by Te
March 2002

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd run *away*.

Spoilers: Leech, vaguely for Nicodemus.

Summary: "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't."

Ratings Note: NC-17 for Clark and Lex being extremely fucked in
the head.

Author's Note: I just wanted to rip off something smutty, man...
This happened instead.

Acknowledgments: To Miss Livia for keeping me company in the
face of exhaustion, to Miss Sarah for helping me figure out what
the *hell* I was talking about, and to my We for being most

Feedback keeps me off the streets.


There are too many nights when Lex wakes up with company.

It's normally not something he's averse to, but...

This person isn't invited, not directly. He never says anything, he
never moves from the shadows just beyond the edges of Lex's
supposedly perfect vision.

But then again, he doesn't have to.

Lex knows it's Clark, though the first few times he'd been scared
shitless. There's nothing quite like waking up to the feel of eyes
on you in the silent dark. The sort of silence that stretches,
lengthy, intolerable, until it's broken by a particularly
uncomfortable-sounding snore.

Mercy, presumably unconscious.

And really, there weren't too many people who could make it through
all the layers of security *and* Mercy without a single alarm being

Without waking him.

No *person* could.

But Clark just watches from the shadows, staring, grading. Judging,
perhaps, but at this point...

Well, it's getting less likely with every visit.

With everything that happens between visits.

The first few times, he'd challenged his intruder, receiving only silence
in response. He doesn't bother anymore, though he's yet to be able
to force himself back to sleep with Clark in the room. And he wears
the ring twenty-four hours a day, now, the gaudy glow the world's
least comforting nightlight.

The only alarm he has left.

He doesn't fool himself that it's protection.

Clark is...

Clark is very strong now.

When the weight of his stare pulls him out of sleep, now, Lex allows
himself a few moments to stiffen, and then carefully relaxes himself
as much as possible. Turns over on his side, perhaps flips the
pillow over to the cool side.

Rests his head.

Closes his eyes.

Something will undoubtedly give at some point, but he doesn't think
there's anything he can do to hurry that along.

Isn't entirely sure he wants to.

Lex smiles a little into the pillow, breathing in a detergent far too
natural to come from anything resembling a LexCorp (and oh, he
still loves that *particular* name-change) laboratory. His own
scent is there, too. Comforting.

He has ordered his staff to cut back the linen changes to once a
week, unless given specific instructions otherwise.

He feels no need to begrudge himself the animal comfort of his
own scent. Certain sacrifices of pride are almost always required
by those who would be true survivors.

His father had learned that lesson far, far too late.

Clark had been there for that, in his own way. Offering hesitant
comfort, cheap suit wrinkling at the knees as he sat in Lex's office,
reporter's notebook tucked apologetically beside his thigh.

Still long, still lean. But then, at that point, very few things had
changed about Clark. A certain steadiness in his posture, perhaps.
A... slowing. He'd become a careful man, for reasons of his own.
Perhaps it had been their affair.

Perhaps not.

Clark was the only reporter he'd speak to after his father's untimely
demise, Lex had been very specific. The vicissitudes of grief. The
practicality of the only reporter in the city, hell, the *country*,
who, when offered an exclusive of this magnitude, would never
actually take *advantage* of it.

Clark was also the only one who could, and eventually would, call
him on both.

And understand.

There'd been no interview to speak of, despite Lex's best efforts
to encourage the meeting in that direction. They'd talked instead
of Smallville, of fathers and sons and impossibilities. Silently of
everything that still lay beneath.

No one, least of all himself, ever would have believed they could
both be so civilized about it.

One day there'd simply been too many coincidences in everyone's
favor but their own, and their secrets.

One day they'd looked at each other one last time, and walked

Whatever happened after in private, happened in private.

But together, even with too many truths between them to ignore,
even with Hamilton (and his terminal incautiousness *would*
eventually prove to be weightier than his intellect, it was just a
question of when) walking away from an entirely accurate charge
of reckless disregard for human life, with several jurors walking
away with pensions assured...

Even then, there was no way to deny what they had, even if they
couldn't *have* it.

After all, so long as two imperfect men, two inveterate liars, were
punished sufficiently, why add... melodrama?

It all made perfect sense to Lex. He'd been surprised it did to Clark,
though, and suspected their reasoning was probably as drastically
different as it ever was.

So long as it... worked.

And Lex went about his business, and Lionel died not a moment
too soon to suit him (and far too early), and Clark went about *his*

There were two Metropolises soon enough, split unevenly between
sentiment and practicality, if not between something as
world-endingly *final* as good and evil. Back then, with pretty,
serious Clark's physics-defying eyeglasses resting casually on his
desk as they said everything but what they wanted to, Lex had
thought Clark might call him on the distinction.

He knows Clark wouldn't now.

The rest of the world is beginning to know that, too... which is
probably the reason for the night visits.

Lex settles deeper into the mattress, shifting under the sheets.
Just enjoying the feel of them on his skin. He's slept naked for
longer than he can remember, though he thinks it might've been
the first part of rebellion. Small, meaningless, daring for the
teenager he used to be. Pre-teen?


Now it's just... comfortable. He only wears pajamas when his skin
craves that particular sensation. Small hedonism.

"I wish you'd pick more nights when Hope was on duty, Clark.
I'm beginning to worry about the possibility of permanent brain
damage for Mercy."

He doesn't expect an answer, so getting one is enough of a
shock to make him lose Clark's first words.

"... she deserves."

Lex blinks, extrapolates. Wonders what it means that Clark is
speaking *now*. Ten months, twenty-two visits.

Twenty-one disasters, natural and otherwise, allowed to run
their course. He wonders who's dying in pain tonight.

Perhaps it's just a plane crash.

"And what do you deserve, Clark?"

Silence, and eventually Lex realizes that his hand is no longer
warm. The only light in the room is from the city. Clark is gone.

Lex closes his eyes, tight, and hits the button for the on-call
physician. Mercy will need seeing to, and it will be easier to
have that taken care of *before* she regains consciousness.

He supervises the paramedics from the bed. He doesn't know
their faces, but Mercy and Hope have brought the background
check to an art form. Still...

"She is, of course, to receive the best possible care," he says,
allowing a hint of menace into his voice.

They stiffen almost in unison, and that's as it should be. Mercy
may have failed at her task, but there is no one who could have
succeeded. There will be no liberties taken with her person, by
any one, at any time. It is only another part of their unspoken

Alone again, Lex rests his back against the headboard and wonders
if he truly wants to know what horror Clark's deemed beneath his
notice this time. The chances are, after all, that it will have no *direct*
impact on him, and yet...

Clark had spoken to him.

For the first time as Superman without an audience.

For the first time as Clark without the trappings of journalism.

For the first time in *years*, and God, in his bedroom, and Lex
can't help but think that it, whatever it was, was very bad.

And it's not as though he hasn't put serious time into considering
the issue.

It would be entirely too optimistic to believe that Clark didn't know
*exactly* what he was doing every time he showed up at Lex's
penthouse (or mansion, or villa, or wherever, he always knew).
Certainly not after the fourth time. Once was unpleasant coincidence,
twice was God's laughter, three times was pure dumb luck, but...



Clark was taking time off from keeping the world's hapless citizens
alive to... watch Lex pretend to sleep.

And really, a case could be made, some Jesuitical study or another
on the nature of fate and God's will, and it might even make perfect
sense. If, say, Clark was the instrument of some God with a truly
befucked sense of humor.

Give the people a hero that can do the impossible, save the
unsaveable, leap tall buildings in a single bound and divert the course
of rivers with just a bit of elbow grease. Get them good and

And then take the hero away.

It was enough to make Lex wonder just *where* his father's soul,
assuming he'd had one, had ended up.

Because it would be *one* thing if said hypothetical hero was
*completely* gone, but... no. Undoubtedly, Clark was saving
some tow-headed youngster from a fate worse than death even

Holding back an avalanche with one hand and pouring Wheaties
down his throat with the other.


And Metropolis -- *his* city, *their* city -- is feeling the strain.

The first tentatively questioning articles had appeared in the more
fearless (or lunatic) papers weeks ago.

People still pointed up at that blue streak in the sky with smiles in
their eyes, but not quite so many of them.

Some of them just watched.


A moral conundrum offered to the world at large -- what right did
they have to demand this of even a superhero? What responsibilities
did the very *last* member of what had been, by all evidence, an
ancient and noble civilization, have to his adopted planet?

Will the next time he takes a day off be my day to die?

Though it hasn't gotten that far, yet.

It will, perhaps, be some time before it does.

After all, for all the general populace knows, Superman was saving
someone *else* when flight six-eighty-three splashed down in the
Pacific, and air traffic safety looked hard at LexCorp's investments at
Boeing. When the latest Bangladeshi floods carried off thousands.

When the leaks at LexCorp Storage Facility Fifteen-A became,
arguably, problematic for local residents. When the cheerfully mad
suicide bombers entered nightclubs all over Jerusalem and...

He doesn't want to *know* these things.

All of it is news, just *news* of the sort he'd grown up on, learned
to ignore or spin before he was old enough to realize what he was
doing. But Lex doesn't *have* that option anymore, does he?

Clark brings him these simple human tragedies like a cat with the
shredded remains of a starling in its mouth. Eyes and motivation
just as alien, and with more reason to be so.

Lex scrubs his hands over his face, and rings for the morning
papers. It's early enough that some of them are still faintly wet.
It won't be the first time his sheets have been smudged with

It won't be the last.

Only the Planet has what he needs to know, front page, banner
headline, above the fold.

Sixty-four dead in illegal nightclub fire; chief of police describes
the building as a 'deathtrap.'

Underneath a picture of Turpin's sooty, bulldog face is the quote,
"they never stood a chance."

Well... that's not entirely true, is it?

Something tells Lex that Turpin knows that well enough, no matter
how many of the nasty little holes pepper Suicide Slum.

Lord knows he'd been to a few. Nothing like them when all you
wanted to do was dance and drink and get into fights. There was
something almost wholesome about them, really.


Lex looks down at his hands and blinks. He's crumpled the paper.
Ah, Clark.

Fuck *you*.

It's another three weeks before he wakes up to the weight of Clark's
stare on his skin again. Three weeks and dozens, hundreds of lives
continuing but for the grace of Clark. More telling -- or perhaps
boggling, is he trying to drive Lex nuts, too? -- three weeks of a
continuing series looking into LexCorp's business practices.

Not enough proof to go to the law, just enough proof to make the

Nearly all of the bylines are the Lane woman's, but Clark's presence
is there. Unmistakable hints of his prose, here and there. Equally,
horribly unmistakable... fairness. Lois Lane had a long career on the
Op-Ed pages ahead of her. Clark would never play his hand that way.

Not against Lex.

It probably drove Lane batshit.

Good. Let him not be the only one.

Three weeks, and as Lex blinks himself to awareness he tries to
remember which of his women was on duty on tonight.

Mercy. Again. Damn.

"I think I'm going to have to file a suit on Ms. Graves' behalf."

"I shot her this time."

"You *what*?"

"With a tranquilizer." There's a smile in the almost entirely
disembodied voice. "Multiple concussions are dangerous to you
humans, I've read."

"We... humans." There was a time when all Clark ever wanted
was to be normal.

There's no response.

"You've given up on joining the race?"

"I had a chance, once."

Lex turns toward the voice, tries to look encouraging. It's difficult
when he can't tell where Clark's face is. He estimates. "Yes?"

"You never asked about that time I was in the hospital." The voice
is coming from much too low for Clark not to be sitting down.

Lex adjusts, remembers. Clark's pained face and the inescapable
sense of *lie*. "There didn't seem to be a point."

"Sometimes I think we should've talked more. After, I mean."

"There didn't seem to be a point to that, either." Lex bites his
tongue. He *wants* Clark to talk, dammit.

"You're probably right. I was... angry. You were, too. We would've
fought. I never wanted to fight with you, Lex." Something like a
plea in Clark's voice, buried under layers of calm like bedrock.

"No. Neither did I. Clark --"

"I really was hurt, you know. Three bruised ribs."

Yes, the doctor had held to that story most firmly. "How?"

"I'd lost my powers. Freak lightning storm, Kryptonite... well. I
was normal. Human." There's a pause. "I played basketball," Clark
says, apropos of nothing Lex can think of.

Lex nods slowly. "You got them back, obviously."

"I actually fought for them, Lex. I told myself I just wanted to make
sure no one had the powers who couldn't use them responsibly,
but I wanted them *back*. I wanted..."

"No one ever wants to be average."

"I thought I did." And Clark's voice is almost a whisper.

"You would've gotten them back eventually even if you'd done
nothing, though, right? Our yellow sun..."

"Yes. I didn't know that, though. So bright... once I flew until I
found a system with a red dwarf, Lex. It was... it was the most
beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I almost didn't have the strength to
get back to Earth. I was weaker then.

"I fought then, too."

"Well, you never struck me as the suicidal type, Clark." Lex smiles,

"You don't *get* it. It was a *system*, Lex! Three inhabited planets.
I could've stayed. I... I'd started to learn the language... I. Do you
have any idea what a fucking *bitch* it is to figure out who you

Lex laughs a little helplessly. "I think I have some idea..."

"Do you?" And Clark is suddenly just *there*. Crouching on the bed
and less looking at Lex than studying him, eyes boring in, through.

"Clark --"

"I bet you still think you're just another Luthor."

Lex hisses on a breath, feels more than hears his teeth click shut on
the first thing he was going to say. "No, Clark. I know I'm the best
Luthor there ever was."

Clark's hand on his face, harder than Lex remembers. Superman
had finally done enough to damage even his own invulnerable skin.
Lex closes his eyes against the brush of calluses on his cheekbone.

Who's dying tonight, Clark, he doesn't ask.

It's been so long since they've touched. Lex parts his lips for the
heavy thumb on his mouth, but Clark doesn't push in. When Lex
opens his eyes again (it's hard, the drowsiness is the same, still the
same, always for Clark), Clark is watching him avidly. Smiling like a

"You know what I think, Lex?" Sparkling, mischievous tone.


"I think you're more naive than I ever was."

The backwash of Clark's departure throws dust in Lex's eyes.

He doesn't manage to sleep before the newspapers arrive --
seventeen dead in apparent Mafia massacre.

He tries to tell himself it could've been worse.

Mercy groans just once, cutting herself off when she realizes what
she's doing. She manages a credible stagger to her feet, folding
the blanket Lex had placed over her, eyeing the pillow the way
some people look at large insects. Comes to attention as best she

Lex knows better than to stop her, though she's listing to port
rather badly.



"Take the day off."

"I'll tender my resignation --"

"No, you will not. You will take the day off. Call Toby. Nobody knows
hangovers like he does. On second thought... is he still alive?"

"I believe he was just released from a drug rehabilitation program,

"Hmm. He'll be irritable. Call Dr. Fell, instead."

"Yes, sir."

"And stop calling me 'sir.'"

"... all right."

Lex also knows better than to insist she start calling him Lex again
just yet. The psychiatrist he'd consulted with was ninety-four percent
sure that such a request would create a brand of cognitive
dissonance Mercy's mind would handle in... unpredictable ways. She
had failed, ergo she lacked the right to assume a personal
relationship with her employer-god.

There were difficulties to working with the creatively unbalanced
at times.

Lex doesn't realize he's laughing until his throat starts to hurt.

And dissonance... well, there are all sorts, aren't there?

Because no one really blamed Superman for the deaths of career
criminals -- not that they blamed him for the other deaths, you
understand -- and so *that* night went unremarked even by those
who were beginning to wonder.

Most of them, anyway.

Did he choose nights at random?

Did he wait until he sensed disaster in some desperately
*fascinating* (and it isn't as though he'd *dissect* Clark, but...)
way and *then* come visit Lex, staying just long enough for the
bodies to start stiffening?



Lex has personally overseen the implementation of new safety
protocols for every pissant, backwater LexCorp facility he could
find records of, however buried. He's bought Hamilton a keeper
-- and provided the man a large amount of life insurance, just in

There's something...

Even while Metropolis is settling into a balmy spring, calm and
secure in its blessed status -- they are, after all, Superman's city --
Lex is starting to...

Well, it's not panic. He knows panic. Panic can be chased away
by any number of pharmaceuticals, recreational and otherwise.
This is something else entirely. Because every day, every night
when the only thing that wakes Lex is the crawl between his
shoulderblades of purest paranoia, is another night closer to the
next disaster.

The Balkans are stirring again.

Several putative sub-Saharan democracies are very shaky.

El fucking *nino* is making a comeback.

What will it be?

Why is it *him*. And he can't even form that as a question in his
own mind. Because... who else could it be?

And sure enough, Clark is in his room again. In his bed before Lex
is fully awake, mouthing Lex's shoulder blade. Wet and hot and
Clark's mouth is still soft. Lex swallows a moan and flips over onto
his back as quickly as he can.

Pressed down into the sheets for his trouble.


In uniform, but the layers of fabric between them are air. Ghosts.

Nothing to the heat of this, and Lex doesn't have it in him to make
even a token protest to having his ring, his hideous ring, ripped
off and tossed aside. To having his wrists pinned above his head
as Clark rocks against him, staring down. Smiling that hungry,
terrible smile that's nothing but a vicious parody.

But he doesn't have to be *silent*.

"Who's dying tonight?"

"Mmm... an old woman on eighteenth. She forgot to have her
oxygen tanks refilled. She really needs them."

Lex winces, arches helplessly when Clark twists his hips. So good.
"Is that. Is that all?"

"There'll be a gas explosion in the warehouse district..." His eyes
are faraway for an instant. "There it goes. Not too many people
out there this time of night. Except for the homeless."

"Oh *God*. They don't count?"

A shrug. "You tell me, Lex. You contributed a lot of money to
Wexler's mayoral campaign. Clean streets now, right?" Another
twist and Lex spreads his legs helplessly.

"Business... it was... his opponent would have -- ah --"

Clark is nuzzling his throat, biting none too gently. "I missed you.
You make me... oh, Lex..." Sheets torn away and Clark's hovering
above him, just enough to get his hand between them, wrap his
fist around Lex's stone-hard cock. "Tsing Xiao Ping..."


"Head of the Chinese government's secret police. Raids... God...
raids all over Beijing tonight... they're all going to be shot. You
supported that lobby didn't you?"

"LexCorp --"

"The one... the one keeping China's trade status secure by any
means necessary..."

Lust and bile and Lex fights, useless as it is. "It's not my

And Clark licks him slowly, up his throat and over his chin and
cheek. Teases Lex's ear with his tongue before whispering,
slowly, "and it's not my responsibility."

Lex bucks, twists, bites Clark's tongue when he kisses him again.
Swallows the bastard child of laughter and a groan and keeps
biting until he realizes that it's just turning Clark on. So much *heat*
and all of it locked behind that stupid fucking *suit* and Lex wants
Clark's skin, wants it like the air he isn't getting.

Wants it like he doesn't want to *know* this.

"Just say the words, Lex."

"You want some kind of moral arbiter, Clark, you can get a fucking
*priest*. Fuck *you*!"

Cracked giggle. "Yeah, sure, but those weren't the words I meant.
Or... are they? Do you want me naked, Lex?"

"Oh, *God* --"

"Do you want me to take off the suit? I will... for you. We can be...
it can be just us. Together. Every *night* like this and you could
fuck me like you used to... when I'd beg you for harder and you'd
give it to me because you *had* to. When I'd fuck your mouth
raw, because nothing mattered but what we had.

"What we could *take*."

"Clark, please..."

"Say the words."

"Jesus, you're fucking --"

"Say the fucking *words*, Lex!" All the calm, all the teasing gone
in an instant. Clark lifts him up by the shoulders and slams him back
down and his eyes are wild and wet. "I know who I am, damn

Strong, impossibly strong hands making the bones creak in his
shoulders, making him *hurt*, and Lex knows he can measure the
fate of the world in the time it will take for those tears to fully
form. In between Clark's harsh breaths and the thud of his own


And Lex feels his stomach drop as the wild fades from Clark's eyes.
Something had to give, right?

"It would be so much easier if I could just say 'we don't get to be
that way.' But we do. If we choose it. We've got all the power in
the world between us. We can do anything we damned well
please." Clark's voice caught somewhere between dreamy and
bleak. "So what's it going to be, Lex?"

"What do you want?"

And Clark blankets him with his body, curling into Lex's throat
again. So warm. So perfect.

So much blood and Lex has been bathing in it all along.

"Everything, Lex. I want everything."

And Lex shudders once, hard. He'll never believe Clark could give
up the suit, but.

Can he take this? Night after night waiting for Clark to ask him
again. Or just go back to standing there.

Waiting for Lex to wake up.

Has to laugh a little. Shakes his hands free and wraps his arms
around Clark when he stiffens. The suit is as slickly artificial under
his hands as the wax apple everyone, at one point, tries to bite into.
Lies are always more aesthetically pleasing, if harder to swallow.

Harder to live by.

Lex takes a breath.

And says the words, closing his eyes against Clark's backwash.

Someone will live tonight.

After, Clark will return.