My Usual Lie
by jenn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Spoilers: through season four, but nothing very definite
Amandajane wanted something with ice skating. Her commentary was *inspired*. Thanks, chica. *hugs*
Clark's never learned the fancy moves that Lex does--he just skates, like he learned with the other kids on long Saturday afternoons after chores were done. Lex has it down to an art--a curve here, a figure-eight there, and it's really, really annoying.
And kind of hot, in that way that Clark is never, ever going to admit to anyone.
"I didn't know you knew how to skate." He knows he sounds sulky, but is Lex good at *everything*?
"It's Kansas, Clark. Even I am not proof against the lure of hockey."
Right. Lex would watch hockey. Lex even *looks* amused when Clark passes him by with a vengeful little flicker of skate.
"I just didn't think you were that into sports."
Lex bares his teeth in a grin. "I'm not. It's just fun to play. Believe it or not, Clark, I did do things in school besides study and casual sex."
He's not going to blush, not going to blush, not going to... "Uh huh." Blushing. Right now.
"Besides, it's incumbent on a well-rounded individual to have competence in a variety of different activities, in case you are called upon to exercise proficiency at unexpected times."
Clark snorts. "Like ice skating is going to help a corporate takeover."
Lex looks disturbingly thoughtful, turning a disgustingly perfect little circle in place. "Maybe I just like the little costumes that figure skaters wear."
Lex does a little shimmy and skates around him backwards, like that's supposed to be endearing. It's really, really not.
"So." Clark tries to think of conversation. If he'd thought it was hard at fifteen when he knew nothing about Lex, it's kind of an epic struggle now, for all the topics neither of them can bring up. The list is miles long and gets longer by the day. "How's business?"
Lex arches an eyebrow and turns around, hands clasped behind him like a Peanuts cartoon. "Good. School?"
"Great." Yes, this is how to re-establish their friendship. Bad small talk.
Lex blinks, and for a wonder, actually *stumbles*, right there in front of Clark.
Catches himself with a hand on his knee and stares at Clark like he just mentioned something--well. Unmentionable.
And his head is in a very--inconvenient place there. Like, right in front of his--
"Clark. What did you just say?"
Apparently, it's something. Clark remembers Lois mumbling it to Chloe, flushing bright red when she'd seen him in the room. Interesting. Putting on his best dumb farmboy look, Clark offers a hand. "What?"
Sometimes, those looks don't work on Lex as well as they should. Stupid red meteor rock antics.
"Clark." Lex takes the hand up, finding his balance, and apparently, his cool, trying one of those wise older friends smiles that make Clark really wish he'd just stop with that. Letting go of Clark's hand, Lex slides backward on the ice, putting that oh so necessary space between them. Cause Lex is all about the personal space.
"Don't you use the internet?"
Ooh. He wants to play *rough*. Wide eyed, Clark stares down at his skates. "Mom uses a net nanny, you know." Looking up through his bangs, he tries not to grin at the expression on Lex's face.
"And you can't disable it?"
Well, duh, a *five year old* could disable it. Clark tries a little shuffle of his feet. Even with skates, it works. "Not really, no." And if Lex buys *that*....
He looks skeptical, but these days, Lex looks skeptical if Clark says the sky is blue. It's not pleasant at all, and Clark misses the halcyon days of yore where Lex looked at him like he was a dinner entree, complete with side dishes and a dessert chaser.
It's--weird, to miss that. Or not weird, but some other word. Some word that encompasses being uncomfortable and being excited and being confused all at once. When it felt like everything was easier, when he was fifteen and Lex was so *new*, so bright, like a supernova, taking up all the space in the sky. When Clark didn't know what it meant or what to do with it, just that he wanted it. Wanted to keep it, horde it from others, never see it focused on anyone else.
He thinks of all the people Lex has looked at like that, all the ones that didn't even deserve it. Maybe Clark didn't, either, but he never--he never would have used it against him, like Victoria and Desiree and that chick that was just a one night stand. Not like Helen, to destroy him with. He just--it's--
Maybe you only get that once with Lex, though. He's got Lex's attention, Lex's fascination, Lex's suspicions, and some of Lex's secrets, but he doesn't have that anymore.
When I was fifteen, Clark wants to explain, I didn't know, do you understand, Lex? I didn't know. And when I was sixteen, I didn't know what to do about it. And then you left and came back and it's like you forgot what I was, or who I was, or something. Like you forgot everything but what I am, like that was more important than anything else. When I was seventeen, I could have, but you stopped wanting it.
I know what you wanted, and I could've handled that if I knew it wasn't everything. But it's not about me, it's about that, this thing you think I could be, and I can't--I don't want to be a thing.
Clark realizes that Lex has been staring at him for several seconds and quickly skates a tiny circle. It's probably suspicious as hell, but Lex is suspicious of everything and everyone these days, so it won't be like it's any different than usual.
"It's a technical term for a specific kind of sex involving snow," Lex says finally, still watching him with carefully restrained curiosity, like Clark will run screaming if he shows too much. Which is fair. God knows, the last time he saw Lex's curiosity, he didn't scream, but mostly because he couldn't think. That room. That *place*. That had nothing to do with Clark Kent and was all about this mystery *thing*. Their friendship, that specialness reduced to--to--to--
God, he could hate Lex for that, just for that, for giving him so much and then making it not about him at all. Like those years of friendship were just--were nothing. Were just Lex, bored.
Like an extended one night stand in a hotel, spaced over years. And when he gets what he wants, he'll just walk away like Clark was never anything at all.
"Oh," he says, suddenly aware Lex answered his question and is still staring at him. Maybe waiting for the blush, or for Clark to stammer, or something silly and Clarkish and in character, not just stand there and hurt. Didn't this just start as skating on a pond?
Clark thinks about trying on a grin, making it light and easy again, playing the part until he can't anymore. It's coming, like watching a storm form in the east at dawn, thick and portentous and heavy. Not today, definitely, not tomorrow, probably, but soon, and if it comes, when it comes, it'll crash through everything and leave nothing standing. He's not sure what they'll be on the other side, but a moment like this--.
Nothing like this will ever happen again. Clark thinks that nothing will ever hurt like that will.
"You want to get some hot chocolate?"
Clark almost smiles at the carefully crafted grin on Lex's face, there to ease the teenaged friend, all bright and sparkling as the snow, and just about as warm. I want you to talk to me, Clark tells him as he nods. I want you to smile at me and mean it. I want you to like me and want me and think about me and not learn to hate me, and I don't know how to make any of those things happen. I really don't know anything at all. "Yeah."
Lex skates to the edge and steps off the ice like he's walking at a cocktail party, efficiently unfastening his skates and sliding them off, into shoes in an easy, graceful movement. It's addictive to watch, these seconds where Lex is thinking of something else, when he doesn't have to wonder what Lex sees when he looks at Clark. When for a second, it's his best friend, Lex, who he can pretend likes him and protects him and maybe even loves him a little, maybe even wants him a little, maybe even wonders what he would do if Clark kissed him one day.
If Clark just *did* it, cupped cold cheeks and leaned forward and kissed him, chapped lips and silky skin and a mouth that would be so warm. Clark could *do* that now, just walk over and not stumble over his own skates, not trip and fall on imaginary barriers, just reach and touch and kiss and *have* that, even if it's not real. Even if it was never real at all.
When it comes, when they can't pretend, Clark thinks he can do it. He might do it. He'll kiss Lex and wait for Lex to kiss him back. Touch him, that smooth hidden skin, the long curve of his back, the silky skin of his thighs, his cock, his balls, his ass, *touch* him like he wants to so badly he's not sure he knows how to want anything else. Pretend when Lex touches him that he does it because he wants *Clark*, needs him, maybe loves him, just a little.
Taking off his own skates, Clark slides on his boots, following Lex wordlessly to the castle. Lex is flushed with cold, gloved hands tucked in his pockets, walking like he always does, like the world owes him a smooth walk and damned if he doesn't expect it to provide.
"I'm leaving in a few days for a meeting," Lex says, out of nowhere. Silence has never bothered Lex--he's as likely to use it as a weapon as to fill it, Clark knows. Maybe the quiet feels as odd to Clark as it does to Lex, like all the things they aren't saying are taking up too much space to fill it up themselves. Like the wrong word could just ruin everything.
"Oh?" It's so lame. Shuffling his feet, Clark kicks up snow, watching it fall dry and powdery. Bad snowball snow. "Be gone long?"
"A week or so." Somewhere else. Another city. Where Lex can sleep with other people, look at other people like that, the way he doesn't look at Clark. Shoving his hands into his pocket, Clark lets himself hate a little. Suspecting is so much different than knowing. He could hate Shannon for that alone, if he didn't hate her for so many other reasons. "I need a vacation."
If anyone does, it would be Lex. Though Lex's idea of a vacation probably isn't anything like Clark's. Probably involves wireless internet and cell phones and long-distance meetings. "You should. Somewhere warm." The castle is freezing, even with the fireplace. Like a museum, where you aren't welcome to stay, just to visit, and has ways of making you not want to come back.
Some servant that Clark doesn't recognize takes their coats, and Clark follows Lex to his office, because God knows, even being social, Lex can't escape the lure of his email. It used to be funny, but Clark remembers when Lex's email was less important than talking to him and telling him long stories about Grecian gods and history and the many ways man is so blind to everything in the world. Though Clark can't be sorry that the Walt Whitman period ended. That was just weird.
While Lex gives orders to the kitchen via telephone while scrolling through his email, Clark paces the room restlessly, looking at the books, scanning for listening devices by habit. Lex is paranoid, but that doesn't mean he isn't right a lot of the time. "Do you want anything else, Clark?" Lex's eyes never leave the laptop.
You, naked. "Any more cookies?"
That gets him a smile, if not a look. "For you, anything."
Clark closes his eyes, thinking of Lex's effortless glide around the pond. The concentration on his face, the way he tilted his head, the slow, meticulous motions of his body. "Does the fireplace still work?"
That rates a look. "I think so." A little frown of thought. "There's chopped wood, anyway. I can call--"
"I'll do it." The better for you to check your email without having to bother with me. "I'll be back."
It's something to do with his hands and his head--seeking out the woodshed, talking up the kitchen staff, because they do make the best cookies *ever*, snow to plough through, and pretending that he can't carry more than a few logs at a time when he could probably dislocate the entire woodshed if he felt like it.
And Lex never even looks *up*. I'd bet you'd notice if I started a fire with my eyes, Clark thinks bitterly. Because that's about my secrets, what I am, not who.
Maybe he should go home. He's so in the wrong mood for this. Even if there's hot chocolate in the immediate future.
But Lex does look up when Clark figures out how to use the long lighter, smiling a little at the cheerful blaze. "Nice job."
Clark can't help the grin. "It's always so cold. I can't believe your fingers don't fall off in here."
"I don't really notice anymore." Pushing the laptop aside, Lex leans his head on his hand, staring at the fire like he's seeing cities being built inside.
"We should have marshmallows." There, that's something Clark would have said at fifteen. Sitting on the couch, Clark almost laughs at the grin on Lex's face. Focused on him. "Hot dogs."
"My office as a camp-out? Interesting thought."
A slumber party, except guys didn't call it that. With sleeping bags, maybe. Hot chocolate. He's too old for ghost stories now, but he wasn't at fifteen, though he pretended he was. They still scared him.
"You've been on them?"
Lex grins, and Clark almost laughs in relief when the laptop is shut and pushed aside. "Summer camp." Getting up, Lex stretches, lithe as a cat beneath the soft-looking grey sweater. It's thin enough to seem to cling, and Clark has this urge to touch him when he sits down on the couch, a very safe foot away from Clark, leaning back to close his eyes. He's still flushed from the cold outside. Bright against all that pale skin.
When I was fifteen, Clark wants to tell Lex, you'd circle me like a shark. You'd look at me like you wanted to know what was under my clothes. Like one day, you were sure you'd find out. When I was sixteen, I would have let you, wanted you to, thought about it and dreamed about it, thought that every day, this time, you might do it. When I was seventeen, I would have taken them off for you. Except you didn't want that anymore, not unless you could see beneath my skin, too.
Lex is looking at him again, turned head, this picture of pure relaxation except for those sharp eyes. Clark swallows, trying not to shift under that look that's asking calm, disinterested questions in the drone of a scientist. What are you? Why are you here? Where do you come from? How do you work? What can you do for me?
"I went on a few when I was a kid," Clark hears himself saying, and thank God, he seems to be making sense. "I got lost a lot though." No sense of direction.
Lex chuckles softly. "How long did it take them to find you?"
"All night." They'd expected exposure to kill him, and it hadn't. In retrospect, his parents' panic may have had less to do with him getting lost than being found, whole and hearty. People might Wonder and Ask Questions. He's never been on a campout since. "It was fun."
"Being out all alone in the woods at night?" Lex gives him an indulgent smile, which is better than the thinking one, but really not by much. "Have you decided what you're going to do when you graduate?"
And that's quite a change of topic. "Not really." Not be a world-conquering sociopath, that's on the definite side. Everything else feels a little too fluid to put in words. "College, I guess."
"MetU? Or somewhere else?"
His parents can't afford for him to go far, and even if they could, they wouldn't approve. Which is not a good answer at all. "I think so. I mean, I liked the campus when I went to visit."
"It's not a bad school." Of course, Lex went to Princeton and Yale. Oh, and MetU too, Clark almost forgot.
"Did you like it there?"
"Very much." Lex seems to melt a little under the heat of the fire, like butter left out on the counter. "I think you'll enjoy yourself."
"College is for your education." He grins when he says it. He sounds so much like his dad.
Lex's head turns again, giving him a buttery-soft smile. No questions this time when he looks. "And having fun is part of your education."
Lex and ten million frat guys can't be wrong, Clark supposes. He lets himself relax, too. The heat of the fireplace feels good, almost like the sun in summer, a heat sinking through him straight to his core. He wants to curl up in it, never leave the fire or Lex's warm, personal smile.
The hot chocolate appears as if out of nowhere--Lex's servants are like that. Warm and thick with vanilla and cinnamon sticks, and definitely something alcoholic in the undertaste, like run or schnapps. Clark's not sure. It tastes good, though, settling the warmth of the fire inside him. The couch, after all, is warm and comfortable. He only smiles when Lex offers him a refill from the small pot on the tray, taking another cookie with it.
Lex seems to melt, too, and maybe there's something to be said for alcohol after all, if it makes Lex like that.
"You," Clark starts, and forgets what he was going to say. "Rum?"
"Good call." The yellow light makes Lex look warm and soft and infinitely approachable. It's a shift that's more than skin and clothes--it's Lex drunk. Those girls, do they see this? See Lex boneless after they're done, sprawled like he owns all the space in the world? A thigh nudges Clark's knee, a total accident that makes the blood rush everywhere it shouldn't, can't.
It would happen like this.
Clark would reach for him. Just touch him. There, on that place above his knee. Put his hand there and hold his breath and wait. Lex would look at him with liquor-soft eyes and smile, and then he'd cover Clark's hand with his. Long, elegant fingers would wind around his, and Clark would feel the calluses he's only see before today. Short, manicured nails would scratch against his skin. Goosebumps raise just at the thought.
When I was fifteen, Clark's head stutters, I didn't know. When I was sixteen, I didn't know what to do. When I was seventeen, you didn't want it. Not without everything else. Tell me it's just me. Tell me that's all you want, and I would--I can--
Lex would kiss him--or Clark would kiss him. He's not sure, when rum's in his blood and the whole world is caught up in Lex's eyes. That soft, scarred mouth, pink tongue, touching his, in his mouth, tasting him, letting Clark taste.
"Clark?" Almost sharp, almost Lex, almost awake again, wondering and curious and thoughtful and thinking, always thinking. He'd wonder if Clark touched him, think if Clark seduced him, touch Clark looking for that otherness that lives beneath. Lex has never been cheap. He costs more than Clark can ever hope to pay. When he was fifteen, he knew that, too.
Lex would push him down in the couch, butter soft leather, hands sliding under his shirt. He'd feel Lex's cock against him, maybe hot and hard for *him*, not for some random girl in a random hotel, not for Helen or Desiree or Victoria or all the ones in between. He'll kiss Lex and touch him, slide his hand into the soft wool of his pants, whisper in his ear that he wants this, always wanted it, before he even knew what to call it.
Lex would say he loved him, just him. Teenage girl fantasies of forever and anything and everything, so television special that Clark wants to laugh at himself if it wasn't just *there*. Lex can separate sex and love from what he is, and maybe Kal could, too, but Clark can't.
"Thinking of Lana?"
There's an amused curl to Lex's lip, and it could be any time in the world they've sat here together and talked about women, except it's not. Clark forces out a smile, wondering what his face looks like right now.
"Not really." He takes a refill of hot chocolate. Who knew of all the things he'd be vulnerable to, it would be alcohol? "Just sitting." He can feel the stupid grin curling up his lips. Lex is looking vaguely similar, weirdly goofy and endearing. Clark's never seen it before.
Clark stares at his mug. "When did it stop?"
Lex's eyes try to focus on him, but he takes another drink of laced hot chocolate and shakes his head. "What?"
"Clark," Lex says with exaggerated patience, like he's talking to a mental patient. "I always--wait. What?"
"The looking." It's like Lex is trying to be deliberately obtuse or something. Lex is practically a resident on the island of subtext and speaks the language fluently. *Please*. "You don't do it anymore."
Lex shifts onto one hip so he faces Clark. It's not as steady as it could be, but there's only fun in the way that Lex slides a little, needing Clark to steady him with one hand on his shoulder. Smile at him, because everyone loses their balance once in a while. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Sure you do." Because Lex knows everything, or should, or does but doesn't remember, and maybe not a good idea to say, but fine to think. Wait. Is he saying that? "You *look*. And you think. But it's not the same."
Lex stares at him, then picks up his mug and finishes it without stopping. It's kinda cool--wow, Lex can hold his breath for a long time--and kinda hot--wow, Lex can hold his breath for a *long time*. "You're drunk, Clark. I'm a terrible host."
"For getting your guest--er, intoxicated?" Clark grins at him. "No. Not that."
"I'm comforted," Lex says, his voice as slick as ice, and Clark remembers the way that he skated, smooth and fast around Clark. "Clark--"
"You don't look the same. When I was fi--when we met? I used to think about it." When I was fifteen, Clark thinks, and almost smiles. It's like a litany. I want you to kiss me, Clark says, but he doesn't. I want you to want me, Clark says, but he only thinks it. I want you to love me--he could never say that. Even though he wants to. So. Much.
Lex looks at him, like he's reading his thoughts. It's Smallville. It's possible. "Clark." For a second, Clark thinks he feels Lex's fingers in his hair, but it's his imagination, it has to be. "You're--"
"Here." I'm not Helen. I'm not Victoria. I'm not anyone else.
Lex's voice is soft in his ear, softer than the snow that powders the ground outside, smooth as the ice on the pond. "I know."
The slow brush of lips against his is as inevitable as the coming of winter, and Clark closes his eyes, like that's a place he can hope to hide. Lex kisses him, slow and sure and deadly patient, and Clark thinks he'll remember this, later. That he might even regret it, later. Not today, definitely, not tomorrow. But soon. When there aren't any more lies they can tell, when there isn't anything like truth left between them--
Nothing like this will ever happen again. Clark, pressed into body warm leather, Lex's skin beneath his fingertips, thinks that nothing will ever hurt like that.