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Title: Penance

Author: chelle

Author's email:

Author's URL:

Fandom: Smallville

Category: Slash

Pairing: Clark/Lex

Archive: Ask first

Rating: NC-17

AN: This story is a futurefic which I started before Helen entered the show. Thank you to Kamil and jacynrebekah for the criticism. Any remaining problems, failures, inconsistences, etc. are solely my fault.

Lex was in his arms, but it was wrong, all wrong. In his imagination, Lex had clung to him with passion, not like this, not sobbing as though his world had ended. Which it had.

There hadn't been enough time to save them both. Clark had had to choose, and it hadn't been a choice, not really. He'd gotten Lex out and gone back for her, but he'd been too late. And now she was dead. Lex's wife was dead, and Lex was in a hospital corridor clinging to Clark, clinging, and trembling, and sobbing.

Clark tightened his hold, stroking his friend's back, making soothing, nonsensical sounds, and ignoring Lois's stare.

Closing his eyes, Clark shut her out, shut the sounds of respirators and heart monitors out, shut the whole damn world out, and concentrated on the friend in his arms.


Lois was all over him as soon as he stepped into the newsroom. He had known she would be.

"You didn't tell me you knew Lex Luthor." The tone of her voice kept the words from being an accusation, barely.

Clark didn't look at her, just poured his coffee and added some sugar, but no cream, the way Lex had taught him to drink it. "Yes, I did. I told you years ago that we knew each other back in Smallville."

"I thought you were casual acquaintances, not someone he'd cry all over."

Clark took a drink of his coffee and started toward his desk, knowing she'd follow. He settled into his chair and took another drink before answering. "We were friends." He glanced at the woman leaning against his desk, and then back at the cup in his hands. He really didn't want to do this, but she was his friend, and she'd never let it rest if he didn't give her at least a semblance of an answer. "Close friends. I was his best man when he married Diane." It had been a small, private ceremony, no press, just a handful of friends and family.

"You were…" Lois's mouth was open, but no sounds were coming out. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Clark shrugged. "After his marriage we drifted apart." Not precisely the truth, but close enough to count. "And I didn't think my friendships were any of your business."

Lois snorted. "Your friendship with your mail man, no, but your friendship with Lex Luthor, prominent businessman and fast rising politician, yes."

Not feeling up to an argument, Clark concentrated on his coffee.

"Are you going to the funeral?"

"Yes." He looked Lois in the eye, not wanting there to be any doubt about his words. "But I will be going as Lex Luthor's friend, not a Daily Planet reporter."


"No. You cover the funeral. I will be offering my condolences to a friend." If he'll accept them, Clark added silently.


Clark shifted in his seat, trying to focus on the words being spoken and not the memories in his head. Lex had returned from Metropolis even more energetic than usual, babbling about some scientific breakthrough and the woman who'd made it. Lex had invited her to Smallville and insisted Clark meet her. She was brilliant, simply brilliant, Lex had said. He hadn't said that she was beautiful, or that she made Lex smile in a way Clark never had.

He had wanted to hate her, had searched for the secret she was hiding, the thing she wanted from Lex—money, power, prestige. Diane hadn't wanted any of those things. She had simply wanted Lex, and Lex had wanted her. All Clark could do was watch from the sidelines and try to hide the hurt.

Clark wrenched his mind away from the memories and gazed at his old friend. Lex was sitting at the front of the church, head bowed, his infant daughter asleep on his shoulder. Eyes beginning to tear, Clark looked away.

He should have been faster.


Clark tried not to fidget while he waited to be announced. He wouldn't be surprised if Lex didn't want to see him. He'd had a long, difficult day, after all. Not to mention—

"This way, sir."

Clark nodded and followed the butler through the double doors to Lex's study. Big windows, leather-bound books, Lex putting down a decanter and tilting his head to look at Clark, some things didn't change.

"Hello, Clark."

And some things did, like the tone of Lex's voice and the half smile with which he'd always greeted Clark, now missing.

"Would you like a drink?"

Clark shook his head. "How's Emily?" Clark had been surprised by the name. He'd always thought Lex would name a daughter after his mother. "Someone had to put an end to that damn alliteration," Lex would undoubtedly have said, if Clark had called and offered his congratulations, asked about the name. He hadn't.

Lex took a long swallow from his drink before speaking. "She knows something's wrong. She keeps wanting to nurse, and a father with a bottle is a piss poor substitute for a mother with breasts." He paused. "She'll survive."

"You'll be a good parent, Lex."

"I better be. I'm all she has left."

Because of you. The accusation wasn't there, but Clark knew it was coming.

"You should have saved her."

Lex had been in his office when the explosion had happened. Diane had been in the lab several floors below with one of her assistants. If he'd gone to the labs, he could have saved two people instead of just one. Clark nodded, acknowledging the truth of the statement. "There wasn't enough time. I could only get to one of you."

"And you chose me." There was the barest hint of a pause. "Why?"

"You know why." You have to know. She knew. Chloe knew. Hell, even Clark's father knew, had tried to offer reassurance the day Lex had married Diane. "You'll get through this, son. I know it doesn't feel like it now, but it'll get easier." It hadn't been the first time his father had lied.

"You selfish prick." Lex's glass hit Clark squarely in the chest and shattered, leaving Scotch behind.

Clark stepped forward, hand outstretched, unable to do anything else. Lex looked up at him, pain and loss and need and before Clark realized it, he was stroking Lex's face and neck. His lips found Lex's mouth and Lex's arms came around him, pulling him close.

Clark tried to hold back the groan, tried to make himself let go. He failed. Lex was in his arms, stronger and more solid than any of the women Clark had held like this. A small part of his mind protested that this was wrong, that he was taking advantage of Lex's grief. He ignored it in favor of the part that was directing him to stroke his hands over Lex's back, and suck on the tongue between his lips, and press his thigh between Lex's.

It was Lex who pulled away, not just back, but away, out of Clark's arms. He stood and stared at Clark, his shirt partially untucked and his chest heaving.

Clark's heart was racing. He knew he should apologize and go, but he couldn't seem to make either his mouth or his feet work. All he could do was look.

Lex ended the moment by reaching out and taking hold of Clark's hand. Then he started toward the door, pulling Clark behind him.


Lex led him through empty hallways to a large room with a four poster bed with soft, off-white fabric draped across the top. Closing the door behind them, Lex stood perfectly still. Lex's heartbeat was steady, almost calm, and Clark was surprised he could hear it over the pounding of his own heart.

Lex turned around and with a single step they were face to face again. Lex tilted his head and their eyes met.

"Lex." The word was barely audible.

"Make me forget, Clark, just for a while."

Speechless, Clark gave the only answer he could. He lowered his mouth to Lex's.

The kiss began as a soft brushing of his lips against Lex's, but Lex pushed against him and parted his lips. It was somewhere between insistent and pleading and all Clark could do was respond. He kept the kiss slow and controlled, exploring Lex's mouth the way he'd always imagined. Except Lex tasted of grief and desperation, and that was nothing like Clark had imagined.

Lex was pressing against him, hard, and at the same time he just offered his mouth for Clark to take. Demand and surrender both, a combination that was perfectly and absolutely Lex.

Lex tightened his hold, pushing harder against Clark, demanding more.

Clark wrenched his mouth from Lex's and shook his head. "Let me, Lex. Please just let me."

Lex studied him for a long moment and then gave a single nod.

Clark breathed a sigh of relief. If Lex demanded Clark's surrender, Clark would give it to him. But it would be too much for Lex and not enough for Clark, and Clark was certain neither of them would emerge from it unscathed. He wasn't sure Lex would come out of this unscathed as it was. He knew he wouldn't.

He reached for Lex's tie and loosened the knot with a single tug. He lifted the tie over Lex's head and dropped it to the floor. Ordering his hands not to shake, he began to undo the buttons on Lex's white shirt. There was a small spot on the shoulder that he hadn't noticed before, probably from Emily. Clark shut his eyes at the reminder that this wasn't a fantasy come true. Lex wasn't really his, never would be. Forcing himself to open his eyes, he undid the next button.

Lex's shirt was untucked and completely open. He held up his wrist and Clark removed his cufflink. He could feel Lex's eyes on him, but he focused on the delicate gold as he undid the second link. Holding the jewelry in his palm, he looked for a place to put them. The flat surfaces all seemed too far away.

Lex solved the problem by taking the cufflinks from him and putting them in his pants pocket.

Clark looked from his empty hand to Lex's face. The familiar, impassive expression Lex wore too well was on his friend's face. That look had rarely been directed at Clark, at least since he'd told Lex the truth. It had no place between them, not now, not like this. Lex had to know that.

Determined to make that look go away, he pressed his lips to Lex's. His first instinct was to just push inside, to let Lex feel how much he wanted this, to make Lex feel it, but that wasn't the way past Lex's defenses. So he kept the kiss feather light, just his lips brushing Lex's again and again, until Lex moved closer, silently asking for more.

Clark captured Lex's lower lip between his own and sucked lightly for a moment before releasing it and replacing it with Lex's upper lip. He held onto that one for only a moment as well, just long enough to flick his tongue over the scar in the center. Slipping his tongue just inside Lex's mouth, he moved it slowly deeper, letting some of his own desire seep into the kiss.

Lex wrapped his arms around Clark's neck and pulled him close, molding his body to Clark's.

Clark couldn't stop the moan that rose up inside him. This was Lex, in his arms, pressing against him, hard and needy. It hurt more than Clark had ever thought it could, because he wasn't the one Lex needed. He was simply the one Lex could have. Clark could do it, offer Lex comfort and oblivion, and whatever else he needed, because Clark could deny Lex nothing. He'd told himself that the time when he'd have sold his soul for a single kiss was past. He was a man now, not a lovesick teenager. Turned out he was a man who'd give up his soul for Lex Luthor. Or to Lex Luthor.

Clark broke the kiss and pulled away enough to get his hands between them and onto Lex's shirt. Glancing at Clark's hands, Lex dropped his arms to his sides and Clark pushed the shirt from Lex's shoulders.

He sucked in a breath. Lex looked much the same as he had the last time Clark had seen his bare chest. They'd been swimming and Clark had taken every opportunity to look, to memorize as much as he could of Lex. Lex's nipples had been hard then too, and Clark's fingers had itched to touch them.

He lifted a hand and touched. Lex's nipples were firm beneath his fingers and he wanted to taste, to flick his tongue across them, and finally learn if they were as sensitive in reality as they were in his imagination. But he didn't. Instead, he dropped his hand to Lex's belt and fumbled it open.

A little more fumbling and he had Lex's pants undone. Resisting the urge to simply shove his hand inside and wrap it around Lex, Clark squatted and removed Lex's shoes and socks. Then he took Lex's pants and briefs in hand and lowered them to the ground. Lex stepped carefully out of them, and Clark sucked in a breath before slowly lifting his eyes.

Long and lean, his pale skin sparking ridiculous comparisons to marble statues, Lex was everything Clark had imagined.

Standing, Clark rested a hand on the side of Lex's neck and gazed into pale blue eyes. You're beautiful. I've wanted you for so long. I love you. The words swirled through Clark's mind, looking for a way out. Desperate to keep them inside, he kissed Lex again.

Lex responded hungrily, his hands tugging at Clark's shirt. He pulled it free of Clark's pants and slid his hands under it.

Drawing back from the kiss, Clark peeled off his jacket and removed his tie. Quickly undoing the top two buttons on his shirt, he pulled it over his head.

Lex immediately stroked his hands over Clark's chest and shoulders. Clark closed his eyes, savoring the sensation of Lex touching him. More tentative than Clark had imagined, which only made it more real.

Warm air and Clark's eyes shot open just in time to see Lex's mouth close over his nipple. Clark cupped the back of Lex's head with his hand, urging him to continue. Lex continued, firm, steady suction and a warm, wet tongue and Clark had to close his eyes once more.

He opened them when Lex lowered his zipper. Before he could react, Lex's lips were on his. Clark groaned into the kiss, gasping when Lex's hand brushed his erection.

Needing to regain control, Clark stepped back slightly and kicked off his shoes. He stripped off his pants. A moment later Lex was in his arms and they were pressed together, skin to skin. Deep kisses and seeking hands and if Clark possessed an ounce of control he couldn't find it.

He whimpered in protest when Lex slipped from his arms. But Lex lay back on the bed and when he reached for Clark, Clark followed him down.

More kisses and Clark no longer cared why they were doing this. All that mattered was that they were. Lex was warm and smooth and responsive, arching into Clark's touch, sliding his thigh between Clark's, caressing Clark with gentle, eager hands.

Clark was trailing kisses along Lex's neck when Lex took his hand and placed it between Lex's legs.

Startled, Clark lifted his head, looked into pale blue eyes, and understood. Not like Diane. Lex needed this to be not like her. Clark pressed another kiss to Lex's lips while brushing a finger over wrinkled skin. Then he shifted backwards, brushing his chest against Lex's as he knelt between his friend's legs.

Leaning forward, he almost took Lex's cock in his mouth. He'd wanted to taste Lex for so long, wanted to make Lex lose his precious control and thrust into his mouth, while Lex's hands tightened convulsively in his hair. He could do it. Looking at Lex, naked and open in front of him, Clark knew he could do it. But it wasn't what Lex had asked of him, so Clark shifted his attention lower.

His nose pushed against Lex's balls as Clark settled into position. Clark almost couldn't believe that it was really happening, that he was bent over between Lex's legs, smelling Lex, seeing Lex. He reached out with his tongue, brushing it lightly over Lex's opening. Tasting Lex. He did it again, and Lex cried out. Clark licked him again and again, teasing and caressing. A part of his mind wondered if he should count, see how many licks it took to get to the center of Lex Luthor.

Lex was making incoherent, unclassifiable sounds, and every one of them went straight to Clark's cock. He started slipping the tip of his tongue just inside, a little further with each lick. Unable to hold back any longer, he pushed in as far as he could go. The sounds stopped. Lex shuddered. Clark froze. Lex was shuddering. Lex. In his hands. Shuddering. From Clark's caresses.

Clark withdrew his tongue and then gently pushed it back inside.

Lex grabbed his hair and used it to pull Clark from between his legs. Clark went willingly, stretching himself out on top of Lex and giving himself up to Lex's hungry, needful kisses. Lex drew away and reached for the drawer in the nightstand. He couldn't quite reach it, and Clark rolled to the side, freeing Lex up to open the drawer.

Lex handed him a condom and a bottle of lube. Clark accepted them, refusing to speculate about Diane and Lex's sex life.

Opening the small packet, Clark rolled the condom onto his cock. Lex started to turn onto his stomach, but Clark cupped Lex's shoulder and shook his head.

Lex studied him for a long moment before settling onto his back with his legs spread.

Clark stared at him, not sure where the ache began or where it ended. Taking a deep breath, he moved until he was kneeling between Lex's thighs. He stroked Lex's thigh with one hand and Lex's cock with the other. Leaning forward, he pressed his lips to the head. He had to taste. This was the only chance he was ever going to get and he had to taste.

Lex's cock was smooth beneath his lips and Clark swirled his tongue over the tip. He closed his eyes. This was Lex. He was tasting Lex, feeling Lex. Firmly controlling the part of him that wanted to simply swallow Lex whole, Clark opened his eyes and sat back on his heels.

Lex's eyes were closed and Clark was grateful for that as he covered his fingers with the lube. Maybe he should have let Lex get on his hands and knees. Then he wouldn't have to see Lex's pain. It was too late now and Clark pressed his fingers to Lex's opening. He pushed carefully inside and turned his fingers, coating Lex with the lube. He didn't want this to hurt, although he suspected Lex might.

Clark eased his fingers as deeply inside as he could get them and Lex responded by pulling his legs back. He moved his fingers slowly in and out until Lex reached down and took hold of his hand. Their eyes locked as Lex pulled Clark's fingers from inside him. Loss and pain in his eyes, and Lex was silently pleading for Clark to make it stop. It was more than Clark could bear and he looked away.

Picking up the lube, he hastily coated his cock. Then he stretched out over Lex, resting his weight on one hand and positioning his cock with the other.

Lex placed a hand on Clark's cheek and turned his face so that he was once again looking into Lex's eyes. Wondering if this was Lex's idea of punishment, Clark pushed forward.

Lex's muscles tightened in resistance.

Leaning down, Clark kissed Lex tenderly, inviting him to join Clark in pleasure. After a moment, Lex responded. As the kiss deepened, Lex relaxed and Clark slid slowly deeper.

Lex stroked Clark's back and tilted his pelvis, letting Clark all the way in. Overwhelmed, Clark went completely still. Lex. He was inside Lex. It was Lex's warmth surrounding him. Lex's hands caressing him. Lex filling his senses, and all Clark could feel was how much he loved this man. And it hurt, more than when Lex had married Diane, more than Kryptonite, more than anything.

Clark pulled back a little and then eased forward again. It wasn't much of a thrust, but it was the best he could do when his heart was screaming for him to stay inside Lex, to never move. He tried again, a little more motion this time, and then again. A few more tries and instinct took over. He was moving in and out of Lex with an easy, steady rhythm.

Lex was staring up at him, the mouth that had sparked a thousand fantasies slightly open. He was beautiful.

Clark closed his eyes, but the tears formed anyway. Reaching between them, he took hold of Lex's cock and began to stroke. Lex gasped and his hands tightened on Clark's shoulders. Clark slowed his thrusts, synchronizing the motions of his cock and hand. He could give Lex pleasure. He had to. He lost track of time, of everything but Lex. Lex shuddered and gasped and moved with Clark, the motion instinctive and unstoppable.

Far too soon, Lex went still in his arms and then began to tremble with release. Clark gathered him close and just held on, his own orgasm almost an afterthought.


Neither of them said a word as Clark withdrew from Lex and removed the used condom, tossing it into a small waste can near the bed. Clark was grateful when Lex shifted into his arms, resting his head on Clark's shoulder. Clark closed his eyes and tried to pretend that everything was the way he'd always wanted it to be. Unfortunately, self-deception had never been his strong suit.

"I should thank you."

The words were a shock. Clark couldn't imagine anything Lex should thank him for, least of all this.

"If it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't have known how to love her. Your friendship taught me that relationships could be about more than mutual advantage."

Clark closed his eyes against the pain, sudden and sharp, but not unexpected. He should say something, but words wouldn't come, and he simply tightened his hold on Lex.

They lay there in silence, Clark listening to the beating of Lex's heart. He was almost convinced that Lex had fallen asleep when a cry split the air. Lex was out of the bed and pulling on his boxers so quickly he might've been the one with superspeed.

Clark rose slowly, reluctantly pulling on his clothes. He could hear Lex ordering the nanny to prepare a bottle and soothing the baby, walking her back and forth and…singing. Lex was singing. Clark would have smiled if he could have gotten the smile past the lump in his throat.

He had barely finished dressing when Lex returned, cradling Emily against his bare chest. He settled on the bed, leaning against the headboard, and looked up at Clark.

Clark couldn't resist. He sat beside them on the bed, reaching up to stroke her cheek with the back of his finger. She ignored him, all attention focused on the bottle in her mouth. "She's beautiful."

"Yes, she is."

Clark met Lex's gaze and there was a hint of a smile, wistful, unable to conceal the sadness behind it. He pressed a quick kiss to Lex's lips. "Anything…"

Lex nodded.

Clark rose from the bed. He was opening the door when Lex said his name. Clark paused, a hand on the doorknob.

"I did love you."

"I know." Just not the way I wanted you to. Clark didn't say it. He didn't need to. It was another of those things they both knew.

He closed the door softly behind him, not letting himself look back.