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This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Incarnadine

The Fan-Fiction Writer’s Union (NY Local #527) required “Red” follow-up story. Contents under pressure. Two things to know: Lex Luthor has a nonstandard definition of “consent,” and Red K makes Clark horny.


I. Gules

Gules: Old French goules, gueules (Fr. gueules) = med. Latin gulae (plural), ermine dyed red. The ulterior etymology is disputed: the word coincides in form with the plural of the French and medieval Latin word for `throat'. If the heraldic sense be the original, the allusion may be to the colour of the open mouth of a heraldic beast….– OED

Lex bit down on a groan, not so much to avoid disturbing Clark's sleep as because he'd trained himself that way for years. The ruined sheets stuck to the backs of his thighs and peeled away only with concerted effort.

His boxer-briefs and trousers were puddled in the corner and he pulled them on, muscles complaining as if he'd run a marathon. Winced at the feeling of not-quite-fine-enough cotton on his abraded skin. The belt was – closer to the bed. If there were stains on the black leather, he couldn't see them.

His shirts were a ruined mess. One look at his wrists was enough to make him skip Clark's T-shirts and go straight to the closet, where plaid flannel with long sleeves awaited. The shirt looked terrible with Armani trousers, and the cuffs came nearly to the first joint of his fingers, but it would get him home.

The Lex in the mirror looked like a shaven-headed concentration camp refugee in a Red Cross-donated shirt. Not good. He closed his eyes and drew on the attitude that had carried him through years of freakdom at school and beyond, and when he looked again mirror-Lex's eyes frankly dared him to notice the bluish tone of his skin and the red edges of the scabs peeking over his collar.

Clark snuffled in his sleep and turned over. Lex noticed that, where he'd been lying, the sheets were stained a faint pink. That was confirmation, though of what he wasn't quite sure.

He was beautiful, with the sheets twisted across his groin and his chest like an Olympian's. Tan and red-lipped and rosy-cheeked. Mostly harmless.

Lex smiled, a death's head reflected back at him in the mirror, and opened the door to leave Clark's room.

Something was wrong with his left quadricep, and he had to grab at the wall, trying to avoid the family pictures posted down the hall and along the stairs. As he limped down, Martha and Jonathan Kent came into view, huddled together on the couch, looking up at him with apprehension cut with full-on terror.

How loud had they been? It bothered Lex that he couldn't remember. Not that the evening's activity could have been unclear even without sound effects.

"Lex," Mrs. Kent said, her paralysis breaking first, and she hurried over to the stairs to help him down. It hurt more when she slung her arm around his ribs, but he allowed her to do it.

"I think -" He had to clear his throat to continue; he didn't realize how raw his voice had gotten. So, they'd been loud. "I think he's sleeping it off."

The Kents exchanged a complicated series of looks. Lex envied them their easy communication, though in this case he would have preferred it be out loud.

"I'll just be going," he continued, attempting to pull away from Mrs. Kent.

She held on, and he was not at his best. "You can't drive in that condition. Jonathan, I'm going to drive Lex back -" the look she shot her husband could have dropped a lesser man at twenty feet – "and you can stay with Clark."

Mr. Kent looked like he'd just bit down on a kumquat, but he wisely didn't say anything.

————————————————————————

"Clark hasn't been feeling well," Mrs. Kent said, wrapping her hands nervously around her dishcloth. "He went upstairs to rest." There was an edge in her voice that he recognized as related to the Mystery of Clark. He could have attributed it to concern that the Kents couldn't afford a doctor. Could have, but didn't.

"Do you mind if I check on him? If he's not feeling too bad, I could keep him company."

"Lex, I'm not sure -" she said, but he was already on the stairs. Clark's bedroom was just at the top, his door cracked open enough that late-afternoon sunlight from his window spilled on the hallway floor.

Lex opened the door a bit further and leaned in. Clark's back was to the door, his faded red T-shirt damp with sweat. His legs were tangled in the bedsheets. "Clark?" he asked softly, not wanting to wake him if he were truly ill.

Clark stiffened, then half-turned so that he was lying on his back, his head turned to Lex, nestled in the curve of a well-muscled arm. "Hey," he rumbled, his voice an octave lower than usual.

He came all the way into the room, standing by Clark's bed. Clark's face was flushed to his hairline, and his pupils were dilated.

Lex put out a hand to touch Clark's forehead, because that was the inane thing one did when one suspected a fever, but a hand, snake-fast, caught his wrist and held it a few inches from Clark's face.

Clark carefully moved Lex's hand down several inches, until it hovered over his mouth, and then licked Lex's palm.

Shocked, he pulled away. Or tried to. Clark's hand around his wrist was like a steel clamp.

"Hi, Lex," Clark said and smiled up at him, then brought his hand down again, this time to suck on the center of his palm, which immediately developed a hotline to his cock.

"Why are you still standing?" Clark asked, in a reasonable tone that let Lex know, definitively, that he'd entered the Twilight Zone. He tugged, and Lex found himself sprawled over six-odd — very odd — feet of golden boy-man. Clark's other hand was already at work on his shirt – he heard buttons popping, and then fabric tore as Clark realized that there was an undershirt in his way as well.

"Clark," he stammered, though he had no idea what the rest of the sentence was. Clark's fingers stroked down his chest as if he were petting a favorite cat as he struggled to put his weight on his knees and get some maneuverability back.

"Clark," came Mrs. Kent's voice from the hallway, "I'm not sure you should be having g-" Her voice cut off abruptly as she pushed the door fully open. Lex turned his head to look, even though he shouldn't, and plausible deniability was over the rainbow by now. If he hadn't liked Mrs. Kent so much, the absolute surprise on her face would have been funny.

Below him, Clark continued to rub his chest, fingers dipping below Lex's waistband. "You should close the door, Mom." A wet lick over his ear, what felt like a fucking acre of tongue. Somehow, Clark had pushed the remains of his dress shirt over his shoulders, so that it tangled around his wrists. A large hand on his head, not gentle, turned him so that all he could see was Clark's face. When he was pulled down for a kiss, he surrendered, closing his eyes as Clark's tongue swept through his mouth.

Jesus, Mrs. Kent was still in the room! He pulled back, dazed, and wondered where the blood on Clark's mouth came from. A quick glance told him that Mrs. Kent was frozen in the doorway, her hand pressed to her mouth.

"Wait -" he said, before he was flipped and pressed into the cheap, lumpy mattress. Was he losing time? That had happened too fast.

"I'd let you watch," Clark said lazily, "but I'm getting the feeling that Lex here would be uncomfortable." He rubbed three fingers over the bulge in Lex's pants. "What do you think, Lex? Should I make her stay or should I make her go? And if you're wondering where that special box is, I wouldn't bother looking if I were you." That last was directed at his mother and raised a number of questions on which he could not have focused even if his father were watching.

He didn't want to see Clark "making" his mother do anything. "Please, Mrs. Kent, I'm all right," he gasped, and dimly heard the door close, praise the Lord in whom he didn't believe.

————————————————————————

Outside, feet dragging in the dust, he fumbled in his pants for the keys, and could barely feel when he'd closed his hand around them. Mrs. Kent stopped him when he headed to the driver's side, and guided him around the car.

"A gentleman never lets a lady open a door," he protested, feeling a bit punchy.

She gave him a disbelieving look as she wrestled the keys from his clenched fist. "I'm going to take you to the hospital."

"No!" Thankfully, it came out with the full force of command. "I'll be fine. If you take me to the hospital, it'll end up on the front pages of the Inquisitor. It always has before," he added, because she looked undecided.

Tasting blood as he bit down again on his lip, he eased down into the passenger seat. It hurt, so much so that he barely noticed Mrs. Kent starting the car.

Halfway back to the castle, after shooting a baker's dozen of worried looks in his direction, Mrs. Kent finally spoke. "Clark was – wasn't himself."

"So I gathered," he said in a voice carefully cleansed of sarcasm. "I'm guessing he somehow ingested some of the meteor rock, the red kind that was in the class rings a month back. I think it's leaving his body gradually, through the normal workings of his metabolism." He didn't offer to have doctors from Metropolis brought in, even though his doctors were as close as anyone had to specialists in meteor-related phenomena. More than pride, he thought, would be at stake in Mrs. Kent's refusal.

He watched the tasseled heads of the corn blur by in the darkness. For once, he didn't have to try to make his mind blank. It was as if his thoughts had been torn free, leaving nothing behind. He felt light, almost weightless, ready to fly.

The car hissed to a stop in front of the castle. "Thanks for the ride, Mrs. Kent. I'll send someone for the car -"

Mrs. Kent turned the key and let the engine fall silent. "I'm coming inside. I don't want to leave you alone."

Lex could have pointed out that the castle was chock-full of people who wanted (or were paid) to be with him, but he had a strong intuition that it would be useless.

He let his head fall forward, indicating acceptance of defeat. "All right, but if we run into my father, please don't try to be solicitous of me. He likes to investigate my allies, have something to hold over them. Okay?"

"I understand," she said.

"Good," he said and opened the door, then stopped with one foot on the gravel. "No. I need you to agree, not just to understand." He was in pretty poor shape, to almost miss that one.

Mrs. Kent flashed a quick, almost mischievous smile. "Fine. I agree." She'd been spending too much time with Lionel.

"Don't lose sight of what you need to protect," he warned her, for extra security.

He managed to uncurl himself from the Ferrari, though every major muscle group screamed at him for it, and he took a few unassisted steps towards the entrance before she caught up with him.

Going up steps was actually easier than going down, he discovered as they ascended, and then he managed to key in his security code and they were in.

————————————————————————

As they kissed, Lex struggled to free his trapped arms from his shirtcuffs, and then wriggled them out from under his torso. He tugged at the hem of Clark's T-shirt and helped Clark strip it off, breaking the kiss just long enough to toss the shirt aside.

Running his hand along Clark's sweat-slick spine, Lex knew he ought to be doing something about Clark's obvious personality change. His id whined that he'd done the so-called "right thing" last time, and a second chance was proof that it was his turn to take what he wanted.

Up close, Clark's face looked as alien as anyone's ever did, the pores on his skin visible and the fine hairs on his face outlined in the dying sunlight. When he looked at his hand curling over Clark's shoulder, it was tinged pink where Clark's sweat had collected on his fingers.

Well, fuck. Or not, as the case might be. He'd never fucked anyone he didn't deem reasonably likely to consent if he or she were fully sober, and Clark Kent was not going to be the first exception.

He pulled back, even as Clark tried to follow, and pushed against his rocklike shoulders.

"I don't think you're -" He was not going to say "thinking straight." "Thinking clearly right now, Clark."

Clark grinned in what was almost a snarl. "Nobody in this town does anything fun when they're thinking clearly."

"Yes, and look where giving in to impulse gets us. Me married to a homicidal maniac, Lana stealing my car -"

Clark thrust the lower half of his body against Lex, and he lost the thread of his argument.

"I don't want to take advantage of you," he said weakly.

"Yes you do," Clark breathed in his ear, followed by a slow lick from the corner of his jaw to his temple. "You want not to want it, but you do." That truth evoked a full-body shudder.

Fingers scrabbled at his belt, and abruptly his arms were over his head, lashed to the cheap metal spindles of Clark's headboard with fine Italian leather.

"There." Clark smiled at him, sunny and open. "Now nothing's your fault."

Lex shook his head, but it didn't clear. Was Clark actually moving too fast for him to see? Or was the influence of the red meteor rock seeping into him, too? Oh, nice excuse, one corner of his brain protested.

Clark took the opportunity to shuck off his jeans and boxers, and the sight of him wearing nothing but gym socks was not at all funny. Shockingly, he was uncut, the delicate crinkled foreskin surrounding a shiny red cockhead. He reached down, his eyes never leaving Lex's face, and pumped his cock several times, slowly.

He straddled Lex's body, his intent fairly clear as his erection bobbed by Lex's chin. The angle was terrible, but not utterly impossible, so Lex opened his mouth and let Clark thrust inside. Gripping the belt, he did his best to move up and get a better position, but there was only so much he could do and he could only take Clark about halfway.

Fortunately, Clark didn't seem to have any spectacular past blowjobs to compare this with, and he stared down with a fierce, pleased concentration, leaning over Lex so that Lex was surrounded. Lex watched Clark's stomach and arms flex with his thrusts, shining red-gold in the sunset light.

With his head and neck in such an awkward position, he couldn't breathe around Clark's cock. The buzz of oxygen deprivation made his cock throb harder and, fuck, he was still wearing pants, which seemed extremely unfair.

"Oh yeah," Clark grunted out and came. There was a cracking sound from above Lex's head, but he ignored it as he tried not to choke. Clark's come was bitter and metallic in his mouth, the taste like something he'd always known but had almost forgotten.

When he'd got his breath back, he realized that Clark had pulled back, the better to look him over.

"Now what," Clark said indulgently, "are we going to do with you?"

"Take off my pants?" It came out a little more desperate than he liked, but dignity had followed plausible deniability out the door.

"Heh," Clark said and bent to lick Lex's stomach, his tongue fluttering over Lex's abs and into his belly button, easily holding him down when he tried to arch up into the touch. He bit down on his lip, trying to keep his needy whine from becoming actual begging. Clark's hands flexed on his hips, and he was going to have bruises, which was fine by him.

Finally, Clark unbuttoned and unzipped him, clothing vanishing with the same speed as before. "How – oh! – how do you do that?"

Clark smirked and trailed his fingers over Lex's cock, which jumped at the touch. "You've got no idea what I can do. But you're going to find out."

————————————————————————

"Lex!" His father appeared at the end of the hall and moved towards them, his uneven but forceful gait oddly like Lex's current one.

"Yes, Father?" He waited as Lionel approached.

"Where have you been?" Lionel stopped half a pace away, reaching his hand out to cup Lex's cheek. "Ah. You smell like a whore." His fingers dipped under Lex's collar, tracing the outline of a bite. "Letting some `rough trade' hurt you? How disappointing."

His father's fingers returned to his cheek in time to feel his jaw work as he swallowed, trying not to react.

"Where did I go wrong, Lex? This is weakness, appalling weakness."

He figured that it was a rhetorical question. He could feel Mrs. Kent getting more upset beside him, and reached out without looking at her to put a stabilizing hand on her shoulder.

"Who's that?" Lionel asked, hearing the shift of bodies.

"Martha," she volunteered.

"Here to pick up the check for the produce," Lex offered, since that was her only reason to talk to Lex instead of his father. He didn't let himself hope that his father would decide to keep the family's dirty laundry to himself. Public humiliation was an art, and Lionel could have done a museum retrospective in it.

Lionel harrumphed. "For some reason, Lex seems to get along with your son. Interesting young man. My son could learn some things from him. Perhaps -" his blind eyes flashed as he raised his eyebrows – "perhaps he already has?"

Well, this day was officially a clusterfuck.

"Clark's a good boy," Mrs. Kent said, her voice like a wall of ice. Lionel beamed, momentarily satisfied with the trouble he'd caused. "Mr. Luthor, I really should be going." This was directed to Lex.

"Of course," he said. His ribs were like broken branches, jabbing him with every breath.

"If you'd give me that check -" she prompted.

"It's in my office," he said and pulled away from his father.

"We'll discuss this further, Lex," his father warned as he limped past, not daring to lean on Mrs. Kent.

When they reached his office door, Lex essayed a look back and saw that his father had disappeared back into his rooms. Mrs. Kent followed his glance and her mouth unpursed a bit in relief.

"I don't much like the way he touches you," she said, her voice as taut as a drum.

I've been saying that for years, he thought and was fairly sure she could read it on his face. "I should go up. Can you find your way out?"

She sighed. "Let's get you upstairs."

"I want to call a doctor," she said as they approached his bedroom.

"I told you, I'll be fine. One of the gifts the meteors gave me was extremely fast healing."

Another flicker of her eyes, showing the guilt that all the Kents had about the meteor shower. Did they really think he couldn't put the pieces together? The dry rattling voice of his father whispered that this incident might have a positive outcome, might leave them feeling that he was owed a real explanation.

"I'm going to take a shower," he announced, because, whatever the validity of his father's other advice, he did stink. "Take whichever of the cars you want."

"I'm not leaving," she said.

"Clark -"

"Is with his father. I'm not leaving you alone. Unless you want me to call a doctor?"

"And to think Clark says he gets his stubbornness from Mr. Kent."

She had to smile at that.

In the bathroom, letting the hot water steam up the mirrors, he undressed with fingers nearly numb from fatigue and, he suspected, some variant of shock. The blood loss alone couldn't account for it. He refused to think that betrayal might, or whose betrayal he'd be talking about.

The hot water stung his back and eased the tension from his muscles. He leaned against the wall, pressing his cheek to the cool tile and trying not to jostle his ribs. He watched pink streams of watered-down blood make their way down his legs, across the tiled floor and into the drain. The color wasn't that different from the color of whatever Clark was sweating out onto his sheets.

————————————————————————

He refused to beg, which made it all the worse when Clark simply ignored his cock and sat beside him, barely staying on the narrow bed, touching him. Hands sweeping down his arms, over his chest, detouring to his hip, the front of his thigh, the back of his calf, and then returning. Clark hummed to himself, lost in a world of his own. Lex tugged against the belt holding his wrists and panted like a greyhound after a race.

Clark's touches were not gentle. They didn't focus on the weirdly hairless portions of his body, either, and he loved that. Even the most outwardly blase of his lovers inevitably revealed some prurient interest in his bare skin, and most didn't bother to hide their fascination. Clark seemed to be equally entranced by the normal parts of him, moving from chest to armpit to shoulder to neck with strokes that he wished would leave marks.

Fingers slipped beneath his balls, teasing the loose skin there, and Lex turned his head from side to side, attempting to keep control. His hands were numbing from lack of circulation, and the rest of him was on fire.

"You don't let most people see you like this," Clark mused. "And even then, I bet they don't see you, really. Did Victoria see you?"

He found his voice just in time to participate. "No." Even in his own ears, his voice sounded as if he'd spent the night drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes.

"Did Desiree see you?"

Now there was an easy question. "No."

"But I see you. I see you and I'm not scared." Clark's hand was back on his thigh now.

The words bypassed his neocortex and went straight through to his reptile brain, making him struggle even harder against the belt. The pain in his wrists was a sweet counterpart to the rapture of his flesh where Clark was touching him.

"Would you come just because," Clark paused for a scorching look down his body, "I want you to?"

He heard his breath go out in a tuneless whine. He tried to twist himself over, get some sort of friction, but Clark's arm across his thighs was like a titanium bar. Clark's face was so close to his cock, hovering eagerly.

"Come for me," Clark coaxed, and he wanted to, desperately, his fingernails digging into leather, the headboard groaning and tilting forward as he pulled.

"Oh you fucking fuck please -" he said, and miracle of miracles, that was the magic word just like Miss Manners always said, because Clark opened his mouth and sucked the head of his dick in, and Lex went off as if he were a virgin getting to third base for the first time. His brain shut down as his head filled with white light and every muscle in his body seemed to spasm at once.

When his head cleared, which was not immediately, his first thought was that "little death" was an inapt metaphor. That had to qualify as a Big Death, and he ought to know.

Clark was fumbling in his nightstand – no, he realized, Clark had punched in the drawer of his nightstand, and that would have seemed more surprising if (a) the oxytocin and phenylethylamine weren't still buzzing through his body and (b) he couldn't see, when he tilted his head up, that Clark had wrenched the metal spindles of his headboard apart as if they were soggy matchsticks. Not at the cheap welds, either; Clark had gone for the connecting rail, which now looked a bit like crumpled tin foil where he'd crushed and torn through. The punching-in of the nightstand had more to do with impatience than efficiency, though, and Clark's soft curses suggested that he was having trouble.

You're fucking a boy whose idea of rebellion is to say "damn" at about the one-decibel range, he thought and winced. And possibly includes having sex in front of his mother. Basically, then, Clark was bracketing him in terms of depravity. Don't forget the part where he tears things apart with his bare hands, and where the next things on which his bare hands are statistically likely to close are possessions you value very highly.

When Clark finally extracted his tube of hand cream (the Farmboy's Friend) from the ruins of his drawer, it was all Lex could do not to laugh hysterically. Right now, the director's commentary on his life always running in his head was not on his side.

Clark slicked his fingers with the air of a dedicated student turning theory into practice. "Lift up," he said and Lex raised his legs in the air. Absent the belt, he would likely have responded with equal alacrity to "fetch." One big finger, then two, fast and rough enough to hurt before he could relax into it.

"I'm going to fuck you now," Clark said. Yes, he'd rather thought that was on tonight's curriculum.

It was hot watching Clark pump his cock, slow and almost careless. Mainly in a theoretical way, because the physical infrastructure was not yet ready to respond, but then sex was mostly in the brain anyway. And it was hot to feel Clark against him and tuck his knees up to his chest.

The first thrust made him cry out, but that was all right because Clark's groan of pleasure drowned it. Clark's hands on his shoulders tugged him down on the bed, onto Clark, his arms stretched to their limit and possibly a bit beyond over his head. His lower legs were rubbing against Clark's sides, feeling the soft skin and hard muscles. Clark's eyes were closed in concentration, and each stroke seemed to dive further in. Jesus, Clark was going to reach his spinal column if he wasn't careful, and this variant of the meteor rocks seemed to drive "careful" entirely out of his consciousness.

Then again, careful might be overrated, like defensive driving, Lex thought as he watched the changes play on Clark's beautiful, closed-off face. Like a marble angel come to life, awesome in the proper sense of the word. Snow White and Prince Charming all at once, though he doubted that Disney heroes fucked like this, sweaty and hyperreal.

Clark's eyes snapped open, surprised, as he gave one final thrust that felt like it could have shortened Lex's spine by a few inches. He could feel every pulse of Clark's cock and see a hundred colors in Clark's eyes. "I see you," he might have said, but Clark didn't respond, so maybe it was just a thought.

Panting, Clark pulled out and Lex did not make any additional sounds.

"That was … amazing," Clark said after a minute, pillowing his head on Lex's shoulder. Idly, he reached up and picked apart the tight knots in the belt with no more effort than if he were just unbuckling it. Or, Lex suspected, bench-pressing a ton. His hands, released from bondage, were numb, but he brought them to drape around Clark's shoulders nonetheless.

————————————————————————

Finally, the water ran clear and he turned it off. When he stepped out into the bathroom, pulling a towel around his waist, he was confronted with Mrs. Kent's gasp of horror.

"That's just the reaction I'm looking for when I get naked," he muttered, grabbing for a bathrobe to cover himself more fully.

Martha's eyes were averted now, but too late. "Lex, this is ridiculous. You need treatment for your ribs, and the – the bites."

He considered pointing out that while the human mouth was filthy with germs, that wasn't necessarily relevant, but it probably would just make her mad. "There's no treatment for broken ribs, and I already told you I heal fast. It'll be much better in the morning, I promise." Inspiration struck. "If it would make you feel better, you can put some bandages on me." Now that it was out of his mouth, it sounded a little too Mrs. Robinson, but there was no taking it back.

"Broken -" she put her hand to her mouth in shock, and he realized he'd fucked up again. He really needed drugs that would knock him out, stop his mouth and his mind from running.

"Mrs. Kent -"

She turned away and began opening drawers and slamming them closed, looking for bandages. Beneath her cheap pink cotton sweater, her shoulders were shaking.

He took two steps and was behind her, bringing his hands tentatively to her shoulders. "Mrs. Kent, don't. We both know that I got what I've been asking for since I met Clark."

She stopped her frantic search and braced herself on the marble counter by the sink. "You didn't ask to be hurt."

"I didn't say no. Even – even Clark could see what I am -" Humiliatingly, his voice cracked.

She turned and, to his utter disbelief, gathered him into a hug, her arms avoiding his ribs and her cheek pressed against his throat. "It's not your fault," she said.

He knew this trick; he did, really. Small kindness after great pain would break a man when the pain alone would never suffice. Knowing was no defense. He crumpled like cheap plastic, clutching at Mrs. Kent, crying tears that stung as they leaked out of his closed eyes.

Mrs. Kent crooned something in the wordless universal language of mothers and led him into the bedroom, allowing him to hold on to her all the way. She eased him onto the bed, where he curled up on his side and she rubbed his back through the bathrobe as the tears shook him apart.

He fell asleep with her hand on the back of his neck.

————————————————————————

"On your hands and knees," Clark demanded, and Lex complied. Clark didn't engage in any extra preparation, just thrust in, and Lex shoved his hand in his mouth to keep from crying out. Something inside had torn, though he was unclear on the details. The immediate agony faded quickly, though, and the sandpapery quality of the background buzz of pain kept him focused, kept him in his body, feeling the good with the bad.

"How are you doing?" Clark asked, sounding amused as he brought his hand around to check on the status of Lex's cock, which gave a few hopeful twitches.

"I'm good," he said, even though it wasn't really a question for the part of him that could talk. With both hands braced under him, he could push up and feel Clark's solid chest against his back, covering him completely, Clark's chin hooked over his shoulder.

"Don't be modest," Clark said and nipped at his shoulder, then licked the bite. One of his hands wrapped around Lex's wrists, holding them together as the other went to work more seriously on his cock. Lex went to his elbows, changing the angle of penetration as Clark panted into his ear. "God, I could fuck you forever."

I could let you, he almost said.

There was a smear of blood on Clark's pillowcase, in the tacky stage before it had fully dried but after the stain was permanent. He stared at it as if it could be used, like a Rorschach blot, to diagnose his condition.

Clark fucked him until drops of sweat dripped steadily from their bodies, until time narrowed into a ceaseless present in which they were the only ones alive. His steady, almost indifferent hand on Lex went from pleasurable to torturous and back again, until he surrendered, clenching around Clark and emitting a soft, breathy sound that he'd almost rather die than admit to. The orgasm was like flying, floating, annihilating his self in its uncontrollable power.

Clark breathed "Yeah," with a greedy sort of satisfaction, and tugged at Lex's hips. He wrapped his arm around Lex's waist and squeezed, hard.

Lex screamed into the pillow as he felt several ribs give way. Now that was a buzz kill, even with all the natural analgesics his body was pumping into his bloodstream in the wake of orgasm. Say stop, the hopeful part of him said. He'll probably stop.

And if he doesn't? You really want to make him angry? Not to mention how guilty he'll feel when he's better.

He won't feel particularly good if he rips your spine apart, either, the increasingly less hopeful voice rejoined. Clark was speeding up now, pushing Lex against the remains of the headboard with every thrust. One hand moved from Lex's throat down his body, stopping on his upper thigh.

"Oh, God, Lex!" he cried, and his hand clenched. The pain was so intense that Lex was pretty sure he passed out for a moment. When he next could assess his surroundings, Clark was no longer inside him, but had spooned up against him, murmuring his name and palming his stomach with one large hand.

"Lex, Lex, Lex," Clark chanted, his breath warm against the back of Lex's head, and he realized with dull resignation that the price of this embrace was perfectly acceptable to him. He'd survived it, after all.

II. Sanguine

The similarity in form between sanguine, "cheerfully optimistic," and sanguinary, "bloodthirsty," may prompt one to wonder how they have come to have such different meanings. The explanation lies in medieval physiology with its notion of the four humors or bodily fluids (blood, bile, phlegm, and black bile)…. If blood was the predominant humor, one had a ruddy face and a disposition marked by courage, hope, and a readiness to fall in love…. Both the Old French and Latin words meant "bloody," "blood-colored" …. – American Heritage Dictionary

Morning came like an invading army. Lex opened his eyes when Julio came into the bedroom. His body cried out with a thousand pains, worse when he turned his head to see Mrs. Kent slumped, asleep, on a chair beside the bed.

"Will Mr. Luthor and his guest be having breakfast?" Julio whispered.

Well, this wasn't exactly the Kent he'd had vague fantasies of scandalizing the servants with, but she'd do. He could only hope that Julio would stay bought and not tattle to Lionel.

He shook his head at Julio. As soon as the door closed behind him, Lex tucked his robe more firmly around himself, swung his feet to the floor, and said, "Mrs. Kent?"

She started awake, her eyes blurry with confusion. "Oh," she said, one hand going to massage her undoubtedly stiff neck.

"I'm sure you need to get back," he said. Standing, he flexed protesting muscles. The ribs had improved markedly overnight, but even cracked they made breathing decidedly unpleasant. The leg seemed much better.

"My God," she breathed and reached out to take his hand, examining his wrist as the robe fell back. "These bruises look a week old."

"The meteor rocks giveth, and the meteor rocks taketh away," he said and ran his free hand over his bare head. "I told you, I heal fast. Let me get dressed, I'll walk you out."

She let him go, and he hid in the walk-in closet. His father ought to be in physical therapy now, so he could probably get her out of the castle without further incident. As for the rest of it, he had no idea.

He chose a black silk turtleneck, obvious as all hell but still a decent coverup. Against the dark background of suits, his reflection in the mirror seemed to be a disembodied head, floating like a Malaysian vampire.

When he returned, Mrs. Kent was at the window, looking down on the castle grounds.

"I'm sorry to keep you waiting, Mrs. Kent."

She turned, her face tired. "At this point, I really think you ought to call me Martha."

He smiled, and it even felt natural.

The castle corridors were cool and empty. Walking slowly, he managed not to limp, and navigated the stairs passably well.

When they got to the front hall, Martha turned to him.

"Lex, I don't have any right to ask -"

"Anything," he said, and meant it.

"Just – I know how much your friendship means to Clark. If you could – forgive him -"

"There's nothing to forgive," he said easily. "Meteor rock madness. I doubt Clark will feel comfortable around me, but -"

Martha silenced him with a hand to his mouth, and that was so astonishing that he stopped talking.

"I could hate your father for making you think you deserve to be hurt," she said fiercely.

Lex felt a silent explosion in his chest, something white and prickly expanding inside him that threatened to rend him in two. Martha removed her hand, but the paralysis of his vocal cords continued.

"Clark isn't perfect, and you're going to be disappointed if you think he is. But if you really feel – how I think you feel – then you need to recognize that you have something to give. Not your cars or your money, but you.

"Family, real family, doesn't leave anyone behind. You're not going to sacrifice yourself for Clark, or for your father, or for anyone else. We are going to get through this, you understand me?"

Overwhelmed, he nodded.

"Good." She went on her tiptoes to press a soft kiss to his cheek. Even after a hard night, she smelled of apricots. He wanted to get down on his knees and beg her to stay with him forever, press his head into her lap and never leave.

"I've got to get back to the farm. I'll stop by later when I come back to see your father." He nodded again, and she looked worried. "I mean it, Lex. You're not alone. You call me if – if anything happens, all right?" The third nod seemed to be the charm, and she hugged him close one more time, then released him.

He watched her go, and stayed there for several minutes, even after he heard the Ferrari sputter to life.

He'd kill for Clark, but right now he'd die for Martha. Even if it was a ruse to keep him on their side, and he thought that moderately unlikely, it was an illusion he needed badly enough to accept.

Because he was a Luthor and lived in a castle, an architect's desk at which he could stand was produced not long after he asked for it. He reviewed reports with a moderate level of distraction, sometimes moving to stand in the light from the restored stained glass windows when he didn't need to use the computer. He remembered standing in the same place, holding Lana Lang's necklace to the light. Different light, different windows, even if they looked the same, and that adolescent metaphor would die a slow and painful death if he had anything to say about it.

"Lex," his father called, tapping his way into the office. He turned and went to take Lionel's arm. The architect's desk was new, and he didn't want Lionel stumbling against it.

"Yes, Father?"

"Are you recovered from your little adventure of last night?"

"Adequately," he said and pulled away when Lionel was safely at the couch. The last thing he needed was Lionel's prying hands discovering that he was significantly less bitten than he'd been the day before. He didn't think Lionel would have him disappeared into a research lab, not really. Not on a permanent basis. But Lex did, after all, have one eye more than was strictly necessary. Also, there was a chance he'd submit to whatever medical experiments his father asked for just out of guilt, without the need for even more unpleasant means of persuasion. Better to remove the possibility of discovery.

"I'm disappointed in you," his father said as he sat, putting his hands together on the top of his silver-headed cane, stuck out in front of him for all the world as if he wanted to trip careless passers-by.

"Imagine my shock and dismay." He folded his arms and leaned against the wall, using his shoulder to make the contact.

"You've got a company to run. A small, insignificant company to be sure, but that simply makes it even more important not to be distracted."

"I have the focus I need." God, not another of these Darth Vader-like conversations. He would have rubbed at his temples, but years of self-regulation, and the niggling sense that his father would know somehow, kept him from that overt sign of weakness.

"Are you fucking the Kent boy?"

There was only one chance to get this right. "No. Should I be?" Amused disdain, no significant pause – even the East German judge would have to award him the victory on this one.

"Mrs. Kent is privy to many of my secrets."

"If she takes them home and leaves them lying around for her son to read, then there are probably simpler methods of corporate espionage." Now, this was delicate, but potentially rewarding. "The boy's not pretty enough to justify the inconvenience. I got used to Metropolis," he said, letting just a trace of resentment leak into his voice. Lionel had never been entirely readable, but he thought he saw a relaxation, as if a sensed weakness had failed to materialize.

"Then is it Mrs. Kent, perhaps, who's caught your wandering eye?"

That was a jab in the dark, figuratively as well as literally. "They have a functioning family, Father. Sometimes I want to see what it's like."

His father snorted. "We have a functioning family, Lex. It may not function the way you like, but that doesn't make it any less real."

The conversation could now be terminated, with each thinking he'd achieved his goal and, it was to be hoped, Lex actually right. "Don't you have some vulnerable corporation to destroy while they all think you're still walking wounded?"

Lionel laughed, an honest and genuine sound from a man who barely remembered the meaning of those words. "I'm awaiting my moment, Lex. A lesson you'd have been wise to emulate."

"Perhaps you could await it somewhere else. Isn't Mrs. Kent supposed to keep you from bothering me?"

Lionel hoisted himself to his feet. "Oh, she's been delayed with some minor agricultural emergency. And I do so enjoy these father-son chats."

As his father made his way out of the office, Lex gave in to temptation and rubbed the back of his head to ease some of the tension. The sad fact was that, even defeating his father in this, Lex was learning to be just like him, no word uncalculated, unweighed, unmeasured. Lionel, of course, had known this long before Lex realized it.

If you swim with sharks, you're either chum or you're a shark yourself. Lex had no desire to be fish food, and he hadn't been given the choice whether or not to enter the water.

The encounter left him enervated, even more distracted than he'd been before. His muscles were stiff, and he tried some isometric stretches, more for the psychological effect than the physiological. Gabe Sullivan had some personnel recommendations, which he approved almost automatically.

Twice, he walked over to the phone to call the Kent farm. He considered it something of a victory that he didn't pick it up.

He was like a fucking office temp, wishing for the relief of lunch and staring out the window.

"Lex?"

Clark's tentative voice made him jump, and for a moment he thought he might have been imagining it. But no, Clark was poised at the room's entrance, looking as if he wasn't sure he had the right to cross the threshold.

"Clark."

Identifications successfully completed, they watched one another. In the millisecond between the time Clark's eyes narrowed as he stared at Lex's chest and the time he reappeared not six inches from Lex, he realized that this, too, would offer him only one chance. If he flinched, for any reason, Clark was gone, might as well be in outer space.

"God, Lex, I'm – sorry," Clark's voice cracked.

"I'm fine," he said in his most reasonable, silken tones.

"You're all bruised, and – there was so much blood."

Clark obviously had very little experience with bleeding. Still, there'd been enough to warrant concern. "I'm sorry about that." If he'd been thinking more clearly, he would have taken the sheets when he left. It couldn't have been a pleasant way to wake up.

"Yeah, how dare you bleed all over me – what are you –? I'm the one who, who cracked your ribs and -"

"What, you have X-ray vision now?"

Amazingly, Clark blushed.

"Oh," he said and stopped. That was, frankly, a surprise. Speed and strength seemed reasonably standard meteor mutations, ones he wished he'd gotten for himself but seemed to have been too old for, but the wild card was usually one thing, and he'd thought, based on recent events, that Clark's thing was firestarting. Infrared and fire, he would have thought more likely – maybe Clark's vision went up and down the spectrum?

Like a brain-addled fool, he said the first thing that occurred to him. "What does the sky look like? It must be amazing." Stars in the daytime, and at night, background radiation, blazing where everyone else saw scattered jewels on black. Black holes, globular clusters – maybe even gamma rays.

God looks after fools and drunkards. Clark smiled, his eyes growing distant. "Yeah. It's pretty cool. I could show you -" He broke off, obviously remembering the present difficulties.

"I'd like that," Lex said, ignoring the hesitation.

"Lex, I -"

"Temporary insanity is a way of life in Smallville. If you're looking for blame, you're going to have to go somewhere else."

Clark reached up a hand as if to touch Lex's shoulder, then withdrew into himself and stepped back, hands fisted at his sides.

"Sometimes – temporary insanity is the truth. About who you are."

"It's only ever part of the truth. The rest is all the morals, the common sense, the rationality, everything that makes you a person instead of a collection of needs and wants."

"I'm not old enough to be having sex!" Clark burst out. "Okay, no one is old enough to be having that kind of sex."

Privately, Lex thought that youth and super health were primary qualifications for "that kind of sex," but his bout of stupidity for the day was over and he said instead, "You're absolutely right."

Clark took a deep breath. "But me, the whole me – I wanted you. Want you. Want to be with you."

That was, as they said in boarding school, a bit of a facer. Hi, Lex, here's the truth you wanted. Naturally, it's dangerous – possibly no more so than the rest of this fucked-up town, but with extreme potential to go pear-shaped. And he was under some time pressure to respond.

"Clark, as you alluded to, you're not exactly … sexually experienced. You may be confusing a physical response with an emotional one. Sex can be extremely powerful. It can make you want to believe that the person you want is right for you."

Clark's face was uncertain, but he braved it out. "It's been intense with us from the beginning. And that's why I want to, you know –?"

Lex didn't want to torture Clark (well, only a little, friendly-like), but he honestly didn't know. He raised his eyebrows and tried to suggest with his posture that Clark should keep talking.

"Date," Clark finally managed.

By dint of considerable effort, Lex did not repeat the word, with accompanying dubious inflection. "Do your parents know about your sudden change in orientation?"

"I think they kinda got the message last night." Was it possible to feel the heat of Clark's blush, or was that all in his mind, he wondered. "My dad – well, he's not looking at me, but I actually think he'd feel the same way if you were a girl." So, dedicated hatred of Luthors. Lex had to respect that. "My mom said some stuff about – you. Us. I told her what you said, about our destiny. I told her that I believe you. She said that, deep down, you think your destiny is to be hated and make yourself into someone who deserves to be hated. And – that's so untrue. Even if – you don't want me, I won't let you be that kind of person."

"How are you going to stop me?" he said reflexively, and could have slapped himself. It would be so easy to believe. His soul yearned for it.

"I'm going to love you." It was said simply, with the weight of a lifetime ahead of it.

Give me a strong lever and a fixed point and I can move the world, Archimedes said. Even with his father levering right back, maybe – possibly – perhaps – Clark might be right.

"Can I, um, hold you?"

Overcome, he nodded. Arms wrapped around him, their carefulness more apparent for knowing what they could do. With his chin over Clark's shoulder and one hand in Clark's hair, he felt – safe. Frightened. Maybe, a little, loved. More terror. Curiosity.

A strong desire to stop evaluating and spend some time in the moment.

After a while, Clark's arms relaxed, and Lex immediately let go.

"Okay, so that's – going well, right?"

He nodded. "I told you, this is destiny. Me, irresistable force. You, immovable object."

"You know I'm very definitely movable." There was a small part of Lex that rejoiced as he took this as another truth revealed, and a slightly smaller part that cringed.

"As it turns out, I'm occasionally resistable, so there you are." Victory! A Clark Kent Shy Smile. He allowed himself a smirk in return.

"You're fishing for compliments."

He cocked his head as if considering. "True."

"You don't need them."

Clark's confidence was touching, if misguided. "You'll never know until you try."

Clark's fingers were warm against his cheek. "You're going to have the world at your feet. I want to share it with you."

Yes. Yes, Enkidu, you and I are going places. He closed his eyes and thrilled to the touch.

"Yes."

End

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand?
No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.

Macbeth. Act ii. Sc. 2

End

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