Summary: Everyone deserves a second chance, it's just a question of whether you choose to use it or not...
Categories: Reconciliation, Future Fic
Notes: Done for the CLFF 3rd wave challenge of 5,000 words in 10 days. And ultimately, this was my farewell to the Smallville fandom.
(See the end of the work for more notes)
Part 1 -- Virgin Like You
Leaning against the cool glass of the large window, Lex stared out into nothingness. The city lights of Metropolis could have been worlds away for all he cared. Taking a sip of his scotch, he regretted, not for the first time this night, that he couldn't just get stone cold drunk and drown the unwanted memories.
Ten years exactly... That long... and not long enough obviously. Ten years since his life had been changed, ten-fucking-years...
On some level, Lex could admit to himself that for almost six of those years he'd hidden himself away in Europe and Japan. Business -- of course. LexCorp was, by now, well-known and more than profitable. And Lex had been... contented -- and it should have been enough for him.
Through those years, his father had tried to bring the wayward son home. Every time, Lex had resisted. The idea of coming back to the states... to Kansas... And now?
Lex closed his eyes. His father, proving that he was, indeed, a magnificent bastard who always got what he wanted, had lured Lex back the only way he could. Some whispered that Lex might have had something to do with it, but he was innocent of this crime. If not for any reason other than ultimately, it had meant what it did now. He had been forced to return.
Those years, spent on work, buried, busy, to busy to... too busy to remember. And still... this day, every god damned year... This day, Lex always shut himself inside his office and drank until the memories went away.
Because he was a coward?
His inner voice called his bluff like it always did. Sure, he had run away -- slowly severing every contact with his previous life in Smallville.
Ten years since...
Yes, ten years since he'd gone to sleep only to wake to a world forever changed. Ten years since he had taken his first deep gulps of air. Ten years since he'd died and been reborn, stronger, wiser... and on so many levels far more vulnerable. Ten years since the death of one dark-souled heir to the Luthor Empire.
And Lex knew he should stop with the drinking now, maudlin thoughts making his eyes swim. Tired, yes, he was tired, that was all. His thoughts strayed for a moment... ten years back...
"I'll be right down."
The door was closed again. Downing the last of his scotch, he turned to leave. He smirked as he read the headlines of the Daily Planet on the desk. Ah yes, the lovely Miss Lane. She still seemed to have her doubts about just *how* natural his father's death had been... Well, years ago it might have crossed his mind to dispose of his father, but...
Shaking his head, Lex left the dark office and went into the elevator to get to the auditorium ten floors down. He could pull this off. Be cold, distant... *Luthor*. He would show the world a Lex Luthor perfectly capable of handling the family business.
A short elevator ride later, Lex stood in front of the large doors. It was just a stupid reception. A few press people, the most prominent stock holders -- that was it. They wouldn't be too difficult to deal with.
Lex entered quietly. No one rushed to his side. It amused him that no one seemed to know exactly how to treat him. So they all let him do things his own way. Stepping up to the podium, he spoke his carefully memorized little speech. All about what a magnificent man Lionel had been. Oh, his father had definitely taught him how to deal in crap... But he could do it; he'd get nowhere with badmouthing his father's memory.
Questions were asked and he droned through the answers. Stepping down, Lex hoped that everyone would just... leave as soon as possible. In turn everyone passed him, voicing condolences. Most without really meaning it, they were there like vultures gathering around a dying man. Waiting for him to draw his final breath. Lex had every intention of keeping LuthorCorp running -- preferably with an even better profit than his father had.
It seemed that they all thought he was mourning his late father. The old bastard would be missed; Lex doubted he had ever have such an opponent again. Now, wouldn't they be surprised if they knew the true nature of his mood?
Lex nodded his thanks to another business associate before turning to look across the room, out the window...
Pain constricted his chest, breath caught in his throat. Oh God, now he was seeing things as well... Broad shoulders, muscular frame dressed in a well-fitting dark suit -- and hair as black as the night. Even the artificial lights of the city beyond the glass lend the other man his eerie glow.
Oh, if it had only been real... Lex wouldn't hesitate to run to the safety of a strong embrace and even stronger morals. Lex shook his head, bile rising. He loathed himself for those urges. A memory, a fleeting image was enough to set him off.
Someone moved across the room, blocking his view for a moment. When once again he could see the window, there was no longer anyone standing in front of it... That was all it had been, a figment of his imagination.
Lex exchanged a few more words with faceless associates as he crossed the room to stand in front of the window, again looking out without seeing.
Clark... the name alone was enough to knot his stomach. It seemed he had not put nearly enough distance between himself and the memories after all.
He wondered if he'd ever been that innocent... Surely not... Clark had worn his innocence like a coat, a shield and somehow Lex suspected that even now, where Clark would be... 26, the innocence was still there. On some level though, he couldn't believe that it was more than a shell, a facade, because no one could stay so naive and untouched while living and lying like Clark had.
Bitterness filled his heart; Clark had done all the wrong things Yet... he could not quite ignore the fact that he, himself, had made the greatest mistake. He had run away. Yes, it had been Clark's fault, a 19-year-old boy was not supposed to openly declare his... feelings toward his friend.
Oh, Lex had no illusions as to why... well, again, he thought bitterly, it had been his own fault. If only he had never flirted with Clark, never let him so close. And if only Clark hadn't been so extremely tempting and *so* off limits...
Perhaps what he had been attracted to was the virtuous disguise... if only Lex had learned how to don that... virginal innocence, use *that* to help guide him through. Give him the emotional distance and simple life that Clark had had. Or had seemed to have had. No matter what had been hidden beneath that saint-like exterior, it had never really shown. He could have lived with Clark's lies, of that he is pretty sure. He could have gone on as always, containing a certain status quo. It was the heart, heat and passion behind Clark's confession of love for him that had sent him running for the hills.
So what were his options? There were enough capable people in LexCorp that he could trust to run LuthorCorp while he himself went back to Europe to... take care of his own company. Or rather... he could run away once again. If he stayed he would surely rip open old wounds. On the other hand, he did not want to seem weak, *be* weak. And by now, there was no doubt, Clark would have forgotten all about Lex, gotten on with his life, married some pretty girl and within no time have 2.5 kids...
Lex had done everything in his power *not* to check up on Clark, to sever any link there might have been.
Perhaps his life was a little emptier, without the shining beacon of his friend, but it had been for the best -- for the both of them. Clark's sudden interest in him, in another man, had surely been a fluke. Back then, he *had* for a moment or two entertained the idea of letting their friendship progress, had spent the entire night after Clark's declaration, contemplating into the early hours of the morning. Then he had packed what he would need and left, never looking back. Oh, Clark had been persistent, but when Lex Luthor didn't want to be disturbed, he would not *be* disturbed.
Lex focused on his own reflection in the window -- for a heartbeat didn't move, didn't breathe. Another reflection moved a little behind him, catching his eye. Slowly he turned, emotions tumbling, pain, hope, regrets, excuses, pleas, disbelief... name on his tongue, sweet, welcome... nowhere near as bitter as he had expected it to be. Eyes as alive and hazel as he remembered them, soft smile as warming as ever.
A woman stepped up in front of him, breaking the moment and it took Lex a few seconds before he recognized her.
"Lois Lane, Daily Planet." She smiled winningly up at him. "I know now might not be the best time, but I was wondering if I may ask you a few questions?"
He could have cried out in frustration when a second later, he looked up again, not finding what he so desperately wanted.
Part 2 -- Calleth You, Cometh I.
Clark tugged at his tie, adjusting it. For the umpteenth time, he wondered just *what* the hell he was doing there anyway.
Trying to set things... right. He had been surprised when Perry had agreed to let him cover the reception. Of course, Lois had nagged until he had let her come along. He just hoped he wouldn't regret that decision.
And now? They were still waiting for the new head of LuthorCorp to arrive. Okay, everyone *else* was waiting for that. Clark? Clark was waiting to see Lex for the first time in years. The thought alone was almost enough to send him running. Stomach full of butterflies, mind blurred with possibilities.
This would be either mending or shattering. Lex might welcome him back, but Clark's fears were that he just might bolt -- again. How foolish had Clark been back then, to risk their friendship.
The past six years had been... well, a lot of things. Dark, light, depressing, uplifting... enlightening... yes, definitely enlightening. But it had all felt... hollow somehow. Clark had grown used to sharing everything with Lex through their four years of friendship.
And it had been good -- Lex had seemed genuinely interested and always happy to spend time with him. It nagged Clark more than a little how much he had taken advantage of the other man's friendship, when most of the time, all Clark really wanted was to spend time with him. So he had grown used to sharing, used to telling Lex almost everything -- except his deepest secrets. Like his feelings and, oh yes, of course, that he was a big whiny alien.
The last thoughts made Clark smile a little. He had come to terms with the alien-ness more or less, when he had finally cracked the secret of the spaceship in the storm cellar. It had taken him to the North Pole where he had found the only evidence of his heritage. A piece of technology. Granted, the damned thing was an AI and had been developing itself since it had landed and it had only been missing a piece -- the ship itself.
Suddenly Clark had been offered answers to most of his questions and as thrilling as it may have seemed, he had missed someone to share it with. He would have eventually told Lex everything -- if the man had not run away.
There was only so much he could share with his parents. They would nod and be very interested, but they lacked ... something... something that he had found in Lex. Brilliant mind, fire, curiosity, the burning need to *know*...
Clark sighed inwardly. If Lex had not run away, he would have told him. If not straight away, then as he had learned about his past... That night, he would have given anything to have someone to confide in, someone who would understand -- and he had no doubt that Lex would understand.
Occasionally he had had his doubts about Lex's integrity. Clark knew he had been willfully blind on more than one occasion. And so had Lex. And Clark had been aware of, back then as well, that Lex did not normally allow anyone such loopholes.
So as it had happened, Clark had slowly realized that maybe he was having more than friendly feelings for Lex, and that maybe, just *maybe*, Lex had shared those feelings. In the beginning, Clark had been scared and confused, had even shunned Lex for well over two weeks. Lex had called, dropped by the farm, dropped by the Talon and Clark had felt like a god-awful asshole when he had overheard Lana telling Lex for the umpteenth time that he had *just* missed Clark. The look on Lex's face... like his world was going one way -- down the drain.
That night, Clark had not stopped until he had reached the ocean. Slumping down he had sat there, staring into the horizon as if it might offer him the answers he had been looking so desperately for. As the sun had begun to rise, he had finally gotten up and gone back home.
Thank God his father had been out of town for the weekend. His mother had not said anything as she met him in the kitchen, simply nodded and sent him to bed -- allowing him to wait with his chores until later. She had not even tried to drag an explanation out of him. His mother had simply indicated that if needed, he could talk to her.
He'd finally caved late in the evening. Having finished his chores, Clark had retreated to his 'Fortress of Solitude', had curled up in his hammock and drifted off into an uneasy doze. Still, to that very day, Clark swore he would not have told his mother anything, if it had not been for her waking him as she draped a blanket over him. It had ended with them on the couch, Clark finally letting it all out. How badly he felt he was adjusting to being an alien, how much he tried to fit in and always ended up hurting his friends, lying to them. And then finally, and Clark still couldn't understand how his mother had taken it all in stride, holding him close, he'd told her about Lex. About his feelings for Lex and how much he worried that it was another weird aspect to add to his less-than-human personality.
If she'd been bigger, stronger, she would have picked him up and shaken him until he could see things right. As it was, she did a pretty good job just comforting him while still letting him know how silly he was acting. Yes, she had agreed that he needed to be sure about how he felt and how Lex felt before doing anything, but apart from that, she had never liked it when he got all caught up in his 'pity me 'cause I'm the misunderstood alien' rants.
At least he had gotten past that stage. Clark's lips twisted into a wry grin. He had stopped wishing for an ordinary childhood a long time ago -- no use in pining for what you could not possibly have. Lex, on the other hand. Lex he could fight for -- and he would. Not that he had given in easily when Lex had left. Phone calls, letters, emails... but no such luck.
That time, Clark had not been able to keep it from his father. He had confessed to his mother back then and she had never told his father about his crush on Lex. When Lex had left, his father however, could not help but find out about Clark. *Had* found out as Clark had realized he was definitely not to old too cry on his mother's shoulder.
Jonathan had taken it remarkably well, though Clark had a suspicion that it was only due to the fact that Lex had actually *left* Smallville -- for good it had seemed.
At least the man had kept from gloating. His son's broken heart, it seemed, was more important than platitudes and accusations. It had meant that his father had kept a low profile around him -- for which Clark had been very grateful.
After a couple of years even his father seemed to understand that Clark would never forget Lex entirely. Both his parents had been relieved when he had finally started dating. But no relationship ever survived for long as they had all lacked one thing or another. Today, Clark could admit to himself that they had always lacked Lex's personality.
His mother had never fully accepted any of his girlfriends, and Clark suspected that she knew before he did when he broke up with them. His father had nearly choked when Clark had brought home a boyfriend instead of a girl the year before. And Clark had accepted what it meant when that relationship lasted twice as long as any of his others. Since then he'd pretty much stopped dating altogether. With his job at the Planet, he rarely needed to go looking for something to do with his time.
Not that he would ever put his job over Lex... never. He would put everything aside if need be. If Lex turned him down again... if Lex no longer felt the way Clark knew he had back then?
Then Clark would go on, would continue living his life. A little emptier, a little more hollow. But the slightest sign that he felt as Clark did, and Clark would be there. If Lex would only let him...
At least the hurt had lessened a little with the years and Clark had come to a few realizations. As much as Lex's reaction had been... radical, Clark knew he should not have confessed his feelings to Lex. Perhaps slowly showing him would have worked out.
No one back then would have called their friendship love. Some had suspected that there was more to it though -- not in the nice sense of the word however.
Everything should have told Clark what a bad idea it had been. Small town, small minds, small, petty taunts. To which Clark had chosen to close his eyes and ears.
To him, it had been love. Either that or his stalker tendencies had been notched up, he grinned to himself. But no, definitely love. And there had to have been some of the same emotions for him in Lex. Any blind fool would have picked up on the way Lex would watch him. Still, the man had held back, preserving their friendship. In the end, before Clark had messed it all up and Lex had run like a scared rabbit, they had been spending more and more time together. The Talon, Clark's 'fortress', the mansion... If Clark had not gone to see Lex, Lex would come around shortly. Chloe's remark about being joined by the hip bone had drawn a strangled noise from Lex and a full-fledged blush from Clark, but neither had tried to prove her wrong.
As much as Clark had enjoyed the attention from Lex, the constant Status Quo had his emotions in a constant roller coaster ride. So he had finally spilled. One night before going back home, so precariously close to his curfew, Clark had told Lex straight out how he felt. On the front steps of the mansion, he had opened Pandora's box. And how he had regretted it time and time again that he had not just ignored curfew and stayed...
Lex had looked absolutely shell-shocked for a moment before putting his face into a perfect calm. And then he'd told Clark that he was flattered, how much he cared for Clark as well.
And the nights to follow, after Lex had left, Clark could have repeatedly kicked himself. He, of all people, should have seen through Lex's veils of 'I'm-okay-don't-worry'.
He should have seen how not in control Lex was, how great the risk had been that he had taken, that he might scare Lex away... which had happened. Pure stupidity on his part. He really should have known better than letting Lex get away like that. Now, he might have a chance of righting tings. He might never have what he wanted most of all, but at least he would be able to mend a few of the broken pieces.
As the doors opened and Lex stepped through, Clark held his breath. Every time Clark had played the possible scene inside his mind, he had wondered what the sight of Lex would do to him. As much as he could imagine a lot, it was nothing compared what it truly felt like. Like a sledgehammer to his gut, like ice down his spine, like heat spreading through his body.
And still, he made no move to stand so Lex could see him. He simply stood there, in the corner while Lois took care of the reason why they were even there. Even when Lex had finished his speech, Clark moved around only at the periphery of the room, finally staying by the window. He never for a moment took his eyes off Lex.
"See something... interesting, Kent?" Lois came to stand by his side, head slightly tilted as she watched Lex.
Clark didn't answer, simply shrugged and allowed a small smile to graze his lips. Thank God he had left his habit of blushing behind years ago. What Lois did not already know from late night working at the Planet, she had definitely guessed on her own. She knew that Clark had known Lex once, somewhere in the past, but even her journalistic abilities had never been enough to get anything out of Clark. He had a suspicious feeling that he could thank Chloe for that. Keeping secrets around his blond friend had been quite a challenge, and he had more or less pulled that off.
Lois threw a teasing grin at him before heading off to interrogate someone else. Clark finally looked up again, he met Lex's eyes. He was amazed at the distant look on the face of his once-upon-a-time friend. And the emotions that flickered across it... Clark allowed himself a small smile, not moving until someone blocked his view and the moment was broken. Strangely enough he seemed to lose his nerve. Making his way outside, a quick trip to the men's room and he stood there, looking into his own haunted eyes.
What a brilliant time to lose his resolve. Clark stared at his reflection. How was it he had faced down the mutants of Smallville and God knew what else in Metropolis -- the latter in the line of duty -- and still? Faced with the return of Lex Luthor, he chickened out.
Taking a deep breath, Clark finally forced himself back into the reception room. He stopped in the middle of the room, watching Lex staring out the window where he had been standing himself a moment ago. He found, to his surprise, that he could still find a warm, sincere smile for the other man, as Lex turned around to meet his gaze.
And then Lois had interrupted. Clark was not entirely sure how that made him feel, but it was enough to make him wince and fade back into the background again. Oh, how he hoped she would keep her mouth shut about what she knew and specifically what she thought she knew... He could face down Lois Lane, he was fairly sure he could handle Lex if necessary, but the both of them? The last thing he needed was for her to ruin something.
Steeling himself, Clark slid around the room until he was a bit behind Lex, who had stepped away from the window, looking very much like the last thing he wanted was to talk to Lois.
Lex was looking away for a moment, and Clark caught Lois' eyes and made a light dismissive gesture. Her eyes narrowed and Clark sighed. He knew he had some massive explaining to do later. Hopefully much later. Too bad he could not just wish for a catastrophe of some sort or for the earth to swallow him up.
To his amazement she did as he had silently asked. She said a few departing words and threw Clark fiendish smirk over Lex's shoulder. Clark rolled his eyes but pushed himself to continue until he was standing behind Lex. He really had *not* meant to scare the other man, absolutely not.
"Fancy meeting you here..." Clark leaned forward, keeping his voice low.
It took a lot to startle Lex Luthor, and the small twitch of his shoulders was enough to tell Clark that for once he had taken the other man by surprise. Lex still stayed as he was, back to Clark.
"Clark." Not a question, much more of a statement.
Clark didn't answer. He felt a little distant as he searched for the words. He had planned this, and yet his words were gone as he needed them the most.
Part 3 -- Tell Me This Night is Over
They both stayed there, neither making a move. As people finally began leaving, Lex had to once again act the host and accept their condolences.
Clark felt as if he had been caught between two worlds. One held all these strangers, the other only had one person occupying space. Oddly enough, it seemed that Lex was fully relaxed, except from a light tensing in the shoulders.
Strangely this helped Clark to stay calm -- even the parting glance from his partner could not shake him. He still felt the nagging loneliness but he suspected he was not the only one, if the look in Lex's eyes when they had stared at each other across he room had been any indicator. The slightly haunted look had told him he was not alone when it came to wanting to end the... torture -- one way or another. To get on with their lives.
Do not turn around -- concentrate on getting those people *out* so you can... what? Make a fool of yourself once more? Of course not. There was only one outcome to this. They would bury what had been left unsaid. They would part again -- clean air and just get on with their lives. How Lex still hated himself for running back then. And he knew exactly what Clark would have said. His subconscious channeled his old friend more frequently than Lex would like to admit.
Clark had never hidden the fact that he didn't like it when Lex thought he might not be good enough for happiness, that the younger man tended to chide him if he ever voiced such concerns. He knew how Clark would frown when he made sarcastic, self-loathing remarks. One simply did not joke about such things when in the company of Clark Kent, especially not if your name was Lex Luthor. How he had missed the smile when he had done something... good -- something that Clark approved of. He missed making Clark smile.
Even as impossible as it might seem to Lex, he wished he could go back in time and change his reaction that night, that he had accepted instead of turning tail and hiding.
It felt odd that Clark remained behind him -- not moving, not speaking. Oddly relieving as well, really. Clark was not leaving, stayed there with Lex -- and perhaps this would be the turning point. The outcome might ease Lex's mind -- it might help him get by -- end the annual nightmare.
"So, you're here..."
"Come to dance on my father's grave?"
Clark snorted. "Shouldn't that have been my question to you?"
Lex grinned. "Been listening to Lois Lane?"
Clark took another step, standing close enough to touch.
"We're partners, of course I listen to her..." Clark chuckled. "Most of the time anyway."
Even now, alone in the room, neither man seemed inclined to bring the real issues into light.
"Partners?" Lex raised an eyebrow and turned his head slightly.
"I work for the Daily Planet now."
Once again, silence ruled. Then Lex finally turned around to face Clark. "You look... well, Clark." His voice was a little low and more than a tad... cautious.
"Thank you -- you too." The smile on Clark's face grew a little wider. "I've... missed you -- things have been kinda... boring without you around."
"Oh, missed me entertaining you?" Surprisingly the reply was neither bitter, nor sarcastic -- so much like the banter had been in the past.
Clark sighed deeply. "You're a constant puzzle wrapped in an enigma, Lex."
Lex smiled, sidestepped him and went to the window. Clark slowly followed.
"It helps keep a certain.. distance, Clark." He put his palm flat against the cool glass of the window. "Unlike you, I need it."
"Somehow... I needed it too, still do, I think -- I just didn't realize until late," came Clark's reply after a moment of silence.
Clark leaned a little closer, his hand coming to a rest, covering Lex's, warming the other man's cold hand.
Lex turned his hand under Clark's, fingers entwining. "Do you still care enough to try and solve it..?" Lex held his breath.
Clark gently turned Lex around, hand sliding up to touch his cheek, fingers splayed to brush against Lex's lips. "There is nothing in the world I'd rather be doing." He leaned forward, hot breath mingling with Lex's. "Not tonight..." The kiss was tentative, soft and sweet. "Not tomorrow..." The second kiss was knowing and demanding. "Or in a million years..." The third kiss was warm, appreciative, and full of love. And it led to the next and the next again -- neither man thinking about the past or the future -- only the here and now...
Parts 1 & 2 are solos based on 'Virgin Like You' and 'Calleth You, Cometh I' by the Ark.
Part 3 I converted into a 'duet' based on 'Tell Me This Night is Over'. All three absolutely fabulous songs can be found on the Ark's latest album 'In Lust We Trust'. If you get the chance listen to the entire album -- if possible, buy it -- support the damned band -- because I want them to continue ripping out my heart in all the good ways.
Virgin Like You
Calleth You, Cometh I
Tell Me This Night Is Over