Category: Story, Slash, Angst
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual situations, profanity)
Disclaimer: These characters are owned by the WB network and their creators. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: You are the one. (Third in series, sequel to Star After Star)
"And so we see that the chances of intelligent extraterrestrial life actually coming here to Earth is virtually nil."
The science teacher's voice droned on in self-satisfied tones and Clark Kent peered outside schoolroom windows to where green meadows and wide country roads beckoned. Ah, to take the leap toward freedom and fly away, to anywhere but where he was. Proving Mr. Shute wrong about alien life at the same time would be an added bonus but the heady exhilaration of pure liberty would suffice -- for now.
The end-of-period bell finally rang and Clark shot out of his seat with practiced speed. He was less than ten steps down the hall before he saw Lana Lang, looking better than most girls her age had a right to look.
Lana. Such a bright, wonderful smile directed straight at him. "Hi, Clark."
Instantly, Clark's heart did a double take and he noted with relief he hadn't fainted in front of her, at least not this time. "Hi," he replied, not noticing the specter that crept up behind her, putting a possessive arm around her shoulders.
It was his stomach's turn to flip. "Oh. Hello, Whitney."
Hello, Whitney. You insufferable asshole.
"Did you enjoy the game, Clark?" Smug smile, and suddenly Lana didn't look as pretty as she usually did with Whitney's arm wrapped around her like a poisonous snake. Yes, her choice of personal accessories certainly was appalling -- so totally unappealing.
"Was there a game?" Clark's tone was nonchalant but there was steel behind it. "I didn't get to watch. I was tied up ... with other things." Not exactly the truth, since Lex had saved Clark from his turn as this year's cross-bound scarecrow, but what Whitney didn't know was better for everyone.
Especially after Clark's little arranged pileup outside of the homecoming dance. Nothing like watching a group of jocks trying to figure out a tower of trucks sitting in the moonlight.
The snake was nonplused. "You didn't get to see it? Too bad." The possessive arm wound around Lana so tightly, Clark wondered how she could breathe. "I made two touchdowns."
"That's great." Clark smiled so hard his face hurt. He turned toward Lana whose expression veered between embarrassment and extreme annoyance. Poor Whitney, guess he was going to "get some" later on -- get some angry female grief, that was.
Good, and Clark decided to turn the screw. "Hey, Lana." He peered at her neck. "Where's that pretty necklace of yours? This is the first time I've seen you without it."
Lana's face darkened to an impressive glower. "Someone lost it," she said pointedly and Whitney glared at Clark over her shoulder.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Clark said with honest sympathy. He met Whitney's glare with one of his own. "I'll keep an eye out. If I find it, I'll let you know."
Lana smiled sweetly. "Thanks, Clark. I can always count on you." She shook off Whitney's arm and disappeared into the milling hallway crowd, as Whitney zoomed in on Clark, his face red with rage.
"You are never going to find that necklace, you hear me, asswipe?" He was snarling in Clark's face, his breath sour with stale beer and who knew what else. "Because if you do ..."
"You'll run me over with your truck?" Clark smiled innocently.
Whitney blinked then stepped back, suddenly unsure. Clark watched the ponderous workings of a jock's slow brain and then felt bored, bored nearly out of his mind. There had to be more to life than this garbage and he pushed past Whitney, everything surrounding him looking duller and more petty than he'd have ever believed possible.
If this was the guy, the life, Lana wanted, then she can have them, Clark thought petulantly, The urge to kick the doors open and make a run for it was overwhelming, and for the first time in his teenage life, Clark decided to give in to impulse. Mom would cry, Dad would kill him, he'd probably be in detention for the rest of his life but a lifesaver beckoned from afar.
A lifesaver named Lex Luthor.
The cool fall air was wonderful and Clark was thrilled to see Lex's car in the mansion's massive driveway. He felt slightly foolish, ringing a castle doorbell and asking if Lex wanted to play, but he'd never been turned back before.
For some reason he didn't think today would be any different.
He made his way as usual into the Luthor compound, through brute strength, making sure to bend the bars back to their original shape after he was inside. A short walk to the study where, for some reason he could actually hear a pen scratching against paper and ...
"Someone's not in school today, I see." Lex looked as he always did: serene, confident and just this side of wonderful. "How's it going, Clark?"
"Hey, Lex." Clark shifted his slipping backpack a little further up on his shoulder. "I just couldn't take it anymore and I was wondering if you and I ..." He hesitated. What exactly was it he was wondering they could do together again?
Or did it really matter?
"Sorry, Clark," Crisp, impossibly mature voice, so strange sounding coming from Lex's mouth. "I'd love to hang but I have a meeting in half an hour that can't be put off."
The atmosphere changed on a dime. Total embarrassment flooded Clark and it really was too bad that floors couldn't swallow you whole. How could he have been so stupid? Lex was an adult, with a corporation to run and here he was, a hooky playing teen hick hovering like some friendship-starved loser. He couldn't just walk in and expect Lex to be there waiting for him, escape tools in hand, ready and willing to save him from terminal boredom just because.
What the hell had he been thinking?
As if reading Clark's mind, Lex's expression softened. "It'll probably only take an hour or so," he said. "If you want to wait for me, we can have the rest of the afternoon to piss the establishment off. Would that be all right?"
"That's okay," Clark demurred, wondering where the nearest exit was. Damned castles, never an escape where you needed one. "I should have called first."
"Clark, listen," sighed Lex patiently. "I'm meeting with the company geologist and I just have to give him some rock samples to analyze. See?" He rattled a small cardboard box in Clark's direction. "I found them in the field the other night and ..." He paused. "I'm just checking out the land, that's all."
Clark blinked, suddenly feeling woozy. He shook his head, trying to clear it. "No, I really should go. Maybe later on ..." Lex took a step closer, box still in hand, as the world around Clark began to tilt wildly. His knees were buckling, he couldn't breathe and for the first time in his short life, he knew what terror was. That box ...
"Clark? What's wrong?" Lex dropped the box and rushed to his side, holding him up by the arm. "Clark!"
Clark couldn't speak and everything around him was turning a sickening shade of green. I'm going to die, he thought vaguely, as Lex struggled to lower him to the floor without dropping him.
"Come on, Clark," Lex exhorted angrily. "Don't do this to me." He leaned in close and Clark stared into Lex's frightened eyes. So beautiful, Clark thought and if I die without even one kiss ...
There was no more thinking then, just a feeling of floating, and the last thing Clark Kent remembered was the feel of Lex's lips against his, softer and sweeter than they'd been even in his dreams. What a nice way to go, he thought giddily, slipping away toward the darkness.
Such a nice way to go.
The sky was turning dark when Clark awoke in Lex's bedroom. His head pounded dully and he noted with some surprise that he wasn't alone. Lex was sitting cross-legged next to him, cold washcloth in hand, looking pissed as hell. For a second, Clark wondered what the older man was angry at and as he felt another press of coolness against his forehead, Clark Kent remembered.
He'd kissed him.
He'd kissed Lex Luthor on the lips, with clear and obvious intent. No CPR could be claimed this time not unless he, the victim, was trying to suck the air out of his rescuer's lungs.
It was more than just embarrassing ... it was mortifying. Damn it, you've done it now, Clark thought frantically, his gut lurching into his throat. You've wrecked a friendship that's just begun, you've humiliated yourself beyond all redemption ... and there's a good chance that you meant that kiss with all your heart.
"Welcome back," said Lex, his cheeks paler than usual. "Do me a favor, Clark. Scare the crap out of someone more qualified the next time you decide to take a nosedive, all right?" Narrow, irritated glance. "That was enough to make my hair fall out."
"Lex, I ... " Oh God, what could he possibly say? Clark's voice trailed away. "I'm sorry. Sorry for everything, especially ..."
"Especially what? Is there something in particular you'd like to take back? Between the pouting, the fainting and the ... " Lex took a deep breath and faded into silence. What else could he have said?
What could either of them possibly say?
But Clark continued, knowing there was no other way. "I wish I could take it all back." It was horrible -- the literal end of the world and his soul sank hopelessly into a morass of doom. "I'm sorry I kissed you like that, Lex. I don't know what got into me and I hope you forgive me. I'm sorry."
Silence hung between for what felt like a lifetime and Lex looked at him with unreadable eyes. "Forget it," he finally said. It wasn't a question, it was a blunt order and Clark blinked at him, shocked. "Just forget it."
Forget it? That was all? It wasn't exactly the reaction he was hoping, no, praying, for. Even anger would have been better than such careless words, or maybe Clark wanted Lex's passion in any form he could get it, whether it be love or hate. At least hate was better than indifference and the world had tilted again, but this time for the worse.
Maybe Lex had seen the look in Clark's eyes -- maybe he'd regretted something said or unsaid. But none of that mattered because as soon as he'd opened his mouth to speak again, Clark was gone.
Off and running away again, but this time there was nowhere left to go.
Clark had no idea how far he'd gone. He didn't get breathless, not even the slightest bit tired and if he hadn't watched himself he could have ended up in a neighboring state like he did the first time he ran away in anger, nearly five years before at the tender young age of twelve. But he'd taken it relatively slow this time and could still see the tiny outline of Luthor's castle in the far distance.
Can't even run off my problems, he thought viciously. The anger was bubbling at a dangerous boil as were tears, hot and hurting behind tired eyes. Clark tersely eyed a boulder by the roadside, mentally weighing it before tentatively pushing at it with his fist.
How much did it weigh? A hundred pounds? A thousand pounds? What was the difference? All Clark knew was that he could pick it up and throw it beyond Smallville, somewhere over a rainbow that didn't exist. He rapped it harder and a hairline crack slivered down its side. A full- force punch could turn it into a deadly rain of shrapnel and something dark invaded Clark's soul at the thought.
I have the power. I have power that no one else on this planet has.
And, just for this one second, I am not afraid.
Clark pulled his arm back, his hand heavy with rage. Just one blow, struck in anger and I could ...
"That's a great way to break your hand."
Shocked, Clark spun around. Lex. How the hell did he ...
"You're a world class sprinter, you know that?" Lex's hands were stuffed his pockets and his expression was serious -- too serious. "Luckily you leave quite a trail in the corn."
"Why are you following me?" The anger was gone, the fear returned and Clark's world shifted back toward its natural axis.
"I didn't want there to be any misunderstandings between us."
"There are none." Clark stared at the thin face shining oddly bright in the moonlight. "I understand perfectly."
"No, you don't. And that's my fault," said Lex. "You took me by surprise, Clark. I had no idea you were so brave." He paused for a heartbeat. "I should have known."
The gap between them closed and Clark took a sharp intake of breath as the back of Lex's hand smoothed down his cheek, surprisingly gentle. A rich boy's hands against Clark's weatherbitten skin and he wanted to pull away, run away again, but every distance was too far.
Besides, he wanted to stay. "Don't," Clark whispered. "Just don't."
"You're talking like I have a choice."
"You do. And you've made it. You've made your choice."
"God, you're young," Closer still, and Lex breathed against Clark's mouth, making him shiver with desire. "And I should know better."
Clark tried to reply but couldn't. Couldn't reply because there were a pair of lips pressed hard against his, warm and welcome, still softer than any dream. He moaned into the kiss and the moonlight shone down, tempting him to fall back into the fields, letting Lex take him wherever he -- wherever they wanted to go.
A tongue slipped into Clark's mouth, for less than a second, and it was over then, over before it'd begun. Lex pulled back and with a frustrated shake of his head, purposefully strode away to his car. A roar of high- powered engines and Lex was gone, taillights fading along long dirt roads.
//I'm not the only one running away, am I?//
A hot tear slipped down Clark's cheek, and he angrily wiped at it before treading back into the corn to find the path back home. The night was long done and he was in serious trouble, but that didn't matter. There was a future to think of now ... a future that had the name Lex Luthor engraved in its soul.
And there would be no more running away. Ever.