and he plummeted toward death on black metal wings.
'I wish that he'd -- ' would've been his last thought if the car hadn't suddenly frozen in mid-air. "No!" came next.
The howl seemed to work, with the car dropping again, only to land smoothly in a tangle of bush and beer cans. Superman stood nearby, arms folded over his chest, the dark hiding his expression, and if Lex hadn't fucked the engine with the crash through the guardrail he would've run him down.
"Why are you doing this? You goddamn freak..." And it would've gone on, except that his father's lie kept coming back to him, and there was something in Superman's pose, the tilt of his head, that...
"Jesus," Lex said. "Jesus, no. It's not true. You're not...Clark, it's not you..." A blink, and Superman was gone. Lex crossed his arms over the steering wheel and rested his head there, pretending for awhile that hell was a ravine full of bushes and beer cans.
For an hour or two it was, as he considered the sick fact that his father's last lie was the truth, and that the biggest liar in Lex's world was, in fact, a kind, sincere, judgmental bastard named Clark Kent. The same self-righteous prick and former fuck-fantasy who'd axed their friendship one fine day, saying that Lex was becoming his father and therefore synonymous with true evil.
Lex was pretty sure that huge, fat stinking lies fell under the rubric of pure evil. Except that in this case so did truth, and his head began to thrum and throb like he'd gone through the windshield. Life shouldn't be a goddamn philosophy class, and he hit the horn once for emphasis. His phone still worked even if nothing else did, and he called Mercy, telling her that he'd trashed his car and if anyone learned of this he'd hang her ass on his wall like a hunting trophy.
The climb up the hill tore the skin of his hands and ruined his very expensive shoes. With pauses to check the sky, this upward scrabble took half an hour, and by then a limo awaited him at the top, Mercy directing a small, efficient clean-up crew. "You're the luckiest guy I ever met." She rapped the fractured guardrail with one red fingernail. "You should be mashed potatoes."
"Luck had nothing to do with it," Lex said, sliding into the limo.
It was a flip exit line, what people expected from him, but he thought about it all the way home.
A week later, Lex called Clark at the Daily Planet. "We need to talk."
"You owe me."
"Lex -- "
"Come to my dad's new place. He should be part of this."
"You're not listening. I've got things to do."
"If you don't come I'll make myself a Draino cocktail." Lex hung up, breathing hard.
He made a dozen phone calls after that, but they were all surprisingly easy. Mercy came running into his office an hour later, but Lex convinced her that the decisions were business-related. Munitions factories weren't the wave of the future after all, it seemed. The Financial Times said so.
The tomb was modeled on one of the Medicis, ornate and powerful even in imitation. Lex stood under the portico, surrounded by dying flowers, by his father's spinning ghost.
"Beloved father," he said. "My ass."
The sky began to spit, hoarded flecks of water falling from thin clouds. The ground was greedy and sucked enough back that Clark's feet squelched as he approached.
"Lex." Clark stayed a few feet away, and the rain left silver trails on his glasses, made his hair an even shinier black, his suit a darker blue.
"I'm not going to hurt you." Lex extended his empty hands, turned his pockets inside out. "See? Nothing."
"You always hurt me, Lex."
This threw him, the way only two people ever could. And now one was dead. "Why have you been saving me?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Cut the bullshit. I know, Clark. About your alter ego."
"What are you going to do about it?"
He shrugged. "Nothing. Telling people will only put Martha in danger, and I've always liked your mother."
"You just hate me."
"Not you, Clark. Superman. Freaks don't like other freaks." Lex leaned against the marble, ruining his suit. "Especially freaks who make good."
"I'm sorry about your father."
"He's the source, you know. The reason I know about you. His last 'gift' to me. I guess he figured it would make it easier for me to kill you."
"I don't know. I never understood my father half the time."
"You've always assumed your father's motives were all bad, right? Only sometimes that didn't explain his actions."
"They were always bad. It's just that sometimes I didn't realize just how deep his evil ran."
"You know, Lex," Clark said, moving under the portico, "this is the longest non-abusive conversation we've had in years."
"You're the one who stopped talking to me." He shrugged again, a little too quickly.
"That was a mistake. I was stupid. I thought...I was mad because I wanted you to change. For me. And you didn't. And I knew this meant...Whatever. I should go."
Lex wanted to stop him, but the words didn't come, and he watched silently as Clark headed out into the rain.
Lex decided on the simple approach to flying. After a lifetime of elaborate schemes and Machiavellian plans, this took two weeks. But then God needed seven days to create the world, and Lex was used to playing for the other side.
Every Friday night Clark went to a sports bar a few blocks from his apartment. He stayed until midnight, drank enough to floor a football team, talked politely to anyone who addressed him, but always left alone. Usually. There was a new waitress once, but Lex preferred not to think about her, how she'd touched Clark in ways he'd only thought about, too concerned with untouchable things like truth and lies. It was time for a change, with his life a mess, his father dead in the ground, and life this weird tenuous line that kept leading back to Clark.
When Lex showed up at O'Toole's at eight o'clock, wearing his own version of a disguise in a hooded grey sweatshirt and jeans, Clark sat nursing a beer at a small corner table, his eyes glued to the tv, although he didn't react when the Sharks scored a goal. Armed with his own beer, Lex grabbed a chair from a nearby table and seated himself beside Clark. Suicide was easier.
"Nice place," Lex said. "I hope they have a good exterminator on call."
"It's not that bad." Clark glanced over, then looked back at the tv, polite and unrecognizing. "Good onion rings..." He looked back then, his mouth dropping open. "Lex? Is that you?" Clark jerked so hard his beer bottle nearly toppled and Lex caught it.
"In the flesh."
"Are you...You're not going to blow this place up or anything, are you, because --"
Lex half-rose from the rickety chair. This was a stupid mistake, a waste of time, a misreading.
"--because those onion rings really are good." And Clark gave him the warmest smile Lex had ever seen.
"So I can stay?" Unsure where to put his hands he fidgeted, wondering too if his own sudden smile looked as unused as it felt.
"As long as your intentions are honorable."
Was it that obvious? "Depends how you define 'honorable.'"
"Then they're honorable."
"How'd you know I'd be here, Lex?"
"The same way you knew where I'd be those nights."
"Oh. Um." Clark took a long sip of beer, tilting back his head.
How could a thirty-year-old man blush? It was unnatural -- and disturbingly endearing. Lex eyed the door, his palms sweating, like they were back in Clark's loft, sitting too close on that ratty sofa while he mentally counted down all the reasons why kissing Clark would be a huge mistake.
"I'd like to go to bed with you," Lex said. "Right now."
"Here? I don't know how clean the table is..." That smile again, and Clark briefly touched Lex's hand.
"I was going to be subtle, but everything's already so screwed up I figured honesty wouldn't hurt."
"I know what you mean." Clark stood up. "Let's go."
And it was as easy as that.
"Ever since my father died I feel like I'm having to learn things all over again," Lex said as they walked down the street, past narrow stores leftover from the seventies, dusty windows displaying broken appliances. "I always thought his death would free me, but not like this. I thought it would make me stronger and I feel...Not strong."
"When my dad died, I stopped sleeping. I swear I stayed awake for weeks. I didn't know what to do, like I was standing on this ledge about to fall off."
"Oh," Lex said, realizing. "That's when you became Superman."
"I had to...get rid of complications, just be this pure good thing." Clark paused outside an old brick building, fumbling in his pocket for the key. "I guess now I'm ready for those complications."
Clark's apartment was on the third floor, a neat, plain two-bedroom. On a table under the window Clark had placed a series of framed pictures, mostly of life in Smallville: Lana on horseback, Chloe standing beside the Wall of Weird, Pete grinning as he held a fish in the air, Martha baking in the kitchen, Jonathan drinking coffee over the sink. There was even one of Lex from Clark's seventeenth birthday party, which he'd never seen before.
"I just dug that out a few weeks ago," Clark said. "From a box of stuff in my work room."
Lex touched Clark's face in the picture, then his own. "I'm surprised your parents didn't have me arrested. I look like I want to eat you more than the cake." His expression in the picture was so raw, so open, that it hurt to see. Jesus, he'd been young.
"I always liked that picture. I used to...Never mind." Clark kicked off his shoes, then moved toward the kitchen. "You want a drink or something? I have beer. Milk, of course. You can take the farmboy out of the..."
It took Lex two steps to reach him, the wooden floor creaking under his feet. He pulled off Clark's glasses, tossed them onto the couch, and kissed him, eyes wide open -- for about a second. Clark's lips were too soft, his mouth too ready for Lex's tongue to keep this on the level of care and control.
They ended up in the bedroom, Lex's sweatshirt shredded, Clark's suit trailing behind them. Then Clark had him against a wall, one hand between them stroking Lex through his jeans.
"Jesus, Clark. Stop it."
And the hand was gone, Clark staring at him, looking hurt. "Sorry. I --"
"Clark, I meant, 'Stop it, or I'll come all over your hand, and I want to fuck you.'"
"Oh. Now I really am sorry. It's just that it's been awhile, and it's you, God, it's you, and I'm not thinking straight." He tightened his arms around Lex's neck, burying his head against Lex's shoulder. Then he bit him, smirking when Lex yelped.
"You were always a tease," Lex said, and the rest of the clothes vanished, one good trick from his past. "You drove me crazy." He moved fast, so that it was Clark against the wall beside a framed picture of a winged boy on the edge of a cliff. The truth about Icarus, Lex thought, was that he chose not to fly. Dropping to his knees, Lex took Clark's cock in his hand.
A gasped intake of breath above, a thud as Clark's hands hit the wall, palms flat, on either side of Lex's head. "I feel like I'm having a heart attack, Lex. At least, what I think one would feel like. Maybe aliens aren't supposed to have sex."
It was like looking at a photo, the truth so clear, a reminder so that Lex could back out. "You're stronger than you look," Lex told him. "Which is good because I'm going to make you come so hard."
The first taste was sharp and simple, like biting the first apple of fall, and he licked slowly, thoroughly, carefully, over every inch of Clark's cock, the round solid head, the blue vein on the underside, the base with its tangle of dark curls. Above him Clark said things so honest and hot that Lex nearly lost it, nearly came all over the scarred surface of Clark's bedroom floor.
"Are you like this with everyone?" Lex asked, and sucked hard to avoid the answer.
"I can't remember anyone else," Clark said, gasping, his thighs beginning to shake. "I really can't. But I don't think so. I'm pretty sure I was quiet and bored, and, God, yes, suck like that, right there. Quiet and bored and boring, except when I couldn't help it and I thought about you." He smacked the wall and plaster flew, the cracks spreading around a hole. "Shit."
Lex kept sucking, base to head and back again, his mouth stretched around the thick swollen skin of Clark's cock. He decided not to stop, to keep sucking until Clark came, until Clark was helpless and moaning and out of control, until Clark smashed a thousand holes and the walls came crashing down.
"The look on your face," Clark said. "God. That's enough to make me come. So intense. So turned on. So. You." He locked his fingers together then raised them over his head, like some pornographic statue in a private room at the Uffizi.
The only problem, what stopped this from being the best thing ever, was that Lex couldn't tell any of this to Clark, how much he loved this, and it felt necessary. This was the only reason he pulled off Clark's cock, left it wet and stiff and unfulfilled. "On the bed," he said, and his voice sounded rough, like he'd bruised his throat. "On your back. Legs up."
While Clark obeyed, knocking aside pillows that looked as old as the photo in the living room, Lex rooted through his jeans, found the lube and condom. With his fingers slick, his cock even slicker, Lex knelt between Clark's legs and pushed his fingers inside him, rougher than he should've, but his hand was trembling, like this was new, like he was a virgin. "You make me crazy, Clark. This isn't going to last. You know that, right? Next time will be better."
"Next time," Clark said dreamily, spreading his legs wider for Lex's fingers. "Next time I'm fucking you. Maybe the time after that..."
"I'm not sure I'm going to be survive for a next time." His temperature was fever-high, sweat trickling down his spine, down his chest, gathering under his eyes, and he was shaking hard as Clark. Pulling his fingers free --
"Yes, now, Lex. Please fuck me now."
-- Lex closed them around his own cock and inched closer.
When he pushed, a fluid motion of his hips, Clark opened for him, and there it was: perfect, deep connection. Lex's moan competed with Clark's, and he could've sworn the room shook. The bed did, an old brass one, squeaking and squealing every time Lex rocked into Clark. The lamp on the bedside table started rocking, too, same beat as Clark, who wouldn't lie still and allow Lex to find a stable rhythm, just writhed like an animal, the most beautiful thing Lex had ever seen. He told Clark this, whispering in his ear as he fucked him wildly, hard as he could, trying to get even closer.
Clark helped, one hand locked on Lex's ass, the other on his back pressing him down, urging him deeper, even while he wrapped his long legs around Lex. In between kisses, sometimes over Lex's words, he talked, too, not always making sense, mixing the past and the present.
Finally, Clark went very tight and still, every muscle rigid, then he came, sticky bursts that landed on Lex's chest. Lex caught one, brought his wet fingers to his mouth, but the full taste of Clark was too much, and with a curse he came, pushing his tongue deep into Clark's mouth, deep as his cock in Clark's ass.
It left him boneless, melted, more relaxed than he'd ever been, and he simply rolled onto his side, pulling Clark closer. It was time to say something profound and meaningful, to let Clark know what this meant but all he could manage was, "Maybe you were right about my father."
He might've made a sound over the quiet.
"Lex, don't try to hurt yourself again. If anything happened to you, I couldn't stand it."
"Okay," Lex said, and it was as easy as that.
The Truth About Icarus. (c) Thamiris, November 2003
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