Pairings/Characters: (these chapters): Clark/Bruce (Clark does not appear in Ch. 1), Alfred Pennyworth, Ollie/Chloe (Chloe does not appear in Ch. 3, Ollie does not appear in Ch. 11-14), Martha Kent, Sam Cook, Alma Henderson, Rosa Marinetti, Clark/Lex, Bruce/Lex, Jenny Mallow, Lex Luthor, Adele Simmons, Tom Wilson, Cora Mallow
Continuity: Smallville & Batman Begins/The Dark Knight
Genres: Angst, Challenge, Drama, Mystery
Warnings: (Ch. 16: Violence)
Summary: An exhausted Clark and Bruce vacation in Smallville, where Clark’s sudden obsession over memories of his first love, Lex, causes insecurities to rise in Bruce. Meanwhile, an old enemy is preparing the way for a re-appearance for a final confrontation with the World’s Finest.
Beta: The fantastic me_ya_ri! :)
Artist: The marvelous ctbn60! :) Art can be found here on LJ and A03.
Dates Of Completion: September 11-October 19, 2011
Date Of Posting: October 25, 2013
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 23,277
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author's Note: Originally written for tmelange's proposed A Dark Knight In Smallville fanzine.
All chapters can be found here.
Are like rubble
Cracked and gray.
Morning came early on the Kent Farm, and Bruce moaned at the thought of getting up with the sun.
“The sun in the sky, not you,” he grumbled.
Clark laughed and patted Bruce’s shoulder. “I’ll take pity on you, city boy. Sleep to your heart’s desire. I’m going to do some chores and then head into town for our groceries.”
“Mmph,” Bruce said from the depths of his pillow.
Clark kissed his lover’s shoulder and went to take a shower.
Downstairs, he went out to the barn and did a few chores. He missed Bessie and the other cows, but they had a good home with the Wilsons now.
He went back inside the house and cooked up a breakfast of toast and bacon, only a few slices of the latter left in the refrigerator. There were only a few slices of bread left, too, so the trip to town was essential.
He left Bruce a note about the bread so that he could have toast when he woke up and went out to the back of the house. The truck was still there, and a turn of the key in the ignition revealed that it was still in running condition. He smiled as the truck bounced down the driveway.
He took his time, because even in Smallville businesses opened at a reasonable hour. He stopped at </i>The Bluebird Diner</i>, greeted by Sam, the owner and cook (whose last name Cook provided endless amusement), and Alma, the gum-chewing waitress who had been a fixture here for years. Her ginger hair was piled on the top of her head, the little white frilly cap perched precariously on her curls. Today she was wearing a yellow-and-white uniform. She had a different-colored uniform for every day of the week.
“You’re wearing yellow. It must be Friday,” Clark smiled.
Alma laughed and lightly punched his shoulder. “Aren’t you a comedian! Sam, isn’t he a comedian?”
“He’s a regular Denis Leary,” Sam drawled.
“Ha, ha,” Clark said. He happily accepted a piece of apple pie from Alma.
“I didn’t know you were in town, Clark.”
“Yes, I got in yesterday. Bruce and I are on vacation.”
“Oh, that’s nice. How come he isn’t with you? Too early for the city boy?” she smirked.
Clark laughed as he picked up his fork. “You’ve got that right.” He took a bite of his pie. “Mmm, delicious as always, Sam.”
“You better believe it, Clark. My pies are rivaled only by your mother’s.” The stocky cook was the epitomes of the typical short-order cook: hairy arms, stubbled jaw, and a grease-splattered apron, but his kitchen was spotless.
“I’d say you give Mom a run for her money.”
Sam grinned and banged some pots and pans as bacon crackled in the frying pan.
“So, how long you stayin’?” Alma asked as two farmers at the end of the counter argued over the Metropolis Sharks’ chances this season.
“We’re not sure. We’re both exhausted from hectic city lives, and, um, Bruce had an accident.”
“Oh, dear! Is he all right?”
“He got banged up, so we decided to take a vacation.”
“Well, Smallville will help him. Good for what ails ya!” Alma lightly beat her chest as Clark grinned.
“Not any meteor mutants sightings lately?”
“Nope, which is a blessin’.” Alma picked up the coffeepot. “You haven’t seen any signs of ‘em, have ya?”
“Good.” Alma adjusted her sleeve cuff. “I’ve had enough to last me a lifetime.”
Privately, Clark agreed. Meteor mutants always spelled trouble, and another soul was lost. When infected by meteor rock (now know as Kryptonite), the victim developed a psychosis that, in conjunction with their newly-acquired powers, became a deadly combination.
Clark finished his pie and coffee and left a generous tip. He left to a chorus of fond goodbyes, going out into the crisp autumn air, dressed in warm red flannel, blue jeans, and workboots. He got into the truck and drove to Main Street, parking by the fruit store.
Smallville had small stores for its food service, the nearest supermarket located over in Granville. Some of the town’s citizens made occasional runs to the supermarket for items unavailable in town, but a weekly shopping list could be filled here.
“Hello, Mrs. Marinetti,” said Clark cheerfully as he entered the fruit store, happily inhaling the scent of peaches, apples, nectarines, and dozens of other fruits.
“Oh, hello, Clark!” The portly woman smiled. Her black hair was neatly-coiffed, and tiny silver bell earrings tinkled as she moved her head. “Good to see you, sweetheart.”
Clark was always glad to see the Italian-American woman, hr motherly interest making him feel special. He adjusted his glasses and picked up a basket, filling it with lush peaches, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries and kiwi fruit. Bruce was especially fond of blueberries, so Clark made sure to choose the plumpest, juiciest specimens, selecting several boxes.
“Are you staying long?” asked Mrs. Marinetti.
“For a couple of weeks.”
“You alone, or are Chloe and that nice Oliver with you?”
“I’m here with Bruce.”
“Oh, that’s nice. He needs to get away from those awful paparazzi.”
“Yes.” Clark ruefully remembered being a feature story more than once on shows like TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, and Access Hollywood. Apparently the Prince of Gotham dating a reporter, even a Pulitzer Prize-winning one, was just too juicy and puzzling to fathom. “I doubt that any of them could find Smallville on a map.”
She laughed. “Bet you’re right.”
Clark made trips to the butcher and general store, making a final stop at the sweets shop. When he was done with the grocery list, he got back in the truck and headed for home.
On the way he saw the small dirt road that led to the Luthor estate. Suddenly sad, he made a quick decision and turned down the road, eventually stopping the truck in the driveway after passing through the front gates, left sagging open as no one lived here anymore.
Clark got out of the truck, staring at the blackened ruins of the Luthor Castle, damaged walls sticking up toward the sky, weeds and trees encroaching on the crumbling stone and gradually claiming the ruins for their own.
Clark walked slowly toward the front door, the sturdy oak charred now, and he bypassed it for a hole in the wall.
Inside, the foyer was rubble, the enormous crystal chandelier smashed to pieces, its shards glittering among weeds and chunks of stone. The grand staircase curved up to nowhere, the sky seen through another gaping hole.
Clark picked his way through the rubble, entering the library. His stomach clenched as he saw the blackened fireplace, the beloved books charred and further damaged by rain, patches of sky showing through holes in the roof.
He walked toward the desk, the silver pen set gone, probably stolen, and the LexCorp paperweight cracked as it lay in the rubble, the glass illuminated by diamond-shaped rainbow light, the stained-glass window somehow still intact.
The sadness grew heavier as Clark spotted the pool table, remembering all the good times with Lex playing pool, talking about books and the latest town gossip, and sitting by the fire drinking hot chocolate and eating his mother’s gingerbread or Cook’s chocolate chip cookies.
Good times supplanted by arguments fueled by fear, suspicions, and disappointment on both sides, until finally their friendship had crumbled like the stone walls, reduced to rubble at their feet.
He doesn’t even remember me now.
At love’s foundation,
‘Til the cracks finally
Break it apart.
Lady Susan Elsinore
Clark’s heart pounded as he whirled, but there was no one there. He did a quick scan with his X-ray vision, but he was alone.
This place must have spooked me more than I realized
He wondered why the ruins had been allowed to stand. Lionel and Tess were gone, and Lex was…well, Lex remembered nothing about Smallville.
He doesn’t remember those good times, our friendship, our…romance.
Clark kicked at a chunk of stone wall, remembering a day in this room long ago…
“Hello, Clark.” Lex’s smile was welcoming, as always. “Why so excited?”
“I won the writing contest!” Clark flapped a piece of paper with the award-winning notice.
Geuninely delighted, Lex said, “That’s great, Clark! You get a chance to get an article published in The Daily Planet and $500, right?” He looked at the paper.
“That’s right.” Clark’s eyes sparkled. “I’m really good, Lex.”
Lex smiled. “I agree.”
“You encouraged me, Lex. I wouldn’t have done it without you.” Excited, Clark flung his arms around his friend and hugged him, brushing his lips across Lex’s cheek. Flustered, he pulled back, and saw Lex’s gray-blue eyes looking at him, his feelings mirrored in those eyes. “Lex…”
Lex’s hand cupped Clark’s face and he leaned forward, kissing the younger man gently.
Clark brushed his fingers across his lips, his hand slowly dropping to his side. A robin flew in through the hole in the ceiling, Clark sighing as he gazed upon the shadows, the gloom pierced by autumn sunlight. Rays of mellow gold bathed the desk, Clark holding his hand out and absorbing the sunshine on his skin, turning away as he left the library.
Outside he breathed in the fresh air, rubbing one arm as he tried to let the melancholy wash away.
Bruce watched the toast pop up, grabbing both slices. He spread strawberry jam over the toast, drinking apple juice as he sat at the kitchen table. He half-remembered Clark telling him that he was going to town for groceries, which was a good thing. The refrigerator was nearly empty, though the freezer was half-full.
His leg throbbed, reminding him that he needed to take his pain pill. His wrist ached and his ankle was sore, so the pill would help with those nagging pains, too.
He sighed. He had enjoyed a good night’s sleep but still felt tired.
You must be getting old, Wayne. A good night’s sleep should do the trick.
He grimaced as he drank his juice. His high standards were not taking into account human frailties, namely, that after weeks of little or no sleep, combined with painful injuries, his body needed more than just one night of sleep not induced by pills.
Clark’s way better than any sleeping pill.
He smiled at that thought, eating his toast. Eyes sparkling, he let his mind spin silly scenarios.
If I bottled Essence of Clark, I’d make a fortune. Women and men would go crazy for it. Bottle his sunlight, his good cheer, his compassion, his sexiness…
Bruce laughed. Maybe he was loopy from meds. He finished his toast and juice and hobbled over to the sink to wash the plate and glass.
Bruce was sitting on the swing by the time Clark got back from town. He was shaved, showered and dressed, feeling a little mellow after taking his pain pill.
“Hey, you’re up!” Clark said as he exited the truck.
Clark grinned at the snarkiness. “I’ll just unload the groceries and be right out.”
Clark unloaded two sacks and walked past Bruce in to the house, quickly returning for the next load.
“Why don’t you park next to the kitchen door and unload there?”
“Maybe I like to see your smiling face.”
Clark grinned and went in with two more sacks.
Bruce gently rocked in the swing, pushing off with his good foot. Birds were singing in the trees, a slight breeze blowing.
Clark came out to join Bruce after the groceries were put away. He offered Bruce a cup of hot chocolate, which his lover accepted.
“I bought a bag at the general store.”
Clark smiled as he sipped his hot chocolate, sitting on the railing.
As Bruce drank, he frowned slightly. Something was off about Clark.
“Clark.” Bruce snapped his fingers. “Earth to Clark.”
Clark chuckled. “You’re sure you don’t mean Earth to Krypton?”
“That, too.” Bruce cocked his head. “What’s wrong?”
Clark sighed as he stared down into his mug. “It’s that obvious?”
“I stopped by the castle.”
“The Luthor mansion. Or what’s left of it.”
Bruce felt the tightening of his stomach. “Why?”
“I’m not sure, but I just felt drawn to the site. I spent a lot of happy hours there.”
Bruce took a deep breath. “You loved him.”
Clark looked up, startled. “Yes.” He smiled slightly. “I was terribly young, all lovesick over Lana, but Lex stirred things in me I’d never felt before.” He wiped his eyes. “Now he doesn’t even remember me.”
“It’s probably for the best,” Bruce said quietly.
“I know. Lex Luthor knowing my secret identity is not a good thing, but it still hurts that he’ll only see me as this alien he hates, instead of as Clark, whom he loved.”
The sadness in Clark’s voice hurt Bruce. He sipped his hot chocolate. “I’m sorry.”
Clark sighed. “It’s been over a long a time.” He looked off into the distance. “I was too young to make it work, and I was afraid to tell him the truth, which ultimately drove Lex away.”
“To be fair, Clark, that was a pretty big secret you were protecting. You couldn’t afford to let the wrong people know about you.”
“I know.” Clark sounded unconvinced.
“Lex always let his curiosity get the better of him.”
“I forget that you knew him, too.”
“When were both very young.”
“Yeah.” Clark sipped his drink. “I just hope I learned from my mistakes.”
Bruce looked guiltily at his mug. He had told Clark that he had been friends with Lex.
He had never revealed that he had slept with him.
"HAPPINESS IS WARM BUNS…"
Old Roman Saying
1st Century B.C.E.
Bruce was still bone-tired, and stretching out on the living room couch seemed to be just his speed right now. Clark had insisted that he not contact Ollie or Dinah in Gotham, and Bruce did not even argue. Despite his giving Ollie a hard time, he knew that the archer was more than capable of filling in. Dinah had teased about dressing up in a Bat-costume and calling herself Batwoman.
She’d make a damn fine Batwoman.
He scrunched the pillow beneath his head. He had been thinking more about legacies lately. Clark had Kara to wear the shield, and Ollie and Dinah had a partnership. They had been training Mia Dearden until she had been injured in a car accident, sidelining her temporarily, but the idea of a protégé was intriguing. A.C. had Mera for his partner, and Vic and Bart often teamed up.
</i>What’s the matter, Bruce? The loner image not working for you anymore?</i> He pounded the pillow again. You have Clark, though we both have our own cities. Still, the media dubbed us the ‘World’s Finest’. He tried to get comfortable, but his assorted injuries made it difficult.
A quilt was draped over him and he smiled. “Thank you, Alfred.”
Clark chuckled. “Go to sleep, Bruce.”
Bruce was more than happy to oblige, his tired mind drifting off to sleep.
“So, poor little rich kid get spanked by the headmaster?”
Bruce yawned. “There aren’t any headmasters at college, Lex.”
“A mere detail.” Lex waved his hand.
Bruce drank from his plastic cup, the sharp tang of Jim Beam burning down his throat. Unruly hair hanging in his eyes, his pulse thrummed in tune with the beat of the ancient stereo downstairs.
“This frat is the best on campus,” Lex said, lolling on the bed of his room.
“Yeah.” Bruce’s eyes glittered and he kicked the door shut, locking it. “Best for partying.”
Lex smiled. “You got an idea, Wayne?”
“More like an urge, Luthor.”
Lex grinned as Bruce moved toward the bed.
“Lex,” Bruce muttered.
Clark’s super-hearing heard Bruce. He felt a little guilty talking about Lex to his current lover, but Bruce knew about Lana and Lois, so Lex should be mentioned, too.
He resumed chopping onions for the hamburgers. There were large red onion slices and the chopped bits so that he and Bruce could choose.
Setting aside the bowl of onions, he went to the refrigerator and took out hamburger meat, glad that he had remembered not o put it in the freezer, though a judicious burst of heat vision could take care of that. Smiling, he set the meat on the cutting board and began adding bits of egg and breadcrumbs, including doses of Worcestershire sauce.
Cooking did not seem to be part of his rich boyfriends’ skills. Lex had been clueless in the kitchen, and Bruce was even worse. He himself was not Martha Kent or Alfred Pennyworth, but he could boil water without burning it. He smiled at an old memory…
“C’mon, Lex, your kitchen is stocked enough to feed all of Smallville.”
“It is not. It’s just stocked enough to feed you.”
Clark rooted around through the cabinets, mentally cataloguing ingredients, then crossed to the enormous refrigerator and gawked at the contents.
“I was wrong. You couldn’t just feed Smallville, you could feed Granville and Smallville.”
Lex smirked , standing by the table as he watched Clark take inventory. “Find anything you like?”
“Wow, you know it. Let’s see, we’ve got enough in here to make a good stew.”
“You’re the boss.”
“In the kitchen? You bet.”
Lex laughed. “Give me your marching orders, Boss.”
Clark’s smile lit up his handsome face. He and Lex had enjoyed their cooking experience, Lex more than willing to help prepare their lunch, something usually only his hired help did.
Clark’s smile faded as his thoughts drifted. Oh, Lex, you were so willing to experience ordinary life, something you never had the opportunity to experience. Clark pressed his hand down to make patties. Where did it all go wrong? You were eager to take part in my life, become part of the town, and fight Lionel to protect everybody. He paused staring down at the hamburgers. Lex, what happened to you?
Clark nearly jumped. Damn Bat-stealth! “You’re up? I could have brought you something to eat.”
“I’m not hungry.”
Clark glanced over his shoulder. “Are you in pain?”
“No, I’m good. Are you all right?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You just seem sad.” Bruce used the crutch to cone all the way into the kitchen. “Are you tired?”
“I should help out more.” Guilt laced his voice.
“You’re here to rest.”
“Doesn’t mean I can’t help. Beside, you’re here to rest, too.”
“You help in the kitchen? Why is it that I attract all the culinary incompetents?”
Bruce smirked, far from affronted. “Looks like hamburgers. Good choice.”
“It’ll be a gastronomic feast. I’ll put these on the grill and we can have ourselves a cook-out.”
“A cook-out? It’s pretty chilly out there.”
“What, the Bat is afraid of a little cool weather?”
“I’m a recuperating man,” Bruce whined.
“Ha, ha.” Clark placed the patties on a plate and looked in the breadbox. “You want your buns grilled?”
Bruce snorted. “I like warm buns.”
Clark’s smile was blinding.
Bruce had to admit that the cook-out idea was not a bad one. The smell of grilling meat touched something primeval in him.
“Huh. Great big caveman cooking his kill.”
Clark laughed. “More like the butcher shop’s weekly special.”
Bruce smirked as he drank his beer, leaning against the house. The kitchen table was set with their plates, cups and utensils, a bottle of ketchup, and jars of pickles and mustard. Two bowls of red onions were set out: one with large slices and one with chopped bits. Bruce’s stomach growled.
“I know these aren’t Kobe beef hamburgers, but it’s the best Arnie the butcher’s got.”
“They’ll do.” Bruce took another swig of beer. “You’ll do.”
Clark smiled, looking up shyly though his lashes. Bruce’s heart fluttered.
I don’t know how Lex resisted as long as he did.
By the time Bruce had met Clark, his lover had been fully mature. What must have he been like in the full bloom of youth? The pictures from that time gave him an idea, but Bruce suspected that they did not do him justice.
Clark had returned his attention to the grill, a small round machine that was painted apple-red.
Bruce wondered if his and Lex’s attraction to Clark was partly that of two jaded, corrupted souls thirsting for genuine innocence and beauty. Clark was without artifice, and would be a completely open book if he did not have secrets to keep. Otherwise to those privileged to know the real Clark behind the bumbling facade, he was both shy and confident, an oddly-alluring mix.
Lex must have been blown away when he first laid eyes on Clark. Sure, he’d just been rescued from drowning, but that must have made seeing him for the first time even more of an impact. Clark all wet, backlit by the sun? Be still, my heart
Clark flipped the burgers over. He had been cheerful enough since his return from town, but Bruce could see the pensive mood just at the edges.
That’s usually my schtick, Clark.
Maybe only Clark would mourn the loss of a romance with a man who openly scorned him now as Superman and was oblivious to him as Clark Kent.
He missed his old friend, too. He missed Lex’s cynical, snarky attitude which had matched his own in his younger days, both of them embittered by loss and a worldview that Clark would never understand.
“I think they’re ready.”
“The hamburgers are ready.”
“Oh! Great, I’m starving.”
Clark shook his head fondly as he scooped up the cooked burgers with a spatula and deposited them on a plate, following Bruce inside as the wind suddenly picked up, dark clouds gathering on the horizon.
He drifted, floating endlessly in gloomy halls and crumbling rooms. Sometimes the walls were gone and he was in a field of scorched grass, withered cornstalks as far as the eye could see. The sky was gray and it began to rain, the drops turning into glowing green meteors as hanks of red silk fell from his head to the ground, washing away as the rain came down harder. The earth began to tremble and a great, yawning abyss opened at his feet.
A voice whispered on the wind, “Why fight me, Lex? You are inferior, but your mind shows promise. Do not cower in the shadows. Accept your fate and you can rule the world with me. Your ambition will far out-do your father’s, and so will your success.”
The green glow started to flicker in the abyss, eating away at the edges, creeping up toward him with inexorable speed.
“I will destroy Kal-El and then no one on Earth can stop me, including you.”
Lex screamed as he fell into the pit.
Lex abruptly awakened at his office desk, his heart pounding. Odd that he was having dreams lately. He had not dreamed in years.
A man with no soul rarely dreams.
The desk intercom buzzed. “Stryker here, Mr. Luthor. We’ve found them. They’re in Smallville.”
“Thank you. Keep me informed as to whether they leave.”
Lex glanced down at the legal pad on his desk. His handwriting was scrawled across the paper.
Bruce slept most of the days, a routine forming on this rest-and-recuperation vacation. He would sleep until mid-morning while Clark did chores, went out to the fields to harvest pumpkins or help with bringing in the last of the corn. He would return for lunch, Bruce eating a light breakfast that Clark had left for him. Bruce would fall asleep in the afternoon, usually on the living room couch or in the loft as Clark wrote on his laptop or read a book. They shared a good dinner together, Clark whipping up delicious meals that Bruce said was partway to Alfred and Martha level.
“Only halfway?” Clark smiled.
“Hey, we’re talking gold medalists here.”
“Well, I’ll agree with that.”
The evenings were quiet, spent listening to music and talking about little things of no consequence, or the biggest things in the world. It was all the same, or very different. It didn’t really matter, as long as they were together.
As Bruce slept on the living room couch on the fourth day, Clark quietly turned the page of the magazine in his lap. He fixed his gaze on Bruce, pleased that his friend was getting the rest he so desperately needed. He treasured every moment of their time together.
So why haven’t I told him that every day, I’ve gone to the ruins?
Guilt made his heart heavy, but he still cherished the time.
He was not sure why he kept going back to the ruins. One visit should have been enough to break his heart, he thought sadly
It still hurts, even after all these years.
The ticking of the grandfather clock complemented the sound of Bruce’s breathing. From far off, a dog barked while an owl hooted close to the house.
So different here from Metropolis and Gotham. When Lex first came to Smallville, he couldn’t get used to the quiet, especially at night. He asked me how do you get to sleep without sirens and cars and helicopters buzzing around?
Clark smiled, adjusting his glasses. He had gotten used to them in the past several years, a part of his disguise but a part of him now, too.
He rested his head back against the chair. Sitting in his father’s favorite chair felt relaxing, something that Bruce probably felt when he did the same thing in the Manor. Lex, on the other hand…
I haven’t thought this much about Lex in years, though he’s never far from my subconscious. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. If things had worked out between us, we’d be together right now. Just your luck, Lex, to meet me when I was just a scared kid. He looked at his companion. Bruce was luckier.
Guilt flowed through him: guilt for failing Lex, guilt for thinking that he would still be with him, cutting Bruce out of the picture.
He sighed. Why did life have to be so complicated?
“Clark never gives up on someone he loves.”
The sunlight glinted off Martha’s hair as she stood on the porch, the autumn day brilliant around her. He could see why Jonathan Kent had fallen so hard for her.
“That’s encouraging for me.” Bruce shifted his feet.
She laughed and squeezed his hand. “You have nothing to worry about. You’re perfect for him.”
”He couldn’t make it work with Lana. It was just too exhausting, too back-and-forth, to ultimately work.
“Lois looked promising, but when they literally tried to get married a dozen times with something always preventing it, they decided that the Universe was trying to tell them something, and called it quits.
“And Lex…well, Lex and Clark met at the wrong time. Too many lies, too many misunderstandings, too much immaturity on both their parts.”
“But Clark still loves Lex?”
“A part of him always will.”
Bruce awoke fully, his hand groping for Clark. A warm hand closed over his.
“Ready for supper?” Clark asked.
“All I do is eat and sleep,” Bruce groused.
“And you do it so beautifully, too."
Bruce groaned as he pushed Clark away, his companion laughing.
“I’ll put the roast chicken in the oven, and maybe some baked potatoes and some fresh corn. How’s that sound?”
“Like I’m in Smallville.”
Clark laughed again and went to the kitchen.
The wind rattled the windowpanes, Bruce stretching. He thought he heard someone whisper, “He’s coming,” but Clark was whistling as he prepared supper.
Just the wind.
The next morning, Bruce got up a little earlier, eating breakfast alone. He felt more rested but restless, if that made sense, he though wryly. He took his crutch and hobbled outside after donning his leather jacket. It was a beautiful morning, bright and golden and was like Clark smiling at him.
Man, you are far gone!
But he smiled as he took in the deep lungfuls of fresh air. His gaze fell upon the barn and he headed toward it, going inside and making his way laboriously up the stairs to Clark’s loft.
He had to admit that it was a great view from up here of the fields and woods, especially at this time of year with it all of its fall colors. He started to go closer to the window when he knocked a book off the desk. He bent down to pick it up and his gaze fell on the page that was open.
I really like spending time with Lex. He makes me feel special.
Bruce noticed the date of the entry as being in Clark’s first year of high school, when he first met Lex.
Fifteen and fresh. Oh, Lex, you were one lucky man.
Bruce began to return the journal to the desk but he was too curious. Shoving aside his guilt, he rationalized that if Clark wanted his journal to be unread, he wouldn’t have left it on the desk and would have hidden it away. He sat on the couch and began reading, unable to pass up the opportunity to learn more about Clark and Lex’s relationship, since his lover didn’t give him many details.
September 27, 2001
I can’t believe it. I got hit by Lex Luthor’s car on the bridge over the Eben River. It was a close call for both of us. I saved Lex from drowning and I know he’s sure he hit me. I hated lying to him, but I have no choice. I can’t risk anyone but Mom and Dad knowing my Secret. I don’t want to be a lab rat, which is what I will be if the Government finds out about me, and Mom and Dad would be in danger, too. What’s to stop the Government from taking them away to keep them quiet?
Bruce was struck by the enormity of the burden that a young Clark Kent had carried, not only for himself but for his parents, too.
Little wonder that he was so reluctant to tell Lex the truth. And knowing Lex, his curiosity made him push. Clark would have been the ultimate mystery for him to solve.
He turned the page, still feeling guilty but unable to stop reading.
September 27, 2002
I love Lex.
I guess that sounds silly, a 16-year-old in love with someone so smart and sophisticated. I bet he’d just laugh, but I can’t help it.
And now isn’t that just a fine kettle of fish, like Dad would say. Not only am I an alien, but now I’m gay. Or maybe bisexual. I really do have feelings for Lana. I’m so mixed up!
I bet you were. Bruce remembered his own sexual confusion at that age, but he had managed to figure things out. Ironically, with Lex’s help.
He smiled as the memories of his romps with Lex came to him bright and clear, full of snark and cynicism and hot sex. He chuckled softly as he remembered making love with Lex…
“Mmm, Bruce, harder.”
Bruce smiled as he increased his rhythm, sliding in-and-out of smooth flesh. Lex grunted, a sheen of sweat glistening on his skin. Bruce thrust in harder and faster, joy singing throughh is veins as he felt close to coming, his body thrumming with anticipation.
“Ugh, Bruce, now!”
Bruce thrust one final time, stars sparkling in front of his eyes. He could feel Lex shudder beneath him as he slid bonelessly on top of his lover.
“What are you doing?”
Bruce jumped, dropping the journal to the floor. He found himself looking into the angry blue eyes of his lover.
Clark bent down and retrieved his journal. “Are you in the habit of reading other people’s private journals?”
“I knocked it off the desk and it opened.”
“So you just decided to read it all?”
Bruce flushed guiltily. “I’m sorry, Clark. It’s just that I saw an entry about Lex…”
Clark snapped the journal shut. “My past with Lex is my business!”
“He was my friend, too.”
Clark put the journal back on the desk. “I know, but it’s different for me.”
Slightly stung, Bruce asked, “Do you regret the way things ended between you and him?”
“If Lex hadn’t gone off the deep end, you would have tried to get back with him, wouldn’t you?”
Clark frowned. “There was too much water under the bridge.”
“But you would have tried.”
“Well, of course, Bruce. Lex was my first love.”
Martha’s voice echoed in Bruce’s head: Clark never gives up on someone he loves.
“But it didn’t happen. Lex and I grew too far apart and then he sank into the darkness.” Clark looked out over the fields.
“Where were you?” Bruce asked, a sudden suspicion popping into his head.
“Hmm?” Clark seemed to be listening to something.
“I asked, where were you?”
“Out in the fields. I am a landlord, after all.”
“You’re also a terrible liar.”
Clark's head shot up. "What do you mean?" His eyes sparked with anger.
“You were at the ruins again.”
Clark looked away, a slight flush of color suffusing his cheeks. “Yes,” he said.
“Why?” Bruce asked through gritted teeth.
”I don’t know.”
“Trying to recapture past glory? Remembering better days?”
Clark looked back at Bruce, angry again. “What are you talking about, Bruce?”
“I’m talking about you and your first love, Clark. Lana was a crush. Lex reached down into your soul.”
“You know I’ve always regretted the way my relationship with Lex ended.”
“To the point of standing in the ruins and weeping over what could have been? Forget it: he’s gone.”
“God, Bruce, you’re an ass.” Clark stalked down the stairs and out of the barn.
Bruce grabbed the journal off the desk and flung it across the loft to smash against the wall. He collapsed on the couch, limbs trembling.