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This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Incarnadine

Lex had a bet with himself about how long it would take Clark to return, and how sheepish he'd be when he arrived.

His best guess on time was accurate—shortly after the start of business hours—but he hadn't predicted quite so much assertiveness. He would have thought Clark would have started with shame, at least.

It probably said something about Lex's psyche that he didn't feel any less secure in the mansion knowing that there was no point in telling the guards to keep Clark out.

Clark charged through the doors, took in Lex standing at the architect's desk, and stopped cold.

"Lex," he said after a minute that lasted, subjectively, as long as one of the doctors' exams after the meteor shower. He was flushed, but only ordinarily so; nothing like yesterday. Lex spared a moment to wonder about the results of the lab analysis on the sheets.

And then Lex realized, for all that he'd been thinking about this moment since Clark left him, he had no idea what to say.

His nonresponse seemed to unnerve Clark, who was staring at him as if he could see straight through Lex's clothes to the nearly-healed bruises and the twinge that Lex thought had been a couple of broken ribs.

"Lex, I—I wasn't myself," he said at last. The tightness of his expression showed that he knew just how insufficient that was, and how unlikely Lex was to accept it, though not that long ago only the former would have been true.

"Who were you?" Lex asked, rather charitably he thought.

"… Meteor rocks." Clark managed not to make it a question, at least.

"So it was only my hidden desires, and not yours, that were played out?"

Clark colored even further: he could have been Snow White, skin as pale as snow, hair as black as night, lips as red as—

"I didn't—Lex, I didn't come here for that. I just—I was feeling so—and I thought I could talk to you. But then the way you looked at me—"

Lex thought it was possible that, even hopped up on meteor rocks, Clark hadn't known why he was coming to the mansion. He nodded, accepting that much. That was apparently the wrong move, because Clark scowled.

"You're not even denying—"

"Denying what, Clark? That you were right, that I'm always watching you, that I want more from you than you're willing to give?" Funny, but the words slid out much more easily than Lex would have expected. With everyone but Clark, it was so easy to remember that anger was a great strengthener.

"You had that room, and you said it was over but you keep investigating, you still follow me around—"

Lex felt a muscle jump in his jaw. "Yes, Clark. If you think about it, it's almost like I raped you."

Clark actually took two steps backwards, like he was in some silent movie. "I—but. You, you liked it."

"It's already been established that what I want is wrong, so I'm not sure why you're using my reactions as a measurement standard now." Lex felt—well, he wasn't righteous, but there was something so buoyant about justified wrath. He wanted Clark to hurt, but more than that he wanted Clark to take it, accept the blame. So what if Clark hadn't been in his right mind? What good had it ever done Lex to make that argument? And how many times had he let Clark get away with the same squawking excuse?

Clark hadn't been possessed, he'd just been—drunk, maybe, meteor-poisoned in a uniquely Clark fashion. If he'd just been horny, he could have gone to anyone in town, and five or six of them at least would have been even more accommodating than Lex. But Clark wouldn't admit his side of it, much less that there was something the least bit unusual about his reaction to meteor rocks (Lex wasn't quite sure which angered him more; or maybe that was a lie) and so Lex wasn't about to accept the responsibility. Not this time.

Clark looked like he was about to cry. Lex wondered if there would be any traces of yesterday's poison remaining in his tears.

Lionel had once told him that every pain he faced was a weapon, and that it was his choice whether it would be a weapon for him or against him. Lex was beginning to see the merits of the theory.

"If you're not prepared to tell me the truth—or offer me a repeat performance—then I do have business to conduct," Lex said.

"Lex," Clark said, and maybe there had been a time when the way Clark said his voice, pleading and so very close to breaking, would have been enough.

"That's what I thought," he said, satisfaction bitter as bile in his mouth as he turned away.

The bruises would fade by the end of the day. Lex couldn't make his mind recover quite so fast. But he thought there might be ways to teach himself to want Clark differently. Parts of him, secrets carved out and categorized, instead of the whole that would—obviously—be forever denied him.

Not literally, of course. Lex didn't foresee any need for that.

He never heard Clark leave.


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