Components of Love

Prologue: Trust

"...Thank you, Chuck," the golden-haired reporter addressed the television camera. Behind her, fire trucks and emergency personnel crowded the area along with milling plant workers. Past them in the fenced off distance was a half-destroyed building. "I'm standing in front of the north end of the LuthorCorp Fertilizer Plant Number 3. As you can see, the main building has partially collapsed after an explosion ripped through the plant at approximately 9:35 this evening. Workers say that the fire alarm went off five minutes before the explosion, and so far it looks as though the only person unaccounted for is Lex Luthor, current CEO of the plant and son of billionaire Lionel Luthor."

"Mr. Luthor arrived around two o'clock, like he has every day for the past month," a pock-marked security guard said to the reporter. A white blurb at the bottom of the tv screen indicated the remark was taped earlier. "I haven't seen him leave, and his car is still in the lot. I assume he is still in the building."

Martha Kent looked with worry at her husband, Jonathan, seated beside her on the worn sofa as the news continued on the television across from the couch. "Jonathan, you don't think that Clark...," she trailed off as Jonathan nodded.

Jonathan had grudgingly accepted that Clark and Lex were friends, going on two years strong, and there was little question to where Clark was at the moment. "I don't doubt it. If he's heard, he's probably already there."

"What should we--."

The phone rang, interrupting Martha and startling them both. Jonathan hurried to answer it. "Clark?"

"Dad--...--me," Clark's staticy, broken voice came over the line. "The sig--...--bomb in the lab. I need you and mom--...--leave the truck in Rhyerson's fie--...--you and mom walk into town and tell people Lex and I went somewhere togeth--...--elieve Lex was never here, okay?"

"Clark, where are you? Can you repeat that? The connection is bad," Jonathan said loudly into the receiver.

"...--plain later. Lex and I are fine, but--...--go. See you later."

"Clark? Clark!" Jonathan sighed, hung up the receiver, and turned to Martha who hovered nervously nearby. "He hung up."

"Is he okay?" Martha asked. "Did he go to help?"

Jonathan raked his fingers through his hair. "It was a bad connection, but from the gist of it Clark is with Lex and they're both fine," he said. "Clark said there was a bomb in the lab -- I'm assuming at LuthorCorp."

"A bomb!" Martha gasped. She looked at the tv, where the camera panned on the destruction. "It's lucky the fire alarm went off and everyone seems to have gotten out. Who would do such a thing?"

"I don't know." Jonathan took the truck keys from the basket on the island counter in the kitchen. "Grab a jacket, Martha. Clark wanted us to leave the truck in Rhyerson field, then head into town and spread the rumor that he and Lex went out together. If I understood correctly, we're supposed to make everyone believe Lex was not in town tonight."

"You don't think Lex is using Clark to cover up something illegal," Martha said with a worried frown. "I know they're friends, but Clark is still so blindly trusting of everyone."

Jonathan shook his head. "I don't know. Clark said he'd explain later. We'll just have to show blind trust ourselves, for the time being."

Part One: Complications

The illumination from the cell phone dial was the only source of light in the bombed wreckage of the lab. Clark Kent sat beside a very stunned Lex Luthor in a small area the teen had cleared of rubble from the collapsed room.

The explosion had originated in the lab where Clark and Lex sat. The bomb had been attached to the underside of one of the lab tables, Clark had deduced while moving debris. He had thought he'd heard a click an instant before it detonated, but he wasn't sure. He had been otherwise occupied at the time.

Clark silently thanked every deity he had learned about that he'd been making out with Lex when the bomb had gone off. He'd had Lex pressed into the corner of the lab, allowing for maximum contact and preventing his escape. Clark had ambushed Lex at the lab since the older man had been avoiding him, and he was glad he had taken the initiative to literally corner Lex. When the bomb had detonated, Clark's body and the walls had been the only things that had saved Lex. He was slightly singed, but otherwise physically all right. Clark, of course, was merely dirty from shifting the rubble.

Clark handed the cell phone back to Lex after calling Jonathan. The phone immediately trilled and Lex jumped. Clark's fast reflexes caught the phone before it dropped a centimeter. He pressed it into Lex's hand again.

"You're out of town," Clark reminded, his voice gentle, as if he were speaking to a skittish colt. "It'll take you a few hours to get back. Have whomever take charge until you 'arrive.'"

The greenish glow from the cell phone display caused Lex to take on a sickly tinge. His eyes were anime huge as he continued to stare at Clark. The phone trilled again.

"Answer the phone, Lex," Clark prompted.

Lex slowly dropped his gaze to the phone. He pressed the 'talk' button, raised the phone to his ear, and croaked, "Hello?"

"...--er Luthor? This is Kimble Walker, the night manager at the--..."

Lex cleared his throat, cast a quick glance at Clark, and spoke into the receiver. "Mr. Kimble, the signal isn't good. I'm aware of the incident at the plant. I'm out of town at the moment and it'll take me awhile to return. Contact Lauren Lopez and Gabe Sullivan and follow emergency procedure."

"Okay, Mr. Lu--...--ried because your car is in the lot."

"I know it is," Lex said. "Follow emergency procedure. I'll find you when I get back to Smallville."

The bald man terminated the call, took a deep breath, and blew it out slowly. "Shit." He hit a speed dial button and raised the phone to his ear again. "Nathan, I heard about the plant. I'm several hours away. Spin damage control until I get home."

After receiving an affirmative response from his personal assistant, Lex disconnected, shut off the ringer, and angled the illuminated dial towards Clark. "Do you want to tell me what the hell happened here?" Lex was angry. The shock of the explosion had turned into a darker emotion for the time being, and he stared furiously at his companion.

Clark rubbed the back of his neck, dusty dark hair falling over his eyes. "Well... I, uh..."

"Clark, a bomb just exploded in this lab," Lex stated. "We should both be dead. Instead, we're sitting in a destruction zone and neither of us has a scratch. And don't give me any bull about a lab table protecting us." He turned the lighted cell phone on the rubble beside them. "The walls are practically dust, Kent, and they were concrete."

"Lex..." Clark laid a hand on Lex's arm, but the older man jerked away.

"Don't." Lex tilted the light towards Clark again in order to see his lying face. "We've been dating more than a year, Clark. A year. I thought we didn't keep secrets from each other."

"Don't go turning this into a morals argument. You have your secrets, too," Clark snapped.

Lex growled in the back of his throat. "God, you are annoying, and I'm not even getting laid to put up with it."

"Whose fault is that?" Clark gave him a pointed glare.

"I may love you, but I'm not going to jail for you."

"And I may love you, but I'm not going to reveal that I'm not human," a corner of Clark's mouth curled up in self-deprecation, "until I have no alternative."

"Not... human."

"Nope." Clark abruptly leaned over and pressed a kiss to Lex's bald pate, argument over. He stood and disappeared into the pitch black darkness of the lab.

"Here, I thought the bomb was the most disquieting part of my day," Lex muttered, running a slightly shaking hand over his smooth head. He had come to his private lab at the LuthorCorp Plant, like he had every day for the past month, and locked himself inside. With Clark's eighteenth birthday looming on the horizon -- now, the day after tomorrow -- Lex had been taking no chances. He absolutely refused to give in to temptation and screw Clark Kent blind before he became of legal age.

Clark had been doing his damnedest to make Lex forget about his self-imposed restraint. It had been easy at the beginning of their relationship; Clark was a virgin, shy and tentative about dating another male. As time progressed and hormones kicked in, however, Lex was lucky to be able to keep things as innocent as kissing -- though he shouldn't have even allowed that, because Clark's kisses were anything but innocent.

Lex heard a loud crack and tried vainly to see where Clark had gone. He was still in shock, really, about his brush with death, but knew from experience that he wouldn't have a panic attack until long after he was safe and sound at home. "Clark, was that you?"

"Yeah," came Kent's disembodied voice. "There's a stairwell that looks unblocked a few rooms away. It shouldn't take me too long to clear a path."

Lex pinched the bridge of his nose. "Jesus, Clark, I though you were just weird like the other Smallville mutants."

"Actually, I caused Smallville to have mutants, including your lack of hair -- which I'm not sorry about, because you're hot bald."

Lex could feel a blush heating his cheeks, something that only Clark could bring about. He relied on sarcasm to cover his pleased embarrassment. "So, I'm a mutant, am I?"

"Big time," Clark agreed unabashedly from somewhere in the destroyed lab. "After all, you won't have sex with me. That proves it."

Lex sighed. "I'm not replying to that."

"You just did."

Rotten boy, Lex thought with a sad shake of his head. The conversation, though, was providing a welcome distraction. The cell phone display blinked, indicating an incoming call. "Why am I not answering the phone again?"

"Because no one can know you were here," Clark answered. "You can only pass off a bad signal once, since you have one of those satellite phones."

The Caller ID showed that it was Lex's father phoning. "And I'm not here because...?"

"I thought you were the one with the genius I.Q.," Clark teased over more concrete being smashed.

"Humor me," Lex said. "I just found out my boyfriend isn't human and had my lab blown up around me. I'm a bit overwhelmed."

Clark grunted. A sharp screaming followed. Lex sucked worriedly on his lower lip. "Clark?"

"Sorry. There was a lab table embedded into the wall," Clark apologized. "As for why: there was a lab table embedded into the wall."

"Ah. Now it makes perfect sense."

"That was sarcasm."

"How'd you guess?"

"Lex," Clark sighed loudly. "A bomb exploded in this room. There's no way you could have survived, unless you weren't here."

"Or unless I have my very own superhero." Lex grinned into the darkness. "Tell me: do you wear your underwear on the outside of your tights?"

"I don't wear any underwear."

Lex groaned. "Don't say things like that. Your birthday isn't until the day after tomorrow."

"Again: whose fault is it that you have to wait?"



"Shut up."

Clark materialized in front of Lex, grinning his thousand-watt grin. He looked sort-of psychotic in the greenish glow of the cell phone display. "Time to move."

Without warning, the teen scooped up Lex in his arms as if he weighed no more than a feather. Clark headed sure-footedly into the pitch black lab.

"I take it you can see in the dark," Lex commented, wondering if any other damsels in distress in the past had been bald.

"No, I'm using my X-Ray vision." Hot puff of air against Lex's ear. "You have a very sexy bone structure, Mr. Luthor."

Lex blushed again.

Clark set Lex down in an area cleared of debris. Then, he sneaked a quick kiss before disappearing back into the darkness.

Lex leaned his head back against something flat and metal -- the lab table, perhaps -- and closed his eyes. "How long do you think it'll take before we're free?"

"A couple of hours, maybe." Rhythmic pounding underscored Clark's words. "It depends on how bad the damage is above us."

"Ohhh, my plant," Lex cried forlornly.

"You hate this plant," Clark pointed out.

"True." Lex raised his arm and opened his eyes a crack. The cell phone display showed that Lionel had called twice more. "It'll bring my esteemed father to town, though, and I'm not really in the mood for a round of 'Lex the Incompetent.'"

"I'll defend you," Clark said seriously.

"I don't need you to defend me." Lex dropped his arm, turned his head, and peered in the direction of Kent's voice. "I just don't want him here this close to your birthday. I'm nervous enough about telling your parents about us. With dear old Dad in town, it's a disaster waiting to happen."

"We were planning to tell your father anyway," Clark began, but Lex interrupted him.

"By phone," Lex said. "Or, as I'd prefer, by fax so I don't have to listen to him berate me." Lex mimicked his father. "'He's a teenager, Lex. A male teenager. And knowing you, you didn't wait until he was legal to start this relationship.'" Lex sighed loudly. "I never should have kissed you the first time."

"Excuse me? Who kissed who first?"

"Okay. I never should have allowed you to kiss me."

"Allowed, my foot." Clark appeared at Lex's side and, again without warning, picked him up. "The only thing you allowed was, me to beat you at chess."

"You noticed that, huh?" Lex wrapped his arms around Clark's neck and clung like a fair maiden.

"Hello? Genius I.Q. versus farm hick who'd only been playing a week." Clark tisked. "There you were, grinning like a fool and thinking you'd outwitted me, so I had no choice but to kiss you senseless."

"Hey, I was fully in control of my senses," Lex protested.

Clark's teeth flashed in the cell phone dial's light. "Lex, you didn't blink for a minute."

Lex gave him a dirty look. "Clark--"

"Yeah, I know. 'Shut up.'"

Part Two: Appreciation

Clark looked like a professional bodyguard, hovering behind Lex as unobtrusively as someone his size could. His eyes slowly scanned the crowded tent repeatedly. His posture was one of someone poised to spring into action at a moments notice. All he needed was an earpiece to make the look complete. And a code name for Lex. Like 'Baldy.'

Clark snorted, and quickly schooled his face into an innocent mask when Nathan looked at him.

Once they'd escaped the plant and found the Kent truck exactly where Clark had instructed his parents to leave it, he and Lex had driven to the Luthor Manor to change clothes and for Lex to receive an update on the situation from Nathan. They played the part of friends returning from an out-of-town activity, parking the truck in plain sight in the Manor's front drive. When they'd driven through Smallville Proper, they made certain to drive past the bar to gather a witness or two. The actions were a necessity in setting up an alibi for Lex.

While Clark had been digging a path to freedom, he and Lex had discussed the possibility that someone had been trying to kill Lex himself, since the bomb was in his personal lab. Lex had disagreed, saying that, until the last month, his lab had been the least used room at the plant and the perfect place to hide a bomb. It wasn't until they learned about the fire alarm having sounded -- and the fact that they hadn't heard it, even though Lex guaranteed there were bells in every room -- that Lex conceded.

And now, Clark was wearing one of the suits he kept at Lex's for dates to fancy Metropolis restaurants or parties and standing behind his boyfriend, keeping an eye out, while Lex dealt with the press. In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Clark wondered if his parents were watching him on television. He fought the urge to smile, wave, and mouth "Hi, Mom and Dad!"

"...And I will keep the employees on full pay and benefits until the structural engineers complete their assessment," Lex was saying to the flock of reporters. The were gathered in a tent Nathan had arranged to have set up outside the fence of the LuthorCorp Plant. The smooth-headed Luthor looked sharp and professional in a full suit and tie: black, naturally, at this hour of the night, with an amethyst shirt. No one could tell that he'd been buried two hundred feet underground, in a rubble-strewn lab that had been destroyed while he was in it, unless they looked very carefully. Nathan had expertly covered the discolored bruise on the back of Lex's skull with stage makeup. There was a cut, too, near the top of his head, stage-bandaged and blended to near invisibility.

Lex fielded a few questions, answering them with the cool confidence of a shark gliding through an ocean of swimmers. The reporters did their best to unnerve him, or catch him in a lie, but at times he was his father's son and this was one of those times. Clark knew his place when Lex acted the role of young billionaire businessman: to fade silently into the background unless beckoned. At first, it had made him uncomfortable and hurt to be mostly ignored by Lex, especially when he was supposedly Lex's date at some of the functions they'd attended. Clark soon got over it, because after an event where Lex was "on" and they were alone, he would hold Clark's hand and bitch about everyone and everything. And since Clark had been there, he knew who and what Lex was referring to, enabling him to understand without explanation, to commiserate, to offer his own knowledgeable opinion, and to laugh uproariously at Lex's dead-accurate impersonations. It made Clark feel special rather than a 'trophy.' Lex invited Clark so he would have someone to share war-stories with afterwards, something he said once that he was glad about.

Relaxed and articulate, Lex exuded confidence as well as caring for the plant employees. If his father was here things would be much different, but the senior Luthor was in flight somewhere over the Pacific, so Lex was in control the crucial first hours post-disaster. Lex had performed a little Happy Dance due to that after he'd ended the call to his dad. It had been quite amusing to see, especially because he'd only been wearing his shirt, tie, and underwear at the time.

Nathan Laskarin, ever the efficient personal assistant, ushered Lex away from the reporters after X amount of questions, with Clark silently shadowing. Lex signed papers as he walked, issuing orders and delegating duties. Nathan -- who always reminded Clark of a slightly better-looking Lurch from The Addams Family -- also juggled three cell phones and fluidly passed each in turn to Lex with the appropriate requested party on the line.

Clark liked Nathan. He was discrete, loyal to Lex over his father, and subtly took care of the younger Luthor. He was the only person who knew about Lex and Clark dating, and he treated Clark like he belonged at the mansion and not as a guest.

Liking someone, however, didn't equate trust. Nathan knew Lex and Clark were together because of necessity: the two spent most of their time at the mansion. Lex was extremely good at keeping things he didn't want known to himself, in business or his private life. Clark knew more about Lex than anyone, but he didn't know everything. Clark didn't mind, though, because it was him that Lex turned to for comfort and sharing; it was him that Lex wanted for company; it was with him that Lex laughed until he cried and let his hair down, so to speak.

And it was with Lex that Clark would lose his virginity and discover the pleasures of making love.

Clark could feel himself blushing at the turn of his thoughts, as he followed Lex and Nathan into the makeshift 'headquarters' set up within the perimeter of the LuthorCorp Plant. It was well past midnight, and was officially the day before Clark's eighteenth birthday, which meant that he was going to have sex in one more day.

It was about damned time.

Clark had wanted to tumble Lex onto the nearest bed for months now. He'd even passed "The Test": he'd walked right into the grocery store, chose and paid for a single box of condoms, with maximum blushing, under the disapproving eye of Mrs. Satoski, the cashier, who bought vegetables from his mother. Mrs. Satoski'd clucked her tongue at him. He'd received "The Talk: Part Two" later that night, and ended up coming out to his father on accident.

Jonathan Kent had been leaning against the weathered wood fence beside Clark as they looked out over the work they'd just completed. Neat rows of stakes and string marked divisions between the newly planted test crops.

"Your mother received an additional order today," Jonathan cast Clark a sidelong glance, "from Mrs. Satoski."

"Oh?" Clark had tried for nonchalant. It clashed with his blush.

Jonathan's mouth curved in a faint grin. "We've had this talk before, and I wanted to say I'm glad to find you're acting responsibly." He clapped a hand on Clark's shoulder. "You're mature enough to make your own decisions, Clark. Just play safe and respect her decisions, too."

"I am. I do." Clark sighed softly, eyes focused on a distant point. "I just really want him to be my first, you know?"

There had been an infinite pause before Jonathan finally agreed. "You'll always remember your first time. It's better if it's with a special... someone."

The slow smile that stretched across Clark's face was full of tenderness. "Yeah."

"C'mon," Jonathan pushed off the fence, "Your Mom's made peach pie for dessert."

Later on that night, Clark had realized what he'd said and had hidden his head beneath his pillow for a better part of an hour. Thankfully, his father hadn't asked who the 'him' was that Clark wanted as his first.

He hadn't been too embarrassed to find books on parenting gay children in the house a few days later.

Clark stood out of the way, behind and to the side of Lex, in the headquarters tent. The tent was crowded with officials, and Clark knew half of them by name. They glanced questioningly at him from time to time, but didn't approach or ask why he was present and dressed in a navy suit at two o'clock in the morning.

A casually dressed man in a hardhat and carrying a clipboard was giving a report to Lex about the lockdown of the hazardous gases and chemicals in the plant. Clark hadn't thought about the danger still existing after the explosion. His only concern had been for Lex's well-being.

Lex rubbed the back of his neck as he surveyed a map of the fallout area should the worst happen. "Because of the hour, we'll have to do a door-to-door and warn the residents," he said. "I'd like the Sheriff's Department to do that. The officers should all have speech cards and strive to keep the panic at a minimum."

The Sheriff, Jim Arnold, also dressed in a suit with his star pinned to his lapel, nodded in agreement as he removed a cell phone from his pocket.

"Mr. Sullivan," Lex turned to where his three plant managers stood, "I want you back here at seven o'clock to assist the structural engineers. Mr. Lopez, come at your normal time to relieve Mr. Sullivan. Mr. Kimble, I'd like you to prepare a full, written report as to everything that occurred from when you came to work up until I arrived. Give a copy to the Sheriff, too, when it's done. Now, all three of you, go home."

As the plant managers left, Clark wondered if an article would appear on The Torch's daily updated webpage tomorrow. Chloe Sullivan was relentless when it came to a story, especially when she had an ace-in-the-hole eye-witness, like her father. The speculation that a bomb was the cause of the destruction had been bandied around --which neither Lex nor Clark confirmed or commented on-- and it would undoubtedly reach the ears of Smallville High's nosey reporter.

"Mr. Marcus," Lex addressed the LuthorCorp Plant's PR Director, Bradley Marcus, who had been summoned by Nathan as part of 'damage control.' "Prepare the information for the Sheriff Department. Then, create a press brief about the plant's closing and the continued temporary wages and insurance benefits until further notice. Add a warning that no one is to come out to the plant because of the hazards. After that, be ready to prepare a brief regarding the results of the structural engineers' investigation."

Lex was extremely good at his job. Clark had known this before, but to see first hand how Lex took control and made definitive decisions was amazing. Why Lionel Luthor wasn't proud of Lex baffled Clark. Even Clark's own father would be impressed with Lex right now.

Clark was not looking forward to the arrival of the elder Luthor in Smallville. A visit from his father always made Lex tense and grouchy for days, and not even Clark's magic footrubs would relax his boyfriend. Plus, Clark always wanted to stand at Lex's side, to present a unified front against Lionel, but couldn't because of his age, and that made Clark himself grumpy.

"All right, that's enough for tonight," Lex announced over an hour later. False dawn lit the sky outside the open flaps of the tent. "I'll be back about 6:45 AM to meet the engineers. Mr. Swanson, Sheriff, I presume you'll be here, too."

"Yes, Mr. Luthor," Charles Swanson, the man with the hardhat, said. Jim Arnold echoed him.

"Okay. Try and get some sleep, everybody. It's going to be a long day."