The first time Lex kisses Clark, it's a mistake. A moment of weakness. Clark was moving farther and farther away, and Lex nearly died again, and he was desperate and flailing and only wanted Clark to be close again, like he used to be. So he kissed him, trying to tell Clark all the things he feels and wants.

Of course, something always gets lost in translation. Clark jerks back at the first brush of lips, eyes wide and confused, and then he's gone in the way that only Clark can be, leaving Lex shivering and alone, crumbling like dead butterflies' wings.

Lex moves back to Metropolis. It's the only thing he can do: he needs to get away from Clark, who's bad for him, and Clark needs to get away from Lex, who's bad for him. Besides, it's a small town; it won't even be a day before word gets around that Lex Luthor's up to his old tricks, trying to seduce and corrupt innocent small town farmboys. Lex makes the phone calls, even though it's the middle of the night, and by morning he's safely ensconced in Metropolis again. His father, at least, is glad to see him.

But for the first time in his life, Lex's highly compartmentalized mind fails him. He relegates Smallville to the past and throws himself into work. He writes up business plans, drafts memos, reviews reports. But at the end of the day, when he returns to his penthouse apartment, all he sees is the places where Clark should be.

When the first Friday night back in Metropolis rolls around, Lex doesn't feel like going out. So he goes out anyway, because if all he can think about is Clark then that's all the more reason to remember what life was before Smallville. But he's bored well before midnight; all the people are the same as they were three years ago. Only the drugs are different now.

Clark is waiting for Lex when he gets home.

Lex's first thought is that those drugs must be good, considering he didn't even take any. Then Clark's eyes widen as he takes Lex in, tight leather pants and body-hugging t-shirt and leather jacket, and Lex realizes that he's not hallucinating.

"What're you doing here?" Lex asks.

Clark seems to shrink, his shoulders hunching, his large frame folding into itself. "You--you said I was welcome here. Anytime."

He did say that. He forgot to revoke Clark's security privileges. Or maybe he didn't forget. Lex rarely forgets anything.

"All right," Lex says, bumping past Clark and heading for the bar. "Sit down. Make yourself at home. Anything to drink?"

"I'm fine." Clark doesn't sit, either. He's nervous, big hands clenching and unclenching.

Lex pours himself two fingers of scotch, then pauses and adds another. "So, what can I do for you?"

Clark takes a few moments to gather his thoughts, opening and closing his mouth a few times, swallowing and licking his lips, before finally saying, "We need to talk."

"Sure. We can talk."

Clark is still obviously nervous. He fidgets, looks anywhere but at Lex. It's cruel, maybe, to put Clark in charge of the conversation like this. But Lex isn't a kind person, so he stays behind the bar and sips his drink.

Finally, Clark blurts out, "Why did you leave?"

"I think you know," Lex says quietly.

Clark swallows. "You kissed me," he says, and the words are very nearly only air.

Lex doesn't say anything. He knows better than most the power of silence, how it has the ability to make people speak. Clark doesn't disappoint him; he fists his hands and looks Lex straight in the eye to say, "I want you to kiss me again." Lex almost slams his glass against the countertop, ice cubes rattling. He wasn't expecting that.

The silence has turned on him. It grows and looms and fills the room, breathless and waiting. Clark crosses the space that seperates them with four long strides, leans across the bar, and kisses him.

Lex's mind goes flat and blank. This is Clark, and his lips are soft and warm, the way Lex hasn't let himself remember. He's not inexperienced, but he has the kind of confident hesitancy that comes from the fear of rejection, and that's what makes Lex kiss him back. Lex feels like he might shake himself to pieces. When Clark breaks the kiss, he has this look on his face like he knows, like he's been hoping.

"I--" Clark begins, but Lex puts his fingertips on Clark's lips.

"Don't," Lex says. "Not tonight."

They don't touch at all on the way to the bedroom, but once the door is closed all bets are off. They undress each other slowly, savoring the slow reveal of skin, and when they move to the bed it's like the movement of the tide, slow and fast and inevitable. Then they just kiss and kiss and kiss, Clark's thumbs brushing over Lex's nipples, Lex's fingers curled gently in Clark's hair, their mouths meeting over and over again.

Lex has other plans for this night, though, and he breaks the kiss to slide down Clark's chest, brushing his fingers in repeated strokes down Clark's chest. He never thought he'd be able to have this, be able to touch like this. Clark's breath trembles when Lex reaches the thatch of hair at the V of his legs, and Lex just stays there, breathing, holding this moment in his mind. Clark makes a needy, desperate sound, and Lex closes one hand around Clark's shaft and sucks him in with his mouth.

Clark almost whines, and his hips buck up desperately. Lex is ready for it, and he closes his eyes so that it can just be this, Clark's cock in his mouth, Clark warm in his hand. He does everything he knows how to do, goes down on Clark all the way, until his nose is almost mashed into Clark's hair, then up again to trace the head with his thumb, fondling Clark's balls all the while. Clark makes hardly any sound, probably from an adolescence of having a bedroom not too far away from his parents', so Lex takes one wet finger and slips them down just behind Clark's balls and rubs.

That elicits a sound, all right; Clark makes a strangled cry as his hips arch up again. Lex rubs again, harder, and then Clark comes, breaths harsh and uncontrolled. He swallows, of course, because who could resist having a little bit of Clark inside?

Clark is flat on his back, hair sticking to his forehead, staring at the ceiling like he's never come before. Lex wriggles up so that he's next to Clark, head pillowed on one arm, and waits until Clark turns his head to look at him.

"I want to fuck you," Lex says quietly. It's a request, not a command, because this is probably Clark's first time and it's unrealistic to believe that Clark will acquiesce. But surprisingly, Clark nods, and even gets on his knees, gripping the headboard with his hands. It makes something hot and dark knot in Lex's stomach at first, but it makes something else in his chest unravel. If Clark isn't pure, then maybe Lex can't get him dirty.

Lube and condoms in the nightstand, of course, because this is Lex's bedroom. But it's tongue first, always tongue first. Lex likes to see them squirm, listen to them beg for more. He spreads Clark's ass with his hands and swirls his tongue around that plum-colored center while Clark, who seems to have realized that he can get away with sound here, whimpers and tightens his grip against the headboard, making it crack. Lex takes that as an invitation to dip his tongue in, thrust it in and out, and Clark's whimpers turn to moans. There's a grinding, crunching sound as the edge of the headboard turns into splinters in Clark's hands, but Lex doesn't stop. He just keeps circling his tongue round and round until Clark's turned to Jell-O, babbling nonsense about Lex and God and please.

Then he lubes up, uses one finger first. It goes in easily, Clark open and receptive from his tongue, so Lex tries a second. Clark doesn't seem to feel any pain, but that's not really a surprise considering what just happened to the headboard, so he curls his fingers and strokes them in and out, brushing against that place deep inside that makes Clark cry out and push back against Lex's hand, head bowed. Lex adds a third finger, just to see what will happen. Clark's head flies back up and he gibbers, ending with, "Now, now, now."

Lex rolls on the condom, slicks himself, but stops when his head's pressed against Clark's opening. Clark's whimpers fade to tense silence, but Lex still doesn't move. He closes his eyes instead, feels Clark's hips warm under his hands, and wonders just what he thinks he's doing.

"Lex?" Clark's voice is filled with sweat and sex and orgasms. "Lex." A hand reaches back to close over Lex's hand. "This won't change anything," Clark promises.

That's what I'm afraid of, Lex thinks, and something yawns inside him, black and bottomless. But he can't stop it, so he pushes inside all the way, slow and endless, until he's seated fully. He feels like his knees might give out, so he stops, hanging over Clark's back, eyes still closed. Clark's hand is so warm and solid and comforting. How ridiculous is that?

Clark's breathing sounds young and shocked. Lex opens his eyes, stares at the lean, golden expanse of back below him, and feels like the first explorers must have felt when they set foot upon a new, fertile land: awed, proud, and possessive. But that's backwards, really, because this isn't Lex owning Clark, it's Clark owning Lex. Clark has always owned Lex, ever since he brought Lex back to life on the riverbank.

"Are you okay?" Lex asks, more for his own benefit than anything else.

"Oh God, just go, just do it," Clark moans.

Lex does. He pulls back, then pushes in again, feeling Clark jerk and shudder every time. He feels himself fall in a little bit deeper with every thrust, lose a little more of himself. When Clark detaches one hand from the headboard to stroke himself, that just makes it worse; Lex moans and lets his hips do what they want, pumping and thrusting faster and wilder. Coming is like dying and being brought back to life all over again, like opening his eyes and seeing Clark above him.

Feeling liquid and lost, Lex curls his arms around Clark's ribs and guides thme both gently down on their sides. Clark is still hard, still jacking himself, so Lex wraps his hand around Clark's to help it along. That's all it takes; Clark comes with a bitten-off exclamation, nearly smacks Lex in the chin when he throws his head back. Lex keeps his hand there even when Clark is done shuddering, come cooling on his fingers.

Lex wants this to change things. He wants it so badly that he might die, alone here in Metropolis without Clark. But it's childish and needy to ask, and Clark doesn't want it, so instead he just concentrates on breathing, on Clark so warm and sated here in his arms. He closes his eyes and thinks he might never see anything but Clark's back.

"Lex." Lex pretends not to hear him. "I love you," Clark says quietly, almost sadly.

Lex stops breathing. His first, instinctive reaction is fear. People don't love Lex Luthor, and when they say they do they're either lying or going to die. He doesn't want Clark to do either, so it's important that Clark doesn't say it. But Clark rolls to face him, and Lex can't think except to get away from this. So he does, not even bothering to pull on clothes, just flees with very even, measured steps.

Clark is there, in front of Lex, before he can even leave the room.

"You can't keep running away," Clark tells him.

"You did," Lex retorts.

Clark's face regrets, and his eyes slide away and down. "I'm sorry." When Lex doesn't say anything he goes on, "I was scared."

"Of what?" Lex thinks of the pain that Clark doesn't feel, the headboard with star-shaped indentations from Clark's hands. There's nothing in the world that Clark should be afraid of. "You said this didn't change anything."

Clark meets Lex's eyes, and Lex realizes that his definition of "this" is very different from Clark's definition of "this." That hard, cold knot of fear in his chest starts to loosen, and when Clark reaches out and touches Lex's arm, so gently, the warmth spreads from that one point of contact until Lex feels like he's ready to go back to bed and curl up there with Clark forever.

"Will you come back?" Clark asks, cupping Lex's elbows.

Lex closes his eyes and kisses Clark, and this time nothing gets lost in translation.