Notes: For dameange, who requested the pairing of Clark/Lex with the prompt: "All deeds are now done, forgiveness is mine, as two people share a love for all time."
Lex held a glass of brandy in his right hand, resting it against the arm of his leather chair. It tasted like sweet fire on the tongue, but failed to warm him. The yule log burned merrily in the fireplace but the heat did not reach into the room, and took none of the chill out of the air.
Lex wondered idly what it would be like to step into the purging fire, giving himself up to the elements, to feel it consume him along with all his doubts and angers, burning him till the ice in his heart was gone.
Maudlin, drunken, suicidal nonsense. Christmas did this to him; filling him with sentiment that led to pain. At his age he should know better. There were no Christmas stockings hung on his mantle, and only the ghosts of the past to comfort him. Mother gone, brother gone - time to get over it. Father a bastard - yes, but he was learning to beat him at his own game. First wife a killer, second wife a killer too, his heart given to....
No, better not think about Clark Kent.
Someone had put mistletoe over the doorway for the party yesterday. At some point he had seen Lana kiss Clark here, on tiptoe, looking shy and needy. Lex turned away before seeing Clark’s face. He could not bear it, had he seen desire there for Lana. Later, Pete Ross had kissed Chloe Sullivan and she had blushed. Little Miss Sophistication, not as cool yet as she thought she was.
Lex felt old.
He tried to warm his hands by wrapping his fingers around his glass, but the ice within was no warmer than the fire. The ice tinkled. The fire hissed. The darkness around him mocked with its empty silence.
Love brought warmth to the heart. Unwanted love brought pain with it. He had loved too well, too deeply, and the betrayals were too cruel. He had loved the wife who burned him with fire, the one who had tried to drown him in water, and more than each, the superhuman boy who had saved his life.... saved his sanity.... Clark, whom he dared not touch. Whose smile could destroy him, whose friendship was the sweetest weapon he had ever been threatened with.
He dreamed of Clark’s touch.
There was nothing he could do about it. He frosted over his heart. Thoughts of Clark seared him still - no one can extinguish the fire of desire, however good the intentions. Sometimes he felt as if Clark’s large eyes were burned his skin with each look. Eyes that could see the secrets of the universe. Eyes that could see the guilt in Lex’s mind.
Hellfire: a substance so cold, it burned.
* * *
At the Torch office, Pete and Chloe were working late, disregarding Christmas. Chloe was doing the thing she liked to do best, working on the paper. Pete was doing the thing he liked to do best, hanging out with Chloe. A perfect Christmas Eve.
“I liked your piece on the exam schedules,” said Chloe, frowning at the monitor as she formatted columns.
“Thanks,” mumbled Pete.
She glanced at him with a smile. “No, really, it’s good.” Pete didn’t smile back. Then Chloe stopped smiling.
They both knew something was happening between them.
* * *
Martha and Jonathan were cuddled in each other’s arms on the sofa while “A Christmas Carol” played on the television set. There was spiced rum in their glasses - some rum in Jonathan’s, but none in Martha’s. She liked extra cinnamon.
“It’s been quite a year,” said Jonathan. His fingers played with her hair.
“I love you,”she replied.
* * *
Clark had been about to come into the room, but he moved quickly away. He knew his parents wouldn’t mind if he came in. He knew they loved him too. But they had so little chance to spend time together, and even less together alone, that he didn’t have the heart to interrupt.
He went to the barn, wondering where Lex was and what he was doing. He was probably at some fancy party. He always had a lot of invitations, locally and in Metropolis, and he worked so hard he usually couldn’t accept many. Or maybe he was at home, with a girl in his bed. With Lex, you never knew. He hadn’t been seeing girls since - well, since Desiree and then Helen, but - that might change at any moment. In any case, it didn’t seem right for Lex to be alone.
Clark tried to picture Lex having a happy Christmas with his father, but he couldn’t imagine it. He wasn’t sure whether Lex even knew where his half-brother was. So much for a family Christmas.
Lana Lang was spending Christmas in Metropolis with Aunt Nell. Clark hoped she was having a good time, but he was glad she wasn’t in Smallville. She was going one way, he was going another. At least... he thought that was what was happening. It was hard to know what she thought.
He knew Chloe and Pete had gone to the school to work on the Torch. He’d said he might join them later. Maybe he would. They couldn’t got to the Talon - it was closed for Christmas now - but they could hang out, have some hot chocolate at Chloe’s place, maybe play a game of Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit.
He looked up at the stars, wishing for a moment that he hadn’t given away his telescope. Somewhere out there was Krypton, its light still shining towards earth even though it was long gone. The physics made his head spin. “Merry Christmas, Dr. Swan,” said Clark under his breath, and grinned.
But the smile faded as he stared up at the infinite, beautiful stars. He said again, more loudly, “Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.” They weren’t out there any more than their planet was now, and they’d never heard of Christmas, but he wished them well all the same.
* * *
Kissing in the light of the computer monitor was a new experience for both Chloe and Pete.
“Wow,” said Pete.
Chloe swallowed, but did not move away from him. Being this close to him gave her warm, cosy feelings she wasn’t sure how to handle, and more than that. She kissed him again, harder this time, enjoying the touch of his mouth. He had a nice mouth. He was good at kissing.
* * *
Clark took his mother’s fruitcake to the Sullivan house, with his present for Chloe. Gabe said Chloe wasn’t back from the Torch office yet.
Wishing Gabe Merry Christmas, Clark walked down the street and then superspeeded to the Torch offices when he got to the corner. He’s almost asked Gabe if Lex was at home at Luthor Manor but he didn’t quite have the nerve and wasn’t sure if Gabe would know, anyway. He worked with Lex, but he and Lex weren’t exactly close friends. If anyone knew what was going on in Lex’s head, it was Clark, and that was an odd thought. How did Lex get to be so alone, when he was one of the greatest guys Clark had ever known?
Clark went to the Torch. He paused in the doorway, feeling deja vu. Chloe and Pete were kissing. They looked as if they’d been kissing for a while. They didn’t even notice him.
Chloe rested her forehead against Pete’s. “Wow.”
“I wanted to do that before,” said Pete, “but I know how you feel about Clark.”
“I’m an idiot.” Chloe kissed him again.
She thought she felt a gust of wind from the doorway, but when she looked up, there was nothing there.
* * *
The cold had seeped through Lex’s bones by the time the brandy bottle was empty and the fire was embers. The ice in his glass had transferred to his blood: he was a creature of ice, nothing human at all.
He toasted the air with his empty glass. “God bless us, every one.”
Then he realized that Clark was standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame, his coat held by a finger over one shoulder. He wore his red T-shirt and there ought to be a law against looking like that. It could give a person palpitations.
“Hi, Lex.” Clark straightened.
“You a reindeer?” asked Lex.
“No.” Clark walked into the room. He held himself straight, as if he had important matters on his mind; as if he were more mature than Lex had ever seen him. He must have tossed his coat aside, because it was now on a chair, though Lex hadn’t seen him do it. “I am Kal-El, last son of Krypton.”
His deep voice gave the words heavy significance, but they meant nothing at all. Lex ran the words through his brain like a puzzle he could sort out. “Would I understand that if I was sober?”
“Lex.... How drunk are you?”
“Not as drunk as I wish I could be. Kal-El. Krypton. Nice sounds.”
“Yeah.” Clark took a deep breath. “I wanted to tell you... before I lose my nerve.... I’m an alien.”
Lex shrugged. “It was always one of the possibilities. I saw you in the cornfield that day, you know. The day of the meteor shower. The day the Kents found you.”
Clark looked thoughtful. “I found them. I found you, too. Did you know that you are the most important person in my life?”
Lex avoided his eyes. He looked at his feet, at the fire, at his hands. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“I think I do. Did you hear what I said, Lex?”
Lex looked up.
“I’m from Krypton. Another planet, far away. It blew up. They sent me here, where I found you. You were right all along - I’m different. I saved you in the river by ripping the roof off your car. I can see through things. I can run very fast. I can - Lex, say something!”
“Will you regret this in the morning?” said Lex whimsically.
“My parents think you will use the truth to destroy me. Will you?’
Lex’s lashes shadowed his cheeks. “Not if I can help it. You are more dangerous to me than I am to you.”
The corner of Lex’s mouth twitched. “Love is a dangerous commodity. I handle it badly.”
“Do you love me?”
The eagerness in Clark’s voice was painful to hear and Lex winced. “Only too much.”
“I love you too.”
“You have no idea,” said Lex firmly. “You are too young.”
“No, I’m not. Look at me.”
Lex hesitated, and Clark reached out to lift his chin. “Lex? If you’re afraid of me, I can’t stand it. I’m an alien, but I’m still me.”
“I’m not afraid of you. Just of myself.”
The admission was more painful than he could have expected. Clark must have seen the pain, because he pulled Lex into his arms and kissed him awkwardly, and then with more confidence, as Lex warmed against him, letting the kiss reach through his defenses and batter his fear to oblivion.
Clark said, “I love you so much I can’t stand it any more. Love me, Lex. I’m sorry I never told you the truth. I’m sorry I’m not a normal person. I’m sorry I’m different. I’m sorry I’m an alien.”
“You are what you are.”
“You don’t mind?”
How to answer that? In Clark’s arms, Lex could hardly put one thought in front of another. It wasn’t the effect of the brandy, either. “Are you apologizing for offering me everything I ever wanted?”
“Lex?” Clark pulled away a little, and Lex held his hands.
“Clark.... Kal-El? Listen, I love you because you are different, because you are alien, because you are beautiful, because you are good. You are everything I am not. You were right not to trust me. You are wrong to love me.”
Clark was grinning. “That’s stupid. Just like us being apart is stupid. I love you.”
“I created a room, Clark, which I have devoted to you. A display... a shrine. I have photos, newspaper articles, simulations, souvenirs....”
“I know. It’s okay. I know.”
Lex frowned. “How? Did Helen tell you?”
“Did she know about it? No, I saw it myself. I can see through walls and stuff. I was curious what was in there. I wondered why you were so interested in me. And then after a while.... I hoped I was right about why. That maybe it was sort of personal..”
Lex pulled Clark back into his arms, feeling all those dense muscles respond to his touch, feeling the response of the heart, greater than that of the mind. He kissed Clark’s neck, feeling the shyness and curiosity and need palpable under his fingertips on Clark’s back, tasting and smelling the skin, drinking in the warmth of the large body. Physical power and inexperience and desire churned in Clark’s body, heating the air around him, thawing Lex to the bone. “Love. All deeds are now done, forgiveness is mine, as two people share a love for all time.”
“You mean it?”
Lex growled like John Wayne. “Just try to lose me now, farmboy.”
Clark’s eyes were earnest and large. “I never will, Lex, never. I’ll love you forever.”
The ice within him was fading, breaking away, melting into steam and flame, scorching him as if there were lava in his veins. The taste of Clark was sweet fire on the tongue, and warmed him as no heat ever had. He thought suddenly that with Clark by his side, he could accomplish anything, become anything.
In the hallway, the clock struck midnight.
“Christmas. A good time to begin a future. I’m not just following the traditional star. A star fell from the sky, and landed in my arms.”
Clark flushed, his eyes wide with feeling. “Merry Christmas, Lex.”
They kissed again, and it was more than a beginning.