Snippet from Somewhere I Have Never Travelled's universe, during the presidency, after all stories posted. I really need to get all the snippets together and *organize*. God knows, I have enough of them stored up for a full story.
This is so my chocolate chip cookie universe.
Also, there are no triplets. Promise.
Lois was the one who opened the door, and he wonders sometimes if it would have been different, better or worse, if he'd been first in the room.
But they were arguing, again, and she was snapping her nicotine gum between her teeth like the newest in recreational sports training for the lip Olympics, long nails rubbing lines into the wool of her skirt, and neither of them thought anything of the door being locked.
They were arguing, because they always argued when she comes to Washington, a habit so ingrained it was almost ritual, and she'd only blinked a little and held out her hand for his key. The room was rarely locked, and never when he wasn't there, doing things to the president that the American public did not need to see, and maybe he would have thought of that at another time, when she wasn't on the warpath and he wasn't having quite so much fun.
She took his key and opened the door, turning her head in a dark swirl of silky color, taking two steps inside and stopping short.
He thinks, now, that it might have been the first time that anything had made Lois shut up before she was good and ready and *done*.
"Lois," he said, he remembers that part, remembers wondering if Lex left out something that really shouldn't be seen by reporters or by *anyone*, or maybe jerking off, and God, no, but also, it's not like she hadn't seen *that* before. He remembers thinking that when she turned around, hand against his chest, nails cutting through his thin shirt, that she'd never looked at him, at anyone, like that before.
He remembers, just barely, laughing a little and pushing by her, wondering what on earth she could have seen that made her look like that, and her hand on his arm was like the memory of cobwebs when he pushed the door open, ready to laugh or blush or both.
He didn't. Or maybe he did. That part, he doesn't remember.
They went for coffee, after.
He doesn't remember the drive there, or the looks of Secret Service, though he knows they knew, they all knew, they knew before he did and they knew after. He wonders, now, if he said something, but he's not sure. They cleared out the coffee house, because that's what you do for the president's husband, and the proprietor brought them coffee and he drank every drop, scalding his tongue and the roof of his mouth, but it was like he never felt a thing.
"Clark," she said, and he thinks now she must have been talking for a while to sound like that. Talking to *him*, while they walked to the car and while they drove and while they drank coffee. When he looked at her hands, they were white-knuckled, wrapped around the mug so tightly that he wondered if it would shatter.
He thinks he might have, just then. He's not sure he isn't still.
"*Clark*," she said, and she was talking like she didn't think he was even in the room, like someone on a bad phone line. "Clark, look at me. Please, look at me."
Lois was never scared, not the way normal people were. He looked up and her mascara was smeared, and the knuckles on one hand were puffy and red, like she'd hit something. He wondered what had happened.
"I'm--fine." The owner brought more coffee and Lois ordered a pot, then opened up her purse and took out the little bottle they'd bought at a liquor store somewhere downtown, just the right size for one good buzz, she'd said, and when the coffee was poured, she emptied it in both their cups and touched his hand.
He flinched, he knows he did.
"Clark, drink. It'll be--" She stopped short, lips tight and white beneath the lipstick. Reaching into her purse, she took out a cigarette . Despite the fact this was not a smoking establishment, someone gave her an ashtray.
He took one too, to give his hands something to do. "I--" He lit it, and he thought of Mercy, who probably followed them in her own car, blank and stunningly ordinary, that she knew too, and he wonders if he was the only one that didn't. Fucking. Know.
"Did you know?"
Lois fumbled her lighter. "Jesus, Kent, don't you think I would have *told* you?" Her hand shook so hard that she almost dropped the lighter.
The thing was, he didn't. He didn't know so much, and right now, he knew less than he ever had in his life. His hands didn't shake at all, and that worried him.
It worried him more that he couldn't taste the smoke, or feel the cigarette in his hand, that the alcohol didn't seem to be doing anything at all.
Tonight, he and Lois went to dinner and Lex had begged off for duty, things he had to do, but he hadn't said that duty was people, there were people, and he thought, there might not be just one, but more. People. More than one. Not just once. Not just tonight.
Not just ever, he would have said five hours ago, four hours, three hours, two hours, one hour, thirty-five minutes. No one, not ever, not here, not there, not ever. He can't make himself look up and see Lois looking at him, because it would be a lie to say he believed her. He wasn't sure he believed himself.
He thinks now, that was unfair to her, but Lois understood. She always did.
"Clark." Her voice was defeated, and he'd never heard that before. "Do you want to come back to the hotel with me?"
He almost said yes.
He would have, he thinks, if he had been able to think, to feel, to do anything but sit and drink whiskey-laced coffee. He would have said yes, and in her room, he would have kissed her, and then she'd have punched him and asked what the hell he thought he was doing?
Yes, that would have gone badly.
"I--have to get back." Everyone watched him, all the time, worse than Superman, the media living behind his back and in front of his face, and the only safe place in the world was that room, that bedroom with its special lock that he and Lex put on, making one place their own. "They'll--it will be bad. I mean, reporters."
"I don't care."
He shouldn't have either. He didn't. But--
"I--need some sleep." The idea of leaving was terrifying, making the coffee and whisky swirl in his stomach as he stood up, the room turning sideways and shrinking dark and cold.
She walked out with him, and she caught him when he stumbled over a nonexistent crack, and she held his head when he threw up two meals and coffee and whisky. Until there was nothing but dry heaves and his own voice, shaky and raw. He might have been crying.
They were hidden by the bodies of the Secret Service from prying eyes. In the paper the next day, he was suffering from food poisoning.
He thinks now that was half-true.
She walked with him into the family wing, and Lex was waiting. There was an empty brandy bottle on the sideboard and a blackening red smear over one eye. Lois' wounded hand flexed against his side.
He'd given Lois his key to open his door and Lex was naked, and he looked *happy*, and Clark thinks that's the part that twists him most, with every step. He looked happy and young and *Lex*, the way he was before politics and compromise, the way he was when he was still hungry and before all his dreams came true.
Clark remembers that part most, and he's not sure why, except he does. He remembers it because Lex looked like that with him, only with him, and then he looked like that with Chloe, and Clark could forgive anything and everything but he's not sure he can ever forgive that.
He was naked, in their bed, and he was fucking, in their bed, and he was happy, in their bed, and it was with Chloe.
"Clark." Lex's hands were shaking and Clark saw broken glass on the floor, counted the brandy glasses from memory and came up ten short. Lois was vibrating beside him, like static electricity, pulling up the hair on his arms.
"You have--" But he stopped her with a hand on her wrist, shaking as much as his, or he was making her shake--he wasn't sure which.
The sheets that Lex bought, those indecently soft ones woven with silk, smooth against his skin, wrapped around them, and they never saw him, never saw Lois, never noticed Clark stand there and watch. Lex always knew, always knew, that stupid joke about knowing when the other was around, but he hadn't known, he couldn't have, not done that and did that and that and *that*, and let Clark watch.
Clark wondered where Chloe was. When Lois' hand turns to steel on his, he realized he'd asked the question aloud.
"I need some sleep," Clark said, stepping over the broken glass.
Lex's hands were shaking, and another glass met the floor with a crack. "Clark, we need to--"
"No." There was another room, that he'd used for his computer, work on his novel, surf for porn. He closed the door behind him, realizing he'd left Lois behind and he wasn't sure when.
He could hear her through the thin old wood, voice sharper and harder and huskier with each word, because she was never shrill.
"I'll never forgive you."
He went to sleep, dreaming of Chloe and Lex and silk-covered beds.
He thought, then, that he'd never think of anything else, anything worse.
He was, of course, wrong.
Lex told him, it was only once.
He listened, because there wasn't anywhere else to go, and Lex was there, and sometimes, Clark couldn't tune out his voice, even through the door, the headphones from his laptop, the sound of his own voice. It was business as usual, except that Clark had a cold and was resting in another room, not up to public appearances or intrepid reporters. Chloe was conspicuously absent, but Lois was there at every press conference, one hand bandaged beneath the smooth leather of her gloves.
Lex said just one night, one mistake, in their bed, the only safe room in the world.
Lex said, it didn't mean anything, but that tells Clark everything he needs to know.
He doesn't sleep well in their bed that night, an unfamiliar, dark room stretching around them in unhappy shadow. And he's sure Lex, too still beside him, doesn’t sleep at all.
He wonders if they'll ever be able to sleep again.