War! What is it good for?
War! I despise, 'cos it means destruction of innocent lives,
War means tears to thousands of mother's eyes,
When their sons gone to fight and lose their lives.
Clark Kent hated Vietnam. Not because of the reasons most of his fellow Marines hated it. It wasn't the bugs because they couldn't bite through his skin. It wasn't the people because, hey, at least they were human. It wasn't the bureaucratic red tape of the military; yeah, it was all bullshit, but he'd volunteered, so being knee deep in the shit was his own fault. No, what got to him most was all the fuckin' dying. Everywhere they went, someone fuckin' died. Whether they were in the bush shooting at Charlie or just walking down the street, there was blood and last gasps and there was nothing he could do even though he was from outer fuckin' space. Because if the government ever found out he was from outer fuckin' space, he'd never see Kansas again. And that's all he wanted-- to go back to his sweet, redheaded mama and his daddy, who'd tried to tell him what a bitch war was, but puffed his chest with pride as soon as Clark had told him he'd enlisted.
"Hey, Kent, got another one?"
He turned and saw Sgt. Whitney Fordham indicating the cigarette dangling from Clark's mouth. Clark shook one out of his pack, put it between his lips, lit it, then handed it to Fordham. "Here, Sarge."
"Thanks." He stood next to Clark and looked out over the firebase. "You doing okay?"
"Number one," he replied, referring to the Vietnamese slang for good. So what if less than twenty-four hours ago he'd been covered in the blood of someone who had been his best friend in this godforsaken fuck of a place. It hadn't mattered that he hadn't known Pete Ross back in the World. Even though they both came from Smallville, Pete had attended the colored high school. The bigger cities had been forced into integrating their schools, but nobody cared what happened in Smallville. So when a homesick Clark had found a homesick Pete and discovered that they were homesick for the same place, they'd formed a friendship that went beyond their color.
And now Pete was dead. Blown fifty feet in the air by a mine, dead long before Clark caught the tattered remains of his body. Number one? No. Fuckin' number ten-thousand.
"LT says for you to take a couple of days. Catch a ride with the Ass and Trash run to Da Nang. Lose yourself in some slant-eyed pussy. Think of Lana if you want. I do."
Whitney was from Smallville, too. But he was older than Clark, a sergeant, and Clark had a crush on his girlfriend. All the above meant that Pete had been a friend, and Whitney was just a familiar face who kinda fit the role of a big brother when he himself felt homesick.
Or thought Clark was going to go apeshit because Pete's head had come off and landed at his feet. An Ass and Trash run toted men and supplies from point A to point B. Although he'd avoid the prostitutes--and there was no way he could picture one of them as Lana--getting out of the camp for a couple of days sounded good. Maybe there was some fuckin' spot in the fuckin' country where he could just lay down in the middle of a field and convince himself he was at home. Surely there wasn't fighting everywhere.
With that decided, he was on the helicopter fifteen minutes later.
War! It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker,
War! Friend only to the undertaker.
War is an enemy to all mankind,
The thought of war blows my mind.
War has caused unrest in the younger generation,
Induction, then destruction...who wants to die?
Clark hated Da Nang. Reminded him too much of Metropolis. Big, crowded, dirty. Within five minutes of touchdown, he was streaking across the Vietnamese countryside, looking for a semblance of peace. He thought he found it in a sea of green, some Vietnamese crop almost but not quite ready for harvest. It was obvious the war hadn't touched the area. Extending his hearing, he listened to the nearby family of farmers and although he couldn't understand what they were saying, the bitterness and anger he was used to hearing in the foreign voices was missing. Guess this was as close to peace as he was going to get for a while.
He sat right where he was standing and without any prelude, began to cry. It was the first time he'd given into the urge that he'd felt since touching down in Vietnam. God, he'd been a fool to think he could make a difference over here. Maybe if he knew what the ultimate goal was, why America was here in the first place…Who gave a fuck about the Commies anymore? It was obvious to anyone in Vietnam that everyone bled red, so what was the fuckin' difference? Why had Pete--he fell over, not caring that his cheek was covered in fine, black soil--why had Pete died? For what? Because of what? Why had his friend's blood etched his soul as it spilled onto his skin? Why had Pete's brown eyes, open but empty, drilled into his brain to haunt him at odd hours of the day and night? What good was going to come from his death, from all the deaths?
Clark fell asleep where he lay, so used to sleeping without any comforts that the soft grass felt like his mattress back home. Three hours later, he woke with a snort and a jerk. He sat up and craned his head in both directions, listening for whatever had woke him. After a few seconds of silence, he figured it was just his fuckin' head playing fuckin' tricks on him. Goddamnit, he was tired of this place!
Then he heard it, the sound that had filtered through even as he slept. It was a whisper, whimper, cry--in English! What the fuck? He stood and closed his eyes for focus. There. He was at his destination in the blink of an eye. He found himself on the outskirts of a Vietnamese village. His x-ray vision cut through the thin walls of the shacks and saw everyone was sleeping. Too bad his vision couldn't tell him who was Vietnamese and who was American--because the accent he'd heard was definitely American. Why was an American in a Viet village? Probably one of those goddamned peaceniks, intent on showing the world that war was bad by interviewing decrepit, old villagers who wouldn't harm a fly.
But it wasn't the decrepit, old villagers who'd blown up Pete, was it?
Snarling softly, he turned to leave. Just then the full moon topped the trees and something flashed. Curious, he streaked forward--and skidded to a stop in front of a bamboo cage in the center of the village. Inside the cage was the source of the sound which had disturbed his sleep. Inside was a white man--very white in the glow of the moonlight. He was bald, naked, covered in bruises and sores and blood and…waste. Apparently he'd been pissed on, and shit on, and raped repeatedly. Not to mention starved, Clark amended when the form shifted to reveal ribs so visible that he could tell which ones were broken--without changing his vision.
Without any planning, he broke the lock on the cage, scooped the man up in his arms, and sped back to his original spot in the field. Picking up his pack, he took them to a sheltered alcove near one of the rivers that snaked through the country. He didn't know which one and didn't care. Using his gifts, he figured out there was no one within a fifteen mile radius, so it was good enough for his purpose. He built a fire, cleaned his companion, then watched over him as the American slept through the day and into the night.
Clark worried about what he was going to tell the man when he woke. How could he explain how he'd found him and why he hadn't immediately taken him somewhere official for medical care? How had he got him out of the camp without a weapon and without a vehicle? How had they crossed half of the country to find this little cove? What could he say that wouldn't expose his secrets?
But as day faded into night, Clark realized the man had secrets of his own. The bruises had lightened to a pale yellow, the sores were scabbed over, and the broken bones were neatly knitted back together. Not normal for any humans Clark knew.
"You're not Viet Cong."
Shit. Clark didn't know when he'd drifted off to sleep, but his "patient" was awake and making conversation. Which was odd for someone who'd just been a captive. "What gave it away? My eyes?" Clark joked lightly, not knowing what to expect.
"Your size. Charlie doesn't grow so big."
Clark started to worry about the man's mental condition. If he had any memory of what had happened to him, he should be panicking, but he wasn't. Hell, even if he didn't have any memory of his immediate past, he should be panicking about waking up naked in the middle of nowhere. He hadn't noticed a head injury. Could he be drugged? "My name is Clark. I'm not going to hurt you," he said slowly.
The man stuck out his hand. "Lex Luthor. I take it you are the one I should thank for my new accommodations?"
Clark shook the hand cautiously. "Um, yeah. Listen, I have a spare set of clothes. They're going to be too big--"
The man glanced down at his naked body. "My latest diet was rather successful, wasn't it? Did you bathe me as well? Not that I blame you; I was rather ripe, wasn't I?"
Clark shivered. The conversation was getting too surreal. "How long were you, um--"
"I don't know. What is today?"
"I was taken on the second."
"And had they--"
"Been treating me from the beginning with the same lack of graciousness that you witnessed? Yes."
Clark shook his head. "You're not normal."
"Because I'm not letting this unfortunate incident destroy me?"
Unfortunate incident? "You were hurt and now you're not."
"Oh, you noticed that, huh? So did they. It gave me extra entertainment value. There was betting on how long certain injuries would take to heal."
"But your hair--"
"I'm naturally bald. I was unfortunately at a meteor strike back in '53."
Clark blinked. "Smallville?"
For the first time, Lex appeared startled. "Yes. You know the place?"
"I'm from there. It's my home."
A wry smile curved Lex's lips, then he laughed. "I should have known. The way you rescued me. Our sojourn out here in the middle of nowhere. You're a meteor freak, too."
Not exactly. "You want something to eat. I have some fish and rice that I can heat up."
"That sounds exquisite, but I must warn you, it's been a while since I've eaten anything substantial. It might not stay in place."
Clark nodded. "But you need to try. Why don't you start with some water?" He handed him his canteen. "It's been boiled."
"After a diet of piss and come, tainted water is the least of my worries. Not to mention the number of unwashed dicks shoved down my throat." Clark tried not to gasp at the bold mention, but failed. "Sorry," Lex said, looking honestly contrite. "I didn't mean to be so frank."
"You're an officer," Clark said suddenly.
"What you fuckin' talkin' 'bout, man? I'm just doin' my time like all the other assholes in this fuckin' country."
Clark laughed. The switch to common G.I. slang was effortless, but even naked, there was something about the man that defied the word "common." Money. He came from money. Definitely an officer. "I think that's what's gonna bother my mom the most--the language I've picked up over here."
Lex shrugged. "The jargon unites us, like we're one big fucking club. Club Round Eye, or some fucking shit like that. When we're back in the World, maybe that'll be what we remember and not all this other shit. Speaking of shit, you wouldn't happen to have any on you, would you?"
"Sorry. Just regular smokes." He fumbled for the pack in his shirt pocket.
"Don't think your mother's going to have much to worry about," Lex muttered as he took the proffered cigarette. "My father, on the other hand--wonder if he took into consideration I'd be learning how to kill over here when he 'suggested' I better fucking volunteer?"
"Your father sent you here? Mine tried to talk me out of coming."
"Yes, well, your father probably isn't fucking Satan. The bastard got tired of bailing me out of trouble and thought this experience would 'whip me into shape.' I can't wait to show him what I learned to do with that fucking whip."
Clark felt himself flinching and tried to control the movement. "I'm sorry you were--" he stopped awkwardly.
"Raped, buggered, forced to take it up the ass? Eh, I've paid for worse--not rape, mind you. Never rape."
Clark knew his eyes were just about bugging out of his head, but he couldn't help it. "You've--"
"Yes. If it can be done, it's safe to say that I've done it. Men, women, singly and in multiples. No animals though. No, I take that back. I got some fucked up shit, lost an entire week, and have no idea what I accomplished during that time."
"Shit," Clark said in awe--no--disgust. He was disgusted, right? "Is that why your dad sent you over here?"
Lex shook his head. "No, Dad sent me away because he caught me screwing his latest girlfriend. Well, actually, because when he caught us, she was going on and on about how much better I was at it than he was. Shit, I could have told him that. He has no finesse. Thinks fucking Lionel Luthor should be enough to satisfy whatever whore who's crawled into his bed. But you and I both know a woman needs more than that."
Clark nodded, although he had no idea what he was agreeing to. The women in the porn magazines passed around the bunks never said why they had those smiles on their faces. He figured it was just because they were having sex. Was there more to it than that? Shit. Why the fuck did Pete have to go and get himself blown up before telling him how to fuck a woman?
Not that he thought about fucking someone before marriage. Well, not a good girl anyway. Not someone like Lana. And shit, now his dick was about to drill a hole in his shorts. "Why don't I fix you something to eat while you get dressed?" he said, hiding the fact he was adjusting himself as he grabbed the clothes he'd laid out for his new acquaintance.
War! It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker,
War! It's got one friend that's the undertaker.
War has shattered many a young man's dream,
Made him disabled, bitter and mean.
Life is much too short and precious to spend fighting wars these days.
War can't give life, it can only take it away!
Clark stared up at the stars and thought about some of the tales Lex had shared over their reconstituted dinner. Either the fucker was a very creative liar or he lived a very fucked up life. But sometimes he would glimpse a flicker of something in the blue eyes that made him think that Lex wasn't lying about any of it. Not about his relationship with his father. Not about the abuses he'd put his body through. Not about the endless search for something that would actually make him feel. "I haven't had a real emotion since the day my mother died, Clark. Temper tantrums, crying jags when I'm fucked up, they're not real, man. They're just a way to pass the time."
"What about your father?" Clark had asked. "Don't you--love him?"
Lex laughed. "I did. But you can only run into a wall of hate for so long before you get numb."
"I'm sure you're father doesn't hate you," Clark had replied, superior in his knowledge of familial love. Jonathan Kent wasn't even his blood parent, but he loved him.
"You're one a lucky son of a bitch, Clark. Don't let this fucking country ever make you forget that," Lex had whispered and turned over on the blanket, ending the conversation.
Clark didn't remember drifting to sleep after he'd banked the fire, but the next thing he was aware of was someone yelling in Vietnamese. He sat up quickly, ready to save his companion and himself from the sneak attack. But there was no attack. Just Lex sitting up in his blankets cursing at the darkness. Or at the mental figures the darkness had conjured up.
"Lex," he called softly, having read somewhere you shouldn't startle someone in the middle of sleepwalking. And although Lex wasn't walking, he definitely wasn't awake. His whispers did nothing, so he approached the bedroll and reached out.
Although he was used to moving fast, he wasn't used to anyone else moving fast, so he was startled when Lex jumped on him, knocking him face forward to the ground. Yelling constantly in Vietnamese, Lex began ripping at Clark's clothes and by the time Clark regained his senses, his pants were around his ankles. He whipped his head around and saw Lex was crouched above him, dick in hand. Shit!
With a burst of speed, Clark was yards away from Lex in a flash. "What the fuck's wrong with you, man! Is this why they were treating you this way? You rape one of theirs and they were getting payback? You fuckin' pervert!"
Lex had fallen to his hands and knees when Clark moved and now he looked up in confusion at Clark. "I--" He stared at the nearly naked Clark, then down at his exposed self. Because of his extraordinary eyesight, Clark could see the other man begin shaking.
With a mumbled "No", Lex stood and took off in the opposite direction. More worried than scared now, Clark pulled up his pants and took off after him. Deciding that his secrets be damned, he raced past Lex and a second later, Lex ran smack into him and would have bounced to the ground if Clark hadn't caught him.
"I'm sorry, Clark, so very sorry," the man panted. "I--I thought it was a dream. I thought--Oh, God, I'm so sorry. I wouldn't have--I never have--despite having sinned in the multiple digits, I have never raped anyone. Ever. I wouldn't--I find it abhorrent and--" Lex stopped his wild rant and took a deep breath. "I'll write down my serial number for you. It'll make reporting me easier. I can't promise my father won't pull some strings and have this swept under the carpet, but I promise you, whatever recompense you desire, I will see to it that you receive it."
"Lex, stop." Clark was having a hard time catching up.
"I think I'm going to be sick." Lex turned his head and proceeded to lose the first real meal he'd had in weeks. When he finished, Clark picked up the kneeling man and carried him back to their camp.
After cleaning himself up, Lex crawled back to his bedroll. Clark watched him for a moment, noticing how his new friend was once again shaking like a leaf. It wasn't a cold night, so he knew it was shock setting in. A few years ago, the motor in their old tractor had blown up while his dad was adding gas, and he would've been burned alive if Clark hadn't shown up just in time. After it was all over, and the family had been assured that there were no serious injuries, his father had started shaking and couldn't stop. His mother had said it was shock. She'd put his father to bed, then crawled in behind him, holding him as tight as she could. Clark had slept in the barn that night, giving them the privacy they needed.
Making a final sweep of the area and finding nothing amiss, Clark walked over to Lex, lifted the blanket and spooned in behind him.
"What?" Lex tried to move away.
"It's okay, Lex. It's okay," Clark soothed.
"No, it's not," Lex said softly. The shaking grew more pronounced and Clark pressed his head against Lex's.
"Take me," Clark whispered.
Lex turned over quickly. "What?"
"Make love to me. Show me how different it is from what I saw." Remind yourself how different it can be.
"I--You've never--Have you?" Clark shook his head. "You're not even-- You've never."
Clark shrugged. "This is war. I've done so many 'I've never's that one more can't corrupt me any further."
Lex's eyes were dark in the absence of light, but Clark could see the glitter in them, a faint sheen of want tempered by confusion and fear. 'Why' was a good question. Too bad he didn't have an answer. Well, a single answer, anyway. He knew, he just knew, Lex needed this, needed to remember that what they'd done to him wasn't the way it could be, the way it was supposed to be. He knew he could give Lex this because Lex couldn't hurt him. No matter how uncomfortable, how awkward it would be, Clark wouldn't be hurt--physically or mentally because he was going into this with his eyes fully opened. Being an alien caused him a lot of embarrassing moments as his senses caught people in acts that no one wanted to be caught in. He could do this. He could give Lex this. He could be this for Lex. And he could respect himself afterwards and look at himself in the mirror afterwards because as he'd said, this was war and it had nothing to do with the real World.
"Because I want it, Lex. I want you."
Lex kissed him then, and it was nothing like Chloe in the Torch's darkroom, or Tina in the loft. It was like the green rock in reverse. It sent a shiver through his body and things shifted, righted, instead of becoming wrong. He felt…heat and laughter. Laughter? No, not laughter. Happy. It was happy that he felt. Happy and ooh, a tingle, a sharpness, a cut that tore through the very fabric of what he'd always felt and what he was feeling now. Ahh, the laughter was back and it bubbled from him as Lex's hand freed him from the Marine-issued boxers.
"Tickles?" Lex asked and Clark nodded, not sure he could make Lex understand.
Lex kissed more. His neck. His…nipples. His navel. His--Clark gasped. Knowing how strong his hands were, he dug them into the dirt instead of grasping Lex's smooth head like he wanted to. His hand clenched until the grit powdered, and then the world was exploding and he imagined he was back in Smallville and the meteorites were crashing into him, sizzling his skin, taking his breath away…
"Clark? You okay?"
There was worry in the voice, so he forced his eyes to open. "Do me now." Now when he was still in his own glow, when he could fake it with memories of his own conflagration.
Fingers were pushed into his mouth, then withdrawn. He felt Lex breech him hesitantly and he spread his legs wide, giving Lex permission to do as he pleased. More fingers were added and still Clark basked in the memory of what had just happened.
"Turn over. It'll be easier that way."
Clark shook his head, knowing he needed to see Lex, needed to remember why he was letting someone do this to him. It was for Lex. It was all for Lex.
Lex spat into his hand and rubbed himself. Clark's legs were lifted and placed on Lex's shoulders, Lex never knowing just how much Clark was supporting himself. Something blunt poked at him and he closed his eyes. Lex inched into him slowly and he felt odd, out of sorts instead of right like he'd felt when Lex was kissing him. He strained upward urging Lex to kiss him again. Lex complied and the out of sorts faded. He almost laughed again, not because the laughter was back but because he could feel Lex's groin bumping against his ass. Lex was in him all the way and the thought was not merely strange, but amusing strange.
Then Lex moved and Clark saw trails of meteorites again. What the--? Lex plunged back in and the trails became whole meteorites. He moaned at the brightness.
"You like that, do you?" He nodded and Lex did it again. And again. Until the interior of his eyelids were nothing but flaming meteorites and comets and supernovas. He heard someone screaming and he tensed until he realized it was his own voice, his own cries, his own… He knew he was coming, but he couldn't put a name to it. It was just--release. And warmth was flooding him and Lex was releasing, too, and it was Armageddon in his private darkness and the world was ending and he didn't care. He just didn't give a fuck.
"Sweet Jesus," he heard Lex mutter and agreed wholeheartedly.
They lay panting in the still Vietnamese night, Lex still on and in Clark, Clark still lost in the universe of Lex's making.
It was a while later that Clark felt Lex shaking again and he wondered if Lex was cold, but then he felt warmth leaking onto his chest and he knew that Lex was breaking. He let him, holding onto the pieces tightly so he could be sure to give them back to him in the morning light.
It was nearing dawn when Lex lifted his head, eyes red but calm and dry. "Thank you."
Clark nodded and leaned forward to kiss him on the forehead, like his mother had done many times. But something inside him must have changed its mind, because he found his lips pressed against Lex's instead.
Daylight just made the meteorites brighter.
War! It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker,
War. Friend only to the undertaker.
Peace, lovin', understandin', tell me,
Is there no place for them today?
They say we must fight to keep our freedom,
But, Lord knows, there's got to be a better way.
All evidence of a camp was gone. Clark was in the fatigues he'd worn for the past two days, Lex in his clean set, looking like a kid in his father's clothes. So thin, so lost.
"If there's ever anything you need, you want, come to me," Lex said. "Tickets to a game. A job. A body buried," he added with a grin. "Anything at all come to me. You will not be denied."
Clark shook his head. "This wasn't about--"
"About begging favors. I know. But you are now a friend, and I do anything for my friends. That's just who I am, Clark."
Clark could see it in his eyes that he was telling the truth, just as Lex had believed him when he'd told him pity had nothing to do with what they had shared. It had started off as something maybe like a distant cousin to pity, but Clark couldn't deny that it had become something more, something special and sacred.
"I'm going to drop you off on the road to Da Nang. You'll be picked up quick enough."
Lex nodded. "The military will never hear your name from my lips, Clark Kent, but once I'm back in the World, I'll make sure that you're never turned away from my door--no matter where I am."
"I--" Clark stopped, leaned forward and kissed Lex hard. Then he scooped him up and ran.
Clark watched from behind tall grass as Lex flagged down a passing jeep. When even he couldn't see the vehicle anymore, he stood and began making his way to the airfield. It was time to get back to the fuckin' war, back to the fuckin' dying. Back to-- he thought of the bald man whom he'd just left--back to the fuckin' business of doing his time and heading home. To the farm. To his parents. To his--
Ohhhhhhh WAR! huh...good God y'all
What is it good for?...you tell me!
Say it say it say it saaaay it!
War! good God now...huh
What is it good for?
Stand up and shout it...NOTHING!
War (as sung by Edwin Starr)