by Te
April 2002

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd get a lot less sleep.

Spoilers: None, really.

Summary: They need to hash a few things out.

Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17 for m/m and content some readers
may find disturbing.

Author's Note: So Caroline put an *incendiary* image in my blog, and
then LaT's and my usual wibbles about Lex took a religious turn,
and, well... BAM. Sequel to "Unruhe." Read that first, or this won't
make much sense.

Glaube is German for "faith."

Acknowledgments: To my We in absentia, always my loves. To Liv
and Jenn for audiencing, to the #smallville crew for keeping me
company... and then the Spike came back just in time to save me
from the corner I'd painted myself into. *whew*

Feedback connects you to the infinite. No, really.


"Take the suit off."

And it's not as though he was planning to leave it on, but... Lex.
It's pathetic, and maybe it's a little sick, but it means more. Coming
from him.

It gives the familiar motions of undoing the hidden clasps and
zippers an air of ceremony, it rarefies the city light through the
penthouse windows into something befitting a moonlit sacrifice.

Lex is somewhere behind him. Clark can place him by focusing on
his heartbeat, on the rush of blood beneath the skin, but... he
doesn't want to.

Better to not be able to quite *see* Lex for this, in any way.

Better to allow Lex the advantage.

There's a special kind of nudity once the jockies are gone, even with
most of him still covered in the blue not-quite-spandex that had, he
remembers now, been one of the simplest parts of his Kryptonian
legacy. Dye mixed and designed by his mother herself, based on
estimations of what a Terran sky would look like. Sized to match his
father's proportions.

A gift for the child she'd never see grow.

The feeling of nudity is one he can't entirely explain. It would make
more sense if his parents were more than just weary-eyed
holograms alternately begging and demanding he be strong. If the
suit hadn't become so much more (and less) than what it had been
intended for.


He wants Lex to understand that stripping it off is... safer than
leaving it on, all necessities for what they'll do in this bedroom

The sound of fabric shifting behind him.

Lex is growing impatient. Clark smiles to himself a little. It's...
possible there'll be other chances to explain.

He toes off the boots and peels out of the suit at something close
to human speed, relishing the half-rational prickle at the back of
his neck when he bends. Lex has always been able to make him
feel every part of his body, and every part's connection to every

Clark remembers the early days of their sexual relationship, and
the conflicting urges to pose a little, flex whatever muscle seemed
to catch Lex's eyes while also wanting to dive under the covers and
turn the lights off.

He knows what he looks like now. Not so different than before,
but... there'd been a certain satisfaction in surrendering the
years-long battle to his hair, cutting it only when it got long enough
to form a respectable ponytail and otherwise leaving it alone. A
confidence born of years walking through a world where not even
thick, determinedly hideous glasses was enough to keep men and
women from offering things he'd only ever associated with the man
behind him.

He knows what he looks like as he stands again, turning his head to
the side. Not quite enough to see Lex.

More than enough to be seen.

I'm giving you this, he wants to say. Take it only if you've figured out
what to do with it, or take it anyway. I don't care, he doesn't say.

Hand on the back of his neck, thumb tracing the short hairs there.
Firm in a way that would probably hurt a human.

"I should kick you out." Lex's voice is musing, hovering between bleak
and blank. And... he could do it. Want doesn't have anything to do
with what's between them.

Isn't that what they both learned the hard way? Clark smiles, a little
sourly. "I'm kinda hoping you won't."

Slow hand down the center of his back, pressing at the hollow of his
spine. "Just like that? Eight years of cold war... ended. Just like

"Would you prefer a return to the status quo, Lex?"

Low chuckle. "I'm never going to stop hating you for walking out,
you know." Gentle, gentle strokes on the fine edge of molestation
and massage.

Clark takes a deep breath. Wants this to begin, or end, or... breathe.
"You'll never forgive me for being able to do it, even for a little

"A *little* --" Choked little laugh, ending on a growl. "I won't believe
you if you say you're already feeling your immortality. The kids still
know your music, even if they hate it. The faces are still smooth,
still tight with youth..." Insinuating voice, low in his ear. Lex pressed
close. So close. "You haven't been alone. Not yet."

"And you have?"

He can feel Lex's smile. "There's not enough room at the top for a
whole lot of people, Clark." Bare, hard hand moving over his chest,
down to his belly to tease his navel.

"But there's room for *me*."

A pause he can feel with his whole body. "And that's all that matters?"
Teasing, teasing. "Careful, Clark. You only *think* you've lost your
innocence. That sort of thing takes time. Compromise."

Clark lets his head fall back on Lex's shoulder, and Lex's wondering
little sigh eases an ache he didn't know he had. "You're no
Mephistopheles," he says to the ceiling, and he wonders if this is what
the humans feel when the ground is rushing up to meet them. When
Superman is nowhere in sight.

Lex's palm over his heart for a moment, another, before it curls into
half a fist and *presses*. Short, sharp nails raking furrows down
Clark's torso, flare of fathomless intensity that makes him jerk. Gasp.
"We all have our little ambitions," Lex says.

"Fuck me."


"Hard. Like you used to. Like you only did when something pissed
you off."

"Clark Kent, superhero and whipping boy to the stars?"

Clark reaches back to cup Lex's ass, still bare since the shreds of his
shorts and sweats were irretrievable. Pulls him in hard. "Don't pretend
you don't want to."

"Who are you to *tell* me --"

"Yours, Lex. I'm yours." Grinds back against Lex's erection and it's
already building, shocks and wonders all through his system, aching
everywhere they're not touching. Everywhere they are, and Lex. God.
Lex is allowing it. Holding Clark tight and rocking against his ass in
short, purposeful thrusts. Lex knew, Lex always knew...

Sharp shove and Clark overbalances, unprepared. Lands on his knees
before the foot of the high bed, and oh God, yes.

Scrambles a knee up onto the mattress but Lex is there, hand on the
back of his neck.

"No. Stay. Right there."

Clark gasps out something like Lex's name and stills, bracing himself
as best he can. Spreading. "Yes. Yeah, okay --"

Hard slap to his ass, more a shock than anything else. "Shut up."

"Oh fuck --"

Another and Clark bites his lip. Waits for it.

Hands on his ass, on his back. Stroking and kneading. Relearning,
and Clark wants to believe Lex's eyes are closed for this. That there's
nothing more important in his mind right now than the fix of memory
and sense.

Clark shivers and wants and there are so many *words*, all of a
sudden. Questions and pleas and promises and apologies and the
sort of fuck-drunk babble that only made sense in rooms like this.
On nights like this.

Has to bite his lip again, his tongue. Tastes iron and the burning
wash of healing and watches blood, black in moonlight, patter on
Lex's pure white bed.

He used to only buy them in reds and purples. This is not a bed
for Clark.


Drops to his elbows, pushing his burning forehead against the cool,
cool comforter. He wants to sweat, he wants to stain this bed, this
*Lex*, and he knows he's being irrational, but God, it's been so

*Fuck* me, he thinks, and his brain doesn't have time to catch up
to himself before Lex just... *covers* him. Body to body, that soft
t-shirt nowhere close to what Clark wants to feel. Arches up anyway,
bending his neck just a little more.

He can't speak, but he's almost sure he knows what Lex wants to
hear just the same.

He knows what *he* needs.

The bite to his neck is slow and hard, making Clark shudder and
shudder. His body isn't used to this anymore, and it's a shock to
realize it *had* been. That sex, this kind of shivering, momentous
*closeness* could ever be something he could take for granted.

The words are bubbling up again, and Clark can't keep silent. Whines
from behind clenched teeth and wants to ask if this is the kind of
compromise Lex meant.

If this is what he wanted.

God, Lex and his fucking *beliefs*. Faith in him unforgettable now,
unimaginable only in terms of how he'd missed it. (We have a future)

Lex is gnawing on him steadily, rocking slow against his ass. Learning
him, yes, and making Clark learn.

Is he conscious of it? Does he know what he's doing?

How much could a childhood with Lionel Luthor teach a terrifyingly
brilliant boy about programming?

And God, but it would be sweet to be in Lex's little cult of one. Three
if you included the bodyguards, but Clark has never been entirely
comfortable thinking of the women as human. Superman has had to
injure them far, far too many times for that.

Want you, oh, I want you, he breathes into a moan, fisting his hands
in the comforter. He wants an excuse to rip it to shreds, and Lex gives
him one:

Firm, slow lick just beneath Clark's hairline with the flat of his tongue,
and Lex had been the one to teach him that. How to touch someone
with your tongue until it might as well have been just another hand.

How to use it to drive a boy wild, how to leave him begging from
that alone.

Strokes against the grain of his skin, down Clark's arms until Lex can
catch his fists in his own and then back up again.

Sharp, steady bites on his back. Down the center of his spine, on his
shoulderblades. Punishment and promise for them both. Lex is
damaging his jaw more than Clark's idiot flesh. The bites fall
not-quite-randomly, just off-pattern enough to keep Clark guessing,
writhing, and this is...

So good.

Flash of guilt -- he *still* hasn't patrolled -- but --

Hands on his ass, spreading him. Lex's tongue in his cleft and Clark
groans aloud, biting it off much too late and waiting for Lex to stop.
He can *feel* Lex stop, almost *see* him pulling off, moving away,
leaving him oh fuck *alone*, but it's not happening.

All in his head, and the worry has just lost him time. *Sensation*.

Wet, slick heat and every time Lex does this might as well be the
first time, dirty-hot and raw. Unexpected, even those times Lex laid
him out and told him exactly what he was going to do to Clark, for
Clark. Nothing like this... intimacy.

Shameless and nearly unmanning and Clark is as hard as he's been
in years, since the days when he woke up aching and desperate for
the Lex who apologized in his dreams, open and naked, so naked --

His lip is open again and Clark burrows his face into the mattress,
scrubbing himself into it and Lex is... ah, still teasing, but teasing like
this is as good as a fuck. Licking him open and pulling away, again
and again, smooth, hairless cheeks pressed to his body and hard
hands holding him so *open*.

Clark feels himself shaking from the strain of not thrusting back
hard, but it just makes it better, hotter. Lex's health and well-being
under his control. Clark's pleasure and sanity under Lex's.

Poetry there, or symmetry, or just simple *rightness* and Clark
bites his lip open again on purpose. Blood for this. Bleed for it. Has
to... something. Offer this, and Lex's first dip inside makes Clark
feel bestial, imperfect and dirty and hot all over.

Sweating, now, and the silence is broken with Lex's wet sounds and
Clark's mindless *noise* and it could be any night, any day, but it
isn't, it *isn't*.

This is tonight, and the weight of everything that's come before is
both omnipresent and useless. Oh, God, he'd been so *young*.

"Please..." And it might as well be the first word spoken in years, the
only one. Doesn't bother to stifle a moan as Lex pulls away. Clark
can hear him lick his lips. He thinks he can hear the tiny, juddering
pause as Lex's tongue flicks over the scar.

"I thought I told you --"

"Listen. You have to listen to me, Lex --"

"I don't have to do anything." Cold. So cold.

"I came here. I... I *gave* myself to you --"

"That's your problem."

And yeah, he had no right to expect it to be this easy. Hurt radiating
from Lex like an oven, like the polar ice caps, but... he's still there.
Right behind him. Clark can hear Lex's heart pound. "I'm here *now*,

Sharp laugh, almost entirely real. "I don't know what I thought I was
doing when I started work on your self-esteem, Clark, but I refuse
to take credit for delusional ego."

Clark looks back over his shoulder and grins in pure calculation. "I'm
all yours, Lex. What you dreamed about. What you cursed yourself
for needing."

"Get out." Flicker.

"I know it because it's me, too. Both of us. You have your faith and
your pretty white sheets and you're all alone. Is that what you really
wanted? To be a martyr for your own godhead?"

"I don't..." Lex trails off, scrubs a hand over his face. Muffled laughter
from behind his palm and then Lex is looking at him again, eyes
bright and glittering in the uncertain light. "You're the only one who
ever made lying hard."

Clark shifts to rest on his back, bloody sheets sticky against his back.
"You hate me for that." Clark smiles a little wider, meaning it in some
part of himself he's reasonably sure didn't exist the last time he and
Lex were naked together. "It's all right. I hate you for letting me

"*Letting* you leave?"

"Don't play dumb, Lex. You know who I was then. What I would've
done for you. A word here, a touch there... you *owned* me."

"I still do."

"So prove it. Take me. *Fuck* me. Show me who's boss." And Clark
is... tired. This was supposed to be easier, wasn't it? Didn't he think

"Ah, Clark..."

And God, he can't take that... *sadness*. Reaches up and hauls Lex
on top of him, shifting just enough for Lex's chin to hit the pillow
instead of his shoulder. Rolls them over and pins Lex down and this,
yes, this, too..."Show me your *faith*, Lex. Because I'm not doing
this anymore. I'm not going to pretend and I'm not going to keep...
keep circling around you like some stupid fucking satellite."

Lex shows his teeth. "You still live for the simple answers, don't

"The past is past. Isn't that what you used to say?"

"I was young and stupid --"

"I hurt you."

There should be something wrong about loving the way he can make
Lex just... shut down. But. It's proof.

"I believed in you --"

"You believed what you wanted to believe --"

Easy to smile. "It still hurt."

Staring each other down, now, and this should be harder, the tension
shouldn't feel as right as everything else, but...

It does. Lex. There are other definitions of immortality, other
interpretations of forever.

Lex breaks first, blinking and turning away for a moment, mouth
tight and eyes angry. "What do you want from me, Clark?"

"You. Us. I never loved anyone else. Did you?"

"No. But that doesn't matter --"

"It matters to me."

Twisted fish-hook smile. "Forgive the cliche, Clark, but what
about... God, I can't even *say* it, it's fucking *ridiculous* --"

Lex's cheek against his palm is cool. Smooth. Impossible not to caress
and Clark doesn't try. "It's what we need."

Long sigh. "Nothing's changed."

"Everything has. I know who you are now. And I'm never going to
lie again about who I am."

Lex studies him openly for long moments. "And who's that, Clark?"

"An alien. A man. Yours."

Sharp breath. "This would be the best time to point out that
relationships built on possessive obsession --"

"Are all we know."

It shocks a laugh out of Lex. "That's pretty fucking sad, Clark."

Grins back. "I don't know, I always kinda thought it was hot."

"Did you..." Just like that. Anger to thoughtfulness to sarcasm to...


"You always wanted someone to hold the leash, didn't you?
Someone to give it up for..."

Clark rocks his hips, tries to keep his eyes open. Skin. God, *skin*.
"You always needed someone to leash... someone who would. Fuck.

"Understand what?"

"Everything. Someone who has a *choice* about whether to give
it up or not. Someone who wants to do it anyway."

"God, Clark..."

Thrusts a little harder, more purposefully, and this is the same as
ever. Wanting this feeling, this ridiculously smooth skin and all that
hard muscle against his cock and wanting so much *more*, even if
he has to stop. Takes his hands off Lex's shoulders and sits up on
his knees, still rocking. "Lex. Lex, fuck, tell me what you want,
I'll --"

And Lex is out from under him, fast and agile, arm hard around
Clark's throat and breath hot in his ear. "You used to be more
subtle about manipulating me."

"I didn't --" Lex's arm tightens. "... know I was manipulating


"Not for the important things."

Sharp teeth behind his ear. "You didn't want to believe. You're
good at that."

"I..." The next bite makes Clark struggle a little, just enough to give
Lex more skin to touch. Please. "I used to be." Another bite, harder,
and Lex is turning Clark until they're face to face. Awkward,
somewhere close to pain. Lex could snap necks with his bare hands.
Clark leans in to kiss, tasting himself, dark and impure on Lex's
tongue. Wants to bury himself inside, get everything, be

"No more lies between us, Clark." Deadly serious, rage just beneath
the surface.

"No. I never knew you were so angry..." Leans in for another kiss
and Lex allows it, taking control with one finger pressed to the hinge
of Clark's jaw and another digging into the tortured tendon in his
throat. The sound of his own muffled moan makes Clark desperate.

"You know now." It's not a question.


"You know why."

"I never... there was so much I didn't see..."

"You see now."

"God, *yes*, Lex..."

"What did you dream, Clark? That I'd come back to you? Beg you to
come back to me?"

"I knew you never would."

Tongue in his ear, fast and nowhere as insinuating as the low drawl
of Lex's voice. "You wanted it, though."

It's almost pain, now. Pressure points undoubtedly learned from
someone thorough and sadistic. "I thought I did. Lex --"

"You think you know better now."


"And the *next* time you have a little epiphany, Clark?"

Has to laugh, even though he knows it makes Lex want to hurt him,
kill him for being able to do so. Sobers as much as he can. "I'm sick
of epiphanies, Lex. You can do the believing for both of us."

Lex's jaw works for a long, silent moment. His breath is sweet.
"That's not good enough."

"What would be? Promises? A proposal? Hey, you're a Senator. Get
that Protection of Marriage thing thrown out --"

A little more pressure to Clark's jaw. "I'm getting really fucking *sick*
of your attitude."

"And I'm getting tired of you taking out your hits on me. I left you,
fine --"

"This isn't about --"

"Yes it *is*, Lex. You want... you want to know if you can believe in
me. I want to know what the fucking *point* is. I'm here now. I'm
here *now*."

"God. And I bet you don't think you're manipulating me now." And
Lex lets him go, moves to push him away, but Clark can't allow that.

Reaches back to hold him still, pull him in tight against his side. Lex's
cock pressed just beneath his ribs and God. God. The feel of him
struggling as good as everything else. "I'm just trying to get you to
fuck me, Lex, I..." But. That's not what Lex sees. Lex with his eyes
on the conversation they'll be having five minutes, five years from

Lex who doesn't trust him anymore, and can't possibly imagine
showing weakness the way Clark has tonight without ulterior motives
stacked far, far beneath *other* ulterior motives. Takes a breath.
Lets go just enough to turn Lex in his arms.

Face to face, and the rush of the muscle-strain healing makes him

"Tell me what it would take, Lex."

And it's the same smile Lex always used when Clark lied to him,
but... Sudden, sharp focus. "Put the suit back on."

"What? Why --"

And Lex is standing, moving to the armoire. "Just do it. There's
something you need to see."

"Lex --"

"You asked. Now I'm going to show you." He doesn't bother to turn
around, just dresses with cool efficiency.

Not the way he dressed in the mornings after when they were still
together, unless he was going to a meeting with his father. Did you
kill him, Clark wants to ask. Did you design the poison yourself?
There's a knot in Clark's belly, resting uncomfortably somewhere
above the tangle of frustration and frustrated arousal. Clark tamps it
down as best he can and dresses quickly, willing his erection to

It works about as well as he expected it to, which is not much at

Superman. God, he could laugh until he lost his mind.

"Ready?" Lex is straightening his tie.

Clark nods and follows Lex out of the apartment, sparing a glance
for Hope, stone-faced to the left of the door.

The original guard is still there, and tips his cap to Lex, who
ignores him.

Clark searches the guard's face for clues, and receives nothing but
a curious look in return.

This is what it will be, a small voice whispers inside him. This is
how they'll look at you, once this is over.

Look at who? Superman?

There's no answer.

The elevator is hidden cleverly behind still more mahogany paneling,
and is obviously private. Spacious enough for Lex and a bodyguard
or two, but no one else. Clark can smell sex on them both, and
whatever expensive detergent was used on the thick carpeting.

Lex looks perfect, as unruffled as he does in the office, in front of
the cameras... everywhere that doesn't matter.

He returns Clark's stare, but doesn't say a word for the entire trip
down into unmarked sub-levels.

Clark hadn't realized they were there.

The door slides open with a tasteful hush and Lex pauses just
outside the elevator. "Lead-lined, of course. I had the work done
while you were assisting the earthquake relief efforts in Tokyo."

"Is this..."

"No. Follow me."

The floors down here aren't carpeted at all, the lights bare, harsh
fluorescents that highlight the shadows under Lex's eyes, the
leanness of his body under the perfectly tailored clothes.

Lex has always seemed to exist on the edge of ruthless health
and starvation. Clark has the sudden, irrational urge to shoot out
all the lights with his heat vision, to send the stark warehouse-like
space into a kinder, if jagged darkness.

His boot-heels clack on cement, the soles of Lex's shoes are

There isn't much here, the walls painted a battleship grey. There
are a few file cabinets -- made of lead as well -- but Lex passes
them without a look.

They come to something like a room within a room. A further
leaded box, twenty by twenty by ten. There is only one door,
and Lex pauses with his hand raised to knock. "Last chance,
Clark." He isn't looking at him.

"Do it."

The knock seems like Morse code, but it's no pattern Clark can
figure. The door opens soon enough, though, and it's Mercy in full
fantasy-chauffeur regalia. There's a certain professional warmth
in her eyes when she sees Lex, gone immediately when Clark steps
out of minuscule shadow.

She raises an eyebrow, but doesn't say a word, or reach for her

"How is the good doctor, Mercy?"


"He seems to believe that I can be bribed, but other than that he's
in good health. He ate most of his past three meals. His vital signs
are within normal parameters. He wants to know if he can have
books. He is..." Mercy's eyes narrow, almost imperceptibly.

Lex chuckles softly. "Noted. You're on half-duty for now. Delta

Brief glance Clark's way. "Hope, sir?"

"An unavoidable inconsistency of command. You know your

Sharp nod, crisp as a salute, and Mercy slips past them to the

"You're putting Hope on surveillance?"

Sour twist to Lex's mouth. "Lucky guess? Never mind. Hope and
Mercy are my family, Clark. I *will* see to their needs. Now come

Inside the hot little room is... a man. Short, balding, with the sort
of stoop Clark's come to associate with scientists who spend too
much time in labs and too little time in the real world.

He's pale, sweating beneath the eyes. His obviously expensive
glasses are fogged, his clothes are faintly rumpled. The room is
clean but stale, empty save for a cot, a chair with restraints, and a
primitive commode. A cell. The man is staring at him with a
sickening mix of hope and terror, eyes darting to Lex in quick,
random intervals.

There's something squirrelish about him, something inescapably
mammalian and vulnerable.

"Superman. Meet Dr. Burgess. Dr. Burgess, meet Superman. You're
going to have a lot to say to each other, I think."

"L-Lex, what is this?" Clark bites his tongue hard.

Burgess' eyes widen and he takes a step back.

"It's really very simple, Superman. Dr. Burgess was formerly one of
the brighter lights at Cadmus. His work on fetal stem cell research
was absolutely phenomenal, and the patents on some of his
discoveries are going to make me billions of dollars within the next
ten years. It would've made *him* rich enough to retire to his own
private, tropical paradise, complete with discreet prostitutes of
whatever flavor he so chose."

"Stem cell research --"

"Is patently illegal in this country, and rather unethical -- to some.
It's also our current best hope for cures for Parkinson's, diabetes,
Alzheimer's, MS... etcetera. Dr. Burgess fancies himself a... how
did you describe it, doctor? A 'practical humanitarian?'"

Burgess takes another step back, sweat beading on his scalp. He
swallows with an audible click, eyes still as wide and wild as a
terrified animal, flicking back and forth between Clark and Lex
with increasing desperation. "You don't understand, Superman! I
didn't know where the stem cells were coming from, I thought... I
thought --"

"Dr. Burgess didn't ask where the cells were coming from,
Superman." Lex's voice is smooth, richly amused. "Dr. Burgess
didn't really want to know, isn't that right?"

"No. I... no, that isn't it at *all*. Superman, you have to --"

Clark bites the inside of his lip, trying to keep his expression clear.
"Get to the point, Luthor."

Lex's game face is as good as his own. "Well... as near as I can
tell, the good doctor grew a conscience at some point. Or
something close to it. What do you know about abortion laws in
this country, Superman?"

"Luthor --"

Lex is smiling. Making it look easy. "Humor me. Just for a moment
or two."

"It's getting harder and harder for women to get inexpensive and
safe abortions. Everyone knows that. The protesters outside the
clinics, the parental consent laws... what's your point?"

Lex's smile gets a little wider, a little sharper. "LexCorp stands
firmly behind a woman's right to choose, Superman. You figure it

Clark closes his eyes for a moment. "You've been supplementing
the income of the local clinics." The news of the charitable windfall
had been in all the papers six months ago. Lois had come disturbingly
close to expressing faith in her species.

"And providing *useful* security."

"And... harvesting tissue."

"Terribly illegal, but..."

"Practical?" Clark opens his eyes and looks into Lex's blank ones.
How anyone could ever believe in that smile...

There's a hand on his arm, warm and clammy even through the

"You've got to believe me, Superman! I was going to the press, the
police, everyone! I was going to *stop* this."

Clark doesn't bother to look at the man. "Was he?"

"Oh, yes. He collected quite a dossier. Charts, pictures, bank
statements... he had help, of course, but he would've made an
excellent spy in another... life."

"The help?"

Burgess is tugging on his arm, now. "Dead! He killed them! I saw
the bodies! They... he *showed* me oh God oh God..."

Lex nods slowly. "So, really, Superman... the only question that
remains is what to do with the doctor." Lex turns to look at Burgess,
tilting his head like an acquisitive bird. "He seems *awfully*
attached to the idea of saving the aborted fetuses for a noble trip
to the incinerator, but it's possible that he could come to see the
error of his ways, I suppose...

"Or I could call Mercy back down here and finish the job."

"And that's why I'm here? To make the choice between letting you
reprogram Burgess and letting you kill him?"

"Well, there's always the heroic rescue option. The evidence is
gone, of course, but still. A job for Superman and all that." Lex
leans against a bare, metal wall, hands in his pockets and eyes
glittering far more than his smile would explain. "You asked what it
would take... Superman."

A small gift that Lex isn't using his name, the pause a reminder of
that gift. An acknowledgment of the choice Lex may even really
believe Clark still has.

A tug at his arm. "Superman? You aren't... you aren't going to let
them *kill* me, are you?"

Human suffering. Human frailty. It's... hard to look at Burgess. His
fear is high, rank in the recycled air. His sweat is sour. His eyes roll
like an animal's and his heart pounds arrythmically.

"They... I thought the tissue was coming from overseas..."


"You know." Nervous giggle. "Where it's legal. Where..." Burgess
swallows again, wet sound loud, too *loud*.

Clark fights to keep his face blank. "The tissue would still be
coming from aborted fetuses, wouldn't it?"

"I... suppose... but I --"

Clark forces himself to breathe normally, trying not to think of all
the microscopic particles of the man he's taking in. Filth. He can
feel Lex's eyes on him. "So really, all you'd be doing is yanking
funding from the clinics."

Burgess lets go, backing away fast, almost... scurrying. Stumbles
over the chair and sits down hard and scrambles to his feet again.
"It's *wrong*! They... they're paying women to abort their
*children*, Superman! They're making us *livestock*!"

This is how they'll look at you, the little voice reminds him. How
they'll plead, begging you not to betray them.

So very frail.

"Superman, *please*! We can't let them treat us like animals!"

Burgess backs himself into a corner while Superman watches, and
that's just... far too funny, really. When you thought about it.
Clark turns to Lex. "How long have you had him down here, waiting
for this moment?"

"Sometimes coincidences really do happen, Superman." Deceptively
lazy shrug. "So what's it going to be?"

"Can't you guess?"

Tang of fresh urine in the air -- Burgess has wet himself. Lex spares
a disgusted glance for him before turning back to Clark. "Honestly?
I really can't."

"What do you *want* me to do?"

"Whatever you can live with, Superman."

Clark nods, and it's the work of a moment to snap the doctor's neck,
another to wipe the man's sweat from his palm, another to press
Lex against the wall. To breathe something other than pathetic
animal death. "Call me Clark."

And there's fear in Lex's eyes, so much fear that for a moment Clark
feels like he made the wrong choice, but...

The fear fades, withering under a rush of elation, of triumph so
powerful Clark thinks he can feel it entering him, *altering* him,
melting through Lex's skin into his own.

"Clark. Oh, Clark... we're going to change the world."

And in the interstice, the blink before the kiss knows is coming,
Clark feels something vast and terrible burning him away from
the inside out.

He wonders if it's faith.


Continue to Erleuchtung.