Author: Keikokin ([info]keikokin)

Author Note: Thank you to [info]cyberwitch13666 & [info]allexandrya, for encouragement, beta work, suggestions, prompts and reminded me to work on this. And to [info]nekoeyes for her never-ending work on the Clex-O-Doom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. Namaste! Pagans and Wiccans alike may notice a variation on the five-fold kiss at the end. Shout out to Nefernat for nudging me along. * by Neil Diamond.

Summary: A college prank turns serious when the press picks up on it. Clark and Lex have to deal with the ramifications of it and how serious it really is.

Disclaimer: All Smallville and characters, settings, etc. from the Superman universe are the property of DC Comics, the WB and CW TV Networks and their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended nor malice toward the actors who portray them in the show.


A Rose by Any Other Name

(see the cover)

Chapter 1

Clark rolled his eyes. "No, Pete."

"Aw, see man. You can dish it out, but you can't take it." Pete shot back

Clark felt anger surge through him. It was times like these that he wished that Pete hadn't decided to go to the same college as he did. He looked down at his feet knowing that he never should have gotten involved with this stupid drinking game of Truth and Dare.

It was funny enough when Pete had to run down the hall in a tutu singing "I'm Feel Pretty," and when he had to kiss their RA. But now it wasn't funny at all. It hit too close to home and could ruin a friendship forever. He must have taken too long to think of a way to wiggle out of his current predicament, because Pete's mood had changed and he was now laughing.

"What?" Clark glared at his friend, and wished this day had never happened.

Pete just pushed by him with a wicked 'I'll show you' grin.

Clark turned around to see, much to his dismay, Lex heading down the hall of the frat house he managed to get into. Lex never ceased to be amused by Clark being a frat boy and came to visit often, although Clark couldn't help but wonder if his mother was putting him up to it. After all, she'd thrown a big enough fit about him being in a fraternity. Clark thought she'd seen Animal House too many times. His father just laughed and made comments like, 'let the boy have his fun' and 'he's growing up'. It was one of the few times Clark saw his father stick up for him against his mom.

Unfortunately, Lex's timing could not have been worse. Pete's dare had naturally been about the Luthor heir, who was the brunt of Pete's resentment ever since the Luthors had shut down and bought their family's plant in Smallville. No matter how hard Clark tried to change Pete's mind, all he'd managed to discover was that Pete was a stubborn, persistent and almost nasty drunk when it came to getting back at Lex.

"Lex! Just the man Clark needs to see!" Pete slapped Lex on the back with a smirk, ignoring the unhappy look that resulted on Lex's face.

Lex immediately shot Clark a look that said, 'how much is this going to cost me?'
"Hello Pete. And exactly why does Clark need to see me?"

"First Lex, what do you think about a guy that welches out on the rules of a game after making EVERYONE else stick to the …to the…" Pete looked confused. He'd lost his train of thought again, a frequent enough occurrence when he drank.

"Rules?" Lex supplied helpfully looking in amusement at Clark. The look had now switched to, 'what did you get yourself into Clark?' and 'Oh, how I'm going to wish I had a video camera!'

"Yeah!" Pete slapped Lex again on the back, a sure sign he was really shit-faced. He didn't even like Lex and would never touch him in such a manner otherwise. Besides, everyone knew that Lex didn't like to be touched. Clark, however, was the exception to that Rule.

Lex looked sternly at Clark. "I'd say he has to play by the same rules as everyone else."

Clark groaned as Pete jumped up punching the air in victory. He heard the other guys laughing their asses off in the background and Lex's amused smile suddenly became feral. Clark knew right then and there, that this would qualify as the most embarrassing moment of his entire life. He'd be lucky if he didn't wind up on one of those stupid video shows where people won money for showing their most embarrassing moments. But at least, if he won money for this, he could start a new life. Bora-Bora was starting to look pretty good, right about now.

One of the other guys who'd been playing tossed a pillow down in front of Clark while doubling over with laughter and shoved a hastily printed song sheet into his hands. Clark seemed to remember his name was Aaron. He wondered if Aaron just knew how drastically his life span had been reduced. In fact, only Pete's was currently shorter, since he was facing imminent extinction.

"KENT! KENT! KENT!" The guys began to chant much to Clark's horror. It seemed every member of the house was now peering at him around doors, over banisters and the back of chairs. There would be no backing out now.

With a moan of resignation, Clark sank to one knee in front of Lex. This action was met with cheers and whoops of delight. Clark gave a look of 'I am so sorry' and 'I am so going to owe you big time for this' to Lex, who irritatingly enough was trying not to laugh. A small, almost imperceptible nod showed him that Lex was being a good sport and would play along. Clark was never so grateful for having such a good friend.

Gulping past his nervousness, Clark rubbed his palms on his jeans and took Lex's hand in his own. He cleared his throat, looked down at the paper in his other hand and in a deep, throaty baritone began to sing." 

Say that you'll marry me
Sometimes carry me
And I will be there forever more
For you

And if you marry me
I will give everything
And I will do anything that you need
We do

You'll know, by the love in my eyes
And the beat of my heart
I'll be there

You'll know, cause you'll never be lonely again
Anytime, anywhere
This I promise
If you Marry me

Promise you'll stay with me
We'll make some memories
And maybe a dream or two
Will come true, who knows?

This I can say for sure
All that I have is yours
You'll never wonder where I stand
It shows

You'll know, by the love in my eyes
And the beat of my heart
I'll be there

You'll know, cause you'll never be lonely again
Anytime, anywhere
All I promise you, I will be
If you'll only say you'll Marry me

I won't ever forget these words
And I'll love you for all I'm worth
If you say you will Marry me
Won't you Marry me?*

The only blessing to the entire nightmare, Clark thought, was that it was finally over. He supposed international aircraft could now locate Metropolis by his blush alone. But any moment now Lex would say 'no', Clark could tell everyone to 'shut the fuck up' and then quietly move to some monastery in Timbuktu.

The laughter was so loud in the frat house of Alpha Omega Tau that Clark was surprised the campus police hadn't shown up yet. They'd certainly been there enough, not that he'd ever told his parents that little detail.

When Clark finally got the courage to look back up, it was to see Lex laughing so hard that he was nearly crying with the effort to hold it in. Any semblance of the Luthor cool was completely gone. He finally half-collapsed on top of Clark as tears of mirth rolled down his cheeks and a howl of unrestrained laughter escaped from him.

He was quite sure Pete was about to piss himself, since he'd been reduced to a little ball in the corner. To his sheer horror, Clark spotted a small red light at the end of the hall indicating some soon-to-be-dead bastard had gotten it all on video tape. Maybe if he got just the right amount of meteor rock, he could get a sex-change operation and become Supergirl instead of Superboy. In the long run, would it matter? His life was over anyway.

The laughter was finally starting to die away after almost ten minutes of people mocking his singing - though it seemed like hours to Clark. They were laughing over his position and the fact that Pete had actually dashed to the bathroom so as not to pee himself - when it actually got worse.

Downstairs, the front door suddenly slammed open and bright lights ascended the stairs, bouncing all the way. Clark was still kneeling in front a gasping Lex, when the lights pointed his way and a crowd of strangers began to shove their way down the crowded hall.

"K-MET TV, Lori Chance, on the spot reporter where we are witnessing the alleged proposal of one of Metropolis University's Alpha Omega Tau's fraternity boys…" the lanky blonde covered the mike for a moment and knelt down to Clark. "What's your name?" she whispered loudly.

"CLARK KENT!" someone from the back of the house yelled with a roar of laughter while Clark's mouth hung open in shock.

"…where Clark Kent has just proposed to Lex Luthor of LuthorCorp and LexCorp, billionaire and winner of Metropolis' Most Eligible Bachelor for the fifth consecutive year. Mr. Luthor what was your answer?"

Lex's mask of no emotion fell into place with a resounding thud as he turned his back on Clark. "Miss Chance, all you were witnessing was a harmless college dare. I assure you that it was nothing more." He turned back hissing in anger. "Clark let go!"

It was at that point that Clark realized he was still holding Lex's hand and on one knee. He let go of Lex's hand like it was a meteor rock and began to stand when his fellow frat members began to yell "BOOO"! With another groan, he sank back to the pillow on the floor; he had forgotten that he was to stay in that position until Lex gave him his answer.

Miss Chance grinned in a feral manner with perfectly capped teeth. She could obviously smell blood, as she saw Clark kneel back down. Clark wondered how she'd gotten there so fast in the first place. He had a bad feeling that Chloe must have been around and quickly placed the call. "It would appear, Mr. Luthor, that Mr. Kent would like an answer," the reporter pointed out.

Lex rolled his eyes. He flipped open the phone placing a call to the Campus police. The reporter sighed deeply and made a cut off sign across her throat at her camera crew to stop filming. "Fine. Wrap it up boys!" She stormed back the way she came and Clark didn't breathe again until he heard the door slam shut downstairs.

The incident had a sobering effect on the house and no one was laughing anymore. Lex ran a hand over his scalp. "I'll see you later, Clark." He turned and left. Clark realized he'd put his friend into a really bad position and now he had to go do damage control. Clark stood up ignoring the few protests that remained, but Lex was long gone. Clark turned in rage and spotting Aaron decided it was time to shorten that particular life span - now.

Aaron was almost part-weasel and had slipped out of the frat house before Clark could get to him past his house mates. Without using his super-speed Clark knew he couldn't catch him. Turning his attention to find Pete, he saw that his friend had taken a cue from Aaron and was nowhere to be seen. Everyone could tell he was furious and the crowd parted for him as Clark stomped back to his room, slamming the door behind him and nearly knocking it off the hinges.

Clark sank down on his bed in despair. Looking back, he wondered why he'd gotten involved with the game or even the frat house. Any alcohol that had managed to make it into his alien body had long since evaporated between his embarrassment and subsequent rage.

It all came down to two things - Pete Ross and Clark's desperate desire to fit in. He'd known since he was fifteen he was an alien. After Lex Luthor hit him with his Porsche that day on the bridge and Clark rescued him instead of letting him die. So his parents were forced to come clean.

The big question now was could their friendship survive this? Lex had been humiliated, cornered with a huge public relations fiasco on his hands. Clark lay in his bed, unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling for the rest of the night.

Chapter 2

It was almost two weeks before Lex would return any of Clark's phone calls or emails. When he did reach Lex, Clark almost fell off his stool, just managing to save his coffee in the nick of time.

"Clark." Lex's voice sounded weary and tired.

"Lex! I am so sorry! Really, I had no idea it would go so far! Are you okay?" Clark blurted out in one exhale before holding his breath for Lex's response.

"We need to talk Clark. Be here in ten." Lex severed the connection. Clark bit his lip and looked at his watch. This meant he'd have to blow off History of Journalism, but the professor only read from the book anyway. Seeing Pete, he thrust his books into his hands and then after gulping his scorching hot coffee down, sped out leaving only a wake of a breeze.

Clark groaned when he arrived at the door to Lex's penthouse. He would have been there sooner, but knew that the luxurious high-rise was being staked out by reporters. Unfortunately, he was right. He was also angry at Miss Chance, who'd gotten her story out despite acting as though she was killing it. Lex's lawyers were doing what they could, but the damage was done. His parents were similarly affected and despite apologies from Pete, it wasn't helping matters.

Adding to his bitterness was the knowledge that Lois had leaked the story to the reporter, in order to repay a favor. In return, she had gotten the print exclusive on the story. Their lives had been turned upside down for a favor. It made Clark feel sick.

He soon found his way to the back entrance and headed up to the Tower. He was staring at his feet wondering what to say, when the door opened. A burly man waved a wand over him before Lex appeared looking pale and wan. "It's okay, let him in."

Clark gave the large man an odd glance over his shoulder as he walked over toward Lex. "Are you okay?"

"No." Lex answered firmly and with a small incline of his head indicated that Clark should follow him. They stopped in front of a room that was filled with bags that appeared to be from the US Post Office. "Do you know what these are?" Lex sighed.

"Um..." Clark faltered.

"Letters from Gay Rights Coalitions, marriage proposals from hundreds of men, and letters from my ex-girlfriends swearing that they knew I was gay all along. Even more letters accuse me of breaking your heart, declaring what a sweet innocent boy you are and what corporate scum I am for using you like that!" Lex's voice rose in aggravation.

"Um…" Clark bit his lip, wondering what to say.

"Clark! Do you realize what a media circus this has become!?" Clark shook his head miserably. "The Governor of the State called me this morning to let me know and I quote 'he did not want to stand in the way of true love and if I wanted to get married in the great State of Kansas, he'd wipe the old laws from the books and sign the law allowing civil unions today!"

"Um…" Clark felt his mouth hanging open, unable to work properly.

"Is that all you have to say!?" Lex yelled.

"I'm sorry?" Clark tried to smile, but it died halfway to his lips. He kicked the floor.

"God Clark!" Lex threw up his arms and began to walk down the hall, dragging Clark after him, opening door after door to reveal more mail sacks. "Look at this! I wanted a career in politics! You and your stupid frat house have ruined me!"

"I never meant -" Clark shoved his hands into his pockets, unable to meet Lex's eyes of disappointment and disapproval.

"I was supposed to get married, have children and continue the family line! My father is threatening to disown me if I don't do something about this quickly. Your parents have helicopters buzzing around their house. Don't you ever think about how your actions affect the lives of others?" Lex was in full rant mode.

Clark bit his lip harder and kept looking down, praying he wouldn't cry. Lex's opinion had always meant the world to him and now he'd completely destroyed his life. No amount of super-powers would fix this. Clark sniffed.

"Oh, shit." Lex sighed softly. "Clark, I know it's not your fault. But this has gone national and …" Lex thrust a copy of USA today into his hands. It was turned back to page four where the headline screamed :

"Luthor Love Proposal Captures the Hearts of Gay Americans"
- A Continuing Serial by Lois Lane of The Daily Planet, Metropolis

Clark clutched his head with one hand. He could feel a headache coming on. Lex took the paper from his slack hand and replaced it with a large bottle of pain killers. Clark opened it and took three. Lex merely nodded, took back the bottle and tossed back four.

A man in a three piece suit that Clark didn't recognize came running in with a grimace upon seeing him. "Mr. Luthor, sir, we just got the results back from the poll!"

Clark wondered when Lex's penthouse had become a headquarters for disaster control. Lex snatched the paper out of the man's hands, reading over it quickly. He closed his eyes and let it flutter to the ground.

"Lex?" Clark asked with concern, seeing him pale even further.

Blue eyes bore into his skull and somehow, Clark knew it was about to get worse. Lex opened his mouth and finally gave his answer. "Yes."

Understanding coursed over Clark like cold river water. Clark shook his head frantically. "No, Lex, this is insane. You don't mean that! How can you have a political career this way?"

In response, Mr. Three Piece Suit bent over, picked up the poll results and handed them to Clark. He took the paper with shaking hands to read what it said.

The poll results listed below are based on telephone interviews with voters in Kansas Florida, Missouri, Ohio, New York and California.

The Question: Should Alexander J. Luthor accept the proposal from Clark Kent?

75% of men - 92% of women - responded yes,
15% of men- 3% of women - responded no,
10 % of men -5% of women - undecided

The paper went into further detail, breaking it down into degree of education received, family income, number of residents in the household and such, but Clark's eyes had gone fuzzy. His mind had shut down and he was unable to process what was happening.

"Lex?" Clark asked with a squeak in his voice that he refused to acknowledge.

Lex smiled at him sympathetically, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Would you like to be Luthor-Kent or Kent-Luthor?"

Chapter 3

Clark sank into the nearest armchair to ponder how many different ways he could kill Pete and where he could hide the body parts. As if reading his mind, Lex commented, "You realize Pete is a dead man."

"Me first," Clark growled.

Lex sat down next to Clark on the arm of the chair and put a hand on Clark's shoulder. "It would only be until this dies down. Hopefully, we can just have a long engagement, but if it comes down to an actual civil union, we can get divorced in time."

"This is not happening," Clark muttered and covered his face with his palms.

"I tried that, it doesn't work." Lex commented without skipping a beat. "I think you better call your parents Clark."

"I don't suppose you have any cyanide?" Clark asked hopefully, while accepting Lex's private cell phone.

"No, but on second thought…" Lex took the phone back and walked over to the desk set. "I think this would be better coming from both of us."

Clark nodded and cleared his throat. "I suppose it's too late to ask you not to take this the wrong way." Walking over to Lex, Clark put his arms around him and sank into a hug, leaning his head on Lex's shoulder. Lex froze for a moment and then patted Clark's back, squeezed tightly and let go. "There really isn't any other way out of this?"

Lex shook his head and hit speed dial. Clark wondered vaguely how often Lex and his mother spoke. He did know that she spoke of him often, almost like another son - the irony wasn't lost on Clark. She would soon have exactly that.

The phone was picked up on the third ring, "Kent Farms."

Clark winced, it was his Dad. Lady Luck had definitely abandoned him completely and now he was about to become a eunuch. The day from hell was going into overtime. He needed to make out a will. Maybe Lex would help him.

"Uh, hi Dad, I'm here with Lex on the speaker phone. We, um, kind of need to talk to both you and Mom." Clark closed his eyes and wondered what his life would have been like on Krypton. Maybe it wasn't too late to try to fly back.

"I'm not going to like this, am I Clark?" Jonathan snapped angrily and then yelled, "MARTHA!"

"No, Dad," Clark half-whispered. It was amazing how the right tone of voice from his father suddenly reduced him to seven years-old, with a squished family heirloom in his hand. Clark looked at Lex for guidance, but his face showed no emotion.

"Hello, Mr. Kent," Lex added, for which Clark was infinitely grateful.

His father grunted. "I suppose this has to do with that stupid dare the Ross boy put you both through? So help me, if I see him again -"

"Jonathan," Martha interrupted and Clark could visualize the look and touch she was giving his father. "Hello, boys, I heard about the article in the paper." Her voice was soft, sympathetic and tense, all at the same time.

Clark winced again. It was probably picked up by all the papers, even in Smallville. Why hadn't he thought of that? Surely, Lex had. And Smallville had an up close and personal view thanks to the efforts of Lois' first article.

"Hello, Mrs. Kent. I'm sorry to be interrupting your day." Lex apologized even though he was the last person that should be doing so.

"Hi, mom," Clark muttered sheepishly, feeling guilt roll over him from all sides.

"I take it your 'suits' thought of a solution Lex?" Jonathan grunted.

"If by suits, you mean my press corps - then yes, sir, they did. But I assure you -," Lex began.

"Oh, god, Martha, he said 'but' that's never good!" Jonathan commented, his voice dripping with desperation.

"Shush, Jonathan, let him finish. Go on, Lex," Martha entered the conversation again.

"It's bad Dad, really bad. Are you sitting down?" Clark voiced with concern, ever mindful of his father's heart. After all, they'd almost lost him more than once.

Lex and Clark looked at each other after hearing the curse that followed Clark's inquiry. They could hear the sound of a beer being popped open. It wasn't even noon yet. "Do you want to do this or shall I?" Lex whispered to Clark with concern, seeing his friend's pale face.

"I'll do it." Clark summoned his strength. "Mom, Dad, Lex's place is filled with mail and the poll results are in, if we don't go through with this it will ruin any chance he has of a political career and his dad will disown him." Clark blurted out. "It might ruin him anyway and it's entirely my fault!'

Lex looked at Clark over the arms that were folded across his chest. "What Clark is trying to say is that I had no recourse but to say 'yes'." An explosion of colorful phrases came over the intercom and seemed to echo around the room.

Clark and Lex looked at each other again in surprise. Jonathan Kent knew an amazing variety of curse words. Then they heard the slamming of the front door. Clark shook his head as Lex put a hand on his shoulder in sympathy. "Long engagement and short marriage, I take it?" Martha asked after a tense moment of silence.

"Something like that," Clark mumbled. "Is Dad going to be okay?"

"He will be, dear. Just give him time. Clark, honey, you will school won't you?" Clark blinked. He hadn't even thought about it.

"Clark and I still need to discuss his options, Mrs. Kent. But I assure you he will finish his education." Lex supplied helpfully. "You have my word."

"Thank you, Lex. I think that perhaps under the circumstances, you should start calling me 'mom', don't you?" Clark beamed at Lex. A wealth of emotion crossed over Lex's face. Clark chuckled for the first time since he arrived.

"Thanks, mom. He will." Clark pulled Lex into a one-armed hug. "We better go. I love you."

"I love you too boys." Martha replied softly and the connection ended.

Lex whispered into Clark's ear. "I think I love your mother."

It was Clark's turn to pat Lex on the back, giving him a minute to compose himself, and then dropped the other shoe. "I suppose we have to call your dad now."

Lex pushed off and glared at Clark. "You really know how to kill a mood." Crossing the room with some difficulty - he had to weave through the mail bags after all - Lex finally reached his destination. He grabbed the decanter and poured himself a rather large glass of double malted scotch. Clark was about to comment about the hour, but considering that a drinking game had gotten them into this mess, he decided to just shut up.

After a second glass to fortify his nerves, Lex came back over to stand beside him and hit another button on the phone.




"I said 'yes'."


Clark wondered if he should go mark calendar to commemorate the day that both Luthor men were speechless. Then it hit him that Lionel was about to become his father-in-law. He swiped the remainder of the drink out of Lex's hand, completely ignoring the evil eye Lex gave him for his treachery.

"Long engagement and/or brief marriage," Lex explained stiffly after a moment. "The poll results and the mailings made the killing blow. Oh, and Clark is here with me." He graced Clark with another look of death as he watched the last drops of scotch disappear from the glass.

"I expect to see a pre-nuptial signed and on my desk by morning, Lex." Lionel grunted. "Young man, if you planned this to make money from my son-"

"Dad, we've discussed this. It was simply a joke that has gone south. There was no malicious intent on Clark's part." Lex rubbed his face slowly with one hand.

Lionel was silent a moment. "It had better be a closed ceremony, Lex. No pictures."

"Yes, Dad," Lex leaned on the desk, "If we can manage to get away with it. The press will be demanding a large ceremony and you know it."

"A man can dream can't he? God, Kent, you just couldn't leave Lex alone could you? What a catastrophe! I suppose this will pay off your -"

"DAD!" Lex snapped. "I'll talk to you later." He hit the button to end the call and slumped down to sit on the edge of the desk.

"That went better than I thought it would," Clark whispered nervously.

"Thank you for not saying anything. No offense Clark, but from here on in, you should definitely let me do the talking." Lex slipped off the desk to sit down in the chair on the other side. "Clark, I don't know if you've considered the ramifications of the announcement I'll have to make."

"Um…" Clark hadn't.

"Right, why don't you go wander off to the kitchen and I'll make some phone calls?" Lex looked tired and Clark noticed the extent of the dark circles under his eyes for the first time. Apparently, being a meteor mutant with healing abilities did not help lack of sleep. Clark turned sadly and made his way to the door, feeling the guilt finally devour him at last.

He stopped before he left, turning to look over his shoulder as his hand rested on the door knob, "Lex?"

Looking up tiredly from where he'd put his face in his palms, Lex responded with a muffled, "Hmm?"

"I'm sorry." Clark whispered, and closed the door quickly before he could see the look on Lex's face. For once he had no appetite. Instead he walked to the furthest room from the office. He went in and after closing the door behind him, slumped down to the floor, put his head in his hands and tried to figure out what to do.

Chapter 4

It was a long time later that Clark was roused from his wool-gathering by the sound of a knock on the door. "Clark?"

Maneuvering stiffly to his feet he reluctantly opened the door. Lex was leaning against the door frame, his tie was loose, the first few buttons of his shirt undone and his sleeves rolled up to his elbow. A fresh wave of guilt washed over Clark and he looked down to the floor. He heard Lex exhale slowly.

"No one blames you, Clark." Lex commented.

"I do." Clark mumbled.

"Look," Lex began, "we need to make a statement to the press. It would be best if it didn't look like we were on our way to the gallows. America wants to see two happy men, hopelessly in love, who are announcing their engagement. I need to know if you think you can do this. If not, I'll just do it alone, although it would look better if you were by my side."

"Just tell me what to do," Clark looked up at last. Lex blinked and Clark clearly read in those blue eyes 'I'm sorry too'. With a gulp and a nod, Lex escorted Clark out into the main sitting area. There was a new group of people that Clark had never seen who were apparently waiting for them to arrive.

"Clark, I'd like you to meet Samantha, your manicurist; Jennifer, your hair dresser; Jon, your tailor and this is Joshua, he's an acting coach." Lex introduced each of them with a sweep of his hand.

Clark simply gave them all a shy smile, looked down and nodded. He felt some hands at his back and sides which then pushed him down into a chair. No one talked, but simply set to work and Clark watched in a daze as he'd evolved from innocent farm boy into an ad for Abercrombie and Fitch.

"You look great, Clark," Lex smiled tiredly and Clark resisted the urge to hug him. He also couldn't help looking back at the mirror time and again in shock at how he'd been transformed.

"Thanks, Lex, so do you," Clark meant it too. But then again Lex always looked good. Lex nodded in acceptance of the compliment.

"Are you ready for your first acting lesson?" Lex asked with a sharp exhale.

Clark nodded. The room cleared out leaving him, Lex and the man from an acting school Clark had never heard of before. Joshua looked to be about the same age as Lex.

"Please, stand together." It was an order. Clark reluctantly moved to stand awkwardly next to Lex. Joshua rolled his eyes. "Mr. Kent, is it?" Clark nodded. "Have you ever been in love?"

Clark looked at Lex who was looking at Joshua. "Um, no, why…does it matter?"

"Does it matter? Is this guy for real?" Joshua asked Lex, as if Clark didn't exist.

"He's been a bit sheltered," Lex explained with amusement in his tone.

"Right," Joshua snapped. "Close your eyes and imagine that you are desperately in love. You'd do anything to get Lex's attention, his love and his admiration."

Clark closed his eyes, felt like ten kinds of idiot and after a moment just tried to concentrate. He opened his eyes and shook his head. "Sorry, I just never felt like that."

Lex turned toward him in surprise. "Not even with Lana?"

"No, and before you ask, not with Chloe either." Clark shrugged.

"Clark, I -" Lex began looking sheepish.

"Oh, please, just fake it, would you, kid?" Joshua shook his head and walked over to Lex. He wrapped his arms around Lex's neck. "See my face, Clark?"

"Yeah, so?" Clark looked between the two of them in confusion, trying to figure out what he was supposed to be seeing.

Joshua threw a small temper tantrum and grabbed Clark by the arm, shoving him at Lex. "Put your arms around his neck."

"Why?" Clark asked in confusion.

"Because I said so," Joshua growled.

Clark felt a blush rise to his cheeks, but did as he was told. Joshua shook his head. "No, no, no - you're too tall. Lex put your arms around his neck instead …good, good."

Clark blinked in surprise. Lex didn't seem to have any problems putting his arms around his neck so intimately. Sure, they hugged all the time, but this was different. Clark gulped as Joshua moved him into position, putting his hands on Lex's hips.

He stood back and smiled. "There now, you two really look good together."

Lex looked at Clark appreciatively. A comfortable silence fell over them where Lex didn't comment and Clark felt himself blush more. The heat of Lex's trim waist under his hands seemed to be burning him as Joshua posed them, in closer and more intimate positions.

Clark started to feel himself heat up and hoped he wasn't about to start a fire with his eyes. "Lex, can we take a break please?" Clark asked nervously, hoping to dash up to the roof for some much needed air and to vent his heat-vision.

"Sure, Clark," Lex replied.

Clark's heat vision vented as soon has he made it to the roof, having the unfortunate side effect of producing a sudden downpour. He trudged back to Lex and Joshua.

"Well, I guess we're done for today," Joshua sniffed and looked him over. "You better get those off." He snapped his fingers.

Clark frowned and quickly took off the shirt. Joshua smiled. "Wow, how often do you work out?" He stepped forward and the tips of his fingers grazed over Clark's chest, making him go stiff as a board in response.

Lex was suddenly in between them. "I believe we are done."

Clark blinked. What had just happened? He wasn't sure but it was making him feel warm all over. Joshua sort of rolled his shoulders and his eyes in one movement, picked up a large shoulder bag and left the room. "Lex?"

"Go put on a sweater," Lex stated coldly and stormed after Joshua. Clark couldn't help feel that he'd just missed something vitally important, as he donned the dark blue sweater. After a moment, Lex came back in and stood in front of him. "Care to explain that mark on your chest?"

Clark's eyes went wide. He'd forgotten all about the mark that had been burned into him. It must have risen to the surface when he'd lost control of his libido. Should he lie again? If they followed through with this, he and Lex would wind up getting married. How could he avoid Lex finding out his secrets? "I'm not really supposed to tell Lex."

"Well, thank you for sparing me a poorly constructed lie." Lex snapped. "It doesn't look like any conventional tattoo and I don't think your parents would allow it."

"It's not." Clark answered. Lex grabbed the bottom of his sweater and shoved upwards.

"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that it's almost gone." Lex frowned. Clark wasn't surprised it had sunk back into his skin; after all he wasn't feeling warm all over anymore. If anything an uneasy chill was creeping into his bones. Clark knew the signs. He was being studied. "It looks like a symbol from the caves."

"Yes," Clark looked at Lex and was gratified to see the anger leave those blue eyes. "It is."

"You're connected to those caves, aren't you?" Lex asked softly, still looking into his eyes, while slowly releasing the sweater's hem.

"In more ways than one," Clark whispered. He supposed he should be frightened, yet it was a relief. Never before had he wished that Lex would ask him more questions.

"Give me your word that you won't talk about this with anyone but me, and that we will discuss it just like we are right now, but at a later time?" Lex's face had become stern.

"I swear," Clark took a shaky step back and felt the tension ease between them. "When is the conference?"

"We need to leave now, actually" Lex replied. "Let do the talking." Clark nodded and fell into step behind Lex to enter the elevator. From there they walked through a series of rooms on the lower levels and then entered what looked like a board room. Clark could hear a lot of noise next door, even without his super-hearing. He focused on the wall and using his x-ray vision could see a throng of eager reporters. "Can you see them?"

Clark's vision shifted back to Lex, who was staring at him with frank curiosity. After a moment's hesitation, Clark nodded.

"Fascinating," Lex whispered.

Clark smiled. "You are such a Trekkie."

Lex smiled and put his hands on Clark's shoulders. "Remember to smile. We're a couple in love. I might have to touch you like we practiced. If that doesn't work, then just go into your usual shy routine."

"It's not a rou-" Clark began, but was interrupted by one of Lex's staff.

"You're on, Mr. Luthor," he snapped. Clark realized it was Mr. Three Piece Suit again.

Lex nodded, put a hand at the small of Clark's back and they entered the adjoining room. The camera flashes were blinding. Lex smiled and made his way to the awaiting podium. Clark took a step back fearfully, which only seemed to endear him to the reporters, half of which were women, who apparently thought it was cute. They were subjected to another flurry of blinding camera flashes.

Chapter 5

"Mr. Luthor will take your questions after his statement." Mr. Three Piece Suit had appeared out of nowhere again and was standing behind the microphone. Clark was starting to dislike the man.

The press sat down looking deflated and Lex smiled. "Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to announce that I have accepted Mr. Kent's wedding proposal."

For a second, you could have heard a pin drop and then all hell broke lose. In an instant, Clark's protective side came out as he pulled Lex into his arms and caused a further flurry of flashes to go off. A security contingent arrived from the wings and settled things down as Lex turned in Clark's arms looking amused to face the reporters once more.

"As I was saying, Mr. Kent and I will be joined in a civil ceremony. Thanks to the efforts of the Governor of the State of Kansas, we are assured that we won't have to relocate. LexCorp will continue its day-to-day operations and no changes will occur as a result of my new marital status. Now, I believe I have time for a few questions."

Lex pointed to a reporter in the front, "Miss Lane of the Daily Planet." Clark knew that angry tone even if Lois didn't. She had definitely made the same shit list Pete was on, whether she knew it or not.

Lois shot to her feet. "Mr. Luthor, are you openly admitting that you are gay?"

"I am admitting to being equally fond of both women and men. However, Miss Lane I am being taken off the market, so no need to send me a Valentine this year." The other reporters snorted in laughter and Clark barely restrained a giggle himself. Lois sat down in a huff.

With another gesture, Lex picked the next to ask a question, "Mr. Smith of the Inquirer."

"Thank you. Mr. Luthor, is it true that Mr. Kent once saved your life, after you almost killed him?"

Lex smiled. "Yes, that is how Clark and I first met. You could say he's my second lease on life." Clark was amazed at the grace and ease with which Lex handled the press. He smiled and pulled him closer.

Looking over his shoulder at Clark, Lex grinned. There was another blinding storm of flashes before Lex turned his attention back to the reporters, "Mrs. West of the Gotham City Gazette."

"My question is for Mr. Kent." Lex went stiff in Clark's arms. Clark smiled at the woman nervously. "Mr. Kent, is it true that you've never engaged in homosexual relations before and are in fact a virgin?"

Clark knew he was blushing. He looked nervously at Lex, who whispered. "Be yourself."

"I don't believe that my parents would approve of you asking such a personal question, Mrs. West. But they did raise me to believe in true love and waiting for the right person. I know that's not how it always is these days, but it worked for my parents and I think it can work for us."

Mrs. West sat down looking very displeased, but there was a murmur of approval in the room at Clark's response. Best of all, Clark noticed Lex was beaming at him with approval. Lex announced he had time for one more question and chose an older man off to the side of the room.

"Mr. Townsend of the Guardian"

"Mr. Luthor, this is your third marriage. Your last wife's body was never found after abandoning you in a plane that was going to crash and your first wife tried to steal your fortune by murdering you. Did this precipitate your sudden interest in males and aren't you concerned that this will hurt your political aspirations?"

"You're not paranoid if they really are out to get you, Mr. Townsend. Yes, I feel much safer on this side of the fence than the other. As for politics, that is up to the people of America and the great State of Kansas." Lex waved with a tight smile, "Thank you for your time everyone."

Lex pulled Clark off to the side and in a practiced pose with their arms around each other they waved farewell together before exiting.

"WHEW!" Clark gasped and leaned against the table in the next room.

"Clark, you were really -" Lex began leaning over to look into his face and Clark beamed with hope and pride that he had not disappointed Lex.

"Mr. Luthor, you have a board meeting in thirty minutes with the LexCorp shareholders." It was Mr. Three Piece Suit again. Clark was definitely taking a severe dislike to the man. Lex straightened with a nod.

"I'm sorry, Clark. Duty calls. Why don't you go back to school? I'll call you later." Lex squeezed his hand and left. The assistant gave Clark a look of disdain, as if he was the trash on the curb, waiting to be collected before leaving. All the good feelings rushed out of Clark and then he was alone.

Clark went upstairs to change into his normal clothes, only to find out they were gone. Lex's secretary, Clair, handed him a piece of paper.

"What's this?" Clark looked down at the small itemized receipt and gasped at the final total. It was a receipt of delivery, from what looked like the entire Abercrombie and Fitch catalog to his room at the frat house.

"Breathe, Clark." Clair smiled indulgently waving goodbye to Clark as he left with a new understanding of the term 'kept woman.' When he arrived at the frat house, it was to find his house mates had a different outlook on the matter.

"Hey, Kent! Your sugar daddy sent you clothes! Hey, it's Mr. Virgin!" Whistles and even ruder comments followed his every step as he made his way to his room. Clark hid out the rest of the day.

It was close to dinner time when Clark wondered if it was safe to leave to find something to eat. It was then that he heard music from one of the boxes, making him almost jump out of his skin. After using his x-ray vision, he spotted the cell phone and dug it out.

"Uh…Hello?" He asked nervously, not knowing who was calling him.

"Clark." It was Lex. Clark smiled in relief. He should have guessed.

"Oh, hey Lex. How was the meeting?" Clark wondered.

"Which one?" Clark frowned. Lex sounded tired again. "Did you like the clothes?"

"Lex, I can't accept this." Clark ran his fingers over the clothes and wished he could.

"Sorry Clark, but I can't have you running around in flannels outside of the farm. Don't you like them?" Lex sounded hurt.

"It's not that." Clark bit his lip.

"Well why don't you explain it to me then?" Lex was starting to sound irritated.

"It would take too long." Clark huffed.

"Do it for me, Clark, we have an image to present to the public." Lex sighed.

"For better or for worse?" Clark teased, feeling a bit better. After all he really did want to keep the clothes. He was the only one on campus wearing old flannel.

Lex chuckled, "Something like that. Clark, I wanted to commend you on the press conference today. You fielded that nosey old bat's question perfectly. I'm sure your parents would be as proud of you as I am."

Clark held the phone closer to his ear and grinned. "Thanks, Lex. You really amazed me too with how you handled all that."

"It comes with the territory. Speaking of which, we need to work out a schedule to see each other." Lex said seriously. "The way you eat, I was thinking around meal times?"

"Funny, Lex." Clark smiled more. "My classes start late Wednesday and Friday and they end early Monday. I don't have any classes on Tuesday or Thursday."

"Breakfast dates Wednesday and Friday, Dinner on Monday and whatever you'd like to do on your free days. I don't want to monopolize all your time. You still have to pass or your father will -" Clark could hear muffled tones over the phone before Lex came back on. "I guess I spoke too soon Clark. It looks like Tuesday's and Thursday's are out. Maybe we can get together on the weekend?"

Clark felt his face fall into a frown. "Oh, well, I don't want to be an imposition Lex. I know you have other obligations."

"You are not an obligation Clark. I enjoyed spending time with you before this happened and you know it." Lex was silent a moment before he dropped into a softer tone of voice. "How do you like the phone?"

"It's great, Lex. But I have a phone card." Clark argued. "I really don't need it."

"I may need to reach you at a moment's notice, plus this is a secured line. Feel free to use it. I made sure to get unlimited minutes." Pete appeared in the doorway and Clark waved him in from where he sat on the bed. Pete came into the room and sat down at his desk, staring at his hands. "Clark? Are you still there?"

"Yeah, Lex, I am. I guess I'll see you Friday night?" Clark never hated Wednesday's more than he did at that moment.

"If I have to cancel, I'll let you know. Are you sure you're okay?" Lex asked with concern.

Clark tried to laugh, but his heart wasn't in it. "Sure, Lex, I'll talk to you Friday."

"Okay." The connection ended. Clark stared at the small phone then turned his attention toward Pete. It was the first time he'd seen him and wasn't sure how to play it. He decided casual was best. "Hey."

"Hey yourself, does the fact you're talking to me mean you forgive me?" Pete asked hopefully.

"Yeah, I guess so. I'm still a bit mad, but I know you didn't plan on this happening. Lex might have a contract out on you though." Clark teased, trying to ignore the weird feelings he was experiencing. On the one hand he was disappointed at not getting to see him and on the other he felt a warmth roll over him that Lex might have a contract out on Pete in order to protect them both.

Pete was looking around at the boxes. "Wow, you're getting the sweet end of the deal! New clothes, a phone and -" Pete stopped cold at the odd look on Clark's face. "What is it?"

"Oh, um, nothing, I guess the day is catching up to me," Clark shrugged. "I'm a little hungry, mind if I catch up to you later?"

"Sure, man," Pete watched Clark leave the room and wondered what was going on with his friend.

Chapter 6

Lex was swamped at LexCorp, trying to reassure the shareholders that it was business as usual. His assistant Derrick had kept his calendar full, more so than Clair ever did.

Lex was starting to tire, catching himself losing his train of thought, only to find his thoughts re-centered around Clark. Even if the circumstances surrounding their relationship at the moment were bizarre, deep down it was still them…Clark and Lex, the friends that legends were made of and Lex didn't want to lose that. So he was quite unhappy to find out that Derrick had scheduled a dinner meeting on Friday. Sadly, he picked up the phone to talk to Clark.

"Hello?" Clark answered.

"Clark." Lex frowned, unhappy to have to deliver this news in person. He was hoping to catch Clark's voice mail.

"Lex!" Clark sounded happy to hear from him. Lex smiled, and then remembered why he was calling.

"Um, Clark about tonight… I'm afraid I have to cancel out." Lex sighed unhappily.

"Oh, sure, you must be very busy. I understand." Clark's voice was heavy with disappointment.

An idea came to Lex. "Why don't you come over first thing in the morning? We can slip away and spend some time together. We could even go to Smallville and see your folks, maybe stay the weekend. What do you say?"

"That sounds great, Lex!" Clark's enthusiasm could be felt over the phone.

Lex hung up the phone feeling slightly better. He only hoped that Derrick had learned his lesson not to block him in with work. The only reason he brought the man on, was because Clair confided that she thought she might be expecting. So Lex wanted to have someone to replace her during her maternity leave. Unfortunately, it was someone who'd been in the right place at the right time and he'd failed to go through regular procedures. He was starting to wonder if Lionel was involved.

Clark dialed home with a smile on his face. The thought of getting to see Lex for a whole day and maybe the whole weekend was better than just a dinner out. It made him feel better that Lex wasn't trying to avoid him. In fact it sounded like Lex missed him as much as he missed Lex.

Martha answered the phone, "Kent residence."

"Mom!" Clark was practically thrumming with excitement.

"Oh! Hi, honey!" Martha's smile could practically be heard over the phone.

"I just got off the phone with Lex and it looks like we're both going to come visit tomorrow if that's okay? We might spend the weekend in Smallville."

"Oh, Clark! That would be wonderful honey. Your father will be so happy!"

Clark beamed at his mother's reaction. "Okay. Well, I'll see you both tomorrow. I love you, mom! Tell dad I love him too!"

"We love you too, honey. It will be nice to see you both."

Clark hung up, feeling even better and thought eagerly about the next day. He missed Lex and was looking forward to seeing him again. It seemed odd that since they were engaged, they were actually seeing each other less. To top it off, he was the brunt of a lot of jokes at school about his 'sugar daddy' and worse. Getting to spend the day with Lex back in Smallville sounded just about perfect.

Lex smiled on his way over to the frat house the next morning. He was driving his favorite car, the weather was beautiful and despite his misgivings about the whole situation, he was happy. It had been a public relations nightmare, but it was all behind them now. They could enjoy time together and it was expected of them. Even as he pulled in front of the two-story Victorian house covered in vines that was home to Clark's fraternity, he spotted a reporter.

Clark was already waiting out on the steps. That was probably why the reporter was hanging around. Clark smiled brightly as he spotted Lex. And it made Lex feel like he was worth a million more dollars to be worthy of such pure admiration.

"Clark." Lex felt tension ease away and his heart lighten at the sight of his friend.

"Hey, Lex! I called my folks last night and gave them a heads up." Clark looked over to the reporter with only his eyes as if to warn Lex. With a reserved smile, Lex took Clark's free hand in his own. Neither of them were surprised when a camera flash went off and the reporter ran toward them quickly.

"Mr. Luthor!" Lex winked at Clark and turned to face the lone reporter. Though he was loathe to admit it, he had to admire the man's tenacity.

"Hello, Mr. Townsend," Clark smiled at the reporter he'd recognized from the press conference. "I guess you were waiting for Lex to show up, huh?"

"Good morning, Mr. Kent. Yes, I was. I was wondering what plans you had made in regards to your upcoming wedding?" The reporter held out a small tape recorder.

"Actually, Mr. Townsend, Clark and I were about to drive to Smallville to spend the day with his parents. I've been so busy at the office that this is the first we've managed to spend time together. So you'll understand that we have not yet had the opportunity to discuss that." Lex watched as Clark tossed a gym bag into the back of the Ferrari. Then Clark came back and stood close enough to him that Lex was able to slip an arm around his waist. Clark grinned happily and they were subjected to another camera flash.

"Will you be remaining at school, Mr. Kent, or moving into the Luthor Towers penthouse?" Mr. Townsend asked quickly.

"I'll be finishing school, but I guess we'll wait and see how the living arrangements go." Clark shrugged, but he didn't look happy Lex noticed. He couldn't blame him; they were seeing less of each other than before. Of course the reporter jumped on it.

"Neither of you seem happy about the small amount of time you've been able to spend together. Is there trouble brewing between you already? Will you be breaking off the engagement?" Now Clark looked really upset, although he was doing his best to just stare at the ground.

"No, I don't expect to break off the engagement. All couples have wrinkles to iron out Mr. Townsend. We are no exception to that rule. Now, if you don't mind, we'd really like to spend some time together and get going. Good day."

Mr. Townsend muttered his thanks for their time and sighed as he watched them go. This was one relationship that he really hoped would beat the odds. When he first came to Metropolis Lex Luthor had just come back from boarding school, having lost his mother. He never forgot the shattered, miserable boy that Lex had been. He honestly wanted to see him happy. He'd lost his own son in a drunk driving accident and for some reason seemed to have adopted Lex, at least in his mind. Clark Kent seemed to genuinely love Lex, and it made him hope for the first time in years that Lex could be happy. He wondered if Lex saw it too.

Chapter 7

It was a beautiful day for a car ride and despite the pressures he'd been under during the week, Lex started to relax. The car was opening up nicely but the company was quiet. He glanced over at Clark and sighed.

Clark was a ball of tension. His jaw was in a set line, his lip was pouted and his brow furrowed. Lex couldn't be sure if it had been the reporter or because they'd been unable to see each other all week. For a moment, Lex wondered if he should find somewhere to pull over and buy some roses for Clark, then thought better of it.

"He was just doing his job, you know," Lex offered up as an opening line.

"It's just that everyone seems to get in between us," Clark spat.

"Careful Clark, you sound like a jealous lover," Lex teased. Clark hung his head momentarily, but when he brought it back up again he was smiling, much to Lex's relief.

"Sorry, Lex, but you know what I mean."

"Humor me," Lex replied.

"Well, between your Dad, my Dad, the press, TPSG and -"

"TPSG?" Lex frowned. "I think I missed the memo on that one."

Clark grinned. "That assistant of yours that always wears the three piece suits - you know Three-Piece-Suit Guy."

Lex laughed. "Oh, god, Clark! Never change!" Clark grinned. "To be truthful Clark, he's the reason I missed last night. He doesn't seem to understand that I should be with you."

"Careful Lex, it sounds like you believe in romance and destiny," Clark teased.

"Score one for your team." Lex passed a slow moving car then continued. "I think my father sent him, to be truthful with you."

"You didn't have him investigated?" Clark asked in disbelief. Lex investigated everyone.

"Clair suggested I find someone and he was suddenly there." Lex frowned. "Point made." He leaned over and hit a number on the cell phone mounted on the dash, "Carmine?"

"Mr. Luthor, what can I do for you?" the man sounded quite pleased to be hearing from Lex.

"There's a new man in my camp that I need to have investigated." Looking over at Clark, he winked over his sunglasses. "You can't miss him. He's always wearing three piece suits. His name is Derrick Dawson."

"Dawson, eh? I'll get right on it. Any reason why you want him searched or why you waited until now?" Clark looked smug. Lex felt abashed.

"He was in the right place at the right time. Now it smells. He's trying to muscle my life." Lex ignored Clark, but it was hard to swallow the smile that was threatening.

"I'll have something for you by the end of the week." Carmine replied with confidence.

"Good man." Lex leaned over and severed the connection. He looked at Clark. "Feel better?"

Clark grinned, "Much better, thanks, Lex."

The rest of the ride was made in a comfortable silence. Neither of them were ones to talk, just to hear their own voices. It was one of the things they both enjoyed about each other's company, even if it was never mentioned.

It wasn't until they pulled onto Hickory Lane that Clark began to fairly bounce in his seat, while Lex started to feel tense. Clark got out of the car and ran up to his parents who had walked out onto the porch. He hugged them both tightly, while Lex hung back at the bottom of the steps and tried to look away. Lex wondered how he never before realized how jealous he was of the family life that Clark had.

"Lex!" Martha was suddenly hugging him and it was as if the sun had come out again. The tension rolled off of Lex. "Are you eating enough? You don't look like your getting enough rest." She held him at arm's length, studying his face with concern.

"I'm fine, Mrs. Kent. It's just been a long week, as I'm sure it has been for you," Lex inclined his head toward the main road where he was sure the van they'd passed had a camera rolling.

She frowned. "What's with this 'Mrs. Kent' nonsense? Either call me Martha or mom."

Lex grinned, but couldn't make himself say either. So he decided it was best just to nod his head. Looking over, he saw Clark nudging his father toward him. "Lex."

"Mr. Kent." Martha moved over and nudged Jonathan from the other side. "I suppose you can call me Jonathan."

Lex nodded again, despite the elbow to the ribs Clark gave him as he moved to his side. "Thank you. It might be best to take this inside. I'm sure that van on the road has powerful microphones."

Jonathan groaned and pushed Clark and Martha inside. He grabbed Lex by the arm and pulled him to the side. "Clark feels pretty badly about this whole mess and Martha blames me for letting him get mixed up with that frat house. Neither Clark or I ever thought -"

Lex held up a hand and Jonathan looked grateful to be cut off at the pass before he made a fool of himself. "It's alright. What's done is done. We just have to figure out how to live with it. I hope you understand why I had to say 'yes'."

Jonathan looked toward the road and pulled Lex further back on the porch. He whispered, "I just don't want Clark getting hurt here, Lex. He…" Jonathan trailed off, as Clark appeared on the porch.

"Breakfast is getting cold," Clark looked between the two with a measured glance. He only hoped that his dad wasn't giving the 'Clark is fragile' speech. Yet from the look of fierce protection on Lex's face, Clark suspected that was exactly the case. It was a good thing he interrupted before his dad was threatening Lex with the shotgun.

Jonathan rubbed his blond hair with his palm. "Sure, be right there." Clark nodded and went back inside. Jonathan looked back at Lex seriously. "Do you understand what I'm trying to say here, Lex?"

"I don't intend on hurting him," Lex said, feeling upset again that the elder Kent would even suggest such a thing.

"Just keep in mind that with Clark it's all or nothing," Jonathan said quietly and then went inside to join his family. Lex stood there a minute pondering those words. He then decided to put it at the back of his mind for later consideration and headed inside, where a large country breakfast was already being served.

"I hope you're going to have more than just coffee," Martha looked seriously at Lex, pushing some cranberry-orange muffins his way. Lex didn't say anything. He was lost in his own thoughts that revolved around Clark and their friendship, or was it more? Should it be more? What did Clark want?

"More like brunch anyway," Jonathan grumbled. Clearly he'd been kept away from any food until their arrival. Clark didn't say a word. He was too busy moaning happily around a plate that was piled high with food looking like a small mountain that needed to be conquered. Lex could just picture a small flag in the top that said, 'Clark was here'. He smiled a bit at the thought of how cute Clark could be. When had little things like that entered the realm of 'cute'? Lex wondered.

Lex poured himself some coffee and picked at a muffin. Martha gave him a tight smile. "So when's the wedding date?"

Clark and Jonathan froze in the middle of their devouring, heavily laden forks paused halfway to their mouths. Lex cleared his throat. "We haven't really discussed it. Hopefully a long engagement will be enough to satisfy the press."

Martha bit her lip and looked at Jonathan. Mr. Kent sighed and nodded. His eating slowed dramatically, while Clark was sort of hovering protectively over his plate.

"What's going on?" Clark asked in a nervous voice, not looking up.

"I think you should both see this," Martha handed over a copy of Bride & Groom magazine. Clark and Lex were on the front cover with their backs to each other.

The Luthor Love Lie: How to tell that your man will never marry you!

Clark felt his chest tighten and pain surge through him. Yes, this was his fault, but did this mean everyone knew that Lex didn't even like him? Was that the real reason why he'd been avoiding him all week? Was it really just for the good of public relations? Had he become some sort of joke?

Lex put his head into his hands. This was a disaster. Now they really had to get married. But was it really the right thing to do? Would he lose Clark's friendship, or was he going to lose more than that if he called this all off right now? Clark's name was being dragged through the mud and if the silence next to him meant anything, Clark was hurt and was buying into what the magazine was saying.

Lex heard the scraping of two chairs, some grumbling and the distinct sounds of a plate being taken away from the table. He knew Clark's parents had just left the table. Lex also knew the beaten puppy look that Clark would give him when he looked up. So he kept his head down and tried to think. He reached for the magazine and read the article.

"Lex hired an acting coach," one inside source reveals. "I've never seen them together romantically. The whole thing is a lie. Lex is simply trying to protect his political dreams."

From another source we were told. "It's true that Lex has only been friends with Clark. There's no way it could be more. Clark is still a virgin. He tried to date girls in high school and it was always a disaster. The guy is meant to be alone."

To this date, besides the press conference, no other news has come forth. No wedding date has been set. There have been no pictures of the two of them together, even holding hands. Sources reveal that Mr. Luthor has spent the entire week avoiding Mr. Kent. While Mr. Kent's housemates tell us that he's been moping about and hiding in his room to avoid the severity of the heckling he's been subjected to from classmates.

It's a sure bet that Mr. Kent and Mr. Luthor will be divorced shortly after their wedding, if they even make it to the wedding. Here's your top ten list to know that your man will never marry you, straight from the public relations antics of Lex and Clark.

1. He avoids you.
2. He won't spend time with you in public.
3. His work comes first.
4. He doesn't set a date.
5. He refuses to discuss details for the wedding.
6. His calendar is always full.
7. His co-workers see him more than you do.
8. He doesn't buy you an engagement ring.
9. He stalls in asking/answering.
10. He tries to placate you with gifts.

"Clark," Lex looked up to see Clark biting his trembling lip, looking at the list. "I didn't mean to…"

For a moment Clark was quiet as he looked over the list. "Lex, maybe it would be best if we just called this off. I… um, I think I better go help my dad."

Chapter 8

Lex watched Clark go, uncertain what to do. Pain echoed across Clark's face, his shoulders were slumped and Lex felt certain if he didn't fix this right now, it would never be the same again. But what was the right thing to do? Yes, he cared about Clark. They were best friends. But was there more? What does a person say in a situation like this?

He looked back down and then looked back up at the sound of two fists hitting the table a few minutes later. Startled, Lex looked up into Jonathan Kent's furious eyes.

"Didn't I say all or nothing, Lex? Don't do this to Clark! It was a mistake, but he deserves better than this. Make up your mind; you can't have it both ways." With that, he stormed back out, the screen door bounced a few times before it came to a rest and silence descended heavily on Lex.

A small ringing sound brought Lex out of the reverie he'd fallen into and he reached into his pocket, then flipped open the phone. "Lex."

"Oh, sorry, I must have dialed wrong. I thought this was Clarkbar's phone number."

Lex recognized the unhappy voice. "Pete?"

"Yeah, who'd of thought you'd make his so close to yours, huh?" Pete laughed nervously on the other end. "I bet you're still pretty mad at me?"

"You could say that." Lex hesitated then plunged on. "Tell me, how has Clark been the past week?"

"Oh, man. I thought I'd have to mop him together with a sponge. He totally lost it. Then when you broke your, um, date for Friday - that was really uncool man. The guys had been razzing him pretty hard at the start and even they backed off since we could all tell you're dumping him. Man, poor Clark. I thought you were his friend. But I guess I was right about you all along." Pete snapped angrily and hung up.

Lex stared at the phone. "Family plan," he muttered to himself.

Martha entered the room once more and even though he knew she was there, he didn't want to look at her condemning look too. So he stared at his hands. "I'm not sure what to do."

"Neither is Clark. But is it really about that anymore?" Martha asked softly, coming to sit beside him and covering his hands. "He's suffering too. It's not like Clark to talk about it, though. He's keeping a lot inside."

"I was too busy dealing with …" Lex trailed off. "I don't want to lose his friendship."

"Then don't hurt him." She took a deep breath. "If you break things off now, you'll both come across as liars."

Lex looked up. "But if we go through with this and then get a divorce, what will that do to him?"

Martha got up and began to clean the kitchen. "I've watched Clark grow over the years. Jonathan tried to protect him, but every parent knows that once their child goes to school they will be exposed to external influences of which they have no control over. Lana hurt Clark deeply; Chloe did too, and even Pete when he moved. You were the only constant in his life. Clark would do anything for you, and I think you know that." She turned to face him.

"You need to be honest with him. I've never known two men that loved each other as much as you two do. Labels are for clothes, not for people. And you two never exactly fit the mold, have you?" She chuckled and when she moved toward Lex, he could see she was crying. It hurt him deeply to think he was the cause. "Wasn't there one split second, Lex, when Clark proposed that you actually considered it, before you walked away?"

"Yes," Lex replied in a broken voice, stunned by the realization.

"Why?" Martha sat down again and took Lex's hands in her own once more.

"Because I…"Lex gulped and looked away. It was too much to bear to see Martha like this. She'd always been so strong.

"I know what its like to love Clark. And I think you do too. Sometimes happiness finds us when we aren't looking. I know neither of you saw this coming, and it was a joke to start with, but it's more than that now, isn't it?" Lex looked down. "I saw the pictures on the news broadcast, so did Jonathan. We'd never seen either of you look so happy. Life is short. The two of you have a chance to be happy with the blessing of the world at your side. How many people are offered that?"

"But I'm not gay," Lex whispered.

"But you love him." Martha replied.

"God help me, I do." Lex shook his head in confusion.

"God is helping you, by offering you happiness on a platter. It's up to you to decide what to do with it." Martha kissed him gently on the cheek, poured him another cup of coffee and then sat back down.

"It's not that easy," Lex began desperately.

"Love never is." Martha sighed.

"But what about Clark? Even if he feels the same, we might never have the relationship he deserves. What if he finds someone he loves?"

"I think he already has, but if you really think that's the case, then that's the time to let him go. If he wants to leave that is. Clark doesn't always see things the way we do."

Lex snorted. "No offense, Martha, but that isn't really a newsflash."

"No, I suppose not." She smiled.

Lex looked up and smiled at her. "I wish I had you as a mother growing up."

"Better late than never," Martha smiled sadly and Lex nodded. He kissed her on the cheek and got up. "Lex, what are you going to do now?"

"I'm going to go find Clark," Lex explained and then headed out the door.

Martha blew on her coffee and said a silent prayer. Jonathan came in a moment later. "Is Clark in here?"

"No," Martha replied in confusion. "I thought he was in the barn with you."

"Well, I hope Lex can find him. He helped me with the tractor and then vanished."

"Oh, dear," Martha began to search for the pain relievers.

Lex stood on the porch and slowly walked down the steps, scanning the horizon for Clark. It was a strange emotion for Lex - to feel guilty. Stranger yet, was the feeling that without Clark, his life wasn't worth living. It made him uneasy to be so vulnerable. "I didn't ask for this shit," Lex mumbled to himself as he wandered out to the loft. Climbing the stairs, he walked straight over to the telescope to try and spot Clark when he realized the barn was empty. It took him a few minutes before he spotted him on top of the water tower.

Knowing it was his mess to sort out, Lex made his way to the car. Although, he was starting to wish he had a member of his staff to deal with this instead. For once he felt totally out of his depth. He got in the car and headed toward the water tower. It was starting to feel like Mickey Mouse had taken over his life, nothing made sense.

Never before had he felt like this and there was no fighting it. The very air seemed to pulsate with the feelings he was denying. There was no use, but to roll over and deal with it. He'd always been a man to pick and choose his battles, but it just wasn't that simple with Clark. It never was. And this was simply a mess. They could have been best friends for life, or close to it. Now the deck was stacked against them. Or at least it seemed so to Lex.

With a sarcastic chuckle, he wished he could be more like Lana Lang. Every day was like Disneyland when you were Lana everything was bright, bubbly, pink and perfect. Lex snorted. Why had he ever thought that Clark could be happy with Lana? She was no match for him.

But who would Clark be happy with? Consensus was starting to point toward him. But he was starting to believe that everyone was crazy, not a new theory really. After all, didn't they all know it was all a matter of public relations to save face? He stopped the car when he arrived at the Smallville Water Tower, heedless of parking in a virtual field. Thankfully, Clark hadn't taken off despite having seen him coming. Lex could see him clearly and he was completely ignoring the fact that he was no longer alone.

Chapter 9

Lex continued to look up at the tower and sincerely hoped that Clark would come down. But the look on Clark's face made it rather clear that he was not about to budge. Lex sighed. He climbed the tower nervously; making a mental note to wash his hands later and only felt reassured when his feet solidly met the catwalk that ran around it. He put his hands on the rail, not willing to sit down on the even filthier metal walkway like Clark had. Clark was seated, swinging his legs idly and picking apart a piece of grass in his hands.

"Nice view," Lex commented, searching his mind for a better opening line and giving up. "I can see why you came here."

"What do you want, Lex?" Clark obviously wasn't going to give an inch, in more than just body.

"I suppose I deserve that," Lex replied. "Talk to me, Clark."

"I think I already said what needs to be said, Lex. We both know this is a farce. So let's just call it off and be done with it." Bitterness dripped from Clark's voice.

"Clark, it's not that easy and you know it." Lex looked over the fields. "But I also think that this could be a good thing for us."

Clark's head whipped around in surprise. "What?"

"If we go on, we will be stronger as a united force. Do you remember me telling you that our friendship would be the stuff of legends?"

"What does that have to do with this mess?" Clark frowned looking aggravated.

"Clark, if we stop this now, no one wins. The press will eat us alive. Gay rights advocate groups will …well, let's not even think of it, suffice to say my career will be over and our friendship will not survive it. I'll spend the rest of my life holding it against you that you ended it and made me look like a fool."

"I don't want to stop being friends." Clark pouted and Lex knew he had him on the ropes.

"Nor do I, Clark. There really is no choice, we must continue with this. It might work out, stranger things have happened in Smallville." Lex teased.

Clark grinned. "True, but we would be living in Metropolis, right?"

"Yes. But there's no reason that we could not split our time between Smallville and Metropolis and I certainly have no intention of keeping you from your parents."

"You couldn't" Clark said firmly. He took a deep breath. "So you are saying that nothing will be left if we end this now? It would destroy us?"

"I wish I could say I was a bigger man Clark, but I'm not. This is the sort of thing that makes or breaks a friendship." Lex had lost friends over more trivial matters than this. But his friendship with Clark had always been strong enough to see them through. Yet Lex was certain it could not survive this.

"I'm not a woman, Lex." Clark announced firmly.

"Neither am I, Clark." Lex tried not to laugh.

"I have secrets." Clark reminded him in a small voice.

"So do I," Lex shrugged. "Who doesn't?"

"We almost stopped being friends over mine. Who's to say that it won't be harder when we have to live together as a married couple?"

"I have no way of knowing how these things will all pan out, but I don't want to lose us." Lex announced.

Clark smiled and stood up, grabbed the railing coming to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Lex. "I don't want to lose us either. But you've already been avoiding me. I saw more of you when this wasn't happening."

"I never meant for that to happen, but I can't take it away. What's happened has happened, Clark. If we go through with this, there are bound to be times that we have to forgive each other and go on. We've managed that pretty well so far, haven't we?" Lex turned to look at Clark. "Or, is there another problem?"

"Well, what if one of us starts to feel differently?" Clark looked down at his hands clutching the old iron rail.

Lex wondered how to phrase this next question correctly. Perhaps it was just best to draw Clark out, "How so?"

"Some guys do fall in love with each other." Clark practically whispered.

"Yes, I'm well aware of that. Do you think that's a danger?" Lex asked, not sure how he wanted Clark to answer, but starting to distinctly wish they were on the ground.

"I'm not sure danger is the right description for caring about someone, Lex." Clark shook his head. "What would you do if I started to feel differently?"

"Are you trying to tell me something, Clark?" Lex asked in a calm voice, despite the herd of elephants that had just taken up residence in his stomach.

"Look, just forget I said anything." Clark snapped. "Come on, let's get down. I'm sure my parents are wondering where we are."

"Clark-" Lex began.

"No, Lex, I think I got my answer." Clark shook off the hand that Lex put on his arm. Hurt flashed through his green eyes.

"Damn it, Clark. We are not going back until we settle this!" Lex yelled.

"Forget it. It was stupid of me to ever think -"

"To ever think what? That you could love me or that I could love you? I don't think that's stupid at all. Or are you telling me that because I'm a Luthor I'm incapable of love or that I simply don't deserve it?" Lex was reaching the end of his rope.

Clark snapped back as if Lex had slapped him. "I never said that. Don't start to act like him, Lex."

"Who? My father? Yes, I am Lionel Luthor's son, god help me. And if you marry me you're bound to notice certain striking similarities. Undoubtedly, that is why marriage has never worked out for me. You're right, Clark, I don't deserve it." Lex's face had turned into a cold, hard mask hiding years of pain.

"Stop it, Lex. Of course you deserve to be loved. It's just -"

"Just what, Clark? Go on and spit it out. I think I can take it. I am a Luthor after all. Like father like son and all of that." Lex's lips had become a thin, white line.

"IT'S JUST THAT I DESERVE TO BE LOVED TOO, DAMNIT!" Clark gasped, his eyes wide, realizing what he'd just said.

Lex's face lost all color. "Clark, are you gay?"

Clark stuttered. "No…I ...don't….I mean….that is to say….I don't know."

Lex froze, uncertain what to say. His mind was reeling from the implications. Either Clark was in love with him or thought he could fall in love with him and wanted to be loved in return. While Lex himself was bisexual, he'd always thought Clark was perfectly straight. "Clark, I…"

Clark turned away. "Don't worry about it, Lex. I'm fine. We have the wedding and then we'll get a divorce in a few months right?"

"God, Clark, don't be this way. I don't know what I feel right now. It's all," Lex waved a hand, "mixed up right now. Too much is going on and I'm not used to feeling emotional over anything, much less anyone. It's how I was trained to be. I need time to deal with all this."

Clark nodded and looked over the horizon once more. Lex felt like a heel when he saw how shiny his eyes were. "I can't make any promises, Clark. I'm sorry."

"Maybe it is for the best that we aren't around each other much." Clark offered quietly.

"No. This week was awful. If anything, we should try to see more of each other to figure out what we are dealing with here." Lex gestured between the two of them.

"God, Lex." Clark shook his head." Only you can take this and make it sound like something that should be presented before a committee."

"I am not a committee!" Lex snapped. Then smiled in spite of himself. Clark smiled too then what might have been a bit of laughter escaped. In a moment a bit more managed to make its way out, before Clark threw his head back and laughed out loud. Lex tried to be mad, but started to laugh too. "God, did I sound like Princess Leia out of Star Wars just then?"

Clark could only nod, so consumed by laughter he was leaning back on the tower for support. "I think we just found out who the woman is in this relationship!"

"OH you are going to get it for that one, Kent!" Lex lunged after Clark, but Clark was too fast and they wound up running in circles around the tower, dodging and weaving. Clark was out of breath from running and laughing. Lex was grinning, so blissfully happy for the release from tension that he could have screamed for joy. In a surprise move, Lex managed to grab Clark and started to tickle him until Clark was squirming. "Take it back!"

"Not a chance, your Highness!" Clark ducked and managed to wiggle away. He quickly descended the ladder and swiped the keys out of the car. "I win. Call off the tickle battle or I toss these keys as far as I can."

Lex climbed down quickly and finally landed on terra firma. He gave Clark his best glare. "You wouldn't dare!" Clark pulled back his arm and it looked like he was going to do it for sure.

"Clark!" Lex screamed at the last minute. "Okay, okay you win!" Clark smiled smugly at Lex; tossed him the keys and they drove back to the farm. They were still arguing over who was in control of the relationship in the movie, Han Solo or Princess Leia, all the way back to the farm. When they pulled up, still laughing and arguing playfully, Martha and Jonathan both took a deep sigh of relief.

"Everything all right, son?" Jonathan asked, while looking cautiously at Lex as if he were still ready to get the gun at a moments notice.

Clark looked at Lex and some of the humor left his face. "Yeah, it is." Then he grinned and looked at his mom. "Have any really big cinnamon rolls left, mom?"

She frowned, "Yes, why?"

Clark put his hands to his ears and batted his eyes at Lex. Lex growled at Clark who lost it and started to laugh again. "Laugh it up, fur ball!" Lex retorted, which only ended in more laughter from the two of them.

Jonathan sidled over to his wife and whispered. "This is good, right?"

"Yes, Jonathan, it is," Martha beamed happily.

Chapter 10

Carmine frowned as he looked down at the report. "How did this guy get this far? How did he get on his staff? He's a member of the American Life League, Operation Rescue, The Rutherford Institute, a contributing columnist to the Lambda Report…" Carmine shook his head and picked up his phone quickly, grateful he had a private number for Lex.

Lex put down the cup of coffee he was having and opened his phone, excusing himself to the Kent's. He walked over toward the door, "Lex."

"Lex, it's Carmine. I'm not done yet, but I thought I better give you a heads up." His voice was grave.

"Go on," Lex said quietly, his face turning to stone.

"This guy is a contributor to The Lambda Report, sends money to the Rutherford Institute and has been involved with the American Life League and Operation Rescue. You and Kent really need to get rid of this guy and be careful how you do it."

"I must admit my ignorance in regards to those organizations. What do they do and what does it have to do with us?" Lex asked in confusion.

"Lex, these groups are all anti-gay and some of them even believe that all gays should be put to death. So you'll understand my concern. You say your father might have something to do with this? Is he that much of a homophobe that he'd rather see you both dead than you happy?" Carmine was aghast.

"Never underestimate him. How do you suggest we get rid of him?" Lex asked suddenly feeling the warmth of the day flee from his every pore.

"Hey, that's your department. But if it were me, I'd definitely do it from out of town and then have my place and cars searched for bombs."

Lex walked out the door and sat down on the porch swing in shock. "You're serious."

"Deadly. Lex don't let this guy get anywhere near you." Carmine warned. "I think the fact he's been trying to keep you two apart is just the first step. Maybe he was thinking of taking out Kent first."

"Right, keep this under your hat Carmine, but keep digging. If you find anything else, call me immediately. I don't care what time it is." Lex ordered.

"Sure and, uh, Lex?" Carmine asked nervously.

"Yeah?" Lex asked wondering what was next.

"Stay in touch." Carmine said softly.

"Sure." Lex was oddly touched by the other man's obvious concern. He quickly placed another call to his head of security. "Michael?"

"Lex? Aren't you in Smallville?"

"Yes, I am. We have a problem."

"This sounds serious." Michael's voice changed instantly into the hard, no-nonsense voice that spoke of his devotion to duty. The man was an ex-Marine and it showed. He was sharp, shrewd and as good at carrying out orders as he was planning an attack. Lex counted himself lucky to have him on staff.

"It's Derrick Dawson."

"The guy primed to take Clair's place?" Lex almost laughed, the man didn't miss anything, even hints of pregnancy in the ranks. "I knew he was too good to be true. Carmine found something?"

Lex looked at the phone, before putting it back against his ear. "How did you know…oh, never mind. Look, Dawson is one of those homophobic, card carrying, gun-toting freaks. I want him out of the building immediately and as smoothly as possible. Use whatever you need to. When it's done, I want a full security sweep done on everything. Understood??"

A string of expletives came out of Michael's mouth. "What a mess. I'm on it. But I hope all this is worth it, Lex."

Clark came out of the house and looked at Lex with curiosity. "It is." Lex replied and shut his phone never taking his eyes off the younger man. "Clark."

"I know that look on your face. What's wrong?" Clark asked, sitting down beside Lex. The movement caused the swing to move slightly.

Jonathan came out and smirked. "Just a swingin'" he sang teasingly from an old country song about two lovers.

"Da-ad," Clark groaned.

"Am I missing something?" Lex asked, happy for the reprieve from Clark's line of questioning.

"It's a country song," Jonathan laughed. "Look, if I have to deal with all this, at least let me tease you both without mercy."

Martha came out and watched as Jonathan walked off the porch, whistling the rest of the song. "Well, at least he's not mad anymore." She noted.

Clark shook his head and Lex chuckled. "You are truly an amazing woman."

"Thank you," Martha beamed. "It's about time someone around here noticed."

"Do I even want to know how you got Dad to go from angry and protective to teasing and amused?" Clark gave his mother a look from under his long lashes and Lex watched the strong woman crumble. It felt good to see that look do that to someone else.

"I told your father he could enter that tractor pull and the rest you don't want to know." Martha sighed and Clark laughed.

"Dad's been pushing mom to let him do the tractor pull thing for years," Clark explained to Lex.

Lex nodded in understanding. But his mind was back in Metropolis. Martha and Clark looked at each other, with the understanding that Lex's mind was elsewhere, or else he'd be teasing someone relentlessly over the Smallville version of entertainment. Clark's mother went back inside. Looking at Clark, Lex stood up. "Let's go for a walk Clark." They began to walk in silence.

Studying Lex's stiff, thoughtful pose, Clark could pretty much guess what the call might have been about. "This is about that phone call, isn't it Lex? Did Carmine call about Dawson, or was it your dad?"

"You've never cared for Dawson, right from the beginning. Why is that Clark?" Lex turned assessing eyes on him.

"I don't know. Maybe it's the way he looks at me when I try to spend time with you. He kind of creeps me out. Why?" Clark frowned.

Lex shook his head. "If you were on my payroll, I'd give you a raise. Remind me to have you meet anyone I'm thinking of hiring. You have a real knack for judging people."

"Dad believes that there is good in everyone -"

"Am I the exception?" Lex snapped.

"Lex." Clark rolled his eyes. "He's coming around to you."

"Right, thanks to the maneuvering of your mother - I can see why Dad wanted her by his side. She'd be great as a CEO." Lex grinned and shook his head. "Let's go back."

Chapter 11

Remembering his coffee, he went back inside to grab it, mindful of the fact that the Kent's didn't own a microwave. Lex watched Martha in action, recycling the large amount of remains from breakfast into freezer containers. It was a part of farm life, Lex noticed, that nothing ever went to waste. She was even putting the coffee grounds into a separate bag. "What are you doing with those?"

"They go into the compost heap and then get added to the fertilizer or sometimes I mix them in with the mulch," Martha said without a second thought, not noticing Lex's surprised face.

"I wonder if anyone would buy mass produced compost heaps," Lex mused, his business mind shifting into gear.

"Don't you ever stop?" Clark asked, coming up behind Lex and leaning on the counter next to him. "You're avoiding the topic too. Don't think I haven't noticed."

Lex purposely turned his attention from Clark back to Martha. "How is your home baked goods business faring?"

"Well, I'm only selling them at the Talon, but they're doing well. Thank you for asking." Clark rolled his eyes and wondered how his mother got his father to talk when he was avoiding a subject.

"CLARK!" came a yell from outside.

"You better go see what your dad needs honey." Martha smiled in understanding and Clark nodded. Maybe, where he failed, his mother could succeed.

Clark entered the barn and looked around, "Dad?" He smiled as he saw his father was trying to up the torque on the old tractor for the pull.

"Where's Lex?" Jonathan asked in a near whisper.

"Lex is in the house with Mom, why?" Clark asked suspiciously.

"Lift her up for me will you?" Jonathan wiped his face and inclined his head toward the tractor.

"Oh, sure," Clark picked up the tractor with one hand and held it over his head.

"Thanks, son," Jonathan smiled and went back to work.

After a few minutes, Clark asked, "Dad how does mom get you to talk about things you don't want to?"

Jonathan shot his son a look. "She threatens me with the couch or not cooking. I don't think that will work for you."

Clark blushed. "No, I don't think it will. What did she use when you were still dating?"

"What's this about, son?" Jonathan asked with a sigh, as he spotted another part that would have to be replaced.

"Lex is protecting me from something he found out from his phone call, yet he won't tell me. I can tell he's very upset." Clark admitted.

"That's what you want, isn't it?" Jonathan asked, removing the part while he could so easily.

"What do you mean?" Clark asked in confusion.

Jonathan frowned at his son. "Now maybe I'm getting this all wrong, but from what I gathered from your mother you actually want Lex to care about you, right?"

Clark blushed, "Um."

"Right, better I don't have to hear you say it. But if he's protecting you from something, that means he cares enough not to upset you." Jonathan shuddered.

"Oh!" Clark grinned and Jonathan rolled his eyes, but smiled.

Lex practically ran from the house and interrogation a la Martha. He now understood why Clark couldn't keep anything from his parents - though he suspected it was Martha leading the charge for any information. Lex had never been as grateful for telephone surveys as he was right now. It was the only way he'd escaped. He walked out to the barn and stopped in his tracks when he looked inside.

Clark was talking with his father with one hand in his pocket. The other hand was holding up a tractor about eight feet off the ground. He was in such a daze from what he was seeing that he failed to hear Martha run up behind him. "Clark, honey, Lana is on the -"

She came up short and looked from Clark to Lex and back again, "Oh, dear."

"LEX!" Clark shouted. Luckily, his father knew enough to run out from under the tractor.

Lex closed his eyes and took a few calming breaths as he took a few steps forward. "Don't even feed me any bullshit about 'how it's not what I think it is!'"

Clark put down the tractor carefully and looked back and forth in between his parents for guidance. Lex tried to rein in his anger. "I want the truth and I think as your future husband for Christ's sake, I deserve it!"

"I'll, um, go tell Lana to call back," Martha muttered and went back to the house. She returned a minute later to find the men were all still staring at each other in a standoff. "Jonathan, Lex has to know."

"I can't believe this is happening," Jonathan muttered, wiping a hand over his face.

"You? You can't believe this is happening?" Lex laughed hysterically. "Is this some private family joke? Were you all laughing behind my back about this? So what? Clark's a meteor mutant! I figured that out a long time ago."

"Um," Clark looked once again to his parents. "I have to tell him."

"No, you don't, Clark," Jonathan bit out.

"If they're getting married it needs to be based on honesty, Jonathan, you know that," Martha chided. "Pete knows and Clark is closer to Lex than he ever was to Pete."

Lex's eyes went wide. "Fucking Pete Ross knows!? What am I to you, Clark? Why couldn't you trust me?"

"I'm sor-" Clark began.

"Don't even try that. Sorry does not make up for years of lies and mistrust. You didn't tell me because you didn't trust me." Lex began to pace. "This is some sort of twisted irony. All of you," he waved his arm," put up this big fucking show about how honest you all are, that you are the little Rockwell family come to life and how we should all be so lucky to measure up to the Kent's family version of Americana; truth, justice and the Kent way of life!" Martha had moved over to Jonathan and was holding him back.

Clark suddenly ran forward and grabbed Lex by the arms, terrified that he would bolt. "Please, Lex, I had to keep it a secret. Pete found out like you did, by accident."

"So if I hadn't found out this way, when would you have told me, Clark? WHEN!?" Lex roared.

Clark looked down and whispered something. Lex frowned and asked, "What?"

Green eyes suddenly looked up to meet his own, and they were filled with emotion. Clark looked desperately into his own, "I thought that maybe if you ever really loved me, then I could tell you."

Martha covered her mouth and felt tears well up. Jonathan put an arm around her.

Lex was speechless for a moment. "If you don't know by now …" Then he closed his eyes, shook his head, walked out to the car, got in and sped away.

Clark sank down to his knees. "Oh, God… I can't lose him now. I can't."

Jonathan Kent pulled his son up and stared into his eyes. "If you don't go after him, you will regret it forever." Clark nodded, hugged him gratefully and with a burst of super-speed was gone, while Martha looked at her husband in amazement.

Chapter 12

Clark ran full out and soon spotted Lex. He debated for a moment whether to make Lex stop the car, outrun him or… then it hit him. Clark ran right up beside the car and jumped in. Lex did a double-take when he saw him and stopped the car. "Get out."

"Not until you've heard the whole story," Clark said with conviction. "I'm not going to leave until you hear it all because I don't want to lose you in my life, Lex."

"Fine," Lex got out of the car, slamming the door behind him and began to walk.

Clark was soon at his side. "Lex, I first came to earth with the meteor shower. It was remnants of my home planet Krypton."

Lex shook his head and kept walking. "You'd think after all these years you could think of better line of bullshit."

"It's the truth, Lex!" Clark shouted.

"Right, where's the space ship?" Lex challenged, anger flaring in his eyes.

"I blew it up," Clark replied.

Lex snorted. "Right, how convenient."

"Pete saw it!" Clark remembered.

Lex threw him a dirty look. "Don't expect me to believe your REAL best friend wouldn't lie for you."

"Wait; remember when I got all weird? That was because of Red Kryptonite! It was in my class ring." Clark explained hopefully.

"Let me guess, that's destroyed too?" Lex kept walking. "Kryptonite, what a stupid name, couldn't you come up with something better?"

"When you rescued me from being a scarecrow, I was stuck there because of Lana's necklace. It was green kryptonite and the only thing that seems to hurt me," Clark tried again. "The meteor rock is Kryptonite!"

"Right, what about that time I saw you get your ass kicked?" Lex challenged.

"Green Kryptonite!" Clark explained. "And that other time was when I got hit by lightning and it transferred I lost my powers because of it!"

Lex stopped and folded his arms. "Fine, then let me experiment on you and prove it to myself."

Clark took a step back in sudden fear. "Are you going to dissect me?" He asked nervously.

"Do you have a better suggestion?" Lex snapped.

Clark bit his lip before his eyes lit up. "The caves - I can show you there." Without waiting for a reply, he scooped Lex up into his arms and used his super-speed to take them there. When they arrived, he put Lex carefully down.

Lex gasped and wheezed a bit, glaring at Clark. "Super-speed can also be chalked up to being a mutant, Clark."

Clark shook his head and walked over to the hole in the wall, which was a safe of sorts. Bright white light flashed from it and Clark extracted the necklace once more. "See, it was my father's. When he was here, he made this repository of knowledge for me."

Lex grabbed the necklace. "This proves nothing Clark. Anyone could have had this made after seeing the paintings in this cave."

Grabbing Lex's hand, he dragged him over to the combination lock and placing his hand in it he stood back as the wall shifted. Lex gasped and moved a bit to stand behind him. "Clark, what are you doing?"

"I'm taking you to meet my father, just don't let me stay long in there. He's a bit like your dad and he turns me into a real asshole bent on taking over the world." Clark rolled his eyes.

"Why do I feel like I've just been insulted?" Lex grumbled as he was dragged into the opening.

Clark stood calmly as if waiting for something, but Lex clutched the upper portion of his arm. "Clark the wall is closing!" He cried out with alarm.

"It's okay, Lex." Clark put an arm around him and swung him back around. "Father, this is Lex. Lex, this is Jor-El, my birth father, and head scientist of the late, great planet Krypton of which I am the sole survivor."

"You bring another Earthling here Kal-El?" Jor-El asked with disappointment. "They will soon hunt you down and kill you, if you do not kill them first."

"Father, please, lay off the taking over the planet thing? Lex and I are going to be married. He needed to know the truth," Clark grumbled.

Lex stared at the hologram projection before him. A man who was rather obviously Clark's father was glaring at him. He had Clark's full hair, pouty lips and deep green eyes. Their body structure was similar as well, both were built like linebackers. The hologram moved and walked around him and Lex gulped, feeling completely overwhelmed. His mind was reeling from the fact that Clark had to be telling the truth all along. He was grateful for Clark's arm around his waist that kept him from falling to the ground in shock.

Jor-El stopped. "You marked him as yours many years ago." He was staring at Lex's smooth head.

"Clark?" Lex hissed out of the side of his mouth. "What is he talking about?"

"I do not understand, father," Clark commented. "What do you mean 'marked' him?"

"His hair is gone, and then you touched him. Is this not true? Did your arrival precipitate his hair loss?"

"Yes," Lex gasped, "I remember you touched my head when your parents…um….when the Kent's picked us up."

Jor-El nodded. "The first step of a young Kryptonian is to claim a mate. Since we could not do so for you as is tradition, the ship must have emitted a high burst of radiation to mark any suitable candidates in the immediate area."

"You mean the meteor mutants exist because the ship was trying to find me a mate?" Clark asked in disbelief.

Jor-El waved a hand. "It is of little consequence what Earthlings lived and died because of this."

"You're right Clark, he and my father have a lot in common," Lex smirked. "So if you're so superior to us mere Earthlings, why didn't you survive too?"

Jor-El's smug attitude vanished and a look of pained sadness crossed it. "I was too busy trying to convince the council that the planet would not survive. Had I not wasted my time so, my beloved Lara and I would be with Kal-El today."

"The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few," Lex quoted from Star Trek and Clark rolled his eyes.

Jor-El seemed impressed. "You have chosen well, Kal-El. Lex-El shall be added to the family and I will tell your mother. She will be most pleased." Jor-El gave a slight bow and vanished in a burst of white light.

"Not a hologram?" Lex asked in a shaky voice.

"Different dimension," Clark replied. "They can't stay in this one very long and when they do it looks like a hologram to you and me."

"I need a drink." Lex sagged in Clark's arms.

Clark turned to face him. "That's not all of it."

"It's not?" Lex winced at how his voice cracked.

"I have x-ray vision, invulnerability, heat vision and can float from time to time," Clark hurriedly explained.

"Really?" Lex looked in amazement at Clark. "I wonder if you have x-ray vision because you were exposed to x-rays on the ship. Heat vision? I suppose gamma radiation could have done that, but floating…well you were weightless for however long it took you to get here…" Clark chuckled. At least Lex had crossed over from being mad to letting his inner geek out. This he could deal with. He sat down and waited for Lex Luthor, uber-geek to settle down from his previously repressed scientist mode. After a few minutes, Lex finally realized that Clark had stopped talking.

"You really should have been a mad scientist instead of a cut-throat business man," Clark commented. "And before you even ask, don't mention any experiments on me around my folks. They gave me nightmares for years about vivisections."

Lex blinked at the term and the seriousness of the situation settled upon him. "Clark, this is really dangerous. If anyone should find out -"

Clark rolled his eyes. "Why do you think I've been so distant and kept it all a secret?"

"My father," Lex grumbled. He sat down next to Clark on the rock he was perched on. "Clark if it hadn't been for my father, would you have told me sooner?"

"Probably," Clark sighed. They were quiet again for a time.

"When were you planning on telling me?" Lex whispered.

"I didn't think I'd have to and then everything went crazy and well…" Clark rubbed his hands over his thighs. "I would have told you before the wedding."

Lex nodded. He supposed he could understand where Clark was coming from now, but Jesus Christ, he was about to marry an alien! His eyes trailed over to Clark's pants. "Um," he pointed, "are you the same down there?"

"So far, so good, but I'm still a…" Clark blushed.

Lex smiled then sighed. "This has all been a bit much. Can we cease and desist with the secrets for the day? I think my brain still needs time to assimilate all of this."

Clark frowned but gave Lex a hand up and led him back into the regular caves. "Now hold on."

Lex nodded and when he opened his eyes again he was back at the Kent house, the smell of home baked bread filling his senses. Clark speeded out to fetch Lex's car assuming that he was in no shape to drive. Martha smiled tightly at him as she came out onto the porch. "Lex?"

"God, please tell me you have something strong to drink here?" Jonathan's face swam into view with a bottle of Wild Turkey. Lex winced but grabbed the bottle like a man dying of thirst. Clark just stood quietly by his side when he returned.

Chapter 13

Mealtime was rather subdued as everyone kept their own council. It was a good thing that they'd made it back for dinner since Clark was eating for two as always. Lex wondered if he had an accelerated metabolism.

Yet, they all seemed to be aware a serious talk was hanging in the air. Clark cleared his throat as coffee was served. "It appears I claimed Lex as my mate when you rescued us both when I arrived, just by touching him."

Jonathan sighed in exasperation. "Come on, Clark, you were only a child."

Martha smiled sweetly. "It does seem a bit far fetched, Clark."

Clark shrugged. Lex glanced at him then at the Kent's. "Regardless, you both know I'll do everything I can to help protect the family secret." He looked only briefly at Martha then set his eyes on Jonathan with meaning.

Jonathan pursed his lips. Martha leaned forward and patted Lex's hand. "Of course we do. Clark is old enough to pick who he can trust." She tilted her head. "But you suspected for a long time, didn't you?"

"I had my theories. Nothing involving being the last survivor of a long destroyed planet, I assure you." Lex shook his head, then seeing Clark's fallen expression added, "Sorry, Clark, I didn't mean to be callous in regards to your situation."

Clark nodded, but remained quiet. Lex raised an eyebrow in his direction, the effect of which was Clark looking down to stare into his coffee. Jonathan cleared his throat. "No one in my family has ever been divorced Lex and we have no idea how this is handled where Clark comes from."

This time it was Martha who looked down to stare into her coffee, leaving Lex and Jonathan in a stare off into space. Jonathan looked obviously unhappy, thinking his son was being used. Lex was tempted to remind him that it was because of Clark that they were in this situation. "Let's cross that bridge when we get to it." Lex offered.

"It was a bridge that originally got us into this fix," Jonathan snorted, remembering how Lex hit Clark with his Porsche.

"Dad," Clark spoke up finally, "I got Lex into this mess. He shouldn't be held to family traditions in this situation. It's not fair."

"I'll tell you what's not fair, son. Your mother and I will never have grandchildren!" Jonathan grumbled. Martha slapped his arm. "Besides, I think this relationship is a bit lopsided, don't you?"

Lex frowned and noticed Clark flush deeply. "It doesn't matter," Clark whispered.

Both the Kent's turned to glare at Lex who was tempted to hold up his hands in surrender. What was going on? Did Clark …no - it was too much to hope for. And when precisely had he started to hope that Clark really did care about him?

He pinched the bridge of his nose suddenly feeling beyond exhaustion. "I think on that note, its time to call it a night. Clark, call me when you're ready to leave. I think it would be for the best, if I stayed at the castle."

"No," Clark stood and grabbed a hold of Lex's arm. "I'm going with you." He looked back to his parents. "I'll be by in the morning to help with the chores." Jonathan nodded.

"And breakfast?" Martha chuckled. Clark didn't answer; instead he just kissed his mother on the cheek and put their coffee cups in the sink. Lex put his hands in his pockets, thanked Martha for dinner and headed for the door. Jonathan looked at Lex. And Lex suddenly understood why he'd always been so nervous around the older man. It felt like he could look right through him.

It was an oddly quiet ride on the way back to the castle. Lex was lost in his thoughts and Clark had a few of his own. Instead of it creating their usual peaceful silence, it made it heavy and odd. When they pulled into the garage, Clark went to get out and Lex's arm suddenly shot out to stop him. Clark looked back at him quizzically. Lex put his hand on Clark's face, cupping his cheek. "I never said thank you, Clark."

Clark frowned in confusion, "For what, Lex?"

"For sticking up for me," Lex said softly and pulled his hand away when he saw the comprehension in Clark's face.

"I was just telling the truth, Lex. You don't have to thank me. Besides, my mom still likes you." Clark smiled trying to put Lex's fears to rest.

"Clark, I think your mother walked on water in a previous life. It's your father and his shotgun that bothers me. And I don't want to cause any rifts in your family. You didn't have to come with me." Lex turned, gracefully getting out of the car and heading into the mansion, letting Clark catch up to him. Clark slowed to a walk, instantly falling into step behind Lex as they made their way through the castle. They stopped in the kitchen to inform the cook that they would both be here. She was very pleased to see Clark again and congratulated them both before they set off. Many of the staff seemed happy with the announcement of their engagement. By the time they reached the familiar room where they'd played so many games of pool, Lex was chuckling and shaking his head.

"What's so funny?" Clark asked despite having a fair idea that Lex was amused by the reaction of his staff.

Lex tossed a bottle of water at Clark and after a moment opened one for himself. "You realize they think we are in love, don't you Clark? Surely even you didn't miss that. I think they were honestly disappointed that we weren't groping each other."

Clark looked down and wished that Lex would even consider such a thing. All the way to the castle he had found himself wishing more and more that Lex would take this seriously. But he realized that was simply a pipe dream. He spotted the tips of Lex's shoes and then felt Lex's hand on his chin. Lex lifted his chin to look him in the eye. "Clark?"

It was a different voice than Clark had ever heard Lex use before. It was breathy, deep and sexy as hell. Clark gulped and tried to look back down while not squirming too badly. Lex's grip was stronger than Clark suspected it could be. Clark couldn't move his head without hurting Lex, so he kept his eyes downcast. "Look at me Clark."

Clark shook his head, too afraid of screwing things up and said as much. "I'll just mess things up, Lex."

"Hmm," Lex replied, "I'm starting to think it's me. I'm 'messing things up'; as you so eloquently put it. But I'm fairly certain that I know how to set it to rights."

Clark's eyes shot open to gawk at Lex, then fluttered shut again when Lex brushed his lips lightly over his. "Is that better?" he asked in that wonderful tone of voice.

Instead of answering, Clark grabbed the back of Lex's neck and pulled him in for another one. Action was so much easier and they kissed once more. Lex stepped into it cupping Clark's face in his hands. Everything was coming together and making sense for once. No more denial or dancing around the truth. It was perfect and far too short.

The sounding of a voice clearing broke them out of it. Clark turned a deep red and Lex smiled, looking around him to see one of the staff standing there. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but Cook was wondering if you'd like a small after dinner snack?" It was an amused, yet happy tone, which had the affect of making Clark blush even more and try to bury his head into Lex's neck.

Lex rubbed the back of Clark's head, completely calm, cool and in control - as always. "Some apple pie and milk in say a half an hour would be wonderful, thank you." There was a brief pause then Lex added, "And please, close the door behind you."

Clark heard the door close and sighed with relief. "That was so embarrassing."

"Just think of how happy you've made the staff, and Joshua will be pleased as well," Lex quickly amended. "I think he was silently hoping for this to happen, since neither of us will ever get the Oscar for acting." Lex, however, saw instantly that reminding Clark of Joshua and acting lessons was a mistake as his face fell.

Clark pulled away and moved toward the couch to sit down. "So what's with the apple pie fixation, Lex?" Clark asked, clearly ill at ease again.

Lex sat next to him, gracefully putting a hand over the back of the sofa, turning a bit towards him. "They are proven foods to help you sleep. Do you regret what we just did?"

"No, not really," Clark hedged, wringing his hands and staring at the floor.

"What's bothering you then?" Lex asked with concern.

"I don't know how …that is to say, I'm an alien …and well, I don't know if you thought this through, Lex." Clark blurt out awkwardly.

"Clark, I really am okay with your origins. As your mother pointed out, I've suspected something, but where you came from doesn't matter as much as whom you are."

Lex was pleased when Clark looked up and beamed a blinding Clark-patented-smile at him. "I think we were interrupted," he said shyly.

Chapter 14

"So we were," Lex grinned with amusement before leaning in to kiss Clark once more, only to quickly find himself pinned against the corner of the couch, not that he minded. Oddly enough, he didn't mind submitting to Clark in this. It was nice to be on the receiving end for a change - as long as it wasn't all the time. After all, he wasn't a girl.

Lex soon lost himself in Clark. His taste, the heat of his mouth, the otherworldly smoothness of his tongue, and he moaned at the thought of what a tongue that smooth would feel like elsewhere. Clark pulled back with a smile. "Lex, someone is knocking at the door."

Clark helped Lex sit up and watched with wry amusement as Lex called out. "Yes, come in."

A servant walked in carrying a tray of milk, apple pie and some vanilla ice cream on the side. Lex nodded at the servant, but was inwardly surprised at the passage of time.

"Thank you," Clark offered for both of them, casting an odd look at Lex out of the corner of his eye. The young woman smiled at them both knowingly and quickly took her leave.

"You seem surprised," Clark commented when they were alone once more.

"Honestly, Clark, the adage of 'time flies when you're having fun' has never been more apropos than with you right now," Lex admitted.

Clark smiled. "I like you when we are alone like this, you open up."

Lex tilted his head and picked up a plate, settling back to eat. He blinked when Clark's hand suddenly came into view and stole a bit of ice cream. "You know, I could call for more of that. I do have a rather well-stocked kitchen Clark," Lex commented with amusement.

"It's more fun this way." Clark chuckled, slipping the stolen ice cream into his mouth. They ate while trying to steal food off each other's plates, until finally Lex laughed and handed his remainder over to Clark to polish off.

"Well, at least I understand why you eat so much now. You must burn off a fantastic amount of calories when you tap into your abilities." Lex was looking at Clark in that scientific way again, making Clark suddenly ill at ease. Lex took the plate from Clark's hand then lifted up his chin with the other.

"Hey, don't worry Clark. I'll do everything in my power to protect you, even if it means denying my inner scientist the pleasure of answering its quest for scientific research. It may rear its ugly head occasionally in a comment now and then, please allow me that much," Lex admonished.

Clark nodded, looking down. "Sorry, it just scares me sometimes."

"Right, I believe a change of subject is in order. Clark, you inferred earlier that you had no previous lovers. Is that true?" Lex asked in disbelief. Clark turned away, but Lex could see the blush rushing up his neck. Eventually, Clark returned to staring at the floor. "Well, that answers that. Was this something that you wanted to wait on because you believe that extramarital sex was a sin or….?"

Clark gulped audibly. "I just…it never got that far…with anyone."

Lex blinked. "Not even Lana?"

"It was never right," Clark amended with a shuffle to his feet. "I'm sorry, I know you have all kinds of experience and it was probably awful to even kiss…"

Lex put a finger on Clark's mouth to stop the self-incrimination that was pouring out of it. "Stop, Clark, I never once thought less of you for not being experienced. If anything, I admire it." Clark looked up in surprise to find Lex only a breath away. "As for the rest…" Lex leaned in a bit more to capture Clark's lips once again. This time the kiss was full of passion, desire, need and that taste that was all Lex. Clark moaned in the back of his throat. A tingle traveled from his mouth down his spine, settling in his groin and awaking his lower regions with desire. He gasped when Lex pulled away with a small smile. "If I didn't like it, I wouldn't be so addicted to it already."

"Thanks, Lex." Clark said with a happy sigh.

"There's nothing to thank me for." Lex turned to refill his glass before standing. "Oh, and if I catch you once more belittling yourself, I'll sick my father on you so he can teach you how its done properly."

"Oh, now that's just mean, Lex." Clark chuckled. Lex held out his hand and helped Clark up off the couch. "Where are we going?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Just follow me and no smart comments." Lex answered enigmatically, placing his suddenly empty glass on the tray before heading out of the room with Clark in tow. Clark followed curiously and also because the feeling of Lex holding his hand was doing funny things to his insides. He didn't want to let go. To his surprise they walked out a back door, down a path and under a trellis where Lex threw a switch.

Clark gasped. A beautiful garden lit up in front of them, fountains erupted into life, their colored water shooting high into the air before arcing and returning to their base and a gentle sound of classical music filled the air, "Lex?" Clark looked over in question.

Lex shrugged. "I never really had anyone to share it with."

"But you've been married!" Clark protested.

"As you said a few minutes ago, it was never right." Lex kissed Clark, gently brushing their lips together so softly that Clark thought he was dreaming it all. Pulling back, Lex put one arm around Clark's waist and gently guided him through the bed of roses, lilies, and more flowers than Clark could name. As they walked, Clark found himself curling into Lex's side, more touched than he could express. Near a bed of daylilies and lavender, they sat down on a bench woven from tree branches.

Lex cleared his throat. "My mother loved this garden. Father of course wanted it destroyed, but instead he ignored it. When I took over the castle, I had it restored. I come here often when I need to… well, reconnect with her."

"It must remind you that you aren't just Lionel's son, but hers too." Clark said in understanding.

Lex nodded with the smile he only seemed to share with Clark. "Exactly," he said and touched Clark's face tracing over his cheeks and lips. "Only you, Clark, would understand that." He looked up again, meeting Clark's eyes. "The caves do that for you, don't they?"

"Yes," Clark answered simply before looking up at the star filled night. "I wish that I had met them. Mom and Dad are great, but…" his voice trailed off and he clenched his hands to stop them from shaking. Lex moved his closest hand to cover Clark's.

"The Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, was the only Olympian who had no mother or father. Nobody knew her origins. The Western Wind had carried her on a sea of foam to the shores of man. It was the three Graces who became her handmaidens and put her on a golden chariot that took her to Mount Olympus. From that day on, she was accepted and became one of them." Lex stopped and looked at Clark who was clearly confused, waiting patiently to find out how it connected to his situation. "Clark, no one here really knows where you come from, but it doesn't matter because you are special and we all see that. Your parents saw that too and couldn't let your light be put out. You were meant to shine and be an example to others."

"Lex, I-"

"Let me finish, Clark." He waited and then continued. "Humans are adopted every day with no clue as to their origins. They wish on the stars for answers. Your answers are in the stars and like the Gods and Goddesses of old who are honored in their constellations, so are your parents."

Clark swallowed, nodded and hugged Lex hard. He closed his eyes and counted his blessings for having this man, his friend and future husband in his life. When he opened them, he looked toward the stars and smiled feeling years of pain dissipate in one moment of pure beauty. Pulling back, he kissed Lex and then looked around them. "You're more like your mother than you know, Lex."

They sat there until the night air started to chill Lex and moved indoors. Lex showed Clark the bedroom that adjoined his and with a kiss goodnight they parted for bed.

Chapter 15

Clark stared up at the ceiling of the guest room, unable to sleep. His mind was wide awake and busy going over the day's events and everything that had led up to this point. He had the sense to recognize that he was having a harder time letting go of the idea of Lex in his life. The marriage was an idea he was looking forward to.

Desire was filling his veins. He yearned to be near Lex and he squinted toward the wall separating them. Through the wall, he could see Lex wasn't sleeping either, an arm tucked under his head while staring at the ceiling. Deep within, Clark could feel himself shaking with desperate need. Maybe he could be with Lex for real or maybe not. But was it right to waste this chance? All he had to do was walk over to his room. Fear filled him as the thoughts continued, tumbling over each other with increasing intensity. He found he really couldn't let go of the other man, neither in body nor mind.

Slowly, he pushed the covers back and sat up. Summoning up his courage, he tried to will himself to go over to Lex's room, but at the last minute his courage failed him. What if Lex really didn't want him that way? He slumped back in bed and curled up feeling hurt and disappointed. Clark fell into a troubled sleep filled with Lex laughing at him for really wanting the marriage to work. He tossed and turned, moaning in his sleep before he started to call out, "No, Lex. No, please, don't do this!"

Lex frowned and sat up when he heard the yelling coming from Clark's room. He made his way quickly to the other bedroom and opened the door a crack, leaning in with uncertainty. "Clark?"

Clark was wrapped up in the blankets, tossing and turning. "Lex, please, don't be like this!"

Without a second thought, Lex hurried to Clark's side and sat down on the edge of the bed. He put his arms on Clark's side and started to shake him. "Clark, Clark! Wake up; it's just a bad dream!"

Clark tossed and turned more feverishly until Lex found himself shouting at the top of his lungs. Suddenly, Clark sat bolt upright in bed. Wide eyed and scared, he looked in surprise at Lex and then buried himself into Lex's shoulder, shuddering and shaking. Lex put his arms around Clark. "Hey, shh, easy there, Clark. That must have been some dream. Want to talk about it?"

"You rejected me," Clark whispered from somewhere around his shoulder.

"What do you mean?" Lex froze.

"I told you I wanted the marriage to work and you…" Clark trailed off, shuddering in his arms.

Lex pulled away from Clark and looked at him. "Clark I'm not the best at expressing my feelings and I apologize for that. It wasn't easy for me tonight to walk away from the opportunity to make love to you. You are easily the best thing that has ever happened to me." After a moment of prolonged silence he added, "And I am a connoisseur of the finer things in life, in case you hadn't noticed."

It had the desired effect and he felt Clark shake with laughter. There was another period of silence and Lex felt puffs of air on his neck like Clark was sniffing him before a wet tongue slipped over the heated flesh. Lex bit back a moan. "Clark…"

Clark suddenly froze and pulled back. "Maybe it wasn't a dream after all?"

All of Lex's eloquence, experience and training slipped away to reveal a heart clenching fear. "It was a nightmare, Clark. I want you so badly it hurts."

Clark's eyes sought out Lex's, as if searching for the truth. A slow beautiful smile spread across his face, just barely illuminated by the moonlight slipping through the drapes. Hesitantly, Clark closed the gap between them at the same time Lex did. With a moan, Lex slowly fell down to the bed, covering Clark's body with his own. Sleep was forgotten as they kissed, slowly rubbing against each other. The bed linens were the first to go and then their clothes fell to the floor, piece by piece. They hissed as smooth skin began a sensuous slide of body against body.

Lex felt his doubts fall into pieces as the perfection of the meeting filled his senses. "Yes," he whispered into Clark's ear. Clark gasped and spread his legs open while his hands roamed over Lex's backside. Lex arched against him causing sparks to fly all along their erections, slipping together in pre-cum.

"Please, don't leave me," Clark whispered with shame, feeling like a small child.

"Never," Lex gasped. "You're mine." He whispered possessively.

Clark shuddered at the words, rolling his head back, he screamed out his orgasm. Feeling the hot fluid fill the gap between them, Lex followed over the edge and collapsed in a heap on top of Clark, gasping for air. Clark held onto Lex tightly, shaking and shuddering once more.

"Clark? Are you okay?" Lex managed to ask on a quivering breath of air.

"You mean so much to me, Lex. I just can't lose you now." Clark admitted, blushing in the dim light.

Lex pushed back on his arms to look down at Clark's open and vulnerable expression. "Clark, I don't just open up my heart and home to anyone. You mean more to me than anyone ever has. I - I don't want to lose you either."

Clark's eyes closed and he nodded happily, pulling Lex back into the rapidly cooling mess between them. Reluctantly, Lex pulled away and padded to the bathroom with a whispered promise that he would be right back. Clark sighed trying to will away his remaining fears at seeing Lex leave.

Lex returned with a small washcloth and cleaned them both before laying it on the nightstand. "Lex, please stay," Clark asked hopefully, sliding deeper into the sheets. Lex smiled, put the rest of the discarded bedding to rights and slipped in next to Clark. They soon cuddled together, Clark resting his head on Lex's chest before they fell into a deep, contented slumber.

Chapter 16

Lex woke up early, as was his habit. He opened his eyes slowly as his mind registered a weight on his chest. A slow smile crept onto his face as he recognized Clark's dark hair and innocent face. His left arm wandered up a bit, from where it was holding Clark, to touch the soft ebony strands of hair that so often taunted him. Memories of the night before crashed over him and he froze - his hand in midair.

He gulped. Sex. He'd had sex with his best friend. Sex with Clark Kent. Had he just made the biggest mistake of his life? Or had he finally done something he should have done years ago? He closed his eyes and tried to even out his breath, which had suddenly become ragged. Visions of Jonathan Kent loading up his shotgun filled his mind causing his eyes to pop open, to assure him that Clark's father was not in the room.

How would Clark react? Did Clark mean everything he'd said the night before, or not? Had he been caught up in the heat of the moment? He had asked him to stay, but it had been a nightmare that had been the catalyst. Did he feel obligated to be with him because of the scandal it was causing? Was this just guilt on Clark's part, or had his parents created such a perfect illusion of finding one's life partner that Clark really thought they could make a go of it?

Lex moaned with the headache he could feel coming on. In his arms, Clark stirred. "Mmm, Lex." He muttered. Lex felt the tension roll out of his body. He closed his eyes once more in gratitude, as his fingers began to gently card through the incredibly soft locks of his… his what? Lover? Boyfriend? Fiance? "That's nice," Clark muttered.

Lex smiled. Even in his sleep, Clark knew what to say to make him feel better. "Yes, it is, isn't it?"

"I've wanted this for so long. I don't think I've ever been this happy." Clark squeezed his chest gently and Lex chuckled. "Are you happy, Lex?" Lex didn't answer. Was he happy? Is this what happiness was? Despite everything that brought him to this point, was it what he had needed all along? Would it be so bad to stay together with Clark - forever? "Lex?" Clark asked with a worried tone to his voice.

"I don't have much to compare it to, Clark, but yes, I think I might be. Thanks to you," he amended. Clark snuggled up some more, with a happy sound that was very close to a purr. "This really is - nice." Clark chuckled.

"It's rather doubtful that we can stay this way all day, however, and we are a bit messy." Lex pointed out. "Well, fragrant I suppose would be more accurate."

The phone rang and Lex hissed. "I'm sorry Clark, but I better take this." He reached over. "Lex."

Clark sighed and rolled up out of bed, then headed for the bathroom. As Lex handled the call, he heard the shower start up. "Lex, are you paying attention to me, son?" Reluctantly, Lex turned his attention back to the phone call from his father.

"Yes, Dad, I'm listening," Lex replied, wishing he was taking the shower with Clark.

"Why don't I have that signed pre-nuptial contract yet?" Lionel snapped angrily. "Those Kent's are as poor as church mice and probably cooked this whole scheme up to swindle us!"

"Dad, don't be ridiculous. Mr. Kent wouldn't touch our money with a ten-foot-pole and besides, you know how honest they are. There's no need for a pre-nuptial contract," Lex snapped back.

"Son, how many times have I told you that emotions have no place in the world of business?" Lex rolled his eyes. "Don't tell me that you are seriously contemplating not going through with a divorce once this sham of a marriage is done? That Kent boy is nothing more than a trumped up rent boy!"

Something in Lex broke at the term and he saw red. "Shut up, Lionel."

Sputters of rage came out of the phone. "What did you call me? How dare you not show me the proper respect that I…"


The shower shut off and Clark dashed out. He was soaking wet, shampoo in his hair and was clutching a towel. A servant appeared at the door at the same time. They stared at each other in shock, but Lex noticed neither of them.


"You. Wouldn't. Dare," Lionel hissed over the phone.

"I'm YOUR son as you keep reminding me, and I have several lock boxes filled with enough evidence to put you away forever in scattered locations around the world. Isn't that what you taught me, LIONEL? Always be able to take down anyone that can stand in your way?" Lex said in a suddenly quiet tone that was even scarier than his shouting voice.

There was an audible gulp over the phone. "You're lying."

"If you prefer, I can simply ruin you now and be done with it, unless you'd prefer to retire with the wealth and status you currently have? Your choice, LIONEL, tick tock."

"Lex, son, now let's not be so hasty. I mean, really, this was simply a discussion over that boy -"

"Tick, tock, LIONEL," Lex snapped.

"Lex!" Lionel cried out desperately.

"No answer is still an answer, that's also something else you taught me. So I guess this is goodbye." Lex smirked, knowing he had Lionel on the ropes.

There was a heavy period of silence. "Alright, Lex, you've won this round, but-"

"Yes, I have." Lex slammed the phone down and looked up to see the shocked faces of Clark and his right hand man, Damien.

"Lex," Clark gasped. "What's going on?"

"I do believe you've grown up, sir," Damien smiled and bowed out of the room.

Clark watched him go and then turned back to Lex who looked pleased at the few words of praise from Damien.

"I put my father in his place in regards to us, Clark. It was overdue," Lex stated in a calm voice, with a bit of a smirk playing about his lips.

Toying with the edges of the towel Clark asked, "Is that really such a good thing to do? I mean isn't he going to do something to get back at you?"

"Probably, but I've drawn the line on this one. He'll attack me in some other way. It's what we do, Clark," Lex stated simply while eyeing up Clark up and down with lust filled eyes.

Clark flushed under the blatant perusal of his body. "I don't think I'll ever understand you two."

Lex smiled. "Let me worry about dear old dad." He climbed out of bed. "Why don't you let me help you get that soap out of your hair?"

Chapter 17

Clark grinned and nodded. Lex smiled and followed him into the shower, after a quick stop to brush his teeth. He slipped into the oversize shower and took the soap that Clark was handing him. Lex put it to one side and positioned Clark under one of the several jets of water. Reaching up he gently worked the soap from Clark's hair. "We'll have to stock some shampoo for you here." Lex commented. Clark simply made a happy sound in his throat. After a few minutes, Lex had it all worked out. "There, done."

Turning, Clark smiled at him. "I'm pretty much done, but if you want…" Lex nodded, looking pleased at the offer, handing Clark the soap. Taking a deep breath, Clark lathered up the soap once more and gently eased both it and his hands over Lex's body. He started with the shoulders, admiring the strength of them under his large hands. Looking down, Clark saw that Lex was muscular in his own right, but in a different way then he was. While he was bulky, Lex was sleek and streamlined. Clark blushed as he saw they were both at half mast.

Trying to ignore it, he continued to soap up Lex, working slowly down his chest. Lex gasped as his soapy hands slipped over his nipples making them harden at once. Clark looked up. "Do you like that?"

"Yes," Lex whispered. Clark did it again before rinsing them both off. They peaked under his fingers and unable to resist he lowered his mouth to them, tonguing them lightly. Lex squirmed, moaned and slipped his fingers back into Clark's hair, clenching then unclenching as if uncertain what to do. "Oh, yeah, Clark, just like that."

Encouraged Clark moved over to the right one, repeating the same motions as before. Lex continued to moan and as his confidence grew, Clark moved downwards. He barely remembered to soap up Lex and then waited impatiently for it to wash away, following the rivulets of water with his tongue. Lex began to repeat his name in a very slow way that only served to drive Clark on with a more urgent need.

As Clark licked the water from Lex's navel, he heard gasps of pleasure from above. The hold Lex had tightened in his hair, but Clark didn't care. "Please, oh, please," Lex whispered. Clark looked up through his wet hair at him in question. Lex moaned and gently guided Clark down by the shoulders to his groin. Clark smiled in understanding. He washed Lex very carefully here watching in amusement as the shaft lengthened and swelled.

Once again when the soap washed away Clark followed the water droplets with his tongue. Some he followed down Lex's shaft, others down around his sacks and one particularly tricky drop he followed up and under. Above him Lex shuddered. "Clark!"

Clark looked up, pulling himself out from between Lex's thighs. "You okay?"

Lex made a funny sound that Clark had never heard him make before. He tilted his head, shrugged and noticed a stream seemed to be running off the base of Lex's cock, so he drank from it then followed it to its source sucking greedily. Lex shuddered once more. Clark thought he might have whimpered, but didn't dwell on it. He was suddenly captivated by a shiny droplet resting right on the head of Lex's very rigid cock. With the tip of his tongue he swept it off. "Oh, yeah, Clark, swallow it all," Lex groaned.

"Okay," Clark said happily and engulfed Lex right to the root in one swift motion.

"JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!" Lex screamed. Sucking back off like a lollipop Clark looked up. "So help me Clark if you ask if I'm alright -" Lex growled.

Clark frowned, shrugged and deep throated Lex once more. "YES!" Lex shouted and taking a firmer grip on Clark's head began to move him up and down to show him what he wanted done, the speed and rhythm. Clark caught on quickly and started to suck Lex with enthusiasm. Lex released his head and grabbed a hold of Clark's shoulders. His fingers dug into Clark and surely would have marked him, had it been anyone else. But Clark barely took notice, driven on by the obvious sounds of pleasure reverberating in the shower from Lex.

"Clark," Lex suddenly said in a desperate tone of voice, "You have to pull away. I'm going to... oh, god… Clark, if you don't want…"

Pulling off for only a moment, Clark looked up through his soaked bangs, "I want to taste you, Lex." Then he swallowed Lex once more. Lex screamed, feeling the warmth surge through him from his toes, making his body go rigid as he shot his load into Clark's eager mouth. He shuddered through wave after wave of pure ecstasy while Clark sucked him dry with no apparent gag reflex. Lex's knees turned to rubber and thanks to Clark's super-speed, he just managed to catch Lex just before he fell.

"You okay?" Clark asked in a smug tone. A feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment filled him, while warmth washed over him knowing that part of Lex would always be with him. No one would ever be able to take it away. Just as he began to be concerned over the lack of response from Lex, who seemed to be doing a good impression of a slippery eel trying to slip out of his arms, while a stream of giggling gibberish came out of Lex's mouth making absolutely no sense at all. Clark laughed. "I'll take that as a 'yes.'" Clark held him tightly as the water continued to cascade over them and after a bit Lex seemed to focus again as his breathing finally evened out.

"Marry me," he whispered, just barely audible over the water.

Clark chuckled. "I think that's my line." He was increasingly amused by the fact he'd reduced Lex to this state.

"Did I say 'yes'?" Lex asked from the vicinity of his neck, still limp in his arms.

"Yeah, Lex, you did," Clark replied smiling widely, passing his hands over Lex's skin, watching the water cascade every which way over his hands. Lex suddenly went a bit limper in his arms and Clark held him even tighter, careful not to hurt him.

"Oh, good," Lex smiled, sighed and passed out.

Clark shut off the shower, and dried Lex off before carrying him to bed and tucking him in. Then he put the towel around his waist and was about to return to the bathroom when he noticed the staff had brought up a breakfast tray for them both along with a copy of the Daily Planet. With a smile, Clark hurried to go dry off since he'd worked up a bit of an appetite.

Chapter 18

While he dried off, Lex came to and sighed contentedly. Obviously part of Clark's abilities included no gag reflex. How lucky could a guy get? He suffered a moment of panic when he realized he was alone in the bed until Clark came out from the bathroom, humming and smiling happily. Lex smiled back hoping he didn't look as stupidly happy as he felt.

Judging by the look on Clark's face he failed miserably though. He reached for the newspaper as a way to distract Clark's attention. Clark was just biting into a bit of melon when his eyes went wide, "Oh uh."

Lex put the paper down to look at Clark. "I really don't like the way you said that Clark. What's oh uh?" Clark bit his lip and moved the paper around from the business section to the first page so Lex could see it.

"Luthor Love Proposal: Fact or Fiction?" or "Where's the Heat?"
A Continuing Serial by Lois Lane of The Daily Planet, Metropolis
In our Human Interest Section, C1

A groan escaped Lex's throat. "Talk about ruining the afterglow." Clark looked down and Lex realized he'd inadvertently hurt the sensitive man's feelings. "Well, technically I was passed out for the afterglow, even if it was an after-blow."

Clark chuckled and Lex exhaled knowing things were okay once more. Then he remembered the headline and reluctantly put out his hand to take the paper from Clark. Grimacing, Clark handed it over, pulling himself up behind Lex to be able to read the article over his shoulder. When they finished Lex leaned back against Clark. "I hate how she's orchestrating our lives," Lex griped.

"If it wasn't for me -" Clark began, but Lex cut him off.

"Do not even start! This may not have happened the way we might have planned if we knew there was a possibility, but that doesn't discount what we have now."

"Lex," Clark pulled Lex a bit to one side so he could kiss him tenderly. Pulling away, he rested his forehead against Lex's. "What are we going to do?"

"Fight fire with fire, I suppose," Lex mused more to himself than to answer Clark.

"Lex? Are you going to buy a newspaper and have someone write stories about Lois?" Clark asked in confusion.

"Clark didn't you say that Chloe felt badly about getting us into this situation by telling Lois what happened?" Lex asked trying to get Clark to see the picture.

"Yeah, but what's that got to do with this? If you want her to ask Lois to back off, I don't think it will work." Clark pouted.

Lex lost his train of thought for a second as his mind replayed what those lips could do. "What? Oh, no, but what say we make Chloe's career?"

Clark stared at Lex for a moment and Lex felt like he was watching Clark's mind engage. "OH! You want Chloe to do an article on us telling our side of the story?"

"Exactly," Lex kissed Clark as a reward.

Clark smiled for a second before it reverted to a pout. "But if people find out that this wasn't our idea and that we really won't have to be together -"

Lex put a finger over Clark's lips. "Shh, Clark, look at me." Lex waited until he was sure he had Clark's full attention. "I want us to be together. We can tell the whole story, sure, but only if she connects it to how it brought out what we didn't know we already had."

"I want us to be together too." Clark whispered then kissed Lex again, trying to ease him backwards.

Lex chuckled. "Let a guy catch his breath, Clark." Seeing the pout was about to return, Lex kissed him and whispered, "I won't forget whose turn it is."

Clark reluctantly let Lex go. Lex kissed him once more then grabbed the phone setting things into motion. Clark watched silently for a bit as Lex made the arrangements. But he soon grew tired of it, got dressed and wandered over to a window that overlooked the grounds. In some ways, he was glad it would be Chloe doing the interview. In other ways, not so much; after all how would Chloe react to know it was a real relationship? Chloe hadn't actually apologized to him, but he'd known her long enough to recognize the signs of guilt and remorse. Or was he wrong? Was it genuine? He'd been known to read things wrong before, especially when it came to women. It was Lex that was really good at figuring out how the female mind worked. Clark wondered if Kryptonian women were just as hard to figure out.

Arms wrapped around his waist from behind cutting off his thoughts. "Hey, something is bothering you and for once it's not how I feel about us. What is it? Did I overstep my bounds by coming up with this solution?"

Clark turned and put his head on Lex's shoulder. "No, it's not that. I guess I'm just anxious."

"That's to be expected, but I've made sure that I get the final approval before the copy goes to press. Even if it's just the college paper, I'll make sure it gets picked up by all the major newspapers. Lois will look like she doesn't have a clue -"

"Oh, man, I didn't even think about that. Is it really right to pit cousin against cousin?" Clark bit his lip. He was fairly sure his parents would not approve.

Lex sighed. "Clark we've just given Chloe the golden opportunity to make amends. She's over the moon about it."

"Really? She's not mad?" Clark asked with concern.

"Clark, what's this all about? You didn't seem upset when I suggested the idea." Lex searched Clark's face for some clue.

"I don't know. This whole thing has just got me so confused. First we are pretending and then we aren't. There are too many lies." Clark shrugged.

"We can come as clean as you like Clark, but I really think it's best to focus on what we have now. Don't you?" Lex inquired.

"Does the end justify the means?" Clark whispered.

Lex leaned back, his hands sliding down to Clark's hands. "This is your parents talking, Clark. Not everything goes according to plan. We might have been forced into this, but we," he gestured between them with one hand before reclaiming Clark's lone hand, "came out of it. We are the one good thing. Doesn't that count for something?"

A slow smile spread over Clark's face and he nodded. "I'm sorry I keep having all these issues. This is just so…"

"…important for both of us?" Lex finished.

Clark nodded with a smile. "You are important to me, Lex. I keep thinking I'm going to mess this up somehow."

"You aren't the only one. Remember I asked you to marry me in the shower? Now come on we have an interview to get ready for," Lex chastised and began to coach Clark on some pointers. By the time Chloe showed up, they were ready.

Chapter 19

Chloe had just been shown the main living room on the first floor of the Luthor castle when her cell phone went off. Checking the Caller ID, she groaned at seeing it was Lois. Reluctantly, she flipped open the phone. "Hi, Lois."

"Don't you 'hi' Lois me! What do you think you're doing? This is my story, not yours. You know damn well I'm running that series in the Daily Planet. What do you think you are doing at Castle Luthor?" Lois yelled so loudly into the phone that Chloe pulled it away from the phone, shook her head, rolled her eyes and gingerly put the phone back against her head.

"I know you are rolling your eyes at me, Chloe Sullivan! Whatever happened to journalistic integrity?" Lois screamed indignantly.

"They deserve the chance to tell their side of the story Lo'." Chloe interrupted quickly before Lois got a full head of steam going. "Everything you have written so far is nothing but second hand drivel and you know it! How is that journalistic integrity?"

Clark and Lex walked in and Clark gave Chloe a sympathetic look before sitting down on the couch. Lex went around to the wet bar, grabbed Clark a bottle of water, tossed it to him, made a drink for Chloe, handed it to her before sitting down with his own bottle of water. Chloe slugged back the sweet fruity drink gratefully.

"It's just wrong, Chloe, and you know it! The people deserve to see this fraud for what it is!" Lois ranted.

"Oh, please, you're just mad because this takes Clark out of your claws. Besides how can you not see that they are SO meant to be together? Ever since they met there's been this chemistry between them. You've just been too blind to see it!" Chloe yelled back tired of her cousin's pathetic excuses.

Clark ducked his head with a smile as Lex wrapped his fingers around Clark's.

"WHAT? What the hell do you mean out of my claws? Are you insinuating that I could ever want Smallville?" Lois growled.

"Oh, you so want him, Lois. There's probably a little shrine in your heart painting you as the next Mrs. Kent," Chloe said with a smirk on her face. Lois gasped in outrage. "Yup, you are jealous, j-e-a-l-o-u-s because Lex grabbed him first! And it's tearing you up that Clark proposed to Lex and not you."

"I'm not jealous, but how do you know this isn't some Luthor scheme to take -"

"-to take Clark away from you? Oh, man you really do have it bad, don't you?" Chloe laughed.

"How do you know he's not keeping Clark locked up in the dungeon of that place? Maybe he's made some mind altering drug in one of the Cadmus labs!" Chloe rolled her eyes then glanced over at the couple who were whispering to each other, seconds away from starting a kissing session. Sparks flew around them from all the chemistry between the two. Chloe shifted in her pant suit trying not to think of how hot they looked together.

"I'm looking at Clark right now and let me tell you, Lois, if he's been in a dungeon I want to reserve a room! I've never seen him look happier." Clark blushed and Lex leaned his forehead against Clark's and began to run his fingers through his hair. Chloe's eyes began to glaze over, "Lucky him!"

"What? What are you talking about, Chloe Sullivan? What's going on? I demand to know!" Chloe just barely held in her laughter knowing the signs of a full out Lois temper tantrum in the making.

Clark and Lex picked that moment to completely ignore Chloe's existence and started to slowly kiss. "Oh, wow."

"WOW? Wow, what! CHLOE!" Lois was hopping mad. "OOHHHH, you had better tell me what is going on right now, or I swear I'll -"

"Oh, hold your horses!" Chloe smiled pulled the phone away from her ear and took a snapshot of the kissing couple, who by this point were in a full French kiss easily discernable by the way they seemed to be devouring each other. She sighed as she looked at the perfect picture then hit send. With a smirk, she returned to Lois on the phone. "There, does that convince you that he's not in a dungeon, under mind control or -"

"He's drugged! Luthor put something in the water!" Lois yelled excitedly. "You'll see, Clark will come out of it and drop Luthor like the viper he is!" Lois finished triumphantly.

Chloe rolled her eyes again. "Lois, get a life." And with that Chloe cut off the connection, but quickly saved the picture to be her permanent screen for the phone. She sat down and watched enviously as the kiss drew to a gentle parting of the lips before Lex gently rubbed his thumb over Clark's lips and turned to once again recognize Chloe's presence.

Clark blushed. "Sorry about that, Chloe."

"Don't you dare be sorry, Clark Kent!" Chloe scolded. "That was the best floor show I've ever seen. And I got a picture too!" She held up her camera. Lex smiled as he leaned forward to see it.

"Please send a copy of that to me," Lex requested before settling back into the couch.

Clark nodded in agreement, despite his blush and then cleared his throat. "So what's up with Lois?"

Shaking her head, Chloe sank gratefully into an offer stuffed armchair. "She's freaking out. She's made up these wild theories -even for her! Lois thinks that you're being drugged, held in dungeons, under mind control… you name it and she's thought of it. She's really working for the wrong paper. The gossip rags would be more her style. Maybe they could find her a nice UFO alien story next."

Clark choked on his water, spitting a mouthful out. Lex blinked then started to pound Clark's back. "Hey, you okay, Clark?"

"Wrong pipe," Clark gasped, ignoring the sense of fear in his stomach. Recovering, he looked up at Chloe who had a funny smile on his face. "Has she been studying your Wall of Weird?" he asked to divert Chloe's attention.

"You were kidding? She is the Wall of Weird!" Chloe laughed. "How many people nickname someone for an entire town? That should have been like our first clue for the clue bus to Weirdo land!"

Chapter 20

Lex laughed and Clark calmed down enough to join in while trying to remember that Chloe was simply using a common turn of phrase and nothing more. "Well," Lex began when they'd all relaxed, "What questions do you have for Clark and me?"

Chloe smiled and turned on her tape recorder placing it on the ornate, modern art, stained glass coffee table between them. She took out a notepad and settled in with pen in hand. "Just for the record, how long have you two known each other?"

"Since Clark saved my life." Lex smiled at Clark. "As you recall, I drove my Porsche off the side of the bridge here in town. For one horrible moment, I thought I'd killed Clark in the process, but then I was rescued by him. I was rather stunned to find out how young Clark was later on, but we became good friends, as you well know."

Chloe nodded. "But after Clark graduated from Smallville High you still managed to stay friends."

"Yes, Lex moved his base of operations from Smallville to Metropolis, yet we stayed in touch," Clark offered.

"I think by now everyone knows this started as a prank. But was there a time, Clark, in which you knew you had more than friendly feelings toward Lex?" Chloe asked with a smirk.

"Um," Clark looked down shyly. "I don't know really." Chloe huffed in a way that clearly said what she thought of that pat reply.

"It's okay Clark, whatever you have to say I'm not going to hold it against you," Lex offered with a whisper.

"When he didn't reply," Clark muttered.

Chloe frowned in confusion. "I'm sorry Clark. When he didn't reply to what?"

Clark gulped audibly. "When I asked him to marry me, I was first wishing that he'd say 'no' and everyone would leave me alone - well, us alone. I was so embarrassed; I was ready to die on the spot, after I killed Pete, of course. But then you didn't answer right away," Clark shifted turning his attention solely on Lex, "and something… I don't know how to explain it." Clark shrugged.

Lex looked ashamed. "Oh, Clark, and I laughed at you. I had no idea…" Lex trailed off brushing his hand alongside Clark's face. "I'm so sorry, baby."

"Baby?" Clark half-laughed, half-scowled as he sought to control his emotions.

"Don't like it?" Lex smirked.

"We'll have to discuss it later, sweetums," Clark grinned a very toothy smile, suddenly looking like a hungry shark. Lex merely laughed and took a swig of his water. They turned back to Chloe who was beaming at them.

"Do you guys have any idea how cute you are?" She gushed at them with a sigh and pulled herself back together, looking at her notes. "Oh, right. So is it true that you hired an acting coach and were only planning on going along with this up to a certain point?" She glared at Lex, as if it was his entire fault.

Lex grimaced. "Yes, it is. When in two weeks time after the small interview with Miss Chance I realized we had to do something. I suggested either a long engagement or a quick wedding and divorce - well things along that line." Chloe nodded in understanding.

"That is, until we realized that we did care about each other." Clark grinned and nuzzled the side of Lex's face playfully.

"And when was that exactly? Can you describe the moment for me? Was it something that pushed you together? Or was it just a 'click'?" Chloe asked eagerly.

"Well, in order to understand the situation you need to realize the amount of pressure we were under. I was receiving letters from Gay Rights groups, polls had appeared in the newspaper and the proposal had gone national. We had to do something." Lex leaned forward to explain.

"It was my fault entirely. I felt so horrible and guilty. When Lex didn't talk to me for those first two weeks, I thought for sure that we'd never be friends again. It really was bad." Clark bit his lip as the memories flooded back.

"As you can tell he still feels guilty," Lex offered to Chloe before turning to look at Clark. "Things are different, Clark. Please, let it go." Clark nodded but looked down sadly. Lex sighed rubbing a hand over his scalp.

Then with a small smile, Lex said," I know exactly when I realized it, when Joshua touched your chest."

"Really?" Clark jerked his head up and lit up like a lighthouse. "You were jealous?"

"Green and we all know what a horrid color that is on me," Lex kidded. Chloe giggled and Clark snuggled into Lex's side. Lex put an arm around Clark and turned back to Chloe who was fast melting into mush watching the two men interact.

She shook her head and asked, "Who is Joshua?"

"The acting coach Lex hired to make it look more convincing when we announced the engagement. That's about the same time I got jealous of three piece suit guy."

"Who?" Chloe asked in confusion.

" A lunatic I had on my staff, it's lucky really that Clark sniffed him out. He was a total anti-gay nut job that I suspect…well, never mind. Needless to say, he's long gone." Lex's jaw clenched in anger and Chloe sensed it was time to move on to the next question.

"So did you both tell your parents before, or after things heated up?" Chloe asked with interest.

"We called them the day of the press conference." Clark sighed. "Dad wasn't too happy and Lex's dad was speechless."

Chloe giggled. "So did he demand a pre-nuptial contract?"

"Of course," Lex rolled his eyes. "And he can keep on waiting." Lex took Clark's free hand. "I love Clark and his parents know it too. We were at his house when that article in the bridal magazine came out. I'll never forgive them for how much they hurt Clark with that." Lex half growled.

Flipping through her notes Chloe cleared her throat. "Bear with me guys, but I have to ask how you respond to those allegations on a line-by-line basis. She began to read them off one-by-one.

1. He avoids you.

"A total lie. Lex calls me and works out his schedule around me whenever possible," Clark replied defensively, trying to curb his temper.

2. He won't spend time with you in public.

"Not true, we just haven't had a lot of time for that yet since we are trying to spend time together," Clark answered.

Lex smiled. "We need to work on it though."

3. His work comes first.

Lex frowned at this. "I admit I am a workaholic, but LexCorp wouldn't be what it is today if I wasn't. I've always tried to be fair to my employees and give them time to be with their families. Since I've never really had a family situation to put first, this is a new experience for me. I'm trying."

4. He doesn't set a date.

"Well," Lex shrugged, "We hadn't gotten to talk about it yet. Do you have any special date in mind, Clark?"

"Halloween?" Clark grinned.

Lex blinked as Chloe groaned, "Why Halloween?"

"So we can have a costume wedding." Clark grinned.

"Please," Chloe groaned. "Those are so passé."

"Peanut gallery says 'no'," Lex noted in relief. He didn't relish what few costumes would be available for a bald man.

"Summer is too hot." Clark made a face.

"We do have the resources to have it anywhere in the world too," Lex reminded Clark.

"I don't think my parents will appreciate you forcing them to jet halfway across the world," Clark reminded Lex.

"How about a country that…" Clark made a face and Lex gave it up. "Okay, so spring, fall or winter."

"Spring is a long way off." Chloe bit the top of her pen.

"My parents were married in October and it worked for them," Clark muttered playing with the end of his shirt.

"Do you have any time off from school around then Clark? I would like to go on a honeymoon." Lex smiled, "Your choice of destination."

"I get off around December 16th for the holidays," Clark mused.

"How does that weekend sound?" Lex offered.

Clark grinned looking over Lex's shoulder at the PDA he'd whipped out. "Saturday is the 18th and Sunday is the 19th."

"Okay that weekend. And I'll check with the governor, to see if there's someone in particular we have to use or if we can chose someone of our own to officiate." Lex made a note in his organizer.

"Cool, you better invite me or else." Chloe growled teasingly, but the smile on her face ruined the effect.

5. He refuses to discuss details for the wedding.

"I don't think it will be up to us." Clark blushed. "Mom will insist on planning everything."

Lex gulped. "I'll lend her a few people." Chloe laughed. She looked down at her pad.

6. His calendar is always full.

"Well, duh, hello writers of magazine - he is Lex Luthor." Chloe rolled her eyes. Lex looked sheepish.

"Lex might be busy, but he always makes time for me," Clark amended smiling lovingly at Lex.

Chloe looked back down.

7. His co-workers see him more than you do.

"More like my higher-ups do, but as I said before, I'll work on it," Lex grumbled. Chloe grinned devilishly when she saw the next one and leaned over to look at their hands pointedly.

8. He doesn't buy you an engagement ring.

"Oops," Lex made a face.

"It's okay Lex you don't -" Clark began.

"No, Clark. We'll go into town after the interview. Besides, that way everyone in Smallville can know within the hour that it's official." Clark laughed. Chloe made a pouting face. Lex chuckled. "Yes Miss Sullivan, you can come along. Just let us pick them out?" Chloe nodded eagerly, and then returned to look at her list.

9. He stalls in asking/answering.

"I think we covered that." Chloe scratched it off the list and looked to the last one.

10. He tries to placate you with gifts.

She looked meaningfully at the designer clothes that Clark was currently wearing. Clark blushed. Lex sighed. "People connect us now. I couldn't have him continue to go around in nothing but flannel, jeans and barn boots. Besides, you have to admit he looks much better."

"Meow," Chloe teased.

"Stop it!" Clark batted at Chloe. Next, he shoved Lex playfully. "Stop talking about me as if I'm not here! It's bad enough everyone at school teased me about you being my-" Clark covered his mouth.

Lex's nostrils flared angrily. "Clark?"

"Uh oh." Chloe began to gather up her stuff. "Look at the time. We should really get going if we want to get to the store before it closes."

Chapter 21

Lex was silent on the ride into town. Clark kept trying to think of what to say. He was glad that Chloe had opted to follow in her car. She'd be poking him in the side to say something if she were riding with them. Feeling the nudge to his ribs as if she was there, he finally blurted out, "Are you mad at me?"

Clark heard the leather of Lex's driving gloves creak as he tightened his grip on the steering wheel imperceptibly. "No, Clark, I'm not."

"Funny, you sure seem to be acting like it, and the way you just said that..." Clark wasn't sure how to put it into words, so he trailed off.

Lex's nostril's flared again. "Is there something between you and Chloe I should be aware of? Does there need to be a backdoor to the marriage so you can spend time together? Because if that's the case, then I clearly understand that -"

"What? No! Lex, it's nothing like that, I swear. I mean we tried back in high school, but it never worked out." Lex shifted. "There is nothing between us more than friendship right now."

"Is she as good a friend as Pete Ross is Clark?" Lex snapped out angrily.

Clark gulped. "What do you mean?"

"You know exactly what I mean Clark." Lex shifted again and Clark noticed that the angrier Lex got, the faster they went.

"Um, Lex you're going to get a speeding ticket," Clark admonished stalling for time.

"Do you really think I care about a fucking speeding ticket, Clark? Does she or does she not know about you?" Lex yelled.

"I didn't tell her, but she saw -"

"FUCK CLARK! HOW MANY FUCKING PEOPLE KNOW EXACTLY?" Clark felt and heard the engine racing.

"Lex, please, try to calm down," Clark said in his best calming tone, "As far as I know just you, Pete, Chloe and my parents."

"Why does this get more involved every time we talk about this, Clark?" Lex challenged. "How many things are you still keeping from me?"

"I…I love you, Lex," Clark whispered.

Lex laughed. "You'll excuse me, if I find that you suddenly wanting to say that on the words of my discovery of your lies is a bit damning. If you'd said that at another time I would have believed you, but it's just a bit too convenient wouldn't you say, Clark?" Suddenly, Lex downshifted and pulled them over to the side of the road spraying rocks everywhere, including into the cornfields that banked each side of the road.

Clark turned to face Lex. "Try to understand, Lex. I never meant for any of this to happen."

"Do you have any idea how many times you've said that to me?" Lex looked at Clark in sheer disbelief. "I'm starting to feel a sympathetic bond with Lana at this point. Do you always yank around every person who cares about you like this?" Clark opened his mouth to speak, but Lex raised his hand, so he shut it again. "I'm trying to understand, Clark, I really am, but how is it that you want one hundred percent honesty from everyone around you, but you have secret after secret? How am I supposed to trust you?"

Clark looked out the window. In the side view mirror he could see that Chloe had finally caught up to them and was pulling over. He was feeling sick with guilt and now embarrassment was compounding it. Lex saw where he was looking at and ripped open his door. Stepping out quickly, he started to march purposefully to Chloe's car. There was a sudden breeze and Clark was standing in front of him.

"Lex, please... I never meant to hurt you. Chloe would never tell anyone, so I didn't think it was important. Besides the way you freaked out over Pete-"

"Clark? Lex, is everything okay?" Chloe had gotten out of her car and was walking toward them with concern on her face.

Lex sidestepped Clark neatly. "As a matter of fact it's not; I was just made aware that you know about Clark's not-so-little-secret. I just wondered… has he made your Wall of Weird? Or are you saving him to jet propel your journalism career? Maybe you plan on using this as blackmail when you get older? Let's cut to the chase, shall we?" Lex whipped out his wallet.

"God, Lex! What the hell are you doing?" Clark gasped.

Lex glared at Clark. "Don't you get it, Clark? Do you have any fucking clue how much this secret is worth?" He turned back to Chloe who had tears brimming in her eyes. "You can cut the innocent act, Miss Sullivan. I don't buy it. I've met your kind before -"

"STOP IT!" Clark shouted, pulling Chloe into his arms and wiping away her tears. "You okay?" Chloe nodded, but didn't say anything as the tears rolled down her cheeks. "Get back in the car Chloe. This is between the two of us."

"Right, Clark. Just the two of us! You keep telling yourself that. They must count funny on your planet because at my last count at least five people know by Earth standards. That is if I know about them all."

"Why are you being such a jerk, Lex?" Clark growled.

Lex put his wallet away and folded his arms over his chest. "Guess, Clark, I'll let you know if you are even remotely close."

"This isn't some kind of game. You're not being remotely funny -" Clark snapped.

"Ding! Ding! Ding!" Lex yelled. "Give the alien farm boy a prize!" He got right up in Clark's face. "No, Clark, it's not funny. It's not a game and each time someone finds out, you put yourself in danger and them as well. I've got a lot of money to buy people off, but if you keep doing this at some point even I won't be able to buy them off anymore!"

"He's right, Clark," Chloe said meekly. And they both turned to her in surprise, each having forgotten she hadn't gotten back in her car yet.

"Well, thank you! Somebody is listening to me at least!" Lex yelled, throwing his hands up in the air.

"I never meant to find out. Clark didn't tell me. Someone else set him up," Chloe explained. "But they're out of the picture now."

Lex moaned. "I think this would be a better secret if we put you on display in Roswell." He took a few steps back toward his car then walked back again, pacing back and forth.

"I'm sorry, Clark. I didn't realize…" She shook her head.

"It's okay, Chloe. I should have told Lex right away. It's my fault. And yes, he knows about Pete." Clark sighed. They both watched Lex pace back and forth.

He finally stopped in front of Clark. "Just tell me why I'm so upset, Clark."

Biting his lip Clark looked down and kicked at the road. "Because so many people know and I have put myself and them in danger."

"Okay, so you were listening. But why else?" Lex asked in a softer voice.

"Because it's going to cost you a fortune to shut them up," Clark answered.

"And?" Lex prodded.

"…Because I'm giving you an ulcer?" Clark sighed, kicking some more stones.

"Clark," Chloe hissed. Clark looked up and she looked at Lex with her eyes indicating Clark should look too. He did and what he saw surprised him. Then he understood.

"Because you love me and you don't want to see me get hurt or the people I care about," Clark whispered in awe.

"Yes, Clark, I love you. Even when I'm this pissed off at you for being so careless and reckless - I love you. If you feel the same way, then please show it by being more careful?" Lex grabbed Clark's face and pulled him into a hot, possessive kiss branding on him the importance of the situation.

"Whoa!" Chloe grinned.

They parted and stood forehead to forehead. "You're right, Lex. I've got to be more careful for myself, others and especially you. I really do love you."

"Aww." Chloe sighed.

Lex shook his head and then looked at Chloe. "I'm sorry I came down on you so hard, but I -"

Chloe held up her hand. "Yeah, I get it." She looked down at her watch. "We're losing all that time you made on the road. The store will be closing soon. That is if you two lovebirds still intend on getting a ring today."

"Lex?" Clark asked nervously.

Leaning in one last time, Lex gently kissed Clark and pulled away with a smirk. "Idiot. Get back in the car." Clark smiled, looked at Chloe who was smiling too and they all took off for their respective vehicles quickly.

Chapter 22

They made it to the jewelry store in record time. Clark was flush with excitement and Lex tried to hold back his reservations over being rushed for time and not using a store like Tiffany's. Chloe bounced inside the store eagerly. Lex reminded himself forcibly that Smallville would soon know he was serious about Clark. He almost laughed out loud as they stepped in to the store. Clark looked about as comfortable as a bull in a china shop. His hands were shoved deeply into his pockets. The look he was giving Chloe clearly said that she was the one from outer space - not him. She was bouncing excitedly from case-to-case.

Lex closed the gap between him and Clark. "Are you okay?"

"Uh yeah, I just don't want to break anything," Clark admitted, looking around nervously. Lex smirked.

"Its okay, Clark, I assure you, I can afford glass cases." Lex teased. Pushing at the small of Clark's back, he forced him over to a counter.

A man around the twice the age of Jonathan Kent looked at them with interest. "How are you, Clark?"

"Oh, um. Hi Mr. Glover, I'm okay. How…how are you?" Clark stuttered.

Mr. Glover looked at Lex with some suspicion and put a fake smile on his face. "Mr. Luthor, how can I help you?"

Lex bit back the urge to leave the store. "Oh, for Christ's sake Joel, get out of the way," A smiling brunette woman with silver hair pushed him roughly aside. "Just ignore him. He's horrible that way. I think I know why you're here!" she beamed excitedly and suddenly it was as if Chloe had been cloned. "Right this way," she led them over to another case and reaching down, took out a tray of rings. Joel grunted and disappeared through a curtain leading to the back room.

Chloe squealed with delight looking at the rings. Clark blushed, leaning further into Lex's arm. Seeing that Mr. Glover had left, Clark shyly put his arm around Lex's waist. Lex smiled at him. The woman beamed. "I'm Kate, by the way, Mr. Luthor. Katie is what folks around here call me. The engagement rings are on the left and the actual wedding rings are on the right. Clark, I think you'll take about a size 12?" Clark shrugged. Lex ignored how endearing it was and tried to focus on the rings, while Katie took out a cheap, plastic ring-sizer. Chloe was looking eagerly at Lex, waiting for him to pick up a ring.

Lex stayed away from the rings with the rainbows on them. They were a bit over the top. Keeping in mind his Scottish background, he found himself drawn to the Celtic knot work rings. "Clark, do you prefer gold or platinum?"

Clark looked nervously over them all. Some of the ring prices made his breath stop. Panic filled him. Pointing out the clearance section hopefully, he was met with a look of disdain by Lex. "You'll be looking at this ring for a long time, Clark. So will the rest of the world. What do you think of these?" Lex pointed toward the Celtic rings that had diamond accents. "Titanium is the most durable of the metals." Lex looked pointedly at Clark.

Nodding in understanding, Clark pointed out two from the titanium area he liked and one from the titanium and white gold. Lex nodded in approval at the plain yet classy pair, as Chloe 'oohed' and 'ahhed'. Lex whipped out a credit card and paid for a pair on the spot. Clark felt worry overcome him again when he saw that they totaled over $12,000.

Lex, however, didn't even blink. Actually, he seemed rather pleased by the purchase. He considered getting an engraved cock ring for Clark, that would have to be special ordered just to get the goat of the guy in the back, but thought better of it. After all, it wouldn't do to infuriate the indigenous population, even if they did deserve to be buried in a shallow grave.

Chloe busied herself taking pictures of their rings, and making notes on it. Clark, however, was feeling increasingly bad about putting Lex through this and -"

"Hey," Lex took his hand as they sat in the car. "Stop it, Clark. I know what you're doing. You'll notice no one was in their holding a gun to my head."

Lex picked up the hand that now had a ring on it and kissed it, as he would any woman. He allowed himself the sentimental gesture to reassure Clark. "How many times a day do I need to tell you that love you for it to get through that super-thick skull of yours?"

Suddenly Clark wanted nothing more than to christen the car by having wild sex in it. The look must have shown in his eyes. "Clark," Lex said in a breathy, low tone. In the space of a heartbeat they were on each other like hungry wolves. Their kisses were hot, heated and brutal in their intensity.

"Hey guys, I'm just going to …whoa!" Chloe exclaimed with her head at the window. "Hey guys, get a room, you're starting to steam up the windows!"

Lex turned distractedly toward the window. "Oh, Chloe, yes I trust you have all you need for your story then?" Clark was still ravishing his neck making it rather hard to concentrate.

"Uh yeah, unless you want to go back to what you were doing and let me take a candid shot?" She raised her camera hopefully. Clark neatly covered the camera with one large hand.

"Goodnight, Chloe," he said firmly.

Lex bit back a moan as Clark leaned in closely to reach over.

"Oh fine, be that way," Chloe pouted, then broke into a wide grin. "I'll get it some other time! See ya!" She sauntered off happily toward her car.

Clark looked hungrily at Lex. "Can we go back home now?"

"Shit, yes," Lex felt his cock twitch at the mere thought. He shifted quickly into gear and left the store parking lot in a hurry.

Chapter 23

Clark laughed as Lex sped the car through the back roads to the castle. He threw his head back with the windows down, to catch the air as they tore down one road after another. Part of him was nervous, but he was too happy to let it get to him as the idea that Lex really wasn't being forced into this finally settled in. Lex looked over at Clark's happy, relaxed pose. "It finally sank in, didn't it?"

Grinning happily, Clark said, "Yes, Lex." The grin turned positively evil as he remarked, "Doesn't this car go any faster?"

Lex laughed and soon they were pulling into the garage under the castle. Clark jumped out and was holding the door for Lex before the engine had been shut off, "Eager much?"

Clark shrugged and tossed Lex over his shoulder in a very undignified fireman's carry, then walked into the castle. Lex was laughing at his show of caveman ability, but stopped when Clark nearly dropped him by the office. Much to Lex's surprise, Clark put him gently on his feet. He followed his eyes to see where Clark was looking and closed them in dread before opening them once more. "Hello, Victoria."

Victoria Hartwick, heir of Hartwick Industries smiled at them both in amusement. "Lex, darling, aren't you going to introduce me to your little playmate?" Her eyes narrowed. "My, my, if it isn't Mr. Kent? I should have recognized that rather…earthy scent of yours."

"What are you doing here, Victoria?" Lex snapped, irritated beyond measure that the woman was not only there ruining their night completely, but also looking so completely relaxed.

"Oh, didn't Lionel tell you?" She licked her lips. Lex rolled his eyes. Clark practically growled.

"Lionel and I no longer speak. You are not welcome here, Victoria. You can see your way out," Lex spat grabbing Clark by the hand to resume their trek toward the stairs.

"Lexy, is that any way to talk to your stepmother-to-be?" she purred. Lex stopped so suddenly that Clark plowed into his back and had to grab him to prevent them both from falling.

Storming back to the office, Lex glared at Victoria. "How much did he pay you to accept? I'll double it if you disappear off the face of the earth."

Victoria laughed in a highly amused tone. "Don't be silly, I could have a lifetime of being a Luthor! We could make it a double wedding that is, if you are still going through with marrying this low-rate rent boy."

Clark was at his side once more. Out of the corner of his eye, Lex could see him shaking with rage. "Cool off Clark, get a drink," Lex whispered.

Lex saw Clark trying to rein in his temper while heading off to the drink bar.

Victoria smiled maliciously, applying a fresh coat of lipstick on while looking in a small sterling silver compact. "Well, at least, you know enough to keep him on a short leash."

Immediately, Lex's eyes sought out Clark's, but the normal calm was gone. Clark went to speak but instead of words that were sure to make matters worse, a white cloud of sheer cold came out of his mouth, freezing the two blue bottles of water in his hand. Panicked eyes now met Lex's over the bar.

"You fucking tasteless, bitch. Clark is worth a world of you and then some. It's a shame we don't live in Ancient Sparta as I'm sure there would have been a mountainside we could have left you out to die on as a baby."

Victoria snapped the compact shut with a glare. "Wait until your father -" she began, but Lex cut her off with a high maniacal laugh.

"I've been waiting a long time to use this, Victoria." Lex shook his head. "Let this slip into your brain. Lionel Luthor in full color pictures fucking a sheep." Victoria gasped. "Wait, it gets better. I have pictures of you too, Victoria. Perhaps you'll remember your pet German Shepherd?"

"You beast!" She screeched.

Lex looked casually at his watch. "I think it's past time that you left, Victoria. Tell Father that either both of you stay out of my life, effective and immediately, or I'll dig out worse. After all, I am my father's son and he always taught me to have several back up plans."

Victoria looked pale. Then she suddenly switched tactics and sashayed over to close the distance between them. "Lexy, baby, do you remember how good it -"

"Actually, Victoria, I don't! You may have me mixed up with one of your many escort services. Now get out, before I have security escort you out." Lex walked by her as if she didn't exist. He strode purposefully to his desk and called security. His vision now encompassed Clark, who was obviously hiding the affected bottles behind the bar.

As security arrived, Victoria tried to act calm, while trying to make some sense of how badly she had lost control. "Goodbye, Miss Hartwick," Lex half spat. "Escort her off grounds and take her off the visitors list."

"Yes, sir." the security guard nodded and slipped his large, beefy hand around Victoria's elbow. She shrugged it off, stuck her nose in the air and stormed out of the room.

Lex let out a long sigh of relief when she was gone and leaned on his glass topped table with his fists. He closed his eyes. "Clark, tell me I did not see you freeze those bottles."

"Um, sort of?" Clark replied nervously.

"Is that like being sort of pregnant?" Lex chuckled. He opened up his eyes and sat down beckoning for Clark to come over and bring the bottles with him. "Damn. Is this something that will pass? I take it, this is new?"

Clark bit his lip. "I love you?"

Lex grinned. "I love you too, Clark, but sometimes I wish you' have come with a manual."

"Well, actually, I sort of did…" Clark stared down at his feet.

"Now you tell me! May I read it?" Lex asked in exasperation.

"It's more of a show and tell sort of thing." Clark shrugged.

"Clark, please -" Lex rubbed at his temple.

Clark opened the slightly melted bottle of water and handed it to Lex who rubbed it back and forth over his forehead trying to stave off a headache. "I'd have to take you there."

"Is this at the caves?" Lex asked hopefully.

"Well, the caves are sort of like a branch office." Clark hedged.

Lex snapped. "Clark!"

"Sorry, Lex. I have a solid ice Fortress of Solitude up north and my mother, Lara-El, is the AI there. Whatever answers Jor-El can't give me, she can," Clark explained in a rush. "But we don't have to fly there. We can go to the caves and use the short cut there."

"Right, of course." Lex moaned. "Clark, can we just get something to eat, maybe some sleep and tackle this in the morning?"

Clark pouted after noticing that Lex hadn't mentioned sex at all, but nodded…grudgingly.

Chapter 24

Lex called down to the kitchen to have something brought up to his room, deciding if he was that much closer to bed, he might have a chance at sleep before the rest of the sky fell down. Clark followed like a puppy that had been kicked, head down, very quiet and looking out of the corner of his eyes for some sort of forgiveness. Lex decided to ignore him temporarily. He excused himself and checked his emails. In truth, he needed to calm down.

Clark used the time to look around a bit. He'd never been in Lex's bedroom before. It was as luxurious as he'd always expected, but it had an unspoken masculine edge to it. There were wall hangings, in keeping with the time period of the castle, all in earth hues. The bed was a large four-poster, with what looked like a pile of actual fur blankets on a trunk at the end. Black and plum bedding, which appeared to be silk, draped over the bed, pooling on each side of the plush area carpet of white. A standing wardrobe, book shelf and a desk, that looked to be a priceless antique, finished the scene. Clark was amused to see Lex duck out of the room through moving a wall hanging aside to see a large modern bathroom and another room that was filled with racks of clothing.

Off to the other side of the room, there appeared to be a sitting room and even a room beyond that. Clark rolled his eyes at how silly all this seemed in the middle of cornfields in Kansas. But Lionel Luthor was nothing if not ostentatious. He was drawn to a picture on the night table, on the left hand side of the bed. Clark walked over and picked it up.

The cook and another servant arrived and placed the platters of food down on a table Clark hadn't taken note of in the side chamber. He thanked them and then turned his attention back to the photo. A small boy with red hair was smiling brightly, sitting on a woman's lap. She appeared to be reading to him. Her hair was the same shade of red and she was the picture of domestic happiness.

"That's my mother and I, when I was only four. Of course, I could read by then. But she liked to indulge me," came a soft voice from behind Clark.

"She's beautiful," Clark said in a hushed tone of awe.

"Yes, she was thank you." Lex took the photo gently from Clark's large hands and placed it reverently back on the marble topped table. "I see our food has arrived. You must be starved." Clark's stomach growled loudly in reply and Lex smiled a bit. "It's bound to be better than what they serve at college."

They walked over and sat down to a meal of roast beef, gravy, stuffing and an assortment of vegetables. Lex smirked. "It seems you've won over the heart of my cook, Clark. I haven't eaten this well in some time." Clark blushed but didn't reply. They ate in silence for a bit, and then Lex sat back. "Do all your powers suddenly come on line like that, without warning?"

"Pretty much," Clark admitted. "Most of them appeared during high school, though. Truthfully, I thought I was done."

"So, they came with puberty?" Lex asked, but was already nodding, as if answering his own question. "That explains those random absences you had from school. That must have been pretty rough on you."

"Understatement of the year," Clark agreed. "I never knew when or how something might happen. It scared me half to death the morning I woke up and found myself floating above my bed."

"Is that likely to happen tonight?" Lex asked with a mischievous grin.

Clark almost leapt with excitement. "I don't know. Am I likely to be sleeping in the same room with you, so you could let me know if I do?"

"I think that's very likely. That is, if it's okay with you?" A teasing smile lit up Lex's face as he asked.

In reply, he suddenly had a lap full of happy, horny alien. "Yes," Clark breathed out, then captured Lex's lips in a passionate kiss. As Lex realized that Clark brought a whole new meaning to phrases like 'capture the moment' and 'only a heartbeat away', he slowly responded to the kiss. He opened his mouth to Clark's questing tongue, letting it investigate his mouth completely, before following its velvet warmth back into Clark's mouth.

They kissed back and forth in this manner for several minutes before Lex pulled back. "I think it's time to get ready for bed, don't you?" Clark nodded like an eager puppy. Lex basked in the sense of power and pride that it gave him. Clark dashed into the bathroom to get ready and Lex called for the dinner to be taken away, while issuing orders that they were not to be disturbed.

The servant did not seem surprised. She did, however, summon her helper to assist her with the dishes. Lex valiantly ignored their giggling as they walked away down the hall. He dimmed the lights to the room and put some very soft music on in the background while he waited for Clark. It didn't take long.

Lex heard the shower water shut off and Clark exited the bathroom soon after. "Mmm," He moaned deep in his throat, as he watched droplets of water trail down Clark's chest. Lex walked over to the bed, very slowly, carefully taking off his clothes in what he knew to be a seductive manner. Slipping the shirt off his shoulders he began to take off his trousers after slipping out of his Italian loafers. Clark was suddenly at his feet, kneeling before him. "Hmm, now, where have I seen this before?" Lex teased.

Clark put his hands on his belt. "Let me."

Lex nodded, putting a hand in Clark's mink-like hair for balance, as Clark gently helped him out of the remainder of his clothes.

Chapter 25

When he was naked, Clark licked a trail from his ankle up his shin, over his knee, up his thigh. He looked eagerly at Lex's throbbing cock. His eyes met Lex's as if asking for permission. "Do you want to suck my cock, Clark?" Lex purred feeling the burn in his balls as he said the words from more than one wet dream.

"Yes." Clark's hot breath over his cock made Lex want to scream.

"Then do it," Lex whispered, watching Clark's mouth open and the tip of his cock cross over the incredibly soft lips into the liquid heat that lay beyond. When he felt Clark's tongue touch him, he closed his eyes and rolled his head back in pleasure, awash in sensation. Clark had perfect cocksucker lips, they were so soft. His tongue was like hot, wet velvet…The rhythm was perfectly in tune with the pounding of his heart.

Lex heard someone screaming and realized, as if in a fog, that it was him. It had to be, but he seemed to have no control over his own body. Blood was rushing to his cock, which was currently throbbing and weeping into Clark's mouth… the talented mouth that was now sucking him so deeply that his balls were wet from Clark's lips. Lex looked down at the glistening lips, the hollow of Clark's cheeks, the smile on Clark's face and shot harder than he thought possible. His hips jerked for ages, it seemed.

Once more his knees betrayed him. Again, Clark caught him before he fell, though he did manage not to pass out this time, saving the tattered shreds of his manly pride in regards to Clark's ability to give head. The room, though, seemed a bit… foggy around the edges for a bit. "Clark, fuck me," Lex whispered.

"Huh? But I thought that you…" Clark trailed off, confusion evident on his face.

"I think we will have to build up my resistance to your super blow jobs first." Lex cupped Clark's face in his hands. "I want to feel you inside me, Clark."

"Oh, god," Clark began to pant breathlessly, suddenly achingly hard. "I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't, just don't forget the lube." Lex pointed to the nightstand. Clark nodded, feeling dumb at not realizing this was soon fumbling inside the drawer for the lube. The drawer crashed to the ground but he managed to get the lube. He held it up proudly to Lex, who chuckled. "Good job, Clark."

With a look that reminded Lex of the fear Clark had the day they met, Clark's eyes met his. Lex opened his arms and he held Clark closely to him. They began to kiss again. Soon, the passionate fire that always smoldered between them was stoked high once more. Clark was grinding against him and Lex knew it was time. He took the tube from Clark and squeezed some onto his fingers. He spread his legs meaningfully, guiding Clark's hand to his hole. Clark leaned over to him again. When Lex was lost in the kiss, Clark breached his opening. The kiss continued until Lex was made ready for Clark.

Clark seemed more in control now as he slicked up his own cock. Lex thought this was a very good thing, since it probably meant that Clark was thinking about how he needed to keep his strength in check. He just hoped Clark wouldn't be too controlled, yet, when he saw Clark throw back his head when they became one, that thought was lost. All and any thoughts were lost.

It was just him and Clark. They were finally complete. The simplicity of it seemed to be in direct contrast to how much it meant. Clark must have felt it too, because he gathered Lex up in his arms, dragging him back to sit on his thighs so that Lex was now in control. He yelled loudly as the new angle meant that Clark was hitting his prostate with perfect precision. He held onto Clark's strong back, rubbed his hands over the perfectly shaped muscles of his upper arms. His legs clenched around muscular thighs. "Look at me, Lex," Clark pleaded and it was only then that Lex realized his eyes were closed. He opened them to look at Clark. "I'm fucking you, Lex. I'm inside you. I never want to be with anyone else but you…ever."

Lex whimpered with the verbal caress and physical stimulation. He was so close and Clark hadn't even touched him. "Yes, Clark, yes!"

Clark wrapped one warm, strong hand around his cock and Lex moaned at the softness of it. "This will only ever go in me…to fuck me…or fuck my mouth. Only me, Lex…swear it!" Clark emphasized his point by starting to fuck Lex hard. Sweat poured off the two of them, making their hands slip and slide around. The sounds of slapping flesh and smells of sex filled the room. "I love you, Lex."

Lex broke, screaming as his orgasm crashed over him, making him weak, boneless and complete. He was owned, marked and branded. As he screamed, Clark had almost bitten through the skin at his shoulder. Clark was still pounding into his ass relentlessly. Lex managed to pull himself closer to Clark's ear and whispered. "I'm yours forever, Clark. I love you."

"Oh, yes!" Clark shouted, climaxing hard. Then he began to ramble off in some strange tongue that Lex had never heard before he toppled sideways to the bed, taking Lex with him. Lex managed to pull away before he was squished by one sated, super-solid alien lover. Clark was panting, his chest heaving just as Lex's was. It was then that Lex noted their breathing seemed to be in perfect rhythm. Perhaps it was some Kryptonian thing. And that was probably Clarks' native language that he was blithering in right now. It didn't matter.

He brushed the wet strands of hair out of Clarks' face, and then kissed the sweaty brow. Lex smiled as the taste of Clark's sweat reminded him of homemade apple pie. No one could ever compare to Clark Kent. He truly was branded. And fucked, but not in the bad sense of the word, in the well-fucked and sated meaning. His ass was numb from the workout, just numb. He sincerely hoped that Clarks' physiology did that every time after a round of sex. Lex drifted off to sleep to Kryptonian whispers of love.

Chapter 26

Lex opened his eyes and was wide awake at once. His eyes met Clark's, who was presently floating several feet off the bed looking wide awake as well and rather embarrassed, perhaps even ashamed. "Clark, how long have you been up there?"

"Um, for about an hour, or, at least, that's when I woke up." Clark bit his lip.

"I take it that you can't get down?" Lex wondered if he'd have a Clark-balloon to take back to Metropolis.

"No, Lex, I can move around a bit, though." Clark proceeded to use his arms to fly over to the right then to the left. He seemed rather proficient at it, which made Lex a bit suspicious.

"You've done this before." It was not a question. "How long were you stuck last time?"

"A few hours, but it was a long time. I don't know what's making me do it again." Clark looked like he'd lost all hope. Heartbreak was written all over his face, and oh, yes, that was definitely shame creeping in too.

Lex smiled. "I must have been the sex."

Clark blushed and rose up another foot. He was getting dangerously close to the ceiling. Lex only hoped the ceiling would stop Clark from crashing through and rising up to the stratosphere. "I should ask the AI at the Fortress about this."

"I was going to say, I thought you hated heights," Lex moved over in case Clark came dropping down without warning. "Hmm, have you tried to flip end over end?"

"No!" Clark looked terrified.

"Humor me, Clark; I was just thinking I could grab your foot. Well, it might just take some time to get your feet back on the ground."

"Are you telling me to just give it time?"

Lex knew he'd seen that look before. It was one of disappointment that this was something Lex couldn't fix. Neither could they sweep this under the rug, if anyone saw Clark in this precarious position. "Perhaps you just need to think about something else that makes you want to be grounded?"

"Like what?" Clark snapped.

"Calm down, Clark." Lex smirked. "If you come down here, we can take a shower together." He noticed that Clark immediately dropped a bit. So he continued along the same tact. "We might even have time to do something." Clark dropped a bit more. "But if you don't get down here, we won't be able to do anything at all."

Clark zipped by him with a scream, just missing the bed. He put his arms out to stop him and hovered just above the floor, "Lex?"

"Close your eyes, Clark and think of …of snow dropping gently to the ground."

"You're kidding me, right?" Clark asked nervously.

"If you love me, you'll shut up and listen, Clark!" Lex snapped, his patience ebbing away. With a gulp and a nod, Clark closed his eyes. Lex watched in amazement as he drifted as softly as a feather to the floor. "Welcome back, angel."

Clark jumped to his feet, giving a small test bounce in place and sighing with relief. "God, I'm glad that's over with." He looked sheepishly at Lex. "Are you sure you want to go through with the marriage to the freaky, flying -"

"Clark, if you say one more word along that line I'm going to stop talking to you for the rest of the day. Nothing you say or do is going to change my mind. It's clear that you're expecting it; I can see it on your face. While I do possess the Luthor gene, I don't plan on using it to be a bigger idiot than I've already been. You're my best friend, my lover and my soon-to-be husband. Get used to it, Clark." Lex got out of bed, wrapping the sheet around him like a toga, then stormed off to the bathroom, slamming the door in Clark's repentant face.

"Oh, great Kent, just wiggle your toes out your ears while you're at it," Clark mumbled to himself. He got out of bed and pulled his pants back, crossed the room and knocked on the door, "Lex?"

There was no answer to his numerous pleadings. Clark finally sat by the door, wrapping his hands around his knees. "I'm sorry, Lex. Sometimes my mouth gets ahead of my brain. I just…I just can't figure out why you'd want to be with me when you could be with someone…well, normal. All your girlfriends were so beautiful and I'm just a stupid farm kid that doesn't know enough to just hold on and not let go."

Silence greeted his words but Clark could tell from the proximity of his heartbeat that Lex was listening.

"I've never been this lucky in my life, Lex. And it was all by accident, so I keep waiting for another accident to take it away. I… don't want to lose you," Clark admitted quietly.

There was a click as the door was unlocked. Clark looked up just as Lex slid down next to him. A small smile tugged at his mouth to see Lex was still wrapped up in the sheet looking for all the world like a Roman senator. But it was the look on Lex's face that took his breath away.

Lex leaned over and kissed him. Clark responded a bit in shock that he'd seemingly been forgiven. Strong, lean fingers combed through his hair pulling him closer. Clark melted against Lex, grateful for the reprieve. The kiss continued until they were both breathless, super-powers or not. Pulling away, Lex leaned his forehead against Clark's. He sighed deeply. "And that is exactly why I'd be an idiot to ever let you go."

"Lex?" Clark asked, dazed from the kiss and the closeness of the moment.

Cupping his face, Lex smiled dangerously as he felt the sheet finally give way, sliding to the ground. Clark's breath caught in his throat, as his skin around his cock became painfully tight. Lex's smirk grew. "Want to join me for a shower, Angel?"

"Sure thing, baby," Clark grinned. Lex shook his head and rose to his feet. He gave Clark a hand up and they made their way to the shower.

Chapter 27

Clark felt insanely happy as they stood under the multiple heads of the shower. Lex was in his arms and they were kissing once more. It felt practically perfect. Now, if they could just iron out the kinks. As if reading his mind Lex said, "We need to work out some sort of a schedule again, Clark."

"Does it have to be so scheduled?" Clark asked between licking the water off of Lex's neck.

It took Lex a minute to answer as he lost himself to the feeling of Clark's incredibly soft tongue lapping his neck and shoulders, "Suggestions?"

"Um, I could call you," Clark whispered into Lex's ear, "when I'm free and you could do the same? If we are too busy to pick up the phone, then we can leave a voice mail?"

Lex shoved Clark up against the wall. "I am not leaving us up to telephone tag!"

Clark laughed. "What do you propose, Lex?"

"I believe you already took care of that, Clark," Lex admonished, "but I was thinking of you moving into the penthouse. You can still go to school but we'd be able to see each other on a regular basis."

"Uh," Clark hesitated. Was this really Lex, the same guy that was known for having privacy issues? And what would his parents say? What about the guys at the Frat house? Clark began to suck on Lex's shoulder as his hands roamed over his back while he thought about it. Hearing a delicious moan from Lex, he reached down to cup his erection. Lex followed suit taking Clark's cock into his hand and stroking it quickly.

It only took a few minutes of rough, hard strokes before they both climaxed with gasps for air. Collapsing against each other, they began to wash each other off. They were each too sated to get hard again at the moment. Stepping out, they toweled off and Lex grabbed Clark's elbow. "Hey, its okay, you know. You can think about it without hurting my feelings. I know it's a big step."

"Yeah, it kind of is," Clark agreed, while rubbing a towel briskly over his hair in an effort to dry it.

"Although, once we get married, it will be expected," Lex pointed out. Clark followed Lex out of the bathroom to find breakfast and the morning paper had been delivered. Picking it up, Lex laughed, tossing it to Clark. "Nice picture."

Clark looked down to where the paper featured a picture of Lex kissing Clark on the cheek and under it blazed the headline:


Lex laughed again, "I'm glad I am nowhere near Lois Lane this morning."

Clark winced at the mere thought. "She's not going to be happy, that's for sure."

"Well, she had it coming for her unprovoked attack on us. If you ask me she's getting off easy. Hmm," Lex mused aloud, "I wonder if -"

Seeing the inherent danger in where that statement was going, Clark cut off the thought with a kiss. Lex smiled as Clark pulled away, brushing a thumb over his lips. "Good thing you're not on my Board of Directors. I'd never get anything done." Clark blushed. Lex winked at him, before walking into his dressing room to get changed for the day.

Clark dressed in a blink of an eye and then sat down to read the article. It was strange enough to read Lois talking about him and Lex, but it was even odder to read Chloe doing it. Clark wondered if this was what mind reading was like.

Lex exited the room, snatching a piece of toast off the silver tray and pouring a cup of coffee before sitting down. "So how did the esteemed Miss Sullivan do in preserving our reputations?"

Clark laughed. "Get this, and I quote,' The electricity between Lex Luthor and Clark Kent could light up Metropolis. As I watched them pick out wedding rings, the obvious feelings between the two men flooded over and I felt as if I'd been cast adrift."

Lex coughed. "It's a bit much on the metaphors but I suppose she needs to romanticize us."

"I don't know, I kind of like it." At a raised eyebrow from Lex he added. "But it is a bit mushy."

"Your mom will love it," Lex teased. Clark groaned. The phone rang and Lex picked it up, "Lex." With a look of triumph he handed it to Clark. "Guess who?"

Clark's shoulders slumped as he took the phone. "Hi mom," Lex pressed his head to the other side of the phone to listen in glee.

"Clark Jerome Kent! You went to pick out wedding rings without letting me know!?" Martha Kent's voice rang out over the line.

"Uh, well you see, Chloe was over -"

"Oh, the article was wonderful wasn't it? I think I'm going to frame it. What do you think? Or, maybe I'll start a family album for the two of you!" Martha gushed before remembering why she called. "At least swing by the house before you head back to Metropolis, so I can see the rings. I'm sure your father wants to see them too. Don't you dear?"

Clark heard the distinct sound of his father being elbowed in the ribs. "Uh, Martha don't do that! Yes, son, I want to see them too." His father sighed.

"I guess, mom." Clark rolled his eyes at Lex who was nodding happily, far too amused by Clark's suffering. With a smirk, he added, "Lex can hardly wait to help you with the wedding arrangements." Lex scowled at Clark and got up. Clark smiled in triumph. "Okay, we'll see you around lunch."

"Did you call Lana back, honey? She keeps calling here. Wait did you say wedding arrangements?" Martha's smile could be heard over the phone.

"Now, Martha," Jonathan commented, having obviously seen the smile Clark could hear as they hung up the phone together. Clark disconnected with obvious relief.

"To think I called you Angel, I see now your halo is held up by horns." Lex tossed a pillow at his head.

Wrapping his arms around it, Clark took a piece of bacon off the tray. "Did you have any plans before we go over there?"

Chapter 28

Noting the tone in Clark's voice Lex asked, "Why?"

"I'd like to take you someplace that's special to me. You'll need to wear something warm, but I think you'll like it." Clark shrugged, trying to hide his nervousness. What if Lex didn't like further proof of Clark's alien heritage?

"Would this be the mysterious Fortress where I can speak with your mother?" Lex asked without missing a beat.

Clark blinked. He was always surprised at Lex's memory retention. "Yes, that's the one. That is if you want to go. It's just easier to access by the caves, so I thought that -"

"Okay, let me go grab a heavy coat." Lex vanished back into the dressing room.

A knock came to the door. Clark scratched his head, shrugged and got up to answer it. "Lex is -" he began, but a security man held out a package with his name on it.

"I believe this is for you, actually. We checked it at the gate, but it seems fine." The man nodded, turned on a heel and left. Clark watched him go, once again feeling odd to live in the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The thought of living at the penthouse skittered through his mind but he shook it off. He needed to talk to his parents first, so that could wait until lunch. Sitting on the corner of the bed, smiling at the crumpled linens, Clark opened the box.

It was filled with shredded newspaper and had a letter on top.

If you are too busy with Lex for me, you should have this back. Don't call me, I'll call you.

Clark sighed and fingered the shredded paper idly, looking at the note. He failed to notice the piece of metal roll into his open palm. His head snapped up and his eyes blazed red, swirling and mixing with his own eye color. He sniffed the air like an animal. Tossing the box aside, he grabbed a fist full of cum stained sheets and inhaled deeply.

Lex stepped out of the dressing room modeling a thick parka coat. "How's this, Angel?"

Clark laughed deeply. It was rolling and baritone in nature. Lex noticed the difference immediately. Clark rose to his feet smoothly, with uncommon grace and confidence. Lex stiffened. "Clark?"

"Kal, all Kal now, no more messing around with the farm boy, Luthor," Clark put on a burst of super-speed and shoved Lex into the wall.

Lex had always been taught to think on his feet. He was grateful for that now as he looked into the swirling red of Clark's… no, Kal's eyes. Whatever had happened in the short time he was gone that had taken away his angel, he'd move heaven and hell to get him back. But it was obvious he'd have to stall or play the game. Stalling seemed much better, since Kal was now sniffing his neck like some wild animal stalking his prey. Lex didn't like the idea of being raped.

Lex went into the role he felt would suit him best. "You promised me, I'd get to see the Fortress."

Kal smirked. "You're right, I did. But what do I get in return?"

Putting his faith in the AI at the Fortress, Lex took a dangerous gamble, "Whatever you want Tiger."

"Tiger, yeah, that's a lot better than angel." Kal bit the side of Lex's wrist possessively. Lex winced as it left a ringlet of teeth marks.

"I just need to grab some gloves first and I'll meet you downstairs." Lex hoped he was flirting just enough and not so much that Kal would take him right there.

"Two minutes, or I'm coming to get you," Kal growled and vanished in a blur of speed.

Lex put on his own speed. Noticing the box he quickly scanned the note. Putting off plans of revenge for later, he grabbed the phone while running back to find gloves in his dressers. "Come on, come on!"

"Kent Farm," Jonathan answered the phone.

"Mr. Kent, its Lex. Clark has been exposed to something that has made his eyes all red. I think Lana sent it to him, any idea what it is?" Lex let the desperation flow in his voice.

"Shit! It must be Red Kryptonite! Lana took Clark's school ring and never gave it back. Get it off of him. Do you need help, son?" Lex wanted to smile at the endearment, but didn't have the time.

"If I do, I'll call! Thanks!" Knowing he was on the clock, Lex ran full out all the way downstairs to find Kal eyeing him up knowingly.

"You can't have the ring, Lex. I've waited too long for the bitch to give it back. You step out of line like that again and I'll make you pay." Lex knew if there were hairs on the back of his neck, they'd be standing up right now. He hid the fear, surprisingly grateful for the lessons from Lionel.

Kal seemed satisfied and picked him up like a maiden in distress, depositing him down seconds later in the caves. Lex doubled over, gasping for breath, when Kal set him on his feet. A moment later, Kal was dragging him into a small room that was filled with light. And, only a heartbeat after that, Lex was standing in what appeared to be another world.

Wildly disoriented, he failed to notice anything except Kal shoving him against a wall of ice. "I've changed my mind. Time's up and I want to fuck you here and now."

Lex gasped when Kal made his announcement. His mind, still racing, clung to his only hope. "Is anyone home?" he called out desperately.

"My son, you have brought a guest. Aren't you going to introduce us Kal-El?" A beautiful woman shimmered into view on the ice wall behind them.

Kal-El growled. "Bitch meet tease. Tease meet bitch."

Instantly, a hazy light-green light surrounded Kal-El and Lex fell backwards out of it unharmed. But Kal-El fell to his knees screaming in pain. In wonderment, Lex reached out to touch it.

"Earth man, you must tell me why my son is… ah, I sense it. The ring has Red Kryptonite. That's why he's acting so obnoxiously. Thank the stars; I thought he'd been overcome by a mental fever."

"Please, can you help me remove it? I want my Clark back." Lex bowed slightly toward the image.

"You are mated." She smiled. "You love him."

Lex took a steadying breath and nodded. "I do."

"I am well pleased." The light surrounding Clark turned from green to red. Fear gripped Lex and just as he was about to ask what the hell was going on, when the light vanished.

"Lex?" Clark looked up at him, rising shakily to his feet. Lex smiled and hugged him tightly. He grabbed Clark's hand to look at the ring. The stone was no longer red but white and it looked like plastic.

Chapter 29

Clark looked up sheepishly at the wall. "Um, I'm sorry for what I said." The woman moved her hands in an odd gesture. Clark bowed. It seemed that Lex had witnessed the sign language for "you are forgiven."

"Lex Luthor is the man I am going to marry, which is an earth bonding ritual. Lex, this is my late mother, Lara Lor-Van, who married my father, Jor-El." Lex nodded.

"I owe you my thanks. It is my pleasure and with my eternal debt in which I make your acquaintance." Lex bowed. Clark grinned, putting an arm around Lex's waist possessively.

"Greetings, Lex of Luthor, I had not expected my son to mate with another male. Had I foreseen this, Kal-El would have undergone the V'Sal-For." She looked apologetic.

"What is that?" Clark asked nervously.

"It's a simple procedure that would have enabled you to carry a child." Lex gasped. Clark grabbed his groin with both hands, fear written all over his face. His head was shaking wildly. It was all Lex could do not to laugh.

"I'd love to hear about it, but perhaps at another time. We have not yet had our wedding and um, Kal-El is still in school. Besides I'm not sure the Earth is ready for that." Lex explained.

Lara looked from one to the other. "Cloning perhaps? It would be a simple matter of a strand of …oh." She looked concerned. "Lex of Luthor, where is your hair? Is this the norm of the citizens of earth? Your father assured me that you'd fit in Kal-El."

Clark grinned. Lex ground his teeth together. "Lex lost it in the meteor shower that brought me to earth."

There was a great whirring sound in the Fortress and Lara closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she was smiling once more. "I've just spoken with Jor-El. Forgive me for not uploading the information sooner." There was another whirring of sound and a beam of light issued from the ceiling of ice. "I understand from our database that a dowry is in order. The House of El is one of the most prominent on Krypton."

Lex almost fell to his knees. In front of them was a mound of diamonds, more than he'd ever seen in his life. Under those were gold, silver, rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones. "It's a king's ransom," he whispered. But he went ignored as Clark and Lara started to discuss heatedly whether or not Clark was the bride in the situation, over his head.

"If it is truly against your wishes -" broke though Lex's daze.

"NO! It's perfect!" Lex cried out, practically shoving Clark aside. He turned back and hissed. "Are you out of your mind? Think what this will mean to your parents, Clark! Your education will be paid for -"

"Exactly, my son should want for nothing. This is where you would have lived with us, my son." Lara gestured with her arm and the ice shimmered once more. A grand palace that seemed to be made of nothing but precious stones rose into an orange sky. The red sun sparkled off it so brightly; it looked like small fireworks erupting here and there.

"Wow," Clark gushed loudly.

"And you live in a frat house?" Lex gave Clark a look that said, 'you deserve better, see, this proves it.'

The whirring sound was back. They looked at each other. Lara was back and looking upset. She'd obviously found a picture or definition of a fraternity house. "This is unacceptable, Kal-El. I'll not have it. You belong in the clouds. And you will, as soon as you learn to fly."

"I KNEW IT!" Lex crowed as Clark groaned. Still smiling smugly, Lex went on. "I have already asked Kal-El to move to my penthouse in the sky."

Lara nodded, looking pleased. "He agrees."

"Hey!" Clark yelled. "Don't I get a say in this?"

"No," Lara stated firmly. "Now, tell me how you were corrupted by the Red Kryptonite."

Lex was laughing behind Clark, leaning on his back for support, so Clark had to respond. "And old girlfriend sent it to me. I think she's jealous."

"You bet she is," Lex whispered into Clark's ear.

"No more jealous than Victoria is of you," Clark snapped back.

"Enough." Another light shone out and this time a perfect hologram of Victoria and Lana appeared in front of Lex and Clark, respectively. "Are these of whom you speak?"

"Uh, why?" Clark hedged.

"They will bother you no more," Lara answered enigmatically. "You both need to rest soon. The Oa'rec can be very tiring."

"The what?" Lex asked.

"The exchange is the best translation I can find," Lara informed them.

"Exchange?" Clark asked.

"It involves several steps, but it's designed to bring a mate and intended closer. The first step is the matching of your hearts. This has already happened."

"What is -" Clark began again.

Lex gripped his arm tightly, "Our breathing matches. What is the next step?"

"Your energy fields will balance each other. This is very tiring in many cases."

Clark looked to Lex, who shrugged, supplying, "Aura fields I suppose."

"Yes, that is a close approximation. If your mate's energy is low, they can tap into yours once this is successful."

"Okay," Clark sighed unhappily, feeling badly for Lex once more.

"Lastly, you will sense if the others emotions." She finished.

"Not telepathy?" Lex asked nervously. Clark looked at him curiously.

"No, telepathy is banned on several worlds," Lara informed them.

Lex sighed. "No offence, Clark. I don't want you in my mind during hostile takeovers nor do I wish to repeat college."

"None taken," Clark shivered, imagining Lex being in his mind as he was in the toilet, shower or class. It could get embarrassing quickly.

"I wish you both the wisdom of the ages and the breath of creation." Lara bowed. "I hope to welcome you to the family on your next visit, Lex of Luthor."

"You can call me Lex and I look forward to it. Thank you, for all the enlightening information." Lex bowed and gave mother and son a few moments together to speak privately as he looked around the Fortress. Clark wondered if it was to find something to carry the horde of jewels back.

"Kal-El?" Lara asked. "You seem troubled."

Clark looked away then down at the ice. "Lex has to deal with all my freakiness. I got him into this mess too. I love him, but he deserves better."

"It is at times like this that I most regret I cannot hold you, but this much I can tell you, the Earth man loves you as well. You did not hear his declaration when you were encased in the Kryptonite force field. I heard it from his own lips. Has he not told you this?"

"Yeah, but still -"

"My son, do not question the love of others or it will be questioned when you offer it yourself. Your doubt hurts you both. Kryptonians do not believe in putting faith in an invisible god, as the earthlings do. Instead we put it in each other, therefore the greatest gift one person can give is love. To reject love is to reject life. Do you wish to surrender your life? You will forfeit his life if you reject your true mate, just as he would forfeit yours if he were to reject you."

Chapter 30

It was much later that Lex looked over at Clark while they drove toward the Kent farm. The morning had been surreal at best. Maybe the Oa'rec was making them both tired. But ever since they'd returned to the castle with a literal ice crate of jewels, neither of them had talked.

Although there were many times they didn't talk, those had always been comfortable. This was not. But they each had a lot to think about and neither was inclined to start a conversation, instead they went about their day. Each knew what they needed to do, namely go to the Kent's, then head back to Metropolis.

The Kent's noticed their subdued state. It was Jonathan who stepped in, looking quickly at the rings, showing Martha by example to make it brief. "The boys need to be on their way, Martha." He stated simply. They were both very grateful. The men exchanged a look, accepting a hastily packed lunch and snacks for the trip before they set out. They only made one stop, to leave a handful of small gemstones in the Kent mailbox with a cryptic note, "Dowry from the stars."

Clark settled down to take a nap on the way back to Metropolis. Lex took the opportunity to call ahead and see how the search for a new assistant was going. He also hinted to the staff that Clark might soon be moving in and they should prepare the penthouse. Doing some further checking, he found that his father had called several times. Lex wondered why he'd left messages instead of calling him directly, but perhaps their last 'talk' had actually done some good… maybe.

Lex let his mind drift a bit, wondering what Lara had done about Lana and Victoria. Boiling lava pits? Space debris? Fish food at the bottom of the ocean? Blasted to microns? Body switching? Lex laughed out loud at this, picturing Lana in Victoria's body as she and Lionel say their vows. He laughed so loud he woke up Clark, who looked at him blearily. "Sorry, Clark, I didn't mean to wake you."

"No, that's okay, I was just thinking about the penthouse offer anyway. It gave me some really weird dreams."

"Weird in a good way, or weird in a bad way?" Lex asked cautiously, never taking his eyes off the road. Clark recognized the cool, unfeeling exterior that had slammed down into place to protect Lex's feelings.

"Neither, just weird. Is it too cliché to say the butler did it?" Clark offered to try to make Lex ease up a bit. It worked. A small smile tugged at Lex's lips.

"Dare I ask who the butler did in, this time?" Lex teased back.

Clark smiled, happy to be back on more familiar ground, instead of the silence that had been a third passenger for most of the ride. "It was Victoria, Lana and your father."

"Should I be concerned that you're dreaming of those on our 'most wanted out of our lives' list?" Lex chuckled and Clark shrugged. "What exactly does that have to do with the penthouse?"

"I dreamed that every time I went there, one of them stopped me." Clark recalled vividly, how each one had some form of Kryptonite on them. He shivered involuntarily.

Lex frowned. He moved his free hand off the shifter to cover Clark's hand that was resting on his thigh. "You're hiding something."

"No, I -"

"Clark, I thought the days of having lies between us were over." Lex gripped Clark's hand tightly, emphasizing the point. Guilt colored Clark's cheeks, but he still looked away. "Did it scare you that badly?"

"Yeah, I guess it did. They all…that is to say…they all had Kryptonite," Clark admitted with a gulp.

Lex was quiet a moment. He had to put some people on negating the Kryptonite threat from Clark's life. The fear on Clark's otherwise happy face was simply too disturbing to see on a regular basis. "And the butler saved you?"

"Well, it was that Derrick guy, you know, Three-Piece-Suit? He killed them and then kicked me out of the penthouse, blaming it all on me."

"Was I there?" Lex asked. "You do know that Derrick is gone, right?"

"You came back from a board meeting and didn't believe that I didn't do it." Clark mumbled, still staring at the window.

Lex reclaimed his hand, downshifted and pulled the car over to the side of the road. He turned his torso to face Clark. Cupping Clark's chin, he turned his face toward him, until they could talk eye-to-eye.

"Clark, I will always take your side first, especially against one of my employees. I love you. And I might be new at this, but I think that means that I'll be there for you, even in your dreams." He leaned in and kissed Clark hard. When he pulled away, Clark was dazed and already looking happier. "You can help me find a new assistant if you want to, okay? I won't hire anyone unless you approve of them first."

Using a bit of super-strength, Clark pulled Lex out of his seat and into his lap. "I love you too, Lex. And I promise to be there for you, too."

"And?" Lex asked. At Clark's clueless expression he hinted, "I'll give you a clue, lies?"

"Um, no more lies between us." Clark grinned and cupping the back of Lex's head, pulled Lex to him for a serious make-out session.

Darkness was starting to settle when a passing motorist honked their horn, making catcalls at them. They reluctantly pulled away from each other. Clark helped Lex back into his seat.

Lex turned the car back on and prepared to pull it back onto the road when Clark cleared his throat meaningfully. "I think it's okay to make this decision on my own, Lex."

"What decision would that be?" Lex asked, still dazed by their kissing.

"I'll move out of the Frat house, first thing in the morning and into the penthouse," Clark beamed at Lex, who yawned widely. "And I think that the Oar'ec is catching up to you. Let me drive?"

It only took a moment to let Lex think it over before he turned off the car, pulled out the keys and handed them to Clark. "I guess I am a bit tired," he admitted truthfully.

Chapter 31

Clark drove the sports car back to Metropolis. Next to him, in the passenger seat, Lex had nodded off. Clark wondered if Lex would have vivid dreams as well. Was it part of what was happening to them?

Lex hadn't complained about the mating process that Lara had spoken to them about, for which Clark was grateful. Despite his own nap, Clark felt a bit tired still. It was how he knew, besides the obvious yawn, that Lex must be exhausted.

He smiled. Lex was… amazing. There was really no other word for it. He'd dealt with an alien fiancé being shoved at him, a staggering amount of changes within just days and yet in all that when Clark started to lose it… Lex had been there for him.

Really, Lex had always been there for him. Even when they had drifted apart he somehow knew that all he needed to do was pick up the phone. It was comforting in ways he hadn't acknowledged until recently.

The bright lights of Metropolis beckoned and Clark put the pedal to the metal, determined to have some fun. By the time he reached the Frat house, he'd made good time. Gingerly, he woke up Lex as he stepped out of the car, "Hey sleepyhead, your turn at the wheel."

Lex frowned taking in his surroundings. "What the fuck, Clark? I thought you said you were moving in!"

Clark made a mental note that Lex was grumpy when waking up from a nap that wasn't caused by sex. "I have to explain to the guys and pack, Lex."

The wall over Lex's emotions slammed into place so hard that Clark winced in reaction. He could almost hear it. "Fine, I'll see you later." Before Clark could say anything else, Lex drove away, so quickly that he didn't even have time to get his bag out of the car. Realizing he'd screwed up again, he slumped unhappily back to the frat house.

When he entered, he received the razzing of his life. He'd forgotten about the article where he and Lex hammed it up with the happy couple bit to Chloe. Pete was, of course, the ringleader, pointing at his ring and Aaron was making dramatic kissing faces. Tired of it all, Clark turned to them and snapped, "Live it up now guys, tomorrow I'm moving off campus!"

Slamming his door behind him, he threw himself down on the bed and fought back the urge to kill someone, anyone would do. It was Pete who braved entrance to the room, holding out a can of Clark's favorite soda as a peace offering. Clark sat up and Pete took a chair across from him.

"So, moving into the penthouse, huh, Clarkbar?" Pete starred down at his hands, looking unhappy.

"Yeah," Clark replied. The realization that he wouldn't be with Pete or the other guys was suddenly crashing over him. "But you can come to visit." Yet, even as he said it, Clark knew it would never happen.

Pete snorted, "Yeah, right man. You know me and the chrome dome don't get along."
Clark didn't know what to say, so he fiddled with the can in his hands. When would he have time for Pete, or anyone, if he was living at the Penthouse? Sure, it wasn't too far, but if anyone came to the Penthouse, they'd be there to sponge off Lex's money and use his high-tech toys, not to see him. Clark felt sympathy with Lex at that sobering thought. Is that why Lex didn't have many friends?

"Well, maybe we'll figure something out. Worse comes to worse, I guess I can make friendly with cue ball." Pete shrugged.

Clark raised his head hopefully. "You mean it, Pete?"

Pete smiled and with a very limp wrist, crossed his legs saying, "Sure Clark, I can't let you get away, can I?"

As Clark clobbered him with a pillow, hope filled Clark that Pete Ross would still be a part of his life if they could joke around like this. Laughing hysterically, Pete ran from the room. This time Clark closed the door to his room a bit more gently, smiling.

The phone rang just as Clark finished packing and was about to turn in for the night. Picking it up, he heard, "I guess I got a little drama queen on you."

Clark smiled, flopping down on the bed. "I should have explained myself better, Lex. It's just that I have early classes tomorrow and then have to notify the right personnel of my change of address. I didn't mean to upset you."

"So, if I remember right, you end early tomorrow. I can send someone over to pick up your things and bring them to the penthouse, while we go out for an early dinner."

"Don't you have to interview for the position that TPSG left behind?" Clark remembered.

"We will interview the candidates on Tuesday, since you don't have any classes. How does that sound?" Lex asked seriously.

"Yes, and yes," Clark grinned.

"Clark?" Lex asked in a voice that bespoke of both confusion and happiness.

"Yes to dinner, and yes to Tuesday interviews," Clark clarified, sitting up with a sudden thought. "Lex, can you try to be easy on Pete when he tries to mend fences with you?"

"Mend fences?" Lex chuckled. "You can take the boy from the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy."

"Better watch it Lex, you almost sounded like my father," Clark teased.

"Alas, alack, the influence of the future father-in-law is already rearing its head." Lex sounded amused.

"Well, at least you didn't say ugly head," Clark countered. Clutching his pillow, he added. "It's going to be weird without you tonight."

"You'll be fine, Pete's probably organizing a big send off for you right now," Lex commented sagely.

"Love you," Clark offered, not caring if there was a party or not and very much regretting his choice to stay the night in the penthouse. After all he could have run back in the morning, right? "You know, I could run -"

"No. I don't want you to risk it." Lex sighed. "Love you, Angel."

Clark looked at the suddenly quiet receiver, realizing it was the closest to an actual sign off he'd ever heard Lex give anyone. It did a lot to make him feel a bit better.

Chapter 32

Monday was hectic for Clark. His classes had been hell with the hangover he had from the impromptu party, which Lex had correctly foreseen. Unfortunately, the party had gone on until the wee hours of the morning. So, naturally, Clark had been late to his first class and the professor was just about to lock the door when he entered, earning him a speech at the end of the class. This started a chain reaction of dirty looks from professors and speeches at the end of class.

He'd never been so grateful for an early day. Of course, this was complicated by the staggering number of people he had to try to contact about his move off campus. When he made it back to the frat house, the movers that Lex had sent were already waiting along with Mr. Townsend.

"You're the first friendly face I've seen all day," Clark greeted the reporter with a smile.

Mr. Townsend smiled. "Congratulations on getting the rings. I take it this," he gestured at the burly movers, "means that you are headed to the penthouse?"

Clark grinned, feeling happy for the first time all day. Even his head didn't hurt anymore. "Yes, and do me a favor?" Mr. Townsend raised an eyebrow. "Make that on-the-record." The reporter laughed. "Oh, and those wrinkles? All ironed out." Clark beamed.

Mr. Townsend grinned back. "I'm very happy to hear that, Mr. Kent. Is it too much to ask for the next interview with the happy couple?"

"Sure, Mr. Townsend, have a card?" Nodding, Mr. Townsend handed him a business card. Gesturing to the movers, Clark laughed. "Lex doesn't do small, does he?"

"Be grateful," Mr. Townsend said enigmatically, and then went off to find his photographer to take pictures. Clark frowned, making a mental note to discuss the reporter with Lex.

Before he knew it, Clark was watching as the last box was loaded up in the overly huge van. Lex pulled up right on cue, beeping his horn. A few of the guys from the frat house waved as they drove off. Dinner was at the nearby Villa Tuscany restaurant. They chatted over where Clark's things would go in the penthouse over dinner.

On the way to the penthouse after dinner, Clark couldn't help look over his shoulder in the direction of the house. Once again, Lex found his hand and gripped it tightly. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I will get to see them again, right?" Clark asked with concern.

"I wasn't planning on chaining you to the bed, Clark," Lex shook his head. "Wait, I take that back."

Clark laughed, playfully swatting Lex. "Jerk."

"Jerk lover," Lex teased. Clark playfully rubbed his head and sat back, feeling a bit better. "Feel free to make plans with your friends, Clark, just promise me one thing?"

"Name it," Clark replied, wondering what the condition would be.

"No more dares?" Lex smiled. Clark nodded without any qualms. He yawned widely. "Long night?" Lex asked knowingly. After all, since Derrick, he made sure Clark was watched anytime that they weren't together. Besides, he could feel it.

"Pete and the guys did throw me a party. I never got so drunk before. It made me late to class…" Clark launched into the details of his day, which ended about the same time they entered the penthouse. Boxes littered the foyer, but Lex just stepped around them gracefully as if they weren't even there.

Clark stumbled through the mess, cursing his lack of finesse. It gave him a momentary flutter of concern that he could never measure up in Lex's world. Lex turned, looking at him oddly. "You're worried. What about?"

"How do you know I'm worried?" Clark asked. Then it hit him. It was more of the Kryptonian bonding. Lex looked at him and folded his arms over his chest as if waiting for Clark to catch up. "Wait; is that how you knew I was tired?"

Lex nodded. "You were occupied all day, so you must have blocked me mentally without realizing it. We will have to experiment with that and see if it work both ways." Lex made his way over to the bar, pouring himself a nightcap.

Clark frowned. "Wait, was something going on with you today that I should be aware of?"

"All you would have sensed was amusement and anticipation." Clark tilted his head in an unspoken question, so Lex continued, "I was anticipating you moving into the Penthouse. What my research uncovered caused my amusement."

"Research?" Clark asked feeling left in the dark once more. He hated when Lex made him feel unbalanced and sixteen once more.

"I found out what happened to Lana and Victoria," Lex grinned, saluted Clark with his drink taking a deep swallow.

Clark took a seat on the mocha colored leather sofa. "Do I want to know?"

"Let's just say that your birth mother has a unique wit." Lex grinned, but Clark frowned. Lex rubbed a hand meaningfully over his bare scalp.

Clark gasped. "She didn't!"

Lex sauntered over to sit next to Clark, draping his free arm over the back of the couch around Clark. "Oh, yes. Oddly enough, women don't seem to do being follicle-challenged as well as I do. Of course, being born into a house of power like the Luthor's was a bonus in that respect. Imagine my surprise when my father came storming over."

"He did?" Clark was surprised that Lionel would come near Lex after their big fight. But he never really understood the way the Luthor mind worked anyway.

"Yes, no mention was made of us, naturally. But he did seem rather enraged that and I quote, 'That duplicitous bitch would make fun of my only heir in such a manner'. Victoria claimed that all her hair fell out overnight. Regardless, my father broke off the engagement to her immediately."

Clark was struck momentarily speechless, as Lex took another swig of his drink. "Do you realize this means he stood up for you?"

Lex looked at him dubiously. "I'm sure he did it because of his own hair issues. By throwing me into the argument he was only to trying to hurt Victoria back, by reminding her that she'd burned her bridges with both Luthors."

Clark shook his head and yawned.

"And on that note, it's time to put my Angel to bed," Lex took Clark by the hand and led him to the master bedroom they'd both share. Clark was really too tired to appreciate the luxurious nature of it before he was tucked in dutifully, kissed on the lips gently and slipped into the realm of the Sandman.

Chapter 33

Yawning and stretching, Clark slowly woke up. The quiet was disconcerting before he realized where he was. Rolling over, he was greeted by the amused smile of Lex, who was already nursing a cup of coffee, dressed and sitting up. A pout appeared on Clark's face immediately. "Why are you dressed?"

Lex smirked, "Some of us do work for a living, you know. But I like how you think, so hold that thought until tonight. Do you want some coffee?" Clark sat up with another yawn. "I'll take that as a 'yes'."

Clark gratefully accepted the cup of coffee that Lex handed him. Taking a sip, he was surprised to find that Lex remembered just how he liked it. He smiled gratefully. "Thanks."

"That's better," Lex commented, leaned over and kissed Clark softly on the lips. Pulling away, he stood up yanking at the covers. "Now rise and shine, Clark, if you want to have breakfast before the first applicants arrive."

Clark gave Lex a quick kiss back before heading for the shower, still feeling a bit bereft that Lex had not woken him earlier so they could share one. He took his shower quickly, dried off, dressed and padded out to the kitchen. Lex didn't even look up from his paper and Clark had to fight the feeling of being worthless once again.

Sitting down with a cup of coffee and a large plate of fresh fruit and cream, Clark tried to analyze his feelings of inadequacy. Lex had done all he could to try to convince him that he wasn't as worthless as he thought. So where had it come from? Not from his parents, so it must have been someone in his life. Looking at Lex curiously, he wondered if he would know.

"Lex, can I ask you something?" He asked with uncertainty.

"Anything, Clark," Lex looked up over his paper, folding it and putting aside, after leaving it carefully open to the financial pages.

"Well, I was wondering… when did you first started to notice that I was always berating myself?"

"I'm glad to hear that you're analyzing this, Clark. But your not going to like the answer," Lex cautioned.

"Well, I know it's not from you or my folks, so it has to be from someone else," Clark stared into his cup.

"It is. Clark, ask yourself this. Who has played with your emotions more than anyone else in your life?" Lex folded his hands together leaning forward patiently.

"Um, but that's not her…" Clark hedged.

"Bullshit. It is her fault. She does it to everyone she knows. If you are honest with yourself, you'll see that. The girl is psychologically unstable. She needs years of therapy. And that's not your fault either. The meteor rocks were simply a matter of getting caught in a gravitational well."

"But if my ship hadn't…" Clark argued.

"Clark," Lex interrupted. "Imagine your planet is going to explode and you're so desperate to save your only child that you place him in a rocket ship. What are you thinking about as the planet crumbles around you?"

"Um, that I have to hurry up?" Clark guessed.

Lex smiled. "Are you thinking about what will happen to pieces of your planet when it explodes?"

Clark smiled back, a lone tear running down his face. In a choked voice, Clark managed to say, "No, all I'd be thinking about is getting the baby as far away as fast as possible."

"And what do you suppose would happen if you couldn't bear to say goodbye, knowing you'd never see each other again?" Lex asked softly, coming around the table to kneel at his feet. Clark shook his head. "If you spent each second trying to say goodbye to the baby you love, the ship might not escape the explosion and some of it could be caught in the trail of the ships wake."

"So everything that happened with the meteors was because my parents couldn't bear to…"

"Yes, Clark, they loved you that much." Lex gulped watching Clark crumple. He pulled Clark into his arms. "So, you see, it's not your fault that the meteors came with you. It's simply a factor of your parents loving you so much. The people that died that day could have been hit by a bus that night. Their number was up, plain and simple."

"But Lana…" Clark whispered, unable to release all the years of pent up guilt so easily.

"Was greatly affected by her loss, yes, but part of the reason that she never got over it was because Nell sucked so badly as a parent. Just as my own father's inadequacy caused me to put my mother on a pedestal when she was obviously mentally unbalanced, Miss Lang, without benefit of therapy, will always do so too. Children who don't accept their parent's deaths have a tendency to deify them. Spoiled as she is, she learned how to play the 'woe is me card' to the extent of hurting other's without a second thought to the cost."

"Wow, I guess I never thought about it like that." Clark was reeling from all that Lex had said, because it made so much sense.

"I had the benefit of therapy; some of it was actually good. Not all psychiatrists believe in electroshock treatments. And before you go there, that's all water under the bridge, with my father's name all over it…as it should be."

"I guess it's a good thing she and I never worked out." Clark mused aloud.

"I regret that I ever tried to push you two together, but I thought it was what you wanted and… Well, I was much younger and foolish then."

Clark laughed, feeling much better. "Come on, old man of the hills. Don't we have people to interview?"

Lex's lips twitched as he held back a smile. Clark had him smiling far too much lately. He needed to try to get back into the mold of harsh businessman before the interviews. But it was, he supposed, what Jonathan Kent would term 'closing the barn doors after the cows got out.' Lex decided it was time that he too, pulled away from the past and let the bright future that was unfolding in front of him take hold.

Rising, he pulled Clark into a possessive kiss that spoke volumes about how much Clark meant to him and what Lex thought of Clark's worth. When he pulled away, he let the smile out. "Come on, Angel. Let's go find someone who appreciates our uniqueness."

Chapter 34

Clark watched as Lex's demeanor changed from that of lover and friend, to cool businessman. He tried not to let it get to him. Lex must have noticed the disappointment on his face because he put his hand on the small of Clarks' back possessively. Clark inhaled deeply, amazed at how much a simple touch could mean.

Lex wasn't going to cut him out of his business life. He was, instead, going to make him a part of it. Clark hadn't asked him to make him part of that aspect of his life, understanding that very simply it was beyond him. Lex would have to do things he would never agree with or possibly condone. It meant the world to Clark that Lex was letting him help make this decision. He leaned back into the touch, to try to convey that.

The hand moved and curled around his waist instead. Clark grinned. His smile grew even further as he saw who was waiting for him, "Clair!"

A smiling Clair stood to greet them both. "Since you two blew it last time I thought I'd help." She winked at Clark, who laughed and even Lex chuckled.

"How are you feeling, Clair?" Lex asked.

"Pretty good, thanks for the time off. The doctor says I'm doing better and that I can work part-time. So, I can help to train the replacement," She smiled, with a protective hand over her stomach.

"That's great," Clark beamed. "It'll be nice to have you around."

"That goes for both of us, Clair," Lex amended. "We'll see about getting a day-care started in the meantime, so when you are ready to return to work afterwards, you can."

"Thank you," Clair looked a bit emotional, so she turned her attention to the clipboard in her hand. "The first interviewee I'd like you to meet is John Deerfield."

They spent the rest of the morning with John Deerfield, Quinn Woodward, and Bob Lambertville. But they definitely found a friend in Bob. He was gay himself and had even tried the straight route to the point of being married and having a child. Bob had also done a bit of his own research, which included eating from Martha's Baked Good's line. He confessed gaining weight from his newfound addiction.

Bob was a big man, a mountain of a man really with a heart of gold. His stature was threatening and he was good with details. Lex was also happy to find that Bob had lived in Princeton for some time, so they chatted about the collegiate town. By the end, Bob was a shoe in for the position and Clark, Clair and Lex felt very happy with the fit.

Clair told all the applicants they'd hear something from them before the week was out. This was basically a stalling tactic to research their backgrounds even further. But in reality, it would be Bob's that was really going to be scrutinized. Yet Clark suspected Lex would find positions in the company for the other two applicants as well. He was not one to let a possible good hire walk away.

When it was all done Lex and Clark, who'd barely kept their eyes off each other, were seriously thinking of retreating to the bedroom. But Clair popped that bubble. "The latest article by Lois Lane came out. Sorry I kept it from you, but I thought you'd like to have a clear head while interviewing the candidates."

Lex nodded. This was one of the reasons he liked Clair so much; the fact that she could quickly decide what needed to be done and when was the best time to present it.

Clark Kent drugged?
Part of the continuing serial by Lois Lane

Several sources have come forth to reveal that Mr. Kent's strange behavior could be drug related. Though Mr. Kent, wholesome farm boy from rural Smallville, has never taken drugs, it's well known that Lex Luthor's past…

Clark grabbed the paper from Lex's hands. "WHAT? I can't believe this! What is wrong with her?"

Clair shook her head. "That's not all; it appears you have a friend, Lex." She handed Lex a copy of the Guardian, while taking away the copy of the Daily Planet from Clark before he read any further.

The Real Reason behind Lois Lane's articles
By R. Townsend

Lois Lane, brilliant reporter, beautiful woman and yet filled with scorn, has taken to attacking both Lex Luthor and Clark Kent, in retaliation for the latter never noticing her advances. After reading the most fascinating article by Chloe Sullivan, I tracked down the reporter for….

Lex smiled. "Oh, this is perfect. Lois will be so busy dealing with Chloe and Townsend she might get off our backs! If nothing else, this will ruin her reputation at the Planet for not being able to write an objective story!"

Clark bit his lip. "I don't know, Lex. I feel sorry for her."

Clair shook her head. "Don't be, she certainly went after the two of you with her claws out. You're practically a Luthor now, Clark. Softness stays at home, if you go to a press conference feeling sorry for her, she'll rip you to shreds." Turning her attention to Lex, she said, "We should have an outside source test Clark for drugs, though."

Clark paled and Lex took his hand, squeezing it tightly. "He has a fear of needles, Clair."

"Oh, well in that case, I suppose we can just ignore the story. But, just be prepared that the need might arise." She nodded to them both and left the room. Clark blew out a breath of relief as she was leaving. She froze solid in mid-step.

"SHIT, CLARK!" Lex dashed over to Clair in panic. "She's pregnant, turn it off!"

Clark was panicking too. "I DON'T KNOW HOW!"

"Oh, god!" Lex ran his hands over his head. Then he turned to Clark and dragged him over to Clair. "Think warm or something! Just don't turn on your heat vision!"

"The last thing I'm thinking about right now is sex, Lex!" Clark's arms were waving about.

Lex grabbed him. "Clark! Warm! Summer breezes! Um, tropical trade winds!"

"Huh? Tropical what?" Clark asked in confusion.

"Clark, just close your eyes and concentrate!" Lex wailed looking at his watch and wondering how long Clair and the baby had been frozen.

Gulping nervously, Clark closed his eyes. He sighed, and then breathed out several breaths of what he thought was air warm enough to work. But he was too nervous and nothing was happening. Lex tried another method and kissed Clark roughly. He swept his tongue over Clark's and then pulled back the second he felt Clark respond, "Now, Clark!"

This time it worked and Clair immediately melted, put her foot down and swayed. Lex caught her. "Clair, are you okay? I think you should sit down a minute!"

"Wh-what happened?" Clair sagged into Lex's arms.

"Clark, get her some orange juice!" Lex ordered.

With a nod and a slight burst of speed, Clark quickly returned with the orange juice in a large glass. As Clair recovered they looked at each other over her head. They would definitely have to get rein on this new power and quickly. Lex then flipped open his phone and had Clair driven home with orders to rest and to call her doctor immediately if she didn't feel better, billing him for all expenses. She smiled at his concern and submitted to his care.

Chapter 35

Clark and Lex immediately picked a room in the Penthouse, securing it completely before they started to work on Clark's new power. He started out with small objects, working his way up to medium-sized ones before he became aggravated by how long it was taking. He had hoped to spend some time in bed with Lex, not working on another power.

Unfortunately, this made his concentration difficult at best, causing Lex to become irritated at his lack of attention. They quickly had to give up on the kissing and melting method, as it became apparent where Clark's mind was which made matters worse. Adding to the distraction were the phones in the penthouse ringing off the hook with reporters wanting to hear their side of the story.

When Lex's own cell phone went off, he almost threw it across the room. "LEX!" he snapped irritably.

"Did I call at a bad time, honey?" Martha Kent asked cautiously.

The wind immediately left Lex's sails. "Oh, I'm sorry, Mrs. Kent. It's been a rather long day here."

"Please, Lex, either call me mom or Martha, whichever you prefer," she lightly scolded. "I saw the newspapers. Jonathan and I thought you'd be happy. What's wrong?"

"Perhaps it would be better if Clark answered that." Lex handed the phone to Clark and stormed out of the room.

Clark sighed, "Hi, mom."

"Honey, what's going on?" Martha asked growing more concerned by the moment.

"Stupid new freezing power, that's what. Mom, I froze Clair! She's pregnant and I could have hurt her!" Clark's panic rose to the surface once more.

"Clark, honey, I was going to come out to Metropolis to discuss wedding plans with you two. While I'm there I can talk to Clair, woman-to-woman, and make sure everything's okay. After that Lex and I can help you work on this together, okay?"

"What about Dad? Doesn't he need you at the farm?" Clark asked with concern, "And what about your business?"

"I'm all caught up on orders. He can spare me for a day or two. Besides, I think if I ask him for one more opinion or ask another question about the wedding, I'll be sleeping on the couch."

Clark laughed. "I'll check with Lex, but I'm sure it will be fine."

"You do that. And try to get him to call me something besides Mrs. Kent, would you?" Martha laughed.

"Okay, love you, mom and thanks."

"Love you, too, Clark, now go kiss and make up." She teased and hung up the phone.

Thinking that was a great idea, Clark went to hunt down Lex. He found him talking to one of his security chiefs. Waiting until they were done, Clark took a seat nearby, blocking Lex's exit from the room. Lex's eyes found his from across the room. Clark mouthed "sorry" and watched as the tension seemed to roll off Lex. He smiled and quickly finished up the conversation. Walking over, he sat next to Clark. "I've arranged to meet with Mr. Townsend."

"Why?" Clark asked.

"At the very least to thank him," Lex shrugged.

Clark nodded, remembering he'd promised the reporter the next exclusive anyway. "I'm really sorry about before, Lex. Mom says we should kiss and make up."

Lex smirked. "Oh, did she now? What else did your mother say?"

"To stop calling her Mrs. Kent and she wants to come visit for a day or two, to discuss wedding plans and help out with the freezing. She'll also spend some time with Clair to make sure she's okay." Clark smiled.

"Good idea," Lex mused aloud.

"Which one?" Clark asked.

"All of them." Lex grinned, pulling Clark up with him, "Bedroom?"

As soon as the door was shut, Lex had him up against the wall. The kiss that followed was so hot that Clark was sure it could melt ice. He trailed his hands over Lex's ass, holding him close. Lex moaned, "Get on the bed and wait for me."

Clark readily agreed, stopping only to take off his clothes. When Lex emerged from the bathroom in nothing but a silk robe, Clark's pose took his breath away. He was on his hand and knees looking over his shoulder. "I'm ready."

Lex had to grab himself to keep from shooting his load at the pose and statement. "God, Clark!"

Clark responded by wiggling his ass. Lex tossed his robe and plans for a slow seduction aside, promising himself to do it another time. Clark put the tube of lube into his hand. "Please, Lex. I've been thinking about it all day." Lex groaned. He lubed himself up, primed Clark and quickly entered. Clark sighed with pleasure.

Soon they found their rhythm and before long, they were screaming out their mutual release. Lex collapsed on Clark's back, licking the drops of sweat off the back of his neck. Clark sighed with happiness. Using a combination of his strength and speed he was soon holding Lex to his chest. Lex chuckled. "I'm not a girl, you know."

"I know, baby," Clark teased.

"You really have to find another nickname for me." Lex rolled his eyes. "Angel works for you, but I'm nobody's baby."

"Okay, Tiger." Clark smiled.

"Better. At least, if you use it in public, I can blame it on going to Princeton." Lex sighed.

Clark replied by growling in his ear, "Watch it, or I might call you pussy cat instead." He laughed at Lex's expression of utter disdain. "I missed this."

"Yeah, it's been a long few days since Saturday hasn't it?" Lex agreed. Then recalling how that ended grabbed a handful of sheet so Clark didn't wind up floating. Clark pretended not to notice.

"Lex?" Clark idly caressed his chest.

"Yes, Clark?" Lex relaxed further into the gentle, soothing touches.

"Do you regret me moving in here?" Clark asked out of the blue.

Lex sighed. "We really need to work on your self-esteem some more, I see. No, Clark. I don't regret you moving into the penthouse. Do you?"

Clark smiled. He held Lex to him, kissed the top of his head answered, "No, I just wish we had more time together."

"Hmm, that reminds me. We have to schedule a honeymoon and a destination. Where do you want to go, Clark?"

"Mmm, someplace warm, but really different?" Clark mused aloud.

"Okay, that eliminates a lot. What do you think about Australia? We can check out Bondi Beach in Sydney. I'm sure I can arrange to rent an attractive beach home while we're there, unless you'd rather stay in a hotel?"

"How about a little bungalow instead?" Clark smiled. "You know, just for once not show off how obscenely rich you are?"

"I refuse to slum it, but I'll see what I can do." Lex leaned up to kiss Clark. "In the meantime, I think someone better study ahead on his homework."

Clark reluctantly agreed, spending the rest of the day devoting himself to college studies, while Lex worked on public relations and LexCorp agenda.

Chapter 36

Their first week together went along fairly smoothly. Mr. Townsend actually got to meet Clark's mother and the two became fast friends. Martha was very understanding of Mr. Townsend's concerns for Lex and Clark and sympathetic about his loss. She managed to convince Lex and Clark that it was misplaced grief and not creepy at all.

Lex had to admit he was grateful for the help the man provided in the ongoing press war. Lois, Chloe and Mr. Townsend-Robert, as he preferred-fought it out with blazing headlines.

After some very tacky headlines on Lois' part, Clark threw down the morning paper in disgust. "That's it. I'm going to become a reporter and work for the Daily Planet."

Lex looked up in surprise as did Martha, who after numerous wedding planning sessions was on her last day of her visit. "Far be it for me to sway you from future career plans, but may I ask why?"

"Because someone needs to keep an eye on Lois!" Clark snapped.

"Honey, do you think that's such a good idea? She seems to be carrying some sort of torch for you." Martha asked with concern.

Lex was thankful Martha had noticed it too, and equally grateful that she had brought that up instead of him. Clark wouldn't have reacted well to his jealousy.

"All the more reason," Clark insisted. "Maybe I can do some damage control. Perry said to come on by the Daily Planet if I ever thought about going into journalism. I can also give you heads up if she plans on doing a smear campaign on you or LexCorp. Since I still have school, I can start out as in intern and learn the ropes."

Martha scratched her head. "The Daily Planet is a big paper, honey."

"Well, maybe I can use my connection to Perry to become her partner. That would discredit her writing about us too!" Clark smiled as he warmed up to the idea.

Lex sat back, wiping the corner of his mouth. "I'd rather we were married first, if it was all the same to you."

Martha looked relieved at the idea and nodded her head in complete agreement.

Clark frowned. "December is a long time off. And we never did decide on the Saturday of the 18th or Sunday the 19th."

"Saturday," Lex said firmly. "Sunday is so overdone."

Martha smiled. "It's only a few weeks off really Clark. You'll be glad you waited."

"Don't worry." Lex leaned over to cover Clark's hand with his own. "I'm sure you can start on the internship anytime. But when it comes to doing it full time, it should be during the summer so it doesn't interfere with your studies."

Clark rolled his eyes and sank into his chair. "Fine, I can see I'm outvoted."

Martha released a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding. She quickly changed the topic back to the wedding to corner them on a few more details while she still had the chance.

Lex was lost in his own thoughts for a moment. Then he looked at Clark. "Are there any Kryptonian wedding rituals that need to be followed?"

Clark blinked. "Uh, I don't know. But if you are thinking about the V'Sal-For, you can just forget it!"

Martha looked on in confusion, "The what?"

"A procedure Clark can undergo to carry our children," Lex chuckled. Martha's eyes lit up.

Clark groaned and put his head in his hands. "Talk to me again when I'm like OLD."

"How old?" Lex teased.

"Thirty!" Clark answered quickly.

"Humph," Martha commented crossing her arms and giving Clark her patented glare.

"Uh, sorry?" Clark tried to apologize, but got a rolled up newspaper across his head to let him know he was in trouble.

Lex cleared his throat. "I'm trying to recall what Lara-El had to say." His mind wandered as he thought back to the huge dowry from Clark's birth parents, which was stashed in his vault.

Martha noticed his look and cleared her throat. "Speaking of your… well, I mean is that where the 'dowry from the stars' came from?" Clark blushed. He'd forgotten all about that, including the argument he'd had with his birth mother over whether he was the girl in the relationship. She sighed. "I thought as much. You're lucky I found it and not your father or the mailman!"

Lex and Clark looked at each other. Neither had even given that a thought. Martha rolled her eyes. "Well, I put it into several different places. Maybe I'll tell your father I won the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes." She smirked. "But I did pay off your college Clark." She smiled. "I'll consider it an even swap for all the groceries you ate over the years."

Clark blushed and Lex laughed. They finished eating their breakfast together before saying goodbye to Martha and promising to come visit again during the next few weeks. Clark then dashed off for school while Lex went to work. It almost seemed as if life was settling down.

Coming back from the campus, Clark was surprised to find Bob greeting him at the door to the penthouse. "Mr. Lambertville! Did you get the job?"

"Sure did. You look tired; long day at school?" Clark nodded. "Well, Mr. Luthor is waiting for you in the study." Bob looked at him with concern and Clark wondered what he missed. Tucking the feeling away, he greeted Lex with a smile and a kiss.

"Clark!" Lex fairly jumped. He looked him over then held him tightly. Now, Clark knew something was wrong.

"What's going on?" Clark sighed. Hadn't they been through enough already?

"Just some threatening letters, I'm just not used to having you included in them. So bear with me if I am a little extra possessive where you're concerned." Clark nodded. Lex dealt with things like this on a regular basis. No doubt he'd have to get used to it.

Lex pulled back. "You look like something the cat dragged in."

"I love you, too," Clark snapped and flopped down onto the leather couch.

"Want to tell me about it?" Lex sat on the side of the couch and amused himself by playing with Clark's hair. It was one of his favorite pastimes and it never seemed to fail to calm Clark down.

"You know how we finally have the freezing thing down?" Lex nodded. While Martha was visiting they managed to figure out the triggers for Clark's freezing ability. It seemed that while lust triggered his heat vision, feelings of anger or fear triggered the freezing breath. Clark was so good at it now; he could do it at will.

"Yes," Lex answered nervously wondering what super power had shown up now.

Clark saw the face. "Oh, it's nothing new. But I hope that you are still excited about the whole flying deal. I missed a class today because I'd floated up to the college radio tower and couldn't get back down."

Lex couldn't help it. He started to laugh at the mental image. Clark shoved him lightly onto the floor. "It's not funny!" He pouted only making Lex laugh harder.

When he finally contained himself, Lex promised that they'd go to talk to Jor-El and Lara at the soonest opportunity, and in the meantime he was hoping to spend most of the next day with Clark in bed. After all, having Clark's mother in the penthouse had put a dampener on their sex life.

Chapter 37

But after Clark's long day, Lex decided to treat him. He called his professional masseuse over to the penthouse and put her to work on Clark. After giving them an hour alone, Lex went in to check on their progress. He smiled as he saw Clark's face, devoid of any tension whatsoever. But what did not amuse him in the least was the look of pure lust in the eyes of Helga.

Making a point, Lex strode over to Clark. "Hello, love." He cradled Clark's face in his hands and kissed him deeply. If it were possible, Clark melted further against him. Taking the hint, Helga left quickly, promising herself never to believe the Daily Planet again.

"Wow, what was that for?" Clark growled, licking up the side of Lex's neck as Lex straddled his legs.

He held Lex's hips as Lex reared back and cupped his cock beneath the towel. "This is mine. And she is never going to work here again."

Clark grinned. "I like this."

"Like what?" Lex frowned. "I see nothing at all to like. As a matter of fact, I -"

Clark shut him up with a kiss. Pulling away, he rested their foreheads together. "I like you being so possessive."

"I'm a Luthor; therefore I'm not used to sharing." Lex grumbled.

Clark laughed. "Are you pouting? Do I have to stop calling you Tiger and go back to Baby?"

"I do not pout," Lex stated firmly, crossing his arms over his chest.

Lifting his hips off the table, Clark ground his erection into Lex's ass. "I want you, Lex."

"Yeah?" Lex's mouth twitched at the corner, his arms relaxing and coming down to cover Clarks' forearms. He wiggled his ass and was rewarded when Clark moaned with desire. "Prove it, Angel."

With a burst of speed, Clark had them both naked in a bat of an eye and locked the door. Lex laughed and reached over for some massage oil, spreading it over his hand and coating Clark. He then leaned back to prepare himself. Clark watched, panting slightly and stroking Lex using some of the oil from his own cock. Slowly, Lex lowered himself onto Clark until he was completely filled.

"Lex," Clark ground out between his teeth. His patience was gone after watching Lex fuck himself with his fingers, then to see his cock disappear up that tight ass? It was too much for any male, human or alien.

"Oh, yeah," Lex threw his head back and rode Clark back and forth then up and down. Clark began to float, but neither cared. They climbed ever higher until they were fucking up by the cathedral ceiling of the vaulted room. Clark held tightly onto Lex hoping he was not bruising him, but unwilling to let his lover fall. Lex's dance on his cock was so sensual and erotic to watch that Clark soon bent over, sucking Lex's neck hard as he climaxed in mid-air. Putting on some speed, Clark jerked Lex off faster than Lex could see until he too was trembling and quaking with his release.

"My Angel doesn't need wings to fly." Lex chuckled, making Clark blush. "Can you get us down from here?"

"Trust me?" Clark asked seriously.

"With my life," Lex replied looking him straight into his eyes. Clark kissed him and as he did, flipped them both over. Using Lex's weight as a ballast, he managed to lower them slowly back on the table.

The kiss ended and Lex smiled at Clark. "Very good, but what will you do without me?"

"I guess I can't fly without you," Clark answered licking the spot where he'd left a rather prominent hickey. Feeling both sated and smug at making his point, Lex simply pulled Clark to his mouth for some more kissing, something Clark was equally adept at.

After making sure the path was clear, Clark speeded them to bed for some well-deserved rest. Lex who was still feeling slightly possessive woke Clark by riding him from behind. He was half out of his mind with lust by the time he came, while Clark was looking so well-fucked that Lex was soon feeling triumphant and generous.

While Clark slept, Lex crept out of bed, took a shower and called some of Clark's friends to keep him company for part of the day. After all, he needed to have a discussion with Jor-El about Clark's flying ability. Which, granted, was incredible during sex. Yet, Lex was not willing to watch the man he loved float away into the atmosphere.

Clark was a bit surprised to find Lex gone when he got up, but was mollified when his friends started to arrive telling him that it was all Lex's idea they spend some time together. Well, that and the fact his ass was pleasantly tingling. He had a fairly good idea where Lex had gone and was frankly a bit nervous about going outside without his anchor.

Bob was very cautious as everyone arrived, checking them over carefully, perhaps a bit too carefully and raising Clark's suspicion. Yet, he was grateful for it later in the afternoon. He was just starting to really loosen up with Chloe and Pete when he could hear Bob's voice in a deep reverberating tone he'd never heard before. Getting up, Clark excused himself to find Lois Lane at the door to the penthouse looking furious as Bob checked her purse.

"Well, if it isn't Clark Kent?" she snarled. Bob made a motion to grab Lois' arm but Clark shook his head. Lois stalked toward him. "I hope your happy, Smallville. Thanks to you I'm a laughing stock over at the Planet. Perry is ready to put me at the Obit desk, and for what? Just so your make believe love affair can boost your friend's career? He doesn't love you. Don't you realize that? He's playing you for a fool. Soon you'll be another notch on his bedpost, just like all his other lovers. He'll use you up and toss you aside."

Clark stepped back, reeling from Lois' hateful words. Bob stepped in front of her. "I've never hit a lady before, but since you aren't one I don't think I'll have to worry about it."

She sized him up and tried to push past him. Bob stood his ground and began to half carry her out just as Lex returned home. "Dirt under his boot, Smallville! When did he say 'yes'? Tell me that huh? Was it after he considered what it would do to his aspirations?" She yelled triumphantly, despite the fact that Bob was now carrying her like a sack of potatoes out the door. Lex shook his head at her and pushed the button to seal the elevator door behind them before turning to Clark.

Clark's back was turned to him. Chloe was holding him rubbing his back, glaring at Lex. Pete stood between Lex and Clark. "Is it true man? Are you going to do that to Clark? Because if it is, let me tell you something -"

"Pete, no," Clark said forlornly. "It doesn't matter."

"Clark, she was just saying those things to hurt you." Chloe reminded Clark, trying to look into his eyes. Clark shrugged and went to sit down. Lex was faced with a disappointed Chloe and a doubtful Pete. Each had their arms crossed.

Lex held up his hands. "I'm sorry that you had to witness that. I'll make sure she never gets near -"

"Luthor!" Pete shouted. "Tell us it was a lie man!"

"I love Clark." Lex said in his defense, not really sure what to say. He'd only heard the tail end, which was unfortunately true. When he told Clark 'yes' it was after he realized what the scandal was doing to his political and business aspirations. It wasn't until later he knew he was in love with Clark and had been for a long time.

Bob had returned and was looking at Lex with encouragement. He'd been around long enough to see the love between the two men. It was just a matter of getting him to admit it.

Lex sighed, knowing what he had to do and swallowed his desire at privacy away along with his pride. "Some of it is true, yes, and Clark knows that. There's nothing I can do to take that back. But I love him and nothing and no one is going to stop me from marrying Clark, even if it leaves me bankrupt and destitute. I won't stop loving Clark or wanting to be with him the rest of my life."

"Do you mean that?" Clark asked coming back into view.

Lex looked over Chloe and Pete, meeting Clark's overly bright eyes. "Yes, Clark. I love you, no matter what." He crossed the room, pointedly ignoring the others, pulled Clark into his arms and kissed away any lingering doubts.

"Aww." Chloe sighed. Bob smiled and Pete made a face.

Chapter 38

"Time to go, man," Pete grumbled and hit the button for the elevator, turning his back on the two who were now pushed up against the wall kissing. When the elevator arrived he had to drag Chloe away. Bob, who was happily laughing, rode down with them to stand guard at the floor entrance in order to give the lovers some privacy.

Rutting against the wall wildly, Clark was the first to shoot his load into Lex's hand. A moment later, Lex came all over Clark's hand. They smiled lazily at each other. After a minute where they both caught their respective breaths Clark nuzzled into Lex's neck. "I was so scared."

Lex frowned, "Of what Angel? Don't you know I love you?" Turning his face slightly he kissed Clark's fevered brow.

"I…I have to tell you something." Clark pulled away and shuffled off to the bedroom, peeling off clothes as he went, heading for the shower. Lex barely could keep up, arriving in the shower stall a full minute after Clark.

Clark was sitting in the corner of the stall with his head in his hands, his legs tucked up and looking as vulnerable as Lex could ever recall seeing him. "What is it?" Lex asked nervously as he sat down beside Clark, pulling him into his arms, headless of the water rushing over them both. He waited patiently, knowing Clark couldn't be rushed when it came to important things. So in the back of his mind he plotted ways to kill Lois Lane, if nothing else it put him in a better frame of mind.

Finally Clark spoke, "Do you remember when I almost rejected you…us?"

Lex felt his heart clench as he remembered all too vividly. "Yes." He winced as it came out cold and unfeeling.

Clark flinched before continuing in a voice so soft that Lex had to fight to hear it over the water pounding on their skin. "Lara told me that, 'To reject love is to reject life. If I reject you or you reject me that it forfeits our lives'."

Lex pulled Clark's face up, so that he would see the truth in his eyes. "Then we have nothing to worry about. I love you, Clark, with every beat of my heart. I wouldn't want to live without you anyway, not after knowing what life can be like with you."

Clark pulled away momentarily to shift around and pull Lex to him. "Oh, Lex, I love you so much, but when Lois said -"

"Fuck her and everyone like her. You and I are different, Clark, we have a destiny together." Lex smiled. "Your mother might kill me though."

Clark frowned past the smile Lex had just put there. "Why?"

"Because I think we should move up the wedding and get married as soon as possible."

If anything Clark's grin grew. Lex smiled back, before pulling him off the floor. They washed off together amidst many kisses and gropes, until they were soon screaming their release once more. When they finally toweled off, they lay on the bed together side-by-side, with Lex drawing lazy Kryptonian symbols on Clark's chest. "Lex where did you learn that?"

"Your father, Jor-El, has begun to teach me your language in my sleep. When we talked in person he wanted to download it into my neural pathways, but I thought it best we avoid that considering all the head injuries I've had. This means "life mate" right?"

Clark nodded, stroking Lex's back. "So what did you two talk about?"

"Kryptonian traditions and some self-hypnosis you can use to land safely to get over your fear of heights," Lex rolled over onto his back and Clark pulled his hand away then leaned over him, propped up on an elbow, "Although, it's kind of funny that the water tower never bothered you."

"What Kryptonian traditions?" Clark asked nervously looking down at Lex. Actually the water tower had bothered him, but he was too upset to think clearly that day. Not that he was going to open up that for discussion again.

"Well, first of all, a Kryptonian wedding is done within one lunar cycle of the consummation of the bond." Lex laughed.

"Oops." Clark chuckled.

"Yes, oops, I got quite a speech for that, but in the end he forgave me. It did come with a price. He would have made a good corporate raider," Lex praised.

"What sort of price?" Clark groaned. He had a really bad feeling about this and was simply too strung out to deal with one more thing.

"Well, let's just say we won't be wearing tuxes after all, at least not to the private ceremony. We can always put on a big number for the press some other time. There's also a ritual that your birth parents would like to see performed for them. And -"

"There's more??" Clark groaned. The mere thought of what his real mother would do to him was enough to make him want to hide in bed for a week after disrupting her plans.

"They want you to download the repository of knowledge, so that you can connect their matrixes." Lex's face softened.

"Why?" Clark asked.

"Apparently, those holograms were also programmed with your parent's feelings. They miss each other Clark, being so disconnected."

"Oh." Clark snuggled into Lex's side thinking of what that would be like. It made him shudder at the thought of having two sets of parents that were always all over each other. Lex rubbed circles on his back.

"I sort of promised -" Lex began.

"No, it's okay. I guess it's the least I can do for them. After all, thanks to them I have you." Clark kissed the corner of Lex's mouth and Lex turned into the kiss. They kissed leisurely like this for a few minutes before Clark climbed over Lex with a moan of desire.

Lex chuckled. "Don't you ever need to recover?"

"I've had time. But if you aren't ready old m-" Plundering Clark's mouth and pinning Clark underneath him with a swift martial arts move, Lex proceeded to remove all doubt from Clark's mind. Quickly removing the towels, Lex fumbled for the lube, but a hand on his wrist stopped him.

"I'm ready," Clark whispered in a voice full of desire. Lex nodded and still grabbing the lube only covered himself. With practiced precision he pushed into Clark, moaning as the tightness almost sent him over the edge. "Fuck me hard, Lex. Make me feel it."

Knowing he'd be feeling it later, but unwilling to let the age crack go by, Lex slammed into Clark's body. He screamed half in pain and half in pleasure as he climaxed for the third time that day. Clark fell asleep in his arms, and with palatable relief that he'd finally worn his young alien lover out, Lex collapsed on Clark's chest…dead to the world.

Chapter 39

"Mom, calm down. Mom!" Clark pleaded, looking at Lex as he returned from school with the cell phone at his ear and waving at Bob. Clearly, he'd just broken the news to Martha that there would be another ceremony as well.

Taking pity, Lex took the phone from Clark. He gave Clark a kiss hello and then went out to the kitchen to explain things to his future mother-in-law. Clark plopped on the couch, bringing up the designs that Lex had sent him on his laptop while he was at school. He made a face. "I'm going to look like Warrior Angel!"

Bob snickered and nodded when Clark showed it to him. With the security guard around them 24/7, it had been near impossible to keep him from finding out Clark's secret. But they had passed it and the need for a second ceremony off as Clark being a mutant. And that Lex wanted to have a comic book wedding in secret. "At least you know Lex likes Warrior Angel."

"Then why doesn't he dress up like him and I can have the outfit in the sharp colors?" Clark complained.

Lex returned to the room closing the phone. "I've straightened everything out. I picked the primary colors for my outfit, because I thought you would like it. You wear enough of them and always comment about me wearing purple."

"I love you in purple. Besides, purple makes me look fat," Clark complained.

Bob snickered. "Do you two realize how gay you sound? I mean I'm gay and don't sound like -" his comment died on his lips at the looks on their faces. "Right, I think it's time I checked out the perimeter." Pushing the button for the elevator, he made a hasty retreat.

Lex pinched the bridge of his nose to stave off a headache. "Fine, I'll be Warrior Angel and you can be Primary Man. Did you get my text message?"

"No why?" Lex closed his eyes in frustration as Clark pulled him into his lap and started to nuzzle his neck, sniffing his cologne even as Lex was trying to get him to pay attention.

"You need to go to the Fortress tonight for the final rehearsal. The wedding is scheduled for sunset on Saturday there. Jor-El is expecting you in your costume." Lex smirked. He couldn't help it. The Kryptonian Traditional outfits really did make them look like comic book heroes. He could sense Clark's amusement simmering under the surface, thanks to the bond. With a tickle to Clark's side, the brunet was soon roaring with laughter.

It was a sound Lex would never tire of. "I love you." Lex whispered.

"Love you, too. I missed you so much today. And I have an idea about college." Clark looked at Lex hopefully.

"What?" Lex asked suspiciously.

"Well, I had to hold myself back in high school. But in college no one cares. With all the knowledge that Jor-El will download into my head, I was thinking about testing out of some courses and taking some advanced ones."

"So you can graduate sooner," Lex nodded. "I think it's a good idea actually. Although, I recommend not mentioning it to your mother until after the wedding, she's a little, um, tense. Don't forget you'll have to deal with your father's reaction, too."

Clark winced at the last then snorted at Lex's political correctness in describing his mother's mood swings of late. "You mean she's in a bitchy mood."

"You said it, not me. I can't believe you said it, but no arguments here. Well," Lex looked at his watch, "you need to get going so you have enough time to have your head filled and work on the matrix. And don't forget to bring the outfit; it's on your closet door handle."

"Yes, dear," Clark teased before leaping away using some super-speed and agility. Lex shook his head in amusement. He smiled in pride as well. Clark's abilities were really starting to come together along with his self-esteem. The private wedding being so soon had done a lot to booster Clark's belief that Lex was in this for good. Their only disappointment came when they realized that they'd still have to wait to go on the honeymoon until the public wedding in December. They countered this by limiting the press corps invited to two people, Chloe and Mr. Townsend. Lois had practically vanished from the map after Lex made sure the Daily Planet faced a harassment suit on their behalf.

Mr. Townsend and Lex had started to become friends. Lex needed a surrogate father because his own was, well, awful and Clark's were, well, Clark's. Besides Mr. Townsend had an empty hole created by the loss of his son. It was a good fit. On the days when Clark was in school, Lex and Mr. Townsend-known now to the pair as 'Rob'-had lunch together. Even Lionel seemed satisfied with the arrangement making his knowledge of it to Lex plain during a conference call. His only comment was, "Good thing that bond you're forming with that Townsend fellow. Public relation was always your mother's department anyway. Just make sure not to give away any family secrets for the Sunday edition."

Lex shook his head from his musings as Clark entered the room. He posed with his fists on his hips while singing, "I don't want to be your super man. I just want to be your man and I'll be super…baby," from one of his favorite bands. Lex would have laughed except he enjoyed hearing Clark call him Baby too much. Not that he'd ever admit it. But he had made it clear that 'Tiger' wasn't working out. He couldn't stop connecting it with the day Kal took over.

Getting up, Lex walked around Clark to inspect the outfit. Lifting up the red cape he leered in appreciation of the spandex over Clark's perfect ass. "You really need to put on the red underwear over top, if you aren't going to wear it underneath."

"But it was too stiff!" Clark whined. "And I'll look like and idiot wearing it over the top."

Lex rolled his eyes. "I'll wear mine over the top too."

Clark smiled and gave in, trotting back to the bedroom to put on the underwear over top of the outfit along with a yellow belt as an accent. When he returned, Lex gave him the gladiator salute of a thumbs-up. "Don't be late for dinner, Angel."

"I won't be," Clark assured Lex with a kiss. "I love you, Baby."

"I love you too." Clark smiled at Lex and Lex suspected Clark had guessed he favored the nickname 'Baby'. He was becoming positively see-through where Clark was concerned. There was another brush of speed before Clark took off running for the caves in Smallville at top speed.

Chapter 40

Clark was practicing the intricate dance-like movements of the Kryptonian ceremony when the matrix, which now featured both his mother and father, shimmered out of sight. It returned a moment later. Both Jor-El and his wife looked with concern at their son.

"What's wrong?" Clark stopped short, seeing their faces. As he asked, he felt it. Something was wrong with Lex. A desperate fear gripped Clark, "Lex!"

"Yes, we just picked up an intruder alert alarm at your residence -" Lara began.

"Lex!" Without thinking Clark sank to his knees to build momentum then put both arms up shooting into the sky. The fear that was consuming Lex spurred him to fly even faster and faster, until a sonic boom heralded his top speed. Using his super-hearing he overheard what was going on as he approached Metropolis, faster than the speed of sound.

"Let him go and we can talk," he heard Bob's angry voice.

"Not on your life. He ruined my life and he should die for it. He lives in sick, ungodly ways that shouldn't be tolerated!"

Clark shuddered as he recognized the voice. It was Derrick Dawson, Three-Piece Suit Guy!

Straining his eyes to turn on his x-ray vision, he saw Lex dangling barely conscious near far side of the Penthouse roof, and Derrick had a gun pointed at Bob.

Bob took a step toward Derrick with several security guards behind him, anxiously awaiting orders. "Don't come any closer or I'll let go!"

One of the guards behind Bob leapt forward taking a shot at Derrick. Bob screamed at him. Derrick fell backwards, dropping Lex in the process. With a renewed burst of speed and determination, Clark sped through the maze of office buildings in the city, managing to catch Lex in his arms while using his breath to cushion his fall. He flew up to the top of the LexCorp building, ignoring both the curious cries of spectators and the sound of Derrick Dawson as he spattered on the roof of a car far below.

His only thought was on the man in his arms. As he lay him gently down on the ground, he realized Lex wasn't breathing. Clark quickly gave him mouth-to-mouth as he had so many years ago, even though he felt his own life slipping away. Once again, Lex sputtered back to life, this time without water and Clark felt his strength return.

Relieved at the miraculous rescue, Bob hustled everyone else away to feed them the biggest line of bull of his life.

"Angel?" Lex whispered. "I think I …I died again on the way down."

Tears ran unbidden down Clark's cheeks. "I know. I felt it." He clutched Lex tightly to him. "I love you, so much."

Lex smiled at him knowingly, "Clark how did you get here?"

"Um," Clark looked back over the way he'd come and smiled, "like an angel?"

The next day heralded the return of a rather subdued Lois Lane to the Daily Planet. She'd managed to catch pictures of the heroic rescue with her digital camera. The very first story ran about a man that was labeled forevermore, as "Superman."

But she still wasn't invited to the wedding that December.

Martha, Jonathan, Chloe and Pete stood huddled in the Fortress that Saturday. It was sunset and the very first star came out, shining-appropriately enough-where Krypton once resided in the constellations.

Jor-El intoned the sacred words of bonding from the House of El, translated to English for their guests. Clark now spoke Kryptonian as fluently as he had as a child. Lex had learned the words in the ceremony that he had to speak, but it was more than enough to make Clark feel incredibly moved.

"Hear now the sacred words. From the four winds, the sky, land and sea, the power is wrought. From energies untold and ancient magic, a love is created. Our son Kal of the House of El is to be forevermore bound to the Terran, Alexander of Luthor."

Clark stepped forward in what was now known as his 'Superman' regalia. Lex stepped forward in his Warrior Angel outfit. Clark kneeled before Lex; though he spoke in Kryptonian the matrix translated it for their guests.

"My love for you came from within. It died without you. Bonded to you it grows evermore." He kissed Lex's feet. "Blessed are thy feet, which brought your love to me." He kissed his knees. "Blessed are the knees that kneel before me, in love." He kissed Lex's groin. "Blessed is the love that you give unto me." Rising up, he kissed Lex's chest. "Blessed is your heart that you share with me." Lastly, he kissed his lips. "Blessed are the lips that are sealed with our love."

Martha began to cry as she watched. Lex repeated the motions and the words ending with a tender kiss and handing Clark a perfect red rose.

Jor-El and Lara looked at each other in confusion at Lex's offering, and then seemed to come to some agreement as they smiled, taking each other's hand. Holding them outward they began to chant.

"Krypton's red star that gave you life, Earth's yellow star that gives you love…all hail the powers from above."

"All hail!" Lex and Clark cried out, performing a delicate move that was similar to Tai Chi in movement. Pete covered his mouth, so he wouldn't laugh. Chloe shot him a warning glare.

Lex and Clark then placed their hands over each other's hearts. "I bind to thee with my love."

"So bound," declared the assembled.

Lara rang something similar to a gong and Jor-El cried out happily. "BLESSED BE THE HOUSE OF EL BY THIS UNION!"

Clark pulled Lex into a kiss and Martha tightly hugged Jonathan.

'Okay, that was just weird,' Pete thought to himself, but wasn't about to say it out loud with Chloe right next to him.

"Bright life and love to you both. I only regret I cannot hold you in my arms," Lara said looking at Clark.

"Me too, M'tuk." Lex smiled at Clark's use of the Kryptonian word for 'mother' knowing what it would mean to Lara, even if she was only a matrix simulation.

With a smile and nod of approval, she and Jor-El blinked out. The others gathered around, teasing them on the outfits while asking lots of questions. Martha managed to stop crying long enough to kiss them both. Chloe admitted to sneaking the rose in for Lex. Pete made teasing remarks about what would happen next. Jonathan just looked at the two proudly.

They were together always and they would love each other even longer from one galaxy to another. Whether they were Clark and Lex, Kal-El and Alexander or Superman and Luthor, a rose by any other name would never smell as sweet as their love for one another. It was legendary.