Love to buggery for help.
The housekeeper's voice wakes Clark up--he almost sits up, but the hand on the back of his head stops him, and he realizes he's spread across Lex's lap, one arm locked around his waist.
"Tell Benny that Clark will get back to him tomorrow," Lex is saying, and Clark groans into the fine wool. "I'll want the car in about an hour. Thank you, Doris."
"Yes, sir." She floats out, quiet and capable, the door closing noiselessly behind her. Clark rolls enough to look into Lex's face.
"Avoiding Cassius?" Lex asks, and Clark sighs, fixing his gaze on the ceiling.
"Yes. I am avoiding him. I'm avoiding Cassius and my parents and Chloe and, well, you know, everything." Clark bites his lip at Lex's interested look. "Come on. It's just--"
"If he thinks it's important enough to look for you here, you should see him." Lex's face doesn't betray worry, but that doesn't mean anything, especially when gentle hands are smoothing back his hair. "I'm going to go take a shower." Clark sits up, letting Lex move, shifting on the bed. "Decide what you want to do for dinner."
Lex disappears into the bathroom and Clark reflects that there are things he should be doing. His pants are on the floor, but God alone knows where his coat is. Right, Doris took it. Crawling out of the bed, he runs a hand through his hair and pads to the door, pushing it open. He knows the layout of the penthouse, so--
"Can I help you, Mr. Kent?" Doris. Huh. Clark forces himself not to flinch at the suddenness of appearance beside him, rubbing his eyes briefly.
"Um, yeah. My coat--"
"I'll get it, sir." She disappears in a flash of Estee Lauder's Beautiful and crisp, rustling linen.
Sir. Still strange to hear it. He doesn't feel like a sir. Feeling stupid, Clark wonders if he's supposed to follow her or stay where he is or--something. At the castle, Lex had had minimal servants and Clark hadn't had that much interaction with them. Here, though….
Leaning into the doorway, Clark tries to clear the sleep from his head. Cassius. Right. Have to talk to the man, because he has something important to tell him. Important that could mean anything. You're dying, Clark, your body's rejecting this entire humanity thing. Let's find a way to get you back to alien and unhappy, 'kay?
Though really, wouldn't Cassius have told Lex something if it were that urgent? Patient confidentiality be damned.
He's really not up to thinking about this right now. Wiping his forehead, he opens his eyes to see Doris holding out his coat, like she's been standing there forever just waiting for him to notice.
Damn, this woman is creepy.
"Thanks," he says, taking it and turning back to the bedroom. Shutting the door, Clark finds his cellphone, turning it on and scrolling through the messages. Mom, Mom, Mom, Cassius, great, thanks, Mom, Lois.
Clark clicks on that and checks the number. Of course she'd call right after he turned off the cell phone. Because that's the kind of luck he has.
Going back to the bed, Clark sits down, laying back on the warm, rumpled blankets that smell vaguely of him and Lex--a comforting smell that he turns into with a smile.
"*Smallville. I think I know what's going on.*" Well, that's good. Clark rolls back on his back. She sounds almost gleeful, like the time Macy's accidentally marked down all it's winter boots ninety-five percent off. "* Jimmy got arrested two days ago for breaking and entering, the moron. I’m going to bail him out now. Call me when you get this message. I need you to check with the Fortress on something, but if I'm right, all those figures you have, that they've been announcing? Completely wrong. Get back to me. It looks like we were right--this is going to be the Smallville meteor shower all over again. Call me now.*"
Clicking off the phone, Clark sits up, staring at the phone. The meteor shower all over again. He wonders if Lois already contacted the Justice League. Probably before she called him. Growling, Clark slams the phone down.
And Lex is involved. Oh fuck twice.
The bathroom door slides open with a cloud of steam and Lex walks out, terry-cloth robed and really way too sexy for Clark's current peace of mind.
"The meteor shower is dangerous, isn't it?"
Lex's hesitation is so brief that Clark almost wonders if it was real or just him looking for guilt. Lex finishes crossing the room, giving the phone a brief look of interest, before fixing on Clark's face.
"Yes, but not in the way you're thinking." Shaking his head, Lex rubs briefly with a towel before tossing it to the floor. "I told you it didn't concern you."
"Tell me now."
Lex grins at him briefly before disappearing into the closet. Oh fuck. Getting up, Clark follows, phone clutched tightly in one hand. Lex, naked and slightly drier, is contemplating his wardrobe with an intense expression. This is just ridiculous.
"Lex, what the fuck are you doing?"
A quick flicker of blue eyes.
"It's not more Kryptonite--so far as I've been able to ascertain."
"You're the expert now?"
Lex grins. "You've worked out I've got the astrophysics expert Rhinehardt and the medical expert Cassius on it, right? Good. Then yes, at this point, I am."
Clark leans into the doorway, watching Lex pick up and discard a pale mauve shirt with a little frown. He's way too calm about this. "Okay, so what is it?"
"That's the problem. We're not entirely sure. The usual metal/mineral compounds, some interesting non-identifiables just for kicks, but since human space travel is well behind what one would hope, it's not like I have samples to work with." Silvery-grey long sleeve t-shirt--Clark hasn't seen Lex in one of those since he left Smallville. Dropping the robe, Clark gets a mouth-drying glimpse of naked Lex before he lays the shirt aside and rummages for boxers. "This is actually funny--"
"Lex." Clark stares at him, trying not to notice the pale lavender-grey boxers as they slide on, clinging softly as Lex turns around to look at him. "You don't do research like this unless--I mean, how long have you known?"
"I knew two years ago. NASA's desperately underfunded in actually being able to track the entire sky. I had personal reason to be--more curious." A flash of teeth. Yeah, Lex is amused as hell. "It was--academic." Lex shakes his head, still smiling. "Your origins always interested me, Clark. So don't be surprised when on the same basic trajectory, I noticed that something was coming at us."
Clark feels something in his head click, but Lex's voice drowns it out. "So, I hired on Rhinestadt. He agreed to work for me if he got exclusive access to my files on Superman--his favorite hobby on earth is you, you know. It was a small enough price to pay. I got the best mind in the world and most of his students, and he got to play in my labs, which are better than anything the government would allow him access. Cassius and I negotiated how much information he'd get on the meteor mutants, and--well, Rhinestadt agreed with me when he had all the data. This could be another group of Kryptonite."
Clark nods slowly. "Why all the government intervention then?"
Lex shrugs. "This was--is--a national concern. Rhinestadt read LexCorp's ecological reports, the government's ecological reports, and noticed the high disparity between. He thought the government needed to be contacted." Soft dark slacks slide on, and Clark watches Lex studying the collection of belts carefully. "Let's say negotiations for how much information I wanted revealed on Kryptonite took a very--long time." Lex pauses, looking at him, no smile. "As you once said, there are some lines I won't cross, but I don't entirely trust other people not to. Rhinestadt and I worked out a compromise, I got government funding, and that's about the end of the story."
Clark stares down at his phone. "Why the secrecy?"
"Because I'm not the only person who made the connection between Kryptonite and meteor mutations. I'm just the one who has enough money and power to do what I like with the information. I prefer to keep my monopoly."
"And the secrecy now?"
Lex's eyebrows raise. "There isn't any. If Rhinestadt is right, then this isn't quite garden variety, but it won't be ecologically devastating, nor any more dangerous to humans in any way that a normal meteor shower would have been. To release earlier would have been--tricky."
"You mean if it was Kryptonite, you wanted to be the only one to know about it and to get hold of it."
"That, too." The grin's so bright Clark almost smiles back. "Clark. You've known about my research for years. Tell me you're surprised that I'd do everything possible to keep this a secret."
Actually--no. Clark thinks on what Lois told him. It--makes sense. At least, in Lex's view, and Lex would hide anything that looked even vaguely useful to himself for worry that someone else might get it before he did. So that fit. A big shower of Kryptonite, more for Lex's research, and so few people understood the implications. Clark's with him on the government really understanding what it was, besides Superman's biggest bane.
"There's also the monetary concerns," Lex goes on, as if Clark hadn't said anything. Clark's head snaps up. "I was given a--certain amount of leeway for collection of whatever fragments would survive earth's atmosphere. Whatever it is, Rhinestadt and I have first crack at it, as long as we share results. Which of course, being a good citizen, I will." Lex makes a softly satisfied sound. "Considering Rhinestadt is certain some of the compounds are completely alien to earth--" Lex trails off, eyes going unfocused. "Who knows what the hell might be in it."
"It might be dangerous." Clark's fingers itch for his computer.
"The current calculations say it'll hit the arctic. The science station you interviewed--remember? Your supposed reason for going up there?" At Clark's slow nod, Lex continues. "They're close to ground zero. You asked what they were studying, but you didn't ask the right questions. They were assigned there specifically for this purpose. They'll be first on the scene to find out what we're dealing with."
"If you try to trot out freedom of the press, Clark, I'll remind you they have the right to know who Superman is too, and it hasn't stopped you from hiding it." Lex picks out a belt, checking the leather carefully. "This is mine, Clark. I've worked for it for two years to make sure of it. No one's taking this away from me, even you."
This is one of those times Lex's possessive instincts make Clark wonder why on earth someone didn't arrest Lionel for child abuse, just on principle. Sighing, he stares at the far wall of the closet.
"I want Lois and I to have the exclusive on what's found."
Lex looks up, obviously surprised. "Clark. Killer instinct. I'm impressed."
"No, I just want to make sure you tell everything, and Lois and I are better than most at figuring it out." Pushing off the doorway, Clark rubs his temples. Lois is in Atlanta right now, getting Jimmy out of jail and writing something up. It might be in the Planet tomorrow. "Lois' already figured this out, you know."
Lex--freezes. No other word for it. Hand still holding the belt, no other sign of anything before completely unreadable blue eyes meet Clark's.
"In other words, this will be all over the papers tomorrow."
"She'll probably wire it to Perry tonight," Clark answers. Lex stares into him like he's looking for a lie. A hoped-for one.
"And there's no way in hell you can pay off *The Daily Planet*." One of the many reasons Clark had chosen to work there.
Lex's eyes unfocus--Clark can almost see the desperate calculations going on, but this is Lois and Lex has got to know nothing will stop her. Mouth tightening, Lex finally threads the belt through his pants, head going down.
"You'll still be ahead," Clark offers, not liking the silence. A silent Lex is a plotting Lex, and a plotting Lex is a very bad thing.
"I knew it would get out," Lex says slowly, buckling it on. "Just not--I thought I'd have more time." Looking up, he sighs, shaking his head. "And you'd be pissed if I had her killed, wouldn't you?"
Clark lets his eyes narrow just a little. "I'd believe it if it wasn't Lois we were talking about."
The look he gets is a little disgusted. "You have far too much faith in my sentimentality. Let me get some shoes. Go--take a shower."
Clark hesitates, watching Lex for a few more minutes as the man looks for shoes. Something's niggling in the back of his head, because he knows Lex doesn't give up, not ever, not for anything.
"Clark, she's been in Atlanta since yesterday. She questioned several of my employees." Lex looks up, smiling slightly at Clark's surprise. "Please. If I really wanted her dead, she would be. Earlier just means I'll have to move faster." Lex's head tilts, watching him with unreadable eyes. "This is the part where we try this thing we haven't before, known as trust."
Yes, trust. Trust Lex won't do anything stupid, and Clark wonders if he can seriously balance Lois' life like that. But--he knows Lex. Lex plays with lives like toys, but Lois is Lois, and Lex loved her and still respects her.
"All right." Stepping out of the doorway, Clark hesitates. "I'll only be a few minutes."
Lex waves a hand at him, picking out a pair of trouser socks. "Take as long as you like. We're in no rush."
Lex's full attention goes toward his shoes, and Clark glances down at the phone still in his hand. Okay. He can--just check.
Once the bathroom door closes between them, Clark calls Lois' phone. He gets voicemail, not comforting at all. Leaving her a short message to call him, Clark calls the office--if Lois has anything, she'd have called in and gotten someone ready to pick up the wire. Mary, Perry's assistant, answers, and yes, she talked to Lois only a few minutes ago.
Clark thanks her and gets off the phone, taking a slow breath. So. That's that. What Lex was doing will be in the papers tomorrow morning at the latest.
He takes a short shower, coming out into the empty bedroom to see far too familiar clothes on the bed. His clothes, to be exact. Ones that were in his apartment today. Clark wonders if Lex has had a key all along or just had one made since they started their thing.
There's something vaguely creepy about Mercy or Hope going through his underwear drawer, though, and he picks up the boxers with a little sigh. Nice pants, the ones he wears when he goes to lunch with important contacts or on interviews. Remembering Lex in his very casual shirt, Clark wonders exactly what Lex has in mind for tonight.
"Clark? Dressed yet?" Clark turns around way too fast, aware he's flushing, and Lex's eyes slide down his body very slowly and very, very deliberately. The boxers that Mercy or Hope took from his drawer--and he really doesn't want to think about that--don't hide a thing. When Lex reaches his face again, his eyebrows raise in query. "I'm guessing not."
"Funny." And right, it shouldn't be weird to get dressed with Lex watching him, but--Lex is *watching* him. Like this is the most interesting show ever and he can't miss a second. Clark's flushing like a teenager and fumbling clothes, and for some arcane reason his fingers refuse to remember how to button pants.
"Let me help." Almost a purr, and Clark lets go, watching silently as Lex carefully fastens the button with deliberate flicks of his fingers, then pulls up the zipper. Slowly. Gritting his teeth, Clark holds very still, aware of the press of his erection against the fabric, ruining the line of his pants. "Need help with your shirt, too?"
"You want to dress me?" Bizarrely hot, that. In some way that his brain won't even completely accept.
"Almost as fun as undressing you." Lex gives him a slow smile, then reaches for the shirt. "Arms, Clark?"
See, he hadn't been serious. Except--it's hot, just to close his eyes, let Lex smooth the material over his head, hands sliding slow and easy across his chest, fixing the cuffs around each wrist. Hands closing on his hips, jerking him closer, and Clark tilts his head down for the equally slow, lazy kiss.
And Lex pulling away is just *wrong*.
"Sit down. Socks."
Edging back, Clark sits down, picking them up and handing them over as Lex crouches. "Tell me you didn't send Mercy to my apartment to pick out my underwear."
"I didn't. She has execrable taste. Why do you think I personally choose her clothing?" One sock on, fingers stroking his bare ankle as he pulls it up. Clark shivers.
"Then I don't want to know."
Lex snickers softly as he pulls on the next sock, and Clark tries to ignore how the hard fingers seem to press all the right nerves on the way up. "Are you going to ask where we're going?"
Clark breathes out carefully as Lex moves on to shoes. Non-sexy shoes. Or shouldn't be sexy, yet they are, especially with Lex sliding each on his foot like he's perfecting some piece of art. Looking up, the blue eyes hold Clark's.
"I--" Clark licks his lips. "Going out?"
"That's not a question, but yes, we are." Rising smoothly to his feet, Lex extends a hand, fingers wrapping in Clark's as naturally as if they've been doing it for years. "Come on."