So Lost Without You

A Smallville story by Buddy

I start coffee, wait for the good gurgling,
put on my quiet shoes.
The small red clock of my heart is slow,
won't keep time, needs batteries
or your arms around my languishing equator.
  - from 5 A.M. by Teresa White


Pairing: Lex/Clark
Rating: PG 13 for m/m slash
Beta Reader: Many thanks to Jenni (cloudsurfing)


Clark watches from the balcony of the penthouse as a bird flies the skyline of Metropolis and alights on the top of The Daily Planet. The sun drops slowly between The Metropolis Bank and The LuthorCorp building and the blaze is momentarily amplified from a thousand windows. Once upon a time the only things he would have missed about the view in Smallville were Nell's front door, and the girl who used to sit on the porch swing, moving it slowly back and forth every night after Whitney had said his goodbyes.

Now the small patch of blue that dissolves into pastels before it fades to grey, brings a lump to his throat and fills him with homesickness that almost makes him stumble over his reasons for being here. Metropolis has felt claustrophobic of late but at least if today ends badly he can go to the farm later, just so he can run through open fields and maybe grab a taste of his mom's mixed berry pie.

He hasn't eaten or slept properly for days and not even Chloe's tireless enthusiasm for the Fourth Estate or Pete's attempts to wash 'Smallville Loser' from his hair in a sea of available bodies, allows Clark to feel linked to reality. And both of them have little idea how he feels because he shows up to class and smiles in all the right places and any time they start to look concerned he pulls the wool over their eyes like has done ever since he can remember.

Still it helps just being here; knowing that it's Lex who has moved the air in the living room and sat on the couch and slept in the bed. And he fancies that every item in the room are Lex's ambassadors, sentinels of poise and curiosity, and a fierce intelligence that barely hides a desire to love and be loved. For an insane moment he wants to wrap himself around each and every one of them.

He hears the hummed arrival of the elevator and steps back inside, tries to ignore the way his stomach tightens and the heat spreads from his solar plexus to his cheeks. Doesn't panic at the way it stops long enough on its travels to make his heart flutter alarmingly and miss a beat. The doors open smoothly and Lex grins easily when he sees him.

"Clark, security told me you were here. How's campus life?"

"Hi Lex. Would you believe me if I told you it's full of scary earnest people who either want to save my soul with the help of baby Jesus, or enlist me in a sponsored, half-naked cage ogle, to raise funds for the Christmas Ball?"

Lex laughs as he put out his hand and draws him close into an all too brief embrace. He slaps his back lightly and then pulls away to look at Clark's face.

"The madness obviously suits you; unless you've somehow managed to smuggle in your own supply of Smallville air."

"Smooth. And a nice try but I know I look like shit."

Lex's gaze lingers after he drops his hands but before Clark can grow uncomfortable the distance between them is widened and Lex is offering him beverages and asking him why he's here.

"To what do I owe the honour? I would have thought you'd be far too busy checking out the freshman talent or drinking too much with your college friends to come here on a week night."

"Are you busy tonight? Because if you have plans ..."

His heart plummets and he wants to kick himself because he's still making the same mistakes but even if he's being presumptuous there's no sign of irritation on Lex's face.

"Nothing I can't change if I have to; what's wrong?"

Clark accepts the glass of orange juice that Lex holds out to him and sinks into the plush leather couch behind him.

"Do you like it here?"

"What's not to like? Everything I want is at my fingertips and even though people revile me here too, they hide it behind polite smiles and dinner invitations I'd be a fool to turn down."

Clark grins at him. "I had to come here; what's your excuse?"

Lex sits down beside him; close enough that Clark can hear the quiet fizz as bubbles break the surface of his water and he can smell a faint trace of citrus and mimosa from the spot on Lex's throat where he splashed cologne that morning.

"The company needs me here, Clark. Besides, I don't see why you should have all the fun and I should be left stuck in small town life."

Clark focuses on a patch of lilac silk as Lex's jacket falls open, and he realises for the first time that Lex seems more expensive here. Clark's college uniform isn't that different to the one he wore in high school and he wishes he'd made more of an effort. He glances up and Lex is watching him with a curious expression on his face and suddenly Clark knows what day it is, everything comes into sharp focus and he doesn't feel homesick anymore.

He relaxes his shoulders, lets his head slump back onto the cushions and his eyes follow the movement of Lex's hand as he loosens his tie and pulls it off. "When was the last time you had any fun?"

"That's easy. The night I beat you playing Dragonball Z on the PlayStation and you fell asleep on the couch. I should probably own up and tell you that I know all of the Budakai 2 cheats, and I that practised for hours before you arrived."

Lex tosses his jacket over to the couch facing them and pops buttons so he can roll up his shirtsleeves.

Clark widens his eyes in mock horror. "I don't think you're supposed to do that. I'm sure it's against couture laws and you'll have the fashion police knocking on the door to arrest you."

"Since when did I follow the rules?" Lex is silent for a moment and his gaze is so warm that Clark swears he could wear only that and never feel naked. "In the morning you had cheesy puffs in your hair and you still looked ridiculously grown-up for a kid with a game obsession who still hasn't worked out how to do his own laundry."

"As opposed to you, who does laundry all the time." Clark grins at him insolently.

His eyes lock on the deft movements of Lex's fingers as they open the buttons at his throat. He gulps his orange juice quickly and coughs when it goes down the wrong hole. Tears blur his vision as he leans forward to put his glass on the table and then Lex's hand is on his back. He slaps him firmly between the shoulders and then strokes soothingly until he stops coughing and turns to face him.

"Are you ok?"

"I don't know, did my lips turn blue?" He quips, resisting the urge to arch into Lex's touch.

Lex's eyes fasten on Clark's lips and Clark fails spectacularly in his quest to stop them from twitching. "I'll think you'll survive."

Lex pulls off his shoes and socks and settles back against the cushions. Clark can still feel the print of his hand through brushed cotton, until the warmth is leeched away by the cool breeze blowing in from the balcony.

"That's almost a month ago. You must have done something fun since then."

"I've been busy. And you haven't been around."

It sounds like an accusation but he closes his eyes as though he doesn't want Clark to see the expression in them and Clark wishes he could follow him into the place he disappears to when he does that.

The rapidly fading light triggers the lamps and the room is filled with a soft glow that casts a warm tinge over the pale ivory of Lex's skin. Skin that is tough for a human yet could nevertheless still break and bleed and Clark hates the fact he can do nothing about it. He exhales slowly, and reluctantly takes his eyes off the vulnerable arch of Lex's left foot.

"I know, I'm sorry."

Lex opens his eyes; they're almost grey tonight and his expression is veiled now. "I know your first year is hard but you still need to take time out to relax."

"I do. I did. Remember the night we crashed out in your room and watched old movies and Nickelodeon? I didn't even know a Luthor could eat pizza or anything that contained preservatives. You grinned fifteen times."

"You counted how many times I grinned?" Clark laughs at the astonishment on Lex's face.

"I did. Also you smiled seven times and you actually pouted once."

"You did fall asleep whilst I was talking to you."

"Only for a second; it was 3am."

"It's official; you're a party animal, Clark. No one would ever believe you're an innocent farm boy."

"No? Well who would believe you used to have wavy, red hair?"

Lex hits the side of his knee with a slap that lingers long enough to qualify as a caress. "You shouldn't be that relaxed; impertinence doesn't become you. What have you been doing?"

"I've been thinking. I needed to work something out."

"Maybe I could have helped you; all you had to do was ask."

"I had to work this out for myself."

"I left you messages; you've been avoiding me."

"I didn't think I should see you again until I'd made up my mind what to do."

"About what?"

Lex's body seems to shrink back in on itself and Clark has no idea how he missed it before, how much bigger Lex looks when he's relaxed. It's as though he keeps most of himself on the inside and only lets it out when he's alone, or with Clark, and Clark hates the fact he's put Lex on the defensive.

It's almost enoughto make him lose his nerve and hightail it back to the safety of his dorm room and text books that don't care if he has super powers or that he fell in love with his best friend. But the days he spent away from Lex were as unsatisfying as book pages without words and he needs to know if he has to learn to live like that; without him.

"About the fact you kissed me when you thought I was sleeping."

Clark runs his hand down Lex's arm and entwines their fingers, brings them to his lips and kisses them softly. Lex watches him with hooded eyes and if he's surprised by Clark's gesture he makes no move to pull away, simply leans against him and rests his head on his shoulder. He sighs heavily and the expulsion of breath against Clark's neck sends a shiver down his spine.

"I couldn't stop myself. I was so happy that you had fallen asleep here again and when you curled around me, it was like it was something you did all the time. You were gone when I woke up but I'm hoping this means you've decided it wasn't a bad thing after all."

"I didn't need to make my mind up about that Lex, I already knew how I felt about you. It's just that it's complicated."

"I tend to have that affect on people, I'm sorry."

"I'm not. It was a crystalline moment for me. After that I knew I couldn't pussy foot around any more and besides it was a very nice kiss." Clark smiles at him and pulls Lex towards him. "I want you, I just didn't know if I could have you."

Kissing Lex is something he's thought about so many times that the reality is more like a memory than a new experience. Even the hunger in Lex's response has been catalogued in a thousand smiles and lingering glances and Clark doubts his own ability to function without it.

"Clark," Lex falters and for the first time since Clark's known him he looks uncertain. "Is it complicated? Is it because of your parents and your friends?"

"No; that part will be fun. Pete will take up every extra curricular he can get that involves violent physical activity, Lana will renounce men but instead of batting for the other team she'll join a convent, and Chloe will badger us until she gets an exclusive. Of course, mom will be very understanding and dad will blame it all on you."

Lex chuckles, "That's cruel, Clark, even if it is funny."

"I'm nervous; it brings out the worst in me. We all have our dark side, Lex; it's just that some of us need to control it more than others. We might be different, you and me but we're both better people when we strike a balance between our dual natures."

"You sound like me; it's good to know I've had some influence in your life," his voice is teasing but Clark can hear the serious undertone. "Clark Kent has an alter ego? Is that who came to Metropolis whilst I went crazy on that island?" Lex looks up at him and his smile is full of melancholy.

"We've both kept secrets."

"I know that and I'm tired of them ... I tried not to think about you too much whilst I was there; it was easier to plot my revenge on the people I thought had tried to kill me. Easier to let the need for vengeance sustain me than to pin my hopes on what I believed to be a pipe dream.

"It wasn't until I returned home and saw you for the first time in three months that I realised why I'd been so afraid to think about you. In the back of mind there was this certainty that if I let you save me I wouldn't really survive unless you were able to follow it through. I couldn't let you be my reason to survive because I wasn't sure you were willing to be my saviour. What about now, Clark?"

"You don't need me to save you."

"You're right; I just need you."

Clark decides he likes how his kisses look on Lex; the way they make his eyes turn a peculiar shade of midnight and how he's all swollen lips and blush stained cheeks, and how they leave him breathless and rumpled and looking like an ordinary man.

"Lex, I want to do this but I'm scared."

"What's to be afraid of? You sound like you have it all worked out."

"I don't. I have something to tell you and I don't know if it will change the way you see me."

"Are you in some kind of trouble? Because I find that very hard to believe; unless you saved the wrong person this time."

Lex shifts closer and his hip brushes Clark's thigh and Clark instinctively leans into it, wants the warmth and the closeness for as long as he's allowed to have them.

"Actually I saved him by accident and I wasn't trying to be a hero at all. But then it isn't every day that I have a run-in with a guy carrying a camera and a gun."

Lex sits up and the fear on his face is for Clark. It puts doubt in Clark's mind and makes this so much harder.

"Jesus, Clark, are you alright? When did this happen?" Clark pulls him back, makes soothing gestures down the back of his neck and his palm fits so perfectly down the swanlike column that he struggles to remember why he's never done it before.

"It happened in my dorm room yesterday. He was hanging out of the window, trying to avoid detection. Luckily his gun was filled with blanks and I took his film after I pulled him to safety. I let him go after he told me he worked for Lionel Luthor."

A resigned look falls over Lex's face and Clark thinks it's so old it's not even genuine any more, just an echo of something that he started to wear before he even knew what it meant. "Why didn't you call the police?"

"Because I thought he was lying and I didn't want you to get arrested. I thought it was you."

"What made you think I had anything to do with it?" Lex sounds amused and angry at the same time.

"I thought you got sick of me not being honest with and decided to reopen your investigation."

"How come you're even here if you believed that?"

"Because if you had, it would be my fault. I haven't been here for a while ..."

"I noticed," Lex says dryly and tries to pull his hand from Clark's grip. Every time he pries a finger free, Clark recaptures it until Lex gives up trying.

"I panicked. I had to make a decision and I knew that it would have a massive impact on both of us and I don't want to lose you."

"You've just accused me of hiring someone to spy on you. You don't want to lose me but you don't trust me?"

"It was never really about trust at all. I missed you Lex, I couldn't stand to be without your friendship and I know I can't continue being your friend unless I'm willing to act like one."

This time Lex extricates his hands successfully and stands up. "I didn't hire anybody to spy on you, Clark, although I shouldn't be surprised that you would think that I'm capable of it. I've done far worse in the past and so when you found this guy snooping, I guess it was simply human nature to think it was me."

Clark stands in front of Lex, toe to toe and grabs both of his hands.

"I'm not human."

Lex stares at him. "What?"

"You heard me. All the things you thought I could do that I shouldn't be capable off. Surviving the accident, pulling you out of your car. That was just the beginning."

Lex searches Clark's face as though he's waiting for the punch line. Finally he clasps his cheeks in his hands and throws a smile at him that is enough to allay some of his fears. "You're not joking are you? What are you, a member of some kind of extraterrestrial super race?"

"Would you hate me if I said yes?"

For a moment Lex looks like a child on Christmas morning. "You finally told me," he says in wonder, "I always knew there was something, obviously and ... it's awesome, Clark. Why didn't you tell me before?"

"Have you any idea what it could mean for my life if this got out?"

"And you didn't think it would be safe with me? Has my friendship meant so little to you?"

"I've never been allowed to have real friendships Lex, my parents have spent the last fifteen years terrified that someone would find out about the things I can do and take me away from them."

"I wanted to know your secrets for my own sake. I would never deliberately hurt you, or let anyone else hurt you."

"I've always known that but it's hard to break the habits of a lifetime. And I was afraid that you might stop loving me the same way if you knew."

"Do you honestly think that's even possible?"

"I'm an alien Lex, living proof that anything's possible."

"Does anyone else know?"

"Pete's known for some time. Helen knew." Lex looks away but Clark can see the wretched guilt he tries to hide.

"Stop it. We can play the confession game later. I figure after the bombshell I just dropped on you everything else can wait."

Lex smiles and it lights up his whole face. "All this time, I was so sure. I knew there was more to my father's ravings about a spaceship than I let him believe. But it stopped being about getting proof a long time ago and became more important that you tell me yourself. All the things I've done in the past to find out the truth and all I needed to do was kiss you."

Lex crashes full length onto the couch and pulls Clark on top of him. And despite the fact Clark is so much taller, wider and heavier, he fits somehow like he never has anywhere else. Through the balcony doors the Metropolis skyline is as imposing and claustrophobic as it ever was but at least Clark can look at it now without it stealing oxygen.

"What about the investigator? Maybe it was my father."

"I don't know but he won't be the last. There's always going to be somebody out there who gets suspicious about me. This is my life, Lex, can you live with that?"

"Clark, I knew you weren't asleep that night or I never would have kissed you. I thought I'd freaked you out or disgusted you and when you didn't come back or return my calls ... since you've been gone it's been like I'm back on that island."

"I'm in love with you."

"I can't remember a time I wasn't in love with you and I want to know everything about you, so ..."

Nimble fingers make short work of shirt buttons and Clark thinks his skin might be impervious to everything except Kryptonite and Lex's touch.

As he parts his lips willingly he wonders what Lex's kisses look like on him.



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