Title: EMPTY BOTTLE (Nourishment 3.1)
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
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Category: Story, angst, Clark POV
Spoilers: Missing scene from not long before "Exile"
Rating: R for imagery and m/m sexual interaction
Pairing: Clark/Lex established relationship, Clark/other
Summary: Clark reflects on his Metropolitan adventures in his grief
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 NOTES: The rest of "The Nourishment Series" can be found elsewhere on this archive - Enjoy!
DEDICATION: For Tiff, whose faith never falters
COPYRIGHT: (C) Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, December 15, 2003, 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.
Lex is dead.
They were putting the early edition of the paper in the box outside the bar when I left after last call this morning. Spotting his name in the headline, I skimmed the story quickly around the little plastic strip lashing the bundle together as it lay on the sidewalk. There was talk of a search called off, the hopes of finding a body given up, the vacancy of a seat within the family corporation...
I'd been seeing the stories of his disappearance for a couple of months, but I kept assuring myself that he'd come back any day and laugh in his father's face. His coming to find me wouldn't have been unappreciated, either.
However, when it sank in that the only person I still needed in the world was lost to me forever, I found myself on my knees on the curb, gagging over the gutter, but nothing came up. I have trained myself well. It's been quite a summer.
The first night I spent in the city I was still quite green, in many senses of the word. I had raided the cigar box in my desk for three hundred dollars and change, not really considering how far it would go or where I might get more. After having rented a small, seedy room-by-the-week not far from the Planet offices and cutting my funds by half, I chose a dimly-lit diner nearby and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu: chicken noodle soup and coffee.
Despite my growling stomach, I nibbled at the free crackers slowly, making the meal last as long as possible. It was then that I noticed a gentleman in a dark suit a few stools down from me at the counter. He smiled politely as he stirred a cup of tea, watching me with more interest than I found comfortable.
"What?" I asked at last, exasperated but not wanting to attract attention if I'd misread his intentions.
"That's not much dinner for a big man like you," he commented, tipping his head toward my soup subtly.
"I don't think that's any of your business," I snapped, slurping up a spoonful of noodles with a bit more noise than I really needed to make.
His expression was gently forgiving as he moved one stool closer. "Just call it concern for my fellow human being," he asserted, causing me to show remarkable restraint by not laughing in his face at his mistake in judgement. The bill before me was whisked away before I could object. "I'll get this. Would you like anything else?"
"No, I'm fine," I swore, using my spoon to capture the last tiny shred of processed chicken out of my tipped-up bowl.
Gesturing to a glass case filled with rotating plates, he said, "They make pretty good pie here. At least join me in a slice."
Ah--as invulnerable as I might be, he had identified my oldest weakness. "Okay. Cherry, please," I answered with a noncommittal shrug, earning a warm nod from him before he summoned the waitress.
Our pie served and my coffee refilled, he turned back to me to make conversation. "So... my name is William. What can I call you?"
The guy seemed harmless enough, and pleasingly free with his money, so I chose to play along. I decided against giving him my real name, so I went with a variation of what I'd used on the registry at my apartment hotel. "Kal. Call me Kal."
William narrowed his eyes and gave me a once-over. "Were you named for President Coolidge?"
"No--no. It's what my father called me," I replied in all honesty.
"I see... Are you new in town, Kal?"
"Is it that obvious?" I asked, with an inward chuckle. A small movement in my line of vision distracted me for a moment, and I regarded the face opposite me curiously until I realized that it was my own reflection in a mirror behind the shelved supplies near the counter. It surprised me to think that I hadn't even recognized myself at first, so far removed was I from the blushing high-schooler I'd left behind.
"I won't pry," he assured me, washing down a bite of pie with a sip of tea. "Running from an unpleasant home situation, or a jealous husband--it doesn't matter to me."
Dad's upset face and Mom's muffled sobs filled my head for a moment, and I shut my eyes to help me tamp down the pain radiating from the lines etched into the skin of my chest and seeping inside to sting my hardened heart.
A very gentle pat on my hand brought me back to the present moment, along with William's voice. "Are you all right?"
Swallowing any lingering emotion, I nodded and opened my eyes. "I will be," I answered, taking strength from the red stone in my ring. Since my plate was empty of even a smear of cherry syrup, I downed the last of my coffee and gave my benefactor a disinterested glance. "Well, thank you for dinner. You didn't have to do that..."
His eyes had a strange glint as he fished a twenty-dollar bill out of his wallet and tossed it on the counter with our respective tickets. "It was my pleasure, or it shall be..." he added, disturbingly.
I grabbed my jacket and held the door for him as we stepped out onto the sidewalk. "Well, good night, William," I said dismissively.
"The evening is still young, Kal. Where are you heading? I might like to share your company awhile longer." His silver hair reflected the light from the street lamp, and I quickly assessed how easy it would be to knock him down and take his wallet, but that seemed too unsatisfying.
"You want something, William?" I cut to the chase.
Waiting until a couple of laughing girls in elaborate hairdos had passed out of earshot, he looked me hard in the eyes. "I *did* buy you dinner. It would seem only fair that you provide me some service in return."
"So, what did you have in mind?" A few scenarios ran fleetingly through my head, but I decided to wait for his direction.
"You suck cock, don't you?"
It must have been obvious, and the idea certainly didn't put me off as much as some others might have. In fact, I had been wondering how I was going to make more money when, miraculously, my answer stood not three feet away from me. "I've had a bit of experience," I nodded. "Would that clear my debt to you?"
"Ah--an eager young man. We'll see about your debt afterwards. Now, there's a park near here, or the courtyard of that office plaza..."
The last thing I wanted to do was get arrested for lewd behavior in public, so I smiled and said simply, "Come with me."
Soon William was seated on the edge of my bed, where I'd never even slept yet, with me kneeling on the floor between his feet. I made sure to bat my eyelashes at him and smile in my most alluring manner as I opened the zipper of the fine gabardine trousers and freed his penis from his neat boxers. Just like Lex had taught me, I petted him and got him hard, which took longer than I expected, likely due to his age.
Bravely, I sucked him in and teased his slit with my tongue. Fondling his balls and stroking his perineum, I was proud of the care I took to show him a good time. It must have been effective, because he made all kinds of appreciative noises above me and petted my hair like the owner of a devoted mutt. When he finally came, shooting sparsely down my throat, I tried my best not to picture Lex in the same position, though I wasn't successful as I might have liked.
Sitting back on my heels, I looked back up at his face to find him smiling and seemingly very pleased with my performance. "How was that?" I asked, a little of the Smallville Clark creeping into my yearning voice against my wishes.
"Oh, my, Kal," he sighed, opening his eyes and regarding me fondly. "I think you've earned your keep this evening." I let him straighten his own clothes, then offered him a hand up off of my bed. "Would you let me contact you again?" he asked, tugging some money out of his wallet and hiding it inside my hand so I couldn't see how much it was.
"You could do that," I replied, red courage making me unashamed and basic economics making me aware that I had few other saleable skills for the big city.
"Good. I'll see you in the diner, say, the night after tomorrow?"
"It's a date," I agreed, not bothering to set an exact time. He gave me a quiet nod, and our business for the evening was done. When the door was shut behind him, I leaned my back against the old, darkened wood and opened my hand.
A fifty. If there had been any doubt what I was becoming before that moment, that fixed my new identity with a hollow click. Out of curiosity, I took a moment to step into the bathroom to look into the mirror and see what a prostitute looked like. Funny--I still didn't recognize the face I saw there, but it was starting to grow on me. Even if it wasn't quite the face I knew, I decided I liked it: handsome, confident, maybe a little more pleased with itself at finding a new source of income than previously expected.
A shower suddenly sounded like a good idea--the road had been grimy and I'd only washed off my face and hands when I'd first checked in. First came the shirt: plaid and cotton and disgustingly rustic. I immediately promised myself to shop for a new wardrobe the next day with my new wealth. Boots, jeans, socks, and teenage-boy underwear landed in a heap on the floor.
Lastly, I looked at the class ring, glowing just a little on my hand and taunting me that I wasn't what I was pretending to be. As if to show it who was boss, I yanked it off and set it defiantly on the edge of the sink. While I watched my reflection in the glass, all of my backbone slid away, and I was bombarded with images of the people who had loved me back home--Lana, my parents, *Lex*... Suddenly it hit me that they were all wearing the same expression: disappointment.
That's when I threw up, wasting the cheap dinner for which I'd been bought, even the cherry pie, which indeed had been pretty good, as advertised.
Since then, I've gotten used to those pangs of self-doubt, and learned when it is best to leave the kryptonite ring on my finger, no matter how badly my flesh burns under my shirt. William was true to his word, meeting me two nights later in the diner, and many nights afterward, for a series of discreet trysts. He gave me fifty, then a hundred dollars every time I blew him, with extra bonuses from time to time for no apparent reason. He admired the new clothes I acquired with his funding, and even helped me locate a nicer apartment a few blocks from the city center. Never did he ask for more than my mouth on his cock, not even information about who I am or where I come from, so we both got what we wanted.
Nights I spent on my own were devoted to people-watching at clubs or the movies. More girls than ever snubbed me in high school flirted with me, and I will confess that I flirted back, but I made sure that our interactions never went beyond some heavy necking in the corner of a dimly-lit booth or against the wall away from the dance floor. Why? I'm not sure. I didn't want them touching the branded scar on my body, for one thing, and for another, they didn't interest me that much...
My cock, meanwhile, remained untouched by anyone but me. Somehow from the beginning it had felt more like I was being faithful to my beloved Lex by saving it, even though he'd insisted that I sow my seed elsewhere during his honeymoon. Before the accident with the ship, I'd even been attempting to get somewhere with Lana, just out of mental habit. But like everything else from my previous life, I'd left her, and any troublesome emotions associated with her, back in the small town to which I hope never to return.
So while I was committing minor felonies with William on a regular basis, I chastely kept my orgasms for myself alone, if you don't count the imaginary audience of Lex in my head every single time. And now, even he's gone...
I keep coming back to the last time I touched him--not the warm hug we shared at his rehearsal dinner after my speech, but the moment we got to ourselves that day when I'd gone over for a final tux fitting. To my surprise, when I'd arrived, Lex told me that the wedding was off, despite the growing heap of prettily-wrapped packages in the middle of his office. I took a moment between deliveries to sneak a peek at a few of them (right through the shiny paper, to tell the truth) while Lex regarded me fondly from his sprawl on the sofa.
"So," I asked, trying to contain my anticipation without much success, "does this mean you and I can still be lovers?"
A sweetly melancholy twist lingered at the corner of his mouth. "I'm sorry, Clark. Something tells me that Helen will change her mind by tomorrow and go ahead with everything as planned. Let's keep things cool for now, just in case, okay?" My previous grey mood resettled over my heart and my expression, which must have caught Lex's attention. "Any progress on the Lana front?" he asked, apparently attempting to cheer me up.
"Some," I nodded, not wanting to talk to him about her at all.
"You know, I'm almost jealous," he teased with a twinkle in his eye.
"Good," I replied, a little smugly, but not above teasing back. "It's only fair."
His gaze dropped shyly to his hands in his lap. "I deserved that," he agreed. I was startled by the heat in his look as he engaged my eyes again. "However long we'll have to be apart will be an eternity. You know that."
"It is already."
In an instant he was standing before me, pressing my shoulders close to him with his left hand and letting the other slip possessively against my ass. "I promise I will call for you, Clark," he hissed into my ear desperately. "I cannot bear the thought of not having you in my life. Someday, somehow, we will be together again."
His mouth fell on mine sweetly, and I tried to memorize the taste of his tongue to tide me over during the weeks to come. The sound of the door opening made him break off our kiss with a guilty grin, whereupon he pulled away to adjust my shirt collar innocently as he'd done in my loft before the formal so very long ago.
I had no clue then that it would be the last time I ever saw Lex, and that I'd fall from grace so suddenly and so completely without his influence, red ring spurring me to do so or not. He won't be keeping his promise after all, so I belong to no one.
For that matter, I broke it off with William just a few days ago, as well. Perhaps the circumstances of that were a harbinger of things to come.
Once again, it involved me being fitted for a tux. My diet, heavy in protein but lower in fat and starches than I got on the farm, resulted in my becoming leaner and more defined, so my size had changed completely, too. This time, however, the event wasn't a wedding, but a fairly ritzy reception.
William insisted that I accompany him as his "date", so I wasn't very troubled by the discovery that all of the attendees of the party were men dressed like extremely wealthy penguins. My escort wouldn't tell me the exact nature of the gathering, but he hinted that a business opportunity awaited me there.
I got the feeling that he wanted to introduce me to someone who could offer me a job, so as we stood apart from the crowd, I tried to spot who he had in mind. "What would I be doing for this guy?" I asked, unafraid but cautious.
"I'm sure he would appreciate your learned touch as much as I do, if not more. Now, this man has a *lot* of money, so he'd probably pay you more than I ever could. I know he's a connoisseur of the best that life has to offer..."
My attention was drawn by an artificial social laugh coming from a nearby group. Something in the voice made every hair on the back of my neck stand up, but my unshorn status hid it well. I scanned them more carefully and froze in my tracks when I spotted a familiar mane of wild, wavy hair.
"Wait--who *is* this guy you want me to meet? Is that him over there?" I asked, pointing as secretly as I could with my champagne glass.
"Yes, Kal. Maybe you know his name from the papers. Wouldn't you like to meet Lionel Luthor?"
The name of the man who'd taken my love away from me made me so angry I could feel my temperature start to rise. "We've met," I growled, then backed away from William carefully.
"Mr. Luthor would definitely enjoy a man of your talents, Kal. I've told him all about you, and he's looking forward to your first assignment..."
Shutting my eyes for fear of igniting William's cummerbund, I turned and stumbled toward where I recalled that the exit was. The balls of the man, to refuse the happiness of his own son and condemn him for practices in which he apparently indulged himself, infuriated me beyond reason. "I'm sorry, but I'm not feeling well..." I blurted out before I opened my eyes and started running for the hotel lobby, where I'd seen a large fountain. Thanks to a well-placed bend in the hallway, I was able to speed away without being seen, and made it to the pool of water before my heat vision erupted, evaporating the spraying jets on contact and turning the surface instantly to steam.
The water vapor was just dissipating as William caught up to me. "Kal! Are you all right?"
I straightened my jacket and shook back my hair. "I'll be fine, but our partnership is over."
"What? Why?" he flustered at me.
I couldn't tell him that I didn't dare risk being discovered by Lex's father, but there was something more than that. "You don't own me. I am not yours to sell on the open market to the highest bidder, William. I only agreed to this arrangement because it was advantageous to both of us, but that's all. I'll make sure you get the tux back, but I'm not going to see you again. If you come to my apartment, I'll tell my building manager you're harassing me and have you arrested for soliciting a minor!" I hadn't told him my age, so this threat might work to scare him off. He knew I didn't have a phone, either, on purpose, so I didn't bother to warn him not to call me.
As I walked down the stairs to the street, he called after me, "What are you going to do for money, Kal? You've gotten accustomed to the life I can provide for you. Do you think you can turn tricks on the street for that kind of money?"
"I'll think of something," I shouted, and stalked off down the sidewalk. Right then, I couldn't think of anything, but I wasn't about to show *him* that.
Two days later, there was Lex's obituary in the paper. Throughout the months I spent in the city, I knew I couldn't go home again after what I'd done, but I had faith that Lex would come back to me and somehow make it all better again. Now he's never coming back, and I don't know what I'm going to do. All I can think of is stealing to keep a roof over my head, and it doesn't sound like such a bad deal after all, given that I could probably get away with it. I tried some petty theft early on, but it might be time to go for the big payoff. Maybe I could be Lex now, with lots of money and fancy cars. It would impress my acquaintances at the clubs, at least, because I don't have any friends.
All I had left was Lex, and he's dead. I imagine that it's for the best, because I think the Clark he knew and loved is dead now, too.
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