Pairing(s)/Character(s): Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent, Lex Luthor/Clark Kent, implied past Oliver Queen/Clark Kent
Disclaimer: I do not own Superman or Batman or any recognizable fictions, and I do not make any money from these works.
Summary: Bruce wants something else, so he breaks off his sexual relationship with Clark. Lex Luthor has all the money and power in the world, but he wants something else, too – and now that Clark is finally available, he seizes his chance to grab it. But what does Clark really want?
"I want something else," Bruce said almost conversationally one night after pulling out and rolling off Clark.
"Something…else?" Clark asked, just beginning to emerge from the hazy afterglow.
"This relationship isn't what I need Clark. I asked Selina to marry me, and she said yes," Bruce informed him calmly, as if they hadn't just had spectacular sex.
"You…asked Selina to marry you?" Clark asked blankly.
Was Bruce being deliberately cruel? He knew how Clark felt - that Clark was in love with him. He should, anyway - Clark told him often enough.
"Do keep up," Bruce chided, almost gently. "Selina and I are engaged, so we can't do this anymore."
"That's it? Just like that?" Clark asked.
He shouldn't have bothered; he already knew the answer.
"Just like that," Bruce confirmed. And then he got up, got dressed, and left the room.
And that was that.
Clark knew better than to fight Bruce on this. From the moment their relationship had started he had been resigned to its ending. He had devoted himself to enjoying what little time Bruce deigned to give him.
And now it was over.
Because Bruce had asked Selina to marry him.
And once Bruce made a decision - once his will was resolved - there was no changing his mind.
Bruce had asked Selina to marry him, so therefore they would get married. And Clark was left cold and alone on semen-stained hotel sheets.
Rather than wallow in the scent of the last sex they would ever have together, Clark followed Bruce's example and left.
"Kent," Perry called across the news room, "Luthor wants you for an exclusive interview. He said that you should meet him at his office at one o'clock."
Clark sighed, wondering what Lex really wanted. He would not have specifically requested Clark for no reason. They rarely interacted anymore, in either of Clark's guises. Lex and his friendship had ended years ago, and Lex had recently seemed to stop all illegal or borderline-illegal activity within his company. That had greatly reduced Superman's interaction with the billionaire, and the last time they had seen each other was at a charity gala to raise money for children's cancer research.
"Sure, Chief," Clark responded, looking at his watch. It was almost noon, so he would go to lunch and then head over to see Lex for the interview.
After a quick lunch at the diner down the street from the Planet, Clark headed over to LexCorp Towers. The guard at the front door immediately let him in upon sight.
Clark blinked, shocked at the low security.
"Don't you need to see my ID or something?" he prompted the guard.
"N-no," the guard stuttered nervously. "You're Clark Kent. Mr. Luthor has standing orders to let you into the building immediately, no questions asked."
Clark nodded like that made sense, somehow managing to conceal his shock. Has Lex recently reinstated that order, or had it been like that since the days of their old friendship? Had Lex really never locked Clark out of his life the way that Clark imagined he had?
Clark bid good day to the guard and headed towards the elevator. Lex's office was on the very top floor.
A man standing near the elevator greeted him.
"Mr. Kent! It's so nice to finally meet the man who has such unrestricted access to Mr. Luthor's life!" the man said, as if Clark had any idea what he was talking about. "Mr. Luthor instructed me to show you to his private elevator."
And that's just what the man did, without ever introducing himself or providing further explanation.
So Clark took the ride up to Lex's office in Lex's express, personal elevator. And when he exited, he was immediately greeted by Lex's secretary Hope. She was not quite as enthusiastic as the others, but she did smile at him and show him into Lex's office immediately.
All he got was an "Mr. Luthor's been expecting you."
And he was fifteen minutes early. He had accounted for security clearance and corporate elevators after all, not being treated like he was Lex himself.
So when he entered Lex's office, he wasn't sure what he would find. Did Lex have amnesia and forget their past years of distrust and discord? Was he being held under mind control? Did he need something only Clark could give him?
"Clark," Lex greeted evenly as he stood from his executive chair to show Clark his own seat. "It's…been a while."
Clark was almost as shocked by Lex's lack of enthusiasm as he was by his former friend's employees' abundance of it. He had a lot of crazy scenarios in his head about how Lex would act.
It wasn't like this.
But Clark managed to recover his surprise.
"Yes. I was actually pretty surprised that you called Perry for an exclusive interview and specifically asked for me," Clark admitted.
"I've been doing a lot of thinking lately," Lex admitted himself, seemingly changing the subject. "About what I want out of life, what I need. I have money and power, more than even my father could have dreamed of. But every potential love interest I've had since my days in Smallville has tried to kill me."
Clark wasn't sure how to react to that.
"Maybe you're just looking in the wrong places…?" Clark trailed off uncertainly.
Had Lex called him here for advice on his love life? Considering Clark's last "relationship" had consisted of him being Bruce Wayne aka the Batman's dirty little secret, that was probably a monumental mistake on Lex's part.
"I was," Lex acknowledge, looking intensely into Clark's eyes. "But I had an epiphany a few months ago, after my father died and my latest girlfriend tried to kill me."
"An epiphany?" Clark asked.
"I have more power and money than one man should ever have, but I'm still not happy. I haven't been happy since Smallville," Lex informed him quietly, seriously.
"I'm sorry," was all Clark could think to say.
"No, I'm sorry, Clark. I pushed for your secrets when I had no right. Now, looking back, knowing you're Superman, you had very good reason to hide. You must have been so scared as a teenager, just coming into your abilities, afraid of being seized by the government or some lab and dissected like an animal. And I just…I pushed. And I shouldn't have. And I'm sorry," Lex babbled nervously, obviously having to get everything out before he lost his nerve.
"Oh, wow," Clark responded, feeling like someone had just punched him in the stomach with Kryponite knuckles. "I always suspected that you knew, but…"
"I promise you that I'll never use it against you, Clark. I removed all surveillance equipment from my office, just for this meeting. I don't want you to feel like you have to censor yourself," Lex told him earnestly.
"And in return, you want my friendship?" Clark asked, shakily.
Lex closed his eyes as if Clark's words were daggers.
"No, if you decide you don't want anything to do with me, my promise to keep your secret still stands," Lex assured him. "But I…I can't imagine a world without you in it, Clark. If you ever died, if I was anyway involved with causing your death…I'd have to follow you, Clark. Because I want so much more than your friendship."
Clark stared at Alexander Joseph Luthor with wide eyes as his former best friend knelt down on one knee.
"I want everything," Lex admitted as he pulled a small box out of his suit pocket. "Will you give me everything, Clark? Let me give you everything? Marry me, please, and make me the happiest man in the world."
Clark managed to supress his hysterical laughter at Lex using such a cliché line to propose.
"Kansas doesn't even permit gay marriage," Clark managed to say, inanely. He was too shocked for any other response.
"We don't have to get married right away," Lex assured him, as he opened the jewelry box to reveal a simple white gold band. "This can be just a promise ring, if that's what you want. Until you're ready, until I manage to get Kansas to amend the statutes forbidding gay marriage. Or if you do want to get married right away, I can have my private jet fueled up and running and ready to take us anyplace in the world you want to go in minutes. And I know that you can get us there faster."
"You really want to marry me?" Clark asked him, starting to come to terms with the situation.
"More than anything," Lex swore, bringing the ring closer to Clark.
"And…and you promise not to use Superman against me?" Clark asked.
"I promise," Lex assured, something like hope blooming in his eyes.
"And…all the changes in LexCorp in the past months? Have they been because…because you didn't want those illegal experiments to come between us?" Clark asked, his quick mind starting to resume its normal pace.
"Yes. I…I knew that anything in my business that was less than ethical would give you more reason to refuse me. I'm willing to change for you, Clark," Lex was almost pleading, still on his knees, still with that ring held out in supplication. "Are you willing to let me?"
That, Clark could answer.
"Of course I'm willing to let you change," Clark told him, looking at the ring once more before glancing into Lex's eyes. "But it has to be what you want, not what you think I want."
"I want you to be happy. Happy because of me, happy with me. And I won't let anything, not even myself, stand in the way of that," Lex swore.
And Clark melted under those earnest eyes and beautiful words.
"It is a very beautiful ring," Clark acknowledged, as he removed it from its box. He snapped the box closed, placing it on Lex's desk.
"I…" Lex was looking at him as if he was the only thing important in his world.
"And I would very much like a symbol of your promises to me, Lex," Clark admitted, handing Lex the ring back.
Lex's face crumbled for just a second when Clark placed the ring in his hand, before Clark put him out of his misery.
"Aren't you going to put it on me?" he asked with a smile.
And Lex's answering smile shone like the sun as he slipped the ring onto Clark's finger.
"We still have a lot to talk about," Clark informed Lex.
"I know," Lex responded, staring possessively at his ring on his Clark's finger.
"If…when we get married," Clark paused just to see that smile bloom across Lex's face again, "I want it to be in Kansas. Legally. For us and all other same-sex couples other there."
"I'm already working on it," Lex replied.
Clark smiled in response.
"And even though you have a ring on my finger, I want to take things slow," Clark told him. "We haven't been friends in years, and we have to take the time to get to know each other. I'm taking this ring as a promise of more than marriage; I want a real, loving relationship. Something without secrets and shadows and based on more than just sex."
"Bruce really did a number on you, huh?" Lex gently whispered, guiding Clark over to the leather couch in the corner of his office.
"You…know? About Bruce and I?" Clark asked, once again shocked.
"He's not as clever as he thinks he is, Clark," Lex replied, a dark look in his eye. "I know a lot more about his nocturnal activities than he would ever want anyone to know."
"But…you never used it against him?" Clark asked.
"Just like I never used your 'secret identity' against you, Clark. For the same reason," Lex confirmed.
"You and Bruce…" Clark whispered, wondering if he was just a replacement for the Dark Knight, if maybe what Lex really wanted was Bruce Wayne. After all, they had so much more in common than…
"Of course not," Lex denied, seemingly aghast that Clark would even think…
"Then…" Clark trailed off, confused and not understanding Lex's motivations.
"You, Clark," Lex told his fiancee. "It's always been you. I didn't use your secret identity against you because I didn't want to hurt you. I didn't use Bruce's secret identity against him because you care about him, Lord knows why, and I didn't want to hurt you. Since that day I hit you on Loeb's Bridge and woke up to find a fallen angel had stolen me from heaven, my world has revolved around you. You are my sun, my everything. Your friendship made me happy, your secrets and lies made me angry. Doing bad things was a way to gain Superman's attention, your attention. But I don't want that kind of attention anymore, Clark - not because I did something wrong."
"You want everything," Clark said with a smile. "And if we play our cards right, we might just get it."
"And Bruce?" Lex asked.
"He's marrying Selina," Clark told him.
"I know. That's why I made my move now. I figured I had to act before someone else managed to whisk you away," Lex said as he removed Clark's glasses. He cupped Clark's face with both hands, looking into the eyes of the being he loved more than life itself.
It had taken him too long to realize that.
"Bruce hardly whisked me anywhere," Clark said with a roll of his eyes. "And it's not like there's a line or anything. Besides, as far as anyone else knows, there's been no change in my availability. Nobody knew about me and Bruce except for me and Bruce, and maybe Alfred, or so I thought. He always made me meet him in nondescript hotels and he always used a pseudonym when checking in. He didn't want anyone to know."
"Well, his mistake, my gain," Lex said smugly. "Can I kiss you now?"
"We haven't even had our first date yet," Clark replied with a frown. "You agreed that we would take this slow."
"Can't blame a man for trying," Lex said. "Was there anything else you wanted to talk about, or can I take your on our first date so I can initiate our first kiss?"
"You're not going to try to steal one?" Clark asked, almost in disbelief that Lex was willing to go through the whole dating thing without even one complaint before Clark would kiss him.
"I'm through with stealing, remember?" Lex said with a laugh. "Besides, it will be much sweeter with your permission and participation. I don't want to do anything you don't want to do. I don't want you to feel like you're my dirty little secret. I don't want to be Bruce; I want the whole world to know that Lex Luthor is the luckiest man alive because Clark Kent promises to marry him one day. Because of love."
Clark took off from the Planet and his other duties for the rest of the day. He wanted to spend some time with Lex.
After an afternoon of talking in Lex's penthouse (which was probably the fanciest and most expensive in the city), Lex took him to a boutique (which Clark suspected was the fanciest and most expensive in the city) before their dinner at what Clark knew was the fanciest, most expensive restaurant in the city.
The one time Clark tried to protest, Lex had simply said, "I have all this money; let me spend it on someone important to me for once. Beside, once we get married, everything that's mine will be yours, too."
Who was Clark to argue with that?
So he ignored the woman at the boutique who stared at them both as she took Clark's measurements and Lex bought him a suit that probably would have cost Clark a few months' worth of salary, because it was worth it to see the smile on Lex's face when he saw him in it.
And he let Lex buy him that lavender tie, and he wore it to dinner, because he knew it was Lex's favorite color and Lex got a thrill out of him wearing it.
And if he sometimes thought of Bruce, and his dark eyes, and the way he moved, and…well, that was best put out of his mind. Bruce was lost to him, and Lex was there. He had a history with Lex, and Lex loved him desperately.
And if Clark loved him back enough, maybe he could finally save the man he once thought of as his best friend from himself.
Not that Lex had ever done anything that could be pinned down. Some covered-up illegal experiments here, a few mysterious disappearance there, a lot of open disapprovement of Superman everywhere. But Lex promised to turn over a new leaf. To be truly good.
And in return, all he wanted was for Clark to love him.
And Clark, who so desperately wanted Lex to be good, and who so desperately wanted to be loved, could not possibly refuse him.
"Clark?" Lex whispered in his ear as the limo pulled up to the restaurant. "We're here."
Clark, pulled out of his thoughts, blinked and smiled sheepishly.
"Sorry, my mind wandered a bit," Clark admitted.
"What were you thinking about?" Lex asked curiously.
Clark blushed and simply said "Us."
It was the truth after all, and it was worth it to see the smile bloom on Lex's face.
Dinner was excellent. Lex and Clark talked and laughed and caught up on old times. Lex was happy to find that Mr. and Mrs. Kent were well, and Clark offered his condolences for Lionel's death.
"I did love him, you know," Lex said, when the topic came up.
"I know," Clark agreed. But he had been witness to enough of their relationship in Smallville to know that while Lex may have loved his father, he certainly didn't want to.
"But, in some ways, I'm glad that he died. His death put a lot of things in perspective for me, and it freed me of his expectations. It freed me to change, to try to become a man that you can both love and be with. I'm sorry if that makes me a terrible person," Lex admitted with a sigh.
"It doesn't," Clark disagreed. "It makes you human. He treated you…well, I guess I don't have to tell you how he treated you, do I? And if you learned from his mistakes, all the better. The way you feel can never make you a bad person, Lex. You can't control that. It's the way you act that counts."
"What a way with words you have, Mr. Kent. No wonder you're on my payroll," Clark started at Bruce's words, surprised that the man could sneak up on him even in their civilian disguises.
"Mr. Wayne," Clark managed to greet the owner of the Daily Planet and his former lover. "I'm sure you know Lex Luthor? Lex, this is Bruce Wayne, the owner of the Daily Planet."
Clark thought he saw some surprise in Bruce's eyes that Clark managed to make them seem like such bare acquaintances, as though the playboy would stop at a table in the nicest restaurant in Metropolis to greet any one of the Planet's reporters.
"Of course we know each other, Clark," Lex smile was almost blinding at Clark's nonreaction when faced with Bruce. Before Lex turned towards Bruce with a level stare, he reached across the romantic, candelit table to clasp Clark's hand.
The hand bearing Lex's ring.
The ring that Bruce, of course, noticed.
"Hello, Bruce. It's been a while. In Metropolis for business?" Lex asked casually.
"I…Clark?" Bruce's masked slipped. "What…are you…are you together?"
"Clark agreed to marry me this afternoon. We've agreed to a long engagement, of course, and he made me promise that I'd get same-sex marriages legalized in Kansas before he'd meet me at the altar," Lex said almost conversationally, but the look he leveled at Bruce was challenging.
Bruce, in turn, looked like he had been slapped.
"I thought Clark was just interviewing you," was all he managed to say through the pain and shock.
"At the most expensive restaurant in the city? Hardly. Not even the Planet would consider that an appropriate expense. I would think you should know that, consider you own it," Lex shot back.
"Lex," Clark said warningly, squeezing his fiancee's hand over the table.
"Of course, Clark, you're right," Lex agreed. "I'm being rude. You should sit with us, Bruce. There's no need for you to hover. We'll make conversation as we dine."
"Maybe another time, gentlemen," Bruce said charmingly, finally picking up his façade of rich playboy. "Have a nice dinner."
And with that, Bruce walked past their table and exited the restaurant.
"That…went well," Clark said hesitantly.
"He still wants you," Lex countered darkly.
"That's ridiculous, Lex. He broke off all relations after Selina accepted his proposal. We're barely even friends now," Clark assured him.
"He still wants you," Lex repeated.
Clark sighed, privately agreeing with Lex. The way Bruce still looked at him, but…
"Even if he does, it's only about sex. And I'm done being anyone's dirty little secret. As I told you before, I want a real relationship," Clark assured Lex, looking into those stormy gray eyes.
"He's going to make another pass at you," Lex warned him menacingly.
Clark was afraid that he was going to order a hit.
Or at least that Bruce be kidnapped and neutered so he would have no reason to come anywhere near Clark.
"He won't. He has Selina. But even if he did, I'd shoot him down," Clark promised.
That seemed to soothe Lex, and the conversation shifted to more pleasant topics once more.
The rest of the evening passed smoothly, and the limo stopped in front of Clark's apartment building afterwards.
"Um…do you want to come up – for coffee or something?" Clark asked awkwardly.
"Yes," Lex said. "But I won't."
"You…won't?" Clark repeated.
"You want to take things slowly, Clark. And I don't know if my control is strong enough to stop at just one goodbye kiss if you show me into your apartment. I don't want to push," Lex admitted.
And that confession was almost enough for Clark to throw out his resolve to take things slowly. But this relationship was going to be the most important in his life, for the rest of his life, and he wanted to do things right.
So Clark agreed that it probably wouldn't be the best idea for Lex to come into his apartment.
"So do I get to kiss you now?" Lex questioned softly and seductively as he scooted closer to Clark on the leather seat.
"You have been very good tonight," Clark whispered back coyly.
"Is that a yes?" Lex asked even as he brought his lips a breath away from Clark's.
"Yes," Clark answered, and he was the one to close the distance.
It was a soft, sweet kiss, filled with the promise of more.
The promise of a lifetime.
Lex pulled back once passion began seeping in. As much as they both wanted more, they were going to take things slow and do things right.
"I'll see you again soon?" Clark asked as he reached for the limo door.
"I'll surprise you," Lex promised.
And they shared a sly, secretive smile before Clark left the limo for his apartment.
"What the FUCK do you think you're DOING?" Bruce roared as soon as Clark closed the door behind him.
Clark sighed. He had hoped that Bruce wouldn't confront him on his relationship with Lex so soon.
"I'm entering my apartment and being accosted by a multibillionaire," Clark countered dryly.
He wanted to slip out of at least the jacket of his suit, but every piece of clothing between him and Bruce was just one more barrier- one more piece of armor to guard his fragile heart.
He was determined to never be vulnerable to Bruce again.
"Don't you dare get smart with me. What were you doing in the most expensive, most romantic restaurant in Metropolis with Lex Luthor?!" Bruce demanded.
"Um…I was having dinner," Clark answered.
"You fucking bastard. And this…what's this?!" Bruce looked like he was going to shatter as he grabbed Clark's hand. The hand that bore Lex's engagement ring.
"It's my hand," Clark answered, having fun riling Bruce up. Bruce was always so closed off and in control. Clark was usually the one emotional and inarticulate. Just like that night Bruce ended things…but, best not to think of that now.
For a second, Clark thought Bruce was going to punch him. But Bruce regained his common sense before he broke his hand on Clark's cheekbone.
"He said you agreed to MARRY him," Bruce stated, regaining a bit of his calm.
"He did," Clark affirmed.
"Did you?" Bruce growled.
"I did," Clark replied. "Why? Are you upset that I didn't ask you to be my best man? Because I don't think I'm going to have one. Our wedding probably won't be anything like traditional."
"Don't joke about this," Bruce almost pleaded. "He's a criminal. A murderer with secret labs conducting illegal experiments. On metas. On your friends."
"I do believe that's Ollie's argument," Clark countered. "And besides, this is the United States of America. Innocent until proven guilty. Lex had never been convicted of anything. And he has changed in recent months. LexCorp is practically spotless."
"Do you actually believe that?" Bruce asked. "Or are you lying to yourself as well as to me."
"I'm not lying," Clark said with a sigh. "Lex asked for me to let him change. For me. So we could be together. He proposed. And I said yes. That's all you need to know. I would appreciate it if you would remove the surveillance from my apartment and my desk at the Planet and wherever else you have it, and if you could attempt to restrain from stalking Lex."
Bruce just glared at him darkly.
"Bruce, he knew about us. Before I even thought to tell him. And he…he knows who you are," Clark admitted, trying to scare Bruce into leaving the subject alone.
But Bruce didn't scare easy.
"If he knows about me, then he also knows about you," Bruce intuited. "Is that why you're with him? Is he blackmailing you with our identities?"
"Bruce…" Clark trailed off with a sigh. "Lex has known that there is something different about me from the time I was 15. The first time Superman flew the skies of Metropolis, I'm certain he knew exactly who I was. He has never done anything with that information, not in all these years. Not even when I was investigating his secret labs, as either Clark Kent or Superman. And he has never had reason to move against you, that I know of. Don't give him one by attempting to threaten our relationship."
"So he does feel threatened by me? Did you tell him that I wasn't even your first?" Bruce questioned ruthlessly.
Clark just winced.
"I…Lex and Ollie don't really have the best past. And Ollie and I are still…somewhat friends. I don't want Lex to feel threatened or cornered at all. I will tell him about Oliver if the topic ever comes up," Clark admitted. "I would appreciate it if you would stay out of this, Bruce. He really, truly loves me. And I know I can make him happy."
"Do you love him? Can he make you happy?" Bruce asked him, piercing him with that dark stare.
"I will. He will make sure of it," Clark answered both questions with the same response.
"So you don't love him yet?" Bruce said almost breathlessly.
"I will," Clark repeated. "I'm committed to Lex and to our future relationship. Our future marriage."
"I made a mistake," Bruce said suddenly.
"I'm…sorry?" Clark responded, unsure of the turn in the conversation.
"I shouldn't have asked Selina to marry me," Bruce admitted, almost pleading.
"I think this is something you have to discuss with Selina," Clark deflected.
"I shouldn't have ended things with you," Bruce continued.
"But you did. And I'm with Lex now," Clark responded.
"I want us to be together again," Clark's former lover declared.
"You're too late, Bruce. And we never were together. I was your dirty little secret. The whore that you didn't even have to pay to let you take him in seedy hotels. I…Lex offers so much more than that. He loves me, respects me, and he wants the whole world to know that were together. He wants everything, Bruce, and I want to give it to him," Clark explained.
Bruce looked like Clark had just slapped him.
"Is that how you felt?" he whispered, sounding heartbroken. "Like my dirty little secret. Like my…whore?"
"Every time you pulled out and left me alone in any one of those nondescript rooms," Clark confirmed.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Bruce asked hesitantly.
"Because I was happy to get what little I did…Well, no. Maybe happy isn't quite the right word. I was desperate for what little you would give me. And I didn't want it to end. And you never quite seemed to care that I loved you. I knew it was going to end eventually, Bruce. Something like that can't last forever," Clark claimed.
"Do you still love me?" Bruce asked desperately.
Clark looked into Bruce's dark eyes and said "No."
The problem was, not even he was sure if he was lying or not.
And Bruce called him on it.
"You're lying," he accused.
"I'm…not sure," Clark responded. "I don't want to love you. And I want to be with Lex. That's all that matters."
"Clark…" Bruce pleaded. "I want you."
"I want something else," Clark said as he showed Bruce the door.