Family Thing went well. Much food. Had headache, so was taken home early. Wanted sinus allergy medicine muchly.
Locked OUT of house. Pried off screen and climbed through laundry room window. Broke fingernail, hurt wrist, scratched boots. For revenge, turned on all Christmas lights, took medicine, made Graham Cracker Chocolate Marshmellow Bars.
Got up early for presents stuff. Much opened. Paper like drifts of snow to get lost in. Lost niece it in briefly. Found beneath Hot Topic box playing with ribbon. Cute. Now own one DVD player amongst other sundry. Coffee-cup covered pajamas. Shocking thing. Sister gave a small suit of armor. She is SO cool. It's by my TV.
Okay, that's the recap. *g* I go nonverbal when I'm still expressing shock. Unfortunately, said DVD is incompatiable with my TV. I'm thinking of buying a new TV now. Hey, they're on sale! Unless I can find my bear. At which time all bets are off. I am destined for that bear.
And Christmas Dinner is being cooked. The smell of cooking ham floats in the air. Everywhere you go. No matter where. Kind of cool when you're hungry. Not so cool when you're in teh bathroom. There's just something wrong with smelling ham while engaged in other sorts of activities.
Right. On with it.
Okay, I finished up answering the cmoments I was going to do last night before Beth scared me badly and my fingers went numb from tape exposure, so I'm going to try and do the rest as soon as I can. But really, thanks for the comments.
And thanks to ranalore and linabean for title suggestions and the reasons behind those choices.
The title is Somewhere I Have Never Travelled.
*hugs to everyone* You are totally enabling my addiction here. Just so you know.
Clark debates whether to wait upstairs or outside on the street. Both have their drawbacks. People who know him *will* notice that he's standing around The Daily Planet like a moron, but Lex might send someone up--or dear God, come himself--and his coworkers here just might notice a too-familiar CEO slumming through the building.
Change 'might' to 'will', and all those half-hidden questions will be answered in less time than it takes a pin to drop.
His suit feels weird--it's his best one, the one Lois picked out when she gave up on his taste in clothes. The price was the equivalent of three paychecks, and he's still paying off the credit card that covered it, but Lois' eyebrow had been pretty much irresistible. He needed one very good suit, she'd said, intimidating the salesgirl to silence while she prowled the aisles. We have appearances to maintain. Wear whatever crap you like to work, but when we're in public, you'll look decent if I have to dress you myself.
The scary thing is, Clark's pretty sure if it had come to that, she would have. Sighing, Clark imagines Lex and Lois shopping. They must have had a blast together going through every boutique and department store in Metropolis. Clark doesn't even want to know what they did on those two trips to Italy. Lois had returned with an egregious number of shoes and a smug grin.
Staring at the mess of papers on his desk, Clark leans back, thinking on Lois. They--hadn't been close then. She was meeting Superman for the first time and building her reputation, annoyed with the kid from MetU heeling her like a puppy, so all he knew of Lex and Lois was what had appeared in The Inquisitor from time to time. It'd been weeks before he'd really made the connection, though granted, he'd been busy and distracted with the shock of living on his own and being out of college, trying to find balance in handling the dual identities he was creating.
Lois, his mentor, the woman who drank coffee black by the gallon and symbolized the epitome of everything he wanted to be as a reporter, was Lex Luthor's lover.
No wonder they hadn't gotten along so well at first.
Frowning, Clark picks up a pencil, drawing slow circles on some notes from a forgettable story involving under the table mob deals and the city council. It hadn't been just that, he thinks, although he'll admit in the smallest corner of his mind that it hadn't helped. The woman he idolized in college, who did four years in three and graduated to become the star reporter of The Planet after less than a full year on the job, also had something else, something that he couldn't even admit he'd wanted.
Of course, it hadn't helped either that he'd done that Superman interview first. Oh yeah, that had--definitely pissed her off, and again, after she'd found out who he was…. Well. That's a conversation he doesn't like to remember to this day.
But still. The break-up hadn't been anything huge--not like Lex's latest divorce, though the society pages had gleefully reported what scant details they could get. Lois wasn't the type to talk, and Lex--well, Lex was and *is* Lex, and his personal life is his own. She'd never discussed it--not with Chloe, he knows for a fact, not with him, not with *anyone* that Clark could ask if he was actually stupid enough to be curious.
Which he was. Is. Always has been.
And it's--weird. Weird, that they're openly hostile but never bitter, that the respect still exists, even if neither would admit it. That Lois is showing really bizarre amounts of non-surprise at this whole turn of events, and God, he needs a couple of hours with her over dinner sometime this week to work this out. His life is confusing enough--Lois is like icing on the weirdness cake and that's one thing in this mess he can actually work on.
And here he'd thought being just Clark would make his life *simpler*.
Clark's eyes fix on the clock. Oh crap. Turning slowly, he watches Lex lean carefully into the desk behind him, like it might have the plague but he's willing to be reckless just this once, arms crossed. Black and grey, very Lex, watching Clark with a little smile that makes something in Clark warm uncomfortably.
Comfortably, if he's honest.
"Sort of." Glancing around, Clark notes the heads that jerk down at his sudden attention, the noisy and completely obvious clatter of keys. Sighing, he stands up, picking up his coat from behind his desk. "Wow, it's going to be fun here tomorrow."
Lex half-turns, looking around the room with a cool, measuring gaze, before flicking back to Clark with a raised eyebrow.
"They have better things to do." Pitched just loud enough to be heard. Jesus, Lex, subtlety would be nice here. Pulling the coat on, Clark shuts down his computer, locking up his notebook in the desk. He already sent what he needs from work home via email. Perry's the stoic equivalent of ecstatic--an eyebrow jump and a twitch of his mouth--that the next edition will have the interview with Lex on the front page. "Ready, Clark?"
"Yeah." This is--dinner. Not a big deal. Everyone has dinner. It's a required meal of the day. Breathe. Lex motions him to go, falling into easy step beside him, and this is Smallville all over again, two friends calmly going for food, except everything's different.
Lex isn't hiding anything at all, and Clark can feel the want like heat projected against his skin.
"You're a lot more subtle usually," Clark hears himself say as the elevator doors slide shut. "I mean--a *lot* more subtle."
"I've noticed hammers are required more than rapiers in some situations," Lex answers lightly, pressing the button to the garage level. Huh. So it wouldn't have been a good idea to wait out front after all.
The silence that falls after is unnerving in every way. Clark takes a breath, trying to think of something to say to fill the silence, but nothing comes to mind. Latest nefarious plot? Not Clark's business anymore, really. He wonders who the Justice League will hand Metropolis over to. Bruce's last email made uncomfortable statements regarding duty and sacrifice, but Clark had deleted it before he got too far. Superman is gone. Bruce had better just get used to it.
Hell, all of them should get used to it. There are murmurs already among the residents of the city. It makes him wonder who Perry will assign to look into the Mysterious Disappearance of Superman.
A flash of CNN's latest report flickers through his mind like a television changing channels. Flooding in Brazil. The Justice League had intervened, but--
"I was wondering when you'd start feeling guilty again," Lex remarks, and Clark flushes. He can't be that readable. No one is. "The flooding, right? Don't be. A LexCorp subsidiary had been monitoring the rains for weeks and your friends handled the rest. Most inhabitants with any sort of sense took our warnings and moved out before the flooding started."
"You going into the superhero business, Lex?" Clark hears himself say lightly, flickering a glance. Lex is perfectly at ease. Damn him.
"Nah. Good deeds are terrible for my image." Lex shifts, brushing a non-existent bit of lint from his sleeve. "How are you feeling? Any other side effects?"
Clark flicks a finger at the glasses and basks a little in the warmth of Lex's smile. It's okay to do that. "Twenty-forty, twenty-eighty, right and left respectively. I guess it's karma."
"I'm surprised Lois lets you out wearing those." Clark's gotten a thing for the heavy black rims. There's an edge in Lex's voice that makes Clark wonder, just a little, but he pushes the thoughts aside forcefully. This so isn't the time to be thinking of Lois and Lex together. "You've lost weight."
He has, actually, though the coat and suit should hide it. He wouldn't have noticed except this suit is tailored, and his waist has lost a least an inch since the last wearing. Blinking, Clark turns to look at Lex, who looks back without any expression at all.
"That's all it takes?" Clark asks slowly. Lex's puzzlement is almost a goad. "What, twelve years where you wouldn't even acknowledge I existed, then I hang up the tights and you--" Clark stops, clenching his teeth. That hurts, muscles locking, almost cramping, and God, he's still not used to human muscles. A purely human body. The little thrill is still there, though, like when he cursed this morning when he stubbed his toe, and dropped the toast, no superspeed to save it. Human. Completely not what he expected. And the best thing ever.
"It would have been harder any other way." Lex's gaze fixes on the elevator wall over Clark's right shoulder.
"This was easier?" Staring at the door, Clark wraps both arms over his chest, trying to think. "You tried to kill me--"
"I'd usually succeed, you know." Clark shivers, remembering too many encounters to even begin to count them. The ripping pain of Kryptonite, the things they said to each other, the things they'd both meant with all their souls. "When I try. I should have." The thoughtful lift makes Clark turn just enough to look at Lex.
Who still seems to find the wall some kind of marvelous wonder to behold.
"You could have fooled me."
"No problem. I think I fooled myself." The smile's self mocking and Lex looks down, that intense gaze fixed on the floor. "I wanted you dead, you know. It would have been easy to order. Michael was an assassin and he was armed with Kryptonite in a lead box. You went north in a private plane alone and you didn't even do a background check on your pilot, which was very annoying, by the way, since I went to a lot of trouble to set up a good story.
"Michael waited for my call for the entire trip from Metropolis International to that silly science station that Clark Kent just had to do a story about." Lex stops, lips tightening. "He called finally. He didn't understand. I didn't either."
The quiet rush of the elevator is the only sound, then the ping as they get out on garage level. Lex gets out his keys, coat flickering back in dramatic exit mode, per usual, and he doesn't even do it consciously. Clark is only two steps behind, and then there's nothing but silence.
"Why didn't you? The way there, the way back--if you're going to trot out some line out of a Hallmark card, I won't believe you." Though Clark might. Lex says Clark's dense, but Lex can be, too, and sometimes, it does take hammers. It's a deliberate thing, Clark thinks, a way to cope with a father like Lionel. To create your own blind spots and not see, because it hurts too much. Clark has some of those still, remnants of Superman and the life he'd had to live.
There've been a thousand ways for Superman to die, and there's a thousand reasons he didn't, but it comes down to that single thing that he knows about Lex. Lex wins at almost any cost. Superman's life might have been cheap, but maybe Clark's wasn't.
"So what now?" Clark comes to a stop, waiting as the line of Lex's back stiffens even more. With a slow turn, Lex is looking at him--seeing him, and it hits like the first time Clark looked into those eyes and thought he saw everything in the world inside them on a muddy bank in a forgettable town.
"If you're expecting a guided tour out of life just because you're human, you're going to be disappointed." Lex shrugs. "I don't know."
"I know everything about you." Clark takes a slow step toward Lex. There's destiny and then there's this--Clark doesn't have a roadsign left anywhere in sight. Destiny's gone out the window, pedigree is shot, and it's all free-fall and terrifying.
This is how Lex lives, like humans live.
"I got you thrown in prison. I destroyed your projects. You can't pretend that Superman's separate, because he never was." Lois was right, and he's never telling her that. Nothing's changed inside, just the covering over it all. "You know who I am, Lex. Just because I'm only Clark now doesn't mean I wasn't Superman, too."
"Just because I was your enemy doesn't mean I--." He can almost see Lex thinking and thinking hard. He thinks too much, more than anyone Clark's ever met. "I don't think it's that simple, Clark."
"What do you want?" Another step that at very least answers that same question that Clark's been asking himself.
"Anything you're willing to give."
Clark feels the breath catch in his throat, a lump settling so words can't get out. This must be what it's like to remember falling in love.
And Lex is waiting. But then, he's always been waiting -- for his father's approval and a town's approbation and to live up to his own ideals, for the disapproval and the disgust and the failure.
There's only a few steps between them. Clark doesn't even know he's covering them, stumbling over a nonexistent crack in the perfect asphalt, and he can see Lex is still waiting for him to walk away even when Clark kisses him. Warm, soft lips that are too surprised to do anything but let him take, and he'd dreamed about this when he was still a kid and refused to think about it when he was awake.
How Lex tastes like brandy and like power and like vulnerability, and then slim fingers are in his hair and Lex is kissing him back. Leaning into him, touching him lightly, it's like the typical first kiss in every way except it's Lex and he's anything but typical.
Clark pulls away when he runs out of air--another new thing, and he's panting and hard and shocked at how the blood races through his body and that everywhere they're touching is so warm.
"The only thing that's changed is the location of the battlefields," Clark says, licking his lips. He's left Lex speechless. That's pretty damn cool. "You get that, right?"
"We can negotiate." Lex turning it into a business deal. So typical. Any way he can get it, he will. Clark grins and forces himself to pull back, and Lex's eyes are wide and completely open in a way that Clark never would have appreciated as a teenager. One hand lifts like he means to touch his mouth, jerked down almost immediately, and Clark grins. "Which car?"
"…Porsche. You might recognize it."
Clark rolls his eyes as Lex abruptly remembers the keys clutched in one hand and pushes down on the button, the bright, strangely happy sound of the disabled alarm filling the garage. It's only two cars away. In Perry's space, of course.
Silver-blue, sleek, and a newer model, but as unforgettable as the repaired bridge, and Clark begins to laugh when he sees it.
"You are such a romantic."
Lex laughs. A laugh that echoes everywhere, amused and young and carefree. A kid Clark used to know who drove ninety miles an hour over Smallville's country roads sounded a lot like that.
Warm, leather-gloved fingers brush his elbow. "What gave it away?"
Merry Christmas or whatever holiday/season you celebrate.