WHAT HE KNEW
"Mr. Luthor? There's a Clark Kent to see you."
Lex Luthor frowned at the intercom. Clark? Here to see him? He did a quick check of his planner. No, no interviews scheduled. No attempts to take over the Daily Planet. No dead women in his bed. Or mutants in his basement/attic/warehouse. And he could've sworn he missed that opossum in the middle of the road last night. Hmm. What could Clark possibly have to lay into him about? Since, of course, that was the sum whole of their last month of contact--five years ago. Curiosity compelled him to reply, "Send him in, Charity."
The tall reporter came in with a solemn face which disappeared as soon as Charity closed the door behind her. "Tell me you know, Lex. Please tell me you know," Clark demanded with more than a touch of desperation. "You know, right?"
It was the little break in his voice that had Lex lying. He'd labeled Clark a friend years ago and despite their present, where Clark believed Lois Lane's and Superman's lies (and remembered Jonathan's old ones), Lex would always react to Clark's pleas. "Of course I know, Clark. Now take a deep breath and tell me what's going on? How can I help you?"
Clark collapsed in a conveniently placed chair, and Lex propped himself against the desk and looked down at the bowed head. "You know I'll do anything for you," he prompted when Clark wasn't forthcoming.
Clark gave a painful snort. "It's bad enough I'm an alien--"
An alien? Lex frowned. Just how many aliens were on earth? That Martian person, Superman… It all clicked in Lex's mind with a painful clink of his jaw. Jesus fucking Christ! Clark was--why the fuck hadn't he known? The eye color was different. The hair. But.
You are one fucking idiot, Luthor.
"--but now I'm a pregnant alien," Clark wailed.
What? Wait. "Um, you want to repeat that last part, Clark?"
Clark ignored him. "But I can't tell Mom. I mean, I killed her baby. I can't… Besides, she's just now starting to get on with her life, without Dad, I mean, or yours, for that matter. Did you know she's dating this guy she met while working the food pantry on 23rd street? She doesn't need… Damn it, Lex. This is all so screwed up." All this was said without lifting his head.
Martha Kent dating (Lionel NEVER counted). Clark Kent was Superman. And pregnant. Lex headed to the bar. He started to offer Clark a drink, then remembered his condition. "So? Who's the father? The other father, I mean?" Why hadn't he run to him with this news?
"Do you--do you really need to know?"
Need? No. Was going to find out and destroy? That was a sure bet. "Just wanted to know if he was going to be a--complication," he said diplomatically. If Clark wanted nothing to do with this character, Lex was going to remove him from the equation of an already complex problem. Obviously there was going to have to be some kind of cover-up. Superman in maternity tights wasn't an image the public needed to see. At least Clark Kent was a print reporter and not a television personality…
Clark sighed. "You're right; he could be a-a complication. That's why I didn't--aw, hell, Lex, it's Batman, and I'm afraid if he finds out he's going to have me stretched out in one of the Wayne labs so fast, it'd make my head spin."
Wayne labs? As in Bruce Wayne? Lex splashed more alcohol in his glass. Bruce Fucking Wayne was the Batman and he had more money that Lex did. Which means a cover-up could get tricky. But Wayne had ethics--even if they didn't, as Clark supposed, include not putting his lover and embryo through an alien autopsy--and Lex was not so encumbered. Anything for a friend. "It must get interesting up there in the Justice League Watchtower," Lex said, trying to lighten the atmosphere a bit.
Clark lifted his head for that one. "It's not like that. Batman was captured by the Joker and when I rescued him, the ceiling opened up, and we were assaulted with rubber duckies that had some kind of aphrodisiac payload. We got out of there, but then… God, Lex, we ended up rutting in mid-air." His face turned bright red.
"Added a new dimension to the mile-high club, did you?" Lex teased as he plotted a takeover of Wayne Industries. It was a long-term plan, but just like satisfying sex, good revenge took a while.
"Lex!" Clark said in an affronted tone, but Lex saw the tension leave the broad shoulders and knew Clark appreciated the levity.
Lex smiled and slid into his chair behind the desk. It was a very good chair for thinking. "How far along are you?"
"The um--incident happened seven weeks ago."
"How long is a Kryptonian pregnancy?" Before he could formulate a plan, he needed the facts.
"I--I don't know."
"What did your A.I. say when you told it?" Everyone, well, everyone who had a good spy network, knew that Superman had a secret fortress run by an artificial intelligence that was a billion times smarter than any computer humans had come up with.
"You haven't told it," Lex said with a shake of his head. "How do you know you're pregnant then?"
"I saw it." He looked down at his stomach. "It's floating around in there."
"Oh." Lex took a deep breath and leapt to his feet. "Well, first things first. The A.I. has answers we need, Clark. You're still good to fly, aren't you?"
Clark nodded. "Can we leave from here?"
"You'll go with me, won't you?"
"Sure," Lex replied, holding back a big "Hell, yeah!" Superman's secret hideout. Superman's super computer. Damn. He had to be dreaming. "Do you have to change or something?" he asked to keep hold of his enthusiasm.
"No. Unless, you want me to?"
Lex shook his head. Flying in Superman's arms would be like a rescue or a trip to the local police station. Flying in Clark's arms would be like a dream, an old dream…a very old wet dream. "Let me inform the office that I'll be away. Wouldn't want my employees thinking you're kidnapping me or anything."
"Yeah, those Kryptonite bullets hurt."
Lex was surprised. "Really? They're just meant to slow you down, not cause agony or lengthy suffering."
Clark shrugged. "They don't. They just sting really badly."
"Wuss," Lex scoffed. "Just for that I think that baby of yours should come out your butt."
"Gee, Lex," Clark said with a wince, "people actually pay to attend your motivational conferences?"
"And I sell the DVDs on eBay at premium prices." He clicked on the button that would immediately connect him to all his heads of staff. "Ladies, Clark Kent and Superman have asked for my assistance with a problem. I don't know how long I'll be gone or how often I'll be gone, so Protocol Five is in effect until further notice. Understood?"
A chorus of "Understood"s followed quickly and Lex cut the connection. "Will I need my heavy overcoat?" Even in the middle of summer, the arctic was bound to be a bit chilly.
Clark did a quick spin and suddenly he was in Superman costume. He unhooked his cape, did another twirl, and was back in Clark Kent's ill-fitting, off-the-rack suit. "This will protect you during the trip and I'll have the A.I. heat the Fortress to human norm."
Lex suffered to have the cape draped around him. "If we're going to do this often, I'll need something in purple, gray, or black, you know."
Clark rolled his eyes. "Being a demanding tyrant is what you teach on those DVDs of yours, isn't it?"
Lex just shrugged and adjusted the cape. "It's an under-appreciated art. Oh, and when we get to the Fortress, you have to ditch this so-called suit you have on, even if it means--and God, I hate to say it--the donning of flannel."
Clark laughed and they took off from the balcony.
Lex never saw the Fortress from the outside. By the time Clark unwrapped him from the protective confines of the cape, they were in the crystalline belly of Superman's lair. Lex looked around in awe, noting the superb support system employed by the crystals. The place would definitely survive an earthquake or two.
"Welcome, Kal-El and friend," a voice echoed in the chamber.
"A.I. this is Lex Luthor. He is here by my full consent and you may speak freely in front of him," Clark said authoritatively. "I need you to scan me and give me a report on my health."
A crystal aimed at Clark, then bathed him in a diffuse light. "You are edayta. How curious."
"Curious how?" Lex demanded.
"Twenty-five million Earth years ago, Kryptonians discovered the sheer joy of exploring their intellect, preferring the mental to the physical to the point that it became a detriment to the continuation of their population. To insure the continuation of the race, a biological mutation was induced into the males of the species. The kendhar is engineered to cause a male to be fertile in two ways--their sperm is increased in number and they will also produce ova. If sex occurs, either the male will impregnate a female or if the intercourse is intra-gendered, the kendhar male will be impregnated."
"So what happened to Clar--um, Kal-El is normal?"
"In a sense. But Kal-El did not go through kendpar, the transitional period. There should have been hormonal and enzymatic fluctuations which would have alerted me to Kal-El's impending condition. If I had known, Kal-El, I would have warned you about unprotected intercourse with either gender."
"Kal-El was exposed to a foreign agent, a particularly potent aphrodisiac. Could this have triggered the kendhar without kendpar?" Lex was exceedingly glad he'd cut back on his drinking during business hours.
"Did you have an intense desire for intercourse, Kal-El?"
Clark looked extremely uncomfortable as he answered. "Yes. I--I impaled myself on my partner immediately after freeing him from his tights."
Lex didn't even want to think about how that must have looked in the skies of Gotham. Well, he didn't want to think about it at this particular moment. Maybe in the privacy of his own bed…
"This foreign agent must be analyzed immediately. Do you have a sample, Kal-El?"
"No, but I know someone who does." He shot a look at Lex.
"Go on," Lex urged. "I have some more questions for the A.I. We'll be fine here together for a few moments. Maybe you better--" Lex did a twirling gesture with his finger. Clark nodded and immediately switched to his Superman costume.
After blinking at the fading streak of color that used to be Clark, Lex addressed the computer. Although the only pregnant women he'd spent any appreciable amount of time with was his mother, who had her own problems, and Lana Lang ((and no, no way in hell was he going there)--Anyway, years of listening assured him that this question was better asked without the subject being in the room. "So, are Clark's hormones acting up?"
"Is he experiencing behavioral changes?" it asked delicately, assuring Lex that there were indeed similarities between human and Kryptonian pregnancies .
Yeah, one big fucking one. "He came to me with this problem. It doesn't make sense. Why me? Why not--the other father?"
There was a pause. "You are not the father?"
"No. Is that a problem?" Lex asked cautiously. A problem as in he had to be neutralized or something for knowing something he shouldn't know?
"I was doing calculations on a hybrid between a Kryptonian and you. Now, I shall have to make adjustments."
"Oh. But the actual father is human."
"But you are not. At least, you are not a typical human. You know of your mutational intricacies?"
Mutational intricacies? That tripped off the tongue a lot easier than, "you're a freak." "Yes, I know of them. Back to the original question, however. How atypical of Cl--Kal-El's behavior was it to confide in me?"
"Not atypical at all. You are his maa'ta."
"Maa'ta. His Other."
"He trusts you to be his balance."
Oh. That kind of other. He wondered if it were possible for an A.I. to intake questionable substances. In other words, the A.I. had to be on crack. The cheap stuff. Like found in the alley between 10th and Pine (many, many years ago). "Clark has never trusted me."
"Not true, Lex Luthor. It was always instinctive that he trust you. Unfortunately, the humans who acted as his parents trained him to act against his instincts. Jor-El, the original of my matrix, did not realize humans would be so prejudiced against another's true nature--although their wholesale domestication of some species should have clued him in."
Wholesale domestication? Ah, the A.I. apparently read Clark Kent's occasional op-eds. "So he was supposed to trust me?"
"Yes. He marked you within minutes of his arrival on this planet."
The Kents rescue of his father and him. "There were others who found him first."
"You were the one he chose."
Lex ignored how good that made him feel. He shrugged. "I really wasn't that trustworthy anyway."
"You would have been with his secrets."
Maybe. Probably. Didn't matter. That was the past, and the future was now. "So, tell me what I need to know to make this pregnancy the easiest on Kal-El."
Lex crammed a small crystal in his pocket and turned from the video screen that had appeared in one of the walls of the Fortress. Superman appeared in the chamber, clutching a small vial. Lex looked at his watch. "Was Batman being excessively stubborn about parting with a sample?"
Superman shook his head. "Brush fire in California."
Lex's eyes narrowed in concern. "You okay?"
"I'm not an invalid!"
Lex looked at Superman. Clark looked at Lex. "Oh, jeez, I sound so pregnant," Clark wailed.
"Guess it's a good thing you are," Lex said casually. "I'm glad you're back. I need a ride on the Super Shuttle back to Metropolis. I have companies to raid and people to break."
"Yeah, okay. I--I can make you forget this...if you want me to."
"If I--You're the one taking the risk, not me."
Clark stared at him, a look deeper than any x-ray. "Am I? Taking a risk?"
Lex shook his head. "No. But you knew that. I am, after all, your maa'ta."
"The A.I.'s giving away all my secrets?" Clark asked with a lopsided smile.
"No, not all. Why would you think I'd want to forget this?"
Clark shrugged. "Keeping my secrets isn't easy."
"Clark, nothing about us has ever been easy. Maybe...maybe if we'd accepted that a long time ago, we wouldn't be living the farce we've been indulging in."
"That's all it's been, isn't it? An indulgence. Otherwise, we would have killed each other years ago."
"Our fathers are both gone. It's time we left them in their graves and got on with being who we were meant to be, Clark. We can't--can't keep reaching back, using their mistakes as our excuses."
Clark nodded and placed a hand on Lex's shoulder. "This, this is why you were my best friend."
"I want to be again." He wasn't going to beg, but this time he was going to make things clear. Clark didn't do subtle well. And apparently from the bright colors of his costume, Superman didn't do it at all.
"I want that, too. Of course, having to get knocked up by a guy in a bat suit just to figure that out, doesn't speak well of me, does it?" Clark joked dryly.
"Hey, don't talk about my best friend like that, all right? I'm Lex Luthor and you don't want to get on my bad side," Lex said with a playful mock jab to Clark's arm. Mock because he had an appointment with his manicurist tomorrow and considering the bitching he'd suffered for having a hangnail--"Gloves, Mr. Lex. Beautiful, sensual leather gloves--even for wiping ass"--he figured Kim would go into a permanent swoon if he showed up with bruised knuckles. And the man really did know his way around hands...
Clark caught the fist before it returned to his side. "Wasn't this fake at one time?"
Lex nodded. "Had to have it amputated because of that damn Kryptonite ring. Took me the better part of a year to re-grow it. Don't tell me you're just now noticing it?"
Clark shrugged. "I just saw the leather gloves and assumed nothing had changed."
Lex snorted. "Let me tell you about a certain obsessive manicurist I know..."
"We can be friends in Metropolis, you know."
"What an original concept," Lex quipped before he looked up from his watch, already smiling at Clark lounging in the doorway of Lex's Smallville "castle" office. He knew it would be Clark standing there instead of Superman, because the Man of Steel was too polite to be five minutes late. Clark, on the other hand, was on time if he arrived within half an hour of an appointment. "We'll have to try it sometimes. As for now, there's method to my madness." He shut down his laptop and reached for his phone. "I'm going out for a while with Mr. Kent," he told his assistant. "If I'm contacted, the earth better be spinning off its axis again."
"So that really happened," Clark remarked when Lex hung up. "Batman was still running diagnostics when the problem just seemed to disappear."
"Still running diagnostics? What kind of slow-ass computers are Wayne Industries shilling these days? I knew of the problem about a week before I got tired of waiting on superheroes and fixed it myself."
"That's, um, kinda fast, Lex. What kind of computer are you using?"
"Just some scrap of metal I cloned from an original at a private school I found in upstate New York."
Clark's eyes widened as he put two and two together. "You're talking about those X-Files people, right?"
Lex dropped his head, shaking it with a sigh. "X-Men, Clark, X-Men. Not Mulder and Scully."
"Riiight. That's those dolls--"
"Action figures that you have in your bedroom, right? Last time I scanned your bedroom for, you know, nefarious machinery and such, wasn't the Mulder doll--I mean, action figure--shacking up with Warrior Angel in the Angel Lair playset--I mean, scale model replica?"
"That was during the impossible pregnancy arc. After Scully dropped the kid, Mulder moved back home to the basement office."
"How wonderful for both of them, and where are we going?" Clark asked as he followed Lex to the garage.
"Out for an evening drive. And yes, their reunion was quite wonderful. Warrior Angel visits whenever he can."
"So Mulder's living on the down low with Warrior Angel. Isn't this the way to the Kawatche caves?"
"Yes, this is the way to the caves. And no, there's no 'down low' when a three-way satisfies everyone."
Clark leaned back against the smooth leather seat. "You're weird. And a geek."
"At least I don't wear spandex."
"I didn't know you knew the X-Men. Is there some mutant-only club I don't know about?"
"The professor and I share a scalp masseuse."
They pulled up in at the caves. "I'm surprised you haven't started charging an entry fee," Clark commented wryly.
"Nah, I saved that for the Kawatche themepark I opened in Japan a few years ago. It's all underground with an attached under the sea aquarium. Michael Jackson plays the amphitheater at least once a year."
Clark got out of the low-slung car and stared at Lex doing the same. "This is why I have to search your bedroom for nefarious machinery," he pointed out calmly.
"You're giving me shivers, Clark. Come along. Bright and shiny objects await us inside."
Clark followed docilely until they came to a cave wall that was flashing with multi-colored lights. Actually, it reminded Lex of his club-hopping days--and really good drugs. "Lex, what is that?"
"A portal, gateway, wormhole--pick your choice."
"And it leads where?" Clark asked hesitantly.
"Alpha Centauri, of course," Lex replied, barely keeping from rolling his eyes. "Honestly, Clark. I know we've been enemies for years, but come on, man. I thought we'd put all that shit behind us. Trust me, all right?"
Lex gave in and rolled his eyes. Then he grabbed Clark's arm and pulled him through the portal with him. They stepped out into a lot of sunlight. Lex pulled out and slipped on a pair of shades. Clark just gawked.
Lex had to admit, once he cut the glare, that their surrounding was a sight to behold. The crystal fortress was spectacular in snow, but was spellbinding in the center of the white sand island, ringed by a spectacular blue ocean.
"You moved the Fortress?" Clark asked, raising his face automatically to the full sun.
"No, just grew another one. Crystal is crystal--made of ice or sand."
Clark gave him a sharp look. "You stole a matrix crystal?" he asked in a Superman tone of voice.
Lex sighed. "Feel free to get over yourself at any time."
"I requested Lex Luthor take one of the matrix columns, Kal-El," the A.I. scolded. "We discussed what and where would comprise a safe, healing environment for you to spend your gravid period and made plans accordingly. It was to be a surprise."
"Oh. Sorry, Lex. Old habits can be a bitch."
"So can old friends."
Clark nodded meekly, then grinned. "I really like this! All this sunlight!"
"Guaranteed sunny days until monsoon season, and by that time you'll be back in not so sunny Kansas. This is a very remote island, so you don't have to worry about intruders. And it's owned, wholly and entirely, by me--not LuthorCorp, LexCorp, or any subsidiaries. My own sovereign nation of one," Lex said.
"Where are we?"
"South Pacific. Outside of any shipping lanes or flight paths. The perfect hideaway for the hero who 'got into trouble.'"
"Papa don't preach," Clark sang glibly.
Lex sighed. "There just had to be a Madonna revival, didn't there?"
"But I made up my mind, I'm keeping my baby," Clark continued to sing. Then he stopped. "I've fucked it all up, haven't I?" he asked sadly.
"Nonsense," Lex said sternly. "If anyone fucked up anything, it was the Joker. And I don't agree that it is fucked up--this is a good thing. There need to be more Kents in the world." His eyes sparked with amusement. "Even those who might run around in little red cowls one day."
"It's a good thing you went into business and not comedy," Clark said dryly, but with a hint of a smile. "How am I going to explain this?"
"Easy. Superman will tell the League and anyone else who needs to know that the A.I. has found evidence that suggests there may be another living Kryptonian somewhere in the universe--outside the Phantom Zone, that is, and you're going off-world to search. You will return with a baby Kryptonian, who has apparently been in stasis since the planetary explosion. It is, of course, your duty to raise the child.
"Clark Kent will request a sabbatical from the Daily Planet. You're tired. You're losing the objectivity that made your bylines so unique. You need to travel, to see life more pure, less corrupt than in Metropolis. A young, dying mother makes an appeal to you, and you being you, you honor her deathbed request that you adopt her child. You write a series of articles about being a single father, win several awards, and Perry White worships at your feet. Does that cover everything, or do you have another secret identity I don't know about yet?"
Clark stared at him for a long moment. "Damn, you're good."
Lex shrugged. "Lots of practice."
"What about emergencies? If the League has trouble?"
"World spinning off its axis, remember? I'll pick up your slack. What?" he nearly snapped when Clark continued to stare at him.
"When I was a teenager, you were my hero. You saved me from that stupid field. You went into the plant to save a bunch of scared teenagers you barely knew. You helped me--and my friends--whenever I asked. You had cool cars and cool toys and you eagerly shared them with me. Watching you follow your dad down that dark road...it broke my heart. I wish I hadn't been the typical teenager, so full of myself that I didn't have room for anyone else. I wish I could've been the man you wanted, the man strong enough to hold you back from that road, or at least give you encouragement to keep searching for another way, to keep fighting. I let you down. I let you fall. Yet, when I called for help, when I threw myself at your feet yesterday, you didn't hesitate."
Lex shrugged. "You're my friend."
"And it's just that easy for you?"
"Why should it be more complicated?"
Clark sighed. "Seriously, Lex. I've been to different planets, different solar systems, met beings that in no way, shape, or form resemble humans. Some speak with their minds, some with their limbs, some have their pets speak for them. But none has confused me, messed with my mind, rocked my sense of my self, like you. You...confound me."
Lex cleared his throat. "Is that good or bad?"
"I have no idea."
"Well, you'll have a lot of time to think about it while you have your lie in."
"Lie in? You make me sound like some nineteenth century maiden!"
Lex snorted. "Well, you are an unwed moth--um, parent."
Clark rolled his eyes. "Next thing I know, you'll be offering to marry me and make an honest wo--uh, man out of me."
"Would you like that, Clark? Because I will, if that's what you want."
"This is Kansas," Clark said, wide-eyed.
"And I'm Lex Luthor," Lex replied with a laugh. "If I don't pay attention to the 'good' laws, why would I even give the 'bad' ones any consideration. So should I have one of my minions bring me my best tux or what?"
Shaking his head, Clark smiled. "As Superman, I've raged so much about your stubbornness that I'd forgotten your tenacity could be useful. Thanks for the offer, Lex, but your friendship is enough for now. No need for 'plighting your troth' or whatever."
"Just know the offer's permanently on the table, Clark. So, you going to stop off at the farm to fill your mother in?" Once she'd retired from politics, Martha had decided to come back to Smallville. Although the farm land was rented out, she continued to live in the still yellow house.
"I'm not--I'm not going to tell her the truth, Lex. She'll get the same off-world story I'm telling everyone else."
"You think she'll be disappointed in you?"
"No, it's nothing like that. It's...It's been years since she had to put up with a new freakish talent of mine. After what I put her through during my teens, she deserves to have a real break."
"She loves you, Clark. And she'll love the idea of having a grandchild."
Clark shrugged. "I really want this to stay just between the two of us, Lex."
"Your wish is my command," Lex said with a minimal bow of his head.
"Master," Clark said with a smirk.
"I think the general term is 'your wish is my command, master.'"
"Is my navel showing? Do I have tassels dangling from um...places? I'm not your personal djinn, Clark." Lex stomped toward the gateway that suddenly popped into existence. "But I can do submission at times," he added, winking at Clark before stepping through the portal. He did so hope Clark wiped the drool from his lip before getting into the car.
"There's a Bruce Wayne to see you, sir," Charity chirped through the intercom.
Lex grinned at his secretary's audacity. A Bruce Wayne? Like there was more than one. "Well, if it's the one who's almost as rich as I am, by all means show him in." Last week's Top 100 had put LexCorp a couple of million ahead of Wayne Industries--and, no, he hadn't danced in front of his mirror with a copy of the magazine. He'd been chasing a rather stubborn fly.
Lex walked around the desk and held out his hand to the dashing playboy he now knew was also the Dark Knight. Was he the only person in the whole frackin' world that didn't have a secret identity? "Wayne, what brings you to my fair city?" he asked amicably.
"Just thought I'd give you the courtesy of letting you know I was in town, Luthor," Wayne's deep voice rumbled. "As one 'prince of the city' to another, of course."
"Of course. Can I get you anything? Coffee, cognac, a vestal virgin, perhaps?"
"Ah, now I know I'm not in Gotham; we ran out of virgins years ago."
Lex shared a laugh with him, noticing the whiteness of his teeth and the sexiness of his voice. Damn. No wonder why Clark had jumped on that. "So what brings you into the light of Metropolis?"
"The Prudhomme auction. There are a couple of pieces I'm interested in."
Bullshit. There was nothing worth bidding on in the entire collection. So that meant Wayne wasn't here--the Batman was. Probably trying to figure out why Lex was being so cooperative the past three months. Hell, just two days ago, LexCorp had sent people down to help out hurricane victims in fucking Mississippi. The only thing he knew about Mississippi was the song he'd learned in school to help spell Mississippi. "Knock yourself out. You have no competition from me."
"Thought you might be looking for pieces for that castle of yours in Smallville. Heard you'd been visiting there quite a bit recently."
Definitely the Batman trying to suss out evildoings. "Well, to be frank, without Superman to vex, Metropolis has been kind of boring."
"Oh, Superman's not here?"
Lex struggled not to roll his eyes. "He took off for parts unknown a few months ago. Told me himself. Made me promise to behave."
Wayne gave a dry chuckle. "Surely you're not serious."
"I am," Lex replied, throwing up his hands in innocence. "Superman knows the rest of those costumed freaks can't handle me, and well, without him it'd be like visiting a zoo without predators, you know. The monkeys by themselves can only be so amusing. You need a lion, an alpha beast, to amp the adrenaline, you know?"
Wayne coughed and fought back a glare. "And Smallville amps the adrenaline in his absence?"
Lex laughed aloud. "Smallville? No, Smallville is a place of quiet contemplation most of the time. It's the place I go when I need to slow down and look at where I am and where I want to be. Smallville changed my life twice. I guess you can call it my personal crossroads."
"Just think, I went all the way to China to find myself, and I could've just gone to Smallville," Wayne said dryly.
Lex smiled. "I was never big on Chinese imports. Go American is my motto." Go away was also a good motto.
Wayne seemed to read his mind. "Well, I hate to cut short this informal meeting of the Billionaires Boys Club, but I have merchandise to examine and beauties to escort."
Lex stood when he did. "Ah, the pain of being a professional playboy. At least you get to moonlight."
The blue death ray glare made it to the surface this time. "Moonlight?"
Lex would've shivered if he wasn't used to large, dark men barking threats at him. "Yes, as a businessman, Wayne. Whatever did you think I meant?"
Wayne just shook his head. "I hope I get the same courtesy if you ever come to Gotham?"
"Of course. However, I don't say this to hurt your feelings, but Gotham's one big asylum. I can't see me ever willingly visiting the place."
"Every city has their dark side, Luthor, even glittery Metropolis."
"I know all about fool's gold, but even Gotham's resident tights wearer is rumored to be a bit unhinged. He dresses up as a giant bat!" Lex bit the inside of his jaw to keep from laughing as Bruce Wayne's eyebrows shot to the top of his head.
A second later, Wayne's demeanor was back in place and he glanced at his watch. "Sorry to cut this short, Luthor, but I have places to be and--people to do," he added with an exaggerated wink.
Lex held out his hand again. "Hope you enjoy your visit to Metropolis, Bruce."
As soon as Wayne was on the elevator headed down to the street, Lex was ordering the building swept for bugs or, as he thought evilly for his own amusement, bat droppings.
"You missed lunch," Clark accused as Lex walked into the crystal bungalow. Since it was a fourteen hour time difference, whenever Lex was in Metropolis, he made it to Clark's for lunch; when he was in Smallville, he made it in time for breakfast.
"Don't blame me," Lex replied smoothly. "Blame your baby daddy."
"My what?" Clark paled. "Batman came to see you?"
"No, Bruce Wayne. Batman slinked in the darkness and wasted more of my time trying to lose him before going to the caves. You do know he's insane, don't you?"
Clark shrugged. "He has his--moments."
"He's paranoid as hell. Hope that's not genetic."
"It's not paranoid to think you're up to something, Lex--it's common sense."
Lex was shocked by the pain of that particular jab. It wasn't as if he didn't know Clark felt that way. Maybe the fact that they'd been getting along so well during this particular "crisis" had led him into fooling himself about the truth of their relationship. "I'm sorry you feel that way, Clark," he said in a near whisper. Then he shook his head and said in a more definite tone, "Listen, Wayne's visit put me behind a bit. So, I'm gonna go back to Smallville and put in some extra time at the desk." He turned toward the portal, but didn't move as Clark's hand wrapped around his arm.
"No, don't go, Lex. I'm sorry about what I said. It's just--I was worried, okay? When you were late I got worried, and I'm a jerk when I'm worried. I even had the A.I. scan the Watchtower's transmissions and the Metropolis P.D. to make sure you weren't in trouble."
"I can take care of myself, Superman."
Clark nodded. "Please, stay for breakfast. I had the A.I. put a plate in stasis for you."
Lex shrugged out of his suit jacket. "It's a good thing I'm an experienced international traveler. Breakfast before bed doesn't faze me in the least."
"There are a lot of good things about you," Clark agreed softly.
"The baby recognizes your voice."
Lex looked over at the six-months pregnant alien, his mouth full of muesli. "Huh?"
"It moves when it hears your voice."
"Oh. Is that bad?" Clark had been annoyed a month ago by the baby's "tap dance" on his bladder.
"No, I think it's a happy dance. You know, like when babies fling their arms around and stuff when their parents come into the room."
"So maybe it's not my presence he's reacting to, but the sound of your voice talking to me."
"I talk to the A.I. I talk to myself. I talk to it. It only reacts to you."
"Maybe he's using his super-hearing."
Clark snorted. "I didn't get the hearing until I went blind that time."
"But you weren't conceived under a yellow sun," Lex pointed out, remembering the details of Lois Lane's "Biography of A Super Man," not that he'd read it or anything. "Although he's half-human, and probably won't end up as powerful as you, he's going to have a hell of a head start on getting his gifts."
Clark banged his head against the crystal tabletop. "It's going to give a new meaning to the term 'terrible twos.'"
"He," Lex corrected.
"Don't call him 'it.'"
"How the heck do you know that? Did the A.I. tell you, because I haven't bothered to look that closely."
Lex shrugged and reached out to pet Clark's stomach. "He's just feels like he's a boy."
"Feels like..." Clark muttered. "And you question that he knows you? That he's wiggling just for you?"
Lex shrugged and reached for the orange juice. "He has good taste."
Lex looked up from his plate. "Clark?" Blue eyes, no, green eyes--no, blue eyes stared back at him. What the--
"You can't be dating anyone since you spend every night here."
Lex laughed. "I think I've found that not dating is better for my health anyway."
"Aren't you lonely?"
"I'm here with you and the kid."
"I mean lonely for--you know?"
Lex shifted uncomfortably. "I'm not a teenager, Clark. I know you can't die from blue balls."
"I'm not a teenager either," Clark said meaningfully, his eyes still shifting hues.
Clark was--making a pass at him? Why? After all these years, and he's carrying Wayne's baby and--oh. Horny pregnant hormones. He'd heard about that. In ugly detail from a manufacturer he was courting for business purposes. In vitro'ed wife. Sex in the kitchen. In the garage. On the toilet. Gah. But if he had to make a sacrifice for Clark, well, anything for a friend. "Your tryst with Wayne was dictated by the Joker's little gift. But in normal circumstances, are you attracted to men? And women--considering Lana and all," Lex added.
"I've never--been with a man before Bruce, but I've been attracted," Clark answered nervously.
"You have trouble accepting your homosexuality?" Lex wasn't surprised; Jonathan Kent had homophobe written all over him.
"The guy I was attracted to was older than I was and by the time I was old enough not to land him in jail, he wasn't interested anymore. But maybe he can be persuaded?" That was said with a hint of Superman's superior tone. Lex felt a bit of a rush.
"Whatever you need, Clark," he said solemnly. Before he could finish wiping his mouth with the napkin, Clark was leaning forward, kissing him. "What do you want, Clark?" Lex asked as he broke away to breathe--damn alien respiration. "Want me to suck you off? Want me to drop to my knees and take you in my mouth? Does that sound good to you?" Clark nipped at his ear and nodded.
"Just for the record," Lex said as he slipped to his knees," I was never not interested."
Lex snuffled and turned toward the voice. For the past two weeks, he'd been sleeping on the island while Clark napped beside him. "Morning in my part of the world, huh?" he asked, sleepily stroking the golden mound that was Clark's belly. The A.I. kept the room at an acceptable temperature at all times. There was no need for covers or clothes, which meant no wet spots and no hiding that Clark wasn't just waking him to start the day.
"If you're through saying good morning to the baby, there are other things you can stroke."
Nope. Not just waking him for the day. He woke completely and gave a sinuous stretch. "Why don't you tell me what those other things are, Clark? Or," he held out his hand, its fingers loosely curled, "why don't you just show me?"
"Clark! What are you doing here?" Lex asked hurriedly when he spied Clark in his Metropolis office. "Did anyone see you? What's happened?" He quickly hit the button that not only stopped all recording in his office, but wiped out the last fifteen seconds of all the security cams in the building.
Clark silently glided to him and wrapped him in a tight, but gentle, embrace. "They didn't help you," he breathed against Lex's scalp. "You could've died and the League did nothing."
Lex gave a chuckle of relief. "You had me worried for a second. I thought something had happened to the island or the baby."
"They say you were held at gunpoint."
Damn A.I. and its constant monitoring. "It was nothing my security couldn't handle." He pecked Clark on the lips. "You shouldn't have come out of seclusion. The League--"
"Fuck the League!" Clark then kissed him so deeply that Lex was afraid he was doing an emergency tonsillectomy. "Why weren't they here?" his lover muttered bitterly. "You could have--" He stopped, sniffing the air. "I smell blood. Did--" He ripped the sleeve off of Lex's jacket and shirt.
Lex looked at the graze that was already scabbing over. He hadn't even bothered to inform anyone about it, knowing his quick healing would take care of it. "Just a scrape, Clark. Mercy has excellent aim, but Morrison jerked a little when he took the second hit. I really don't think she meant to kill him."
Clark's eyes turned red. "Too easy a death."
"Don't get so excited," Lex soothed. "The baby--"
"Is as pissed as I am. Where the hell was the League?"
Lex gently tugged him to the sofa. Guess it was up to him to inform Clark of the facts of life. Now, how would Jonathan Kent put this? "I'm a black hat, Clark. The League are white hats. As a rule, white hats save other white hats from black hats. Black hats, on the other hand, are on their own if another black hat turns against them. You see, saving black hats is a big no-no. Every black hat saved will just be another black hat to fight. So saving black hats is just self-defeating, really."
"But--but I always save you, Lex."
"Which makes you a special white hat, Clark." Dense, but special.
"White hats shouldn't act like black hats even if it's a black hat being hurt by a black hat."
And enough with the hats. "That's life, baby. Good is good and evil is evil."
"Even when good does evil?"
Lex shrugged. "I seem to recall you chastising me for doing evil for the greater good."
Clark slumped back against the sofa. "You're confusing me."
"Good. Good and evil should be confusing because it's all just a matter of viewpoint. Now, zip out of here the way you zipped into here. I'll meet you on the island in a few hours, okay?"
Clark nodded but made no move to get up. "I'm still mad at the League."
"Don't help them anymore."
"What?" Lex asked innocently.
"Think I can't recognize your handiwork by now? The computer virus that destroyed the R'conin ship between Saturn and Jupiter had your evil cackle written all over it."
"Someone needs to tell the A.I. that all these news flashes aren't good for someone in your condition," Lex said dryly. Then his eyes lit up. "I'd been dying to try something like that ever since the movie 'Independence Day' premiered."
Clark looked at him. "My precocious little geek," he cooed with a smirk. "I'm serious about this, Lex. I know you said at the beginning that you'd pick up my slack, but now I want you to stop. If they can't help everybody, I'm not going to be a part of them and therefore, you have no slack to pick up."
"I can still help those they won't help, right?" Lex negotiated. "Just because you live in a terrorist regime doesn't mean you yourself are a terrorist. The suffering that goes on in those countries--"
Clark laughed. "Please don't tell me all those times we accused you of smuggling weapons to a combatant country, you were really supplying aid and relief?"
Lex looked toward the window. "Well, not all the time."
"Why the games, Lex?' Clark snarled. "Why set yourself up as this power-hungry, people-sacrificing villain?"
"I set myself up? Who was quick to judge, quick to make assumptions? Who never once gave me the benefit of the doubt?"
"I wasn’t your moral compass, Lex!"
"No, but you were my friend!"
They both glared at each other in silence until Clark winced. "What is it?" Lex asked immediately. "Is it the baby?"
Clark nodded. "I don't think he likes me fighting with you. He just kicked the heck out of me."
"My boy," Lex said proudly. "Clark, you've seen for yourself that, although my nerves are a bit shot, I'm fine. It's time for you to sneak out the way you came in. I've things to do. I'm sure your pal Lois is downstairs, clamoring for the 'truth' of the situation."
"Lex, I'm sorry I failed you," Clark said as he stood, and Lex realized how long it'd been since he'd seen Clark clothed, although the oversized tee and pair of sweats barely passed as clothing. On the island, Clark stayed naked, soaking in the sun during the day and the A.I. keeping the enclosure at an acceptable temperature at night.
Lex patted the Baby Onboard emblem on the tee he'd bought on the internet as a joke. "You're not the one who failed. Ultimately, I am the master of my fate. I chose to be who I am. I won't say I don't have any regrets, but neither do I have excuses."
"Look at me," Clark demanded softly. Squaring his shoulders, he deepened his voice to Superman-level. "I know this is something you've heard too infrequently in your life, but it must be said, and you must listen and believe it with as much sincerity as I have saying it: you are a good man, Lex Luthor. Yes, you are flawed, as are we all. But your heart, when you choose to listen to it, is good. Remember this. Believe this. Don't let the world convince you otherwise."
Lex blinked, his eyes suddenly burning. He took a step back and shakily ran a hand across his scalp. "The things people say to get laid," he said with a trembling laugh.
"Damn it, Lex," Clark began.
Lex held up his hand to stop the reply. "I can't do this now, Clark. There are reporters downstairs to pacify, shareholders to mollify, and hostage-takers to crucify, none of which would hesitate to strike me down if I appear weak in any sense."
Clark nodded his understanding. "But this discussion isn't over, Lex."
"They never are," Lex sighed. "Do I need to cause a distraction or something for you to zip out unnoticed?"
"Nah. The Flash taught me a couple of good tricks. Wally can be okay in small doses."
Wally. Wally? Not that Wally? Well, damn. Anybody could be a superhero. Oh well, at this rate he'd know everyone's secret identity before Clark gave birth. He waved Clark away, grabbed a new shirt and jacket, and prepared to meet his "adoring" public.
"It's been ten months, Lex," Clark whined.
"The A.I. explained it to you in the beginning, Clark," Lex said patiently. "Typical Kryptonian pregnancies last the equivalent of an Earth year, thereby creating more viable progeny. Since the infants are not born vaginally, they can be larger and less malleable. However, your child is a hybrid and so some factors may change."
"But it's heavy and I have to pee all the time and I feel--God, it's been so long since I actually felt gravity, Lex."
Lex shrugged. "We puny humans live with it everyday. Get over it."
Lex looked at the pillow that had just bounced off his head. "Do you feel better now?" he asked placidly.
"Yes, I do," he heard two minutes later from beneath the pile of pillows that now buried him.
Lex faked interest as Antonio Antony droned on about the deal they were about to make. Lex mentally had already made the only deal he was going to make and so, even though Antony didn't appear to know it, the man was merely warming the air with his breath. Breath that could've used a mint. Or two.
The intercom dinged and Lex lurched for it gratefully. Picking up the receiver instead of using the speakerphone, he barked, "I told you I didn't want to be disturbed! I'm in delicate negotiations." Charity would understand being yelled at for no particular reason. Of course, she'd also be expecting a bonus in her check for the month.
Yes, women were evil. He knew this firsthand, yet still hired them. Ah. What would Freud say?
"Lex Luthor, Kal-El is experiencing pre-partum discomfort, and I will soon perform the edaytalium. You indicated you wished to be informed."
The A.I. sounded pissed, and Lex briefly wondered how he could appease the computer since it didn't receive a paycheck. Then he himself computed what the A.I. had said. "I'm on my way! Don’t do anything until I get there," he yelled and slammed down the phone.
"Luthor?" Antony questioned.
Lex tossed a purple file folder to him. "This is the deal. Sign it in front of my secretary and leave it with her or don't sign it and get the hell out of my office. I really don't care which." Clark was about to be cut open and a sac similar to a soft-shelled egg would be extracted. A month early by Kryptonian standards, but two months late by human measurements. A baby. They were going to have a baby. "Charity, call Fred and tell him I'm headed to the roof and the helicopter better be there when I get there. I'm gone for the week. If anything comes up, screw it!"
"Yes, Lex," Charity answered obediently to the closing door.
"I lost my powers once or twice," Clark said as he lay on a long crystal slab. "Got pummeled, too. Know what, though?"
"What's that, Clark?" Lex said as he stroked Clark's face.
"It didn't hurt nearly as bad as this," Clark hissed. "What the fuck's taking so long?"
"Your body is severing its ties to the egg sac. The A.I. is just waiting for the last separation. Then our--I mean, your baby will be here and you'll forget all this pain."
Clark shook his head. "Our baby. Only a Luthor could hurt me so much."
Lex smiled bitterly. "I think I'll take offense at that after all this is over."
"Don't. Wouldn't hurt if I didn't care."
"Same here, kiddo."
"Kiddo? That's not what you were calling me two days ago when you were pounding me into the mattress."
"I wasn't too rough, was I?" Lex asked anxiously. God, had he done something to cause Clark to go into labor? He'd tried to be gentle, but Clark kept upping the pace.
"The fetus is at full term," the A.I. announced. "I will be starting the edaytalium." The ceiling opened and a metallic arm dropped down. Immediately a laser sprung from the end and started etching a line down Clark's abdomen.
"Damn," Lex muttered. Not even a ready, set, go.
"Remove the eday, Lex Luthor."
The eday? Ah, the egg sac. A bright light flashed, and he realized the A.I. had sterilized his arms. So, he was supposed to.... Yeah. Stick his hands inside Clark and... Not exactly like fisting, was it? Taking a deep breath, he reached in and picked up the rubbery feeling pouch. Inside, eyes blinked up at him.
"Jonathan," he whispered reverently.
"Place the eday on the warming pallet. Lex Luthor." He did as he was told. "Now, speak to it. It is best if the young one breaks the eday on his own. It will be his first accomplishment as a separate entity and as such, will aid his sense of self."
Lex smiled at the large eyes looking at him. Jonathan blinked and shoved a fist through the sac. It collapsed around him. He jerked in surprise, then sneezed. Just as he scrunched up his face to cry, Lex laughed. Instead of the intended wail, Jonathan decided to try a laugh--which ended up only being a smile, plus a gurgle.
"I'm in love."
Lex turned at the voice sounding in his ear. "You're up and walking already?" he asked Clark, who stood behind him, naked and apparently fully healed.
Before Lex could reply, the A.I. spoke. "The child needs to be bathed. Please proceed to the basin."
Lex looked around and saw a bowl that hadn't been there before. He stepped back for Clark to pick up the infant, but Superchicken shook his head and gently shoved Lex toward Jonathan. Who hadn't actually been named Jonathan yet. "You're going to name him Jonathan, right?" he asked as he got a good grip on the squirming, goop-covered bundle.
"Is it what you would name him?"
"Yes. Your father was a good man."
"Even though he treated you like shi--poo most of the time?"
Lex grinned at Clark's language correction. "A natural reaction to my name. Dad was a pro at corrupting clergy, much less a decent man like your father. Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas, you know?" He flinched as the baby splashed him with the water in the basin. Apparently baking in the Clark oven for two extra months made him as lively as a real two-month-old. Or maybe it was just the alien in him. "Like father like son, eh?" he whispered.
"You're nothing like your father," Clark said quickly, misinterpreting the comment. "I'm sorry it took me so long to see that. That it took me so long to give into my instincts."
Lex shook his head, not wanting to get into that particular discussion, and attempted to blow a raspberry at Jonathan. Attempted being the key word. He pursed his lips and tried again. Definitely not a raspberry. He frowned. Lex Luthor not being able to perfect a raspberry just wasn't to be had.
"Loosen your lips," Clark coached. Lex...puffed. "Tighter, but not as tight as before. Like this."
Clark made the perfect raspberry.
Lex was not a happy camper.
Jonathan, already learning not to be left out, imitated Lex's mouth movements for a moment, then decided to cry.
"I made him cry," Lex said hollowly.
"I think moving his mouth made him realize he's hungry," Clark reasoned. There was a flash of light and a bottle appeared.. He picked it up and stared at it. "Guess it's no different than feeding that orphaned calf we had back home," he mumbled.
Lex rolled his eyes and plucked the bottle into his own hand. "Dry the baby, Clark."
Clark plucked the bottle back. "You dry the baby."
Lex did as ordered because he thought the baby might catch a chill. "You're going to have to touch him when I go back to Smallville."
"You--you can't stay for a couple of days?"
He was Lex Luthor; he could do whatever the hell he wanted. "Of course I'll stay. Now, let's feed this kid, okay?"
Lex glanced down at the briefcase he carried. The end of the best period of his life. With a bracing breath, he walked into the cave and out to the island.
"Clark!" he called, then spotted the man and his son out on the beach watching the sunrise. Once again, his hand clenched the handle of the briefcase. "I have the papers," he said as Clark stepped inside. "Just fill in the particulars and Little Jon here becomes an official human being. Or facsimile thereof." He tried to smile. He really did.
"Okay," Clark replied and handed him the baby.
While Clark wrote in the background, Lex played with Jonathan. He deeply inhaled the baby smells, provided by the items he'd supplied the last two weeks--powder and oil and no-tears shampoo. He'd finally learned how to do an acceptable raspberry and placed them on the delicate skin, receiving coos and smiles in return.
God, he was going to miss this.
"Here you go, Lex," Clark said, handing him the birth certificate and reclaiming Jonathan.
"All right. It'll be filed with a backdate and Clark Kent can come back from touring the world with his adopted son."
Clark shook his head. "Read the certificate, Lex."
"What?" Lex frowned. They'd worked on the cover story since the third month of the pregnancy. He scanned the paper and paled. "What is this? Name--Jonathan Alexander Luthor? What--"
"A child needs a father who can be there for him 24-7. Maybe Clark Kent could be that dad, but Superman can't. And I can't give up being Superman," Clark admitted sadly.
"No!" Clark looked at the child in his arms. "Jon deserves a father who's not juggling a secret identity, who won't be stashing him with a babysitter because his dad has to run off to save the world, who won't be plotting how to use whatever hybrid alien powers Jon might get."
"And you think I won't? Remember to whom you're speaking?"
"Yeah, to the boy who let everyone think he was crazy to protect him mom, to the teen who let everyone think he was a killer to protect his friend, to the man who took in a pregnant male alien just because they were once friends. You love Jonathan. You whispered encouragement to him when he growing inside me. You were his first touch when he ventured into the world. You bring a smile to his face just by your appearance. Using him would be the ultimate sin in your book, and you would take on Hell itself if anyone dare tried to make him do something against his will."
"Was a bastard to you. If anyone knows how not to be a father, it's you."
Lex ran a hand across his head. "Is this some kind of carrot-on-a-stick thing to make me behave? Be good and you can have my son? It doesn't work like that, Clark. I have to want to be good and kind and all that bull--"
"So now you're accusing me of using Jon?"
"No! I would never--" Lex started pacing. "What about your mother?"
"At the perfect age to be a doting grandmother, not a parent. It wouldn't be fair to her."
"And it's fair to me? What about my life? I'm a busy man. I have an empire to run. I employ more people than the population of several countries. Or what about when I have a child of my own blood?"
Clark laughed. "Is that the best you can do, Mr. 'Gabe, you handle it because I'm going out to play with Clark'? You're the king of delegation, Lex. If you want to go to Jon's first school play, you're going to go to his play--even if the biggest deal of the century is about to go down. And if you have another child? Well, Jon will be your firstborn and you'd kill anyone who said otherwise."
Lex wasn't amused. "About the killing--"
Clark stepped in front of him to stop the pacing. "Jon is not a carrot, nor is he a reward, but you know what it was like to be the son of a reviled and hated man. You won't do that to Jon, you won't make him carry that burden. And it won't be because I'd take him away, or because he'd hate you, or because you'd be keeping up some storybook image. It'd be because you'd want him to be proud of you, proud to be your son."
Lex locked eyes with Clark. "If we do this, it's done. No second thoughts. No 'I thought you’d do better than this.' No, 'I made a mistake, Lex.' If you give me Jon, he stays mine and I don't care what you wear beneath your off-the-rack suits or what Wayne wears beneath his designer ones."
"Why do you insist on bringing Bruce Wayne into this?"
"Why do you insist on ignoring him? He's Jon's other biological parent."
"We fucked, under the influence, for five minutes over Gotham City! It was double rape at best!"
Lex froze for a second, then took a nearly-sleeping Jon from Clark and laid him in the bassinet. He grabbed Clark's arm and tugged him over to the bed. "Why didn't you tell me you felt like this? We never discussed what happened between you and Wayne."
Clark sighed. "I didn't mean that. I wasn't forced or anything. It's just--"
"That you weren't in control?"
Lex cupped Clark's face with his hands. "Do you resent Jon because of this?"
"NO!" Clark took a deep breath. "No. I love Jon, Lex. Out of all the things I can do as Superman, having him is the best. I'm--I'm not trying to get rid of him. I want him to have the best. I want him to have a father that puts him first, above and beyond anything that comes up. I want him to have a father who will accept that he's different and treat him as if he's normal. I want him to have a father who will answer all his 'why' questions with the patience of a saint and protect him with the fierceness of a mama lion. I can't be that father, Lex. Not with the screams of a world in my ears. Not when I spend time not even on this world. I'm asking you to give my son something I can't, something that my nature won't allow me to give.
"Lex, I'm not asking you to adopt my son--I'm giving him to you. I'm saying that he's yours. Hell, he's always been yours in all the ways that matter. These papers are just--protocol, legal crap that just makes real what's already real, what's already true. He's your son...all yours."
"Clark," Lex said brokenly, leaning forward to rest his forehead against Clark's. The two men shared breaths as Lex let the moment soak into his skin, his very soul. He'd hoped that if he behaved, Clark would allow him to act as an uncle or something--that he wouldn't be cut off completely from Jon's life. This was... This was unexpected and so far into the realm of impossible that it had to be a dream, a fucking dream that would be wrenched from his hands when he woke...just as they always were.
"Do you want me to pinch you? Show you that it isn't a dream?"
Lex realized he must have spoken aloud. "Are you sure, Clark? Are you absolutely sure?" The question had nothing to do with dreams.
"I won't be able to give him back," Lex warned.
"I would never ask you to."
"I won't force him to hide himself. I mean, I understand for security purposes, but not to those he cares about."
"Like his best friend?" Clark asked, old sadness in his tone.
"It would be too hard on both of them."
There was a moment of painful silence and Lex cleared his throat to break it. "Guess I'll have to glass in the balcony at the penthouse. And find out if Porsche has customized baby seats. I can't imagine anything standard fitting into one of those."
"Thought you used the limo most of the time now?"
Lex shrugged. "Sometimes babies rest better when they're moving. Me and the kid can go scare the cows of Smallville or something."
Clark tried not to smile, but Lex watched the thought of he and Jon buzzing the cows in a low-slung Porsche settle in Clark's brain, and the smile lost to a grin. "Lex, that's just--"
"Brilliant," Lex concluded with his own grin.
Clark's grin faded and the look he shot Lex was too muddled for Lex to interpret. "About us, Lex..."
Lex had just gotten a son out of the deal, so he thought he could afford to be magnanimous. "Clark, it's okay. You had a case of expected prenatal horniness with limited options--me or whichever hand you prefer. I personally would've picked me, too," he said with an oh-so-casual grin. "I never expected it to continue after you were out of seclusion. Besides, I have a new baby--no time for sex for a while."
Clark looked puzzled. "You think--you think I used you because you knew my secret, because you were convenient?"
"Well, yeah." Oh, the infamous Kent guilt. "It's all right, Clark. You had needs. I understand that. No harm, no foul. It's not like I haven't wanted you since you were fifteen."
Clark gave a broken laugh. "I figured you were the one using me. I mean, you spent every night here and I thought--It was okay, though. It's not like I haven't wanted you since I was fifteen."
"You wanted..." Lex was at a loss for words. "You mean..."
Clark laughed for real. "Yeah, Lex." He put his arms around Lex and gave him a big alien hug, complete with lifted off the ground swinging. "Yeah," he said again as he kissed the top of Lex's head.
"So, what you're saying," Lex said as he kicked Clark to set him down. "Is that when Jon's Uncle Clark comes to visit, they're going to be conjugal visits."
Clark shook his head in exasperation. "'Conjugal visits.' Sometimes you are so old-fashioned, Lex. Wait a minute--'Uncle Clark'?"
"Godfathers are usually called 'uncle' until the child is of a certain age."
"You're gonna let--"
"Who else is going to teach Jon how to leap buildings in a single bound or how not to set a potential girlfriend on fire with a heated glance?"
"He may not even be like me."
Lex rolled his eyes. "You and I both know his alien genes are going to kick the ass of his human ones."
"But you must take into consideration his mutant ones," the A.I. piped up.
"Jon's not mine," Lex reminded the computer.
"You had sex while Kal-El was with child. Unlike humans, Kryptonian genes continue to evolve until just before birth. What went into Kal-El, went into the child. The new DNA was absorbed into Jon-El's matrix. He is Kryptonian. He is Human. He is Mutant."
Lex grinned. "Just wait until his terrible twos--you may have to resign from night patrols for a while. Oh, and teething. A.I. is there a Kryptonian equivalent to a binky? Never mind. I'll just let him chew on Clark--when I'm not."
Lex couldn't believe Clark blushed.
But then there was a lot about that day that Lex couldn't believe.
Lex adjusted his purple tie and Jon batted it back to its former disarray. He'd given up tie tacks when he'd realized his neckties were Jon's favorite playthings. "I could've left you in the stroller, you know. It's a Porsche. Beautifully balanced, excellent shocks, leather seat."
Jon snorted and batted the tie in the other direction, his dark curls bouncing with his movements.
The elevator doors opened and they stepped onto the main floor of the Daily Planet. "Now where is your Uncle Clark?"
"Bish!" Jon said happily.
Lex looked up and grinned. "Why, yes, that is Lois Lane, Jon. Good spotting there! Hi, Lois, you wouldn't happen to know where my lunch date is, do you?"
Lois sneered in their direction. "In with Perry discussing his latest 'poor people' editorial. He's being wasted in Op-Ed!"
"Yes, because he was so useful saving your ass in investigative reporting."
"Assssssss," Jon crooned.
"I hope the bitch you paid to get knocked up knows what she's consigned that poor child to."
"Hear that, Clark? Your former partner is teaching Jon all kinds of bad things," Lex said smoothly as Clark clomped toward them.
"I think Jon has bad things covered just about everywhere," Clark remarked sternly.
Damned super-hearing. "Guess that's where good Uncle Clark comes in, right, Jonny?"
Clark took the baby, who immediately reached for his glasses since Clark had given up ties after moving to the opinion-editorial staff. Less intimidating to the people he interviewed. "I think you need to go visit your Aunt Martha? Would you like that? Hang out with nice people for a while?"
"You take him to visit your mother?" Lois asked, not even bothering to close her mouth.
Lex slipped his arm around Clark. "Since she's practically my mother-in-law, it's like she's Jon's grandmother. In fact, I think he should call her that. Wanna go visit Grandma, Tiger? She has cookies and pie."
Clark looked disappointed. "Maybe he has to grow into pie, huh?"
"Cookies are finger food, Clark. He's at that stage now," Lex consoled.
"Like with the green beans and the Cheerios?"
"Just like that. The books all say he'll eventually get around to enjoying other textures and consistencies."
"Another reason why we need Mom--I don't trust those books of yours."
"Martha will set us straight so I'm not too concerned."
"Sometimes I think you're with me just so you can borrow my mom."
"Bastard," Clark said fondly.
"Basar," Jon confirmed solemnly.
Lex laughed at Clark's stricken look. "Bad influences all over indeed."
"We're gonna have to do better."
"I agree. Maybe we need one of those swear jars--a quarter for each bad word."
Clark rolled his eyes. "What's a quarter to you, Lex?"
"Fine. You pay a quarter and I'll pay a thousand. We can make a donation to the charity of your choice at the end of the year."
"If I pay twenty-five cents, you pay twenty-five hundred."
Lex sneered at him. "You should be glad you're pretty."
Clark adjusted his glasses. "I am, aren't I?"
"Dysfunctional the lot of you," Lois said and stalked away.
"Bish," Lex whispered.
"Bish," Jon agreed.
"Mom's gonna kill us."
"Nah," Lex said as he pointed his family toward the elevators. "We'll just blame Lois."
Clark laughed. Jon laughed. Lex--Lex thought back to the time Clark asked him if he knew. Maybe he hadn't known Clark was Superman, but he had known that he'd loved Clark from the moment he'd stared into his eyes on a muddy riverbank. Knew that he'd do anything to protect him. Knew if Clark never spoke another kind word to him that Clark Kent would always be his best friend. Knew that his one chance for happiness lay within the heart of one man.
And you know what? He was right.