Raining meant fewer people out. Fewer accidents, fewer muggings, fewer bank robberies; fewer excuses for Clark to avoid her. She'd thought they actually might get through a night out for once.
But "fewer" didn't mean "none," and, sure enough, she'd found herself sitting alone at the dingy little Italian restaurant near the Metropolis medical center that Clark thought was "romantic" but that Lana would have wrinkled her nose at ten years ago. And now, two hours later, she was outside, getting soaked as she tried to hail a cab they couldn't afford.
It was just so typical that she could scream.
She jumped back from the curb to avoid the spray from a passing car, and someone jostled her. She turned to say something to him, and found herself looking at the back of a familiar bald head. She hadn't seen him since her wedding, but no one in Metropolis wouldn't recognize him. "Lex!"
He stopped and turned around, blinking at her. He wasn't wearing a coat or carrying an umbrella, and the rain was streaking down his face. "Lana Kent. Hello. I'm sorry, I didn't see you."
"Yes, I could tell by the way you ran into me," she said, and smiled.
There was a long pause. "What are you doing in this part of town?" Lex finally asked. "Nell's not sick, is she?"
"No, she's fine. I was supposed to be out having a quiet dinner with my husband, but..." She spread her arms. "Duty called."
His eyes reflected nothing back at her. "Oh."
For a minute, she wondered if she should be telling Lex something like this, but he was there, wasn't he? Obviously it wasn't him Clark was dealing with tonight. "A more important duty than eating spaghetti with his wife on his anniversary. So, now, I'm just trying to get a ride home."
He nodded, eyes wandering up the street.
"I don't suppose you're going anywhere near my neighborhood...?" she inquired, getting just a little impatient.
He frowned. "I could be, but...Excuse me for mentioning it, Lana, but won't Clark mind?"
She shrugged. "Clark left me to find my own way home. I found it."
"All right." He offered her his arm, and it was a minute before she took it. Clark didn't think of these things, ever. "I was just walking to my car."
The car was parked several blocks away, in a nicer neighborhood, in front of a much more expensive restaurant than she'd been waiting in. Lex handed her in carefully. The chill of the evening had seeped into the car, and as Lex slid in on the other side, Lana didn't repress her shiver. Lex glanced at her, then pulled off his sweater and handed it to her. It was damp, but the wool was still warm. It smelled of mellow tobacco. "Thanks, Lex."
"Don't mention it."
He said nothing further as they drove along. Lana huddled in her seat and looked out the window. The bright lights of Metropolis streaked by above her, sparkling in the raindrops on the window, indifferent to her discomfort. There was hardly anyone on the street, and Lex himself was only half-visible in the slide of silver light and shadow.
Lana had once thought that if Clark would only tell her his secret, she would never have to be alone again.
"It's so quiet."
Lex reached for the dashboard, the faint glow of the readouts lighting his face. "Would you like some music?"
"No," she said. "I'm fine." But he turned it on anyway, some stormy piano concerto, and she smiled, pleased.
"I could make some small talk," he said, "ask about your husband's job, your social calendar, how your in-laws are doing, but I think you know I'm already aware most of those sort of details."
Just another perk of Clark's not-so-secret identity. "I guess I should be glad you're not pretending."
"You're an intelligent woman. I don't see the point."
"Thank you," she said, a little drily.
"If you want to know about me," he flashed her a tired smile, "just read the Planet."
"I never do."
"Ah. Well, Helen never liked to buy LexCorp..."
"Now, that was in the Inquisitor."
"Thank you, Chloe Sullivan," he muttered, and peered through the windshield. "Left here, right?"
Chloe. Chloe and her happy, carefree, single existence. Chloe never called anymore. She was part of Clark's other life, full of loud, brusque, crazy reporters and superheroes. Lana couldn't help it if she liked the quiet. "Yes."
"All right." He put the turn signal on.
"Lex?" She shivered again. "I don't really want to go home right now."
He turned his head to look at her, one quick, up-and-down glance. "The penthouse isn't that far from here."
"That would be fine," she said. Lex turned off the signal. She closed her eyes and let her head rest on the seat.
The building was just what it should be, all soaring marble and red carpets and doormen that called her "madam." Clark could have had all of this, she thought as they waited for the elevator. If he'd only been willing to try a little.
They could have fit their entire one-bedroom into just the foyer of Lex's apartment. "This is really nice, Lex," she said, surveying the modern decor as he checked his messages. "I'm not used to this anymore."
Lex was punching buttons on the phone, his mouth a tight line. "No?"
"Clark's too noble to take money for what he does. He never stops to think that he's not just being noble for himself anymore."
"I'm told that's a common problem," Lex said, hanging up with a clatter. "Would you like a drink?"
"Actually...I was sort of hoping to get out of these clothes."
Lex raised an eyebrow. "I can have them sent down to be dried."
"Would you? That would be great."
"I'll have to see if I can find you something to wear, though."
"Oh, I'm sure anything you have will be fine."
Lex looked doubtful, but disappeared down a hallway. After a few minutes, he emerged with a pair of navy blue silk pajamas. "This is the best I could do. They've got a drawstring waist," he said, offering them to her. "The nearest bathroom is there."
The pajamas were too big, of course, but she rolled up the cuffs and made do. She found a hairbrush in the vanity and began brushing out her wet, tangled hair before the mirror. In the oversized clothing, with the rococo bathroom reflected behind her, she looked like a doll. A doll in a snug cabinet, with the door closed.
Nell knew a lot of rich men. Lana wondered what would have happened if she'd moved with her and Dean to Metropolis, instead of waiting til Clark accidentally revealed his powers to her the night of the prom and then, in a panic, asked her to marry him.
Nell would still be glad to introduce her to people--she didn't like Clark at all--but Lana wouldn't do that. She wouldn't.
When she came out of the bathroom, Lex was standing by a window in the vast living room, looking out over the city with a glass in his hand. From the flush on his cheeks, she didn't think it was the first he'd had while she changed.
She probably should ask. "Lex, is everything all right?"
He shrugged. "Fine."
"Leave it, Lana. It wouldn't interest you."
God, she was just asking to be polite, he didn't have to be so pissy about it. "Then I'll have that drink now," she said coolly.
Lex laughed, and his expression cleared. "Of course."
When he brought the glass to her, his fingers brushed hers. She sipped at it while looking out at the city. "It looks so different from up here. So peaceful." Just as she'd seen it staring wistfully out from the old windmill.
"Doesn't Clark ever...take you up?"
"No. He doesn't like to bring 'the job' home. ...Which basically means that he hardly ever comes home."
"Well, keeping the dread Lex Luthor in check is a full-time job."
She laughed sadly. "You know, sometimes I think he spends more time with you than he does with me?"
He grimaced. "I tend to think you wouldn't enjoy flying with Clark if all your trips ended in police stations. The thrill of the booking process wears off quickly."
"At least it would mean that he was paying attention to me."
"Will he be worried about you now?"
"I doubt he'll even come to the apartment until five minutes before he's due at the Planet. I could probably spend the night here and he wouldn't notice."
Lex took a step closer. "He's very trusting."
Suddenly, she felt reckless. It wasn't like there was any use pretending around a man who probably knew everything about their marriage. "He thinks he knows me so well. He thinks he knows everything I'm capable of," she burst out. "It's like he doesn't see me at all. Just some idea he came up with when he was ten that I can never escape."
"Yes, well, flexibility isn't exactly one of Clark's virtues."
Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Sometimes? I think about doing awful things. Just to shock him. Take off my clothes and run through the streets. Tell Jonathan just how boring he really is. Put kryptonite in his oatmeal--"
"Go home with Lex Luthor?"
His eyes were intent on her. She laughed, and turned away. "Right."
He blinked. "Right." He tapped the windows, and they darkened instantly. Then he carried his drink over to the nearest couch, of champagne-colored leather, and sat down, turning the television on, muted. Lana recognized the movie at once: Casablanca. They'd booked it for the Talon's grand reopening as a theater. "I hear you still like old movies, Lana."
"When you're alone late at night, they're the best company," she said, coming around to sit down next to him. "They make me feel safe."
"Safer than being married to Superman?"
She looked at Ingrid Bergman's face peeping out from underneath her white hat. "It's not as comfortable being the inspiration for a hero as you might think."
He smiled a quick, lopsided, bitter grin. "I know."
She stared at the screen, disconcerted. "Let's watch this?"
"If you want."
Lana sipped at her drink, letting the haze of the alcohol merge into the dreaminess of the black and white, thinking of those days back at the Talon. She leaned her head back and let it all wash over her. Lex replenished her glass twice during the movie, and she let him. The film was nearly over when an ad for local news broke into her reverie. "Superman...or SPCA? Metropolis's hero rescues stolen baby tiger. Coming up next..."
She sat up straight, throat closing with bitterness, fingers tightening on the glass.
Lex said softly, "Do you want to go home now?"
She had ended up spending her anniversary alone because her husband was chasing kitties. She turned her head to look at Lex. "No," she said firmly. "No, I really don't."
He leaned towards her, took the glass from her hand, and set it on the floor. "Good," he said, and kissed her.
Lana shut her eyes and let him move his mouth over hers. He parted her lips and slipped his tongue inside, familiar but measuring. She wondered if he'd ever thought about it before. Probably. They all did. His hand settled on her shoulder and she pulled back.
"Yes?" He was looking at her with a strange glint in his eyes.
"Are you--is there another woman?"
Another one of his bitten-off smiles. "Right now there's no room in my life for anyone but Superman."
No room in Clark's life for anyone else, either. They had more in common than they realized. "Oh."
She closed her eyes again. This time, Lex kissed her harder, kisses that seemed to be trying to pull her out of herself even while he was pushing her back against the couch. His hand had dropped down over her breast, of course. She'd never understand men's fascination with them, though she had to admit, the smooth silk sliding back and forth over her nipple now gave her a pleasant shiver. When he broke off the kiss to unbutton her shirt, she sighed in disappointment.
"Something the matter?" he inquired, drawing his fingers over her nipple.
A tiny callus caught the very tip and made her voice stick in her throat for a moment. "No."
"All right, then."
He kept on sketching lazy circles on her breast, a strange contrast to the intensity of his kisses. Clark was always so...one-track when they made love. She shivered again, feeling her nipples harden, though she kept quiet. It was good like this, like being forced to relax into it. So easy. Then Lex gave one nipple a tiny pinch which jolted down through her.
"What was that?" she said, opening her eyes.
"I don't want to bore you, Lana."
She grimaced. "God, the male ego really is the same everywhere, isn't it?" Clark was just the same. As if she owed him just the right kind of response, or he would sulk. "You two--"
Lex frowned, sharply, and slid abruptly off the couch to his knees in front of her. "Clark has you on a pedestal, Lana." He tugged down the pants and let his breath brush over the sensitive skin of her belly til she squirmed. "He always has. I don't."
"So be different," she said, challengingly, though to tell the truth Clark hardly ever even--
And he had never done anything like Lex did next, pulling her shirt down over her and beginning to rub at her rhythmically and relentlessly through the cloth. At first the silk was perfectly smooth, but soon it became a slick slow slide that made her point her toes. His motion became broader, rougher, til he was working her with the palm of his hand, and she couldn't hold back a gasp any longer. At that, Lex let the shirt go. He dipped his head between her legs, sending his breath tickling up her inner thigh until she wasn't sure whether she wanted to clamp her legs together or spread them further. She dug her fingers against the couch, but could get no purchase. She'd never let Clark do this, always tensed up whenever he started to touch her in some way that could...expose her. But it didn't matter what Lex saw, did it? He would never have a claim on her. Never.
"Lex," she said, and curled her fingers around his skull. He responded by nipping her, fiercely, so that she gasped and said it again. He laughed, and she could feel the vibrations deep inside her. His breath was tinglingly cool against her dampness. His hands slithered over her waist and held her in place as he sucked gently, then began to lick at her. "Maybe..."
There was enough in her tone to have stopped Clark with flushes and apologies, but Lex only licked harder and faster. She could feel the slow build of pressure, beginning to bear down in her. She kicked out against the coffee table. Something crashed to the ground, but Lex didn't seem to care, and she locked her legs around his head. "God, Lex," she groaned.
And at that he stopped, and had the nerve to grin up at her. "That's much better. Say it again."
"No, that's not what I meant." He teethed at her thigh, making her prickle all over. "It was something more appreciative."
"Don't play games," she whispered, wanting to rub herself up against something--anything.
He raised his eyebrow, but he returned to his work, heat and warmth and friction, and she just didn't care. Someone owed her this, for all the evenings spent in an empty efficiency, dinners gone cold. All the nights when Clark walked the floor instead of sleeping. All the dull days working as a waitress, for God's sake, because they needed the money and anything was better than sitting in that place alone--
She almost yelled, but strangled it, as she climaxed. She remained still as long as she could, trying to hold onto the moment when the pleasure was pure, not mixed up with the physical mess. Lex was laughing softly, though, his head resting on her knee, so that she couldn't drift off. She looked at the smugness around the corners of his mouth, shrugged off her open shirt, and lay back on the couch, hands behind her head. His laugh cut itself off.
Fair enough, she thought, as he rose and sank into her. His thrusts were eager, hungry, and he sucked at her throat fiercely. She felt weightless. This was so much more familiar, even soothing. Easy. What all the boys wanted.
Lex was quieter than Clark, finishing. He slid down next to her, breathing hard. She looked at the ceiling, and the world settled back to normal around her. "Are you all right?" he asked, after a while, touching her hair.
"Would you like to go to bed?"
"No. I'll be fine out here."
"Are you sure? This isn't very comfortable."
"Hmmmm," he murmured.
She turned towards the back of the couch. "Lex? I'm tired."
"Of course." He got up, and a few minutes later, she accepted a pillow and blankets. "Your clothes will be here in the morning."
Lana heard a door shut. She thought she ought to feel guilty, the way she sometimes did after Clark, but...it had been a fair trade. Lex had nothing to complain about.
The next morning, her clothes were in a neat pile on a chair, breakfast was on the coffee table, and Lex was nowhere to be seen, though it was so early that the sky was still a smoky gray. She took a few quick bites, changed, and left.
Not far from the building was a newsstand. For once, the Inquisitor and Planet had the same headline. Lionel Luthor, dead of a sudden embolism at dinner with his son. Lex Luthor, unavailable for comment.
Lana Lang, lied to. She wondered if Lex had even seen her the night before.
It was just so typical that she could scream.