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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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svfic: a memory of waking, 3/3
children of dune - leto 1
seperis

*****

Clark's a lousy pool player--something in the way he doesn't quite line up his shots, never puts enough strength behind it, and it's strange, that he seems that scared to unleash his full strength.

Another thing to add to the file that's growing in Lex's head by the hour.

"We got it wrong." Clark pulls back from the shot without taking it, surveying the table. Lex frowns, glancing down to see the eight ball in prime position to sink. Clark should beat him, but he never does. Always pulling back that little bit and giving away his edge. Lex doesn't understand it.

Like he's scared to just *go* for it.

"The game's fine."

Clark shakes his head impatiently. "Not that. This--you'll always beat me and I'll always be nervous because when you watch me play, I know what you're watching for."

That ass moving in those jeans? And to think he'd thought he was being subtle. When he looks up, Clark grins like he knows what Lex is thinking.

"If I take this shot and I win, you'd be *really* surprised. I know. It's our pattern."

"In a game of pool?"

Clark laughs, a lean hip pressed against the edge of the table. He must have discarded the flannel, because he's wearing nothing but a white t-shirt, stretched tight over a beautiful body. God, men weren't meant to have temptation dealt to them like this. "We have patterns, Lex. Take it like this. I can miss this shot a thousand times in a thousand different ways, and every one of them, you say something different. If I miss it on the left--" Clark lines up the shot, and it looks perfect to the casual eye, but it'll barely brush the edges of the ball. "You'll take the next one and win, then offer me a bottle of water and ask me about Lana."

"How *is* that going, anyway?"

"Focus." Clark leans over, bringing the cue into a different position. "This time, I was too nervous and made a mistake and hit it too hard--the ball went off the table. You went to pick it up and I made up an excuse to go home." Clark frowns. "You'd be surprised how many variations there are. There were a million from this one game, but some of them turn out the same anyway." Clark stares at the eight ball, lining up a flawless shot. It's an easy in, but he frowns. "Once, though, I should have hit the shot dead on. Just once."

"And?"

"I--don't know. It never happened."

Clark laughs at the look on his face.

"You--Lex." Almost a caress, that voice, he's wanted to hear that forever, thinks men have sold their souls for less.

"Did we always play like this?"

Clark shakes his head, stepping back from the table.

"No. Once?" Clark drops the stick with a clatter, looking up at him with sober eyes. "Once, we never played this game at all."

*****

*Lex*.

The floor is summer warm beneath his bare feet. His belt's a slim discard over a cushioned armchair with throw pillows that might have been brilliant colors, but washed to pale grey in the moonlight. He fell asleep in his clothes--familiar in that but in nothing else. Sweat-dampened silk clings to his back and the sleeves are loose, a ghost of touch over his forearms. He winces from the cramps made by lumps in the ancient mattress, looking around him.

Bare painted walls with cheap prints from a local store. A woman's elegant touch to make a very personal room impersonal again.

This silence, huge and deafening, leads him out the door, across the hall, stopping at the doorway. Eyes adjusting to the dark effortlessly, and he steps into a wide master bedroom that has no memories.

"There were posters on the walls." Of your room. Of that room I woke up in. I remember that narrow bed and the way the frame was repaired and the excuse you made. I still don't know why.

Clark's open eyes touch on his. The same bewilderment stares back. "I remember."

It's hard to walk in here--some kind of wrongness he can't quite put his finger on. A big-voiced man who murmurs something about the name Luthor, but he can't focus enough to quite make it out. He sits on the edge of the mattress, helpless, strangely adrift. "I don't understand."

"I--know." Clark's almost motionless beneath the blanket. Worn from generations of Kents, Lex thinks. His hands skid over the surface of the blanket like he's looking for something lost "Did I always lose at pool, Lex?"

*"Once, we never played this game at all."*

"Every game."

Big fingers trace a pattern across the cover, coming dangerously close to Lex's thigh, blank dark eyes locked on Lex's knees. "TyNant. Fencing. A--a watch." He pauses, lips turning up in the memory of a smile. "Napoleon?"

Yes. "I used to be afraid of water."

Clark looks up, sharp and bright. "You weren't afraid. You were never afraid of anything."

That pull again. Achingly deep, and he's trapped in water, closing around him, stealing breath and thought, but his body knows. Thick and slow, almost awkward, like the kid he's never been, and Clark's so warm. That mouth, clean, only toothpaste and sleep, sweet, like he imagines it should have been.

Clark, he thinks he might whisper, but his tongue's too busy, finding hidden corners that make Clark twitch. Big hand on the back of his head, gently stroking, the other pressed into his back, hot through the thin silk of his shirt. Slow, open-mouthed, deep, reaching somewhere inside him that's never been touched before now, something that's been forgotten, old and bitter and breaking open too late. Shattering and gasping for air, Clark, Jesus, you--

"Clark." The long column of his throat, so soft, he can't get enough of the taste. Twining his fingers in silky hair, neck arching for him, just for him. He *knows* this, the soft sounds Clark makes, the way he twists under Lex's hands, the sweet, awkward shudders of someone who's never been touched. Never thought they would be. So surprised, so amazed, hands opening and closing on his shoulders helplessly and breathy gasps when Lex sucks his collar.

"I would have lied," Clark whispers into the dark, and Lex reaches down, finding soft cotton beneath his hands. He wants skin. "I would have lied and lied and you never would have forgiven me."

Clark sits up when pulled, the cotton stripped away. Perfect. Almost too much to imagine touching, except he has, he will, he should have, he--fuck. Clark. Straddling long thighs, he grinds down without meaning to, light sparking behind his eyes in a thousand colors, like fireworks on a late autumn night, bright and high above, and Clark's trying to disapprove.

Trying to say he doesn't need gifts, and Lex had never understood that.

Clark's fingers unbutton his shirt--tearing at the tiny buttons when they slip from his grasp, lost in swathes of silk until it's open, and Clark stares at him like a gift. Reverent in slow, stroking touches that make him hard, harder, breath a whine caught tight in his throat, Luthors don't--

Luthors never--

"I do." He does, he knows, he has to. Eyes closed at the tentative brush of Clark's mouth on his shoulder, stripping away the silk to touch more, hands spreading as gently as if he's crystal that will break with too hard a touch. "Don't be afraid."

Clark looks up at him, mouth wet and red and swollen. Lex can't help the touch, thumb skimming his lower lip, so *soft*. "I don't want to be."

Lex almost answers--almost, so close, but the words trickle away at the mouth on his throat, the slow grind of Clark into him. Big hands on his hips, settling them together, a gasp against wet skin when Clark finds the rhythm, lost in a sucking kiss that makes Lex arch. Reaching for anything, broad shoulders and soft hair and high cheekbones as sharp as razors he can trace with his thumbs, eyes open and wide, staring into the ceiling.

A trick of light that makes him see a dappled ceiling in daylight, exposed beams of a barn roof. A car speeding down a road and the carefree laugh of a kid on summer break. On his back, suddenly, shockingly, Clark's hands are on his wrists, pressing him down, a sharp burn when their eyes meet, a first time that he's never had, never could have.

Biting Clark's lip when he comes too close, and his mouth's clean of blood. Lex sucks in a breath. "I would have betrayed you."

Clark kisses him, slow and soft, and Lex loses his train of thought, bucking into the body above him, kneeling between his thighs. His breath's too fast and he sees too damn much.

Sees Clark, flushed and panting, sweat standing out on his skin, but his voice is a bare whisper. "I would have forgiven you."

The feel of muscles stretched too tight beneath fragile skin, trying to get more, now, God, yes, that body, that face, that mouth, that voice. Clark lets go, hands moving between them, rough jerk of expensive pants and silk boxers down Lex's legs, his own ripped off almost an afterthought. Staring down at him, and Lex wants to look away and can't.

Hard hands on his thighs and wide open eyes. "This wouldn't have happened."

Lex reaches up, drawing him down--pressure, skin, warmth, Clark, a taste of a honeysweet tongue and eyes to lose himself in. Clinging like he's drowning and he wouldn't mind, not here, not now, not with him.

"Now it is."

It's forever, maybe, a taffy-stretch of endless time, the slick slide of their bodies, pressing Lex deep into the bed. Perfect, like nothing's ever been, ever could be, Clark's low moans against his throat and his cock rocking against his stomach, hips lining them up and pushing, hard, once, twice--Jesus--Clark--

Yes.

Orgasm is a slow fall from a bridge, eyes wide open, seeing nothing, gasping for air. Falling mindless and weightless and sated and holding on so tight he can't imagine letting go.

He will, though. He has to.

At dawn, he thinks, eyes closing heavy and dark, Clark's weight pinning him to the bed. He'll slip away, like a thousand other nights with a thousand other people.

*"For what it's worth, I hope you stay."*

Turning his head, Lex rubs his lips in dark hair and wishes that he was the man who could.

the end


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"I would have betrayed you."

"I would have forgiven you."

"This wouldn't have happened."


Damn. Just...damn. The whole thing, fascinating and sensual and I couldn't stop reading.

Mmmm. *hugs Celli* Thank you. They were an interesting pair to write this time around.

I wanted to comment after every chapter and quote your scintillant words back at you, but I couldn't stop reading -- as usual. The only one I can remember off the top of my head: the words 'scratching' and 'dial tone' made my ears itch when I read them, they're so true=beautiful.

Good God, Jenn. This left me breathless, and maybe I am just emotional this week, but it brought tears to my eyes over and over and over again.

WOW.

ohhhh wow.

*dies*

*nods* I felt all depressed while writing it. So many damn lost possibilities. *sighs*

*hugs* Thanks, honey. I'm glad it worked.

Beautiful writing. The mood and description are gorgeous. Thanks
for posting this!

I just read this over at the archive and it totally broke me this morning. My chest aches and my eyes sting from tears I refuse to shed.

Beautifully realized. Beautifully written.



*huggles* Thank you soo much. Weird AU idea just wouldn't leave me alone.

I am completely confused. I thought it was AU. Then Lex kept getting these pseudo-memories... and then... what? *Blinks.*

It's AU--what happened when they didn't meet. Except both of them remember the canon where they did.

Make more sense?

Yes, that's what I thought. It's just... what did it end with? Did they just figure out they share alternative memories or something?

(Deleted comment)
Heh. See above to Thorn's comment. It was--well, a weird idea. That in the life that happened this time, they remember the life that was supposed to have happened.

I'm glad you liked it, though!

This is so...beautiful. I love the twisting of the reality and dreaming-memory together.

*"For what it's worth, I hope you stay."*

Turning his head, Lex rubs his lips in dark hair and wishes that he was the man who could.


So sad, and so true to the story. Thanks for posting the story!
~~margeaux may

*sniffles* Those last lines still hurt me.

Thanks!

I'm so happy to see you working on this story that I'm almost literally in tears of joy.

I don't have much more coherent to say than that but I hope it gets the point across :)

Beautiful, true, incandescent, human.

And thatthe end

It broke my heart.

*more sniffling* Yep. I know the feeling.

Thanks!

*tackle hugs Bonibaru* Thank you so much, chica.

*grins* Totally got the point. *hugs more, just for fun*

I can't even begin to tell you how much this story affected me. I was positively *sucked* into world you created. And the way you put ordinary words together and make them just sing, stuns me and takes my breath away.

I went through so many emotions as I read this - confusion, understanding, happiness, and heartache. The ending just *killed* me and I sat there after I finished unable to do anything for several minutes. I didn't want this story to end and I didn't want to read anything else. I wanted to stay right here in this world.

*breathes* Thank you SO much. I keep wondering what happened next though--and what was in Clark's head, considering.

*sighs* But yeah. Poor Lex and Clark. Just doomed everywhere.

I'm not sure if I can articulate how this made me feel, but every line of this is so perfectly constructed that much like Lex tastes the word on his tongue, feeling the roll of vowels over his lips, I want to take each sentence and consume it, let it roll around inside my mouth so I can taste each word and then let it fill me up from the inside out.

(30 minutes later) LJ told me I had exceeded the maximum number of characters allowed in a reply, so I emailed my review. *G* I apologize for taking up so much space here, but wanted to share the highlights:

The concept blows me away. The tone of the piece and the way it settles into my mind makes me *crawl inside* this world and try to fully understand it. You've taken a moment in time that on the surface doesn't seem to be really happening, and the whole time I was reading, I kept *wanting* this moment to be true, I kept *wanting* them to have met this way, in the future, but I never felt as though I were truly there. The entire piece itself feels like a dream, like a desire.

I love the flashbacks of dialogue that Lex hears in his head, and the fact that he has seen this bridge, has drawn it on paper, and yet it still seems as though it's some hazy memory he isn't willing to accept. He *knows* on some level it can't be true, and I get the sense that he *wants* it to be real and wants to believe it.

I love their bonding over drinking beer and hanging out. Clark's relationship with Lana is beautifully defined, and leaves me hurting for him, knowing that he truly loved her and gave up his life for her, knowing she needed him, even though she didn't fully accept him.

The pacing of the piece is so wonderful. The way the flashbacks speed up toward the end of the night, coming almost in waves, speeds the fic up and made me read faster because I just *had* to know how it was going to end.

The Dream. I have to admit, when I first began reading it, I was confused. It took me a few sentences to understand it was a dream because the way you set it up didn't make it very clear. I assume that was your intention, but this line: Another thing to add to the file that's growing in Lex's head by the hour. seems a bit out of place with regard to the rest of it, and makes the reader think it's in "real time", when the rest of the dream continues with phrases like "should have" and it's clear that Clark is talking to Lex, in the dream, about their shared past life and the patterns they had and things they did or didn't do. However, it's completely amazing that you used the dream to describe another life that they shared together.

The Ending. Dear God. When Lex walks into Clark's room and abruptly says: "There were posters on the walls." I just wanted to melt through the floor. Yes! He's admitting it! As fucked up as it all seems, Lex is willing to admit that this crazy mixed up *familiarity* he feels with Clark is *shared*. And he doesn't hesitate...he *knows* Clark is experiencing it as well, even if neither one of them understands, as they both then admit.

These two lines are perhaps the most intriguing to me:

Clark says: "I would have lied and lied and you never would have forgiven me."

and later Lex says: "I would have betrayed you."

It's the "would" that gets me. As though the shared past they are remembering only existed for a finite period of time. As though they met, and then were separated in that other life before they could consummate any relationship they might have had. Guh. Guh, guh, guh. Brilliant.

The last two lines. I'm beyond coherent articulation over these, but the mere fact that one is Clark's "past voice" and the other is Lex's present thought is so utterly poignant. And gahhhdd! My heart breaks. *Breaks* that Lex: wishes that he was the man who could. It's as if he *still* doesn't truly believe in *himself* and that just makes me cry. Just. Cry.

Thank you for posting this and sharing. I'll be thinking about it for days.

On another note, how's the Yard coming? *G*









I'm answreing the rest in the email you sent--I swear I would have done it earlier, but i keep getting warm glowies every time I read it that kill rational thought. *g*

On another note, how's the Yard coming? *G*

*sticks out tongue* Possibly today, if I finish my awards stuff early enough. *g* That soon enough?

You realise, of course, that not only is this story proof-positive that you're capable of getting back into the proper frame of mind to (finally!!!) finish Something Like Forgetting... it's your subconscious mind's way of trying to drag you back there, no matter how [wrongly] convinced your conscious mind is that you're 'stuck' and 'can't get it to work' and similar nonsense.

Don't make me poke you.

PS It's beautiful.

*hugs* Thanks.

And yes, it did occur to me that Something has some parallelism going on here. *sighs* Stupid story that won't write itself.

*looks at Jack* Come back soon and when you can. We miss you.

Oh God, Jenn!!! This is so very sad! I'm bawling over here! But...it's so good!

I really like that "dream" sequence; I was wondering, though...did you really mean it to be a dream? Or was that the "true" Lex and Clark, the two of them who have lived all of those lifetimes, and that this story is the tale that true!essense!Clark is telling true!essense!Lex in this place, the one story where things went wrong, and yet the only place where they could actually sleep together? Like the dream sequence is really just a type of "world between worlds" or something like that?

Eh...did that make any sense?

In any case, I really loved this story. Loved it, loved it, loved it!

I really like that "dream" sequence; I was wondering, though...did you really mean it to be a dream? Or was that the "true" Lex and Clark, the two of them who have lived all of those lifetimes, and that this story is the tale that true!essense!Clark is telling true!essense!Lex in this place, the one story where things went wrong, and yet the only place where they could actually sleep together? Like the dream sequence is really just a type of "world between worlds" or something like that?

*thinking* Kind of a combination. A meta-kinda moment for Lex in the fic, maybe? I'm not sure--it just slid in, this way for all the connections to be made, in a way. I really didn't expect to write that until it was already there. Clark's pushy like that.

*hugs* Thank you. I'm so glad it worked out okay.

owch!

(Anonymous)
you made my head hurt. It'a times like these that I have to reminde myself that challange is a good thing. *huff*

Diana (steeleye2000)

This line was the one that hit me hardest, and did things to my gut: I can miss this shot a thousand times in a thousand different ways, and every one of them, you say something different.

It's a line that says more than it does on the surface, and can be understood or misunderstood in so many ways. It's fic like this that makes me wish I could watch Smallville.

Brilliant writing. Sensual, sharp, vivid and achingly real. I'm still working through the archive on your site, and when I finish a story, I'm generally too speechless for a coherent review. But I'll go back and reread my favourite parts, and I'm just wowed at all the concepts and possibilities you've written out so far.

*friends* I'll be watching for new stuff with interest.

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