Title: Australia is for Lovers
Author: Azure K. Mello
Summery: Set ten years after "Illness" Lex is running for the White House.
Clark's Age : 48
Note: This is the Seventh in a series. If you haven't read the other parts you will miss some of the references.
Disclaimer: All things DC belong to various parties, individuals mentioned belong to themselves, other television shows and bands belong to various companies and people. No copy right infringement is intended, please don't sue.
Every four years the broadcasts came back and each time there were more scenes. The first time it came back it showed more of their childhoods, more of the growth of their friendship, more of Clark after the public found out about him being Superman and how sad he was about it. And each time there was Lex to cheer him up. It seemed the creatures from the other dimension still had a message for the world even if they couldn't actually explain that message.
The second time they had shown Clark destroying the ship and Jonathan saying that it was Clark's fault Martha lost the baby. They showed Clark in Metropolis when he ran away. They showed him robbing the banks, breaking the ATMs, drinking, dancing with girls. The bartender asked why he never went home with the girls and he just laughed. And then he went home and Lex was at his door. He nearly launched himself at Lex but Lex held him off, "Clark we need to talk. You need to come home."
"It's not my home."
"They aren't my parents. I was some alien they adopted who killed their unborn child."
"That's not true."
"You should have seen Dad's face when he said it, Lex. It was true. I'm not going back there."
"They're about to go into foreclosure, Clark, they're about to lose your family's farm because they're so wrapped in their grief for you that they just can't manage."
"It's not my family's farm. It's the Kent farm. I'm not one of them."
"Well what about me?" asked Lex. "You ran away. I haven't seen you in four months, Clark."
"You should stay," Clark pulled him into the apartment.
As Clark tried to kiss him Lex pushed him away. "You can't make your own decisions. That ring takes away your ability to be sensible and think about outcome so I'm not going to kiss you when you can't choose for yourself."
Clark looked pained. "I can't take it off." He started unbuttoning his shirt. "When I take it off I feel this." There on his chest was the brand of the house of El so like the superman symbol. "It burns; Jor El still wants me to complete my destiny to rule Earth. It turns out destroying the ship didn't do anything except kill my parent's baby."
Lex looked at the brand, reached out to stroke it gently and said. "He wants you to ignore consequence and do what's in your power because no one can stop you. The way you've been acting? Robbing those banks, buying cars with stolen money, introducing yourself as Kal? I think you're already following that destiny."
Clark sniffed, "Maybe, but at least this way I feel good." He leaned forward again but Lex still moved away. "Lex," he moaned.
"You need to take the ring off." Clark looked at his hand. "I will stay with you through the pain. But you need to take the ring off."
Clark sighed and removed it and Lex was instantly kissing him and pulling him close and as Clark fully gave into the kiss Lex pulled out a hammer and smashed the ring. Clark pulled away, startled. Looking at the ring he said, "Lex, how could you?"
"Clark, once you start coming back to yourself you are going to regret everything you've done in Metropolis and I wanted to make sure that this was the end."
Heat and light started ripping through the brand and Lex just held Clark close as the boy writhed in pain and when, after five minutes it had past Clark said in a little voice, "I was gonna be a big brother but I killed the baby and Dad could barely look at me."
"He was angry but it wasn't your fault. You wanted to destroy the ship; you had no way of knowing that they were coming home. You were trying to do the best thing for your family."
"I killed the baby," Clark started to cry. "I killed my sister or brother, my parents' real baby."
"You're real too, Clark. Your parents miss you; you need to come home."
"I robbed banks and stores, Lex. I took whatever I wanted."
"I've paid it all off, even your bar tabs." He kissed Clark slowly, "I miss you."
"You gonna get into trouble for covering for me?"
Rolling his eyes Lex joked, "It'll probably come up when I run for President."
That broadcast seemed more pointed with a couple of years retrospect. But it was quiet and warm when Lex was walking down the street in Metropolis. LLC had a meeting that had to be held in the city so Clark had dropped him off and run off the farm for the day. He didn't see the reporters until he got outside, "Mr. Luthor, is it true?"
"I am running for the Presidency," Lex nodded.
"As a publicly gay atheist who has not held public office and would run as an independent what do you think your chances are?"
"This is twenty-thirty-four and we've been in a resection for nearly thirty years. I think people may be ready for a gay atheist just because I can do the job. As for the lack of office time… I've played politics since I was fifteen, I may not have done it for a state but I'm not an amateur. I will turn our economy around within two years; we will be wholly debt free within four. We've been in a hole for too long. Moreover, our nation is now disliked and scorned by the global community. The government has made poor decisions and bullied other countries into situations. When I took over Luthor Corp. we were losing our monetary stability and no one liked us because my father was evil incarnate. We're now one of the top ten most lucrative companies on Earth and so stable we have over fifteen billion dollars a year going out in charitable work. If I could bring that company back from the brink I can certainly get this country back on track from a bad lull. I mean, the US is nowhere near as loathed as my father was. Now, if you'll excuse me, the race is not on yet but I do have a meeting to attend."
It was the same all over. The next day Clark left the house and was instantly set upon by the crowd. "I have to go to Central Java so can we keep this brief?"
"What are you doing in Indonesia?"
"The people in one town have an old water filter made back when it was Luthor Corp. It's high efficiency, but as it's over thirty years old so it's starting to break down a bit. I heard them about an hour ago talking about it so I've collected up all the parts I could get my hands on. I'm going now."
"Why you?" asked one reporter.
"Why not me? I've done this several times so it's not a big deal, it's not that complicated once you know how it works, but they don't have very much water left."
"How do you feel about Lex running for the White House?"
"Well, I've never spoken about my personal politics. But, um, Lex is a business man and a consummate diplomat. We share most of the same beliefs and I do believe he would be a fantastic President. So, y'know, there's that."
"He said he won't be stepping down as the head of LLC?"
"If you want something done give it to the busy man; he can always make time for it. Lex is much better when multitasking. If he has one project it'll take him two days. Give him thirty and it will take him three, he just focuses better as he has more and more responsibilities. We'd be getting a better President if he keeps the CEO and Presidency of LLC, he's more efficient that way. Um, I have to go, sorry."
He flew up in the air and gave them a brief smile and wave before speeding off. He touched down five minutes later in northern Indonesia and was making his hellos. Everyone was instantly asking why he was there. People did that now, after learning the fact that he felt pain, they asked if he was sure he should be there.
Laughing and joking in fluent Bahasa Indonesia he was almost instantly elbow deep inside the machine's workings. Within an hour Clark had the problem sorted and fixed. He left all the extra parts with the people of the town. Afterwards Clark stuck around. Someone brought out an ancient Polaroid and he took pictures with the people of the town. They handed him a glass of water which he drank with relish. And then, noting the lateness Clark excused himself so they could go to bed.
The next months were filled with searches for scandal. People tried to find anything underhanded. It was all almost comical. Watching the evening TV news the headline would be, "Has LLC Cheated on its Taxes?" and the story would be: no. "Has Lex Luthor Done Drugs?" Yes, and he openly admits it. "Have Lex Luthor or Clark Kent Ever had an Affair?" Nope. "Does LLC Pay Their Employees Fairly?" Yes. "Does LLC Hire Illegal Immigrants?" No, but they will help you become a citizen or get a visa or green card. It went on and on trying to find something dark in the man's past. Possibly the worst thing they said was, "Has Lex Luthor Ever Shot Anyone?" Yes, nine people, all in self defense. He also pointed out that he was a safe President in that he wouldn't die in office, the computer had lengthened his life, Superman was his husband, he always carried a gun, and his suits were lined with Kevlar. And that didn't really stop the public loving Lex.
Ever since the horror of Clark's kidnapping the general public loved the couple. It was as though Lex breaking down in front of the world made him appear more real. So many of their personal moments had been shown to the world and the world had re-embraced Lex. And no one really seemed to care that he was married to a man. Superman being gay made even Middle America less angry about 'the issue'.
When asked if Lex was concerned about his sexuality coming into play he said, "No, no. We've had a black President, a female President, a Jewish President. The country has moved past prejudice in its politics. I'm much more concerned about my lack of a party. George Washington was the only Independent President we've ever had and he was only Independent by default."
"Well, why don't you join the Republican or Democratic party?" asked the reporter.
"I'm neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I need to be honest in this run. I've shot people, done drugs, been sexually licentious, all while living in the public eye so I can't try to hide anything. Saying that I'm for either party would be a lie because I don't fully agree or disagree with either party, there needs to be more compromises and not just political appeasement but actual workable plans."
The news reporters from all different mediums got little snippets of quotes from Lex. There were photos of Lex and Clark walking around town with their sixteen year old dog. It got on the evening news when Ignatius needed hip surgery. People asked why they bothered with a dog that old. Lex had said that the AI had told him Ignatius would live to about twenty-one so it wasn't quite as foolish as one might think.
Reporters turned up at the farm and Clark sighed, "Guys, please, I've said this so many times: you need to stay away from the farm. This is Mom's house, my home, and a lot of people's livelihood. You can't hang around here. Mom needs her privacy: it's not her fault that Lex and I always end up in the spot light. I get that you want tons of pictures. I understand how important the coverage is but you need to do other things. You can follow me around a supermarket if you like but you can't be here. I know it seems churlish, but we need to get a lot done and, while you wouldn't mean to, you will get in the way. Do you want some lemonade? I'll bring some drinks out but after that you need to leave."
In a flash he was back with a large tray of drinks. He drank with them, talking about the race, the political ads he'd been watching, "Lex's head is so shiny on television. I don't understand it: he doesn't have a shiny head in real life. But I think being bald might work at this point. He's proving he has nothing to hide; he's laying it all out. He's not even hiding his scalp. Thankfully he has a good shaped skull. You see some people who shave their heads and you wonder why because they have such unfortunately shaped skulls. Before Lex and I started dating Mom said that she wanted to stroke his head. But she didn't because Lex doesn't really like being touched and she wasn't close enough to him. Now she does it all the time." He collected up the glasses. "Lex is at a meeting in Metropolis which runs until ten. There have been a lot of big meetings recently. He has some time; he's shopping for a new phone; I accidentally smashed his old one by resting my elbow on it with some force… We're meeting up for lunch; he's free until one. So you could go follow him. I need to go now."
He walked back into the house. There he ate toast covered in marmalade with field hands. "Di'you make thith?" he asked through a mouthful. Swallowing he continued, "It's much too good to be from a jar."
"Yeah, I canned it up about a week ago. You like it?" asked Martha.
"It's nice and sharp."
The hands told Clark where they would like him, jobs that were either too hard or too longwinded to be feasible. He fixed the irrigation system with over forty miles of piping in under an hour. Afterwards he ran all the necessary tests, cleaned out stalls, and reorganized the storm cellar.
He took a fast shower and kissed his mother's cheek saying, "Meeting Lex for lunch. Want to come?"
"No, I have bills to do but you have fun. Say hello to Lex for me." She turned and kissed his face. "Thank you for fixing the irrigation."
"Always, see you tomorrow, Mom." He ran out the door in a blur and heard her laugh miles away, still focused on the kitchen.
In the city he listened for a few moments to find Lex and then blurred to his husband. Lex was telling someone off, "This is disgusting. No, no, just no. What were you thinking?"
Clark stopped at Lex's Metropolis secretary's desk. She jumped a little, "Sorry," said Clark. "Can I go in?"
"He's in a meeting." Her smile didn't reach her eyes as Lex screamed at the unfortunate person in the office.
"No, he's in a fight," Clark gave her a winsome smile and went past her to knock on the door.
Completely calm Lex asked, "Yes?"
"We have a lunch with Lois and Jimmy," Clark called.
The door opened with a jerk. "Good, you're here. Get in here." Lex pulled him inside the room and slammed the door behind him. "Watch this video and tell this halfwit why he is in fact a halfwit." He gestured to Ernie James who was doing all of the PR for Lex's campaign.
The commercial showed Clark flying through the sky dressed as Superman. A fast cut showed Lex and Clark at some function laughing with each other. Then a voiceover said, "If Superman trusts him to do the right thing, shouldn't you?" and then "Lex Luthor for President" flashed up.
Clark blinked a few times and then said, "Ernie, this misses the mark. One, Superman doesn't have political leanings. Two, while Lex isn't lying about anything it's best not to highlight the fact that he's married to a man, there's a lot of America that's not that big on gay men in power. Three, this suggests Lex needs celebrity endorsements. Lex doesn't need a single endorsement to be the best man for the job. He certainly doesn't need a vote of confidence from his husband. That makes him look weak from the get go. It makes it look like he needs bolstering up."
"Thank you for your pithiness. I haven't been able to get to that level of clarity… I'll get my coat."
He left and Clark turned to Ernie, "He still gets edgy about me on TV. After the whole… vivisection being broadcast to the world… me on a screen gets him freaked. I think you should do a series of commercials about his task oriented, bullet pointed, plans for the country. I think you should run this as a super clean campaign never fling any mud at the other candidates, just be above it all. I know that Lex is the best candidate. Not as Superman and not as his husband, as a well read, intelligent, up to date citizen I know Lex could make this country great again. But I don't want to give him the "Super-bump" or whatever. He can do this all on his own feet."
Lex came back holding his coat and said, "Let's go. If we're late Lois will end up dragging us to pick up Jen and Jason off the bus."
The campaign went on and on. Clark sat back, watching it all. When Lex watched him without his knowledge he would see the small smile gracing Clark's face. An almost secret smile but it was only there when he thought no one was watching. He seemed quietly amused by it all. When Lex finally asked Clark said, "You'll win; this is all over kill. It seems odd to try so hard."
Kissing him softly Lex said, "Only to you. Not everyone loves me."
"Well, everybody loves me baby; what's the matter with you?"
Lex laughed, "I'm not quite so charismatic as you."
"Bull. You just need a little more confidence and a little less thought."
"I sweat confidence."
"No, real confidence, not the veneer. Just pretend you're in bed all the time that people aren't watching."
"Is that all?'
"That's all." He kissed him gently.
The biggest headline of the campaign was that it was a big headline. He was the most popular Independent candidate in history. When Lex picked Pete as his running mate it was in the news along with the Democratic and Republican choices for vice President. It went on and on. Until eventually it came down to nitpicking.
What will Lex Luthor do with terrorism? The response to that shocked the country, "There is no such thing as terrorism. It is a term people with power use for violent actions of a less powerful opposition. The violent actions come because those people feel unheard." So you'll be negotiating with terrorists? The question had made him smirk. "I will do whatever is best for America, its international relations, and what we can do to present ourselves to the world and humanity. Which means, yes, I will do what I can to come to an understanding with people who have a problem with our country. That is not to say I will give in to demands but I will instead work to forge new connections."
You've said you're upping taxes. "No, we aren't lowering taxes. We have a huge national deficit. The plan is to stop tax cuts for the rich and stimulus checks for them. Do you know what I do with my stimulus check? I put it directly into my saving account. That's what rich people do. Give it to middle class, lower middle class, working class, people in poverty and they are going to go out and spent it. So rebates and stimulus checks are going to go way up. If you make over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year you aren't going to be seeing lower taxes or big rebates. But we're going to strengthen the dollar and get the country out of debt. And when that happens everyone will be richer."
The questions continued with Lex's strong opinions and, shockingly, people liked it. People paid attention, not just for the entertainment value. Lex wasn't going to be spending much time at the White House, he would be out and about, always contactable but not actually at the White House. He announced, "I think it's time for a Field President." He wasn't going to step down as the head of LLC, he was going to get cheap health care for the public, he was going to whip things into shape. He would not get paid for being President; he was the richest man in America. The public liked it. Sick of pandering and middle of the road ideas, they enjoyed Lex's honesty.
It didn't shock Clark at all when it was time to break the champagne out. He opened the bottle gingerly and poured the glasses. "Congratulations, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. I knew you'd win." He toasted them. "Should I pour one for Lana?" Lana was asleep with her head in Pete's lap, the boys were asleep upstairs. They'd sat up all night watching the running count in the living room with the doors open to the ocean.
Pete smiled down at his wife, "No, let her sleep. We'll still have won in the morning." He looked at his watch, "She'll be awake in three hours." He yawned widely.
"Need help getting upstairs?" asked Clark.
"Nah, we're good," Pete scooped her up lightly.
"Ya win?" she asked still very much asleep.
Just as he was about to answer she snored. To his friends he said, "When did we get old?"
Clark and Lex still looked like they were in their early thirties, still had the energy too. But Clark said, "Man, we're almost fifty, it's four-thirty in the morning, it's been an anxious few weeks, and the boys were up at six chanting 'Election day, erection day'." He laughed, "Rhyming words with bodily functions is funny when you're in high school." Thinking he laughed again, "Actually erection is still a funny word."
Pete chuckled, "Yeah, well, goodnight."
"We're in the White House."
"Yeah," Pete grinned widely. "We really are."
Once he was up the stairs Clark turned to Lex, "You're the President."
"Are you as wired as I am?" replied Lex. "I have no idea how Pete went to bed."
"We'll he's actually in his mid forties, Lex. We're not. Wanna go for a swim?" Lex nodded and whistled to Ignatius.
They walked down the beach stripping and Lex said, "I'm the President."
"You're the First Gentleman."
"Ignatius is the First Pet."
"And Mom's the Queen Mother."
Lex laughed as he waded into the ocean. "We have to move to Washington, we need to be there. And do you know what that means?" Clark shook his head. "There's no way it's going to be warm enough to skinny dip in November."
"We're not going to have a private beach either."
"There's a swimming pool but there's tons of security cameras."
"Awkward," agreed Clark. "Do we have to go to Camp David for vacations?"
"Hell no," Lex shook his head. "It's in the mountains and you can't ski. Where's the sense in that? We want to go someplace cold we'll go to the Fortress."
Clark floated on his back looking up at the sky. The moon was bright. "It's nice out here tonight. It's quiet, too late for crickets I suppose."
"I'm the President. I can't get over that."
"I knew you would be. But it is really exciting… I think this is the first time media coverage has actually helped us… ever."
Lex laughed as they drifted into the sea.
The End… Completely.