Games IV:
Scavenger Hunt

Orithain and Rina

September 2002

Disclaimer: Would that they belonged to us so that we could watch instead of just writing about it, but they don't.

Finally back home in the re-staffed and re-secured Scottish castle in Kansas after a couple of weeks at the Kent farm, Lex found himself wishing he were back there. Last night had been his first back in his own home, and he didn't think he'd managed to sleep more than a few minutes at a time. And it wasn't because he'd been worried about Lionel; no, it had been the lack of a certain farm boy of alien origin that had kept him up.

He glared at the innocent report on-screen, his expression enough to make an observer believe that he was unhappy with what he saw, which was far from the case. As of that afternoon, he was the owner of 47% of LuthorCorp stock, which made him the single biggest stockholder, though Lionel didn't know that yet thanks to the various holding companies he'd set up years before when he started planning this. Coming into another of his trust funds from his mother's family when he turned twenty-one the previous year had helped as well, not to mention ensuring that he still had a lot of liquid cash to play with and spend on Clark when he could get away with it. Only 4% more and he would own the majority of LuthorCorp... and would be able to oust the senior Luthor as the decision-maker for the company. Unfortunately, he couldn't seem to care, at least not at the moment.

He missed Clark.

Lex sighed, staring at the green shade of the lamp on his desk.

Pausing outside the doorway to Lex's office, Clark frowned. He supposed he should be glad that the older man was settled back in his home, but... he wasn't. He missed Lex; he missed going to sleep next to him, waking up next to him, and being able to see him at any time just by walking into the den. It had only been a day, but it already felt like a year apart.

Pulling himself together, Clark shifted the box in his arms and moved to stand in the doorway. "Got your produce delivery, sir. Want it here, or would that disturb your plans for world domination?"

"Clark!" Immediately forgetting everything related to business--which fortunately would carry on without his personal supervision--Lex stood up and headed for Clark like a homing pigeon. "I missed you last night," he admitted sheepishly, arms going around his lover's waist. "Can you stay for a while, or do you have more deliveries to make?"

After bending to set down the box, Clark hugged Lex as well. "I made sure you were my last stop, and my homework's done as well. If you've got time, so do I." He tilted his head, studying the dark circles under the older man's eyes. "Did your missing me also include no sleep?" he asked, hoping Lex didn't ask him the same question because it had.

"Stupid, isn't it? Twenty-two years of sleeping alone and three weeks of sleeping with you and now I can't sleep without you." Lex's grip tightened, and tension he hadn't even been aware of released as he leaned into Clark.

"Same problem here," Clark admitted. "You're just too comfortable; you spoiled me." He stroked his hand over Lex's back, rubbing his thumbs over his love's spine to help relax him. "Want me to give you a back rub? After it, we could lie down for a few hours together anyway - unless you're in the middle of something here?"

"Nothing that needs my personal attention." Lex shrugged. "I'm just killing time. There's really nothing I can do until I have the majority of stocks in LuthorCorp. So I'm all yours. You can have your wicked way with me."

Clark wanted nothing more than to do that, but Lex's wellbeing came first. "Maybe after you rest some." Silencing his lover's protest with a kiss, he turned them both, nudging Lex out of the office and up the stairs to his bedroom. "I'm serious. If you aren't going to sleep at night, you can do it while I'm here." Clark looked a bit sheepish. "And since I have the same problem, a nap would be fine by me too."

About to argue more, that last comment stopped Lex. While he was willing to be exhausted, especially to have time with Clark, he was not going to allow the other man to become rundown. "Well, sleeping with you beside me is one of my favorite things to do," he admitted, leading the way toward his bedroom with less reluctance now.

In truth, he was looking forward to falling asleep in Clark's arms again and waking up to find the teenager beside him. He only wished he could find a way to do that every night.

Somewhat surprised at Lex's easy capitulation, Clark moved behind Lex, wrapping his arms around his lover's waist and matching his stride until they entered the bedroom. Letting go then, he toed off his sneakers and pulled off his overshirt, all the while watching Lex as the older man undid his tie and began taking off his clothes.

"It's one of my favorite things too," he smiled, unable to resist taking a step forward and running his fingers over the leather necklace around Lex's throat when he unbuttoned his shirt. "You could always come back home with me..."

"Don't tempt me," Lex sighed. "First, I don't think your parents would go for that on a permanent basis, and second, it would only postpone the inevitable. We're not going to be able to live together for a few more years." He sighed heavily. "I really hate this sometimes."

"I know, me too." Catching Lex's hand, Clark led him to the bed, sitting down on the edge and waiting for Lex to join him. "They did say I could stay over here Saturday, though."

Undressed, Lex straddled Clark and sank onto his lap, hands on his shoulders. "Oh good, that gives me four days to plan how I'm going to kidnap you away to a country with no extradition on your birthday."

"If you do that, Dad won't consider you a son any more," Clark laughed, flopping back onto the bed and bringing Lex with him. "And Mom won't let you have any of my birthday cake."

"I don't want your cake; I want you," Lex sulked, aware that he sounded like a spoiled child but not really caring. He shifted until he was comfortable atop Clark and let out a sigh of bliss, already half asleep.

"Well, you have to wait until after my cake to get me," Clark pointed out before yawning and relaxing into the mattress. "I'll tell Mom I want it for breakfast, 'kay?"

"Sounds good to me," Lex mumbled. "But we should hang around for a while; your parents want to share part of your birthday too. We'll have all night and most of Sunday for us."

"Yup. Now go to sleep so I can." Closing his eyes, Clark rubbed his hand over Lex's back until he felt the older man relax into sleep, then allowed himself to follow.

Lex woke a few hours later, feeling refreshed, and darted a quick glance at the clock, relieved to see that it was only a little after eight. They would still have some time before Clark had to get home.

Raising his head, he was surprised to find Clark's eyes open, watching him. "Been awake long?"

"A little while." Clark smiled, and traced a finger over the hollows beneath Lex's eyes. They weren't quite as dark a color, and for that he was relieved. "Just enjoying watching you."

"I'd say that sounded sappy if I didn't feel the same, love." Lex smiled, kissing him lightly. "Want something to eat?" he asked, knowing that Clark was always hungry. "We could go down and get something... or have something sent up. I don't think we've ever eaten in bed, have we?" He frowned, trying to remember.

"Other than popcorn that one night, no," Clark murmured. "And actually, I'm not that hungry; I ate before I came over... but I can always be persuaded to nibble on what you have if you're hungry." Seeing Lex's shocked look, Clark made a face. "I know; unnatural for me not to be hungry."

"I think I should be calling a doctor." Lex ducked the swat, chuckling. "What did your mother do, feed you an entire cow?" If Clark didn't want anything, he was perfectly content to lie there together. The younger man was much more interesting than food could ever be.

"Very funny, Alexander." Clark rolled his eyes and shook his head. "No, I didn't eat Bossie, or any other animal. If you're worried, I'm sure I'll be starving in a half an hour or so."

"Alexander?" Lex wrinkled his nose. "You sound like my mother, Clark. Not exactly the image I usually go for when we're in bed together." He reached for the phone on the nightstand and called down to the kitchen, ordering a meal to be sent up in approximately half an hour.

Clark stroked Lex's back, clucking and cooing like a mother hen over her chicks. "Sorry to traumatize you, baby. I won't do it again."

"Should I be disturbed by the fact that you use the same pet name for me as for your truck?"

"Only if I offer to change your oil and rotate your tires," Clark chuckled. "And does that mean that you prefer for me to call you Krillin?"

Lex groaned and flopped onto his back, one arm over his eyes. "Why do I try? I can't win. Beaten by a high school sophomore. If my rivals could see me now..." He wondered how long it would take Clark to try to comfort him. He knew he was looking forward to it.

"Does that mean I get an official 'I beat Lex Luthor' pin?" Grinning as he asked this, Clark sat up, gathering Lex into his lap and nuzzling his ear. "I'm sorry, Lex, I won't tell anyone. Besides, I'm a special case; those other guys can't hold a candle to you, and you know it."

"Mmm, sweet talker," Lex chuckled, curling into the embrace. "And even though I think you're the only one who sees me like that, especially now that I'm not my father's heir any more, I like hearing it. It's going to be fun seeing their reactions when I take over." A cool little smile quirked his lips.

Tilting his head to the side and staring at Lex's face, Clark shivered; Lex had no idea how much he looked like his father at that moment, and there was no way Clark was going to tell him that. "I'm in love with a corporate raider... a very sexy corporate raider."

Attention focusing on Clark, Lex's smile instantly warmed. "And just who is this corporate raider? I need to keep track of my competition. I have to make sure no one steals you away from me." He started nibbling the line of Clark's jaw, moving toward his ear, enjoying tasting him.

"There's nobody who could be competition for you, and you know it," Clark sighed, his head falling back against the headboard to give Lex more access to his neck as his hands roamed over the older man's back and sides, mapping the sleep-warmed skin.

"Glad to hear it, love. You're all mine--even if I still can't believe how blind the inhabitants of Smallville are." Lex was amazed that no one had snapped him up, although admittedly Chloe had been interested. Still, their loss was definitely his gain.

Clark shrugged. "Until you came along, all I thought about was Lana, and you can see how much she noticed me." He chuckled quietly. "And I can't believe that none of your past girl or boyfriends tried to do the same to you. Are they all whacked in the head?"

It was Lex's turn to shrug. "Some tried, but I wasn't interested. Even the engagement to Victoria was a business deal. Until I met you, I had no intention of ever allowing anyone that far into my life... and all my intentions went right out the window when it came to you."

Actually growling at the mention of Victoria's name, Clark calmed himself, knowing that if he didn't, he might set off his newest power again. He'd acquired some control over the heat blasts over the past three weeks, but at times it was chancy.

"Anyone else who tries to get that far into your life will find themselves going right out the window along with those intentions."

"Ooooo, you're cute when you're jealous," Lex grinned, enjoying the reaction. "I probably shouldn't admit it, but I love it when you react like that. It gives me a warm, shivery feeling."

Feeling the definite erection pressing against his hip, Clark arched his eyebrows. "A warm, shivery feeling? Seems like a hot, slutty feeling to me."

"I was trying not to be crude," Lex replied in a dignified tone totally offset by the thrust of his hips. "So what're you going to do about it?"

"Make sweet, passionate love to you?" Lex's incredulous expression had Clark on the verge of laughter. "I was trying not to be crude."

The growl made Lex's opinion of that clear. "I happen to like you crude, Clark. Hot and crude, fucking me hard, making me scream with pleasure..." He reached between them, his hand curving over the erection apparent through his lover's jeans, teasing him.

Clark closed his eyes and groaned, his hips arching reflexively up into Lex's touch. When his eyelids flicked up again, his gaze was dark and hungry. "I want to fuck you, Lex," he rasped, speaking the words without allowing himself to think of what he was saying. "I want to fuck you so hard that you'll walk funny tomorrow and everyone will wonder why - everyone but me." As he spoke, he slid a hand down Lex's back, circling a finger over the tight entrance to his body. "Do you want me to fuck you, Lex?"

"God yes!" Lex's back arched, his ass pressing back against the teasing touch, trying to take Clark inside him. "I want you so much it hurts." He tore at Clark's t-shirt, wanting to touch him, to feel the warm skin he loved so much.

Letting go of Lex for long enough to strip out of his shirt, Clark immediately rolled the older man to his back and knelt over him, hands working at the button and zipper of his jeans with desperate haste.

"Want to be in you. Want to be in you so deep I'll never find my way out," he breathed, shifting to superspeed to get his pants off and be back on top of Lex before the other man noticed he was gone. Pressing on Lex's knees, Clark spread his legs, leaning in and licking at his cock even as he reached for the lube and began slicking both of them up.

"Yes," Lex agreed throatily, heavy-lidded eyes fixed on his lover as he spread his legs, offering himself. "Fuck me, hard, want to feel you forever." He plucked at his own nipples, then ran a hand down his abdomen, making himself shiver.

One finger, two, then three, and finally Lex was loose enough. Shifting his lover's legs to his shoulders, Clark pressed inside, groaning as his cock was surrounded with clenching heat. Leaning forward so that he loomed over Lex, his hips beginning to thrust, Clark caught the older man's hand and dragged it to his mouth, sucking on two of his fingers, fellating them with every bit of skill he possessed.

"God!" Lex gasped, whimpering softly as Clark took him and gave his fingers the best blowjob of his life. "You're gonna kill me with pleasure." He pulled his legs back, hands gripping his knees to open himself still more, and he arched upward to meet every thrust.

Growling again at the thought of Lex dying, Clark snapped his hips forward even harder, feeling the shudder race through his lover's body when he hit his prostate. His hands remained free, and Clark slid them under Lex's arms, tweaking and pulling at Lex's nipples, reveling in each gasp and throaty moan.

"Oh, Clark, yes, so good, more, please," Lex squirmed beneath him, body twisting and thrusting as he tried to take Clark deeper. He forced his eyes to remain open, needing to see Clark, to watch the pleasure transform his features.

Letting Lex's fingers fall from his mouth, Clark gasped for breath, each thrust and twist sending him that much closer to orgasm. "All for you," he whispered, catching Lex's hand and wrapping it around his own erection, his own fingers twined with his lover's as they both jerked him off.

"Love you," Lex panted as the pleasure burst through him, his body clenching around Clark, his eyes fixed on his lover's. His body stiffened and he cried out as his seed pulsed over their joined hands, making them glide more easily on his shaft as they milked him of every last drop. "Come for me," he rasped. "Want to feel you in me."

"Oh yes..." Hearing those words tipped the balance of Clark's control, and with a guttural shout, he came, driving deeply into Lex's pliant body one final time, feeling as if he was pouring his heart and soul into the man he loved.

Finally lifting his bowed head from the older man's chest, Clark gave a sigh of pleasure before shifting to bring both his and Lex's hands to his mouth and clean them off. "Who needs food when I have you?" This led to another thought, and he groaned. "Shit, when is that meal you ordered going to get here?"

Lex twisted around to peer at the clock, then started to chuckle. "In about five minutes. If you want to preserve your modesty, you're going to have to get your jeans back on." He didn't look too happy about the prospect. "Or you can just use me as a modesty shield."

It wasn't an easy decision, but the potential for embarrassment won out, and Clark kissed Lex before moving back, sliding out of him and off the bed. "I'll be back in a minute; don't let anyone come in here and ogle you while I'm gone!" Grabbing his jeans and boxers, he trotted toward the bathroom to clean up and get at least partially dressed.

"Guess I'll have to take a quick shower to clean up before getting dressed myself," Lex yelled after him, snickering to himself as he imagined Clark's reaction. It was cute how the younger man never wanted him to shower after sex. He got groomed more often than most cats.

"What?!" Clark shouted back, sticking his head back out of the door and glaring at Lex. "Why? You aren't going anywhere."

"Thought you didn't want anyone to ogle me? The new staff is good, but I don't think anyone could avoid looking at a naked man covered in come." Lex met Clark's glare with a grin.

Heedless of the fact that he'd barely cleaned himself up yet and that he didn't have anything on, Clark stalked back out into the bedroom. Pinning Lex to the bed, he proceeded to lick him clean from just beneath his nipples to his hips, getting an almost vicious pleasure out of his lover's squirming and the half-hearted protests he gave. "There, you aren't covered in come any longer, and if you pull the sheet up, you won't be naked either. Happy?"

"That has got to be some alien thing, Clark," Lex chuckled. "If I didn't know better, I'd say that you were marking your territory. It's cute." He leaned back against the tumble of pillows, drawing the sheet up to his waist, a huge grin still on his face.

"Just wait until I pee on you." Snickering at Lex's outraged look, Clark started back into the bathroom, hastening his stride when he heard the soft knock at the door that signaled the arrival of the servant with the food.

Still casting a dirty look toward the bathroom door, Lex called to the servant to bring the food in, directing him to leave the tray on the table beneath the window. Once the man was gone and the door firmly closed again, he got up, pausing to pull on his boxer briefs, and padded over to check the meal. "Hey, Clark, hurry up or I'm going to eat it all myself!" He took an appreciative sniff of rare prime rib, scalloped potatoes, and fresh vegetables, and sat down.

"What is it?" Now with his loins girded so to speak, Clark came back out, making a beeline for the table and the food on it. "No dessert?" he pouted, searching the tray in vain for something other than the meal. "Were you a bad boy today?"

"I was in the mood for ice-cream, which would melt, so they'll bring it up, along with some pie," Lex added with a smirk, "once I call down to let them know we're done with this." He took a bite of the beef, an almost blissful expression appearing on his face.

"Where's the pie from?" Clark asked suspiciously, borrowing Lex's spoon and scooping up some of the potatoes.

"The kitchen. My chef may not be quite up to your mother's standards, but she's very good, especially her Dutch apple pie." Lex could practically taste it now. "So don't think you'll be getting it all; I want some too."

Glancing over at the clock on the nightstand, Clark sighed. "If you don't hurry and eat, you'll be getting it all. I need to head home soon; it's 9:15."

Lex winced at the reminder, hating that he had to let Clark go. "So we have the dessert another night. I'd rather have a few more minutes with you, which I'll get if I drive you home. Unless you drove over? I just assumed you ran." He ate a bit more of his dinner, attention more on Clark than the food.

"I'd just washed Baby, so I ran." Clark eyed Lex sheepishly, waiting to hear what his lover had to say about that as he seemed alternately amused and disturbed by Clark's over-protectiveness of his truck. Considering that his dad had only just agreed to let him keep it though, Clark thought he was perfectly correct in babying his baby.

"You..." Lex shook his head, sighing. "You are just plain weird about that truck, Clark. But I'm glad you like it. And I'm glad it wasn't... damaged. It's the only one that was irreplaceable."

Catching Lex's hand, Clark kissed his knuckles. "You're the only thing that's irreplaceable. I like Baby, but I love you."

"Glad I rank ahead of a hunk of metal." Lex eyed him, wondering if he could steal the last bite of steak on Clark's plate without losing his hand. "And I'm glad you came on foot. This way I get to drive you home."

"I'm learning to plan ahead." Grinning, Clark speared the prime rib and held it out to Lex. "Here, don't ever say I never give you anything--the food off my own plate no less!"

"Still my hero," Lex snorted. "And planning is good." Patting his mouth with his napkin, Lex stood up. "I'll let the kitchen know that we don't have time for dessert." He made a quick call which would have the dishes long gone from his room by the time he got back.

"Any preferences which car we take?" He was glad that most of the replacements had arrived the previous week.

"You choose. Any you haven't driven yet?" Watching as Lex headed for the door, Clark cleared his throat. "Uhh, Lex? You may want to put on some clothes before you take me home."

"What you don't like the minimalist look?" Lex laughed back at him, veering toward the closet for his favorite jeans and a shirt. He'd never had any intention of going out in his underwear, but the look on Clark's face had been worth it.

"Are you going to ask my parents that, because if you don't come in and say hello, they're going to get pissed."

That actually made Lex pause. "That's so... weird. I can still hardly believe it. A month ago your father would rather have seen the devil himself. But yes, I'll go in for a minute. We can neck in the barn for a few minutes too."

"Before or after you milk Bossie?" Ducking out of the way of Lex's swing, Clark grabbed his shirt, eyeing the rip in the hemline. "You get to explain that to Mom, too."

"Clark, your parents aren't idiots. There's no way in hell they're going to ask about that. Tease possibly--they've gotten a lot more comfortable with the whole idea of us--but never ask."

"Don't remind me." Clark flushed, recalling some pointed comments his father had gotten in as he relaxed more about the situation. After pulling on his socks and sneakers, he straightened up and eyed Lex. "Shall we?"

"I think we'd better before I drag you back into bed," Lex said, coming up against him and kissing him. "Mmmm, you taste good." He slid an arm around Clark's waist as they headed downstairs. "I think we'll take the black Ferrari," he decided. "Want to drive?"

"Didn't you just get that one?" Clark asked, amazed at the offer. "As in you haven't even driven it yet, just got it?"

Lex shrugged. "Yeah, but it's not like I've never driven one before. I think I need to write to the manufacturer about putting in a bench seat in the front though," he added with a quick glance at the other man. "So, do you want to drive or not?"

"Yes!" Clark held out his hand for the keys, bouncing from foot to foot with impatience. Driving a virgin Ferrari... man, what a trip! He frowned. "If they put a bench seat in, wouldn't it have to be an automatic? That's just so wrong!"

"And once again I come below your love of all things vehicular," Lex said dryly as he selected the keys for that car and handed them over to Clark. "I'll just be sitting over here in my bucket seat; don't mind me."

"Hey, you come before everything else, and I don't want a car in bed with me, so be happy," Clark snickered, catching Lex's hand and pulling him out into the hall, down the stairs and through the castle to the garage. "And you look hot in that bucket seat; all that dark leather curved around you, cupping your butt..."

"Clark, I really don't need a hard-on when we're going to see your parents." Lex shifted a little uncomfortably, his pants suddenly a bit tighter than they'd been a moment before. "Do you do this to me on purpose?"

"Do what?" Clark asked, turning to look at Lex, his expression wide-eyed and innocent - until he started to snicker. "Think about Pete and it'll go away."

"I'm on to you, farm boy," Lex growled. "That innocent look doesn't fool me anymore. Hmm, maybe your mother has some dessert..." He started walking a little faster.

Making a face, Clark let go of Lex's hand so that he could walk to the other side of the gleaming new Ferrari. Opening the door, he slid into the driver's seat, moaning quietly as the distinctive new car smell enveloped him. "You can have the dessert; I'm just going to sit in here and breathe for a while when we get there," he sighed.

"I knew it; you only love me for my cars!" Lex chuckled as he buckled up. "I'd better not ever lose my money, or how could I keep you in automobiles?" Eyeing his lover with amusement, he prodded, "Are you planning to start the car any time soon? Parents, curfew, is any of this ringing any bells for you?"

"Mm hmmm," Clark murmured dreamily, running his hands over the steering wheel, playing his act to the hilt. Turning the key, he sighed as the engine purred to life, echoing through the still half empty garage with a throaty roar.

"Hot car, hot, sexy boyfriend in the passenger seat looking totally edible... Oh yeah, life is getting better every minute - except for the parents and curfew thing."

"Enough with the edible comments," Lex grumbled, having to adjust himself in his perceptibly tighter pants. "God, you'd think we hadn't fucked for weeks instead of minutes; just looking at you makes me want you."

"I'm pretty familiar with that feeling." Forcing himself to keep his eyes on the road and not on Lex, Clark pulled out into the driveway, then onto the road, almost stalling the engine before he got the hang of the clutch's eccentricities.

"Maybe that alien pheromone thing you're always talking about is true," he said quietly. "I mean, this isn't normal, is it? To need each other this much?"

Lex shrugged. "Having never been in love before, I really don't know. But even if it is, so what? I'm not exactly complaining about the situation, Clark."

"Oh." It was plain from Clark's tone that he'd been thinking exactly that. "I'm glad, 'cause I'm not either - except when we can't see each other for days at a time, that sucks royally."

"No, that's you," Lex couldn't resist, thinking of just how 'royally' Clark did suck. "Hey! Attention on the road, some of us aren't invulnerable." He watched Clark as he so often did when they were together. "And while I agree with you, we'd better get used to it. We aren't going to be able to see more of each other until you get to college at least."

Squirming a bit in the seat but deciding retaliating was a bad idea at the time because he had been teasing Lex and he did have to drive, Clark grimaced. "Yeah, and all things considered, my folks have been really good about this. Can you imagine them being even this lax if one of us was a girl?"

"Not recently no. It's quite a turnaround from right after we told them, when your father would have done anything to keep you away from me. Now... they're amazingly accepting. Of course, it's not like they have to worry about either of us getting pregnant."

"That we know of," Clark quipped, snickering when Lex's eyes widened in horror. "Hey, alien anatomy here, who knows what's going on inside me."

"Clark, you... That is so not funny!" Lex glared at him, promising himself to get even when the smugly chuckling teenager least expected it. "Just give me some warning if you start to crave dill pickles dipped in maple syrup or something equally weird."

"Gross!" Clark shuddered and almost missed the turn to his parents' farm during the act. "No way, no how to the idea of babies or pickles and syrup." Pulling to a stop near the fence, he shuddered again. "That's disgusting."

"Oh, I don't know," Lex laughed, amused by the expression of revulsion on Clark's face. "A miniature you would be cute. He could call you Mama."

Turning slowly in the seat, Clark turned off the engine and removed the keys from the ignition before speaking. "You are so dead if you say a word of that to Chloe, do you understand?"

Lex could only laugh harder, practically doubled over as he imagined how much fun Chloe could have with that idea. "I'm sure she'd be happy to take you shopping for maternity clothes," he managed to gasp out around peals of laughter.

Clark growled, then brightened. "Hey, who says I'd be the mother? Maybe I have such super-sperm that I'd get you pregnant!"

Lex snorted. "Trust me on this, Clark; the male of the human species does not come equipped with a womb. Not gonna happen."

"Oh well, guess we'll have to adopt when the time comes then." Blowing Lex a kiss, Clark climbed out of the car and headed for the house. "Hey, Mom, Dad, think you'd like to be grandparents some day?"

Martha walked to the screen door and peered outside, watching as Clark bounded up to the porch with Lex following more sedately. "Clark, what..." She shook her head and laughed. "Not for quite a few years, dear."

Lex seriously considered kicking Clark right in the pants, then realized that he'd probably bruise his foot.

"Is there something you'd like to tell us, boys?" Jonathan asked, appearing behind Martha, amusement clear on his face as he eyed Lex's expression.

"Nope," Clark grinned, pulling open the door, whistling innocently as he stepped past his parents. "Just being proactive is all."

"I can think of another word for how you're behaving," Martha murmured.

"So can I!" Lex growled, shooting a dirty look at the teen. "Behave!" Ignoring Clark for the moment, he greeted his lover's parents, a faint flush rising as he met Jonathan's laughing gaze.

"Do you have time to stay and have some cake and something to drink, Lex?" Martha gave the young man a hug and was pleased that he didn't stiffen at all when she did it. The past three weeks had certainly changed all of them.

"What about me?" Clark asked plaintively.

"You aren't exactly fading away to nothing," Lex pointed out. "And yes, thank you, Martha. Someone rushed me out before I had dessert, so I was hoping you'd offer."

Jonathan chuckled. "And the fact that you ate half of Martha's chocolate cake by yourself last time has nothing to do with it, right?"

"Of course not," Lex said virtuously, then grinned widely.

The phone rang, and Clark grabbed it to avoid listening to any more harassment from his loved ones. "Hey, Chloe. Nothing, just being abused by my parents and my boyfriend, what about you? Yeah, that problem was a real pain, but I think I did it right. Friday? Nothing that I know about right now. Yeah, sure I'll ask him. See ya tomorrow."

Hanging the phone up, he looked over at his parents and Lex, who were now all seated at the table, having cake. "That was Chloe."

Feeling a certain amount of trepidation, Lex laid his fork aside to fix his lover with a steady gaze. "And what exactly does Chloe want you to ask me?" Knowing Chloe, it could be anything from an interview to a trip to Outer Mongolia.

Equally curious, Jonathan also waited for the reply, although he didn't stop eating his cake.

"She and Pete want to do a thing for my birthday, and they wanted to know if you'd like to come along too." Saying this, Clark sat down at the table, neatly snatching Lex's plate from in front of him - until his mother took it out of his hand and gave it back to his boyfriend.

"If you want some, just ask, dear," she said mildly.

Lex snickered, smirking at Clark as he took a bite and moaned happily. Only when he'd swallowed it did he finally answer the question. "Sure, as long as they're not planning a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's."

While getting up to get himself a plate and fork, Clark shuddered. "No way! Geez, we aren't eight-year-olds..." Grumbling, he sat back down at the table and cut himself a piece of cake. "They wanted to do something at her house, sounded like ten people or so for pizza and stuff."

Martha glanced at her son, eyebrows raised at the size of his slice of cake. "Do Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan know about this?"

Suddenly finding his coffee fascinating, Lex stared into the cup, trying not to think about the fact that he was about to attend a party that required parental permission.

Clark nodded quickly. "Yeah, they know about it. Chloe just had to promise no fireworks though." He glanced at Lex as he said this. "But otherwise they're cool with it."

"I only provide fireworks for special friends," Lex replied blandly, an eyebrow rising at the choking his comment provoked. "Yes?"

"Lex, you..." Jonathan trailed off in a coughing fit almost gratefully, having no idea what to say to that.

"We'll talk to the Sullivans just to make sure," Martha cut in smoothly. "But I can't see there being any problems, right, boys?"

"Right, Mom," Clark agreed quickly. "I mean it's pizza and soda and my closest friends trying to embarrass me; what can go wrong with that?"

"Sounds like fun. I'm sure Pete and Chloe can tell me all kinds of interesting stories about your younger years," Lex put in sweetly, making Jonathan snort.

"It ought to be an interesting evening, son."

Clark winced. "Gee, I think I have a big paper coming due right after that; maybe I can't go..."

"If that's the case, then perhaps you shouldn't stay at Lex's the next night," Martha answered.

"Clark!" Lex's head shot up at that threat, and he gave the teenager a warning glare, telling him he'd better get them out of this now.

Jonathan lost the battle against his laughter and leaned back in his chair to watch the show, amused by the horror on both young men's faces.

"Just kidding, Mom," Clark said weakly, wanting to slide under the table at that point.

Martha nodded. "Ahhh. Jonathan, remind me to show Lex the picture albums we have; I think he'd like them."

"Let me go get them for you," Jonathan offered, starting to get up only to sit back down with a laugh at Clark's wailed protest.

"I'll be sure to remind you some time, Martha," Lex said, grinning. "It ought to be very interesting."

"Please, Mom, not that picture," Clark begged, his eyes wide and pleading as he looked from his mother to his father.

"Which picture?" Lex immediately demanded, his curiosity engaged. "It must be something else to get that reaction."

Glancing at Clark, who had his face hidden in his hands and kept repeating, 'No, no, no', Martha relented. "I'll show it to you some time when Clark isn't home; that way he might survive it."

"If I find it first, I'm burning it," Clark mumbled into his hands.

Chuckling, Lex stood up and moved around the table until he was beside Clark, then leaned down to kiss him lightly after peeling away a hand. "I'm sure it can't be that bad, love. I can't imagine a bad picture of you."

Jonathan snickered, earning himself a glare from his wife.

"It's really not fair; you don't have any baby pictures of yourself around, so I'll never get to see what you looked like." Although he was still grumbling, Clark let Lex soothe him, all the while trying to ignore his parents' amused looks.

"Well, actually, I do have a few photo albums from when my mother was alive. She liked to take pictures. You wouldn't recognize me though," Lex smiled faintly. "Curly red hair."

Martha smiled tenderly. "You must have been adorable."

"You're still adorable," Clark added. "Can I see them some time? If you don't mind?"

"Adorable? Not quite the adjective I usually aim for." Lex glanced down at Clark. "And sure. I just never thought about them or that you'd be interested. But one comment about Ronald MacDonald and you're sleeping on the sof-- Um." Flushing, he closed his eyes, unable to believe he'd just said that in front of Clark's parents.

Trying not to snicker at Lex's expression, Clark wolfed down the rest of his cake, washing it down with his glass of milk. He studied Lex while doing that, however, earning himself a curious look from his boyfriend. "I'm just trying to imagine you with curly red hair," he explained.

Deciding that it was best to just ignore the sofa comment, Martha carried her empty plate to the sink. "You are coming by for dinner on Saturday, aren't you, Lex?"

Despite his and Clark's vague plans to have Saturday together, there was no way that Lex was going to turn down the invitation. For one thing it was still novel to him to have the Kents actually inviting him over rather than running him off, and for another, they were Clark's family; they should share in his birthday. "Of course," he replied almost instantly. "Keeping in mind that I intend to kidnap Clark for the night afterward." Fortunately they'd already agreed to that part of it.

"Don't be in a hurry to send your ransom demands," Jonathan said, teasing his son. "We might actually be able to keep some food in the house if you keep him."

"Gee, I love you too, Dad," Clark muttered.

"Though I'll still have to deal with a Kent male drinking from the cartons unless you take Jonathan too," Martha chuckled.

"Now, Martha, you know I would never set a bad example for our son by doing any such thing," Jonathan proclaimed virtuously. After a glance around the table to gauge their reactions, he chuckled. "No, huh?"

"You're an even worse liar than Clark is," Lex replied dryly.

Clark snickered; seeing his father drinking milk straight from the bottle and turning him in by accident when he'd been caught doing the same thing by his mom was one of his earliest memories of his time with his family. "Especially considering I learned it from you!"

Looking somewhat sheepish, Jonathan declined to comment, although he did dart a glance at Martha that was very reminiscent of Clark when he'd been caught out.

"Apparently you learned a few things from both your parents, Clark," Lex chuckled, finishing the last of his cake.

Martha looked around the table, studying the three men. "Considering what he learned from Jonathan, should I be concerned as to what you think he learned from me?"

"Just good stuff, Mom!"

Jonathan concentrated on his dessert, somehow managing to scrape a few more crumbs of cake off the plate.

"The eyes, or so I'm told," Lex chuckled. "And how to be loving, although I think he got that from both of you." Looking embarrassed, he focused on his coffee again.

"Thank you, but I think he had a huge capacity for love when we found him." Martha looked at Clark, not seeing the young man on the verge of adulthood that her son had grown into, but the thin, gangly boy who had found them in the middle of a scorched landscape.

"Aw, Mom..." Clark ducked his head and blushed but was plainly pleased with her remark.

"I have to go take care of a few chores," Jonathan said, standing up and taking his plate and mug over to the sink. "It's getting late though; you should stay over, Lex."

"I..." Biting his lip, Lex looked uncertain. He knew he was supposed to be an adult and able to stand on his own two feet, but despite the nap earlier that evening, he was tired, and he knew that he wouldn't sleep well alone.

There were times that Martha wondered if her husband was going insane, but she wasn't going to argue with his offer, especially considering how both Clark and Lex's faces had lit up at the offer.

"C'mon, Lex," Clark wheedled, "if you drive back, I'll be worried that you'll fall asleep on the way, and then I won't get any sleep!"

Jonathan met his wife's eyes, drawing her attention to the violet circles beneath Lex's eyes, letting her know why he'd made the offer. It was obvious that the young man was exhausted, and Clark showed similar signs to those who knew how to look for them. "Sounds like you'd better stay, Lex."

Lex knew when he was beaten. "Ganging up on me is so unfair," he muttered.

"Then you should know better than to try and disagree with all of us, shouldn't you?" Martha leaned over Lex's shoulder to pick up his plate and coffee cup.

"And whatever works, right?" Clark asked, catching Lex's hand and giving it a squeeze before rising to help clear the rest of the table, swiping a fingerful of chocolate frosting when he thought no one was looking.

Showing the reflexes that always took everyone by surprise, Lex caught Clark's wrist and licked away the frosting. "Thanks," he said with a smirk. "And how was I supposed to know you'd do that? I figured at least one of you would nix the idea," he added, showing that he'd been aware of the byplay even if Clark hadn't.

Martha set the dishes in the sink and sighed. "It's not that I don't trust the two of you, Lex; it's that Clark's..."

"Mom, if you say I'm only fifteen, I'm going to scream." Clark was only partially kidding.

"I think I'll see if Jonathan needs any help," Lex said, not even slightly joking. No way did he want to get caught in the middle of a battle between mother and son. He understood both points of view, but he wasn't stupid enough to try to explain that to either of them.

"It's all right, Lex; you don't have to leave. Sometimes Clark forgets that even though we're trying to understand about this whole situation, he is just sixteen, so we - I - might have a tendency to be overprotective."

"Mom, I - " Seeing the flash of sadness in his mother's eyes, Clark relented. "I know you're just trying to look out for me, and I know you and Dad have been really good about it all."

She leaned over to hug his broad shoulders, unable to keep from recalling the little boy who had hugged her so tightly it felt as if he'd never let go - but letting go he was. "And so have you, both of you." She smiled at Lex. "We trust you, and you've earned it; just try to understand that it's hard sometimes. I'm losing my baby, and a part of me doesn't want to."

Lex met her eyes seriously and nodded silently, acknowledging her concerns. "We try to keep that in mind, Martha, but..." He trailed off, not able to think of a polite way to say that they couldn't seem to keep their hands off each other.

She nodded. "I know what it's like to be young and in love, as much as some of you don't want to believe it." She ruffled Clark's hair and smiled, relieved when he grinned back.

"C'mon, Mom! Do you want to think about Grandpa and Grandma like that? Yuch!"

Making a shooing motion with her hands, she sent the two young men from the table. "It's getting late; you both look like you need some rest."

Lex started out of the kitchen, hesitated, then suddenly backtracked to press a kiss on her cheek before fleeing upstairs before she could react.

Sharing a startled look with his mother, Clark ducked his head, then gave her a hug. "I'm sorry, Mom. Thanks for everything."

Martha rested her hand on his cheek for a moment before stepping away from him. "I love you, Clark; we'll find a way to make it all work out, just like we have with everything else."

He nodded, and started toward the stairs. "Tell Dad good night for me," he called back before bounding upstairs, closing the bedroom door behind him once he'd gotten inside. "Man, and I used to be worried about Dad and what he'd do; now it's Mom!"

"Your father was more concerned with the evil Luthor than anything else, and that's been put to rest by the fact that Lionel despises me as much as or possibly more than anyone else. Your mother, on the other hand, never saw me as the devil incarnate, but I am the one making her face the fact that her baby is growing up." Lex sighed. "And I'm sure I'm not exactly what a mother hopes for. No cute, chubby-cheeked grandkids to look forward to."

"You could always be a sperm donor," Clark muttered. "After all, who knows if I could ever have any." He slumped onto the bed, kicking off his sneakers so they thumped against the wall. "And I know I shouldn't complain, but I'm just tired of being told how old I am - or I'm not!"

"Okay, note to self: No mention of age ever again. Does that mean I can't wish you happy birthday on Saturday?" Lex asked, trying to tease him into a better mood. He had much better methods for improving Clark's frame of mind, but none that were allowed under the Kents' roof.

"You know what I meant!" Now scowling at Lex, Clark pulled off his shirts, throwing them in the general direction of his hamper, not even caring when they landed on his desk and not where they were supposed to. "'Clark, you can't play football because you might hurt someone;' 'Clark, you can't run track because you might go too fast;' 'Clark, you really shouldn't play at other kids' houses because if their parents saw, they wouldn't understand;' 'Clark, I'll agree to Lex staying here, but I really don't like it because you're too young.' All I ever hear is how I'm too something for everything I want to do!"

Frowning, Lex sat down on the edge of the bed. Clearly this was more serious than he'd thought. "Clark..." He sighed, not wanting to come off as the all-knowing adult. "Your parents were guessing with you, and they did their best. Ok, maybe they didn't get everything right, but would you really want them to love and care about you less?" Lionel's name reverberated in the silence. "And the reality is that you are a teenager and I'm not. Most parents would have a problem with that. At least they're trying.

"No, it's not ideal, and it frustrates me too. Do you think I like having to spend the night at your house instead of in my own bed because that's the only way we can be together?" Unknowingly, Lex's voice was starting to rise as his own frustration started to come out.

Clark had actually been calming down until Lex's last comment, but at hearing that, he snapped his head around to stare at his lover. "Well, excuse me for inconveniencing you! If you want to sleep in your bed, why don't you just go do it then!"

"Because I can't sleep in my own damned bed!" Lex yelled. "I was already having trouble before I stayed here, and now it's totally impossible! I didn't sleep at all last night," he growled, rising to his feet to pace the room.

"So that's my fault too? Well, I'm sorry I'm not old enough to live at your place and be with you every night. You think I like it? I don't!" Clark shouted back.

"I didn't say you liked it!" Lex snarled, totally frustrated at this point. "But that doesn't change the fact that we're stuck with it and I have no fucking idea what to do about it! I can hardly stay here for the next three years!"

"Why? This place not good enough for you now that you're just about to take over LuthorCorp? What's next? I'm not good enough for you since I'm just a small town farm boy?"

Since that was the furthest thing from Lex's mind, the idea that Clark would actually believe it of him hurt. "You really..." Without another word he turned and headed for the door. "This was a really bad idea. I'm going home."

Catching himself before he reached out to grab Lex and keep him from leaving, Clark turned toward the wall, his jaw set and his arms crossed defensively over his chest. "Fine, you just do that."

Lex paused for a split second before the hurt and anger welled up again, and he left the room. Hoping to make a clean getaway, he ground to a halt when he reached the kitchen and found Jonathan and Martha sitting there.

"I, uh, I won't be staying tonight after all, but thanks for the offer. Good night," he said quickly, hoping to escape without further discussion.

Not having any idea what to say about what they'd overheard, Jonathan simply nodded, worried by the depth of the problem but not having any solution. Letting Clark live with Lex simply wasn't an option.

Because she'd been in the kitchen throughout the argument upstairs and therefore had heard most of it, Martha was aware of the root cause of it and of her part in it. "I'll talk to him, Lex," she said quietly. "It's not you he's angry with, it's me; he just felt safer taking it out on you." That hurt in so many ways she couldn't even think about it, but she doubted that her pain was any more than Lex's or her son's right then.

"But I'm the one he doesn't quite trust," Lex said bitterly, turning to leave, unable to meet her eyes. He couldn't believe how much that accusation had hurt, coming from the one person he'd never expected to hear it from.

Standing, she walked up behind Lex and rested her hands on his shoulders. "If that was true, do you think he would have told you who he is? That's something he's never shared with anyone before, but he shared it with you. Don't give up on him because of this; he needs you as much as you need him."

"It hurt," Lex admitted very quietly, shoulders stiff beneath her grasp. "He actually thought..." He couldn't even say it. Clark had been the one person who always saw Lex, not the rich Mr. Luthor, or so he'd thought.

"That now that you were close to your dream, you wanted more than him?" Martha asked quietly. "I'm sorry, but there was no way I couldn't overhear. That's one of the things about being in love with someone and them loving you back: when you have a fight, you know just what the sore spots are, and it's very easy to go for them. I know it's hard, Lex, but think about it; do you really believe that Clark thinks that about you?" She glanced back at Jonathan, then at the stairs, hoping he would take the hint and go check on Clark.

Catching the signal, Jonathan slipped out of the room and upstairs to knock on Clark's door, not sure what emotional state his son would be in.

Back downstairs, Lex's shoulders slumped, and he leaned his head against the doorframe. "No, I suppose not," he sighed. "But... he said it!" For a moment, Lex sounded like the baffled twenty-two-year-old in the throes of first love that he was.

Sighing, Martha ran her hands down Lex's arms in as much of a hug as she felt he'd allow. "I wish I could say that it would never happen again, but that's a promise no one can make for anyone else, and even if Clark promised it, I can't say for certain it would never happen. He may have said it, but did he mean it?"

"No," Lex sighed, finally turning to face her. "He was just saying something that he knew would hurt, like I used to do when I argued with Lionel. It's just that I happen to give a damn, so he actually succeeded. Christ, I thought surviving my teens was hard!"

She had to smile at that, though in truth anything about Lex's relationship with his father wasn't funny in the least. "Welcome to our world. I can't remember my teens being this difficult, but then, Clark does have more on his plate than the average boy his age."

Groaning, Lex sank down onto a chair. "So what do I do now?" He was willing to beg for help if necessary at this point. "I don't know if it's just because this is all so new or if it's something to do with him being alien, but I really can't settle away from him. I have no idea how to handle this."

"I wish I could tell you." Martha sat in the chair across from Lex's and leaned forward, watching him sympathetically. "Jonathan's up there talking to him now; maybe he'll have some ideas when he comes down. Other than that, all I can say is give it time."

Hearing the knock on his door, Clark glared over his shoulder at it. "Go away!"

Ignoring the statement, Jonathan pushed the door and stepped inside, closing it behind him. "All right, son, care to tell me what's going on? I'm pretty sure Lana and her aunt could hear you and Lex yelling."

"He wants someone who can be with him all the time and I can't." At this point, Clark didn't care if all of Smallville had heard them yelling. "Did he leave to find someone who can yet?"

"He's downstairs talking to your mother, Clark. You hurt him, you know. You're probably the only one who can since he loves you." Jonathan was trying to prod Clark into thinking instead of emoting, but he wasn't entirely sure that was possible just yet.

"Yeah, go ahead and take his side, Dad!" Clark turned to glare at his father, his shoulders hunched in on himself in protection. "Now that his dad's disinherited him, are you trying to get a normal son instead of a freak?"

Clark's petulance was starting to rouse Jonathan's temper, but he reminded himself that he was dealing with a teenaged boy who'd just had a fight with his boyfriend, arguably the least sentient form of life known to man. "I was trying to remind the son that I raised to consider other people's feelings that he had just intentionally lashed out at the person he claims to love. I'm beginning to think I was mistaken in allowing the two of you as much leeway as I have; clearly you're not adult enough to handle it yet."

"No!" The thought of not being able to spend any time with Lex shocked Clark out of his anger, then, realizing that his own actions had driven his boyfriend away, he sat on the bed, his head bowed. "He made it sound like staying here was a bad thing, and, and I was still mad at Mom, and that made me madder, and I... I said some bad things to him, Dad."

"I know. We could hear you," Jonathan said dryly. "But despite all that, he's probably still downstairs. And he's right, you know, son. He can't stay here all the time, and you're too young to even consider moving in with him. He's an adult with a business to run, something that he really can't do here... nor would I expect him to prefer living in our farmhouse to his own castle.

"But don't you think you ought to apologize to him?" Jonathan prodded gently.

Clark ducked his head miserably. "I don't know what to say."

"Well, I'm sorry and I love you has prevented your mother from hitting me over the head with a skillet a few times over the years. Never underestimate a redhead's temper."

"I could offer to let him do that," Clark offered sheepishly, giving a watery smile before growing serious again. "I'll try, but do you think he'll listen to me?"

"Only one way to find out." Jonathan finally stepped away from the door to hug his son. "Go downstairs and talk to him."

"Yessir." Standing, Clark walked to the door, then paused, looking at his father. "Thanks, Dad. I - I'm sorry about what I said; I don't think any of that."

"I didn't really think you did," Jonathan said wryly. "I remember saying some fairly horrible things to my parents when I was your age... and no, I'm not telling you what."

Clark half-smiled at that. "I wasn't planning on asking." Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and headed downstairs, biting his lower lip when he saw Lex and his mother sitting together and talking. "Mind if I come in?" he asked quietly.

Martha looked from Lex to Clark and stood. "Of course not, Clark. I think the two of you have some things to talk about."

Lex glanced quickly at Clark then stared down at his feet with apparent fascination, not willing to meet his eyes. He wanted to protest Martha's leaving, but he knew it was for the best... even if he had no idea what to say to Clark.

"I - " Clark stood there, wringing his hands before dragging them to his sides to stop the motion. "I'm sorry, I love you. What I said was really stupid, and I don't believe any of it. I just - I was wrong, and I hurt you, and I wish I could take it back."

Lex glanced up warily, grey-blue eyes darting away almost immediately when he met Clark's earnest gaze. "Did you really not mean it?" He desperately wanted to believe him, but opening himself up for more hurt was something very new to him. Running away and hiding behind his masks would be so much easier.

"You don't believe me." Clark's expression crumpled even more, and he sagged until he was sitting on the floor. "I didn't mean it, Lex, I swear. I don't know why I said it; it was really, really wrong, and I'm really, really sorry."

Lex finally met and held his gaze, the sadness clear to see. "I want to believe you, Clark, and in my head I do. I just..." He shook his head slightly. "No, I do believe you. We were both tired and frustrated and said things we shouldn't have. We just have to be more careful about that because I don't think this is going to get any better for a few more years. There isn't really any solution."

"No, there isn't." Now it was Clark's turn to look away, feeling horribly responsible for the whole mess both because of what he'd said and because of his age, which seemed to be at the center of many of their problems. "I - do you still want to stay tonight?" he asked, doubting if he'd get any sleep either way.

Lex hesitated, not sure which would be worse. He knew he wouldn't get any sleep away from Clark, but he couldn't imagine spending a night in bed together, stiff and silent, their usual ease absent. "I... I'd rather be alone and not be able to sleep," he finally said, hoping Clark would understand.

Clark's posture would have wilted even more if it was possible. "Oh, okay." He swallowed hard and forced himself to look up at the older man. "I - I guess I'll talk to you tomorrow then." He stood, stuffing his hands in the front pockets of his jeans, shuffling his feet uneasily against the area rug. "Be careful driving back."

"Clark..." Lex moved to stand in front of him. "This doesn't change anything, love." He wrapped his arms around his young lover and kissed him almost wildly. "Want to go for breakfast somewhere tomorrow?"

Hugging Lex in desperation, not realizing just how tightly he was squeezing until he heard the other man's pained groan, Clark instantly relaxed his grip, though he didn't release Lex completely. "Okay. Want me to meet you at your place, or do you want to pick me up over here? I'll be up whenever, either way." He was carefully choosing his words, not wanting to do or say anything that might upset the delicate balance of their relationship or the fragile peace that had descended on them.

"Why don't you come over and meet me? That way I can get a few extra minutes sleep." And avoid having to talk to your parents for a little while longer went unsaid. Like Clark he was picking his words, their normal ease with each other not quite back. "Try to get some sleep," he said softly, starting to pull away so he could leave.

"You too." While normally he would have held on to Lex as long as possible, this time, Clark let him go. Following him to the door and opening it, he stepped out onto the porch, feeling his stomach twist when the light out there made the shadows under Lex's eyes look even more pronounced. "I love you," he whispered, wanting to reach out and touch Lex's collar but rubbing his own between his fingers instead.

"Love you too," Lex said, giving Clark a final look before heading out to his car. This was going to be a long night.

After watching the minutes tick past on his alarm clock for a couple of hours, Lex had admitted that he wasn't going to get any sleep and gotten up again to get some work done. He'd managed to become so engrossed that he was surprised to realize the time when Clark showed up.

"Oh! Sorry, I lost track of time. Just give me five minutes to take a shower and change, and we can go."

"I guess suggesting that you try to get some sleep instead won't work, huh?" Looking around at the piles of papers that hadn't been on the desk before, Clark sighed; it looked like he wasn't the only one who had tossed and turned all night, not that it was a surprise.

Lex actually snorted in response to that. "I really don't need to watch another few hours of minutes ticking past, Clark. I would actually have welcomed an attack by another mutant if only to break the monotony." He stood up, pausing only to press a quick kiss on the younger man before heading upstairs. "I'll be right back."

"Okay." At a loss for what to do once Lex vanished, Clark leaned against the pool table, rolling the colored balls back and forth, lost in thought until a now showered and dressed Lex cleared his throat from the doorway. "Oh, sorry, lost track of time."

"There seems to be a lot of that going around." Lex moved toward him and into his arms for a much more intense kiss than the earlier one, only leaning back in Clark's arms when oxygen deprivation made it necessary. "Good morning."

Breathing a sigh of relief and feeling as if maybe things were starting to settle back into place between them, Clark smiled. "Morning. Any ideas of what you want for breakfast? I've got to be at school in an hour, so we can't go anywhere too far away."

"That diner just around the corner from the school is supposed to be pretty good... or so Chloe assured me when she tried to corner me for a breakfast interview last week. We could go there if you don't being seen with me. People are going to figure out we're more than friends if we start spending even more time together, especially for breakfast."

"I don't care." After last night's fright, the chance of other people learning of their relationship was the farthest thing from Clark's mind. "If it doesn't bother you, it doesn't bother me. If they have a problem, they can just go fuck themselves."

"Clark," Lex was startled by his vehemence. "I meant that you might have to deal with some uncomfortable reactions at school. I thought you weren't ready to face that yet?" At least that had been his impression the last time they discussed it.

"I don't care." Jaw clenched stubbornly, Clark looked at Lex, trying to make him understand how serious he was. "If they find out, they find out. I sat there last night, and all I could think of was how I'd want to die if I lost you, and I realized I don't care what people think, well, other than you, Mom and Dad, and Pete and Chloe. I may not go and shout it over the intercom, but I want to be able to sit beside you at the Talon and hold your hand, that's all."

Lex's arms tightened around him as he pressed closer. "Then let's go have breakfast. We'll figure out the rest one day at a time." With another quick kiss, he stepped out of Clark's embrace, immediately catching the younger man's hand in his to draw him down to the garage. "Better let me drive this morning though; we don't have a lot of time."

"Yeah," Clark rubbed at his face with his palms to try and get himself back under control again. "I can just hear what Mom and Dad would say if they got a call from school that I was late when they knew I was coming over here first."

He followed Lex out of his office, hesitating for a split second before taking the older man's hand. "I'm really sorry about last night."

Lex glanced over at him. "Fights happen. I suppose we've been fortunate not to have any blowups before now." He very carefully didn't say anything about teenage hormones. "I'm sure we'll have others. Just bear with me, okay? You at least have the advantage of having grown up in a normal family--the whole alien issue aside; I have to work at reminding myself that just because we argue doesn't mean you consider me your enemy." He shrugged. "You're the first person I've ever cared about enough to fight with.

"Okay, that sounded even sillier out loud than it did in my head. But it's true. Up till now if I disagreed with someone, I just kicked them out."

"I really haven't fought with people much either," Clark admitted. "I think I was afraid of what I'd do if I lost my temper. I know staying calm has been something my folks drilled into my head as long as I can remember." He gave a half-smile as they arrived at the garage. "You kicked them out if you were mad; I might have kicked them to Albuquerque."

That got a startled blink from Lex. "Well, I'm glad you restrained yourself then. I've been to Albuquerque. Then again, at least there aren't any mutants there," he mused mock-seriously.

"God, I'm making absolutely no sense at all. I need coffee." He conveniently ignored the fact that he'd had so much coffee the night before that he was practically vibrating in place.

"Yeah, you do. Are you sure you don't want me to drive?" When Lex only growled and climbed into another of his new cars, this one a metallic gray Lamborghini, Clark gave in, opening the door and settling into the seat next to the older man.

"Isn't Albuquerque near that Area 51 place? If it is, then maybe there are mutants running around there, and you just don't know it."

"Nor do I want to know it. Smallville is more than enough for me to grasp; I don't need to add little grey aliens and other mutants into the mix." Lex drove the car expertly, passing what little traffic there was on the road at that hour, intent on getting someplace where he could get some coffee... and food would be nice too.

"I'm hoping that means you prefer big, tanned aliens, not that you don't like any aliens at all." Lex gave him a sidelong glance and arched an eyebrow, and Clark grinned. "Well, do you have a better description for me?"

"Big hunk o'love god? Ravishing teenaged love machine?" Lex snickered at the expression on Clark's face. "Well, you asked."

"You have got to be kidding." Shaking his head, Clark turned on the radio to forestall any more comments of that type and leaned his head back against the neck rest. "What do you have going on today?"

"Just more calls, reviewing some reports from the plant, buying more of Luthor Corp, the usual," Lex shrugged. Spotting the entrance to the diner up ahead, he pulled over to the right lane, then neatly pulled into the last parking spot. "Nearly to the coffee. How about you? Do you have anything special happening today?"

"I think we're starting The Iliad in lit today, woo hoo. Care to give me the short version of it so I can take a nap?" As Clark exited the car, he stretched, grinning when he caught Lex watching. "Something else other than coffee perking your interest?"

"Tease," Lex replied without heat. "You'd get a shock if I jumped you right here in the parking lot. And no, I won't play Cliffs Notes for you, read the book. See the movie, be the characters," he intoned, eyes sparkling with amusement.

Clark made a face. "And just which character should I be?" he asked as they started walking toward the diner, near enough together that their shoulders brushed together from time to time.

"Eros of course," Lex replied, not entirely sure if that particular god actually showed up in The Iliad but not letting the opportunity pass him by.

"You're telling me that the closest character to me in that story is a little chubby guy with wings and a diaper who flies around and shoots people with arrows so that they fall in love with each other?" Clark asked in outrage.

"You need a classical education. Cupid was the Roman version; Eros was tall and gorgeous. Just like a certain farm boy," Lex teased.

Clark snorted, opening the door and holding it for Lex. "Flattery will get you everywhere. So if I'm Eros, who would you be in this little Greek drama?"

"Umm, the analogy sorta breaks down there. I don't think I look much like Psyche. And I know all your secrets."

"Why do I think you're just avoiding giving yourself another nickname?" Clark chuckled, sliding into an empty booth and waving at the waitress when she looked their way.

"Well, Psyche did end up getting her man in the end," Lex mused. "It could be worse."

"You want your man in the end? Kinky."

Groaning, Lex tossed a wadded up napkin at him. "I thought we'd already established that, Clark." He glanced up when the waitress cleared her throat, a speculative gaze on them.

"Hi, Janey," Clark grinned, fighting the blush that was threatening to creep up from under his collar. "Coffee all around, and I'll have the special, over easy with pancakes. What about you, Lex?"

"A bagel with cream cheese and coffee, please." He waited until the waitress left to eye Clark. "You know, for someone who wasn't going to be making any announcements, you're doing a pretty good job. I'm given to understand that she's better than a town crier."

Clark shrugged. "If she tells, she tells. I'm tired of watching what I say and in front of whom... if it's not an issue with you?"

Lex leaned over the table to brush a light kiss over Clark's lips. "Does that answer your question?"

"Yup." Clark beamed, reaching out to catch Lex's hand and squeeze it. He could feel Janey's gaze on them, but damnit, he was tired of hiding, so when she brought their coffee over, he didn't let go.

Lex smiled politely in thanks for the coffee but otherwise ignored the waitress with the climbing eyebrows. "Do you have any plans after school today? I thought maybe we could watch a movie or something if not."

"Homework, chores, the usual." Clark shrugged. "I could probably be over by seven unless Dad needs my help. What do you want to see?"

"We could just rummage through my video collection and see what we can find; I haven't seen most of them. Or alternatively, we could throw a dart and watch whatever it hit," Lex suggested whimsically.

"Pin the tail on the DVD? Maybe we should save that for my birthday since it is a party game." Finally noticing that Janey was still standing there, Clark looked up at her, reaching for the carafe she held in her hands. "Thanks, Janey, now we don't need to bother you if we need a warm up."

Lex snickered as the disappointed waitress had to leave, no longer having a reason to hover over their table. "You enjoyed that, didn't you?"

"Like you didn't." Clark looked up to meet Lex's eyes, then grinned. "Yeah, I did."

"I thought so... Just keep remembering that when you tell the hundredth person, that yes, you are dating Lex Luthor. It'll build character."

Clark sobered a bit at that, then decided it didn't matter. "I'll ask Chloe to run an ad in the Torch; think that would do it?"

"Just remind her that if she puts it on the Wall of Weird, I will get her!" Lex leaned back to allow the waitress to put their plates down, smiling beatifically as she darted glances from one of them to the other. Giving her a little more grist for her rumor mill, he took Clark's hand again as soon as she straightened up.

After pouring a liberal dose of syrup on his pancakes, Clark dug into them. "Nah, she's got us up on her pin up wall, not the other one. That reminds me, she's looking at something involving some girl who says she can breathe water and who lives in the next county over. Rocks or no, I think that one's a little far-fetched."

"A mermaid? How boring for her unless she can find a merman." Lex watched Clark with no little fascination. "Do you ever eat anything that doesn't include large amounts of sugar?"

"What's the point?" Clark asked incredulously, spearing a forkful of pancakes on top of his eggs and eating it all.

Laughing, Lex turned his attention to his bagel, figuring he'd better eat it before Clark grabbed that too.

"Remind me again why I'm spending my Friday night with a bunch of teenagers?" Lex asked wryly as they climbed the steps to the Sullivans' front door.

"Because it'll be fun and because you want to keep me happy?" Clark suggested, nipping at Lex's ear before the door opened to reveal Chloe, who was dressed for the occasion in her usual out there garb along with a 'Bob the Builder' party hat and a plastic lei.

"Finally!" She laughed, grabbing both Clark and Lex and tugging them inside. "Where have you been? No, wait, don't tell me; I don't want to know."

"Get your mind out of the gutter, Miss Sullivan," Lex replied with dignity. "I'll have you know we were baking cookies." And they actually had been, at least the cookies that Martha managed to save from Clark, who had an unhealthy obsession with cookie dough.

"Cookies? Is that what they call it now?" She snickered before relenting when Clark glared at her. "Kidding! Just kidding. Come on in and have a soda. Everyone's in the den, and the pizza should be here soon, then the fun will start!"

"Why does that worry me?" Clark murmured as they followed Chloe inside.

"Because you know Chloe, and to know her is to fear her?" Lex suggested, hopefully quietly enough that she wouldn't hear. "The things I do for you, Clark."

"Because you love me," he answered cheerfully.

They entered the den, and the chorus of 'hellos' died off slightly when the rest of the teens saw that Lex was accompanying Clark.

Waving to the room in general, Clark set about making introductions. "Everyone, this is Lex. Lex, you know Chloe and Pete. That's Jenny with Pete, poor girl. This is Dave and Kate, and over there are Rob and Mary." He pointed first at a tall blond with a petite brunette cheerleader, then a redhead with his date.

"If you two had been much later, you would have walked in to crumbs, and that's it," Pete called, making the others laugh and Clark sigh in relief.

"The advantage of being rich," Lex shot back. "I can always order more." He smiled faintly at the suggestions that he place his order now, just to be on the safe side, though he did glance at Chloe inquisitively to see if she would like to order more food. Seeing her slight shake of the head, he shrugged easily. "Maybe later." He moved a bit closer to Clark, his hand moving slightly as he started to slide an arm around his waist, then thought better of it. These were Clark's friends, and it was up to him how much he was ready to let them know.

Catching the slight movement out of the corner of his eye, Clark reached back, grabbed Lex's hand and pulled it around his waist before walking them both toward an empty spot on the floor and claiming it. The gossip had spread like wildfire around school and, from the absence of a few faces tonight, apparently had been too much for some.

"So what's on tap other than pizza?" he asked cheerfully. "Games? Presents? Truth or Dare?"

"God, Clark, that's so lame!" Rob laughed.

"Not to mention dangerous," Lex murmured in his ear, leaning into him, chin on Clark's shoulder. "We'll keep that one for ourselves one night when we're all alone... like tomorrow maybe." He chuckled faintly, then straightened slightly, reminding himself to behave in front of Smallville's youth.

"Oh, I have plans..." Chloe laughed, and Clark felt a hint of worry when Pete joined her.

"Now I'm really scared," he muttered, much to the amusement of those around them. The front doorbell rang, and he breathed a sigh of relief. "Saved by the pizza man!"

"Oh, I don't know, I'm rather curious to find out what she has planned for you, Clark. It's always so interesting." Lex moved to claim an end of a couch, settling comfortably, seemingly as perfectly at ease in this situation as in a high-powered board meeting. "Do tell, Chloe."

Coming back into the den, followed by Pete, who was laden down with the pizzas, Chloe grinned, dropping onto the couch by Lex. "After we eat, I can promise it'll be fun and entertaining."

"Yeah, just like a frog dissection," Pete snickered.

"Those can be interesting," Lex put in with a wicked grin, remembering a few events in freshman bio. "But I'm sure we have something much less traumatic ahead for Clark." He tugged on Clark's hand lightly, wanting him close even though Chloe had sat beside him. There was always his lap. Some of the girls were sitting in their boyfriends' laps, after all.

Leaning back against the couch between Lex's legs, Clark looked up at him and grinned, twining their fingers together. "You'll tell me, won't you, Pete?" he asked, distracting his friend from his date.

Somewhat relieved to no longer be the focus of Pete's uncomfortable gaze, Lex focused on Clark's hand in his, lightly rubbing the back of his hand. Glancing up, he realized that everyone was watching them, and the Luthor mask slid into place.

"Nah, Chloe would shoot me if I said anything."

Clark shook his head and, in doing so, noticed the fact that everyone was staring at him and Lex. He sighed and tightened his grip, then spoke. "Okay, if you have questions or comments, let's hear 'em now so we can have some fun."

Rob spoke up nervously. "Hey, Kent, are you and Luthor really, uh...?" He stumbled to halt under Lex's glacial gaze.

Lex considered shutting this down hard and fast, but that wouldn't be comfortable for anyone--aside from him--and he decided he should wait to see how Clark chose to handle it.

"Going out?" Clark asked amazing himself with how steady his voice sounded. Maybe after dealing with his parents, his best friends and Lionel Luthor, the rest was easy. "Yeah. Sleeping together? None of your business, Rob." He smiled to take the edge off his words.

Smiling faintly, Lex stroked a finger over the back of Clark's hand, sharing a grin with Chloe. "Good thing you never actually showed anyone any of those pictures and that the ones from the club were never published," he murmured. "Or I don't think there would be any question."

"Don't even think about asking for them, Dave," Clark said quickly, glaring at one of the other guys when he looked too interested.

"Yeah, man, I was there, you don't want to see them," Pete added.

Lex looked a little startled that they'd heard him since his remark had been meant for Chloe only. "Sorry," he mouthed to Clark. "Drinks in the kitchen?" he asked Chloe, attempting to make his escape before he embarrassed Clark more.

"No prob," Clark answered, shifting to let Lex get up and follow Chloe into the kitchen. Once they'd disappeared, he looked around the circle of his friends, seeing acceptance in some of their faces, but not on others. If things didn't chill soon, it was looking to be a long night.

Once inside the kitchen, Lex slumped against the counter, making no attempt to find a drink. "This may have been a mistake," he sighed. "I don't think this is doing Clark's reputation any good, although I can't tell if it's worse that I'm male or a Luthor."

Chloe looked amused and patted Lex on the shoulder before handing over bottles of soda to him. "Lex Luthor, the scourge of boardrooms across America, afraid of a few teenagers, what is the world coming to?" He started to answer, but she held up a hand to stop the response. "I know, you're worried about Clark, but in case you hadn't noticed, he's a big boy. If he didn't want people to know about you two, they wouldn't. He's gotten better at keeping secrets."

Lex's eyes widened very slightly. She couldn't mean what it sounded like? "What do you mean?" he asked cautiously. "I haven't noticed any ability whatsoever in him to lie."

Frowning in confusion, Chloe looked back over her shoulder as she reached for the ice bucket. "I meant about the two of you. Until your little display at the diner, he was doing pretty well keeping things under wraps, though the fact that he turned nine shades of red whenever anyone asked how he was surviving you living at the farm was funny."

"Ah. I hadn't considered that." Now Lex was cursing himself; he was sure that Chloe had caught his reaction, and it would be likely to make her dig, something that could be dangerous to Clark, especially with Lionel on the warpath.

"Don't you think we'll need some glasses?" he asked when she appeared ready to leave the kitchen without them, trying to change the subject.

"Do you have an extra hand to carry them?" she responded, looking at him curiously. "Besides, there are plastic ones out on the table next to the paper plates. Do you think I'm letting those oafs near my folks' good china? No way!"

"Oh, I didn't notice the plastic ones. Okay, we're good then." He wasn't quite sure how wanting to get himself a drink had led to him being put to work, but he found he didn't mind. It was kind of... nice... to be one of the gang for a change.

Back in the living room, he put the bottles down on the table, then sank back down onto the couch, hand automatically falling to Clark's shoulder, his thumb rubbing the nape of the younger man's neck.

Lex's touch made Clark sigh, and he tilted his head back to smile up at the older man, one arm wrapping around his leg. "No way Granville's going to beat us this year," he commented, continuing the conversation about football that had developed while Lex and Chloe were out of the room.

"Not if Coach lets me start anyway," Pete smirked, earning himself laughter from the other teens.

Smiling politely, Lex pretended to listen while he plotted all the things he planned to do to Clark the next night. Realizing that it had grown quiet, he focused on the room again, finding that several people were looking at him, apparently waiting for some kind of response. Trying to ignore the knowing smirks, he shrugged. "Sorry, I was a million miles away."

"So we noticed." Chloe held up a plate, waving it in Lex's direction. "I asked you if you wanted sausage and mushroom, pepperoni or loaded?"

"The loaded one's mine!" Clark shouted, hopping up from the floor and hovering over the pizza box.

"You are not getting the whole pizza!" Lex grabbed the back of his waistband and yanked, hauling him back. "Loaded please, Chloe," he said quickly while Clark was still off balance. "Or are you telling me that you won't even share your pizza with me?" It was his turn to use the eyes.

"Oh man, now they're going to go at it again," Pete grumbled in disgust. "Geez, Clark, just give the guy some pizza so the rest of us can eat."

Forced to wait until his friends had all gotten their pizza before he could get his own, Clark pouted, glaring at the others as they all took pieces of his pizza. "So unfair," he groused. "A guy's birthday and he can't even get what he wants."

A chorus of 'poor baby' rang from around the room, and Chloe snickered before handing Clark the last two slices of the pie. "I think you'll live, really I do."

"And I promise that you'll get what you want," Lex purred from where he was sprawled in the corner of the couch. Seeing Pete's expression, he had to laugh. "Later. And no pictures, Chloe!" he added, making the others laugh.

"Geez, take all the fun out of it!" she sighed, grabbing her own pizza and settling back on the couch, joining in the laughter and conversation. When everyone was done, and the food had been cleaned up, she gathered up a small stack of papers, and handed them out, one to each couple. "Okay, here's the deal. It's a scavenger hunt. You have an hour to find as many of these things as possible. Yes, you can drive to get them; no, you can't pay for them. Any questions?"

"What's the prize?" Clark asked, snagging the paper and looking at the list of items then up at Chloe.

"No prizes for you, birthday boy, you get your presents later."

"Hey, no fair! That's discrimination. It's not my birthday, so what do I get if we win?" Lex demanded.

"Clark," Pete snickered.

Lex gave him a look. "I get that anyways. Hmm, good point. What else do I need?"

"World domination?" Clark asked before skimming the list. "Hey! A flannel shirt, a pie tin, a picture of Lana? Is this a rag on Clark hunt?"

Laughing, Lex leaned down to read the list over Chloe's shoulder, and he shot her a look that promised retaliation when he spotted some of the items. "Well, it is your birthday, after all. It makes sense that the things should relate to you. Mostly." Another dagger glare at Chloe.

She shrugged. "Hey, is it my fault those are the things that come to mind when I think of Clark?"

Clark groaned and hid his face in his hands, trying to ignore the snickers and pointed comments from the other teens. "Just wait, Chloe. Your time will come."

"And I'll help," Lex added his own threat, tugging on a lock of blond hair. Much to his own surprise, he'd found that he genuinely liked Chloe--yet another thing to be grateful to Clark for. "So... when does this little excursion into larceny begin?"

After checking her watch and seeing that the other teams were set, Chloe grinned. "Now. You have until ten to find as many things as you can and get back here with them. If you aren't back then, you're disqualified, got it?"

Lex jumped to his feet, catching Clark's arm as he did so and pulling him up as well, his competitive streak aroused. "Come on, birthday boy, let's show them what we can do."

As they headed for the door, he muttered, "What do you want to bet she made it an hour because she thinks that's too little time for us to do anything else?"

"No contest," Clark sighed, looking back over his shoulder at Chloe, who was smiling far too brightly for his peace of mind as she shooed the other three teams out of the house.

"So what do you want to go for first? I've got the flannel shirt; that's one down."

"We might as well swing by your place and get the receipt and a pie plate before the hordes descend. If we get there quickly, your parents will still be amused rather than annoyed. And I'm guessing you probably have a picture of Lana there too," Lex teased.

Clark stuck his tongue out at Lex as they climbed into the truck and pulled out of the Sullivans' driveway just ahead of the other three couples. "Maybe in the yearbook, now all I have are pictures of you."

"Mmm, we stop to look at those and we'll end up disqualified," Lex chuckled, grinning at him. "Well, last year's yearbook will do. I'm sure everyone else is grabbing their copies as well.

"You must have an astronomy book lying around, something with a picture of a star?" Lex glanced at the list, grumbling again when he reached the bald bobble-head. "I'm really going to get her for this."

"Probably," Clark answered absently. Concentrating on driving at the moment. "And she isn't making fun of you; why are you getting nutty?"

"A bald bobble-head? And how is that not making fun of me? I have much better technique than that!"

Clark glanced over at him and grinned. "I know. I guess we can count that as a 'found it' then since I have the real thing, right?"

"Clark, do you really want to stand up in front of a room full of your friends and explain how I fit that description? Think about it." Lex snorted, easily able to imagine the reactions, the jokes and catcalls. "I don't think that's one of your better ideas."

Flushing a dull red, Clark could only nod and look horrified, stepping on the gas to get them to his house a little quicker. "I think I have a football there too, and we can go by the Talon on the way back around town. Any other ideas?"

"Well, we can grab your alarm clock... and if we go by the castle, I know I have some trucks in some of my battle scenarios; they're army trucks, but I don't think they're going to be that picky. Hmmm, I have bubble wrap somewhere for packing, and there ought to be a grammar book in the library." Working down the list, he added, "Do you have a Red Cross lifesaver badge?"

After making the turn into the driveway, Clark nodded. "And I know you have leather there somewhere - lots of places actually." Turning off the engine, he hopped out of the truck and bounded around to the other side, pulling Lex in for a kiss. "Have I mentioned you make a great partner?"

"Mmm, I'm not sure; better tell me again to be on the safe side." Lex smiled, his arms looped around Clark's waist, in no great hurry to move until the appearance of headlights down the lane spurred him on. "We'd better get moving or the others will beat us to your parents."

"Think I can talk them into locking the door?" Laughing as they headed up the walkway into the house, Clark opened the door, hollering for his parents. "Mom, Dad, don't give anyone any of my stuff; they're coming to raid the place!"

Coming into the kitchen, Jonathan frowned at the two boys. "I thought you were going to a party over at Chloe's tonight?"

"We did. Scavenger hunt," Lex explained laconically. "So there's a mini horde of ravening teenagers headed your way to get one of the items. And we're trying to keep ahead of them."

Laughing, Jonathan started back out of the kitchen. "Try not to destroy anything and return whatever you take. Have fun, boys."

"We will!" Clark called, dragging Lex up the stairs toward his room and tossing his alarm clock at him after grabbing it. "I think the football's out in the loft, unless you have one at your place?

"Do I look like a football player to you?" Lex demanded sarcastically, catching the clock and stuffing it into the grocery bag he'd grabbed from the kitchen. "And we need to go the loft anyhow to get an astronomy book, don't we? And don't forget a flannel shirt. It would be humiliating to lose on that one."

"Hello..." Clark grabbed the overshirt he was wearing and waved it in Lex's face. "Unless you rip it off of me between here and Chloe's, I think we have it covered." Taking it off, he tossed it toward Lex so that he could put it in the bag too. "C'mon, they're here; let's hit the barn before they get in!"

"Mmm, nice," Lex said, admiring the view. "Are you sure that we don't need a t-shirt and jeans too? I'd be happy to help you get them off."

"I think the point is to get to Chloe's house some time before I turn twenty, and then there's the no sex in the house rule," Clark pointed out regretfully. "If we hurry, we can neck in the car on our way back though!" Grabbing Lex's hand, he dragged the older man down the stairs and out toward the loft, enduring the razzing of the others as they piled out of their cars and toward the house.

"Gotta be fast to beat Lex Luthor," Lex snickered quietly. "But they never could, no matter what, 'cause I've got you, babe." He suddenly broke into the old song, then doubled over with laughter at the look on Clark's face. "What, I can't be in a good mood?" he chuckled.

"It depends on if I'm supposed to be Sonny or Cher." Sidling away from the older man but keeping a grip on his hand, Clark shook his head. "That's so far before my time that it's before your time!"

"Hey! I'm not that much older than you. Watch it or I'll start calling you 'sonny boy' like some old guy," Lex warned, suddenly giddy. He was enjoying this, just having fun with Clark and not having to worry about business or Lionel or anything else. It was kind of like Friday night on campus, only more fun and less alcohol.

"Oh, come on, old man, help me find that football." Pulling Lex in for a kiss, Clark had to grin. "Make that sexy old man; it fits you better."

"Hmm, better, but I'm aiming for dirty old man, you know. I'll have to try harder." Catching his breath after the kiss, Lex gave him a look of fond disgruntlement. "Clark, x-ray vision? Find the football."

Giving Lex a sidelong look and a slow grin, Clark scanned the barn for the football, finally finding it upstairs behind the sofa. "I can do dirty," he promised before darting up the stairs to grab it and hopping over the railing to land at Lex's side.

"Oh, I know that," Lex replied fervently. "And I thank sundry deities for it every day." He shifted. "Good thing we don't have to go back yet or we'd be giving your friends a free show."

"Uhh, Lex? Chloe? Camera? Slightly weird fascination with taking pictures of us? Ring a bell anywhere?" Handing the football over, Clark continued. "Couldn't find an astronomy book, but there's that one at your place that we looked up the name of my pseudo home in." "Okay, time to head back to the castle then; we've gotten all we can here. I don't know what we're going to do about that bobble-head though. I know I don't have anything like that. Keep an eye out for a car we can steal one from," he suggested, only half-joking.

"I don't know how many bald ones we'll find unless we get a football player and paint his helmet skin colored." Snickering, Clark followed Lex back to the truck and headed back out onto the road, peeling out once they were out of earshot of the house.

"Hell, we can rip the hair out of one if we can find it," Lex said callously. "We just need to find one... which is the first and last time in my life that I'll ever say that about such a thing." He slid across the bench to lean against Clark's side as he drove. "Mmm, this is much better than bucket seats."

"I still like your cars though." Clark shifted his arm to wrap it around Lex's shoulders, rubbing a thumb over his collar. "And I hate to break it to you, but bobble heads don't have hair you can tear out; it's painted on."

"Oh. Well, we could paint it flesh colored then just as easily," Lex shrugged, leaning a bit closer and all but purring as Clark petted him. "Damn, I can't wait till tomorrow when I get you all to myself. This is going to leave me with the worst case of blue balls in history!"

"You saying they're worse than mine?" Clark asked incredulously, dipping his hand inside Lex's shirt to trace his fingers over the older man's chest. "Horny almost sixteen year-old here, remember? No nookie is a baaaad thing!"

Laughing, Lex collapsed against him, head pillowed on his shoulder. "Okay, we'll call it a draw since any comparing would just get us in trouble... and Chloe would call us on it, loudly and publicly. That girl is going to go far in the world of journalism."

"Straight to the source," Clark groaned. "And she's really pushing me to help more with the Torch too. It is sort of fun though; I can see why she likes trying to find out people's secrets."

"Oh god, don't tell me you've been bitten by the journalism bug too? I'm doomed never to have another secret," Lex bemoaned, although since he was twisting to lay his head in Clark's lap, he didn't seem to upset. "Mmm, I seem to have found another treasure."

Clark squirmed and almost drove them off the road before he recovered. "That treasure had better stay buried if we don't want to hear about it for the rest of our lives." Unable to resist, he stroked a palm over Lex's scalp. "And I thought you didn't have any secrets from me any more?"

"I don't," Lex replied cheerfully. "But how am I ever going to surprise you with a gift if you're snooping into everything? I guess I'll just have to try harder." He mouthed the hardening length through Clark's jeans, then forced himself to sit up; they didn't have time to do anything about it, and this was just making it harder for both of them.

"God, Lex..." How could he concentrate on anything when his cock felt like it was going to bust through his pants? Think about Pete, think about Pete... By the time they got to the castle, Clark was relieved that his erection had subsided somewhat so that he could get out of the truck. "Okay, we need the book and the little truck and the leather here, right?"

"Two books," Lex remembered. "The astronomy one and the grammar book. Lemme just check the list to see if there's anything else..." He scanned the list. "Oh yeah, bubble wrap too. I'll have Enrique get it for us while we get the rest. We can grab some breath mints at the same time as we raid my wardrobe for leather. After that, we just have to head over to the Talon for a cup or napkin or something... and find a bobble-head." He followed Clark out of the truck and inside, pausing only to instruct the manservant to find some bubble wrap for them.

"Should it frighten me that you have a grammar book in your library?" Clark asked, piling it on top of the other one they needed. "Is it some English boarding school fetish thing I didn't know about?"

"Hmm? Oh, I needed ammunition against Lionel one time, so I shot down his grammar. It was really quite atrocious up till then. He got the concept of formal language afterwards." Lex shrugged as they headed upstairs. "So do we stuff the pants in the bag or should I put them on?"

Blinking at the thought of Lionel Luthor using bad grammar, Clark missed the question until Lex held the soft black leather pants in front of his face. "Ummmm, bag or we're going to have that problem again," he sighed.

"Hmm, good point. We can always dress up tomorrow night... when we're alone," he purred. "It'll be lot more fun that way. Okay, we're done here if Enrique found the plastic, so it's off to the Talon. We may have to give up on the bobble-head though; I'm fresh out of ideas."

"Are you ever going to tell me what you have planned, or do I just have to wait and see?" Adding the books to the bag and holding it while Lex folded the pants and slipped them inside, Clark sighed. "Wait, I know the answer to that. And maybe the convenience store would have them. They have all kinds of weird shit like that."

"Going to resort to breaking and entering, love? Chloe did say we couldn't buy anything on the list," Lex reminded him, ignoring the first question since Clark knew the answer as well as he did. "Although we could always return it later... or pay for it tomorrow."

"Shit." As they walked down the stairs, he mulled over the problem. "Well, it's not like we can win anyway." As he said this, Enrique appeared, his arms full of bubble wrap.

"Well, we'll have everything else on the list..." A thought suddenly struck Lex and he turned a speculative look on Enrique. "Enrique, does anyone in the house happen to have a bobble-head doll on their dash? Preferably bald."

After a startled blink, Enrique nodded. "Actually, sir, several people do."

"Oh good! I need on in the next five minutes. And while I'm not allowed to buy it, I'll make up for it tomorrow." He took the plastic. "Well?"

Another blink and Enrique was gone.

"Problem solved," Lex crowed. "And we still have half an hour, plenty of time to get to the Talon and back to... Wait a minute!" He darted into the study and reappeared with a dirty paper cup with the Talon's logo. "I had a cup earlier tonight, and the trash hasn't been emptied in my office yet.

"Clark, my love, we're done! Well, as soon as Enrique gets back."

Clark just stared at Lex until Enrique walked up, holding the required bald bobble-head doll in his hand and wordlessly handing it over. Waiting until the servant left, Clark began to laugh helplessly, collapsing on the leather couch and holding his sides. "If - if you asked him for a thermonuclear bomb, would he have found that too?"

"Of course," Lex replied calmly, then spoiled the effect by laughing as well. "I just realized that people working for a bald, occasionally arrogant man might have, uh, something along these lines around." He smirked.

"Occasionally, eh?" Sitting up, Clark grabbed Lex by the hand and pulled him into his lap. "Now who could that be?" Cradling the older man's head in his other hand, he leaned in and licked at his lips until they parted, allowing him to deepen the kiss.

Initially leaning into the kiss, Lex forced himself to step back, licking his lips to taste Clark. "After all this, it would be silly to lose because we lost track of time and got disqualified. I think we should head back to Chloe's now. We'll probably be the first ones there and can... make out," he smiled quickly, "for a while."

Clark sighed, knowing Lex was right. "With her watching out the windows? Gee, that's romantic."

"You didn't seem to mind in the limo," Lex purred, backing toward the door. "I remember you nearly fucking me right then and there, in front of her and Pete." He licked his lips again, eyes growing heavy-lidded.

"I was sort of uhhhh... not myself that night. I mean between the drinks and the dancing and the chains..." He gave a shudder and licked his lips at the memory. "It was a real turn on."

"You liked the chains, huh? Glad to hear it. After all... No, I'll let you wait to find out about that tomorrow." Giving a teasing laugh, Lex turned around and picked up a few of the items they'd accumulated, planning to head out to the truck.

"After all what? Lex!" Finding himself staring at the back of Lex's head, Clark surged to his feet, running after him. "Lex!"

"In the truck, Clark. We have to get back to Chloe's." Bestowing a seraphic smile on him, Lex slid into the truck and shut the door, only the wicked sparkle in his eyes giving him away.

"Bastard," Clark muttered, glaring into the truck, the only thing keeping him from giving his boyfriend a hotseat being the fact that it would have ruined the truck as well.

"Fine, be that way," he muttered as he climbed in and started the engine. "Just wait and see what I do for your birthday!"

Lex wagged a finger at him. "Now, now, don't start making threats that you won't want to keep," he purred, leaning back into the seat contentedly. "Tomorrow is going to be very, very good."

"Why does that tone scare me very, very much?"

"Tallying the points, it looks like Dave and Kate are the winners! I just want to know how the two of you ended up with that kid's shirt; was it really Clark's?"

"My mother is trying to kill me," Clark groaned, hiding his face against Lex's shoulder.

Lex snickered. "We're going to have to have a talk with her. She's not supposed to undercut her own family." He curled a little closer to Clark, apparently perfectly content to sit there with Clark's arms around him forever.

"I can't believe she still has that thing, and you'd better return it, Dave, or she'll be coming after you!"

"I still think that his blanket should have counted; it was flannel!" Pete called.

"Nope, it wasn't a shirt."

"Give up with grace, Mr. Ross," Lex suggested, smirking. "Clearly the judge is indulging in some favoritism," he teased, seeing the way Chloe eyed the other teenager.

"Oh, you're just annoyed that you couldn't win either, Lex," she muttered, flushing faintly.

"I can't believe we forgot Lana's picture," Clark snickered. A year ago that would have been the one thing he was sure to have, now... he'd just been too distracted.

Lex just smiled smugly, more pleased to have lost for that reason that he ever could have been by winning. "Next time don't look so gorgeous and distract me." He reached around Clark for his cola, not surprised when a hand grabbed his wrist and redirected the glass toward Clark before it was allowed to continue on its way.

"The mush quotient is rising quickly; get the cake and save us from drowning, Chloe."

"Up yours, Pete," Clark laughed. "What kind of cake is it anyway?"

"Chocolate," everyone chorused, laughing. As if they would dare give Clark anything but his favorite on his birthday.

Lex only smiled, thinking of the chocolate mousse that he planned to serve Clark the next night... on him. In the meantime, he accepted a slice of cake with a murmured thanks and proceeded to tease Clark with a forkful.

Not willing to beg out in public, Clark simply sat there, watching the fork. If they'd been alone, he would have pulled out all the stops and the puppy-dog eyes or simply would have grabbed Lex's wrist and eaten the cake - and his way up Lex's arm...

"Here, Clark. Don't say I never gave you anything." Pete passed over his piece, snickering when half of it vanished down the other teen's mouth in a single bite.

Grinning, Lex finally moved the fork close enough for Clark to get the morsel of cake... which he did, regardless of the slice he now had. "You're a total glutton for chocolate," he chuckled. "I can work with that," he whispered too quietly for anyone else to hear. "I look forward to licking it off of you."

Clark froze, which was a good thing because otherwise he would have dropped his cake and the plate. "Any way I can get it," he choked out, earning himself a concerned look from Chloe.

"I'm delighted to hear it. I'll have to make sure to get some for you," Lex said innocently, his smile fooling no one even if they hadn't heard the earlier comments. "Wonderful cake, Chloe."

"Me and Sara Lee, we're a good team," she laughed. "Someone else can bake the next one though: that's my quota for the year."

"I will," Dave offered readily, earning himself a glare from his date.

"I'll have the fire department on hold if you do," Clark called.

"Or my cook can do it," Lex offered. "Good cake and no potential for a four-alarm blaze." He grinned at their expressions. "What, you thought I would offer? Ask Clark what I'm like in a kitchen."

Clark rolled his eyes. "He doesn't know where his dishes are."

"And you do?" Pete mocked. "I should have bought you an apron, Clark."

"Humor? Was that supposed to be humor?"

"I don't know. You might look cute in a lacy little French maid's apron, Clark," Lex said, snickering as he pictured that. Men with Clark's physique simply didn't cross dress well, not even in fantasies.

"To misquote Han Solo, laugh it up, cueball."

"We're doing Romeo and Juliet in the spring," Dave laughed. "Get Clark in that outfit and he'd be a shoo-in for the role of the maid!"

"I could make that a project," Lex mused, grinning. "But do you think he's got the legs for it?" He pretended to study Clark seriously.

"No! Nonononononono!"

Moving as quickly as he could, given the audience, Clark went and hid behind Chloe. "They're crazy, all of them."

"Mmm, he even left his cake behind," Lex gloated, stealing the last bite that had been on the plate. "I think you'd look very... interesting... in a frilly apron and heels. And fishnet stockings." He snickered. "Be adventurous, Clark."

By this time, everyone was howling with laughter, accepting Lex as just another one of the guys, and they joined in to tease Clark.

"If I ever am caught in a get up like that, the only reason is because each and every one of you will be dressed like it too, except for the girls, who can wear tuxes!" He sank down behind the table, trying to hide. "Gah! With friends like this, who needs meteor mutants!"

Smirking, Lex went over to him, trying to coax him out. "Clark, would you come out of there?" he demanded in exasperation. "I feel like I'm trying to coax a recalcitrant puppy out from under the bed!"

"Only if everyone promises to be nice to me and I get my presents." Clark knew he sounded like a five year old, but he was trying too hard to keep from laughing to say anything else.

"Yes, we all pwomise to be nice to Clarky-Warky," Lex cooed in a nauseatingly sweet voice. "Chloe, gimme some more cake, I think I'm going to need to lay a trail to get him out of there," Lex laughed.

"Are you sure you don't want a bottle for the baby?" Chloe asked, peering over the table and grinning down at Clark.

"Flash him some leg, Lex; that'd get him out," Dave snickered, only to wince when his date smacked him on the shoulder in disgust.

"If he does, I'll bite it," Clark growled, somehow scooting farther under the table.

"Ooo, kinky. But not in front of everyone, Clark," Lex said with a small smirk. "If you don't come out of there, you won't get your presents. Everyone'll take them back home with them."

Chloe leaned over to peer under the table again. "And my parents will really start to wonder about you if they come home to find you still hiding under there."

"Okay, okay, I'm coming out..." Saying that, Clark crawled out, standing and stretching, trying to ignore the snickers. "Is it safe to sit over there, or are you all going to try and dress me in drag?"

"I promise to save you if someone tries to forcibly strip your clothes off you and stuff you into one of Mrs. Sullivan's dresses," Lex vowed, chuckling as he straightened up.

"Oh gross!" Pete moaned, shaking his head as if to expel the thought.

"Which one? Clark undressed or Mrs. Sullivan's dress?" Dave laughed, earning himself another smack from his girlfriend.

"My hero," Clark muttered, co-opting the space Chloe and Lex had been sharing on the couch by sprawling out across it.

"Hey!" Looking indignant, Lex stared down at the smirking teen, then shrugged, and simply sat on top of his legs. "Stay still now, Clark. This could get uncomfortable if you're too restless." He calmly picked up his cake and started to eat it.

Chloe glanced at the two men, measuring how much there was of Clark left to sit on before deciding that it probably wasn't wise to try.

"Ow!" Clark yelped. Honestly, it hadn't hurt in the least, and Lex knew it, but Clark played it to the hilt. "You break my legs, you carry me to the hospital."

"Naw, I'll just roll you out of the way and move in on Chloe," Lex replied, eyes sparkling with mirth. "What do you say, Chloe? Want to take a chance on a slightly used, bald, twenty-something?"

"Don't do it, Chloe!" Clark exclaimed. "He'll just use you, break your legs, then throw you over for Pete!"

"No way!" Pete howled, flinging a napkin in Clark's direction.

"Hey, what is this? I'm not good enough for him?" Dave asked, ducking the napkin that was thrown in his direction.

"Well," Lex drawled, checking Dave out, "you're prettier than Pete, but not as pretty as Chloe or Clark." He ducked the napkins that came flying at him, chuckling, then nearly yelped when Clark tumbled him to sprawl on top of the teenager.

"Hi," he said, still grinning into the green eyes only inches away now. "Something wrong?"

"Making plans to work your way through all of Smallville High's sophomore class is not a good way to ingratiate yourself with your boyfriend. Got it?"

"Hey, Lex, it sounds like you might need what I got Clark more then he does," Chloe laughed, tossing a gaudily wrapped package in the pair's direction and snickering when it landed on his butt.

"Hey, watch it, I'm sensitive; I bruise easily," Lex groused, making no move to get off Clark now that he was sprawled over him. He reached back to retrieve the sharp-cornered object, eyeing it with all the enthusiasm he'd have for a ticking bomb. "Yours, I think," he muttered, offering it to Clark.

Grabbing for the package, Clark managed to slide out from under Lex and sit up, much to the other man's obvious consternation. "Damn right!" he laughed, ripping off the wrapping paper and staring at the book's title. "Chloe, you are so dead."

Grumbling about uncooperative boyfriends, Lex righted himself, leaning close to read the title over Clark's shoulder. He burst into laughter, needing to brace a hand on Clark's shoulder to prevent himself from falling into his lap. "Bit late there, Chloe," he said around chuckles. "I think he already has that part down pat."

"Here, Pete." Clark tossed the other teen the book. "I think 'The Rules' would help you more than me, in fact, you can all share it!"

Getting rid of the book as if it was a hot potato, Pete dumped it in Dave's lap, then snickered when he started reading it.

"Hey, it never hurts to be in touch with your feminine side! And just who has an actual date tonight?" Dave wanted to know, giving Pete an evil grin. He skimmed through the book, then chuckled. "Hey, L-Lex," he stumbled slightly over the name, still not fully at ease chatting with the older man, but getting there, "this stuff really work?"

An eyebrow rising, Lex glanced pointedly at Clark and his own arm around the teenager's shoulders. "What do you think?"

"On girls?" Rob called out.

"I may have to charge for borrowing it soon," Clark laughed, accepting the next package and squeezing it experimentally before tearing the paper off. "A Goku shirt! All right!"

"Well, I was engaged," Lex started, then changed his mind when he saw the expression on Clark's face. Damn, he'd forgotten how the younger man reacted to any reference to Victoria. "Sorry," he murmured, reaching for his gift to Clark, at least the one he'd brought for public consumption, to try to make it up to him.

Clark shrugged. "S'okay, I'm here and she's not." Shaking off the growly feeling that even the mention of Victoria brought over him, Clark carefully set aside the Dragonball Z shirt and took the gift Lex offered.

Undoing the wrapping more carefully than he had the others, he stared at the starscape, studying it until the patterns clicked in his head. It was Orion's Belt, and in it, the star they'd decided his home planet orbited.

"Thanks, Lex," he said quietly, giving the older man a tender kiss that had Chloe going 'awwww' and several of the other kids making gagging noises.

"Geez, get a room, you two!"

"Well, if you insist..." Lex said, starting to get to his feet only to be yanked back down by Clark. "I was just trying to be agreeable."

"Somehow I really don't think Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan want that going on while they're away!" Clark laughed.

"You can say that again!" Chloe shuddered. "I'd be grounded until I was twenty-one."

"You think I'm crazy enough to trust a single locked door between us and your camera?" Lex scoffed. "I was heading for home and a nice early night in bed."

"Geez, TMI!" Pete groaned, flushing and covering his ears.

"Poor Petey," Dave crooned. "I bet you can't take watching Queer as Folk either..."

"And you do?" his date asked, moving slightly away from him.

"For the plot, I'm sure," Chloe answered.

"Tomorrow night," Clark consoled Lex before reaching for his next present, his smile as bright as a child's on Christmas morning.

"For Mel and Lindsay," Dave replied, knowing it would piss her off... and then maybe he'd have a chance with Chloe in a few days.

Lex smiled in reply to Clark's remark, observing everyone around him with interest and wondering if Chloe even noticed Dave's interest. For an intelligent girl, she could be remarkably dense about some things.

"Daphne was cuter," Clark replied absently, snickering when he pulled Pete's present out of the box it had come in. "Oh, man, this is great! Look, Lex, it's a license plate holder for Baby!" He held it up for the others to read the inscription 'Clark's baby'.

"I swear I'm going to hit you the next time you call me baby," Lex vowed, eyeing it with disfavor. "And you, Pete, stop encouraging his obsession. I expect him to start building it its own garage next!"

"Her! She's not an it; she's a she!" Clark mumbled, trying not to snicker at Lex's expression.

"Hey, Lex, I'll get you a matching charm for Christmas, okay?" Pete asked, all the while eyeing the distance to the door and hoping he was faster than the older man if he made a move on him.

Narrowed blue eyes focused on the teenager with an expression that had made corporate heads cringe. "You do and I promise you'll regret it. Perhaps a lifetime supply of the plant's produce," he mused. "Yes, I think that would be very fitting. Delivered to your door every Friday night," he purred. "I'm sure your dates would love it."

This earned him howls of laughter from everyone except Pete, who looked terrified that Lex would do just that and that his social life would end up crap too. "That's okay, I - uh - I think I'll let Clark get you the gifts."

"Good idea," Clark snickered, though he wondered if Lex would like a charm that had other sentiments to put on his collar.

"Yes, Clark has a much better idea of what I like," Lex agreed, smirking victoriously. "Hey, you still have another gift, Clark. You must be slipping, letting yourself get distracted before you've ripped them all open."

"Whoops." Giving a somewhat distracted smile, Clark opened the last package, crowing in delight at the new Bush CD. "Thanks, Rob, thanks, Mary, I've been wanting this!"

"Yeah," Rob drawled, "you only hinted at it about fifty times over the last week."

Lex smiled faintly. "Yes, I've noticed Clark's attempts at subtlety myself. Rather like being hit over the head with a 2x4... and believe me, I know," he added wryly. And the next night Lex would give Clark a pair of tickets to Bush's next concert in Metropolis, scheduled for the following month. It would be fun for them to get away together.

Clark pretended to growl. "Watch it, or you'll get a reminder."

"Fight, fight!" the rest of the group chorused before collapsing into laughter.

"Please, no more!" Lex held up a hand as if to fend off another blow. "I'm starting to think that I should wear armor... or at least a football helmet. Hmm, maybe something tasteful with the Lexcorp logo on the side?"

"In purple, right?" Chloe asked before getting up to pour herself another soda. "Anyone want anything?"

"I'll take one," Dave said quickly, standing and moving to help her, oblivious to his date's glare.

Lex hid a smile in his own glass, noticing it was empty but not about to interrupt the other two by getting up. "I wonder how long it'll take Dave to break up with the one who looks like she stepped in something and make a move on Chloe?" he murmured to Clark, stealing his soda.

"Not long, if he's smart," Clark whispered back. "He's cool; his family moved here from California right before school started. Notice he hasn't said word one about us."

"I noticed. That makes him something of a rarity in this town." Lex determined to check up on the kid and his family later, to make sure that he was all right for Chloe. "And since I doubt the princess over there is your friend, how did you get to know him?" Lex felt a faint stirring of jealousy as he looked over at the tanned blond who just had to be on the football team.

Noting that, aside from Dave and Chloe, everyone else was chatting and distracted, Clark didn't mind answering Lex's question. "Health if you can believe it. Second day of school, and Coach was blathering on about proper eating or something, going on and on about vegetables. He muttered something about Vegeta, I cracked up, and once Coach stopped busting on us, we ended up talking. Cool guy, he wants to be an actor."

"Well, he has the looks for it, but can he act?" Then again, that didn't always seem to be a requirement, but it was a nice addition. Lex eyed him and saw how Chloe was standing a little closer than she usually did. "Looks like she's interested at least."

"The drama club's putting on The Importance of Being Ernest next month, and he's got a decent part; want to come with me and see?" Clark glanced over at the pair and grinned. "And I know she is; let's keep our fingers crossed."

"Sure, if you don't think we'll be stoned." Lex shifted slightly then subsided, realizing that draping himself over Clark's lap as he so often did when they were curled up together as they were now probably wasn't such a good idea in a room full of Clark's teenaged friends. "We can sit in the back row and neck in between deciding if he's good enough for her."

"Stoned? Why would we be smoking... Oh, that kind of stoned." Clark shrugged. "I'll protect you if they start anything, but I don't think it'll be a problem."

A car pulled up outside, and Chloe peered out the window before making a face. "My folks are home."

"Man, I didn't realize it was that late," Pete commented.

"Dave, we should get going." Kate stood and laid a proprietary hand on his arm.

Dave stepped away from the table, not so accidentally pulling away from Kate. "Thanks for a great party, Chloe. It was a lot of fun. And happy birthday, Clark." He grinned suddenly. "I'm sure you'll understand if I leave the birthday kissing to Lex."

"Good thing," Lex shot back, smiling as well. "I'd hate to have to kill you."

"Well, I'm not scared of you." Saying this, Chloe grabbed Clark and kissed him on the lips. "Happy birthday, Clark. Sweet sixteen and never been..."

"Chloe!" he gasped, stopping her in mid-sentence."

"Get your own man." Lex pulled her away and then kissed Clark himself just to make sure that the younger man only tasted him. "And I can assure you," he said once he raised his head again to applause from Chloe and Dave, "that he most definitely has been kissed."

"Just don't tell us what else he's done," Pete pleaded. "We're out of here; have a great weekend, Clark, and talk to you Monday!"

"You got it, and thanks, Pete!"

The others left as well as soon as the Sullivans entered, though it seemed that Dave would have been happier to stay for a while longer. "Ten bucks says he and Kate are broken up before he takes her home," Clark said, winking at Chloe.

"What are you talking about?" Chloe asked blankly, but there was a twinkle in her eyes that said that she knew very well.

"He's talking about the fact that the California boy almost tripped over his feet because he was staring at you. And that the young woman with him is going to tell him that he can't act that way when he's her boyfriend... at which point he'll say he isn't. And sometime next week he'll ask you out," Lex explained with a faint smile, ignoring the startled looks his detailed explanation garnered him.

"To which you'll say..." Clark prompted.

"Like that's going to happen! I'm the buddy, not the date." She bit her lip as soon as she said that. "I didn't mean anything by that."

Clark's laughter died away, and he reached out to take her hand. "Chloe, I'm sorry. If - I..."

She held up a finger to his lips. "I know, Clark. Even without the whole gender thing, no way I can be competition for Lex."

"Don't be so sure," Lex said quietly. "You're the only one in this whole town that could be." He kissed her lightly. "And what do you want to bet that he asks you out?"

"A Corvette," was Chloe's instant answer.

Lex snorted. "And when exactly will I get when I win?"

"Free ad-space in the Torch."

Clark nodded. "Sounds fair to me."

Lex eyed them both oddly but shrugged. "Deal. We'll have to bring him along the next time we all go to Metropolis."

Clark started to answer, but Mr. Sullivan walked up to them. "Evening, Mr - Lex, Clark. How was the party?"

"It was great." Clark beamed at Chloe. "I'm lucky to have such great friends."

"Especially ones brave enough to let a gang of teenagers into their home," Lex teased, finally standing up, uncomfortable sitting down practically in Clark's lap in front of someone who was both an employee and Chloe's father. "We should go now. Thanks again, Chloe." He surprised all of them by brushing another kiss over her cheek.

Clark looked around at the clutter they'd left. "You want any help cleaning up?"

"Go ahead, I've got it under control." She looked from Clark to Lex then back again. "Drive safe and have a good time tomorrow. Save me a piece of your mom's cake, okay, Clark?"

"Will do." After leaning in and kissing Chloe's other cheek, Clark stood as well. "Thanks for letting us all come over, Mr. Sullivan."

Lex added his thanks and shook his hand, then followed Clark toward the door. He waved at Chloe as they slid into the truck, then settled against Clark as usual. He glanced at the clock and sighed. "You won't have time to come in if you're going to make it home on time."

"I know." Clark didn't sound too thrilled by the situation. "We have time for a goodnight kiss once we get there though, right?"

"Always! Just not anything else. But at least we have tomorrow night and all day Sunday," Lex added with satisfaction. "Tomorrow morning is your parents'."

"And tomorrow day up until after dinner," Clark reminded him. "You're going to die when you taste the cake Mom's making."

"I'll have to make sure to bring back a piece for a late night snack. I know exactly how I want it served too." Lex licked his lips, eyes fixed hungrily on Clark.

Clark squirmed. "How?"

"I want it smeared over your naked body while you're spread-eagled on my bed so I can lick every bit of it off of you. It's going to taste so good," Lex purred, licking Clark's ear.

"Oh God." Clark's hands clenched on the steering wheel, and he had to force himself to loosen them or risk bending it. "And we only have time for a kiss tonight?" he practically whimpered.

"Yup." Lex chuckled sadistically. "But you can think about everything else we'll do tomorrow. Anticipation makes things even better."

"Keep saying it, maybe you'll believe it." Shifting his arm, Clark wrapped it around Lex's shoulders, rubbing his collar. "I'm liking Pete's charm idea more and more."

"Want to mark me, do you?" Lex arched his head back, baring his throat as Clark petted him. "I rather like the idea myself."

It took all of Clark's willpower to keep from pulling over right then and marking Lex in a much more personal manner. "It'll tell everyone to keep their hands off you," he muttered, glancing at the older man quickly before looking back at the road again.

"Like that's such an issue," Lex scoffed. "People around here seem to have murderous intent when they put their hands on me."

The stare that Clark leveled at Lex told him that he recalled several people who definitely had other intentions regarding Lex.

Lex sighed. "Clark, you're the only one I want. I love you. I'm not going to suddenly rediscover a passion for Victoria or anyone else. I'd rather bed a viper," he said with a shudder.

Glad that the darkness hid his blush, Clark ducked his head as he hit the blinker and turned into Lex's driveway. "I know; I just want everyone else to know, too."

"I'm pretty sure they've noticed, but I rather like the idea anyway. Next time we're in Metropolis, we can get something... unless you want to go to a jeweler's here in Smallville?"

"It wouldn't bother me, but I bet they wouldn't have anything you'd like there. Maybe I'll just string my class ring on it when I get it."

"Mmmm." Lex shivered at the thought, liking it. A lot. "We can find something plain here in the meantime... and get it engraved."

"Sounds good, or I can try and talk Dad into letting me try out for a sport and give you my letterman's jacket." Clark winced theatrically when Lex smacked his shoulder. "Shit, I've gotta book if I want to get home."

"Damn," Lex sighed. Remembering what had happened earlier that week when he'd complained about this same issue, however, he forced a smile and kissed Clark. "I'll see you tomorrow, love. Try not to eat all the cake before I get there."

"You know I won't." Stopping Lex before he climbed out of the car, Clark pulled him in for a longer kiss. "That was a better birthday kiss."

"Now leave before we get you grounded," Lex said in a nearly steady tone as he got out, turning to watch Clark leave.

"Love you." Pulling the door shut before he dragged Lex back in and made himself really late, Clark pulled away, watching him through the rear view mirror until he went inside the mansion.

Lex showed up at the Kent farm at what for him was an unholy hour the next day, 10:30 in the morning. To be there at that hour meant he'd set an alarm on Saturday, gotten up, done what work needed to be dealt with immediately, and gotten showered and dressed and out of the castle by ten. Of course, it helped that he still wasn't sleeping very well without Clark, but it was a Saturday morning.

Fortunately, Martha was used to him by now, especially after him living there for three weeks, so he was greeted at the door with a cup of coffee and a hug.

"Morning," he mumbled, sinking into his chair.

"Did Clark's friends wear you out last night?" she chuckled, going back to mixing the batter for the cake. "Or was it just the running around to find the things on Chloe's list?"

"Both," Lex sighed. "But mostly it's just another night of not sleeping well." He shrugged as if it didn't matter when in fact it was starting to affect him badly. "That and I don't usually see this hour of a Saturday morning.

"Where are Clark and Jonathan?" he asked, finally alert enough to notice the absence of the Kent men.

Martha set aside the mixing bowl and crossed over to Lex, tilting his head up so that she could study his face, frowning at the circles under his eyes and his wan complexion. "Jonathan's out in the barn; Clark's still upstairs, probably asleep. This is the one morning we let him sleep in, which it looks like you should have done too. If you want..." She paused before continuing--what was a few hours after three weeks of the two of them sharing a room? "Go upstairs and lie down too."

Lex hesitated, well aware that Martha wasn't really comfortable with the idea, regardless of her easy acceptance of them as a couple, but he was just so tired. "Thanks," he said finally. "I could use a power nap." He was well aware that he could sleep for hours, but he wasn't going to miss Clark's birthday.

"I'll see you in a while," he said as he was leaving, getting his hand smacked with a spoon when he tried to steal a fingerful of batter as he passed.

Upstairs he headed straight for Clark's room, smiling when he found the young man in a restless sleep, clutching his pillow close. Stripping down to his boxer briefs, he slipped into the bed and sighed contentedly when Clark's arms wrapped around him the moment the teen sensed his warmth.

Groggy and disoriented, Clark opened one eye, wondering if he was dreaming when he started to roll over, only to find himself with an armful of sleepy, cuddly Lex. Doubting that the older man would have come up here on his own, he smiled, tucking his head against the back of Lex's neck and nuzzling the skin there, not trying to wake him, just wanting the contact. "Thanks, Mom," he murmured, fully content to lie there like that until Lex woke up - or until his stomach did.

The sound half woke Lex, and he groaned and rolled over, burying his face in Clark's throat as he fought waking. Slowly the warmth surrounding him penetrated even his determined drowsiness... as did the shaking of Clark's body as he tried to restrain his laughter.

"Whatimezit?" he mumbled, barely awake.

"No clue, we left my alarm clock at Chloe's last night, but according to my stomach, it's time to eat." Clark scooted down a bit in the bed to investigate Lex's mouth. "What time did you sneak in here?"

"Din sneak," was the muffled reply. "Your mother sent me. Round 10:30, when I got here. It must be after noon now." Lex finally leaned back enough to see more of Clark than his throat. "We should probably go down. Your parents want to spend some time with you today too."

"Um hmm." Clark made no move to let go of Lex, at least until his mother called up the stairs.

"Clark! Lana is here, honey."

"I need to go down," he sighed, licking a kiss across Lex's mouth. Lana had been stuck working last night, so she hadn't been able to make Chloe's party, but she'd promised to come by today, and so she had.

Even with technically being 'outed' around town, he still wasn't sure if she knew what was going on between Lex and him, and it wasn't a subject he felt totally comfortable bringing up.

Sliding out of bed, he stood and smiled down at Lex. "God, you look good there. Rest some more if you want." As he spoke, he grabbed jeans and a t-shirt, pulling both on and raking a hand through his unruly hair.

Lex stayed in bed for another moment, his nose buried in Clark's pillow, just feeling surrounded by his lover. But soon enough the warmth of his body began to fade, and Lex sat up, rubbing his eyes and yawning. He glanced at his watch and was surprised to see that it was just after two. Reminding himself to make sure that he and Clark stayed for a while after dinner to give the Kents time with their son, he got up and stretched before heading downstairs. Even though he trusted Clark, he still didn't like him spending a lot of time alone with Lana, especially not when he'd just gotten out of bed and looked that good.

Lex wandered into the living room and found the two teenagers sitting on the sofa, Clark holding a wrapped present and Lana leaning close. A slight frown wrinkled Lex's brow as he wondered if Lana might be rethinking her promise to wait for the football player, and he moved to Clark's side, one hand falling to his boyfriend's shoulder. "You're slipping, Clark. Last night you were getting a gift open in under thirty seconds."

Clark grinned up at Lex and chuckled. "I'm tired, so it takes longer."

"It sounds like you all had a fun time last night; I wish I could have been there," Lana said wistfully.

"I wish you could have been too." Clark met her gaze and smiled. "You could have kept everyone from picking on me."

Lex snorted. "Or kept you from hiding under a table like a bashful puppy." He perched on the arm of the sofa, watching Clark open the gift, and he wanted to growl at the care he was taking. One possessive hand rested on the back of his neck, and Lex wanted to stand up and yell, "Mine!" If Lana Lang thought she could change her mind at this late date and go after Clark, she was in for one hell of a surprise!

Opening the box, Clark spread the tissue paper and lifted out a light blue crewneck sweater. "Wow! Lana, this is great!"

She smiled and touched the sleeve. "I thought the color would look good on you."

"What do you think, Lex?" Not hearing an answer, Clark turned and looked at his boyfriend, his eyes widening at the possessive gleam he saw in Lex's gaze.

Lex glanced at the sweater briefly. "It's nice." Not pleased at Lana's proximity, he slid down from his perch to Clark's lap, settling himself comfortably. "You can wear it the next time we go to Metropolis." He barely restrained himself from pushing her farther away.

Settling an arm around Lex's waist, Clark didn't notice Lana's indrawn breath, but her sudden stillness did draw his attention.

"That's right," she said quietly, "Chloe told me about the trip you all took before school started."

"Maybe next time, we can all go," Clark offered. "Pete can bring whoever he's dating, you can bring Whitney if he's home, and if Chloe and Dave get together, she can bring him, just one big double date."

Lex relaxed slightly when Clark made it clear that they were a couple, and he realized that he was acting like an idiot. "Yes, you're more than welcome to join us. Pete would probably appreciate the added company."

"I..." Lana hesitated, taken aback by what they seemed to be telling her. How could this be? Clark had always been so obvious about having a crush on her in his sweet way, and although she loved Whitney, she had to admit it was nice. But... Lex? "The two of you..." she tried again.

"Are dating," Lex supplied helpfully, deciding that as amusing as it might be to shock her into passing out if he said fucking, Clark would probably explode from the force of the blush.

"I thought you knew? I thought pretty much everyone knew now." Clark's expression turned to one of concern that he'd lose Lana's friendship over this. He may not have liked her 'that way' any longer, but she was still a good friend.

"I - I guess my father was right that night in the graveyard when he asked if you were thinking about a boy," she said faintly.

Lex eyed her oddly. "Your father said that?" He leaned away slightly, wondering if she was going to suddenly develop some weird and murderous powers. After all, her father had been dead for twelve years.

Clark shook his head minutely, hoping Lex would drop the subject. "Long story," he murmured. "And it just never occurred to me to tell you - I mean... I'm sorry?" He really wasn't sure what to say at this point.

"There's no reason that you should have, Clark," Lana replied softly, sitting back. "If you're happy, I'm happy." She wondered, though, if Clark truly could be happy with someone like Lex, who had so many secrets and such dark things in his past.

Lex nearly rolled his eyes. If it had been him in Lana's position, he wouldn't have been nearly so calm and sweetly forgiving about the whole thing. Then again, he wouldn't be fool enough to ignore Clark until he found someone else.

Feeling relieved, Clark caught Lana's hand in his and squeezed it gently. "I am. We are, right, Lex?" He reached for the older man with his other hand.

"Yes, we are." Lex eyed the linked hands nervously. If either of the other two tried to turn this into a group hug, he was out of there.

"Well," Lana fidgeted uncomfortably, "I should be getting home. Aunt Nell wants to have a family dinner tonight. Happy birthday, Clark." She started to lean toward him to give him a kiss, saw the glacial expression in Lex's eyes, and changed her mind, instead standing up rather abruptly. "Bye!"

She wasn't all the way out the door when Lex had twisted around to face Clark, his mouth fastened onto his as he sought to wipe the lovely Miss Lang from Clark's memory.

"Lex..." Clark groaned, trying to peer around him after Lana but giving up in the face of his determined seduction of his mouth. Once they'd finally broken apart, he leaned back, breathing heavily and glad that his folks were at the back of the house. "Tell me you aren't jealous of Lana."

"I'm not jealous of Lana." Somehow the words sounded less than convincing, especially in view of Lex's almost sullen expression. "Why should I be jealous of someone you've been in love with for years?"

"Had a crush on. Had. As in over, in the past, gone, done. Do I need to explain more?"

"I think you should. I want to be absolutely certain that I understand fully." Lex smiled, slowly relaxing as Clark's emphatic words sank in. "And then we really should go join your parents... Where are they anyway?"

Clark shrugged. "Mom went back into the kitchen when I came down to finish up what she was doing. Not sure about Dad. Want to go look for them?" Setting aside the sweater (which was very nice, but he doubted he'd ever wear it, at least where Lex could see it), he nibbled on Lex's neck as he stood them both up.

"We'd better as long as we're staying in the house," Lex sighed. "Otherwise we're going to get ourselves in trouble. Besides, we're here because you should be with your parents on your birthday. It rather defeats the purpose if we don't see them." An arm around Clark's waist, he moved easily at his lover's side toward the kitchen to find Martha.

"Lana gone already?" Martha asked, looking up from the cake she was frosting. "That was a quick visit."

"Yeah," Clark looked a little uncomfortable. "She had to get home to help her aunt with dinner."

"And she was apparently the only person in Smallville who didn't know that Clark and I are together," Lex explained, helping himself to a cup of coffee while watching Martha with interest. "Are you going to hit me again if I try to taste the frosting?"

"Yes," she said, not missing a beat. "But if you want to help, you can husk the corn over there. How'd she react?" Martha looked at Clark as she asked this.

"I'm... not sure," he admitted. "She seemed okay, but sometimes you never know with Lana. Things can be really bothering her, but she just keeps smiling."

Martha nodded, but before she could say anything else, she noticed Lex and nudged Clark to draw his attention to the other man.

Okay, Lex, how hard can it be to husk corn? He moved toward the leaf-wrapped columns and picked one up. He carefully picked the tip apart and peeled one leaf down, being gentle so as not to bruise it. Much to his surprise there was another leaf below. Frowning, he peeled off a couple of layers of leaves, then stopped in confusion. Rather than the yellow niblets he was expecting, there was a thick coating of soft fibers that clung to his fingers when he tried pulling some off. This must be corn silk. I didn't realize it was a real thing. Okay. I can handle this. He started pulling at the fibers, making a mess and growing more and more frustrated.

Moving around behind Lex, Clark placed his hands over his lover's and stilled them. "It's easier if you don't try so hard," he murmured, placing a kiss behind Lex's ear and guiding him through the process, picking up another ear and tearing off the outer leaves in a bunch that included most of the silks, then removing the rest of them. "We'll run them under water to get the rest," he promised, kissing Lex again, then sitting down to watch him tackle another ear.

"Oh. That is much easier." Lex worked his way through the corn, finally looking up to ask, "Isn't this an awful lot for the four of us, even taking Clark into account?" He wiped his fingers on a towel, frowning at the silk clinging to his fingers.

"Not hardly," Martha laughed. "We used to lose whole rows of corn to Clark when he was younger. He was worse than the crows!"

"Gee, thanks, Mom," Clark sighed. "We're having ribs tonight, right?"

"Of course; your father's out back setting up the barbeque. You know how particular he is about it."

"I gather ribs are a favorite of yours?" Lex asked, finally managing to get the last of the corn silk off his fingers and tossing the towel onto the counter... and then picking it up, shaking it into the garbage and hanging it back on the rack when he saw the look Martha gave him.

"Dad's are." Clark picked up the bowl of corn and carried it to the sink to rinse the ears off. "He soaks them in this sauce he makes--God, it's good. There's garlic, and beer, and Worcestershire sauce, and..."

"Hey! No giving out the family secrets!" Jonathan laughed as he came into the kitchen. "You know people have been trying to find out what's in the special Kent sauce for years."

Eyeing Lex as if she knew what he was thinking, Martha waved the spoon in his direction. "Not a word, young man."

Lex blinked at her, putting on an innocent expression. "Why, Martha, whatever do you mean?" He chuckled at the three identical skeptical looks he got. "Tough audience. So, what else can I do?"

"Make sure Clark doesn't start eating any of the food before dinner," Jonathan suggested. "And that goes for you too."

"Nothing to eat?" Clark wailed. "But dinner's hours away, and I haven't had anything!"

"If you hadn't slept the day away, you could have eaten; after all, the early bird catches the worm - or in this case, the meal." Jonathan reached into a cupboard and grabbed a bottle of red pepper.

"You can have a sandwich," Martha put in quickly, not wanting to have to listen to Clark complaining that he was hungry for the next few hours. "Just don't touch anything that's for tonight's dinner.

"Would you like anything, Lex?" she added, still determined to put a little weight on him.

Lex turned to face her, holding up the blueberry muffin he'd taken while the attention was on Clark. "Already have some, thanks," he grinned.

"Hey!" Clark pouted until Lex broke off a piece and offered it to him then stood and went about making sandwiches for the both of them. "Mom, Dad, you want one too?" he asked.

Martha shook her head and chuckled. "No, dear. We ate lunch several hours ago."

"At the time most people do," Jonathan put in before winking and heading back out to his grill.

Lex didn't think three o'clock was all that late for lunch; then again, he didn't consider four or five to be a reasonable time to get up either. "Thanks for letting me sleep. I really needed the rest," he admitted, putting down his coffee to stretch again. "I feel much better now.

"Hey, quit putting all the meat in yours and share!" he suddenly called to Clark.

"Yes, dear," he sighed, ducking when his mother shot him a look, apparently having recognized his impersonation of the tone she used when placating his father.

After putting the sandwiches together, Clark grabbed a soda from the fridge for himself and carried it all over to the table. "Arwehavngbiscutstoo?" he asked around a bite of his meal.

"Try asking again without the food in your mouth, and you might get an answer to that," Martha laughed.

Lex hid his smile behind his sandwich. It was at moments like this that he was reminded just how young Clark was... and he might feel guilty if he didn't catch Clark's gaze so that he was reminded just why he shouldn't. "Love you," he murmured before turning his attention back to his sandwich, perfectly content with his life at that moment.

Clark swallowed, washing his sandwich down with a big swig of soda. "Sorry, Mom. Are we having biscuits too?"

She nodded toward a mixing bowl covered with a towel. "We will be eventually; the dough still has to rise some."

Finishing his sandwich, Lex carried the plate over to the sink, then came back to stand behind Clark, hands on his shoulders. "So what's the plan for the afternoon?"

"Well, you two can help fix the door to the silo, and then the flowers need to be weeded, and..."

"Mo-om!" Clark laughed. "Let me put some shoes on, and we can go see what Dad's up to - before we get put to work in the kitchen."

"Of course, men barbeque," Lex agreed, making sure he was out of swatting range for Martha when he did. He met her mock-glare with a grin, then burst out laughing. "Or watch other men do it, in my case," he admitted, still chuckling.

"Well, don't you 'men' burn the meat out there, or it'll be PB and J for all of you!"

Clark grabbed his sneakers and put them on, grabbing Lex's hand and pulling him out of the kitchen before he could answer that comment.

"You didn't have to yank my arm off, you know. I'm not stupid enough to challenge a woman in her own kitchen, especially not your mother."

"No, that would be signing your own death warrant," Jonathan agreed with a laugh as they joined him. "What did you do to your mother, Clark?"

"Me? Nothing!" Clark was wide-eyed as he answered. "Why would I do something to Mom?"

"You don't usually come out here while there's still a chance of begging scraps unless you're escaping." Jonathan eyed him with amusement.

"I was saving Lex, really!" Clark moved over next to his father to peer over his shoulder. "When are you putting them on the grill?"

"Now, if you'll move back so that I can do it, unless you prefer to cook them yourself?"

Lex grabbed the back of Clark's jeans and yanked. "Don't interfere with the man making our dinner. I happen to detest peanut butter and jelly, so out of the way." Sitting down, he glanced from the chair to Clark. "Will this thing hold both of us?"

"Want me to be the one on the bottom if it collapses?"

"Now, Clark, your grandfather made that chair; it won't be collapsing any time at all. He knew how to make things right, with his hands."

Lex sought wildly for something to say, anything that didn't concern either of them being on the bottom or Clark's talented hands. "Drinks," he said suddenly, nearly leaping out of the chair. "I should get us something to drink."

"Then I'll take the chair," Clark grinned, not looking at Lex because he knew what the older man was thinking, and explaining to his dad why he was beet red just wasn't a good idea.

Muttering something unintelligible, Lex fled inside. He reappeared a couple of minutes later, much calmer, carrying beers for himself and Jonathan and a cola for Clark. Handing out the drinks, he dropped onto Clark's lap and made himself comfortable.

About to protest the lack of a beer for himself, Clark caught sight of his father's look and remained silent, though he did pretend to groan under Lex's weight. "That's it, squash the birthday boy," he laughed, taking his can and running the cool metal across the back of Lex's neck.

The yowl Lex let out would have better suited a wet cat, and he was suddenly several feet away and glaring. "Keep it up, Clarkbar, and you're sleeping on the couch!"

"Da-ad!" Clark muttered when Jonathan started laughing. "And as for you," he looked at Lex, "if I have to sleep on the couch, I'm staying here!"

Grinning now, Lex sauntered back toward him, his hips swaying ever so slightly, and sat back in his lap. He licked his lips, eyes half closed, then brushed a light kiss over Clark's mouth. "No, you're not."

Eyes wide, Jonathan took a gulp of his beer, stunned by the sheer heat Lex had put into such innocent actions. He still would prefer not to be face-to-face with his teenaged son's sex life, but he had to admit, based on that, that Clark was a lucky man.

"Lex..." Clark hissed, wanting to die of embarrassment when he felt himself respond to the older man's actions -and with his dad right there! That earned him a look, and he gulped down a swig of soda. "Whatever you say."

"Mmm, remind me to reward you for that later," Lex purred, then relented and stopped teasing the younger man. "So, is there anything we can do to help, Jonathan?" He turned to face the older Kent, biting back a gasp when he could feel Clark's hardness under him.

Jonathan smiled gamely. "Not unless you're offering to help do the share of the chores that Clark doesn't have to do today." He was tempted to say, 'you can get out of my son's lap', but didn't want to ruin the day for all of them as would happen. It was, as Pete tended to put it, TMI.

"Bossie needs milking!" Clark laughed, trying not to squirm under Lex's weight.

"Very funny," Lex said a bit sourly. "And no, I meant this dinner, Jonathan. I'm the first to admit that I don't have the slightest idea how to do what you do here and even less desire to learn. I'm happiest in a boardroom."

"Unlike me, who'd just be bored in the boardroom," Clark quipped.

"Thank you, Lex, but no. Martha and I have it under control. Remember, we've been doing this for twelve years; we know how to keep Clark from going insane from hunger."

"And that is definitely a skill," Lex agreed with a chuckle, finally sliding off Clark's lap since it felt like his problem had subsided. He picked up his beer and strolled around the yard area, admiring the flowers. When Martha joined them a few minutes later, he complimented her on her garden.

"Jonathan's mother planted it; I just tend to it," she answered, though her pride in the flowers was plain to see. "Though I almost killed them all when we first moved here."

"I find that hard to believe. You seem to do well at everything you try." Lex wandered back over to the patio and hesitated, then sat down in the chair beside Clark. He'd like to sit in his lap again, but they were with his parents after all, and they couldn't seem to keep anything innocent.

"Good thing I was hearty stock then, right Mom?" Clark teased, reaching for Lex's hand when he sat down and grinning up at his mother. "I don't seem that stunted or shriveled."

There was dead silence for a moment, then Jonathan concentrated on the barbeque with fierce intensity, and Lex hid behind his beer. Martha blinked once, then gamely replied, "No, you seem to have grown up very nicely, dear. Would you mind going inside and getting me a glass of lemonade, please? I forgot to bring it out with me."

"Sure thing." Wondering just what had gotten into the three of them, Clark squeezed Lex's hand and let go, standing to trot into the house.

"He really is amazingly innocent most of the time," Lex murmured, smiling.

"Yes, he is," Jonathan replied with a shadow of his initial fierceness, followed by an apologetic smile.

"I suppose we're lucky that way." Martha looked at the two men. "All of us."

They all nodded and were smiling in perfect accord when Clark rejoined them a few moments later. Lex immediately reached for his hand again when he sat back down.

Wondering if his fly was open or he had a stain on his shirt, Clark stared at his parents and Lex, wondering at their expressions. "What?" he finally asked. "Did I do something?"

Martha leaned in and patted his knee before taking the lemonade from his hand. "Nothing except make us all very happy, dear."

A few hours later, stuffed and carrying a container with the leftover cake, Lex and Clark waved goodbye to the Kents as they left for Lex's home, looking forward to a night together. "See," Lex said, glancing over, "I told you there were drawbacks to bucket seats."

"We could have taken Baby," Clark reminded him, looking back at his truck to make sure that it was still by the barn.

"No offense, Clark, but for a while I'm going to want my cars sitting in their securely locked garage with the alarm system on, not out at your parents' farm. Your truck is going to be just fine without its daddy for one night."

Wincing at the reminder of what had happened to the rest of Lex's cars, Clark nodded. "Sorry, I didn't mean to make you think about that."

"It's okay, I just wanted you to understand. But I'm sure I can find some way to make it up to you and distract you from missing your truck." Lex smirked at him, then returned his concentration to the road, having learned from experience that anything could appear ahead of him here in Smallville.

"Really?" Deciding that he really might be beginning to agree with Lex's appreciation of bench seats, he rested his hand on the older man's thigh, sliding his fingers across the fine linen of his pants. "And how do you plan on distracting me? With my present?" he grinned at the last.

"I think that ought to do it," Lex agreed with a laugh, spreading his legs more as Clark petted him. He was having fun with being able to give Clark a whole series of gifts without anyone saying a word about it, from last night's print to the concert tickets he'd given him back at the Kents', to the new telescope and mini-observatory he'd had built at the top level of the castle which he would give him a little later, to the very personal gifts they would share that night. "I always keep my promises, Clark." Seeing Clark's reaction to the various decorations Lex would be wearing later in all his piercings promised to become a very fond memory.

Clark tilted his head to the side, wondering what exactly Lex was talking about. "I was just kidding about the present, you know. The print was perfect, and the tickets... front row to see Bush, God! Besides, I get to be with you for the night; that's the best one of all." Knowing that Lex had to concentrate on the road, Clark kept his hand away from the other man's groin, but he continued to pet his leg as they drove.

"Considering that this is about the only time your parents will let me give you anything, did you really think that I wouldn't?" Lex smiled at him quickly, his hand falling to press Clark's against his leg before returning to the wheel.

"Are you saying you're trying to spoil me or to give me things to think about for your birthday?" Clark chuckled.

"Both, of course. I'll be anticipating what you can come up with for me when it's my turn. And I like spoiling you. You look so cute when you blush." He pulled up at the gate and punched in the security code to open the gates, driving through and watching in the rearview to be sure nothing else slipped in before they closed again. "Almost there." He shot a hot glance at Clark.

"And you certainly give me enough opportunities to blush," Clark murmured. "I'm surprised that my face hasn't burned off by now!" Barely able to hold still, he reached for Lex the moment he parked the car, kissing him as deeply as he'd been dying to all afternoon.

Not even caring about the gearshift digging into him, Lex returned the kiss until his back let him know that there were a lot more comfortable ways to do this. "Inside," he panted, eyes fixed on Clark's mouth. "You can have your other gifts later; right now I need you too much."

"Inside where?" Clark was fighting to keep from pulling Lex over the console and into his lap. "Can we make it to the bedroom?"

"We can at your speed," Lex pointed out, climbing out of the car and coming around, then holding his arms out to Clark. He usually preferred not to have Clark carry him around, not liking the helpless feeling, but he was too horny to care just then.

Flashing a grin that would have lit up Metropolis if they were anywhere nearby, Clark grabbed Lex, his arms around his waist, and Lex's legs around his. Giving a cursory look around and scanning for any help nearby, he convinced himself that it was safe, then raced into the castle, through the downstairs, up the stairs and into Lex's bedroom, depositing them both nude on the bed in a split second. "I figured you'd want to get rid of the clothes too," he chuckled before frowning a bit at a red mark on Lex's arm where he'd been a bit too enthusiastic pulling his shirt off.

"You could kiss it better," Lex suggested with a sultry smile, seeing and understanding the frown. He squirmed against the bedding, getting comfortable and rubbing against Clark, both of them hard.

Giving a half-smile, Clark leaned in to do just that. "Or lick it," he whispered before running his tongue over the welt, then up over Lex's shoulder to his neck. "Any more places that need treatment?"

"I seem to have this swelling here," Lex moaned, legs falling open and his hand curving under his erection as if offering it to Clark.

"I caused that?" Though Clark attempted to compose his features to a sorrowful expression, it wasn't very effective. "I'm ever so sorry, Lex. I should help cure your affliction." Twining his fingers with Lex's, Clark held the other man's erection upright, nuzzling the flared head before licking at it, not going any lower just yet.

"Uh, Clark, that's making it worse," Lex gasped, hips rising off the bed as he tried to get closer, wanting inside that warm, sucking mouth.

"But don't things have to get worse before they get better?" Clark asked innocently, closing his lips around the now glistening flesh and suckling on it, still going no deeper.

"You're trying to kill me!" Lex's fingers tangled in Clark's hair, but he didn't try to pull him down, knowing that he couldn't move him. "God, please, Clark!" His knees rose, pressing against Clark's shoulders, his head tossing against the pillows.

Finding that his teasing was getting to be too much even for himself, Clark stopped, letting his mouth slide down over Lex's erection, even as he moved their hands out of the way so that he could take as much as possible. Still licking at the hard flesh in his mouth, he began to move, groaning around Lex's cock.

Lex bit his lip, body arching upward, the vibrations of Clark's groans running through his entire body. "Ohgodohgodclarkyespleasegoodmore," he babbled, trembling on the brink of an explosive climax.

Needing to feel and taste Lex's orgasm more at that moment than he did his own, Clark suckled harder, the salty bitter taste of precome coating his tongue. He felt Lex quiver under him, then explode when he rubbed his thumb over a peaked nipple, pulling at it.

Yelling Clark's name, Lex came so hard he blacked out for moment, then came back to himself with shocks of pleasure still running through him and Clark still suckling on his sensitized flesh. Pushing him away with a whimper, Lex squirmed against him, feeling the glide of Clark's erection against his body and wanting more. "Fuck me," he demanded harshly, eyes fixed on his lover's.

"God, Lex." Clark was on the edge himself, and he had to look away from the hunger burning in his lover's bright blue eyes or risk coming all over the bed. Reaching for the lube, he licked and bit his way up Lex's torso, leaving more red half-moons, marks of possession and love and lust.

Slicking his fingers, he pressed one between Lex's widely spread legs, swirling it around the tightly puckered muscle before pressing inside the tiniest bit.

Lex whined softly and arched upward, still wanting more despite or possibly because of his recent climax. "Oh yes," he moaned, "now, fuck me now." His legs rose to hook over Clark's shoulders, opening himself to his lover.

Unable to resist the pleading tone in Lex's voice, Clark nodded, giving him one last kiss before nipping at his mouth at the same time as his finger slid inside, giving him a hurried stretching. Slicking his hand over his erection, Clark held it steady and, staring into Lex's eyes the whole time, pressed home into his body, the glove-tight heat almost taking the top of his head off as he tried to keep from coming.

"Love you," Lex panted, thrusting up to take him deeper, their eyes fixed on one another. He clenched his body around the thick shaft impaling him, wanting to give Clark the same pleasure he'd just felt, needing to see him come.

Slipping a hand under them to cup Lex's ass so that his fingertips rested against the older man's tightly stretched muscle, Clark gave up fighting and let himself go. One stroke, two, and he was coming, thrusting into Lex so deeply that the whole bed shifted under the pressure of his knees. "God, God, yes," he panted, resting his head on Lex's chest, his weight supported by his elbows. "So good. Love you so much..."

Lex let his legs fall back to the mattress, arms encircling his younger lover and holding him close. He tugged lightly, wanting Clark to relax on top of him. He knew he couldn't support Clark's weight for long and still breathe, but he loved the few moments of feeling him pressing him into the mattress, feeling surrounded by his lover.

Giving in, Clark rested on top of Lex, lazily licking his throat and purring in satisfaction. "That was the best birthday present I could ever get."

"Love, the presents come later. That was because I couldn't my hands off you for another second. I've been looking forward to this all week, and I have plans for you." Lex twirled an imaginary moustache like some old silent movie villain.

"Plans? Plans like what you told me you were going to do with Mom's cake, plans?"

"That's part of them, yes. But that can come after I can move again and give you your real present. Not to mention a couple other things I thought you might enjoy."

Shifting to his side and resting his head on Lex's shoulder, Clark smiled. "I've got my real present, and it's what I enjoy most."

"Funny, I always think of that as being my present," Lex murmured, smiling. He stretched, enjoying the pull of well-used muscles, and glanced over at Clark. "Nap first or do you want to see your other present?"

Clark pushed up on his side, looking down at Lex. "There really is another one?" he asked, not quite believing it even though he knew that Lex loved the excuse to be able to spend money on him.

"Two actually, but one's another of the 'for us both' variety." Lex grinned, looking like the proverbial cat that ate the canary, imagining Clark's reaction to being able to play with his piercings. "But one's a 'real' present, and we'll have to get out of bed to see it."

"So the one for us is of the type that if we see it first, we won't make it to see the other one?" Clark laughed, kissing Lex's ear before grabbing for the damp washcloth by the bed--no, he was not going to think about who put it there--and cleaning them both up. Rolling out of the bed, he gathered up their clothes and dumped them all on the duvet, glancing at his lover when he didn't move. "Well?"

"You have way too much energy right after sex," Lex sighed, sitting up and reaching for the pants, not bothering with anything else. Dressed, he caught Clark's hand in his and headed for the door, drawing him behind as they went upstairs to what had been part of the attic.

Lex turned on the lights to show that a large section had been turned into an observatory, with a high quality telescope and an entire wall replaced with glass windows that opened, allowing a clear view of the stars and making the room appear almost magical. He'd furnished it with a comfortable daybed, a desk, and some overstuffed chairs as well as ergonomic ones for working, and a thick rug in front of the fireplace at the back.

"Lex?" Clark stopped, stunned at the room - the room that Lex had transformed for him, much as he'd admitted to transforming himself. "Oh my God, this is..." Slowly walking forward, he ran a hand over the furniture, vaguely noting the smooth finish of the woods and the creamy texture of the leather on the chairs. "This is... wow." He stopped beside the telescope and looked back at his lover, almost as if asking permission before placing his face against the eyepiece and looking up into the starry heavens.

"You focused it on my star," he murmured, straightening and looking at Lex, his expression both awed and amazed.

"Of course. That way even when you're not here, I can come up here and look at where you came from... and thank whoever sent you here." Lex looked somewhat abashed at the sheer romanticism of what he was saying, but he tried to be honest with Clark, to tell him his real thoughts and feelings. "Happy birthday, Clark," he said once again, coming up behind him and wrapping his arms around his waist.

Covering Lex's arms with his, Clark relaxed back into his body, looking over his shoulder to smile at him. "Best one ever, and lots more to come with you."

"Yes," Lex agreed simply, returning the smile then looking up at the stars. They just stood there for a while, enjoying being alone together, but Lex eventually stepped back. "Do you want to stay up here for a while?" he offered, knowing Clark might want to explore some more.

"Do you mind?" Clark turned within Lex's embrace and looked down at him. "Just for a little bit. It's our space, the first one we've had, and I just kind of want to savor it." He moved, walking them back toward the daybed so that they could curl up together and watch the night sky. "Besides, you need time to recover."

"Of course I don't mind," Lex replied instantly. "I like being with you anywhere, Clark, you know that. It isn't just about the amazing sex." And Clark was right; he did need some time recovery time before they went at it again. If Clark's reaction to the nipple rings he'd worn that memorable night in Metropolis was any indication, he was going to be worn to exhaustion tonight... and love every second of it.

"It's just about the amazing you." Saying that, Clark reclined back against the pillows behind them, rubbing his cheek against the side of Lex's head while he held him close.

"You really are nuts," Lex said, smiling slightly as he nestled in Clark's embrace. He slid a hand up beneath Clark's t-shirt, resting his palm against the warm skin, and he sighed contentedly, wishing they never had to move again.

"Just nutty in love with you." Sighing happily, Clark let his eyes fall closed, simply enjoying the companionship and the fact that they had all night and all of the next day together.

"I can live with that," Lex murmured, eyes gradually shutting as he fell into a light doze, relaxing now that he knew he had a full day ahead of him with Clark's company.

Feeling Lex slump against him, Clark knew that he'd fallen asleep, and he smiled, pressing a light kiss against his temple. "Me too, can't live without it or you, in fact." He kissed Lex again and let himself drift, lost between sleep and wakefulness.

A short while later Lex stirred, smiling when he felt the heat of Clark's body against him as he woke. "Mmmm, you shouldn't have let me fall asleep," he mumbled. "Don't want to waste a minute of our time together."

"Hrum?" Clark stretched and shifted, the movement carrying Lex along with it like a piece of driftwood caught in a powerful boat's wake. "Sort of fell asleep too. I think we both needed it; besides, we've still got lots of time left."

"Twenty-four whole hours," Lex agreed, looking forward to it. Clark was all his until late the next night, and he planned to make the most of their time together. "Remind me to thank your parents again."

"I think the ten times you said it this afternoon and evening told them how much it meant to you, and me." He raised a hand and smoothed his palm down the curve of Lex's scalp, purring at the sensation. "It's going to be so neat up here in the winter; it'll be like being outside in the snow without having to deal with the cold."

Not being a big fan of cold, Lex nodded. "I like to look at it from a toasty perspective. And when we get cold, you can use those eyes of yours to light the fire. See, useful."

"And decorative, and brilliant, and better than an amusement park ride or a household appliance, and..." Clark grinned, his eyes sparkling, "finally legal enough for the state of Kansas."

"Well, you would be if one of us was female," Lex pointed out wryly. "But at least it's one less felony now."

Pressing his lips against Lex's temple, Clark blew a raspberry against his scalp. "Ha ha, so funny I forgot to laugh."

"Hey!" Lex squirmed away, making a face. "Yuck. Just for that I may keep all the cake for me and not share any with you. In any way."

"Excuse me? Just whose birthday is it? Just whose mother made that cake that you're talking about hogging?"

"And your point would be?" Lex grinned wickedly. "Whoever told you that I played fair was lying, love."

Clark snorted. "You know I could be downstairs and have that cake eaten before you even got to the door here, don't you?"

"Ah, but then you wouldn't get to enjoy us licking it off each other, and I definitely wouldn't be giving you your last gift."

"Damn, you're too smart for me." Clark collapsed back on the daybed and gave Lex his best puppy-dog look. "Please won't you share my birthday cake with me, Lexy?"

"That is so unfair," Lex grumbled, swooping down to kiss him. "I suppose you want it now? Or do you want to go back to my room and see what else I have for you and save the cake for tomorrow?" "I thought they were related? You mean what's in your room has nothing to do with licking cake off each other?" Clark almost looked dejected at that thought.

"'Fraid not, but I think you'll like it anyhow," Lex reassured him. "The cake... and chocolate mousse I had the cook make... are just for our fun." He cringed inwardly at the thought of the mess if they mixed smeared cake into the chains that would be adorning his body.

"Decisions, decisions..." Drawing out the moment until he could tell Lex was about to growl, Clark snickered. "Cake and mousse can wait--and I'm not sick!--let's go see what you have planned."

Chuckling, Lex eyed him. "You have to let go of me so I can stand up in that case. We're not going to get very far without getting off this couch."

"Complain, complain, complain," Clark snickered, standing up with Lex in his arms and getting the evil eye for his troubles. "Guess that means you want to walk downstairs under your own power?"

"Since I'm pretty sure I have legs for a reason, yes," Lex said emphatically. "Unless I suddenly morph into Scarlett O'Hara, you can pretty much assume that I can walk under my own power. Thank you," he added when Clark set him back on his feet.

Once back in the bedroom, Lex pushed Clark toward the bed while he went to his dresser. "Just lie there and wait for me. I won't be a moment." Wanting to surprise him, he planned to undress and put on the jewelry in the bathroom.

"Want me to get undressed?" Clark hollered, somehow doubting Lex's plans involved many, if any clothes.

"Hell yes!"

Grinning, Lex shed the pants he was wearing and started getting ready. First came the curved barbell in his navel, then the nipple rings with the joining chain that Clark had already seen. He followed those with more curved barbells in his scrotum piercings, and finally the Prince Albert, which had a ring on the lower end. He added two more chains from the nipple rings to the loop on his penis, remembering the feeling when those were pulled with a shudder of arousal.

After glancing in the mirror, he removed the thick leather band from around his wrist, fastening it around his throat above the thinner, less obvious collar that he always wore, and smiled.

Knowing that Clark would be watching, he opened the door and posed in the entrance, displaying himself to his lover. "Like your new toy for the night?" he purred.

Clark had been sitting on the edge of the bed, nearly bouncing in anticipation of what he was going to see when Lex walked out, but never in a million years would he have imagined this. "Oh my... Lex..." He barely could get out the garbled words as he catalogued each of the pieces of jewelry that pierced the older man's body, flicking back time and again to the collars around his neck before settling on the curved piece of metal adorning the head of his erection.

Leaning forward as if trying to touch them to make sure they were real, Clark didn't notice that he'd gotten off balance and even super speed couldn't save him from ending up face first on the floor.

Lex couldn't prevent the strangled laugh, but he tried to mask it when Clark glared at him. "Sorry, I don't think I've made anyone fall on their face before. So, can I take it that I'm better than chocolate cake?" He paced toward Clark with feline grace, coming to a halt directly in front of him.

You've been talking for at least twelve years, Clark; you can answer him. The problem was, his brain apparently had shut down, overwhelmed by Lex's sheer sexiness, and Clark realized he might have a problem here. Scrambling to his knees, he swallowed hard to clear his clogged throat and nodded, leaning in and rubbing his cheek against Lex's chest, feeling the chains roll between their skin.

Lex whimpered when Clark's movement tugged on the chains, a bolt of pure lust going through him. His cock, which had been mostly soft a moment before, was suddenly hard enough to hammer nails, and his nipples were distended and begging for his lover's touch.

Rocking back on his knees to gaze at Lex with lust-darkened eyes, Clark finally found his voice. "You put them in, all of them. For me. For my present. You're my present, Lex."

"Since the day I met you," Lex admitted. "You know how they say that when you save someone's life, that person belongs to you? Well, it's true." Lex sank to his knees as well so he could kiss Clark, pressing close.

Clark chuckled, though he was much more interested in getting to explore Lex's piercings than talking. "Guess that means I own a lot of people, doesn't it?" As he spoke, he stood, lifting Lex as well, and moved them both to the bed, pushing up on his elbow to run a finger over the chains, first over the one between Lex's nipples, then following one of the longer ones lower, toward his erection.

Lex shivered, his gaze following Clark's finger and his cock twitching with arousal. "Better n-not collect on anyone else," Lex managed to moan and growl simultaneously, sounding like pure sex. The faint vibrations being transmitted from the chains to his throbbing chest and groin were almost enough to make him beg, they felt so good. He writhed sensually against the sheets, body arching upward then falling back, eyes heavy lidded, skin almost glowing in the moonlight streaming in from the window.

"Don't want to," Clark breathed, still following the chain's path, then gently tracing a fingertip over the ring at the end of the piercing at Lex's groin. "How - how much did this hurt when they did it?"

Lex shrugged, still watching Clark explore the decorations. "Not bad. But I happen to like pain under the right circumstances, just not very often. And it was one more thing to throw in Lionel's face since you can be sure I made sure he heard about it. Now... I just enjoy the way it feels."

Dark eyebrows arched upward when Lex mentioned liking pain, but Clark decided that wasn't something he wanted to ask about right now. However... "How does it feel?" He traced the edge of the piercing, unable to resist switching to x-ray vision to follow the barbell's course beneath Lex's skin.

"It feels..." How to describe it? There really wasn't any way. "It makes me hot; when you touch any of it, the vibrations just run through me. It's like every nerve is exposed, and everything is just so much more, so good."

"So if I do this, it feels good?" Clark rubbed his thumb over the end of the piercing, shifting it gently. When Lex almost shivered off the bed, he had his answer. "And if I do this..." He plucked at the chains draped over Lex's body, and stared as his lover almost levitated without him.

"Jesus fucking Christ," Lex moaned, arching upward again, cock leaking copiously. "Please, Clark!"

"Whoa!" Clark couldn't help but stare as Lex writhed, well, like a slut, on the bed, and he leaned in to lick at his erection, tugging at the chains again as he did so, this time anticipating the reaction.

Lex screamed as he practically stood on his head, hands clenching in the bedding. Unable to speak coherently or even to think, he whined and squirmed, thrusting his body upward in search of more.

His own cock throbbing, Clark settled himself between Lex's legs, licking his palm, then closing his hand around Lex's erection, stroking it in time with the tugs on the chains and his licks of the ruddy, engorged head.

Wailing and thrashing, Lex drove upward into the tight fist surrounding him, already so close, and after a few more licks and strokes, he yelled Clark's name as he came, body quaking as the sensations ebbed slightly then picked up again thanks to Clark's continuing to tug on the chains.

Licking his lips to catch the droplets of semen he'd missed, Clark stared up at Lex, then back down at his unflagging erection. "Oh my God, you are so hot like this!"

"For you," Lex panted, still writhing. "God, please, Clark, need you, fuck me, now, please." His fingers curled over Clark's shoulders, tugging frantically, needing to feel his lover possess him.

The thought of being in Lex when he reacted like he had almost made Clark come then and there, and he groaned, pushing up to his hands and knees and grabbing for the lube even as he kissed Lex hungrily. After slicking his fingers, he brushed them over the two piercings between Lex's legs, not allowing himself to think of the person who had done them for fear of getting angry and frying something in the room.

Not even bothering with one finger, Clark slid two into Lex, pumping them harshly as he licked at his nipples, catching the hoops between his teeth and pulling until the flesh beneath them was distended and red.

The only thing that prevented Lex from coming on the spot was how recently he'd climaxed. His legs wrapped around Clark, trying to pull him closer, and incoherent wails and pleas fell in a continuous stream from his lips. "Fuck me, damn you!" he yelled, wild eyes fixing on his lover.

Pulling back so that he wasn't touching Lex at all, Clark wet his lips, studying his lover in challenge. "Turn over," he murmured.

Whimpering faintly, Lex tried to stare him down but failed miserably. Slowly he rolled onto his belly, gasping as his aching cock and nipples were abraded by the sheets, every fiber of the weave apparent to his sensitized body. Clark was trying to kill him; he knew it!

Wondering if it was healthy to be getting such a charge out of having Lex obeying his command, Clark decided it wasn't important at this point, not when he just wanted to get inside him. Pale buttocks beckoned, and he had to lean in and bite at them, leaving perfect imprints of his teeth on the fair skin as Lex quaked under him.

Groaning, he caught the smaller man by the hips, dragging him up and back until his cock was slotted between Lex's cheeks and then, after a bit of shifting, was pressing inside him, deeper with each half thrust.

Crying out his pleasure, Lex tried to thrust back, to take Clark deeper, but the strong grip on his hips held him in place, holding him still for whatever Clark chose to give him. "More, please, harder," he begged, one hand moving beneath himself to curl around his aching cock.

"Don't touch." The words came out in a deep growl, and Clark let go of Lex's hips long enough to catch his arm and pull it out from under him. "I want you to come from this, got it?"

"Sadist!" Lex moaned, but his hands curled into the bedding once again even as his back bowed into a deeper curve, still trying to take more of Clark into him.

Grinning hungrily, Clark thrust forward, burying himself as far as possible in Lex's now pliant body, taking him hard and fast, so hard that he would have been worried about hurting his lover except for Lex's very vocal appreciation of what was going on.

Lex had sunk into that place inside himself where he gave up all control to the man possessing him, reveling in being taken, and the pleasure just continued to grow. He cried out with every thrust, his balls tight and high against his belly, trembling on the edge of climax but not quite able to fall over.

"Love being in you, love having you in me, want to be with you always," Clark rasped, rocking in and out, each thrust ending with his balls slapping against Lex's ass. Needing to feel more, he wrapped an arm around Lex's chest, pulling him up and back so that he was sitting on Clark's thighs, impaled by his erection. "Come for me, Lex," he murmured, rolling his palm over the chains, feeling them catch and pull. "God, come for me because I'm going to..." Words vanished as he shouted his need, his body tightening as he felt the waves of his climax roar over him.

But Lex was already coming, the added tension of the chains tugging on his nipples and cock enough to tip him over the edge, his body convulsing around Clark and a long wail of completion ripping from his throat.

"God..." Resting his head against Lex's shoulder while they both recovered, Clark whimpered, not wanting to part, but knowing they'd have to move soon or Lex's legs would cramp. "I wish I could have seen the look on your face."

Lex mumbled something incoherent, not yet up to intelligent speech. His arms hugged Clark's to him, and his ass still spasmed around the shaft buried inside him, aftershocks of pleasure still wracking him.

Shifting to the side, Clark rolled them both down to the bed, nuzzling the back of Lex's head, not caring if they didn't move until morning.

Slowly regaining the power of speech, Lex smiled into the pillow. "Still disappointed about postponing the cake?"

"What cake?" Clark mumbled.

"Good answer," Lex chuckled, rolling over to face him and kiss him. "And for the last time, happy birthday, love."

"No more presents then?"

"Nope, that was the last of them. From now on you'll just have to make do with me."

"Oh damn," Clark sighed, snuggling closer and burying his head in the hollow of Lex's neck, his movements growing slower as sleep neared. "Such a terrbl thin..."

Arms around his lover, Lex closed his own eyes and fell asleep with a smile on his face.

Waking up the next morning, Lex remembered why it was a good idea to clean up before falling asleep. He nearly yelped when he caught a chain as he tried to stretch, and he itched! Trying to scratch without pulling on any of the chains was damn near impossible, which meant that he needed a shower. The only problem was the farm boy sleeping on top of him.

Grumbling when his mattress tried to crawl out from under him, Clark tightened his arms around it, making a face at the disturbance.

"Leggo, Clark," Lex said, trying to squirm free without success. "I'll be right back, promise, okay?"

"Better be." Still grumbling, Clark loosened his hold around what he now knew was Lex and shifted just enough to allow the older man to climb out of bed before relaxing again, letting himself drift.

Lex paused beside the bed to smile down at the drowsy teen sprawled over it, then padded to the bathroom for a quick shower. Once cleaned up, he removed the chains from the body jewelry, although he carried them back to the nightstand rather than putting them away in their case in case Clark wanted to play some more when he woke up. That done, he slid back into bed, having to prod Clark to make room for him.

Rolling over to his back, Clark pried open an eyelid and smiled drowsily up at Lex. "Mmm, morning. How'd you sleep?"

"Like a baby," Lex said happily, well rested for the first time in a while. "I like having you here."

"Wish I..." Not wanting to start down that line of thought again, Clark pulled Lex onto his chest. "I like being here. Your bed's really comfortable."

"Amazing what price being no object can do for the quality of your furnishings," Lex said with a hint of self-deprecation. "But I must admit that you make a really good addition to the decor. Just what every man's bedroom needs," he teased.

"Every man's? I think not."

"Well, other people need to find their own version. You're all mine, and I don't share well."

Clark nodded and lifted his head enough to nuzzle his face against the top of Lex's head, chuckling when the rasp of his stubble made the older man jump. "I like it when you don't share well."

"Insatiable," Lex muttered, although he didn't seem overly upset by it. "You just want to keep me in this bed forever."

Pouting, Clark collapsed back on the bed. "And is that such a bad thing?" The rumbling noise from his mid-section suggested a reason it might be.

"Considering the way you eat?" Lex scoffed, grinning. "You wouldn't last a day without going looking for food. So the question now is do you want to get dressed and go down for it, or shall I order something up?"

After thinking about it for a second, Clark spoke, though he did blush a bit when he answered. "Would you mind if we ate upstairs? In the new room?"

"Oh, good idea." Lex looked pleased that Clark liked his gift that much. "Why do I have a feeling that we're going to be spending a lot of our time up there from now on? It's the only place in this whole mausoleum that's ours."

"One day maybe we'll have a whole place that's our own." The second Clark said this, he wished he hadn't; talk about future planning--he still had three years of high school left, then four of college. God, it was going to be forever until they could be together.

"Maybe someday," Lex agreed lightly, not allowing himself to think about something that might never happen and which, even if it did, would not be for several years. "For now, let's concentrate on something a bit more short term; what do we want for breakfast? Belgian waffles wouldn't be bad," he mused.

"With strawberries and powdered sugar?" Clark's stomach enthusiastically agreed with this choice. "You bet!"

"I should have known you'd be in favor of anything that included sugar," Lex chuckled, pressing a kiss to his chin. He picked up the phone from the nightstand and gave the kitchen the order, then turned back to Clark. "Breakfast will be ready in about half an hour, and coffee in fifteen minutes or so. Did you want to shower first or just head upstairs?"

Wondering if he smelled as gross as he felt, Clark started to roll toward the side of the bed, laughing aloud when Lex complained about being dislodged. "Let me jump in the shower and brush my teeth, then I'll give you a real good morning kiss. Deal?"

"Sounds fair." Lex sprawled back against the pillows, arms behind his head, naked amidst the tumbled bedding. "I'll be right here, waiting."

"You'd just better wait," Clark growled, heading toward the bathroom. Once inside, however, he stuck his head back out. "And don't touch yourself; I'll be listening!"

"What, you don't want me to keep my interest up?" Lex teased, knowing perfectly well that if they started anything, they get upstairs later to find a cold breakfast. They could wait till after they ate. Or while they ate. Strawberry and sugar dusted Clark had a certain appeal. "And hurry up!" he called. "You're keeping me from my coffee."

After giving a quick check through the walls to make sure that Lex was indeed doing as he'd been instructed, Clark showered and shaved, drying himself off and emerging from the bathroom with the towel wrapped around his waist. "You said coffee wasn't for fifteen minutes and that was..." he glanced at the clock, "eight minutes ago, ergo your coffee isn't even ready yet, let alone upstairs."

Grinning, he pulled his change of clothes out of his backpack, pulling on briefs and jeans, then turning to look back at Lex. "So you're going to go eat like that? Kinky, but it could be fun."

Lex snorted. "Well, I don't have a problem with it. I rather thought you might object to the servants getting an eyeful of me, but if that's not the case..." he trailed off, wondering if Clark's jealousy would appear. He knew he shouldn't tease him like that, but it was such a turn-on to him that the other man was possessive of him that he couldn't resist.

Clark's gaze sharpened, and he shifted to hover protectively over Lex's nude body. "No. Nobody gets to see you like this but me, got it?"

"Got it," Lex replied, a faint smile curving his lips as he drew Clark down to kiss him hungrily. "God, I love you," he said throatily when their lips finally parted.

"And that's why you try to make me crazy-jealous?"

Lex flushed faintly. "Not crazy," he whispered, unable to meet Clark's eyes. "I... no one's ever been jealous of me before. Sorry. I'll try not to do it any more." He felt ashamed of himself for trying to upset Clark like that, forgetting that this was new to him and how everything was so serious to a teenager.

Clark sobered, worried by the change his comment had brought to Lex's demeanor. "I don't mind, at least not here when I know it's just you teasing. I just - I don't know what would happen if someone outside came onto you..."

"Just remember that I love you and you're the only one I want," Lex replied, arms around his lover's shoulders. "Now, if you would like to get off of me, I can get dressed and we can head upstairs to our room... and my coffee." He tried for a pitiful expression.

Appeased and mollified, Clark nodded, sitting up and grinning. "Well, you started it," he laughed, grabbing the t-shirt that Dave had given him for his birthday and pulling it on, listening to Lex hunt for clothes in his closet, then hearing his groan when he emerged and saw the cartoon characters on the back of the shirt.

"I can't believe you're wearing that," Lex grumbled, eyeing the t-shirt like a serpent in the Garden of Eden. He was dressed in his favorite jeans and a simple knit shirt, barefoot as usual when no one was expected.

"It was a present," Clark laughed. "I like it, and look, Goku and Krillin are right next to each other on the back, doesn't that make you feel better? Besides, I didn't tell Dave why I liked the show..."

"Thank god for small mercies. At least I don't have to go into hiding or move to another zip code." Lex eyed him, sighing. "Can we go get my coffee now?"

"Sure." Catching Lex's hand in his, Clark pulled him close as they walked out of the bedroom and headed up the stairs to the observatory. "By the way, are you doing anything for Halloween...?"

Lex groaned at the mention of the holiday. "In a fit of insanity I agreed to host a party for the employees... and their families. Hordes of children, Clark. Children on sugar." Lex moaned pitifully. "Kill me now?"

"No way." They reached the converted room, and Clark tucked Lex into one of the over-sized chairs, pouring him a cup of coffee and himself one of juice before squeezing in beside him. "You'll do fine, and they'll love you for it. Ooo, I have the best idea for costumes!"

"Why does that terrify me?" Lex asked, taking a fortifying sip of his coffee. He shifted slightly to get more comfortable, ending up sitting with his legs draped over Clark's as he eyed his boyfriend with trepidation.

Clark pouted. "You don't trust me? I let you pick my clothes out when we went to the club..."

"Of course I trust you," Lex hastily assured him. "Let's just say that I don't have particularly fond memories of any of the so-called family holidays and leave it at that. So, what costumes did you have in mind for us?"

Not wanting to worry Lex more, Clark rubbed his leg, feeling the warmth of his skin beneath the soft denim. "Let me see if I can find what I'm thinking about, and we'll go from there, okay? I promise, from now on it'll just be good memories of the holidays."

Lex eyed him, frowning slightly, but this was Clark, and he did trust him, so... "Okay, but just remember that if I die of embarrassment, there's no more sex for you!" As if on cue, a servant wheeled a cart in with their breakfast, and Lex actually flushed faintly.

"That's worse than no food," Clark whispered, waiting until the maid was out of the room to lick Lex's ear and reach for a plate, handing it over to the older man before grabbing his own, not bothering with the knife and fork, simply folding the waffle in half around the strawberries and taking a bite.

"My god, I actually come before food?" Lex clutched at his chest comically, smirking at the teenager. "I'm shocked. Quick, call Chloe, this is one for the Wall of Weird."

"Gee, I must be getting all mature because of my advanced age." Clark stuck his tongue, which was coated with waffle and berries, out at Lex before wolfing down another bite.

"Yuck!" Lex wrinkled his nose. "So much for maturity." Taking a knife and fork, he balanced his own plate on his lap and started on his breakfast, sighing almost ecstatically at the first bite. "Oh, that's good," he groaned. "Remind me to give the cook a raise."

"Keep it up, and she's going to be making more then you do," Clark laughed, settling in to eat the rest of his meal with fierce determination.

"Considering that she keeps you fed, she probably deserves to," Lex retorted, stealing one of Clark's strawberries. "The poor woman works harder than anyone else on the planet."

"My mom's done it for thirteen years with nobody paying her for it," Clark responded, reaching out and taking a quarter of Lex's waffle in retaliation."

"Maternal love is an amazing thing." Lex eyed his vanishing breakfast but didn't make a fuss about it. He didn't normally eat this much in the morning anyway. Now, if it had been his coffee...

After making his way through his own food and half of Lex's, Clark leaned against the chair back, pleasantly full and very happy. "This is the perfect morning," he murmured, running his hand over Lex's leg once again.

Lex had to agree. Waking up with Clark, relaxing together, not having to rush, it was his idea of heaven. "Yes," he murmured, smiling at his lover. Someday they would have this all the time, but for now he'd enjoy it when he could get it. "Want some coffee now?"

"You're actually offering me coffee, your coffee on top of sugar? Should this worry me?"

"Smart ass. Keep it up and I'll withdraw the offer. Besides, I have you all day; I think I can work that energy off," Lex chuckled.

"Promise?" Clark asked, picking up the pitcher of steaming coffee and chugging some down, not even feeling the heat as he swallowed.

Lex's jaw dropped. "I know your mother taught you manners. Including what a cup is for. And I'm telling you right now that if you finish my coffee before I get another cup, you're gonna have the bluest balls in Kansas!"

"You wouldn't!" Clark sputtered, glancing into the carafe and swirling it around so that Lex could hear how little there was left in it. "And I was just making sure I had lots of energy for you..."

"Then I strongly suggest that you make use of that phone on the table beside you and order up some more coffee before I finish this cup," Lex responded with a threatening glare, hiding his smile as he contemplated a hyped Clark and a whole day to play.

Deciding to play along, Clark raised the carafe to his lips and swallowed the rest of the dark brew. "Or what? Can't tie me down, can't hold me down... explain what you're going to do to me, Lexy."

"More what I won't do to you, Clarkbar," Lex purred. "If I don't get more coffee, I can guarantee that there won't be any cake smeared over either of us and no licking it off." He smiled smugly.

"But, but, you promised..." Clark whimpered, his eyes growing impossibly wide.

"Then you'd better get me some coffee, hadn't you? After all, I would need energy to accomplish that properly." Lex could be evil when he wanted, and Clark was such fun to tease.

Without the excuse that it was his birthday, Clark really had no choice but to obey, not that he wasn't going to get Lex more coffee anyway. "Be back in a few minutes," he sighed, pushing Lex's legs off his lap and standing. "Unless you want me to run to Guatemala for it or something?"

Lex grabbed hold of his waistband and yanked him back down. "Hey, where do you think you're going? There's this wonderful invention called a phone. It lets you communicate with other people and do things like order refreshments without abandoning your boyfriend. The kitchen's number two on the speed dial."

Clark winced. "I just feel bad making them come all the way back up here to bring us stuff, you know?"

"Clark, I pay them very well to do that. That's what I hired them for. And coming up the elevator with a tray of coffee is not exactly heavy labor."

"Okay." Sighing, Clark reached for the phone and punched the button for the kitchen. When the cook picked up, he felt himself flush. "Hi. Umm, this is Clark. We... need some more coffee if it's not a bother. Okay, thanks!"

Lex tried not to laugh. "See, the world didn't come to an end. Lightning didn't strike you. And I'll get my coffee without you leaving me here all alone."

"Good for you," Clark mumbled, sinking back into the cushions and trying to curl in on himself. God, talk about stupid! "Hi, this is Clark..." Use some brains, Kent!

"Clark..." Lex sobered, seeing that Clark really was bothered by this. "If it bothers you that much, you don't have to do it. I'm sorry I pushed you." He tried to make Clark meet his eyes, a little concerned.

Straightening up a little, Clark tried to smile. "It's okay, I was just being stupid. I mean, I may not be used to it, but you are and they are so..." He shrugged helplessly.

"Clark, you have to tell me when I'm being too pushy. I'm not trying to change you." Lex sighed and pressed a kiss to his cheek, seeking forgiveness. "I was only teasing you earlier. I could have phoned down myself, you know."

"I know," Clark whispered. "And you weren't being pushy. I - it's just that things like that make me think about how different we are, and, and it scares me a little."

"Not so very different," Lex instantly disagreed. "It's only money. Sure I'm used to it and you aren't, but that doesn't make me any better than you. Hell, your father would say it makes me worse," he said wryly. "It's just a convenience, and one I'm used to. I don't want it ever to come between us."

The maid brought a new carafe of coffee, refilling Lex's cup from it, departing as silently as she came.

"I don't want it to either." Clark slid his hand behind Lex's back and curled up against him. "My dad wouldn't say that any more and you know it. Sorry I freaked a little there. It's just a little different than ordering coffee at the diner."

"Actually, it's exactly the same. Well, aside from the fact that the people who work for me get paid a lot more than any waitress." Lex shrugged, glad that another unexpected crisis seemed to have been averted.

Clark nodded, somehow turning himself sideways, his legs hanging over the arm of the chair, so that he could rest his head on Lex's chest. "I'll just try to think of it like that then. And drink your coffee before it gets cold."

"Yes, sir," Lex said obediently, raising the cup to his lips. "Anything else, sir?" He smirked at Clark over the cup, eyes sparkling with amusement.

Deciding that Lex might burn himself if he bit his stomach right then, Clark merely glared up at him. "Cake. And mousse. And you!"

"Oh demanding! I like that in a man," Lex chuckled. "And since I don't want you to die of embarrassment, I suggest we go down to the kitchen and get the cake and mousse, then adjourn to the bedroom." He could just picture Clark's face if he ordered the desserts to be sent up to his room.

"God, yes!" Clark was bright red just thinking about it, but he wasn't going to let that stop him from seeing just what this was all about. "Good thing I ate most of your breakfast then," he chuckled. "You wouldn't be able to enjoy any otherwise."

"So kind of you to think of me," Lex snorted. "Come on then, off of me. I can't get up with you draped over me and have even less inspiration to do so." Rather than encouraging Clark more, he leaned in to steal a kiss.

Clark squirmed but wasn't inclined to do much in the way of moving, even for the lure of cake, mousse and Lex covered in them. "But I'm comfortable here..."

"So we stay here for a while," Lex said, nothing loath. "I'm not exactly going to complain about curling up with you. And we have plenty of time to do the other stuff, all day as a matter of fact." He smiled at the thought. It was a nice change to know that they had all the time together they wanted.

"Did you need to check on your stuff today?" Clark twisted to look up at Lex as he asked this. He may not have known the details of what the other man was trying to do in regards to LuthorCorp and his father, but he knew it was taking up a lot of Lex's time and concentration.

Lex shrugged. "Maybe later." He really should check up on the progress of his takeover bid, but he wasn't willing to allow anything to interrupt their day. If anything urgent arose, his assistant would call him; everything else could wait. "I'm much more interested in you than business acquisitions at the moment."

"Okay." Pausing for a moment, Clark debated just letting the subject drop but found he couldn't. "Is everything going okay with it?" What he wanted to ask was if Lionel had discovered what Lex was attempting to do, something that was a very real, and dangerous, possibility.

"It's going fine. A bit slower now that the easy acquisitions have all been made, but it should only take a few more weeks to get the rest that I need. And then I can tell Lionel just who actually owns the majority of LuthorCorp." Lex was looking forward to that moment. "Of course, that will just mean that he'll start looking for ways to take it all back, but that'll keep him busy and away from us, which is all to the good."

Clark nodded. "If he does show up, can I kick him back to Metropolis?"

"Only if you let me know beforehand so I can film it."

"And bring Chloe along to take pictures? Mmm, that reminds me, she said she'd have the ones from my party at school tomorrow. I'll bring them by after dinner."

Lex groaned. "Great, more pictures of me looking incredibly sappy. I swear that girl waits till I have the most fatuous expressions on my face to take pictures." He sighed, leaning into Clark. "Then again, I have a feeling I always look like that when you're around."

Clark snickered. "It's sweet. Maybe she should look into becoming a photo-journalist rather than a reporter, and don't worry, I bet she got some of me hiding under the table too."

"Now those need to be made poster-sized," Lex teased, laughing. "Some big hero you are, cowering under the furniture."

"What are you going to do with them? Hang them in your office?" Clark lifted Lex's shirt and bit at his stomach. "See if I save you the next time some meteor case shows up looking for you."

"Like I'm worried." Lex snorted. "Even if you didn't run around saving everyone in this town, you'd save me just to keep your sex life alive and well." He smirked at the younger man.

"Gee, it has nothing to do with the fact that I love you, does it?"

"Well, I suppose that might be a factor," Lex allowed. "So even if I do hang up posters of you, I won't have anything to worry about," he finished triumphantly.

"I'll just burn them up if you do..." Clark smirked. He'd worked on his control of his newest power quite a bit over the last month and was pretty sure he could destroy the pictures without torching anything else around them.

"This could get entertaining. I hang 'em; you burn 'em; I replace 'em. Gotta love source files." Lex gave him a toothy grin. "Unless you can think of some way to convince me not to."

"I dunno..." Clark bit at Lex's stomach again and licked the indentations his teeth had left in the smooth skin. "You. Me. Hayloft. Blanket. Lube... Anything sound interesting?"

"I..." gasp "think I'm going to need a demonstration. Just to be sure, you understand." Lex's fingers combed through Clark's hair and curved around his skull, holding him close as the pleasure pain of the nips roused his body.

Clark flicked his tongue over the rounded ends of the barbell piercing Lex's navel and smiled up at him sweetly. "Maybe some other day, when you really need convincing."

"Sure, that's fine." Lex wasn't really aware of what he was saying, more intent on the sensations being caused by Clark's teasing touches. He arched his back, displaying the rings and posts adorning his body as much as possible, already wanting Clark again.

Rolling onto his back so that his head was pillowed in Lex's lap, Clark squirmed, purposefully rubbing against the growing bulge in the older man's jeans. "Think we should go get the cake now?"

"What cake?" Lex mumbled distractedly, watching Clark squirm in his lap. Eventually realizing what he'd said, he managed to focus on the conversation. "Tease! And yeah, I think it's time we moved this back to the bed... after a detour to the kitchen."

"Mmm, yeah." Displaying the grace that he generally kept hidden in public, Clark rolled off the chair, landing in a crouch and straightening up, his eyes locked on Lex's the whole time. "Chocolate and Lex - best tastes in the world."

I am not going to whimper! The heat in Clark's gaze was enough to make Lex spontaneously combust. "Or we could just see if the backs of these chairs are really the perfect height I think they are," he rasped.

Clark's grin was one of pure satisfaction at the idea that he could bring Lex to this state. "That works too." Unable to stop himself from checking to make sure the door to the observatory was closed, he stripped off his t-shirt and lowered his hands to the waistband of his jeans. "Where do you want me?"

Dilated eyes fixed on the teen, and Lex had to swallow a couple of times before he could force words out of his throat. "Behind the chair, leaning over it. Grab hold of the arm rests," he directed huskily, starting to strip as well.

After running his tongue out to wet his lips, Clark nodded, shedding his jeans and boxers as he walked toward the chair, leaving them lying on the floor in his wake. Spreading his legs, he slowly bent over the sturdy piece of furniture, gripping the arms as instructed, then looked at Lex through the hair that was falling in his eyes. "Like this?"

"Fuuuuck," Lex groaned, wondering if he was going to come in his pants. He finished shedding his garments, leaving them in a crumpled heap on the floor, and moved behind Clark. His erection fit into the groove between his lover's cheeks, and Lex couldn't resist thrusting a few times.

"God, Lex!" Back arching, Clark shuddered. He could feel the small ring at the end of Lex's piercing as it ran over his skin, and he thrust back, imagining how it would feel inside of him.

For once not bothering with the lube that was more for him than Clark anyhow, Lex positioned himself with a shaking hand, then pressed forward, gasping his appreciation as Clark's muscles gave way, letting him inside. He paused, pressed against his lover's back, then thrust forward, sliding into him until the cry let him know that Clark had discovered the benefits of being fucked by someone with a Prince Albert. "Like that, love?" he rasped.

"Fuck! Oh, God, fuck me, Lex. Like that, again!" Wood cracked and splintered beneath Clark's grip, but he couldn't bring himself to care, only wanting to feel the amazing sensation of being taken in this familiar but also new way.

Lex couldn't have stopped if his life had depended on it. "Oh god," he groaned, driving into Clark again and again, feeling him shudder with lust each time the metal rubbed over his prostate, and he could feel his own arousal begin spiraling out of control. "Fuck... gonna come," he panted, a hand reaching for Clark's cock.

Barely hearing Lex's words over the pounding of his own pulse in his ears, Clark writhed, screaming when he felt a hand close around his erection, jerking him off with frantic haste. Everything spiraled down to the two contrasting points of pressure, then exploded, carrying Clark along with it as he moaned Lex's name, his body twitching and spasming around the thick length within him.

Coming at nearly the same instant, Lex cried out when Clark clenched around him, holding him tightly inside him. He shook as white-hot spasms of pleasure radiated outward from his core, gasping Clark's name. Faint tremors still wracked him when he slumped over his lover, semi-hard cock still sheathed within his body, and he pressed a kiss to Clark's shoulder.

Clark collapsed over the back of the chair, wincing as he pried his fingers from the crushed remains of what used to be its arms. "I think..." he began before having to stop to allow his brain to begin to function again. "I think I like that piercing."

"I think this is where I say I told you so," Lex replied smugly, not moving a single, lax muscle. "And I don't think I'm ever going to move again."

"This time I won't even try to get you for using that tone of voice because you're right." Clark opened one eye and winced as he caught sight of the mess he'd made. "I - I sort of ruined the chair."

Lex opened his eyes as well and peered over Clark's shoulder. "Hmm, you did. It was in a good cause though." He smiled against the skin of Clark's back. "I'll have to get it repaired though. No way I'm ever replacing this chair."

Clark groaned. "And just how are you going to explain the destruction and the stains?"

"I have no intention of explaining them, just admiring them," Lex said with the confidence of a man who never had to explain himself. "I've become very fond of this chair."

Twisting around to look over his shoulder at Lex, Clark couldn't help but stare. "You're going to admire the stains? Oh God..."

"Clark..." Lex started to laugh helplessly. "Do you really think that I have any furniture that isn't stain-guarded now? It'll wash off... which is almost a pity, but I'm sure we can recreate it often enough."

Straightening up and snickering when Lex had to scramble to keep his balance, Clark turned around and made a face. "Better get the chair remade over a titanium frame or something then, or it's going to eventually collapse."

"And some people think they have it bad having to get scratching posts for their cats..." Lex chuckled.

"I would hope people don't do to their cats what you do to me."

"Clark! That's sick!" Lex made a face as he collapsed back onto the other, undamaged chair.

"You brought it up." Clark stuck his tongue out at Lex and looked around for something to clean himself off with because there was no way he was sitting down and leaving a wet spot behind.

Realizing what Clark was looking for, Lex smiled wickedly and grasped his hips, pulling him back to stand in front of him. "I knew there was something I hadn't shown you yet," he purred, tongue flicking out to lap at him, tasting himself mixed with Clark.

"Lex, what are you... Oh my God!" Clark froze as he felt his lover's tongue slide along the crease of his ass, then probe between the cheeks, cleaning and teasing him at the same time. "That's - you - oh shit!" He couldn't be getting hard again; there was no way. Oh, God, he was going to die at the age of sixteen because no way could he live through this.

Lex chuckled, feeling Clark shake as the vibrations ran through him, and he suddenly thrust his tongue inside his lover, lapping at his own seed and fucking him at the same time.

There was nothing in front of Clark, nothing for him to hold onto to balance himself, and he fisted his hands against his thighs, shocked at the high-pitched whines escaping his lips. This just wasn't normal, but what about him was? If he was fated to spend the rest of his life hot and horny for Lex Luthor... well, there were worse fates.

After a particularly deep stab of Lex's tongue, Clark crashed to his knees, falling forward and just barely catching himself with his hands. Groaning constantly now, he rocked back and forth, lost in the maze of lust and following Lex blindly, trusting in him to lead the way out.

Lex followed Clark to the floor, never missing a beat, tongue-fucking him in earnest now. The sounds he was making...! Had Lex known how he would react, he would have done this months ago. It sounded like Clark was going come from this alone.

Clark's arms gave out, and he lowered his head to rest on his hands, his back bowed into a curve that unwittingly also made it easier for Lex to continue tormenting him. Groans, sobs, whimpers, he hardly recognized the sounds coming from his mouth, but all he cared about was that this never stop as he was already as hard as he could ever recall being, and he'd just been fucked practically raw not ten minutes ago!

Hands holding Clark's hips and his thumbs spreading his cheeks wide, Lex was reveling in every sound, every shudder. He loved doing this for a lover but hadn't wanted to shock Clark, who'd been a virgin only a couple of months earlier... and things always moved so quickly when they got together that he simply hadn't had the right opportunity until now.

"Please, oh please," Clark whimpered before biting down on his fist to keep from screaming again. He was so close, and each swipe of Lex's tongue over and in him set him that much further on edge, but he couldn't touch himself like this and the tiny bit of friction he got on his erection when it rubbed against his stomach only made things worse.

Taking pity on him, Lex moved one hand, a single finger sliding inside him alongside his tongue and curving to rub over his prostate.

Tasting blood as he bit through his skin, Clark bellowed out his completion, his body bucking and shuddering underneath the onslaught of pleasure Lex's touch released in him.

Staying with him till the last tremor subsided, Lex then rolled Clark to his back and took a moment to admire his boneless sprawl. Practically purring his contentment, he lowered his head to lick his lover clean, adding the taste of Clark's seed to his own. Finally done, he knelt up, licking his lips, and smiled smugly down. "That would be rimming."

Finally getting his eyes to focus again and his brain to process something except 'ohmygodohmygodohmygod', Clark blinked, giving a goofy grin. "Uh, yeah."

Chuckling, Lex sprawled on top of him and slowly lowered his head to kiss him, giving him time to pull away. He wasn't sure how Clark would react to kissing after that; some guys couldn't stand it.

Sliding a hand up to the back of Lex's head, Clark pulled him closer, his mouth falling open under the pressure and his tongue tangling lazily with the other man's. "Mmm, you taste like us," he sighed once Lex pulled back, and Clark frowned at the expression on his face. "What?"

Lex just smiled. "I love you." He pressed another kiss to his lips, perfectly content. "But your back is probably not going to be happy with you if we fall asleep like this."

"Doesn't matter to me..." Clark mumbled before realizing that while it didn't, the floor probably wasn't the most comfortable thing for Lex to be lying on. Making a supreme effort, he got them both up and over to the daybed in one quick move. "That better?"

Lex blinked. "I was concerned about you, not me. I'm lying on top of you, either way, so I'm perfectly comfortable." Although, come to think of it, the knee hanging over Clark's side was a lot more comfortable on the futon than the hard floor. "Mmmmmm," he sighed. "I like this. It's not even noon yet, so we still have hours together." He closed his eyes, cheek pillowed on Clark's chest, and smiled.

"And all that cake and mousse to play with," Clark murmured, wrapping his arms around Lex's back and letting himself drift again.

"I think you're going to have to get Dad to help you pull me out of the car," Clark groaned, resting his head against the seat and adjusting the fit of the seatbelt across his waist. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't want to see anything chocolate again for a long time!"

Snickering, Lex slid behind the steering wheel and turned slightly to face him. "You're the one who kept insisting that he wanted to make me scream and kept smearing on more," he reminded the teenager heartlessly. "It's your own fault." Laughing at the pout, he buckled up and started the car, heading for the Kent farm. They ought to have just enough time for a cup of coffee with Clark's parents before it was time for him to leave.

"Don't remind me." Clark shook his head, then made a face as his stomach decided it didn't like that move too much. "But you did scream," he added, managing to smirk.

"Don't remind me," Lex groaned, flushing with embarrassment at the memory. Inspired by his introduction to rimming, Clark had turned the tables, and he'd proven to be an apt student.

Chuckling quietly, Clark turned his head and smiled at his lover, waiting until they were out on the road and up to speed before reaching to take his hand. "Thanks."

"For what?" Lex asked, startled. So far as he was concerned, this whole weekend had been a gift to him, and Clark had nothing to thank him for.

"For this," Clark tightened his fingers around Lex's. "For the weekend, for everything you did for me, for... for being you."

"You never have to thank me for that, Clark. I happen to love you, remember? And frankly, this weekend was as much a gift for me as it was for you. Having you all to myself... I liked it."

"Me too." Turning Lex's hand over, Clark circled his thumb over his palm. "And I know I don't have to thank you, I wanted to, okay? Because you, you mean everything. It's not teenage hormones or alien pheromones or whatever; you're everything."

"Likewise," Lex replied, fingers curling up. "And thank you too." He saw the turn off for the Kent farm up ahead and concentrated on his driving again.

Now it was Clark's turn to be perplexed. "For what?"

"For being with me. For trusting me and believing in me even when no one else did, myself included." Lex shrugged. "For being you."

Fighting the blush that threatened, Clark managed to grin. "Decorative and useful both, right?"

"Exactly." Lex pulled to a halt in the Kents' yard and leaned over the gearshift to kiss Clark, a hand on his shoulder for balance.

Though tempted to keep Lex just where he was, the porch light flipping on clued Clark in to the fact that his parents were waiting up for them, and he pulled back regretfully. "Back to the real world," he sighed, stroking the back of his hand down Lex's cheek.

"Which isn't all that bad," Lex replied, climbing out of the car and coming around to slide an arm around Clark's waist as they headed for the porch. "Things could be a lot worse if your father still wanted to shoot me!"

Clark had to chuckle at that. "Now he just wants you to fix the tractor every time you come over." He pulled open the door, holding it for Lex, and grinned when his parents looked up from the accounting books, smiling at both of them.

"I'd ask if you had a nice time, but that's pretty self-evident," Martha said, closing the book and rising to hug both young men.

"Plus we're afraid that you might give us details," Jonathan added cheerfully, making both of them blush. "The coffee is just about ready, Lex." He nodded toward the machine on the counter.

"Why do I get the feeling that I'm becoming predictable?" Lex sighed, heading for the cupboard containing the mugs. "Anyone else want any?"

"Because you're settling in?" Clark asked, eyeing the cookies sitting on the table and feeling queasy.

"I'd love some, Lex," Martha added, before looking at Clark strangely. "Honey, are you feeling okay?"

He smiled wanly. "Just had a little too much chocolate earlier, Mom. I'll be okay."

Jonathan had simply shaken his head in response to Lex's question, not wanting to be up all night, which was what would happen if he drank coffee at that hour, and now he eyed Clark oddly. "Too much chocolate? I've never heard those words out of you before, son." Hearing Lex's snicker, he suddenly wished he hadn't asked.

"I agree. I'm beginning to wonder if you brought us back the right boy, Lex." Martha reached out and rested her hand on Clark's cheek as she spoke.

Wanting to kick Lex under the table but not daring to because of his parents' wrath, Clark just shook his head and glanced down at the books. "Is everything okay?"

Nodding, Jonathan gestured at the books. "Surprisingly so. That's what we were checking. Strangely, our mortgage payments have suddenly gone down, and when we looked into it, we were told that the bank had been bought out and the new owners had renegotiated all of them to lower rates. I don't suppose you'd know anything about that, would you, Lex?"

Sitting down after placing Martha's coffee in front of her, Lex gave him a blankly innocent expression. "Me?"

Martha looked at him, unconvinced by the act. "No, Clark's other boyfriend."

"Mom! I told you not to say anything about him!" Clark laughed, catching Lex's hand and kissing by way of saying thank you for what he'd done.

"Other boyfriend? So who is this idiot I need to run out of town?" Lex demanded laughingly, seizing on the change of subject to avoid the Kents' knowing gazes.

Jonathan did manage to catch his eye, however, and simply nodded his acknowledgement and thanks, easily able to see that Lex didn't want more than that.

"I'm not telling!" Clark exclaimed.

Martha sipped her coffee. "Don't look at me; I've been told not to say anything."

"Hmmm. I can't say I like the sound of that. Are you telling me that I'm boring you already?" The wicked gleam in Lex's eye reminded Clark of how not-boring he'd been that day.

"Yeah, a guy's got to get some excitement somewhere, ya know," Clark snickered before shifting in the chair, making himself look away before he embarrassed himself.

"I hope all that excitement doesn't have the two of you falling asleep at your desks tomorrow," Martha commented.

"Quite the contrary," Lex admitted. "We spent a lot of time just napping together. I feel more rested than I have in ages." He smiled and stretched, knowing it wouldn't last, but at least tomorrow he should be able to concentrate properly.

"Seriously, Mom!" Clark said, seeing his parents' skeptical expressions. "Two days of sleeping in have me all rested up."

Jonathan chuckled. "That's good, son, because tomorrow it's back to your regular schedule."

Lex made a face at the reminder. It looked like he had three years of surviving the weeks on adrenaline and sleeping the weekends away in Clark's arms to look forward to. "More like tonight, you mean," he sighed, taking another swallow of his coffee.

Some of Clark's good humor fled. "Yeah," he muttered, already dreading crawling into his bed alone.

Lex reached over and placed a hand atop Clark's, holding it tightly.

Raising his eyes from the books, Jonathan looked at them for a long moment, then glanced at Martha questioningly.

Martha sighed. It would be so easy to extend the offer to Lex to spend the night, but if they didn't break tonight, tomorrow would be that much harder, and Lex living here wasn't feasible. The two of them were so... intertwined with each other, it was almost frightening, and Martha wasn't sure if it had to do with age or something in Clark's heritage.

"It's okay, Mom," Clark sighed. "You don't have to say it. We... gotta do it sometime."

Lex's hand tightened on Clark's, and he stared down into his coffee. While he might understand Clark's parents' reasoning and even agree with it in principle, it didn't make it any easier to accept.

Now it was Martha's turn to look at Jonathan helplessly. If Lex and Clark had argued with them about this, it would have been much easier on her.

"I really wish we could figure out my instruction book," Clark muttered.

"You are not a VCR, Clark. You don't come with instructions," Lex retorted. "But yeah, it would nice if we could read the note your parents sent. There has to be some kind of key, something that we're missing."

Jonathan shrugged. "I've never been able to find anything."

"Even after the ship started hovering once Nixon put that other piece of it in, we couldn't find a way to open it, and that's probably where any answers are." He eyed Lex, then half-grinned. "No, I'm a DVD player, more modern."

Lex actually gaped at him before snorting a faint laugh. "Have you tried talking to it, touching it? It may be keyed to you in some way."

Clark laughed. "What? Like 'C'mon, little spaceship, open up for Clarkie-Warkie'?"

Catching herself before she sprayed coffee all over the table and her husband, Martha coughed to clear her throat. "Not that particularly, Clark, but perhaps something along those lines."

Both Jonathan and Lex eyed Clark as if he'd lost his mind. "I'll take that as a no then," Lex said, fighting back his laughter. "We have voice-activated machinery, so it's not unthinkable that a space-faring race might as well."

"Yeah, but how would it recognize my voice if I don't even speak whatever language it's programmed in?" Clark asked, giving the idea serious thought for the first time. "I've talked to Mom and Dad when we've been down in the cellar, and it never did anything."

"Maybe you have to touch it and talk to it at the same time. How the hell should I know? I'm just throwing out ideas here, Clark. But you have to admit that it makes absolutely no sense to include a message that you'd have no way of understanding. Admittedly, if something cataclysmic was going on, they might not have been thinking too clearly, but how hard is it to throw in a grammar or reading primer?"

"I don't know!" Clark's voice was tinged with frustration, and he forced himself to relax and take a deep breath. "Can we try to figure it out some other night, please?"

Realizing that he'd been taking his frustration out on Clark, Lex tightened his grip once again. "Sorry, love. Of course. I... I should get going. It's late and you all need to get up early." Not meeting anyone's eyes, he rose to his feet and carried his cup over to the sink.

Clark was on his feet in a flash. "I'll walk you out to your car."

"Lex..." Martha sighed, then stood and gave him a hug. "I know it's hard for the both of you, and if there was another way, we'd find it."

Lex just shrugged. He knew that, but just then he wasn't able to be cheerful about it. "Good night," he said, not looking at either of the Kents and headed for the door with Clark on his heels.

Once they were outside Jonathan turned to Martha with a sigh. "We're going to have to figure something out, Martha. I don't know if this is something to do with Clark's people, but it's hurting those boys keeping them apart. I have no idea how to handle this."

She shook her head and moved into his arms. "Neither do I. I thought it would get better once they settled down together, but it's just getting worse, isn't it? I hate being the ogre about this, I hate it!"

Jonathan held her tightly, his cheek against the red hair. "Ah, Martha, you're just protecting our son. The only problem is that we don't know what's normal for him. I'm starting to be afraid that it may do him, possibly both of them, real physical harm to keep them apart. It's not normal for them to be unable to sleep without each other, not the way they are. But you saw Lex yesterday morning. And even Clark was starting to show it."

"So what do we do?" she asked, closing her eyes, for once fearing what the future would bring. "Have Lex stay here? Let Clark live there? How will either of those work?"

"I don't know. I just don't know. I keep hoping that maybe if we let them be together, things will settle down after a time, but it's just as likely that they could simply need to spend more and more time together; we have no way of knowing. Damnit! We need to know about his people."

Martha straightened up, pulling back out of Jonathan's arms. "Let's go find out if Lex's ideas have any merit then. Why torture them or ourselves another night if we don't have to."

Clark leaned against the side of Lex's car, holding the other man tightly, hating the idea of letting him go. "Can't we just run away somewhere?" he muttered, resting his head against Lex's shoulder.

"Not if we ever want to come back," Lex replied, letting him know that he'd considered it too. "You know, I think I might be able to stand it if I just knew when we'd be able to be together again," he sighed.

"Yeah, but I doubt that will happen. I really can't blame my folks, but... it still sucks, you know."

"Come on, boys," Jonathan said, startling both of them badly since they'd been so intent on each other than they hadn't heard the older couple come up behind them. "We're going to take another stab at finding something out from that ship. We need to know if you two need to be together more often."

Taken aback, Lex could only blink at him in surprise, still leaning into Clark's embrace.

"Dad?" Clark's brow furrowed as he stared at his parents. "What do you mean?"

"What your father means, Clark, is that we need to get some answers. Being apart shouldn't be this hard on the two of you. Not wanting to be separated is one thing; being in physical pain is another."

Since he'd often had similar thoughts, Lex couldn't argue. "But are we going to be able to figure anything out?" He didn't to get their hopes up only to have nothing changed.

"We won't know unless we try."

Clark nodded, echoing his mother's words. "So, let's go see if I can sweet-talk the spaceship."

"God, my life is an episode of The Outer Limits... complete with hot alien babe." Lex grinned at his boyfriend. "So, lead on."

Clark groaned. "Better that than Star Trek I suppose." His parents gave him a questioning glance, and he shook his head. "Don't ask; it's safer that way."

Using the flashlights his folks had brought out with them for extra light, the group walked out to the storm cellar and down the stairs, waiting for Clark to flip on the lights to proceed any further. Once his dad had closed the doors behind them, Clark pulled the tarp off the small pod and looked at it before nudging it with his foot. "Hey there, wake up."

"If you did that to me, I'd turn around and bite you," Lex observed, moving closer, looking a little surprised when the ship seemed to develop an ambient glow as he got closer to Clark. "Uh, has it ever done that before?"

"No," Jonathan said, watching a bit nervously.

Biting her lower lip, Martha moved closer to Jonathan and grasped for his hand.

"Maybe you're the alien," Clark snorted, squatting alongside the pod and attempting to treat it nicely though he felt twelve kinds of a fool. "Okay, you've got some information we need in there, and it would really make all of our lives a lot easier if you'd just open up and let us have it." He reached out, resting his hand on the curved side at the same time Lex laid a hand on his shoulder, then jumped back when a seam split open in the side of the craft.

"Holy shit! Sorry, Mom."

Eyes wide, Lex stared down at the suddenly open ship. "I think I should be concerned that it seems to respond to us rather than you. There's something a little disturbing about that. The question is, is it a result of the meteors' affects on me or... us?"

Clark looked back over his shoulder, his eyes wide. "You're asking me?"

"Well, no, but unless the ship is suddenly going to answer us..." He eyed it nervously, not sure what to expect next. "Maybe you should look inside, see if there's anything there?" he suggested, aware of Clark's parents' indrawn breath at the suggestion.

"'Kay." Standing slowly, Clark peered over the edge, marveling at how small the space was that had sustained him for however long it had taken him to reach Earth. "Not much to see really, though there's a slot here that... Mom? Dad? Did you bring the tablet thing?"

"Yeah, I thought it might be helpful." Jonathan pulled it out of his shirt and handed it over, taking the opportunity to move a bit closer to the boys, hovering over them protectively.

"Just - just be careful," Martha breathed.

"No problem, Mom." Clark gave her a small grin, then glanced at Lex. "Well, here goes nothing." Swallowing hard, he slid the tablet into the slot, biting back a yell when the whole interior of the pod was bathed in light.

Peering cautiously over Clark's shoulder, Lex almost fell on his ass jumping back when a hologram suddenly materialized over the ship. Eyes wide, he stared up at a thirty-something man who looked a lot like Clark. The image began speaking, but the language was incomprehensible.

"Maybe you need to talk to it," he whispered to Clark. "I think it needs to learn English."

"And say what?" Clark hissed, looking back at the hologram when he saw that upon hearing his voice, it had turned toward him. "Ummm... hi there, whoever you are. I'm Clark, this is Lex, and that's my mom and dad. Ummm... I really have no idea of what to say to you because I don't know exactly who or what you are except that almost thirteen years ago I sort of came here in you."

The figure appeared to be listening which in all actuality, gave Clark the willies, then spoke again. "Kal-El."


"Well, that could be how you say hi in your language, or it could be a name. His or yours, who knows?" Lex murmured, staring up with interest. "I wonder if it's had access to TV and radio broadcasts since you got here. If so, it might already have the ability to speak English once it figures out which human language we're using."

"Yes," the image said suddenly, making them all jump, and this time Lex did land on his ass.

"Holy shit!"

Martha moved closer, leaning a hand on Jonathan's back while they helped Lex to his feet, and she tried to fathom this new development.

"So..." Clark wet his lips, reaching back to grab Lex's hand and glad for his parents' presence. "Was what you said 'hi' or your name?"

The figure glanced at the small gathering and folded his hands together. "Kal-El is your name. I am Jor-El, and I am your father."

Jonathan's eyes narrowed, and he bit back a harsh rebuttal, not wanting to upset Clark. "So then maybe you'd care to explain why a father would put his son in a spaceship and send him to another planet?" he demanded, asking the question they all wanted the answer to.

"Dad..." Clark started, but the hologram - no way he could think of that as his father - was already speaking.

"Because I wanted him to survive. Our planet was being ripped apart from within and the only way to save him, and a legacy of our race, was to send him away."

"So, what planet am I from, exactly?" Clark felt queasy as he asked this. Yeah, he'd sort of come to grips with the alien thing, but having it confirmed was a little much.

"You are from the planet Krypton. If you wish to know the location, I can provide it to you, but there is nothing there now except for dust and rocks."

Rocks... Clark frowned. "Why did you send the meteors down with me? They hurt people!"

"That was an unforeseen side effect of the radiation that bombarded them from our sun going nova added to the natural radiation of this yellow sun. We did not realize that pieces of our planet would be pulled along with your ship, Kal-El, nor that they would become a danger to the inhabitants of this world or to yourself. And I should warn you that different elements of our planet reacted differently to the radiation. You have only encountered one type, the most common, so far from what I have been able to glean."

"Why did the ship respond to Clark, Kal-El, when he and I were touching and not before?" Lex asked suddenly.

More types of the meteor rock? Clark felt even more ill if it was possible. "Clark, call me Clark," he muttered, glaring at the hologram but unable to tell if it had understood or not.

"When I programmed the life pod, I chose for it to remain dormant until Kal-El reached maturity. Giving him, or anyone else, the information regarding his heritage before then could have been detrimental to his development and safety. While this program has been active for several of your months now, it was his touch that opened it. Your presence..." The image frowned. "Has an effect on both the pod and Kal-El, but it is not one that has been encountered before."

"Is that why Clark and Lex are having such a hard time being apart from each other?" Martha asked, determined to get to the root of their most current problem.

The image frowned at both young men, scanning them down to the subatomic level although they didn't know that yet. "This is... unexpected. I had not anticipated that the people of this planet might be a close enough genetic match that this might occur. Our peoples are... were... similar enough that we could breed together. And this one has been exposed to the radiation from the fragments of Krypton, changing him slightly. It was enough that they have bonded in the manner of our people." Seeing the lack of comprehension, it continued, "Although few of us found our true mates, all Kryptonians carry the potential to mate for life when we do. This has happened between Kal-El and his mate. They need to remain close until their systems reach equilibrium, at which time the need will diminish."

Even though he was relieved at finding out there was a reason for how he and Lex felt, Clark still was nervous. Did Lex really want to be bonded for life to an alien? "Any - any idea as to how long that's going to take?"

"The process is well underway. Perhaps a month of this world's time. Assuming you were to spend all your time together. Twice that or possibly a little more otherwise. I would not recommend going more than a day without being in each other's company; it would retard the process as well as creating unnecessary discomfort. You will always, however, feel most at ease when together and touching."

Two or three more months of this? Oh God. Clark snuck a glance back at Lex and his parents, trying to tell what they were thinking, which was difficult when he wasn't even sure of his own feelings on the matter.

"So by keeping them apart, we've actually hindered this process?" Martha closed her eyes, feeling as if she'd committed some horrible felony by trying to protect her son.

The image of Jor-El nodded slightly. "Not in any way truly harmful to them, but it has extended the period of adjustment. It cannot kill them, but they do suffer discomfort and unease when apart and always will, although to a lesser degree once the initial period has passed."

"How long do your people live? And how old is Clark?" Lex's curiosity was rousing.

"On Krypton, our life span was several of your centuries, but without access to our technology, Kal-El will age as the general population does. As for his age..."

"Sixteen," Clark mumbled, before repeating it in a louder tone. "I'm sixteen, and my name is Clark, and I don't care what else you have to say about it, got it!" He glared at the image, then ducked out from under the others, racing up the stairs to breathe in huge gulps of the cool night air.

With his departure the image of Jor-El flickered and vanished, leaving the other three in silence.

"Well," Lex said finally, staring at the Kents.

"Yeah." Jonathan ran a hand through his hair. "Lex, I think maybe you should stay tonight. I think Clark's going to need you."

Lex simply nodded and followed after his lover, heading for the barn first, thinking him more likely to be there than back in the house.

The only thing that had kept Clark from taking off and trying to outrun his problems was his promise to Lex and his parents that he wouldn't do that again. As it was, he sat on the floor by his telescope, back against the barn wall, head buried in his arms. When did it all stop?

Hearing the creak as someone climbed the stairs, and knowing it was Lex when some of the tightness in his chest eased, Clark laughed almost bitterly. "Come to see the last remains of an extinct species?"

"Actually, I came to see my boyfriend, but if he'd rather mope for a while, I'm up for that too. I think you have some cause." Lex sank down beside him, arms going around Clark as he drew him into his embrace. "I love you, Clark, doesn't matter who you are or where you came from. And that's me talking, not some mating bond."

"How can you be sure?" Clark muttered to his knees, even as he leaned into Lex's embrace.

"Because I already wanted you long before we fucked, Clark. This whatever it is may have made it stronger, but it was working with what was already there. If we had never become lovers, I still would have loved you."

Sniffling and swiping at his face with his sleeve, Clark risked a glance at Lex. "Really? I mean, I'm not doubting you; this whole thing is just getting weirder by the day." He sighed and rested his head against Lex's shoulder. "I just never want you to feel like you were forced into this or are trapped in it, you know?"

"Clark, adult here, remember? I've been thinking circles around Lionel for years; do you really think you could have forced me into something I didn't want? Besides who's the one who spent months lusting after an underage farm boy?"

Clark sniffled again and managed a half-smile. "You make it sound like that's a bad thing."

"Well, the law would say that it was," Lex pointed out, smiling slightly. "Fortunately I've never paid much attention to laws that didn't make sense to me. And you and I, well, I think we can figure things out for ourselves.

"Now, are you really going to make me sleep in the barn or can we go inside?" Lex wanted to get him back into the house, knowing that his parents would be worried. Besides, hiding wasn't going to help.

"You're staying?" Realizing that it was a stupid question as soon as he asked it, Clark slowly stood, glad when Lex rose with him because he really felt the need to touch his lover at that point. "Was he still talking, or did the pod close up when I left?"

"Closed up when you left. Looks like it knows its master's voice," Lex teased gently, keeping an arm around him. "So if I ever want to satisfy my curiosity, I'm going to have to keep you around." He led Clark toward the stairs, keeping a tight hold on him. "And we're going to have to work out a schedule with your parents. Obviously neither of us can move in with the other, but we can manage a couple of nights per week. We'll see what they have to say."

"I'm sorry," Clark said quietly. Lex looked at him sharply, and he continued. "Not because we're together, and not because you were lusting after an under-aged farm boy," he gave a ghost of a smile at that, "but because this really isn't what..." He sighed. "I guess I'm going to have to write down all the questions I have for him. Do you really think he's my biological father?"

Lex shrugged. "He does look like you, Clark. But keep in mind that unless they knew a lot more about creating artificial intelligence than we do, that's not really him, it's just a simulation. The real man has been dead for a dozen years..." Or more. Given the distance to even the nearest star, Lex had a sneaking suspicion that Clark might have been in suspended animation for the trip, however long it might have been.

"Yeah." They reached the bottom of the stairs, and Clark looked out the barn door toward the house - his home. "I guess I should feel bad about him, about the whole planet, but I just can't. It doesn't feel real to me."

"Understandable. You really don't remember anything at all before you got here?" Lex asked curiously. Even at three, he should have had some vague memories, and if he'd been older as appeared likely, he should remember more. Which brought Lex back to his cold sleep theory and the possibility of short-term memory loss.

Clark shook his head. "I don't even remember Mom and Dad finding me - or me finding them as they put it. First real thing I remember is sitting at the table with them eating something and just feeling really... safe."

"Yeah, they're good at creating that feeling," Lex agreed as they walked across the yard toward the house. "You got lucky with them, Clark. God forbid Lionel should have been the one to find you." He shuddered.

"If that had happened, I doubt I'd be anywhere doing anything right now." Unconsciously pulling Lex closer at the thought, Clark shuddered.

"This is much better," Lex said emphatically. "I don't like the idea of you as a lab specimen or, god forbid, my brother."

"I'll take my life like it is right now, thanks. Now come on, let's get inside before Mom and Dad worry themselves to death."

Lex had to smile when they made it inside to find Martha making a pie. "I really hope there aren't too many more surprises to come," he said, chuckling. "I'm starting to put on weight."

Jonathan chuckled as well, accustomed to Martha's way of dealing with stress. "But what a way to go."

She glanced up from bowl she was washing, looking at Clark closely before going back to her work, apparently satisfied at what she'd seen in his expression. "I can always take it out of the oven if you're going to complain about it."

"No!" all three men chorused, and Clark gave his mother a hug from behind. "Please, Mom? We'll be good."

"Or at least pretend to be," Lex amended, getting another cup of coffee before sitting down at the table. "This has been quite a night."

"Yes, it has." Feeling at least a little better about his constant need to touch Lex, Clark pulled a chair closer to the older man and sat beside him, resting a hand over his.

Martha glanced over at Jonathan and then up at the kitchen clock. "Considering the time, Clark, you can be late for school tomorrow. I'll call the office for you so that you both can sleep in. Unless you have to be up early, Lex?"

"No, my assistant has my number in case anything urgent comes up, but I'm not expecting anything. There's no reason for me to work any particular hours." He shrugged. "Business is a twenty-four hour a day vocation now, thanks to the internet."

Covering a yawn with his hand, Clark nodded. "Thanks, Mom, but shouldn't you and Dad think about going to bed too?"

Jonathan nodded. "The sun's still going to rise at the same time tomorrow... which is actually something of a comfort at the moment," he admitted. "Once the pie's out of the oven, I think it's time to call it a night."

Lex stretched, then leaned over against Clark, head leaning on his shoulder. "I think I'll just go to sleep right here."

"I'll wait for the pie to cook; go on up." Clark said seriously. "I can carry Lex up too if he falls asleep on me."

"Thanks, sweetie." Now that they were calming down, Martha realized that she was exhausted. "Just don't forget about it. We don't need the additional excitement of the house burning down around us."

Clark chuckled. "Not a problem, Mom. You think I'm going to risk burning one of your pies? No way!"

They all laughed as the elder Kents went up to bed, leaving the two young men alone. Lex immediately turned to face his lover, concerned blue-grey eyes staring at him searchingly. "Are you really okay?"

"I think so." Clark shrugged, unsure of the answer himself. "I will be anyway, that much I know for sure."

"Okay then." Lex sat up in his chair, reaching for his coffee again. "Well, you certainly had a memorable sixteenth birthday," he mused, smiling faintly. "This was an even more interesting weekend than I anticipated."

Clark nodded in agreement and reached out to take Lex's hand again. "I would have been happy with the cake and the chance to be with you. I guess what I got is a chance to find out who I am."

"Where you came from," Lex corrected. "I know who you are: Clark Kent, the guy who keeps saving me from myself."

"The guy who loves you," Clark responded seriously.

"Pretty convenient since I happen to love you too." Lex glanced over at him, then toward the stove. "Shouldn't you be checking on that?"

"I guess." Reluctant to move because it meant letting go of Lex, Clark stood and opened the oven door. "Looks about done," he said, reaching in and pulling out the pie tin without using the oven mitts.

"Clark!" Lex yelped, half lunging out of his chair, then relaxing when he realized that the teenager was unharmed. "Okay, that freaks me out even more than space ships in the storm cellar." He walked over and caught Clark's wrist, inspecting his palms.

"Do we have to do anything else to it, or can we go to bed now?" he asked, not releasing him.

"Just need to cover it up." Kissing Lex in thanks for his concern, Clark grabbed the tin foil out of a drawer and covered the pie before checking to make sure he'd turned off the oven. It was tempting to think about snitching a piece, but right now sleep sounded even better than the snack. "Huh, I must be okay with this; my appetite's coming back."

"And so will your mom's right hook if you touch that pie! Come!" Lex grabbed his hand and tugged him toward the stairs, intent on getting some sleep and saving Clark from himself.

"Oh, all right!" Moaning and grousing quietly as they climbed the stairs, Clark waited until they had both used the bathroom and were changed to pull Lex into his arms. "So, you and me forever, eh? Now do you finally believe me?"

"Yeah, I think I do." Lex gave him the most open smile he'd ever seen on his face and wrapped his arms tightly around the younger man. "And we even get to spend more nights together."

Clark smiled. "That's cool, but you believing that I meant what I said is the best part." He started walking them backward toward the bed, laughing when they collapsed onto the mattress, Lex on top of him.

"Mmm, perfect. Two nights in a row together. I think this is my idea of heaven." Tired after the exertions of the weekend and the emotional roller coaster of the last couple of hours, Lex's eyes were already closing as he nuzzled Clark's throat.

"Mm hmm..." Before wrapping his arms securely around Lex's waist, Clark twitched the blanket over them both and closed his eyes. "And lots more to come..."

The ringing of his cell phone woke Lex the next morning, and he grumbled and buried his face in Clark's chest before fumbling on the nightstand for it.

"Who the fuck is this, and do you know what time it is?" he snarled. "...What!?" He sat bolt upright on top of Clark and let out a victory yell as he switched the phone off. "I did it!"

"Wha? Who - what happened?" Clark asked, sitting up and looking wildly around before he realized the person yelling was Lex and that he looked utterly triumphant. "You did it?" he asked, lying down once again, his eyes already closing. "That's good."

"No more scavenging around trying to find another few stocks, no more deals, no more sneaking around. I've got him by the balls, Clark! I did it; I own the majority of LuthorCorp!" Lex whooped again, bouncing with excitement.

"Lexxx... I'm trying to sleep he--" When what his lover was saying finally penetrated Clark's sleep-addled brain, he sat bolt upright, catching Lex to keep him from being thrown off the bed. "You did it. You did it!" He shouted the last words before catching Lex and giving him a resounding kiss. "Hail the conquering hero!"

"We win," Lex whispered, laughing wildly. "He can't do anything to us now."

"We win," Clark nodded, "but I got my prize a long time ago."


  since 02-03-07

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