Past Grief: Renewal
by Te
March 2002

Disclaimers: No one here belongs to me. *breathes*

Spoilers: Vague one for Nicodemus.

Summary: 'til death do us part.

Ratings Note: NC-17.

Author's Note: You should probably read Past Grief before reading
this -- I don't think it'll make too much sense without it.

Acknowledgments: To that late night IRC crew for getting me
hopping and keeping me company.

Feedback doesn't cost a dime, man.

*

Hope Kirkland stood at parade rest just outside and to the left of
the great doors. Her face, as ever, could have been carved from
some dark wood. Lovingly carved, but stiff and dead just the same.

Her smiles were always startling, and this one was no different.

"Clark. Mr. Luthor arrived six minutes ago. He's already inside."

Clark nodded and did his best to return Hope's smile. She was a
good employee, quite possibly the best at what she did -- always
sharing the title with her associate, Mercy Graves -- but Clark had
never quite gotten used to the idea of needing security.

Or of Lex needing any kind of security *he* couldn't give.

Still, laws were laws. The people expected to see a president
surrounded by the best security money and mild fascism could buy
up and train, and the people were there to be...

Mollified.

Certain rules had to be followed, even now, even by them. It was
all a little surreal at times -- those moments when the world
asserted itself as something more than the game he and Lex
played when not busy with other things.

Flesh and blood out there, bone and needs and questions and
demands... Clark shook it off and moved down the corridor. Sterilized
daily, irradiated weekly... Lex would've had to wear something like
the world's thickest body-condom to make this trip.

Well, he usually would have.

Not today.

Clark found himself smiling as he keyed in the long-memorized
codes at the next set of doors. The scanning process was a tingle
somewhere in his bone marrow, a flash of something that might
have been pain just behind his eyes. The scanner was set for
exactly two genetic profiles, any others would activate whatever
bit of unpleasantness Lex had provided.

Lex had a genius for that sort of thing.

Inside the lab, Lex waited in front of the three particular tubes
they'd had installed here as they were building. The amnion had
been opaqued with a harmless dye to keep the construction workers
from seeing anything that would require their deaths, the clones
painstakingly washed down again and again until the faint bluish
tinge was all but gone.

Three years later, the clones were perfect again, lean and straight
and tall, seemingly eager for... this.

And why wouldn't they be?

Clark still didn't know which one he wanted, still hadn't directly
asked Lex to pick for him. There was nothing to distinguish them
from each other physically. There was, between them, a preternatural
sameness that screamed of chance, trickery. Something out of a
fable.

Or perhaps just a game show.

Clark moved behind his lover, his partner, his president, and kissed
his scalp slowly. Wetly.

The skin was only just starting to darken and loosen with age.
The changes had happened too slowly for Clark to register them
beyond the intellectual. This was Lex, who he had saved once or
twice, and who had saved him too many times to count.

Who would make sure he'd never be alone.

Clark wrapped his arms around Lex and buried his face against his
throat. Soft, vaguely sweet cologne and a surprising tang of
sweat.

"Lex?"

"Is this immortality, Clark?"

"I think so."

Brief, low chuckle. "You *think* so?"

Clark stroked Lex's chest through the simple, elegant suit, then
tugged the shirt out of the pants. Needed Lex's skin for this. "I
haven't met any immortals," he whispered, and stroked the smooth,
taut skin of Lex's stomach.

Still so *lean*. Energy thrumming just below the skin. There were
doubts, and questions of necessity, but...

An unconsecrated mass grave wasn't the *only* thing Luthor castle
had been built on.

A brief, mostly reflexive check told Clark things he'd known for
months already -- the cancer was weakening Lex's bones, killing him
from the inside out. Clark squeezed Lex a little tighter, thinking of
meteor rocks in foundations, of the numb shock on Lex's face when
his usual sparring match with Hope and Mercy had resulted in a
broken wrist.

It hadn't healed properly. Neither had Mercy.

Clark wasn't at all sure how she would take the appearance of a
new Lex, for all that she and Hope had been briefed.

A problem to address at another time. Lex was silent and still in
his arms, watching the clones float blind and brain-dead.

For now.

"Are you afraid, Lex?"

"Hmm." Lex stroked his hand. "Yes. Yes, I think I am."

"I love you."

"I know, Clark. I know." And Lex turned in his arms, tensing
minutely once his back was to the clones. "I've already uploaded
the neuropattern. Before you arrived."

"Which...?"

"The middle one." Lex grinned, a shocking flash of the boy in the
man's faintly weathered face. "You missed my incredibly scientific
choosing process."

"Eenie, meenie, minie, moe?"

"Now, Clark... in this day and age? I'd be crucified. I prefer 'Miss
Mary Mack.'"

Clark tried and failed to keep a straight face, only sobering at the
feel of Lex's thumb on his cheek. At Lex's dreamy and oddly
private look. Not even open to him. "Lex...?"

"The patterning will be done soon enough, the crude-seeming
molding of raw surface area onto those smooth, soft brains. When
it's done, the shunt will play the lightning to my Frankenstein
monster.

"When... he awakes, the amnion will automatically begin to drain.
And then... well."

"You seem so sure."

Another grin, but this one was far older. "Do you remember how
many viable clones we started with?"

"Forty-seven."

"There are sixteen left, including these three. Tests had to be
done. There is no certainty in this sort of thing, not yet, but I had
to be as sure as I could..." Lex was warm against him, easy against
him. Something he'd never quite managed as a young man.

Clark looked down into Lex's blue-grey eyes and read nothing
but the usual wonder, the never-ending *need* that revolved
around himself, and everything he might want. Including ignorance.
And yet... "how many failed?"

"None of them. I killed most, saved a few for long-term study.
They're all quite all right, if somewhat pissed. You're going to have
to deal with them after... this. Hope has the instructions."

Clark swallowed, nodded. Tried to imagine caging Lexes, leaving
them to rot and be studied until they... what *would* Lex do in
that situation? Any Lex at all... any Lex *he'd* known?

"What's wrong, Clark?"

"I just... don't like the idea of you being locked up."

Callused thumb on Clark's lip and Lex's smile was the perfect
illustration of sardonic. "And I don't like the idea of too many me's
running around free."

Which, considering the way Clark still felt about the attempts to
clone *him*, was completely understandable. If also disturbing in
a way he wasn't sure he wanted to/would be able to examine. Lex
was still smiling up at him, still so *himself*. Clark leaned in and
kissed him hard.

No one had ever made him want. Not like this.

Rushing sound on the edges of his consciousness, but Clark made
a point of not hearing it until Lex pushed him away. "It's starting,"
he said, and very deliberately did not turn around.

Not when the last of the amnion gurgled away, not when the tube
detached itself from its base. Not when... the new one coughed
and gasped out his first, mostly incomprehensible words.

Clark watched over Lex's shoulder as the new one stretched, slicked
amnion off its long, strong perfect limbs. As it -- he -- blinked in the
fluorescent light, unfocused until he turned just enough to see Clark
and Lex.

The new one's expression was twisted into some uncomfortable
median between joy and jealousy, hints of rage darkening his eyes.
And when Lex pulled him down into another kiss, he thought he
understood.

Flash of Superman, of all the mirrors Clark had broken between the
first day he'd worn the uniform and now.

And then there were slick, warm fingers trailing down his cheek,
slipping between Lex's mouth and his own.

Pulling *hard*.

Lex's neck broke with a dull snap, sharp eyes fading even as Clark
watched. "No..."

Slippery-strong fingers on his chin, forcing his face up. "Yes."

The new one was almost wild with energy, electric and strong and
pale. Unabashedly naked. Shamelessly hungry for... everything.
"You..."

"Clark. It's me, you know. Just... younger. Twenty minutes and
thirty years. He would've done the same thing." The new one --
*Lex* -- tilted his head at him. Beamed like a new day. "He *had*
done the same thing."

Clark shook his head slowly, shook off Lex's touch. He had to
*see*.

Something.

Brushed off the last bits of pinkish goo from Lex's face, from the
perfect, known curve of his skull and tried to rewind himself. See
the man who'd seduced him, taken care of him. Made him.

So pale and perfect, this Lex. Unmarked save for the added scar
on his mouth, and the avid spark of his eyes. Only the eyes were
really the same.

"Is this immortality, Lex?"

And Lex looked shocked for a moment before sparing a ruefully
amused glance for the corpse on the floor. "Absolutely yes, Clark."
Looked up at him from under damp, sticky lashes. A study in
cheerful cynicism. "Right up until the next clone's turn."

Clark wasn't sure that answered anything at all, but Lex -- *this*
Lex -- in his arms was a shot of pure memory. Cold library floors
and sun-blasted fields and wild, so wild for this. For each other.

Tumbled to the floor and rolling together, Lex's motor skills lagging
only slightly. He was very obviously learning as he moved, as they
moved, as Lex gathered amnion from his torso and thighs and
slicked himself savagely.

Clark watched him rock back on his own fingers and held him steady
above him, hands shaping themselves to lean hips and hard, so
fucking *hard*.

Lex made a sound Clark had never heard before (virgin, he's a
virgin now) as he sat on Clark's cock, pushing himself down and
down. Wild grin and devourer's eyes and Lex's hands iron on
Clark's wrists -- breakable, but what would be the point?

This was the Lex of the strange times, the one who whispered to
Clark of ancient sorceries and the perfectly human, perfectly
normal need for connection. A binding of any sort that would take
and Lex was so *tight*.

Ruthless with them both, hard and leaking on Clark's belly, eyes
wide open between fast, fast blinks. It was okay. Clark didn't want
to miss any of this, either.

Rolled his hips up and up until Lex had to brace his hands on the
floor for support, and Clark took the opportunity to hold on. Cupped
Lex's ass and held him steady, still, thrusting in, and Lex was
groaning with every stroke. Low, hoarse cries and the occasionally
"*mine*," everything driving Clark higher.

Making him want. Making him need this.

Making him... sure.

"Fuck, *Lex*..."

"It's me, I'm here, I swear I won't leave, won't ever leave you..."

"*Ah* --"

"Say my name again -- "

"*Lex* --!"

Hot splashes of come on his chest and belly and Lex convulsed
around him. Pure heat and Clark rolled them over as gently as he
could manage. Same desperate struggle for control at the end of
things, same beautiful, same beloved, looking up at him with dazed,
wondering eyes.

The corpse beside them was nothing but meat with a familiar cast to
the mouth. Too dark, too slack, too lacking in everything *Lex* to
be real. "Oh God, I love you, Lex --"

"I know."

And it took him over the edge, shuddering and thrusting, clutching Lex
to him until he filled Clark's senses.

Until the meat began to spoil. Of all his enhanced senses, Clark would
gladly surrender scent.

After that, it was a simple matter to strip the body of its clothes,
smiling at Lex's lament over having to 'dress his age' -- among other
things -- to avoid uncomfortable questions.

The incinerator was more than large enough for the body, and had
an automatic shut-off, as well. A moment's satisfaction followed by a
moment's panic -- Clark had forgotten the irradiated corridor. But by
the time he was back in the main lab, Lex was already slipping into
an extra suit. Bulkier than the body-condoms, but his clothes
wouldn't be overly rumpled.

It was easy to forget that Lex was always, always prepared.

Clark grinned to himself and kissed Lex before the helmet went on,
tasting the vague sweetness of the amnion and something beyond
pure. Lex.

Renewed.

And his forever.

End.