Yeah. Anyway, snippet.
"What are you doing up?"
In some part of Lex's mind, Clark will vanish one day. It's as sure as snow in winter or Lex's future presidency, hanging on the horizon. And it's always like this, a double shot of an empty, professionally decorated living room, a house with a society wife and two perfect little children that live at boarding school and only call home when they need more money.
It was supposed to be his life; he knew from the cradle, maybe, and wanting more had never translated into believing he could have it. Not with Desiree, Helen, Lena, or Lydia. Not with the women between and beyond, or the single nights with men he barely remembers.
And just for a second, he can actually see it, before it changes, a messy room with that horrible leather couch and Clark spread out on the floor, typing into a laptop, blinking owlishly through his glasses and chewing on his lip, drinking too much coffee and staying up much too late.
Lex is still not sure he believes it.
Clark looks up from the laptop. "I had a story to work on." Pulling the glasses off, Clark sits up, liquid grace from years of being Superman, and while the body's vulnerable and human now, the mind behind it is anything but. Lex doesn't ever forget Clark wandered through the Arctic with a severely interesting case of food poisoning and shot him through the shoulder once upon a time.
Clark Kent's ideas of what being in love meant are just as scary as Lex's are sometimes. Leaning into the doorway, Lex tries not to smile as stupidly as he wants to.
He wants to say, go to bed, but Clark in their bed is wet dream material, the kind of thing Lex spent years avoiding. Clark in their cars is Smallville all over again. When he wants to be grounded, wants to feel what they are now, it's here, in this room that Clark made his own..
Reality is messy piles of papers, dirty socks, dishes in obscure, forgotten places until Doris hunts them up, moldy with old pizza or half-curdled milk from wherever Clark forgot them. Reality is old flannel shirts and messy dark hair that's too long again because Clark always forgets to schedule a cut. Reality is a handpainted room by the richest man in the world and the man that used to be Superman, long dinners, and sleeping in every Sunday morning.
Reality is a frightening stretch of contented days, and Lex has no idea how he got to this, except he did, and they did, and it slides over him like water. It always does.
"Don't tell me. We're going back to Washington." Clark cocks his head, tapping a quick sequence of keys without looking down, then closing the laptop and rolling onto his back, sighing a little at the relief from pressure. Poor put-upon Clark, who never met a headache or a backache before and borrows Lex's masseuse so often Lex has thought about taking classes himself, just to be the only one that touches Clark like that.
"Not anytime soon, no." Lex has a business to run, a world to conquer, or at least buy and sell a few hundred times, and a sudden surfeit of time on his hands. He's not sure what to do with any of it right now, but lounging on the couch is appealing. Watching Clark in that full body writhe while he works the kinks out, relaxing into a boneless sprawl on the cream colored rug is something that goes well beyond classy porn. "Your parents are calling."
Clark's mouth tightens just a little, eyes flickering down.
"They're leaving messages on *my* phone, but they're not being very specific," Lex continues, crossing to the sofa, kicking at the long leg in his way. Clark doesn't move, eyes fixed on the ceiling. "Anything I should know?"
Clark sighs, pushing himself up on both elbows. "I told them."
"Ah." And here he'd thought they'd wait until after, say, retirement. Or Lex's death. Either would do.
"There's going to be an article on it," Clark says, rolling back down, like the kid Lex suspects he still is, under all that adult responsibility and career worries. Clark lost too much childhood to what he was--Lex doesn't plan on letting him lose another second. "In the Inquisitor. Chloe told me." The green eyes narrow thoughtfully. "You know. Marriage. Kind of a huge event and all."
Clark tilts his head, eyebrows raised. "I'm not that kind of boy."
Lex grins, kicking Clark's foot. "You are exactly that kind of boy. So do I need to worry about a pitchfork in my back?" Hating the Kents is work, but Lex has had over a decade to perfect it. Jonathan's habit, so effortless it's like breathing. Martha, however, is more difficult.
And then sometimes, all it takes is that look on Clark's face, closed up and quiet, that the fifteen year old boy he met had never had. Love him to distraction they might, but they'd never make this easy. It's not that he doesn't understand why they hate him. It's that Clark shouldn't be the one hurting for it. "They're adjusting."
Even knowing that, knowing that he's sentenced Clark to a lifetime of a chasmed family, Lex can't give him up. It's as unthinkable as letting Superman die in the Arctic at the hands of his own people. Unacceptable.
Lex feels Clark's head rest on his knee, fingers idly rubbing the carpet. So fucking *young*, and it amazes him sometimes. Clark grew up so fast, and Superman had seen everything twice, but the man on the floor never lost his hope to it. He'll hope all his life, Lex thinks, touching the dark hair, remembering Clark when they met for the first time, the last time, and then in that tiny downtown tenement, when Lex walked in and felt everything just *slip*. Time had frozen, in a tiny pool of blood and a shaken, pale man on the floor, and it was Smallville all over again. Protect, defend, hide, care for, instinct taking over reason, and Lex remembers waking up the next morning and knowing that while he could have him, he couldn't let Clark go.
He'd let Clark go once before, and nothing had ever been quite right since.
"Lex?" Clark yawns briefly into his palm, looking up with liquid eyes. It's always a warning sign--the sad part is, Clark doesn't *need* to do that. Only three things could cause it, and Lex doesn't remember Lois doing an expose on LexCorp, so....
"Dinner with your parents?" Memories of the last time are jumbled, because Lex consumed brandy to the point of near-poisoning once they came home. He thinks it's better that way.
Clark smiles, slow and wide. "No."
"Who says I want anything?" Turning, Clark comes up on both knees, giving Lex a slow smile, just because he knows he can, because he knows that Lex can't resist, because he's Clark and Clark's smiles are given by the dozen but never the same twice, and Lex sometimes wonders how he'd live without them. "I'm just curious."
Lex closes his eyes. This can't be good.
Head tilted, Clark lowers his arms onto Lex's knees, settling comfortably, like the biggest kid alive, waiting for a bedtime story. "Tell me what made you ask me to marry you."
Lois said, pull over. Her voice had been strange and stiff, like when she'd left him, reminding him how much he hated her sometimes.
He'd said no, almost hanging up the phone as he topped one hundred ten, because he knew she could hear it and he knew it would piss her off.
Pull over, she said again, and her voice stiffened more. Background noise intruded--voices, sirens, other sounds he couldn't identify or maybe didn't want to. Pull over, she said, and Lex pulled onto the side of the road, and cut the engine, staring at the darkness of a Smallville night as Lois told him that Clark had been shot.
He never drove so fast in his life.
Lois was waiting at the back door; reporters were everywhere, even here, but security got him through, Mercy and Hope just a breath behind, staring down anyone who thought they might try and follow. Nothing stopped the screamed questions. Only belatedly, Lex realized Lois' arm was in a cast and she was white under her tan.
A nurse saw them and led them upstairs, talking about emergency surgery and other words that made no sense. Lex dropped Lois in a chair before she collapsed and walked to the doors of the surgical unit, looking inside. Nothing of Clark was visible--just blue and white blankets, blue and white surgeons, and the pool of blood growing slowly beneath their feet.
Terms like 'irregular rhythm' and 'pulmonary embolism' and 'severed aorta' were thrown this way and that above his head, and somewhere along the way, Lois was standing like a bulldog between him and the world that didn't exist outside that room.
"Lex." Her voice was choked and broken, so unlike her that Lex had to look at her. Long fingers curled around his arm, pulling him away from the door. "Lex. Come sit down."
"No." But he went, because she was stumbling and Lois never *never* stumbled. "How bad?"
She wouldn't lie, not for him, not even for herself. "His heart stopped twice in the ambulance. They brought him in still doing CPR." She sat down before her legs gave out and brought her good hand up to her face. Lex could see the blood on her shirt, soaking black into the jeans. One sleeve of her top had been cut away completely. She hadn't taken a painkiller yet--he knew her. If anything--happened--she wanted to be ready.
"Drug deal gone bad. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time." She rubbed at her forehead, leaving pinkish smears across too-pale skin. A low, choked laugh. "We didn't even--it wasn't even for a fucking story, just going to dinner. Clark didn't know what happened. He was out before I could tell him."
"And the shooter?"
Lois' eyes closed. "He ran."
Raising an arm, he wrapped it around her shoulders, feeling her slowly uncoil against him, eyes closed. "Did you call--"
"Yeah. Right after I called you. His parents will be here as soon as the helicopter arrives."
Smart. Rubbing his hand against her back, he winced at the tacky, rough feel of the material. Blood, half-coalesced, clung to his fingers. The instinct to pull away was negated by the fact that Lois was crying into his shoulder and God, of every thing he'd ever wished on her, he'd never wanted that--never hear those soft, choked sobs or the hitch in her breathing, the shaking that started somewhere deep inside and moved outward, her good arm wrapped around her stomach.
He couldn't find enough air to breathe.
"They said--they got him here fast. Emergency surgery in the ER. They moved him up here as soon as he was stable. He's--he's strong."
"He'll be here. He was my first call."
Lex almost smiled. Benny was a thousand miles away, lost in the wilds of Chicago. His creds would get him onto any LexCorp jet that could fly. It would be a matter of an hour, maybe two.
It was good she was falling apart--it kept him here and now, not listening, not hearing, not acknowledging the scream of the heart monitor, the frantic activity inside those doors. Nodding when the Kents rushed in and the nurse briefed them somewhere over Lex's head, accepting the reluctant touch on his shoulder by Martha's work-hardened hand, counting every breath.
"He's a fighter," Lois whispered against his shoulder, and Lex nodded blankly. There were so many ways for a human to die that Superman couldn't. Tonight, it would have been an inconvenience and a mishap, something that Clark would laugh at later. Instead, punctured lungs and broken ribs, the damage of a single bullet through ordinary human flesh.
Somewhere outside this hospital, the world was gathering to hear if Lex Luthor would lose another lover, but Lex rather thought he wouldn't. It was both of them or not at all. Lex was never burying another body if it wasn't his own.
Medical power of attorney was something he'd covered before going to the Arctic years ago. Lawyers were good for anything and everything, and later, Clark had signed one, too. Lex listened numbly as the doctor recited the litany, like Lex was capable of making any kind of rational decision.
Superman's life had been in his hands a thousand times, but never Clark's. Never like this, surrounded by sterile white walls and the soft hum of machines in the background, while they told him that Clark might die.
Coma, they told him. Possible brain damage. Medical terms ran in circles above his head, but he didn't see anything but Clark, big hand limp in his. He looked like he was sleeping.
"Lex?" Lois' voice seemed far away, but he could see her from the corner of his eye. She'd changed clothes at some point, arm in a sling beneath her coat. "How--how is he?"
Lex stared down at the bed. "He's going to be fine."
"We're his parents," Mrs. Kent said calmly, but her hands were twisting in his lap. "For his treatment, we should be consulted--"
"We both signed," Lex said, wondering what he was drinking. A paper cup that smelled like coffee had materialized when he woke up on in the armchair by the bed, and there was a crick in his neck that no amount of rubbing seemed to ease. Clark's heart monitor bleeped methodically, the new soundtrack to Lex's life, and Lex wondered what day it was. Four days, five, ten, since Lois called him? He hadn't checked his phone in days. Cassius didn't tell him much, but Lex didn't need to know much. He needed to know Clark would live, and he needed to know when he'd wake up, and those were questions Cassius couldn't answer.
"Lex," she started again, and the twisting hands seemed to take on a life of their own. "We understand that Clark signed, but I'm not sure he understood the implications of what he was doing." She paused, and Lex wondered how long it had been since she'd slept. "Legally--"
"I'm not doing this right now."
Martha Kent shut her eyes briefly. "I've spoken to Mrs. Ross. The power of medical attorney can be contested in extreme situations. And Kansas does not legally recognize--"
"What?" Kansas law didn't recognize a lot of things. "Federal law--the law I drafted--does. Are you planning to contest his wishes because he chose me instead of you?"
Maybe she would. A mother, like a lover, would go places they wouldn't otherwise for someone they loved. Martha's hands stilled. "I don't think you should be the one to decide if my son lives or dies."
Yes, it always came back to that, didn't it? Years passed, but memories didn't. Leaning into the chair, Lex turned his head enough to watch Clark's slow, even breathing. "He's not going to die."
"He wouldn't want to live on like this indefinitely." Martha's voice was softer than the words. "I know my son, Lex. You--you know him too. If this is irreversible--"
"He's going to be fine." Nothing else was acceptable. Like the sun rising and the periodic visits of Lois to annoy the shit out of him at home, some things were inevitable. Clark would wake up, and he would be fine.
"I don't care." Even to himself, he sounded flat. Leaning a little, Lex stroked his fingers over Clark's still hand, watching the slow rise and fall of his chest. He'd never thought this would happen. It had been a joke--tit for tat, Clark had said, grinning when he signed. You make me decide, I make you. So deal, hero of the people. See, I even did it in purple ink. "He has the best medical care in the world." And that's not even an exaggeration. "He'll be fine."
You fucking *ass*, Lex thought, almost smiling, remembering Clark's fingers stained with purple ink, drawing patterns on his back.
"Lex, don't--don't make this more difficult than it--than it has to be. He's my son." Martha's voice sounded choked. "It's been over two weeks. We don't want this to--but if we have to, we will take this to court."
"You'll lose." And they would. If the law failed, money would take care of it. Lex had always heard there were things that money couldn't buy, but the law had never been one of them. "Now get the hell out."
"You little shit." That was Jonathan, always to be counted on to make a bad situation worse. "Who the fuck do you think you are? We're his *parents*. You--you're not--"
"I'm his lover," Lex said. Clark was always so warm, even now. Like the sun was always shining on him. It was so maudlin he couldn't help grinning, lacing his fingers through Clark's. "I live with him. I sleep with him. You don't have to like it. I don't give a shit if you do and I never did. But don't you fucking dare come in here and--" And what? Tell him what he already knew? Time was running out and Lex knew the statistics on coma patients, and the longer Clark was like this, the less chance there was. "Get out or I'll have you thrown out."
Jonathan's hate was as familiar as a glove--Martha's still had the power to hurt, but it was so habitual, so normal, that Lex hardly noticed the flash of pain as she got up and walked out. Gently, Lex laid a hand on Clark's chest to feel the slow rise and fall. He was being unfair. They were his parents, and they grieved, like he did, like Lois did, like Chloe did, like Pete and Lana did.
"I was thinking," Lex said, watching Clark's chest. "Before Lois called. I was thinking we should go on vacation. Somewhere you could rest. You've been working too hard." The many faceted dangers of two driven people. Clark was usually the one that stopped Lex mid-stride, but he'd been working on a big story and lived on coffee and bagels for the two weeks before. Lois had run the article yesterday. Lex hadn't read it yet. Not--not yet. "I know, I never thought I would say that either, but you have been. I was going to tell you to take a break before you burned yourself out. I almost stayed home to talk to you about it, but the plant called. I wasn't going to stay the night in Smallville. I was going to come home and surprise you...." Lex stopped, taking a deep breath. Clark's fingers felt so limp. Sleeping, Lex told himself. It's just sleep. "You know, your parents really don't hate me as much as they used to. I wasn't threatened once. Unless you count the lawsuit, and you really shouldn't. They're upset."
Lex closed his eyes, leaning his head onto the edge of the bed. "And they're not the only ones, you son of a bitch, so wake the hell up."