by Chris J. Ueberall
Spoilers/Episode related: Hug (1.11)
FYI: Some scenes might not be a 100% like they are on screen.
Thanks: To Alison for betaing. To Alex for understanding and to A.J. for the pep talk.
Note: Written for *The Smallville Looking Back Tribute Challenge* http://www.ontippytoes.com/looking_back.htm
"Friendship's a fairy tale."
The words cut through Clark in a way a knife never could. This was all so wrong. And why had he left Kyle out there instead of hiding him somewhere? Why stop in this garage at all?
"Respect and fear is the best you can hope for."
"Rickman's doing this to you!" He had to get through to the real Lex, for no way was this his best friend talking. No, this was one mind-controlled robot, and Clark had to reach the true Lex beneath, the man he trusted, the guy who had exchanged himself as a hostage for Clark and his schoolmates.
"What if he did?"
"You hate Rickman!"
"You can learn a lot from someone you hate."
The expression on Lex's face was as uncaring as his voice. Clark could kick himself for not noticing the difference earlier. Lex had already sounded like that on the telephone when Clark called him from the gas station, his voice without emotion. Rickman had probably been standing right next to him as he spoke.
Clark was still searching for a meaningful response, when bullets started to fly. Instead of using his speed to get away he stood as if his feet were frozen to the spot, staring unbelievingly at his best friend. 'Lex, you can't do this!' his mind shouted, even as he was busy trying to dodge the hail of death.
For a while it seemed to work, but then his luck ran out and the first bullet hit him, then the second and third. He stopped counting then, and concentrated instead on the pain. It was bearable, but definitely there. He realized that the bullets weren't biting into his flesh, but rather bouncing off him. At the moment of impact they hurt. His instincts screamed to curl in on himself, to get away - and he did. Following the momentum, he let the bullets push him around and to the ground; where he lay, breathing hard, trying to think past the shock and pain.
The shooting stopped. He could hear Lex coming closer and then his supposed-to-be best friend kicked him so that he lay on his back. Lex stood there triumphantly, pointing the small machine gun at Clark's face like it gave him all the power in the world. That alone was proving clearly that Lex wasn't himself, for there was no way that the man could miss the lack of blood or the fact that Clark was not writhing in agony on the ground. It was obvious that the bullets hadn't done much harm to Clark and very likely wouldn't kill him even at point blank.
But those facts didn't register with this Lex, it seemed. Cold eyes didn't show any surprise when Clark looked up at him, no feelings, just determination to get a job done.
Clark kicked him hard, and watched with satisfaction as his would-be-killer flew through the air, crashed into some steel boards and was nearly buried beneath boards and tires.
Then the fear for his friend replaced the satisfaction of revenge. He rushed to Lex' side to find him unconscious. "Lex?" No reaction. Worried, he tried to determine how badly Lex was hurt. His x-ray vision showed no broken bones or internal injuries, which was a relief, but he had to admit to himself that if it came to something less obvious he wouldn't know what to look for anyway. "Come on, Lex, wake up, please." Helplessly he caressed his friend's cheek, until a shot rang through the air and reminded him of the other person participating in this drama.
"Kyle?" He looked around, he hadn't thought of the man since Lex had started shooting at him. So where was he? Panicked Clark ran outside to find Kyle standing next to a dead Bob Rickman, who lay on the ground, a gun in his hand. Swallowing hard, because looking at corpses was still something he dreaded, Clark concentrated on Kyle instead.
"I always was the better salesman." Not what Clark had expected for Rickman's epitaph, but somehow he didn't mind. And then Kyle told him that he'd seen Clark being hit by a bullet.
For a moment Clark could think of nothing to answer, then some words tumbled through his mind, half-thought explanations which never made it to his mouth as he got the promise that his secret would be safe. Relief made him almost giddy, and he acknowledged - at least to himself - that it felt good to share this burden with someone, to have someone knowing and understanding, someone he could trust. The thought led him back to Lex, and the moment Kyle was out of his sight he hurried back into the garage.
Lex was still unconscious, and Clark felt his heart miss a beat as he knelt down and felt for a pulse. What had he done? What if his friend never woke up? Lex's wrist felt cold in Clark's hand, but from what he could tell the heart beat strongly and regularly, and then - as if Lex had been waiting for his touch - eye-lids fluttered and with a groan he returned to the living.
Blinking into the light, he looked questioningly at Clark, trying to get his bearings.
"Hey." Clark knew he beamed like a neon-sign, but didn't care. Helping his friend to sit up, he waited for Lex to say something, to give him a clue about what he remembered. Chloe hadn't remembered the kiss, and Whitney probably really didn't recall that he attacked Kyle, so he didn't expect Lex to remember much, at least not that he tried to kill Clark, but maybe he remembered that they had wanted to meet here.
For a moment Lex didn't say anything, just looked around, assessing the situation. "Where am I?" Lex asked finally.
"The gas station," Clark answered, wondering if that would jerk some memories free.
"What am I doing here?" Lex wanted to know next, adding immediately, "Or more precisely, what have I done?" His gaze swept over Clark like a scanner, and with a start Clark remembered the bullet holes in his jacket.
'Shit. What can I say, and what can I keep from him?' He was still pondering that question when the faint sound of sirens reached his ear. It was too much to hope for that the sheriff would be heading somewhere else. After all, there still was a burning car outside.
"Sirens?" Lex asked as if he wasn't sure he could trust his hearing.
"Yes. Someone probably saw the explosion."
"Explosion?" Eye-brows rose inquiringly. "You better tell me something, Clark, or I'll look like an idiot when the sheriff arrives."
"You wanted to help Kyle expose Rickman. We were supposed to meet here and then drive to Metropolis."
A thoughtful look crossed Lex's face. "I remember that you and Chloe went off to search for Kyle. Guess you found him."
Clark nodded. "Yes. He was at his trailer. He showed us how Rickman got what he wanted, and we ..."
"How?" Lex interrupted.
The sirens were getting closer, he had to hurry. "I don't think ..."
"I need to know, Clark, now." Lex's tone made it clear that he meant it, and the way he took in his surroundings, Clark had no doubt that his friend was already building some theories of his own.
"He touched Chloe and told her she had feelings for me and should act on them. And Chloe ..." God, how embarrassing was this, "... she kissed me. Afterwards she didn't remember anything, not even Kyle telling her what to do."
Lex stared at him, then stood and looked around once more. And Clark wished he had brought his friend to another place, because the chance seemed nil that Lex wouldn't recognize the bullet holes in the car - as well as in Clark's jacket - for what they were.
"What happened then?" Lex's voice was sharp. "I remember vaguely getting here. I do remember Rickman visiting me in the mansion. But in-between is a blank. So tell me, what did I do?"
There really was nothing Clark could do to lessen the truth. "You tried to kill us. Kyle and me. First in the car, which went up in the explosion I mentioned, and then you tried to shoot us. But you missed."
There was silence for what seemed like an eternity, then Lex took a step and lifted something from the ground. It was the machine gun. "I missed you. With a machine gun." Lex's expression revealed nothing of his feelings as he spoke. "I got your jacket, but not you. Not even a scratch, right?"
"Ehm. Yes." The sirens were almost there, this really wasn't the moment for great revelations. "Lex, I ..." he had no idea what he wanted to say, but Lex stopped him anyway.
"Good god, Clark. I could've killed you." Now his friend's face showed shock, remorse and self-disgust. Clark couldn't stand it.
"It wasn't you, Lex. It was Rickman."
"He didn't pull the trigger, did he?" Lex swayed. He was pale beyond belief, and Clark wasn't sure if it was shock or a belated reaction to the crash into the board. In a flash he was at his friend's side, gently grapping Lex's arm in support.
Blue eyes stared up at him in ... awe? "How can you stand to touch me? After what I did, how can you ..."
"You're my best friend, Lex. I know you wouldn't hurt me." He could see that Lex didn't get the concept. And then he did the only thing he could think of - his father always preached that action spoke louder than words - he pulled Lex against his chest. For a moment his older friend stood stiff in his embrace, then Lex's arms went around him, hugging him close.
Clark jerked a little as Lex came in contact with one of his more pronounced bruises, but held on to his friend when he recoiled. "It's okay, I swear, just a bruise. I'm okay."
He felt his friend nod and relax slightly. Sirens broke through their moment of peace.
"Should you be here?" Lex asked, stepping out of the embrace.
"Not sure. I'd rather not." He really didn't want to speak to the sheriff if it could be avoided.
Lex nodded. "Anything else I should know? Where's Kyle?"
"Gone. Oh, and Rickman's dead; he's lying outside. I think he shot himself."
"You mean, Kyle made him do it, don't you?"
Clark shrugged. "Guess so, but I didn't see it happening."
"Okay. I think ..." The sound of tires coming to a stop and doors being opened halted Lex' speech. "Go, then," he said instead.
"You sure?" As much as Clark wanted to go, he didn't want to leave his friend alone.
"I'm sure." The patent Lex smile, indulgent arrogance. "I'll deal with the sheriff. Don't worry." He gestured with his head towards the back. "Go."
"Thanks." Clark waited until Lex turned towards the main entrance, then he was off. Using a side door he vanished with superspeed, not checking if Lex was watching or not.
Clark was sitting on a chest and looking out of the window of his barn-loft, when Lex approached him. The boy didn't seem to hear him at first and Lex deduced that his friend wasn't so much watching something as he was actually lost in thought. Finally, Clark turned and his face lit with a wide smile as he recognized his visitor. Lex smiled in answer, relief floating through him. Even though Clark had not seemed to hold Lex accountable for his doings a part of Lex was still waiting for Clark to change his mind.
Stepping closer to his friend, Lex told him the good news about the farm: That due to Bob Rickman's untimely demise his lawyers weren't interested in expending any more money and time on the whole thing, so the Kents were out of the contract, the farm once more belonging to them.
"Thanks." Clark smiled and stood. "How are you feeling?"
Lex grinned inwardly - shouldn't that be his line? "I still don't remember what happened. Are you sure I didn't hurt you?"
Clark patted his chest in answer, probably meaning to say “See, everything is okay.”
But it just reminded Lex of his friend's flinch when they had embraced. Clark obviously wasn't mortally wounded, but he had been hurt. He had admitted as much, hadn't he? But that had been yesterday, and today it was half-truths, as usual. Swallowing his disappointment, Lex wondered why he'd expected things to change.
Then again, he hadn't been exactly truthful with Clark himself. So, no, Lex hadn't actually remembered anything, but he had dreamed last night. Detailed, technicolor dreams. Even now he recalled them vividly:
A burning car and Clark grabbing Kyle and disappearing in a flash.
"You've some explaining to do." The words still echoed in his head. But what followed was worse.
Rickman appeared, giving Lex the uzi. "I hate to think you'd fail to get your job done."
"Relax, failing isn't something I do." And wasn't he full of shit?
"I always knew you were keeping secrets from me, Clark, but I never thought they were this good."
Then Lex watched himself threatening Kyle so that Clark would show up. And Clark, always the hero, left his hiding place. Next, Clark stood amidst a hail of bullets.
Lex had woken up then, drenched in sweat, his stomach trying its best to bring his nightly scotch up again. Lex wasn't sure what was worse - the fact that he tried to burn his best friend alive and afterwards used him for target practice or the cold detachment with which he had taken in and done everything. At the gas station, he'd had no feelings for the boy who had saved his life, who normally drew him like a flame drew the moth. The boy who had starred in most of Lex's late night fantasies since they'd met. Instead he'd shown only clinical interest in an unusual specimen.
'God,' Lex thought, 'what kind of man am I to think that way about my friend?' His friend!
Lex forced himself back into the present, where he and Clark stood before the window. "I wonder where Kyle is now," he said, truly meaning it. He wanted to speak to the man. He had to know what really had happened to him. What had been due to Rickman's influence and what had come from Lex's darker side?
"I don't know."
For once he had no doubt that Clark spoke the truth. 'Damnit!' he cursed silently.
"It's still strange to think that he and Rickman were once best friends. Think we'll ever end up like that?"
The fact that Clark was still putting him in the best friend category warmed Lex' soul and for a moment chased the cold of earlier thoughts away. "Trust me, Clark, our friendship is going to be the stuff of legend."
Ruthlessly he suppressed any thoughts about legendary friendships that had gone sour. He was not a character in a Greek tragedy, touched by the gods. Neither was Clark the hero in a melodrama, his similarities with Atticus not withstanding. No, they were both free to choose their future life and the people within it. And Lex planned to have Clark in his for a very long time, and if the smile Clark gifted him with was anything to go by, then Clark felt the same.
For a while they stood in silent bliss, but as Lex watched the sun go down his earlier dark thoughts returned. Parts of his dream flickered through his mind. He nearly burned his friend. He shot his friend. He hurt him. He just had to see!
"Clark," he began, his inner turmoil not sounding in his tone.
"Yes?" The boy turned curiously towards him.
"You said you trust me."
Clark nodded. "I do."
"Then please trust me now. Open your shirt."
"What?" Blue-green eyes stared at Lex uncomprehendingly.
"Please, Clark. I need to see." Something in Lex's expression must have given his desperation away, because without further protest Clark complied. Stripping off the flannel shirt, he hung it over the telescope. He wasn't wearing anything underneath, and Lex had to swallow as the well formed chest was revealed. Perfection. Not the least bit marred by the fist-sized bruises.
Lex moved closer as though in a trance. "I did this," he whispered.
"No, you didn't, it was ..."
"It were the bullets I fired. The ones that didn't miss you." 'God.' If Clark had been anyone else, he'd be dead now. Having died by Lex's hand.
"Lex. It's all right. I'm just bruised. It doesn't really hurt anymore."
"Which is a miracle, Clark." A miracle. A living breathing miracle. The ninth wonder of the world standing in front of Lex. He had to touch. As if on their own accord his fingers reached for a red bruise. "The bullets bounced off you." Deformed bullets in the gas station had suggested as much, but it was another thing entirely to have living proof.
"Sorry?" He looked up at Clark. "What could you be sorry for?" Was that shame on the boy's face?
"For lying to you. About the car accident. For not telling you that I'm ... special?" The last sounded like a question, so typical Clark.
Lex smiled, all he cared for right now was that his friend was alive. "I'm glad you're special, Clark. And I don't mind not knowing ... everything. It's your secret to tell. I just hope you'll tell me eventually. When you're ready." He wasn't aware that his hand was still on the broad chest, moving in subtle circles, until he heard his friend gasp.
His hand stilled. "Did I hurt you?" he asked.
"No! No." Clark sounded breathless.
Surprised Lex mentally backtracked his doings, then smirked as he took in his young friend's appearance: a slight flush to his face, taught muscles and the first signs of an erection in his pants.
So maybe there could be more to their friendship than life and death situations.
Deliberately caressing now, Lex was quickly presented with hard evidence of the boy's interest. He felt his own heartbeat speed up at the embodied temptation before him, and what was Lex if not a sinner? Still, this was his virgin friend, and he reminded himself to go slowly. It wasn't so much the fact that Clark was only fifteen years old, and could be Lex's one-way-ticket to jail, that made him ask for permission - after all, Clark didn't look that young and had a body that any god could be proud of - but the fact that Lex cared deeply for him.
"You want me to kiss it all better?"
Clark looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. "Kiss it all better?" he echoed.
"The bruises, Clark. To make the pain go away. It's an old home remedy." At least it had been when Pam was still around. Briskly Lex pushed the memory away, this wasn't the time for it.
Finally his friend caught on. "Yes! Sounds good. Please, do."
Smiling Lex leaned forward and kissed bruised skin. Slowly he licked and kissed his way up to a rapidly moving Adam's apple, then went downwards again equally slowly. Stopping briefly to suck at the left nipple, and then to nip gently on the right.
"Oh, god, Lex!" Clark moaned.
Lex could feel the boy shiver and sway under his hands. Gently he guided Clark to the seat he'd occupied earlier, then settled himself astride on Clark's legs, facing him. Realizing that his young friend was clutching his arms to his side, hands in fists as if he wasn't sure what to do with them, Lex soothingly stroked one arm. "You can touch me, Clark."
"No!" Fear blazed in blue-green eyes and Clark shook his head vehemently. "I could hurt you."
Remembering the ripped off roof of a Porsche, the lifting of a full grown man with one arm, Lex knew that Clark was right. He had the strength to easily break a bone or two. Then again, this was Clark, who had saved his life, who was always there to protect and help. He couldn't let that fear fester in Clark's mind. Lex had sworn to himself that he'd do everything to make his friend happy, and right now that meant giving him a hell of a good first time.
That decided, Lex pushed any thoughts of broken limbs away and dove in for a kiss. Slowly but determined he forced his tongue past the slightly opened lips and concentrated on kissing his friend breathless. When he was sure that Clark wasn't able to think anymore, he let go and gently grabbed the fisted hands, placing them on his ass. "Hold on, Clark. Don't worry, it'll be all right."
He kissed him once more and simultaneously took up caressing the broad chest again. Soon he noticed with satisfaction - and not a little arousal - that Clark had instinctively begun a careful kneading of Lex's backside. He smiled and pinched the little buds under his fingers. Clark groaned and jerked up, his erection straining against his pants. The need rose strongly from his friend and Lex decided that it was time to bring him to fulfillment. After all, who knew when his parents might appear in the barn.
"Clark, let me go," he said softly, and the blue-green eyes opened in alarm.
"Did I ...?"
"Shshsh." Lex kissed him, and soothingly stroked his hair. "Everything's okay. I just want to change position." He winked and was rewarded with a wavering smile.
"Oh. Okay." Clark let go and again held his arms like he didn't know what to do with them.
"Put them behind you, on the seat. You'll need them for balance," Lex suggested wickedly. As Clark complied, Lex slid from his lap to kneel on the ground. With practiced ease, he opened Clark's pants, freeing his cock. "That looks painful," he said, looking up at his young friend playfully.
"Kiss it better?" Clark asked hopefully, his eyes dark and wide.
Lex nodded. "Going to blow on it," he whispered and leaned down to make good on his promise. Carefully at first, then with gentle strength as he got the feel of Clark, he sucked him off. Cherishing the tiny gasps and choked-off moans coming from his friend.
It didn't take long, as the boy was highly strung, and inexperienced. In a matter of moments he exploded into Lex's willing mouth. Swallowing the come, Lex decided it tasted different in so far as it had no taste at all, but it prickled addictively on his tongue and flowing down his throat. He promised himself to do this again sometime - often. After licking the softened cock clean he tucked it back in, pretty sure that Clark was too dazed to think of doing it himself for awhile.
Wiping the few drops he'd let escape from his lips and chin Lex stood, then absentmindedly cleaned the dust from his pants as he studied his young lover. Apart from the expression which indicated that Clark's mind was still on cloud nine or higher, the rest of the body was very much on Earth, straining with the strength it took to hold the position, so that he wouldn't fall over backwards. There were dents in the chest where Clark's fingers had pressed into it, but not as deep as they could be, Lex decided, considering what he knew Clark could do. He marveled at his friend's control while walking around until he stood behind his back.
He stepped as close as he could, not quite accidentally trapping his hard-on between them. Then he leaned forward and slid his arms and hands over Clark's bare torso. "Let go, Clark. I have you," Lex whispered, punctuating the words with kisses to his friend's shoulderblade, before he made sure to have a secure stand, so he wouldn't stumble under Clark's weight.
A shiver, then the boy sagged against him.
"Woah." Clark rubbed his head against Lex' chest. "That was ... something."
"If you say so." Lex chuckled, then asked more earnestly, "You okay? I didn't take advantage, did I? You wanted this."
A hand gripped his as if to make sure he wouldn't withdraw. "Yes. To all three questions." A pause. "Was the last a question?"
Lex smirked. "You're saying I took advantage?"
Blinking, Clark grinned in return. "Didn't you?"
"I was ..." Lex stopped. He had heard something at the barn's entrance. Sure enough - steps. He didn't need to push Clark up, for he had heard them, too, and was already grabbing for his shirt.
'Quick thinking,' Lex reflected approvingly. The elder Kents wouldn't like it that Lex knew about the bruises, because that meant knowing far too much about their son and his secrets. But quick thinking wasn't enough to hide what they'd been doing and it seemed that superspeed only worked for running and not for buttoning flannel shirts, so a diversion was needed. Spinning Clark around so that he faced the window, Lex simultaneously adjusted himself - confident that his pants would hide his fast withering arousal - then strode purposely towards the stairs, where Jonathan Kent was just appearing.
Angling himself so that he was in Jonathan's direct line of sight, Lex greeted Clark's father with the most arrogant smile he could muster, knowing it would garner him the man's unrestricted attention. "Mr. Kent, nice to see you. I just told Clark that you don't need to worry about the farm anymore. Everything's taken care of. It's once again in your possession."
"Thank you, Lex." Barely suppressed irritation and anger gave way to grudging gratitude on Jonathan Kent's face, much to Lex's amusement. He respected the man, but sometimes didn't quite like him. Or maybe it was the other way around - he liked him, but sometimes wasn't sure he respected him? Right now wasn't the time to ponder that question though, because there were more important issues to cover. Like - wasn't Clark dressed yet?
And then the boy in question appeared at his side, all buttoned up, looking as wholesome good and naive as ever. "Hi, Dad. Did you want something?"
"Actually, yes, son. It's almost curfew." The 'and time for bed' part was clearly implied.
Clark nodded, saying, "I'll just say good-bye to Lex," at the same time as Lex admitted to being almost on his way. They grinned at each other.
Clark's father frowned, then nodded and went downstairs again, throwing searching looks over his shoulder which clearly stated that he expected them to follow. So they did. Once out of the barn, Jonathan walked to the house while Clark accompanied Lex to his car.
It was a comfortable walk, but Lex could already feel his dark mood returning. He dreaded the drive home, dreaded being alone with his thoughts and guilt. Some part of what he felt must have shown on his face, because Clark suddenly looked worriedly at him, placing a strong hand on his arm.
"Lex? What are you thinking about?"
"Nothing." That was obviously not the right answer, because Clark's worry turned to panic.
"You aren't regretting that ... you know?" Clark indicated the barn behind them.
"No." God, Lex wondered, how could someone so beautiful and strong be so insecure? Then again, Clark had reason to be unsure of Lex, hadn't he? His best friend had tried to kill him after all. "I'm not regretting that. I just regret hurting you, and I'm ... afraid I might do it again." And maybe insecurity came with living in Smallville.
"You wouldn't." Clark was all confidence now. A remarkable change. "It wasn't you back there in the garage. You were being controlled by Rickman."
Lex sighed. The boy was so naive at times. "Clark, from what I gathered Kyle and Bob used some sort of hypnosis. And hypnosis doesn't work like that. You can only make a person do what they want to do in some way, what they would do if there were a reason. Or at least, they wouldn't do something that's absolutely against their nature. Excuse me, if I feel unnerved by the idea that frying and shooting my best friend is not against my nature."
There was silence for a moment, then Clark shrugged. "That only proves that it wasn't hypnosis, or that it was an advanced version. Because they could make people do things against their nature. My father sold the farm, after all. And Chloe found out that some environment-guy committed suicide after Rickman visited. And, of course, Rickman shot himself, because Kyle told him to, if that doesn't prove it."
Looking at his young friend, Lex felt a heavy burden lift from his soul. He could argue that with all the debts on the farm making daily life a struggle, Clark's father could very well wish deep within to get rid of it, and that the man Bob probably sent to death might have thought about suicide before, but the last argument was a good one. Bob Rickman wanting to die, at the peak of his successful business-life - even if he just had some little problems - was unlikely. Highly unlikely.
"So young, so wise," Lex said, smiling at his friend . "Thank you."
"No problem." Clark positively beamed. "I love you, I know you wouldn't hurt me."
Part of that sentence echoed through Lex's whole being. Clark loved him. It didn't matter if it was a puppy love, bound to end as quickly as it came, or if it was the overrating of a friendship combined with the first sexual experience. He knew that right now Clark meant what he said, and believed it with all his heart. That was more than enough for Lex.
He wished he could kiss Clark, show him that it was a mutual feeling, but it wasn't possible, because over his friend's shoulder he could see Jonathan Kent standing on the porch. So Lex did the next best thing and drew Clark into an embrace. "The love of legend," he whispered into the nearest ear, as he hugged his young lover close.
Strong arms encircled him for a moment, but let immediately go when Lex whispered, "Your father's approaching."
Getting into his car, Lex watched as Jonathan Kent stopped beside his son, a frown still or again on his face. Over the starting engine he heard the elder Kent ask - in what he probably considered a quiet voice: "What was that, son?"
And Lex had to step on the accelerator to drown out his laughter at Clark's answer.
"A hug, Dad. Just a hug."
© 9. September 2004