Title: Butter or Margarine? (Nourishment: Second Helpings 9)
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
Feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Archive: Mailing list archives only--others please ask permission!
Category: Story, Lex POV
Spoilers: Moving beyond season 3 as it should have been done
Rating: T (suitable for older teens or above due to sexual content)
Pairing: Clark/Lex established relationship, Clark/other in the past
Summary: There's truth, and then there's truth
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me. Smallville is the property of Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Tollin-Robbins Productions, and Warner Bros. Television, and based upon characters originally created by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster. This story is just for the entertainment of my online friends and myself, not for any profit.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: "The Nourishment Series", which precedes this series, can be found elsewhere on this archive - Enjoy!
AUTHOR'S ADDENDUM: The show as we knew it no longer exists--we've gotta write it ourselves now.
DEDICATION: For S, who holds a different torch, too. Happy birthday!
COPYRIGHT: (C) Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, October 21, 2005, email@example.com
Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.
Clark lies. This is an established fact.
I love him without question. This is another fact. I haven't decided lately if I love him in spite of his lies, or because of them.
He trusts me so much, but not with the truth. This is our pattern, one I'd like to change, but I'd hate to lose him by pushing too hard. Still, it would be nice to know it all.
As a small celebration of my being home, and of the last night before school starts, we had a nice catered dinner here tonight, just Clark, myself, and my houseguests: Chloe and her father. It was good to hear laughter in my dining room again--it had been far too long.
After dessert, the Sullivans departed on an excursion for some sort of supplies--I seem to recall the phrase "new laptop"--so Clark and I went to relax for awhile in my hot tub. The shadows of late August lurked just outside the windows by the pool, so I decided to leave the lights low in the room.
Clark emerged from the dressing area in a towel that he tossed aside as he slipped into the water beside me. We sat close on the same section of bench, smiling silently at each other and holding hands for a lovely moment.
Finally, he tipped his head just so and moved in to taste my mouth. My tongue met his where they exchanged greetings of their own. When we moved apart at last, I would have preferred some further contact, but I decided to broach some unfinished business.
"So, Clark," I began, prompting the most beautiful curious look to cross his face, setting off his kiss-reddened lips to perfect effect. "The other day, when we were out in the fields?"
"What did you want to talk to me about?"
I saw it immediately--the micro-expression of sheer panic followed by relaxed affability, sure signs that he was lying yet again. "Aw, it wasn't anything, Lex. Now, where were we?"
Before he could engage my mouth again, I held him off with gentle fingers to his sculpted chest. "No, I insist. You said it was important. We're alone and we have time. Tell me what you were going to tell me."
Stalling, he asked, "You really want to know?"
Hoping for any truth at all, I told some of my own. "Everything, always, because it's about you. Go ahead." I sat back and waited.
"Okay," he agreed at last. He visibly put together his speech in his head for several minutes. A few open-mouthed false starts, and finally he was on his way. "I wasn't completely honest about what I did last summer when I ran away to Metropolis..."
"I already forgave you for that, Clark. You don't have to tell me about it if you don't want to."
"But I do," he insisted. "Confession is good for the soul."
Propping my arms along the top rim of the tub, I leaned back and prepared to listen. "Have you sinned?"
"A little," he admitted with a sheepish grin that faded quickly. "I stole money to live on."
"Did you hurt anyone?"
"No--I didn't involve anyone else at all."
As he seemed disinclined to give further details, I gave him a pass. "It's still wrong--you know that. But a man's gotta live..." I nodded.
"Before that, though, I had a little bit of a business..."
His blush glowed crimson even in the dimmed light. "I was in a partnership with a nice man who paid me to do things for him."
God forgive me, but I couldn't resist teasing him about his choice of words. "What kind of things? Wash his car? Balance his checkbook?"
"No..." he drawled, then spat out almost in a single syllable, "I blew him."
I, who had once forsaken my perfect lover to take a vengeful wife, was nonetheless stung at his admission, and I fought hard not let it show. "You prostituted yourself?" I asked as calmly as I could.
"Yes, but it wasn't my idea..."
"He coerced you?"
"No," he answered, his eyes shut in shame. "He bought me dinner my first night in town, then expected something in return. I wasn't thinking clearly--I ended up making an arrangement with him. I'd give him blowjobs, and he'd give me money. He was actually very kind to me..."
My voice rang in the large, watery room, sounding as hollow as I felt inside. "Did he touch you?"
"Never," he declared, shaking his head and still avoiding my gaze. "I don't know if it helps, but I was trying to stay as faithful to you as I could."
"I'm glad to hear you were thinking of me in all of this..." I said, far more bitterly than I had really meant to.
He darted across the space between us and grabbed for my closest hand with both of his, making a small wave crest along the surface of the water. "You were lost, Lex. I wanted you, but I couldn't have you. I didn't know what else to do..."
Chastened, I swallowed down my misplaced and belated anger and tried to mend our fences. "You're right. I wasn't there to help you, and you did the best you could. It's not really anything I wouldn't have done had I been in the same position, I guess..."
Clark mindlessly petted my hand with his thumbs, searching for words. "I don't know if it makes it any better, but I am sorry," he said at last, very softly.
I brought my other hand to rest on top of both of his. "There's no need to apologize, baby," I assured him, "but I still forgive you if you need it." It took almost no effort to pull him closer just by the hands, where his arms wrapped around me easily, seeking and offering comfort all at once.
We held each other with no sexual overtones at all, even though we were naked together in the warm water. "So were you still seeing that guy when your dad found you?" I asked innocently.
I could feel him tense in my arms at my question. "No," he replied, pulling his chin away from my shoulder. "We'd had a fight and broken up a few weeks before that..."
"Really?" I pursued, the story attracting my attention irresistibly like a tongue toward a painful tooth. "Lover's spat? Did he want to take things further than you were willing to go?"
"I guess you could say that." Even in the low light, I was startled at the paleness of his usually golden complexion. "He wanted to fix me up with someone he knew, I assume to make a few brownie points."
Against my better judgement, I kept going. "Someone he knew? Who? His boss? Another lover?"
He fixed his eyes firmly on mine. With a crack in his voice, he said, "Your father."
The sheer force of will was all that prevented me from vomiting right then and there. "What?" I exclaimed instead.
Clark started babbling, though I'm not sure I heard more than every third word. "It was some kind of party, with all of these well-dressed men talking business, but not really. My benefactor was all excited about introducing me to someone very powerful who could, um, appreciate my skills and pay me even more than he was. He kept saying that this person was very interested in meeting me."
"He told my dad about you?"
"I'd only ever given William a fake name, so I don't think he would have known it was me. When I spotted Lionel across the room, I put two and two together and took off before he could see me."
I grabbed him by the shoulders. "Are you absolutely sure he didn't see or recognize you?"
A crooked micro-grin emphasized his answer. "I can disappear pretty effectively if I want to, in case you hadn't noticed."
I would have pursued this statement with further questions, but I wanted nothing so much as a stiff drink, perhaps straight gin with a touch of arsenic, given my new-found aversion to cyanide. "My father's out, and trolling for young bucks like you?" I wondered aloud.
Clark's forehead wrinkled as he sorted out this question. "You mean you knew he was gay?"
"Suspected, if not 'knew', per se. Something he told me once..." I found myself shivering despite the warm water surrounding me.
"He always acted sort of disgusted around me, at least when he wasn't busy seeming fascinated."
"Probably part and parcel of the same impulse. He pushed me to leave you, and to marry Helen for appearances..."
"He kept trying to break us up, but we showed him. We're still together..." He slid up close to me again and buried his nose in my neck.
I was unconsoled. "Of all the reasons I couldn't trust him, this is the last I would have expected."
"It's okay, Lex. He's locked away somewhere safe. He can't get to us now." Petting me gently, he began to kiss me again, probably intending to chase away the demons he could still see in my eyes.
My lover did his best to occupy my attention for the rest of the evening before he had to go home, but I kept returning to the thought of my old man seeking out the same pleasure for himself that he would deny to me. While I don't believe that it was the secret I'd hoped we'd discuss, it had its own weight and possible impact upon our future.
Clark, who always lies, chose tonight to tell the truth. I still must decide if this was a good thing.
Auto-Feedback Link! E-mail me with any comments!