On The Subject Of Some Regret
by zahra

The first time Lex kissed Adam Knight, he found nothing but bitterness and anger on Adams tongue. Adam's sharp words were replaced by the aftertaste of freeze-dried coffee from the Talon and the sharp iron tang of blood when Adam bit Lex's bottom lip. Adam's hands twisted in the collar of Lex's shirt as Lex's fingers tangled in unkempt black hair, and Adam's eyes fluttered as Lex kept pulling away and diving back into the kiss. His tongue swept through Adam's mouth, collecting the lies he couldn't find anywhere else.

Eventually Adam grew tired of the teasing and yanked on Lex's shirt sharply, popping two buttons from the placket. Lex allowed a momentary flicker of annoyance to cross his face; he liked that shirt, but if Adam noticed, he ignored it. Instead he licked his lips as though savoring the taste of Lex, and Lex's annoyance melted into amusement. The shirt was a small price to pay for a future investment.

Truthfully, Lex wasn't too certain what, or who, he was investing in yet, but his instincts assured him that Adam was not someone to be cast aside lightly.

When Lex woke up that morning, he hadn't intended to spend the evening having sex on the castle's hardwood floors, and a small voice pointed out that once upon a time this would not have deterred him at all. He might even have considered it appealing, with the unavoidable promise of bruises and soreness later on. And yet, as they stripped off their clothing and scrabbled at naked skin, managing to kick over the piano bench and an end table in the process, Lex made a concerted effort to get Adam upstairs.

They got as far as the stairs before Adam refused to go any further, and Lex couldn't bring himself to care about the friction burn certainly in his future.

Adam bit and pulled, and Lex pushed and took what he wanted. Their actions bordered on savage, but every now and then something slipped in and threw Lex off-kilter like a soft kiss on a shoulder blade.

When he jerked Adam off, it was on the other side of too hard, and he just couldn't bring himself to care. Based on the endless litany of filthy things coming from Adam's mouth, it was exactly what he wanted anyway. Lex bit the inside of his lip when Adam licked his own hand and began stroking Lex off and demanding to be fucked.

Adam's short nails scraped at Lex's hip enticingly, and it had been so long since someone had begged Lex for sex that the pushing and pulling to go upstairs started all over again. Lex had given up carrying around certain necessities when he'd left Metropolis, but now, he began to think about the many locations where he could store miniature bottles of lube and condoms.

In the end, it took them almost thirty minutes to walk up a single flight of stairs and down the hall to Lex's bedroom. The fact that they'd been working to get there for almost six weeks just made the entire victory sweeter for Lex. The song and dance routine was starting to wear thin: Lex threatening; Adam pushing back; Lex threatening more; Adam continuing to visit to practice on the piano, knowing that Lex was going to make a point of pushing his buttons.

Whether it was because Adam was into masochism or just into Lex, it worked.

They worked.

Adam made no pretense of keeping things from Lex, and Lex couldn't help but respect that.

At least Adam didn't lie to his face.

 

Around five-fifteen in the morning, Lex gave up the illusion of sleep. He stretched out leisurely, pushing the sheets down to his bare hips, and propped himself up on his elbow, considering the stranger in bed next to him.

Adam Knight was not Clark Kent; the more time Lex spent fucking, fighting and verbally sparring with him, the less he had to remind himself of this. Adam was an entity unto himself who had thoughts and desires and no qualms about sharing them. He liked being on the top, and the bottom; he was just as likely to play the Rolling Stones on the piano as Rachmaninoff. He had a history, too, but unlike Clark, Adam made no secret of trying to keep it from Lex.

Lex couldn't be sure which was worse.

The first signs of dawn were just breaking in the outside world, casting a grayish-orange sheen over everything in the room. Adam's eyelashes were elongated by the shadows in the bedroom; Lex shook his head as he found himself feeling strangely content.

"Could you stop thinking so loudly?" Adam's voice startled Lex more than he let on, but the corners of his mouth turned upward as Adam rolled over to face him.

Blue eyes fluttered open as Adam licked his lips absently. "Do you ever sleep?" he asked.

Lex shrugged as Adam reached out and ran the tips of his fingers down Lex's forearm. "There are always people awake somewhere in the world," he said.

Adam made a snort of derision even as he scooted closer. Lex's lips produced a small smirk as Adam's hard-on brushed against his hip underneath the covers. "They even sleep in Tokyo, Lex, or didn't you get the update from CNN?"

"I can sleep anytime."

Adam nodded his head as he yawned. "You can sleep when you're dead."

Lex's left temple twitched underneath the flat of his palm. "Am I dying any time soon?" he asked wryly. "I have appointments that need to be changed if you know something I don't."

"You'll outlive us all," Adam said matter-of-factly, before attempting unsuccessfully to push Lex onto his back. Lex couldn't help chuckling as Adam attempted to push him over twice more in succession.

"Is there something you're looking for, Mr Knight?"

"Yeah," Adam began, thrusting against Lex's hip shamelessly. "I'm looking to get laid."

Lex flipped Adam onto his back and straddled him in two smooth movements, taking Adam completely off-guard. Adam's cock was a warm, wet pressure against Lex's ass as he shifted his hips to get comfortable. He rocked several times simply because he liked the vantage point.

Adam licked his lips again as Lex looked down at him and they both looked at Lex's hard cock between them. A morning blowjob was something Lex had been missing for far too long, and yet another reason he was so receptive to strange boys who were too mouthy and self-important.

"'Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant'," Lex quoted as Adam's hands ran along his thighs and cupped his ass to urge him forward.

"Then Henry Miller can blow you when I'm done," Adam said.

Lex just reached out and gripped the headboard.

 

The sun was up before Lex began extracting himself from sticky, damp sheets to prepare for the workday. He sat on the edge of the bed pulling dark red sheets away from his thighs as Adam shifted around behind him. When Lex glanced back, Adam's hands were pressing against the headboard as he arched his back to stretch.

Lex glanced at the alarm clock in the corner as his dick twitched; he really didn't have time now, but Adam, naked and writhing beneath him, was becoming his new drug of choice. However, Lex had enough experience with drugs to know that this was not necessarily a good thing.

"What are you getting out of this?" he asked as he caught sight of Adam curling up towards him in his periphery.

"You mean besides the sex and all-access piano?"

Lex shivered slightly as Adam's fingers began drifting up and down the base of his spine. He nodded imperceptibly as he finished removing the sheets from his right calf.

"What makes you think I'm trying to get anything else out of this?" Adam's tone was strangely devoid of sarcasm, and Lex glanced down curiously.

Honesty always tended to catch him off guard.

"You don't strike me as the philanthropic type," he pointed out.

Adam's fingers stilled on Lex's back. "I didn't know you were looking for philanthropy."

"I'm not."

"Then don't worry about it."

Lex shifted on the bed, turning to his left so that he could look Adam in the eye. "I always worry when people keep things from me. My father says it's me being emotional; that I take things too personally."

The incredulous look on Adam's face said it all.

"Were you just born like this?" he gestured to Lex vaguely.

Lex's face went blank, and his voice, flat. "Hairless?"

Adam rolled his eyes as though Lex were being purposefully dense. "I mean this - this." He gestured between them again as though expecting Lex to understand what he was talking about.

Lex tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eyes.

"I mean, I'm not the one who fucked you up and lied to you, " Adam clarified. "So why are you blaming me? I'm not your ex-wife, or your father, or Clark -- so why do you insist on treating me like I'm out to get you?"

Lex slid off the bed gracefully. He looked down at Adam as though just seeing him for the first time. "Everybody's out to get someone," he said condescendingly.

Adam made a noise as he pushed himself up against the headboard. "You can't treat people like this and expect them to stick around, Lex."

"I'm not asking you to stick around."

"Are you asking me to leave?" Every muscle in Adam's body coiled tightly as though preparing to launch him directly out of the bed.

Lex found himself speaking without thought. "Did I say that?"

Adam shook his head in disgust and climbed out of the bed.

Under Lex's cool gaze he collected his boxers and his shirt, and tossed them in the antique Henry VIII chair in the corner.

Rather than leaving though, he headed for the bathroom, pausing at the door. "The next time you have people poking around my apartment, do me a favor and make sure they don't leave anymore blonde hairs all over the floor and the bed."

Lex's lips twitched despite his best attempts not to smile. "Fair enough," he said.

 

Lex had been drinking the same cup of coffee for forty-five minutes, but he couldn't really bring himself to care. The coffee was a prop, much like the laptop on the floor next to him and largish novel on the table, which had been open to the same page for twenty minutes now.

There was a fairly large and heavy, cream-colored envelope marking the place inside the book, and Lex couldn't decide if it was too early or too late in the day for Ovid. He usually enjoyed reading Metamorphosis, but this afternoon he couldn't seem to focus. He wasn't waiting for anyone; he had no set plans, he was just there as acting co-owner. It was his right, he'd paid enough for it.

Actually, he was continually paying, and on occasion he wasn't even sure what he was paying for. Sometimes it just didn't matter what he did; it felt as though it was impossible to get things right. First, with Desiree, and then with Helen. Lex didn't really want to start thinking about Clark, since his track record there already spoke volumes about his failed attempts, and there was no tangible reason for Lex to believe that Adam was any different. Except he did, and he sipped cold coffee, and wondered how insane was too insane, and if he couldn't stop this stupid cycle.

After all, Lex knew the chance of Adam being honest was slim to none, but he had to have something to believe in while he waited for Clark to get his shit together. He needed to believe that Clark was going to start be honest with him, even if in the recesses of his heart he knew it was never going to happen.

Lex understood that if he gave up what little hope he had now, there would be no resurrection of the phoenix later on down the line. He wasn't looking for much, just a small sign. Except that for someone who always preferred a tangible 'why', this was something decidedly void of proof or reason.

It all came down to faith, and it was a shame that faith didn't come with a return policy.

"What are you doing here? I thought you were in Metropolis today."

The voice came from behind Lex, and its owner missed the tiny smile that flittered across Lex's face in pleasure.

"Even God took a day off, Clark." Lex replaced the coffee cup on the small table and tilted his head upwards in greeting. "If it's good enough for God, then I suppose it'll have to do for me."

Clark's laugh wasn't quite as heartfelt as it used to be, and Lex watched curiously as Clark pulled out the only other chair at the table and sat down, sprawling limbs everywhere. They didn't tend to spend 'free time' together anymore, which was something that Lex missed more than he could begin to put into words.

It was only with the recent Adam-occupation that the hole had begun to feel slightly smaller, but when Lex caught Clark's momentary peek at Lana behind the counter, everything began to slide into place.

"Still just friends?" he asked, shifting in his chair and attempting to look interested.

Clark shrugged, and Lex tamped down on the urge to shake his head. "Faint heart never won fair maiden," he pointed out, nodding towards Lana, just as he caught a flicker of orange moving into his line of sight.

Adam's hair was damp and fluffy around his head, and he wore dark blue track bottoms and sneakers. He stopped for a moment to speak to Lana, and Lex's right eyebrow made an imperceptible climb upwards. "Maybe it's not women you're worried about," he corrected just to see Clark's shocked expression.

While Clark was still searching for the right rebuttal, Lex lifted the cream envelope from its resting place and waited for Adam's inevitable glimpse their way.

It wasn't Lex's imagination that Clark stiffened next to him as he waved Adam over. Clearly Clark was not a fan of the competition, and Lex carefully noted this information for a later date. Clark's animosity wasn't something Lex would entirely disregard, no matter how intriguing he found Adam.

Under observant eyes, Adam crossed the floor slowly, as though attempting to make a point that only Lex would actually get. Lex bit his tongue to keep from laughing out loud.

Adam was never dull.

The brightness of the orange tee shirt gave Adam's skin a preternatural glow, like he'd just been fucked, and underneath the table Lex's cock twitched in interest.

"Here's the sheet music you wanted." Lex handed the envelope to Adam under Clark's incredulous gaze, and for a moment, Lex couldn't even hear Clark breathing beside him.

"Thanks," Adam said dismissively, hefting the envelope once, twice, before sticking it under his arm and turning back to Lana.

Lex couldn't help but indulge in a few seconds of watching Adam walk away before he turned back to Clark. There needed to be fewer work hours in the day, so that he could spend more of them getting Adam on his back.

"What are you doing?" Clark's voice was so close to a hiss that Lex almost blinked.

He'd never heard Clark like that before.

"Haven't you heard of the 'Save the Music' program?" Lex reached out and slipped his fingers around his cold coffee mug. "I have a piano that no one is using, and Adam plays. It seemed like a good trade to me."

"You don't know anything about that guy." Clark pointed obviously to where Adam was hovering by the cash register and flirting with Lana. The dark look that crossed Clark's face told Lex everything he needed to know.

He shrugged and sipped at his cold coffee. "How much can any of us know about anyone else?"

Clark glared at Adam's back. "You don't know who you're dealing with," he insisted. "He's bad news. He just appeared out of nowhere and expects people to trust him; he's shady. Chloe said --"

Lex cut him off. "If I were you, I would take Miss Sullivan's theories with a grain of salt."

Clark sighed heavily and ran his fingers through his hair. Strangely enough, it didn't distract Lex as much as it normally did. "Lex, you can't just let anybody into your house."

"I let you into my house, didn't I?" Lex spoke over the inevitable protests. "This wouldn't be jealousy speaking, would it, Clark?'

Clark opened and closed his mouth, but remained silent. Lex just nodded his head. "Don't worry I'm sure sooner or later Miss Lang will see the light."

 

The vantage point from behind the piano cast the entire room into a different light, making everything seem larger and further away than it did from the double doors. For the first time, Lex found himself paying attention to the tiniest little details in the stained glass windows and the furniture composition of the room.

He tapped at a few keys, thinking of a song by Billie Holliday that his mother used to play for him when she was in the mood. He wondered momentarily what Adam's mother was like, and if she too was a redhead like the rest of the mother-figures he'd come across. He wondered if she doted on Adam or if she employed more of the hands-off approach. Adam didn't seem to be adverse to people crowding him physically, but he was very adamant about people being invasive in his personal life. He vaguely reminded Lex if himself, which was not necessarily a good thing.

Lex was indulging in full-blown speculation, complete with a dog named Spot, when a large book slid into his vision before it crashed down onto the keys with an angry thud.

"You bought me sheet music," Adam said, shaking his head as made his way around the piano. "I would be touched, except it's you, and so now I'm wondering what you've done with the real Lex."

Lex made a great show of placing the large booklet of sheet music back on the piano, rather than answering. When Adam reached Lex's side at the bench, instead of sitting down, he leaned against the piano and slid a hand into the pocket of his track bottoms.

The smile came of its own accord, and Lex made several plinking noises on the keys before answering. "Even the devil once was an angel."

Adam shook his head. "You may like red, but you're no devil, Lex."

"I'm sure the good people of Smallville would beg to differ," Lex pointed out.

Adam waved his hand dismissively as though he couldn't even be bothered to refute Lex's statement. He abruptly sat down on the bench, almost sitting in Lex's lap, and cocked his head to the side appraisingly as Lex slid down to give him room.

"I thought you didn't play," Adam said, gesturing to the ivory keys.

"I don't play. That doesn't mean I can't read it. Music is supposed to help children with their mathematical growth."

"Somehow I don't think you needed help in the brains department."

Lex's smirk was dangerously close to a smile. Between the fucking and the fighting, the banter wasn't half bad either. If he could figure out Adam's angle, he would be less suspicious of the contentment that kept seeping into his conscious. "Is that supposed to be a compliment?" he asked.

"No, that's supposed to be your signal to take off your clothing so we can have sex." Adam pointedly pulled at the collar of Lex's silk-knit sweater before leaning in and nipping sharply at Lex's earlobe.

It wasn't necessarily erotic, but there was a lot to be said for being wanted.

"I wouldn't want to miss my cue," Lex said as Adam licked his lips and shifted forward, again. Lex moved away to make eye contact. "After all, timing is everything. You never know when someone might let something important slip."

Adam's eyes narrowed even though the corners of his mouth were turned upward in amusement. "Isn't the sex enough?" he asked.

Bodies, sheet music, and the bench went crashing to the floor as Lex made his move. Adam rubbed the back of his head where it had made contact with the varnished floor and stared at Lex as he straddled Adam's hips. It was clear Adam hadn't seen Lex coming, and now he couldn't figure out how they'd gotten where they were.

"Nothing is ever enough," Lex said, before pulling his shirt over his head. "I thought you would know that by now.

 

Lex wasn't surprised when the phone call came in the late evening. He had been sitting at his desk, looking through certain information, and his father always had a knack for tremendously bad timing. The only thing Lex found vaguely disappointing was how long it had taken his dad to get around to letting his feelings be known.

"So, you finally gave up on the Kent boy; I don't know whether to be pleased or distressed. It's not like you to just give up, Lex." There were muted noises in the background of the call, and Lex had a strong suspicion that his father was watching television while carrying on this conversation.

Lex hated that.

Shifting the phone to his right ear, Lex continued to click through the files he'd been given, glancing down every now and then to make sure they matched up to the papers littering his desk.

"What do you want, Dad?" he asked, more by rote than from actual curiosity.

His father's prodding about Clark was par for the conversation, and if he thought Lex had given up, that was definitely good news. Of course, if Lex thought for two seconds that his father would be honest with him, he might have paid more attention to his endless condescension.

"I admit your new toy, Mr Knight, is interesting," Lionel conceded. "Amazing grades. Unfortunate orphan. Not hard on the eyes, if you go for that sort of thing but he's just not our Mr Kent."

The mention of Adam made Lex's hand slip away from the mouse pad, and he shifted in his chair stiffly. "He's not important, Dad."

Lex could sense his father's amusement, even over the phone. "I see. And his resemblance to Mr Kent is just a happy coincidence?"

"He's not worth your time, Dad."

"Now which 'he' would you be referring to, Lex? Judging by all the investigating you've done on Mr Knight recently, he certainly seems to be worth your time. On the other hand, we all know Mr Kent is an extraordinary boy."

Lex took a deep breath and worked very hard not to push the laptop off his desk. His jaw began to throb, and it took him several seconds to realize he was grinding his molars together.

Meanwhile, he father carried on. "I don't think it's financially prudent to continue investigating both of them, son, but of course, you're your own man, so don't let me stop you. But might I make a suggestion?"

It took every shred of Lex's self-control not to launch into a tirade. "And what would your suggestion be?" he asked, shifting files and objects on his desk to make room for the enormous drink he was going to have very soon.

"If you're so interested in knowing where Mr Knight has been, why don't you ask your brother? As I understand it, they've met before."

 

Lex parked in front of the Talon without giving much thought to propriety. It was his establishment, if anyone had an issue with him being there after hours, they could take it up with the leader of his Anger Management seminar.

His key slipped in the lock noiselessly, and he shut the door behind him quietly. He moved across the room in a blur, dodging tables and shutting off the silent alarm, but he still blinked when the overhead lights suddenly came on.

"Paying me a midnight visit?"

Lex looked up at Adam, leaning over the banister in front of his apartment, bare-chested and smirking. He looked consummately pleased with himself; they all did when they thought they'd played him.

Lex took a step back to look Adam in the eye. They all lied to him in the end. It didn't matter how much they insisted it would be otherwise.

"You didn't tell me you'd been in foster care before," he said forgoing the pleasantries. Even from fifteen feet away, Lex could see Adam's pleased expression slip into a frown.

"In Edge City." Lex's statement wasn't a question. He turned sharply on his heel and headed for the stairs, meeting Adam at the top.

Adam's arms were crossed in front of him, and he wore a very tight scowl. "I told you to stop investigating me, Lex."

"It's not something to be ashamed of," Lex pointed out, advancing on Adam without much thought as to what he was going to say next. "It's foster care, not juvenile detention."

Adam's eyes narrowed, and he stood his ground. "My parents were having a rough time. We moved around a lot, and they couldn't always afford to take care of me. That's all there is to it."

"You're lying."

Lex could feel all sorts unnecessary emotions swirling around in his mind. Jealousy, anger, betrayal, hurt; some songs always sounded the same no matter who was playing them.

His voice was tight. "You knew Lucas."

Something a lot like confusion flashed across Adam's face, but Lex dismissed it out of hand. "I knew a lot of people. Your point being what?"

"You knew Lucas," Lex repeated. "And I know you. Did you fuck my brother?"

This time Adam had the grace to look honestly surprised.

"Lucas Dunleavy?" he asked. "Lucas Dunleavy is your brother?"

Lex could feel his pulse ticking in his temple, and his heart was beating faster than normal. No one else would tend to notice these things, but Lex felt like a neon sign was blazing over his head. He couldn't understand why this was so important to him; it just was. He'd never doubted that Adam had several black marks against his name, but if he had a past with Lucas, who was to say he hadn't been hired to kill them both? All kinds of wild theories blazed through Lex's mind, leaving massive carnage in their wake.

He hated his father for telling him and Adam for lying.

He hated Clark for being a coward and Lucas for being too easy.

"Did you fuck him, yes or no?" he asked, again.

Adam's defiance did nothing to help matters. The same thing that Lex appreciated about Adam was now biting him on the ass. "What if I did?"

"Is this some kink of yours, fucking siblings? Did my father send you?"

Adam shook his head and made a noise of derision, refusing to step back as Lex crowded his personal space. Adam smelled like coffee and soap, and Lex's brain tried to compartmentalize the lust and the anger rapidly spinning out of control.

"You need to get a grip, Lex; not everything is about you."

"You lied to me." Lex's tone was flat, but to him the disappointment was evident.

"I did nothing of the kind."

"I won't be with somebody who lies."

Adam stared at him as though he'd grown horns. "We're not together, Lex. You won't stop investigating me long enough to get to know me. How could we be together?"

Lex's hands clenched by his sides, but he said nothing.

"At least I know why you're fucking me, now, instead of Clark Kent," Adam said, turning on his heel to walk away.

Lex's hand shot out, and gripped Adam's bicep hard. "You keep him out of this." The timber of his voice was low and feral. "This has nothing to do with Clark."

The look Adam cast over his shoulder was full of disdain. "You keep telling yourself that, Lex. Keep telling yourself that you're not fucking me just because you can't have him. Do you think I don't see the way you look at him? 'The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself' -- either that or you start taking your aggression out on random people."

Adam shook Lex's hand off his arm vehemently. "I never lied to you; if you had bothered to give me a chance I would've told you what you wanted to know."

Lex made a scornful noise. "Really?" he asked dryly.

"Maybe, but now you'll never know," Adam said, walking into his apartment and shutting the door behind him.

 

Lex downshifted as he crossed the bridge, decreasing his acceleration rapidly. After the Vantage safely reached the otherside, he pulled over and shifted the car into park.

Pulling his cell phone out of his pocket, he dialed the phone number. He was going to know the truth one way or another, regardless of the late hour.

The woman who answered the phone sounded tired and harassed. "Yes?"

Lex shifted in his seat and tried to remember her photograph from the file. In his mind, he could only picture a middle-aged woman, with no remarkable characteristics, which was why she had been hired. He remembered reading that she had been a character actress before somehow parlaying that into a private security job.

"I need to speak to Tommy," Lex said.

There was only the tiniest pause before the woman spoke again; to anyone else it wouldn't have been discernable. "There's nobody named Tommy here."

Deep inside Lex's chest, something unknotted slightly. At least he was still safe. "Tell him Joseph is on the phone."

There was another pause, this one longer. "Hold on one minute," the woman said.

In the background, Lex could hear chairs shifting around and dishes clattering. The phone was most likely in the kitchen, and Lex heard the distinct sound of a young child in the background. It was good to know that all his requests had been met. Somebody should have the family they'd both been denied.

"Yeah?"

Lex hadn't heard the voice on the other end in months. The sense of relief he felt knowing Lucas was still okay was immeasurable.

"Tommy?" he said, shaking his head even though no one could see him in the dark Kansas night.

Lex could just imagine the look of disbelief hundreds of miles away.

"Joe?" Lucas's voice was all careful amusement and nervous caution.

"It's been a long time," Lex said.

"You're telling me, bro. Is everything okay?"

"It's fine," Lex said reassuringly. "I just need to ask you a question about someone you used to know."

Lucas' deep exhalation could be heard all the way down the line. "What's his name?"

"Adam Knight."

 

Lex spent the days following his confrontation with Adam in Metropolis, not because he was running away, but because there was only so much he could be expected to take at any given time. Work kept him from focusing too hard on what had happened, and he refused to blame himself for his mistaken assumptions. If Adam had simply told him what he wanted to know, they would bickering and having sex now and Lex wouldn't have to remember what a poor replacement his hand was instead.

Lex's conversation with Lucas had gone a long way to clearing up several questions he'd had about Adam, but it didn't do anything to erase the fact that Adam had kept things from Lex that Lex had wanted to know.

Before he'd moved to Smallville, Lex's desire for knowledge had always superceded anything else that might've been relevant, but then he'd run his 911 off the road and into Clark -- no matter what he said -- and now everything was confused.

It a sense, Clark had had a domino effect on the rest of Lex's life, and if Lex was looking to place blame, that was a good place to start. Once he'd let Clark get away with one lie, he became susceptible to weakness in everything, and considering that knowledge was everything to Lex this was not terribly smart.

Knowledge was the only power Lex could wield without worrying he would be usurped by someone else who had more. Ultimate knowledge was ultimate control, and Lex wanted control. Always.

He shook off doubts as he pulled the Ferrari through the gates at Beresford Lane and pulled up to the side door. Hefting his briefcase from the passenger seat, Lex entered the castle at the end of the hall and headed straight for his office. As he rounded the entryway a flash of red and black appeared in his periphery, and for a brief moment he entertained the kind of foolish hopes that tended to get him in trouble in the first place.

It felt odd to be disappointed by Clark's presence, but he rebounded admirably and smiled as Clark pushed himself out of a chair and crossed the room. "Lex, hey."

Lex paused to loosen his tie and set his briefcase on the floor, out of harm's way. "Four days is a long time, Clark, don't tell me you've been waiting since I left."

Clark's smile went a long way to alleviating some of the tension that had been building in Lex's head. "You keep staying away longer and longer; if I didn't know any better I'd think you were running from something," he said with a grin.

Lex clapped Clark on the shoulder, briefly, before brushing past him and heading for the bar. He paused briefly at the liquor before opting for water instead. Removing two blue bottles from the small refrigerator, he held one out to Clark.

Clark fumbled the bottle slightly, but recovered well, and Lex smiled to himself. This was familiar terrain. He knew how to do this; being with Clark and making innuendos was like wearing his favorite leather pants -- they always fit just right.

Adam was like new shoes, though; Lex never knew when they were going to aggravate him.

"Protecting the land and gentry while I'm away?" he asked as he unscrewed the top and took a large swallow. "Fight off any dragons or supervillains?"

Clark blinked and looked uncertain as Lex gazed at him expectantly. This used to be the part where Clark would laugh and make some awful joke about slaying dragons and saving damsels, but Lex knew those days were long past. The more that Lex tried to convince himself otherwise the worse it only made things.

He shook his head and gestured to his desk. "Have a seat, stay a while, confess what's on your mind."

Lex smiled for Clark's double-take, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. Clark was never going to tell him what he wanted to know, why did he keep doing this to himself? Ah, because he was a fool obsessed with someone who didn't understand him.

Right.

He took a circuitous route around the room, pausing to pick up his briefcase and discard his tie on a chair. He finally stopped behind his desk where he set his briefcase on the floor and his water on the desk.

Pulling out the chair, he sat down and gazed at Clark. He was still the most beautiful boy Lex had ever seen, but he was young, and Lex's shoulders slumped under the realization that he'd been fighting for a long as he could. They had a future, but the present was never going to be fully realized. Clark was too young, Lex was too jaded, and there was too much between them.

Clark fidgeted with the bottle of the water under Lex's appraisal. "I want to talk to you about Adam."

If Lex had had hair on the back of his neck, it would have bristled. "What about him?"

"I think there's something wrong with him."

Lex barely muffled the noise that escaped from his lips. "I think I can pretty accurately say that there's nothing more wrong with him than any other guy his age."

"Yeah, but he's got this pastó

"And who doesn't, Clark?" Lex asked. "I've got a past, and it's all I ever hear about. If you want Lana back, then fight for her, but don't use Adam as an excuse."

Clark looked up sharply at Lex's reprimand. "I don't like him," he said pointedly.

"I don't like a lot of people," Lex said. "But that doesn't necessarily mean they're bad people, and if everybody was judged on their past, you wouldn't be here, would you?"

Clark's face shuttered under Lex's honesty, and Lex did his best to shrug it off. He hadn't necessarily meant that the way Clark had interpreted it, but that was the beauty of double entendres -- they could go both ways.

"I'm not saying Adam's a saint," Lex agreed, "but he doesn't hesitate to let you know where you stand. You have to admire that."

"He's going to hurt her," Clark protested.

"I think you're underestimating both Adam and Lana."

Lex drank the last of his water and tossed the bottle in the trash.

"People get hurt, Clark, that's what they do. You either get past it or it consumes you; you have to choose."

Clark slumped in his chair for several seconds, fiddling haphazardly with the bottle of water in his hands. Lex shook his head at the overt phallic symbolism and wondered if he was ever going to take his own advice.

"When was the last time we shot some pool?" he asked suddenly.

"I can't even remember," Clark confessed.

"Then it's been too long. C'mon, I'll let you break."

 

Long after Clark had left, and Lex had showered and changed, he continued to consider the advice he had given freely. If the past was really the past and he thought Adam was such a good guy, albeit one who had alluded to fucking his brother, which thank God, wasn't true, did that really mean that Lex could forgive Adam for not sharing his past? It wasn't as though Lex had actually shared any of his past with Adam, but if Adam wanted to know about Lex's past he could get on the Internet and pull up thousands of webpages archiving Lex's past exploits. Except that reading it and hearing it from the proverbial horse's mouth were not the same thing.

Shaking his head, Lex went back to flipping through several Golden Age issues of Warrior Angel in hopes of alleviating the dark cloud over his head. Eventually he put the magazines aside and found himself sticking on Let it Bleed and turning up the music to deafening levels.

He didn't do regret well, and sadly, there was no one's parachute he could sabotage this time either.

In the end, it was only because he had to go to the bathroom that he heard the pounding on the front door at all. The sight that greeted Lex when he opened the door instantly made him suspicious, since hope always tended to bear a double-edged sword.

Adam's nose was bright pink from the cold and his eyes were startlingly bright against the upturned collar of his wool coat.

Lex tilted his head to the side in careful consideration.

"Good, you're back," Adam said. "Now I can use the piano without your minions thinking I'm going to try and smuggle it out the front door."

He brushed past Lex without saying anything further and headed down the hall, papers under his arm and sneakers squeaking against the wood floors.

Lex found himself smiling and shaking his head. He shut the door and followed Adam down the hall, gospel singers ringing in his ears the entire way. As he crossed the threshold of his office, however, the CD abruptly cut off.

"I prefer Sticky Fingers," Adam pronounced as the stepped away from the tiny Bang and Olufsen mini-system.

Lex opened his mouth to say something, but for the first time in recent history nothing came out.

Adam made no eye contact with Lex as he crossed the room and set the large folder of sheet music on the piano. After tossing his coat on the nearest surface, he sat down and rapidly began to play something which that have been 'Sympathy for the Devil.'

Lex had to give Adam credit for his sense of humor. It was certainly warped, and it complemented Lex's rather well. He was loath to say he'd missed it, but he had.

His feet subconsciously carried him over to the piano, and he slipped his hands in his pockets as he watched Adam play fervently. He'd missed watching this, too. There was something about Adam's passion for the piano that made Lex content. He couldn't think of an adequate comparison when he thought of Clark, and, for the first time, he realized it didn't actually matter.

Adam and Clark weren't the same. They weren't even close. That was what made the both intriguing.

"Shut up," Adam said abruptly.

Lex came back to reality sharply. "Excuse me?"

"You're thinking too loud." Adam's fingers crashed down on the keys.

Lex's eyes narrowed. "I'm trying to --"

Adam cut him off. "I'm trying to play."

"You do realize you're a guest in my home?"

Adam paused mid-bar. "Then you can kick me out anytime," he said before going back to the piano.

Lex didn't do disbelief terribly well, but that was the only name he could give to his expression. No one had ever dared to talk to him in such a way. People who were willing to stand up to him were few and far between. Truthfully, it made his dick hard.

Ignoring the call of his libido, he turned sharply on his heel, stalked back to the sofa and gathered up the comic books he had left neglected. Putting them back in some semblance of order, he crossed to the doors and prepared to leave. If he wanted attitude he could call his father, or Clark.

"You're fucking leaving again?" Adam's fingers crashed onto the keys and Lex tried to gather what little patience he had left.

"Was there something else you wanted?" he asked, tucking the comic books under one arm.

"An apology would be nice, but I suspect I'll be dead first." Adam moved from behind the piano, rapidly, and breached Lex's personal space in a matter of seconds. Lex watched the entire approach as though he'd been expecting it all along.

He cocked his head to the side, and considered Adam with something like condescending amusement. Adam's jeans were slung low on his hips and even Lex would've called the shirt purple.

"I have never lied to you. I asked you to back off, and you insisted on investigating me after I repeatedly asked you not to. You know what curiosity did to the cat," he tossed in as an afterthought.

"Anything else?" Lex asked.

"I won't be your blow-up toy, Lex. I'm not going to let you walk all over me just because you need vast quantities of therapy."

Lex shifted the comic books from one arm to the other. "I've already had therapy; it did wonders for my temperament."

"I can tell." Adam's tone was impossibly dry.

"What are you reading?" Adam plucked one of the protected sheaths from Lex's arms. "Warrior Angel, huh?"

"Is that a problem?"

"No, I just took you for more of a 'Transmetropolitan' kind of guy, less into the typical superheroes."

Lex took the comic back unceremoniously, bumping into the wall as Adam stepped that inch closer. "Who said anything about me being into typical anything?"

He was taken off guard when Adam snatched the remaining books from his arms and tossed them all on the floor.

"If you crease it, you pay for it," he warned.

Adam shook his head. "What do you want from me?" he asked considering Lex very carefully. "Really."

Lex didn't blink. "I want the truth."

"The truth is that I'm no different than anybody else who's trying to make something of their life after something bad in their past. Either you accept this or you don't."

"Your past is a little too clean," Lex pointed out. "And Lucas told me about your propensity for getting into trouble."

Adam smirked. "I think trouble is all a matter of your point of view -- like the law."

"You don't have a lot of faith in the law, do you?"

"It's never done anything for me."

Lex considered the directness of Adam's response for several seconds. "You could've just said something," he said eventually.

"That's not the point," Adam stepped back and Lex moved forward.

"It wasn't about what I had or hadn't done, it was about you letting me tell you if I wanted to. Your strong-arming techniques may work on feeble people, but I've got some Jedi Mind Tricks of my own. Either you believe me or you don't, and I suspect you have a polygraph somewhere in this house if you're feeling uncertain," Adam said.

Lex couldn't fail to be amused. "Are you trying to make me believe that you were going to tell me? I think I'm a little old for fairy tales."

He moved to brush by Adam but was waylaid by the hand on his arm. Adam's audacity never failed to impress him.

"I'll go if you're going to be dense about this," he said, "but don't expect Clark to come rushing up once the door closes behind me. You say you don't believe in fairy tales, but he's never going to understand you the way I do."

Lex's hand came down over Adam's in a grip that could've fractured the bones of someone smaller.

"You. Understand. Me." Lex enunciated each word carefully, using his body to crowd Adam against the wall he'd just left. Adam smelled like lemon shampoo and sweat, and his breath was moist against the skin on Lex's face. "You don't even know me."

Adam gazed back at him, unfazed. "I better know you, because you're too much like me for it to be indecision, and far be it from me to suffer from the grave mental disease."

"Plato was a smart man," Lex breathed against Adam's mouth as Adam's hands fisted in his worn Princeton shirt.

When Lex kissed Adam he could still taste the bitterness and the anger, but he found something else that he'd missed earlier -- truth. He couldn't remember the last time he'd had that from anyone. He nipped at Adam's lower lip and licked at the spot knowing it would bruise.

He'd left enough scratches and scrapes on this body to know that Adam wasn't some mutant with a grudge against Luthor Corp. He wasn't a young boy who lied to Lex's face and expected him to pretend that it was the truth, either. All things considered, he could do a lot worse.

"It'll never be love," Lex said pulling the hem of Adam's shirt over his head as Adam's fingers scrabbled at the waist of his jeans.

"Love is death," Adam chuckled against Lex's neck, even as Lex kicked his legs apart and rubbed Adam's prominent erection.

Lex's kiss was harsh, but the brush of his tongue was soft. "I expect we'll live a long time then."

Adam shrugged. "We could do worse."

 

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