"It's not your birthday." Clark studies Lex like there are clues tattooed on his cheekbones, hidden in the pockets of his black suit. "Your birthday's in July. We had cake and fireworks and you didn't touch me. It was very frustrating."
"Not exactly my birthday today, no." Lex's smile is small and mysterious, then he turns again to the chopsticks. "Have some of the chu-toro." His hand over Clark's, Lex snags a piece of tuna and guides it to Clark's mouth. For leverage, he throws his arm around Clark's shoulder and pulls him close, thigh to thigh.
They're conspicuous even in the corner of the restaurant partially blocked by wooden beams, Lex sitting beside him rather than across the low table where the food sits, colorful and strangely shaped like a display in a candy store. It's not just how they're sitting; Clark imagines that they're giving something off, radioactive even after three months together. His dad wouldn't approve, but with a year of college under his belt Clark is learning that paternal morality isn't always the best lodestar, that there are worse crimes in the world than being Lex Luthor's boyfriend. Someday he might even act on that belief.
Right now, it's hard to think with Clark warm where Lex touches him, warm on his tongue from the spicy food. Or maybe he's just flying on air impossibly filled with sunsets and freedom, the shadowy light from the lanterns, rice paper ones with red dragons that spin gently overhead.
"Very good for a beginner," Lex says approvingly as Clark finishes another mouthful. "How about a reward?"
Clark shivers at a playful swipe of tongue over his ear, a less playful one down his throat, hinting of teeth. "Lex. Public place, remember? Your reputation and all that?"
At his squeak, a woman peers over the Samurai warriors battling on a white screen. With her black dress and red lipstick, she matches the ikura.
Lex ignores her, his eyes smoky, like a fire's burning behind them. "It's the only reason I'm not inside you."
"I...Maybe we should go."
"I don't want you hungry later. Besides, tonight's supposed to be special. Try the tamago." He doesn't blink as Clark shakily raises a piece to his mouth, nearly dropping it in his saki, and pops it inside. "Very good," he says again when Clark swallows. "Time for another reward."
The kiss makes Clark sweat. Lex tastes like ginger, and his tongue knows too many secret places so that Clark's sprawled and panting before he knows it, the red dragons breathing fire above him.
"What's with you tonight?" Clark asks when Lex finally moves back. "Usually you're secrecy-guy. Not that I'm complaining, but people are going to think we're dating."
"No. They're going to know we're fucking. And tonight I don't feel like denying it. Let them watch."
Another kiss is coming, but Clark stops him with a sticky finger against Lex's lips. "Is everything okay?"
"Better than okay."
"You're not sick or anything? Or planning to...dump me?"
"So healthy I could run from here to Smallville and back again, and if you think I'm planning to dump you, Clark, you're not paying attention." His hand slides behind Clark's neck, fingers tangling in his hair, then Lex tugs, bringing their mouths level. "I'm just in the mood to let go. Live a little."
No kiss, though, just another mouthful of food trapped on chopsticks, an unfamiliar salty tang that reminds him of the first time Lex came in his mouth. On impulse, guided by this rush of pure, Christmas happiness, Clark waves at the dragons overhead, noticing for the first time that their eyes are tiny blue stones that seem to wink. A lot can be hidden behind a person's eyes--the trick is to tease it out. "You're like a dragon," he tells Lex. "A good one. They have good dragons, don't they?"
"Sometimes dragons are good if the circumstances are right." Lex brushes his hand over Clark's cheek. "I was about six the first time I had Japanese food. It was just me and my father; I don't know where my mother was. Probably hoping we'd bond. Instead, he spent the meal on the phone, paying no attention to me, and the restaurant owner noticed. He came to the table and told me the story of The Invincible Pair."
"It was years ago, but I can still hear him. He kept his voice low so he wouldn't disturb my father, and for the time it took him to tell the story, I believed in the world he created."
"I want to hear."
"One day, as a dragon is resting in the sun, a tengu, a Japanese troll, who for the purposes of my story looks remarkably like my father, captures it with one of his huge clawed hands, hiding the dragon in his lair in the side of a mountain and depriving it of the water the dragon needs to fly."
"I hope this story has a happy ending," Clark says between the bites Lex feeds him. "Tonight's too good for a bad one."
"Anything you want," Lex tells him. "After imprisoning the dragon, the tengu heads out again, looking for another way to ruin the world----"
"Capturing a dragon helps to ruin the world?"
"Dragons are necessary for balance in the order of things. Now let me tell the story. So this time the tengu captures a young monk at a well, grabbing him so smoothly that the monk doesn't spill a drop from his pitcher. Tengus have a very smooth brand of evil."
"I think I know where this story is going." Clark rests his head against Lex's shoulder. "What happens next?"
"When the tengu goes out again, the dragon and the monk start to talk. Even though they have different ethical codes, with the dragon about revenge and the monk about forgiveness, they get along very well and come to an agreement: the monk will give the dragon his water, and the dragon will help them to escape."
"I'll bet the monk was in love with the dragon. He wouldn't give his water away to just anyone, even to escape."
"I know the dragon was in love with the monk since this particular dragon, for all his fire-breathing ways, had a secret fondness for virtue. Now let me finish. So the monk empties his pitcher on the dragon, and as the last drop hits the scales, the dragon turns into a boy. A boy who still has dragon powers. Carrying the monk, the dragon- boy breaks them free from the prison, knocking down the wall, then leaves his new friend back at the well before going to find the troll--"
"--because you can take the boy out of the dragon, but not the dragon out of the boy."
"Right. So the boy takes care of the tengu with a few blasts of fire, then heads back to the monk, who's waiting for him. They spend the rest of their days together fighting evil. The dragon-boy resists at first, because those dragon instincts are hard to quell, but the monk is very convincing."
"Japanese superheroes," Clark says approvingly. "I like that story, Lex. I like it a lot."
Lex's tongue sends Clark floating beside the dragons, his insides sheer as the rice paper. Drowsy with heat and lust, he wraps his arms around Lex, who's got him neatly pinned to the pine slats separating them from the next booth. It's possible that Lex intends to take him here, and it's also possible that Clark won't stop him, not with Lex's shirt untucked, skin hot under Clark's stroking hands. Lex's skin has always made him crazy, like paper ready to be written on, and Clark has always taken a wrong, dirty pleasure in the traces he leaves on it, blue bruises and red scrapes--
"Time to go." In one fluid move Lex is on his feet, tucked, smooth, and deceptively calm except that he holds his jacket carefully before him. He's breathing hard, too, and one of his cheeks is red where Clark's palm rested.
Clark's vaguely aware of money passed to the waitress, whose tip must be pretty impressive since she smiles like a monk who discovers his dragon's human under the scales. Then he and Lex are outside in an October night still full of summer, the sky black waves with stars scattered like fish.
Arm in arm they walk around the corner to Lex's car, passing a shuffling old couple who raise white eyebrows at them before smiling checker-toothed grins. It's that kind of night, and Clark has to kiss Lex again, backing him into the side of the Porsche, licking all the skin he can find. Lex, who sometimes says, "Wait until we're alone," has his arms so tight around Clark's neck that it might hurt someone else, rocking into him and generally putting on a very unLuthorlike display of affection.
Then it comes.
"I have bad news," Lex says, touching his lips which look a little swollen in the misty white light of the moon.
A breeze springs up, and Clark twists, trying to catch it so he won't be here any more. "I knew it. I knew this was too good--"
"The thing is, we can't go back to my place--"
"Because your wife's there. Your new wife that you forgot to mention. Or because you've sold your place and are moving really far away. Or--"
"Because I have Radiohead tickets. Front row seats for a sold-out show." Lex pulls them from his jacket pocket. "I wanted tonight to be special, and I thought we could--"
Grabbing the tickets, weak-kneed with relief, Clark tosses them into the breeze where they flap like wings, disappearing over the river that curls nearby. "Problem solved."
Not clear how they get to Lex's. Flying might be involved as there's a sense of currents and weightlessness, but then Clark never thinks straight when Lex touches him. Witness the state of arrival: Lex has no buttons left on his shirt, and Clark, inexplicably, is missing a shoe.
He's half-carrying, half-dancing Lex into the bedroom, leaving a trail of clothes, when Lex gives him a harder-than- usual nip on his shoulder and says, "Shower first."
"Can't we skip it? It's been a week since we've done anything, Lex. I miss you so much."
"I want you wet. Humor me."
"There are other ways to make me wet," Clark says, but follows Lex into the bathroom that's as big as a cave.
The last of the clothes fall, and the two of them are under the water, streams of it that can't match Lex's tongue for heat. Clark leans against the tile, both hands cradling Lex's head, protecting him even here, and watches through half-closed eyes as Lex sucks him. When Clark tries to speak, to pin down all he's feeling as a gift for Lex, the words are lost in the water.
Lex seems to know, pulling off to kiss Clark's thigh, his hip, his ribs, and finally his mouth, murmuring, "It's okay, Clark, it's okay."
And it is, for this long, perfect moment--then the water turns icy, making Clark jump and yelp. "I think you hit the tap," Clark says, trying to squirm away. "It's freezing."
"It's invigorating," Lex replies, although his lips are turning blue. He won't let Clark adjust the temperature or leave, just forces them to stand under the spray until they're both shivering.
It's enough, and Lex shuts off the water, then takes Clark's hand, leading him past warm white towels into the bedroom. This time they leave a wet trail on the hardwood floor, but Lex is oddly determined, not even allowing kisses anymore, just hits all the light switches until the room is flooded, then reaches into the nightstand for lube.
Clark watches, confused, as Lex spreads it on himself, not his cock but between his legs, then covers Clark with a thin layer, his hand still cold. "You want me to be the one...?" Because he's never been inside Lex, not with his cock, just his tongue and fingers, and this seems to mean something.
"Just for tonight." Lex is still intense, but relaxes enough to smile as he settles onto his back, his knees bent and apart. "You don't mind, do you?"
Mind? Clark is so turned on he's scared to breathe too hard in case Lex changes his mind. To be inside Lex, who's so strong and closed--it's like he's stepped inside another world, a fairy tale where anything can happen, where he can be whatever he wants, not just a kid anymore. "No, I don't mind." He puts a hand on Lex's shoulder, holding him down, while Lex's legs go around his waist, urging him closer.
In place now, his cock firm against Lex, Clark feels a shift inside him, pieces breaking apart and reassembling, and he starts to laugh. "I could save the world right now."
"So do it," Lex says, and arches up.
Resistance at first, like trying to break through a stone wall, then Clark pushes back. "Oh. Oh, God. Lex." He's sinking in, drowning, dying, the air squeezed from his lungs.
"That's it." Lex's arms close around Clark's neck, and his eyes look almost inhuman in the light, blue and sharp as a dragon's.
Clark begins to move, long thrusts that fuse them, and Lex's expression changes, softens, his pale cheeks warming, his lips turning red. They heat under Clark's, a kiss that goes deep as Clark's cock, deeper, until there's nothing between them, not even air, which floats around them drying the last of the water.
His strokes get harder, rougher, and at a low moan Clark breaks the kiss to watch Lex, who's staring up at him, his eyes wide and startled.
And he knows, oh God, Clark knows what day this is, why Lex wants it to be special. Four years ago, a car on a bridge, icy water, Lex dead on the shore, their first kiss--
"I remember," he says, and his rhythm's shot to hell, control a joke with their history and their future rushing around him. "I know what today is."
The best part is that Lex's control is equally wrecked, Lex, who likes to be in control, the man, the one in charge, who's going crazy under him, looking like a kid, nothing hidden, all open.
Clark's seeing what no one has ever seen before, something new and amazing, a transformation, and he wants to stare at Lex for a few years, only his body's on fire with other ideas. "I can't..."
"I don't care."
Lex says other things, too, this burst of words, and it's too much, too good, too big--
Clark's eyes must've closed because now they're open, blinking against the light like the sun's dropped into the room, the rays entering him everywhere, hot spiky flashes in him, pouring out of him...
He comes and comes, and somewhere in the light and the heat so does Lex, although Clark only realizes this after, when he's flat on his back and Lex is lazily rubbing the splatters into his chest. "Wow," Clark whispers. "Big incredible wow."
"It was pretty amazing," Lex says. "I might even let you do it again. Being on top works for you."
"I liked it. It made me feel like I could do anything, like I could be that monk in the story. A superhero."
Clark rolled on his side, propping himself up on one elbow. "Would you help?"
"I don't have anything to offer."
"You're Lex Luthor," Clark tells him seriously. "You can do anything you want. Besides, if you don't, the troll wins."
"Maybe he's already won."
"You're not fooling anyone, Lex. Well, maybe some people, but not me. For all your fire-breathing ways, you've got a secret fondness for virtue."
"For you, anyway. We'll see about the future."
"Say what you want, but this is one story I know has a happy ending," Clark says, and before Lex can move, kisses him on the lid of each blue eye.
Somewhere, dragons smile.