Twenty-Two Blocks and Four Alleys Over
"I could have taken them."
Clark watches Lex lean up against the slimy brick of the alley, taking deep gasps of air into starved lungs. Listening, Clark can't hear anything but pounding rain, so there's a chance that they lost Thug #2, who had a remarkable amount of stamina for someone with such a large stomach.
Clark pretends to be out of breath, watching as Lex absently rubs his bloodied knuckles against his shirt. Somewhere, one sock vanished, and Lex strips off the other and calmly wraps it around his knuckles, trying to awkwardly tie it.
"Let me do that." Lex's hands are callused, which you just don't expect when you see them, hard palms and rough spots from pens and rapiers and steering wheels, and whatever else he does with his free time when he's not plotting against his father or stalking Clark for his secrets. "That was a good punch."
Lex smiles through a split lip, looking pleased. Clark's not sure what to make of this development, but he knows it can't be good. "I know."
"You okay?" Using the torn sleeve of his shirt, from when Thug #3 grabbed for him and missed when Clark was trying to figure out how fast he could go and *not* look suspicious, he dabs at the blood, trying not to look into the glowing blue eyes that seem to have filled with all the light the alley lacks. "That looks like it hurts."
"Fine, fine," Lex says, hand still in Clark's, like he forgot that Clark was holding it, which is just fine as far as Clark's concerned. "My back hurts like hell, though."
That's what happens when a bloodied bartender forcibly evicts you from his premises under threats of dismemberment, but Clark has to admit, Lex was only on the ground for a second before finding his feet. That could be where they lost the sock. Not to mention his other shoe. Clark's not sure. "How's your hand?"
"Fucking hurts." Lex grins, eyes turning down to look at his hand with some kind of completely weird pride. "Come on. The rain's getting worse. Let's find someplace to get out of it." Without waiting for an answer, Lex takes off, bouncing over the ground while Clark stares in horror at the glass and debris littering their path. At this rate, they're going to lose Lex's feet next.
But they come out on the other side okay, on an equally deserted street, because even criminals have the sense to stay in on a night like this. "Clark, come *on*. We don't have all night."
Clark bites back the comment that well, yes, they actually *do*, because even though Lex is running on some kind of post-near-death-experience-high, it doesn't mean that it won't change the second Lex realizes that somewhere between leaving the bar and the first attempted tackle by Thug #1, Lex lost his watch.
No, Clark won't worry about that right now at all.
"Give me all your money."
Clark obediently reaches for his wallet, because this had to happen, and it's not like this is news.
Lex stares at the badly dressed man before them, panty-hose tied over an indistinguishable face, a moldy looking gun in one hand, and wearing ratty Nike's. The look on Lex's face is shock, or maybe envy, since this man at least has shoes.
Clark pushes Lex aside. "Here you go." Handing over the wallet, Clark's so very glad he forgot to grab his driver's license out of the truck and his ATM card is in his mother's purse. Five dollars, one picture of Lana and her horse, and two ticket stubs to a movie that started the cycle of doom tonight. "Um, can we go now?"
The man thumbs open the wallet while Lex watches in disbelief, like he can't imagine how this could be happening, when really, how could it not? "Five fucking *dollars*? Are you kidding me?" Gun out, he nudges Clark significantly, as if to point out where the bullet will go, if Clark could be shot, which he can't be, but Lex doesn't know that. "Gimme what you got."
Or maybe he does. "I don't think so." Because Lex certainly wouldn't stand there like that, staring down an *armed robber*, who has his gun trained on *Clark*, his *best friend*, if he thought Clark could be, say, killed.
Or bruised, anyway. Clark has no fond memories of the machine gun incident of two years ago.
"Take my watch," Clark says desperately, holding out both hands and pulling it off. The thief takes it, giving it a scornful look.
"Timex? Are you fucking with me?" The gun nudges harder and Clark just barely remembers to stumble. The indeterminate colored eyes fix on Lex with manic impatience. "Give me your fucking wallet! Now!"
"No." And Lex just stands there, like a young conqueror in bare feet, coat somehow swirling now in the downpour, and Clark wishes he could have seen the shimmy that lead to that. Dammit. "Give my friend back his wallet and watch and get the hell out of here."
The gun trained on Clark shakes. Maybe he isn't used to his victims fighting back. Or maybe he smells the insanity on the air, which is a lot like ozone, but crazier. "Are you crazy?"
Why yes, Clark thinks, watching Lex stare the man down. Few things are as sexy as Lex in his business, immaculate best, but this may even top purple shirts and black Armani for sheer sex appeal. One day, Clark thinks, Lex will conquer the world, and if he'll just take off his shoes and socks, I'll probably be fine with it.
It's all just too sad for words. Clark sighs, getting a suspicious glare from the gunman. Keeping his hands up, Clark tries to look as non-threatening as possible and keep the gun pointed at him and away from Lex, who has that look of invulnerability he sometimes gets, like bullets wouldn't dare come within feet of him if they valued their existence. He's *Lex fucking Luthor*. Let all bullets fall at his knees and worship him.
"I will hunt you down" Lex promises, taking a step toward the man and getting the gun pointed at him. Crap. Clark judges his chances of getting between Lex and the bullet pretty damn good. His chances of explaining it without a mitigating concussion aren't quite so hot. "I will find out your social security number and your residence and the name of your dog. I will *ruin* you. I will have you audited by the IRS for so many types of tax fraud you will be *buried* under paperwork for the next fifty years."
Clark realizes, about the same time as the gunman, that Lex has, in fact, gone off the deep end. Or maybe the man is thinking of his last tax return.
"You had better run," Lex says menacingly, taking another step forward until the barrel of the gun is against his chest. "No matter how far you go, they will *find* you. And they will audit you."
"Jesus," the man whispers, looking at Clark like he could possibly be any kind of defense against this.
Lex takes the gun from shell-shocked fingers, cocks it, and looks the man dead in the eye. "Start running. And tell your auditor that Lex Luthor sends his regards."
Forty-Five and Three Quarters Blocks
They can't see five feet in front of them. Clark can't see Lex unless he's almost plastered to his back, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Lex is *warm*. Or at least, he makes Clark warm, which is all to the good, as far as Clarks' concerned, since his toes have been swimming in water for six blocks. Even his workboots weren't made for a horror like this night.
"Lex," Clark says slowly, leaning in to speak into one cold ear, trying to pretend it's a total accident when his lips brush it, and really, *really* pretending that he doesn't feel Lex's shiver.
He can almost convince himself it doesn't mean anything.
"Yeah?" Lex comes to a sudden stop, and Clark almost knocks him over, reaching out to grab him before he falls over. Warm. Strong. Lex, who goes absolutely still for just a second and then makes absolutely no attempt to get out of Clark's arms.
Which is good, since Clark's pretty sure he's not up to letting go.
"We need to find somewhere to wait out the rain. We can't see anything." Not even the next stoplight, which should be only a few feet ahead, but Clark can't be sure. For all he knows, they've moved into an alternate dimension, made up of nothing but heavy rain and dilapidated buildings.
"You have a suggestion?" Warm breath puffs against Clarks' face, and Clark forces himself not to lean into it. Lex's mouth is so close that Clark can see the scar and the new split, puffy, but no longer bleeding. In fact, he can barely see the cut anymore.
"Yeah." Clark glances around. "Maybe one of these buildings..." There's a sad lack of doors, but Lex gets the idea. He nods slowly, like Clark's just made a reasonable suggestion, not encouraged breaking and entering.
"Good idea. Next time we see a door, we use it."
"Someplace with a *roof*."
"Let me do it," Clark says, as Lex studies the padlock with an abstracted air, like he was thinking of offering it money to open for them.
"No, no, I can do it," Lex says, looking vaguely pleased. It's a padlock, not combination, and looks distressingly sturdy, but the excuse of metal-fatigue is good for any and all occasions. Lex, however, is *grinning*, then turns away to glance at the ground like he expects a key to magically appear. Apparently, he hasn't been paying attention tonight to the part where nothing will go right, nothing at all, up to and including the fact they are officially out of money and have no way to tell time. Clark thinks they could have been walking for days, but he's not sure. Surely someone would have sent out a search party by now.
"Ah." Lex hold something invisible up. Clark nods dumbly. Hallucinations, check. It's about time for Lex to enter that phase. Any minute now he'll be talking to--
"There we go," Lex croons to the lock, crouching to put the invisible thing into the keyhole. "Just take it nice and slow."
He twists his wrist in a weird pattern that Clark can't quite catch, and Clark tiredly pushes his wet bangs from his eyes, wondering if it would be excusable now to use superpowers and blame it on Lex's burgeoning insanity. It's almost better than a concussion, as excuses go. Lex would take it all as par for the course, really. Everything at this point seems normal, right up to the second Lex sits back on his heels with an expression a lot like the one he gets when he's drinking *really* expensive brandy after besting his father in chess. Clark's never seen him happier.
He's never seen a lock unlock itself and fall to the ground at the push of Lex's fingers either.
"Thought I still had it," Lex says, twirling the invisible thing in his hand. Clark squints, just making out the silvery shape of a piece of wire. Tossing it up in the air, Lex catches it with satisfaction before stuffing it his pocket, then stands up, smiling at Clark so brightly that they really didn't need sun at all. Lex could light the world when he looked like that. "Mi casa es su casa, Clark. Or abandoned building, as the case might be. Come on."
The rotted door opens on a thick dark and blessed dryness. Clark shivers, more from reaction to the lack of disasters than anything else, and Lex closes the door behind them, plunging them into an almost-perfect dark. Not so perfect, really--after a few seconds, Clark can make out Lex, standing only a few feet away, in shades of dark grey, and then a hand closes over his and pulls him toward the interior.
They'll get lost in here, no question. Staying near the door won't help--this is *fate*. Clark follows without a single argument, letting Lex navigate them across rough concrete and around large shapes that could be boxes, and smaller ones that might be bodies. Clark tries not to look too hard, concentrating on the sock-wrapped hand holding his, the even sound of Lex's breathing, and the fact that they are finally, *finally*, dry.
"Here." Lex stops at what feels like a random spot on the floor, just beside what seems like a stack of crates. Clark x-rays, because if there are stacked crates, they *will* fall, but the pile looks disturbingly stable, but that just makes Clark more nervous. "Clark, sit down." Lex doesn't wait, just pulling, at the same time pulling off the sopping wool and somehow getting it beneath them.
It's wetter than the floor, but softer, too, and it's not like Clark's jeans aren't supersaturated anyway. And somehow, warmer. Right before the completely unexpected rainstorm, it had been a warm night. Clark leans into the crate, pressing his shoulder into Lex's in a completely accidental movement that Lex doesn't bother to pull away from. Warm. Lex is very, very warm.
"Better?" Lex finally says, breath puffing against Clark's ear. They are dry, check. The boxes aren't going to fall, check. And they have nothing left to steal, check. Also, Lex is so close Clark can smell him, some cologne intensified by the water, clean skin, and the faintly metallic bite of blood.
It shouldn't be hot. Visions of Lex merrily pounding his way through three large men--shouldn't be that hot. Lex with a gun--should *not* be hot. Lex breathing close beside him, so close that Clark can hear his heartbeat? Should not be so hot.
Wet denim might stretch, but that doesn't make it any less uncomfortable. Clark peels off his flannel overshirt and discreetly drops it into his lap.
"Much," Clark answers, and his voice sounds a little high, but what the hell, it's late and he's in an impossible situation, surrounded with warm Lex-smell, sitting on Lex-clothes, with Lex pressed against his shoulder. If he turns his head, he could, conceivably, find a perfectly reasonable excuse to kiss him.
"Maybe you should spread out your shirt," Lex says softly. "To dry it a little."
Clark's mouth goes dry. "Yeah." Slowly, he shifts enough to lay out the flannel, then considers his t-shirt, which is also soaked and could probably benefit from some time away from his skin. To dry.
"Hmm." Beside him, Clark feels Lex moving, and the black suit jacket joins the flannel, neatly spread out on the concrete. A second's hesitation follows, in which Clark sends up the most sincere prayer of his life before speaking.
"You know, your shirt is silk. It'll dry faster hanging on the crate." And it could even be true.
The hesitation stretches too long, and Clark feels like the biggest idiot ever. Face flushing, he reaches down to untie his boots, and Lex shifts. Clark thinks he can hear each individual button coming loose in those long fingers. Stripping off his socks clumsily, Clark loses his t-shirt, dropping it somewhere that he immediately forgets about when Lex stands up, wet cashmere brushing Clark's cheek as Lex hangs up his shirt.
Oh God. Right there. Half-naked Lex. Mostly naked, even, since socks and shoes are gone. Clark just makes out the pale skin, and so much of it, the ripple of muscle in arms and chest, before Lex sits back down.
Clark thinks he's probably blushing enough to light up the room.
"Comfortable?" There's a lilt in Lex's voice that Clark can't identify, mostly because a naked--*naked*--shoulder is pressed against his. ]
Clark swallows in a dry throat. The denim is going to tear soon, he just knows it. It's just that kind of a night. "Oh yeah."