The air smelled different.


Clark Kent lifted his nose and sniffed as he climbed out of the truck parked outside the Luthor castle. The scent in the air was heavy, meaty. It weighed on his skin, making him feel like he was wrapped in wet wool. Dark clouds gathered in the distance, but it wasn't the charged, fresh scent of the coming storm he sensed. The odd smell wasn't in the air when he started making deliveries, just now that he'd arrived at Lex's.


Maybe the castle had gotten a moat.


Clark rubbed his palms on his jeans-clad thighs, wondering how a smell could be felt. He reached into the back of the truck, hoisted Lex's produce order onto his shoulder, and headed into the castle through the servants' entry.


The first thing he noticed was the scent didn't dissipate once he was inside. Casually, he ducked his head and sniffed his pits. Mountain Breeze fresh. A quick check of the soles of his shoes ensured he hadn't stepped in any barnyard presents. He hoped it wasn't the produce going bad.


Clark entered the kitchen through the short hall and immediately spotted Lex Luthor. It wasn't all that unusual; after all, Lex almost always showed up at some point during Clark's twice-weekly deliveries to the castle. What caught his attention today was, that Lex was pacing. Agitatedly. "Lex? What's up? You okay?" he asked, setting the produce order on the stainless steel counter.

"Just fine," Lex said. He came to a quick stop and looked at Clark. "How familiar are you with mice?"

"Mice? Pretty much, why?"

"I think that I have a problem with mice. I seem to hear a lot of scratching in my office behind my grandfather clock, and if the little bastards are marring the finish on it, I want them dead."

"Um... shouldn't you be calling an exterminator? I just deliver produce." Of course Clark knew about mice, he lived on a farm. But still, it wasn't like he had practice catching them. "Mom always puts down mousetraps."

"And I suppose you're going to be the one to come and empty the damn things when there are dead carcasses in them?"

"I take it you have a problem with--" Clark shut his mouth at the glare Lex threw at him. Right. Clark had forgotten: Luthors were afraid of nothing. "Why don't I take a look and I'll tell you if you need to call someone, all right?"

"Fine." Lex pivoted on his heel and headed out of the kitchen. Clark followed his friend, wondering if there was something more bothering him. By the tense set of Lex's shoulders, Clark suspected that was the case, rather than a puny mouse. After all, Lex had servants in and out of the castle all the time. One of them surely could have taken care of the problem.

Lex's office was the most familiar place in the Luthor manor to Clark. The spacious room, with the billiards table, glass-topped desk, comfy leather sofas, and rows of books upon books, was the only room in the castle that Clark ever saw Lex in. For awhile, he had thought Lex slept in the office, too, until Victoria Hardwick had blown into town to blow Lex at every opportunity.

Clark felt something dark and venomous uncoil inside at the thought of Miss Hardwick. He *really* didn't like her. He was very glad she was gone. He hoped it wasn't her scent that was lingering in the air still, though it was cloying enough to remind Clark of her.

Just the thought of Victoria was enough to dampen Clark's good mood and set the bile churning in his stomach. No-good scheming--Clark abandoned that train of thought as he swallowed hard and forced the acid back down. "So where's this monster mouse, Lex?" He couldn't help but wonder yet again why Lex was dragging him in here to do this. "You know, you could name it."

"Name it?" Lex actually stopped in mid-stride, and Clark stepped nimbly around him. "Why in the name of God would I want to personalize something I'm attempting to kill?"

"Oh, just had an appropriate rat's name pop into my head." Clark's return volley was filled with more than a little animus, and he could see the puzzlement on his friend's face. He purposely turned to the grandfather clock Lex had mentioned. "Okay... I'm going to need some assistance here. You're going to have to help me move the clock so we can see under and behind it."

"Right. You expect me to believe that you can't move that all by yourself?" challenged Lex with a raised eyebrow. "Rats come in all shapes, Clark."

Clark knew he could move the antique clock without a bit of help, would have if he'd been home alone, or with his mom and dad. "Lex, come on. This thing is solid. There's no way I can move this by myself." He dropped his eyes again, unable to look at Lex as he lied. He x-rayed the clock, just to see all the components and estimate how heavy it actually would be. What he saw was a crumpled piece of clothing under there. Looking *through* the actual base of the clock, he saw with another rush of acid that it was a red lace something, and he barely stifled the urge to reach under there, upending the clock, and shred the lacy whatever until nothing was left but strings. "Come on, let's move this."

"If the thing runs out on my feet, I'm going to kill you, Clark." Lex moved into position on the other side of the clock. "You lift, I'll lead."

"Whatever." Clark positioned his hands on the clock as he bent his knees and lifted. Between the two of them, they got the clock moved several feet away from the wall. "Hickory Dickory Dock."

"What *are* you talking about?" Lex asked as Clark knelt down, blocking his view of the baseboards.

Clark half-turned and threw the red panties at Lex. "I don't think these belong to you." He turned back to the floor, running his hands over the base. "Yeah... looks like you've got mice all right. There are droppings everywhere and some scratch-marks on the boards. You should call an exterminator. I'm sure they'll take care of it for you."

Lex chucked the red underwear into the fireplace. "Wonderful. Just the news I needed to hear."

"Hey, don't bitch at the messenger, Lex. You wanted to know if you have mice; you've got 'em."

Lex looked irritatingly at the evidence of mouse inhabitants. "If my name was Walt, I'd turn a profit from this."

Clark straightened and dusted his hands on his legs. "You could probably find a way as a Luthor," he commented flatly. "Do you want to move the clock back, or leave it?"

"Move it back." Lex turned a thoughtful gaze on Clark. "You sounded like your father, just then."

"I wonder why."

Lex compressed his lips in a thin line. "Never mind. The clock can stay where it's at." He started for his desk. "If you don't mind, I have work to do."

Clark felt immediately guilty. He was taking out his bitter feelings about Victoria on Lex, who was obviously having a bad day. "Lex--"

Lex raised his head, piercing Clark with his cool stare. Clark took a step forward, stopped, and shoved his hands in his back pockets. He took a stab at making things good between them. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. Really."

One elegantly clad shoulder lifted in a shrug. "No reason to apologize for telling the truth."

"Lex... it's not.... *you're* not. Okay? It's not the truth." His hands dug deeper in his pockets as he fidgeted. "I shouldn't have said it. You know? I just... I don't know what it was." He didn't know quite why he'd said those things, other than the gut reaction he'd had to the remnants of Victoria's presence, like the smell. "You're not like that."

Faint sigh. "Yes, I am."

"No, you're not. I know... I know that thing about the mice and stuff was a joke. Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney. I'm sorry." Clark changed his tactic. "What's up? Besides the mouse, I mean? Anything I can... help with?" His voice was tentative as he reached out to Lex, hoping not to be rebuffed.

Lex studied Clark for a moment, then dropped his head and sighed again. "No, it's just work. Nothing to concern yourself with."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure, Clark." The smallest of smiles turned up the corner of Lex's mouth as he raised his gaze. "But thanks."

Clark rocked on his heels, indecisive as to his next move. "I guess I'll see you later, then."


Okay. Clark pulled his hands from his pockets, sort-of waved, and headed out of the office. He paused on the threshold and turned back to Lex. "Want to get some coffee?"

The smile on Lex's face grew. "Perhaps I could use a break."

Thankfully, Lex was Clark's last delivery. It was decided that Lex would follow Clark home to drop off the Kent truck and they'd ride into town in one of Lex's cars. Lex chose the midnight blue Ferrari F355, and they flew down County Road 500 North at a breakneck speed.

Pulling into the turnoff and then into the driveway of his house, Clark eased off the gas as he saw Lex whip the sportscar in behind him, eyes hidden behind sunglasses as he drummed gloved fingers on the wheel. A smile through the windshield acknowledged Clark's gaze on him, and then Lex gently tapped the horn. Clark jumped in his seat and slid out, pulling the keys out of the ignition as he went. He ran inside, left a quick note for his parents just in case, even though they were gone for the evening, and jogged back outside. Lex opened the door of the Ferrari for him. Clark slid into the seat and pulled the door shut. "Beautiful car, Lex."

"I know," Lex said with a smug smile. He put the car in reverse, laid his arm on the back of Clark's seat, and backed quickly down the driveway.

Clark tensed when Lex's fingers briefly caught his hair, tiny pinpricks of alertness dotting the back of his neck. He was suddenly very aware of Lex. Aware of the way muscle shifted beneath cloth as Lex lowered his arm and put the car into gear. Aware of the flutter of pale eyelashes each time Lex blinked. Aware of the rise and fall of Lex's chest with each breath he took. Aware of the rhythmic pulse that beat just beneath the skin on his neck. Aware of the smoothness of his scalp and the intriguing bump on the back of his skull. Aware of the scar bisecting his upper lip and wondering what it would feel like beneath Clark's own lips...

Clark froze. Oh, god, what was going on? This was Lex, his best friend. His *male* best friend. He shouldn't be thinking about kissing Lex.

But it was still an image that he couldn't get out of his mind. He couldn't shake the idea that Lex's mouth would fit perfectly against his own full lips, that the scar would draw his tongue and be perfect for tracing and possibly nipping.

Clark fisted his hands and carefully scrubbed them against his jeans, trying to clear his head. He didn't notice Lex's concerned glance at his extended silence, and jumped when a gloved hand came to rest on his wrist. There was a near-sizzle in the air as Clark turned to face Lex, who looked worried. "Clark? Are you all right?"

All right... Clark knew he was definitely not all right. But he didn't dare voice those thoughts to Lex. "Yeah. I'm fine. Just thinking about... something," he evaded at the last minute. "Nothing you should worry about." And that was true. Clark had no intention of telling Lex what he'd been thinking; no way he was going to ruin the best friendship he'd ever had. "I really am sorry about what I said, back at the house," he said, changing the subject. "Thanks for... you know, not being too mad. And for this, too."

Lex smiled that little half-smile of his that told Clark everything was fine between them. "I'm not mad, Clark."

He put his hand back on the gearshift, and Clark breathed a sigh of relief. Being a teenager meant he was aroused by a good breeze, but that did not mean he should allow himself to be aroused by Lex Luthor. Even if he was hot sex on toast.


Clark watched as the corn whizzed by the window. Lex drove like he acted, fast and with precise control. Like the Ferrari, even standing still Lex radiated power and tightly leashed energy. He dominated the room and the road; drawing attention to himself by his sheer, sleek beauty, making people want to touch, to caress, to feel his hard body under and over you...

Her! Her beauty! Her body! Cars were female! Clark swallowed thickly and rubbed his sweaty hands on his thighs. He was talking about the car.

Nervous eyes darted to the driver. Lex had one leather-gloved hand on the wheel, the other on the shift. He looked completely relaxed and confident, driving at near reckless speeds. He wasn't showing off for Clark, either. It was a reflection of who Lex was, and Clark admired it. Lex commanded the road, himself, and those around him. He would be the perfect mate.

Clark rubbed his hands on his jeans again. Mate? Where had that thought come from? But it was a good thought; Lex would make the perfect mate. There was a slick strength of character about Lex that caused people to seek him out; they were drawn like moths to his flame, and like the flame, Lex burned them when they got too close. He knew that from the whole Victoria experience; she had gotten too close to Lex, tried to overthrow his position of power and he had utterly decimated her. Nobody used Lex; Lex used them instead.

Again, Clark shook his head, not quite sure where those thoughts had come from, but aware that something inside him nearly purred at them. His mind cleared just enough to see that they were pulling to the curb in town, and Clark willed the images in his head--images of Lex--to just *disappear.*

Clark stepped out of the car after Lex parked in front of the Talon. The apple cider he'd drunk before making deliveries must've turned to hard cider, he decided, which would explain his more-than-friendly thoughts about Lex. Plus, they were about to see Lana, and she always made him randier than normal. Yeah, that was it.

The Talon was rather full for an early Friday evening; business didn't usually pick up until after 9:00 PM. High school students were out en masse, a sea of red Crows jackets interspersed with the latest in teen outerwear. The smell of coffee overpowered the scent of anything else in the air. The noise level was high, the music higher, and the waitresses looked ready to scream.

Clark and Lex were lucky that a two-person table opened up just as they arrived. Lex appeared as though he couldn't decide whether to be amused by the crowd or to run. He settled on the former, draping his black peacoat over the back of the chair before sitting, and indicated to the boisterous
crowd with a tilt of his head. "Was there a sporting event I don't know about?"

"Beats me," Clark replied, glancing around. "You know I'm not into sports."

"Here, I thought I'd have to wait for my coffee to taste bitterness."

Clark partially smiled, turning his attention back to Lex. "Sorry."

"No need to apologize," Lex said, "and if you make me tell you that again, I won't offer you the chance to drive home."

"Sor--," Clark began, before biting his tongue. He grinned when Lex laughed.


Through the grin, Clark almost choked, his eyes widening as he realized he was being given the chance to drive the Ferrari. He leaned back in the chair, sprawling just a little as he imagined himself settling into the leather interior. His hand flexed lightly as he envisioned his hand wrapping gently around the gear stick, shifting easily into gear.


"Shush, Lex. I'm fantasizing about your Ferrari." Clark grinned, even though he couldn't *see* Lex's eye roll, he knew it was there.

"Shouldn't you do your fantasizing in a less public venue?"

Clark could hear the teasing derision in his friend's voice. "You do your fantasizing in the bedroom--"

"--boardroom," corrected Lex.

"Wherever. I'll do mine in your car." Clark's hand closed around the smooth gearshift, sliding over the slick length, grasping it firmly as he slid back up to the head--knob, dammit--and shifted on the down stroke. He curled his hand securely around the velvety gear-stick as the car moaned softly under his touch, accellerating smoothly.

Clark hummed in his throat as his hand slipped onto the satiny smooth stick. Lex was sitting in the car's passenger seat beside him, mouth curved in a sexy smile as Clark's hand nestled around the hot skin of his--

Clark's chair rocked forward so fast he could hear the legs creaking. How the heck had he gotten from caressing the Ferrari's stick to caressing Lex's--well--stick? *Why* had he gotten there?

"Clark? You all right?" Lex's face was a mask of quietly expressed concern. "You're acting a bit... odd."

"I'm good," Clark croaked, looking wildly for an avenue of escape. "I'm just-- Lana!"

"Hi, Clark, Lex." Lana came up to their table, apron around her waist, saving Clark from further embarrassment.

"Lana, hello," Lex said, his eyes communicating to Clark that they weren't through. "Busy evening."

"It's Couples Night," Lana chirped cheerfully. It was obvious the theme was her idea. "Buy one mocha and get your date's free."

Clark glanced around at the crowded Talon. "How do you know who are the couples and who are just friends?"

"Pretty much anyone here with someone of the opposite sex gets a freebie," Lana answered.

"That's rather biased of you, Lana," Lex said with a hint of condescension in his tone. "Not everyone dates the opposite gender."

Clark's attention swung to Lex. Was Lex implying something, or was he just making a general statement? And why did Clark suddenly very much want to know the answer? Lex met his gaze steadily for a long moment before turning to Lana again as she apologized.

"I never thought about that." Lana looked around at the various people seated in the coffeehouse, a tiny frown worrying her brow. "I guess I'd better give any two people here together the Couples Night deal." She looked at Clark and Lex, and a teasing smile graced her lips, as she poised her pen above her pad. "So, as a lovely couple, may I get you a mocha each?"

Clark's mouth was suddenly dry as he tried to answer. "Um... yeah. Sure. Mocha's great. And um... extra whipped cream on mine." He couldn't seem to shake his thoughts of Lex. "Lots of whipped cream."

Lana scratched Clark's order onto the notepad with graceful handwriting and then gifted him with a smile. "Got it." She turned the smile on Lex. "And what for you, sir?"

Lex smiled, too, but it was directed first at Clark, and then a smaller, more subdued one to Lana. "I'll have what he's having."

"Complete with whipped cream?" Lana questioned.

"Of course. It's not complete without whipped cream." Lex's smile didn't change, but Clark saw something skip through Lex's eyes when he said it that made him want to blush. Maybe it was just the direction his thoughts had been taking in the car, but only Lex could make a coffee order sound... dirty.

"Right. Two mocha lattes with double--"

"Triple," Lex interrupted before Clark could, and the young man blushed furiously, not quite knowing why.

"Right, triple whipped cream." Lana made the notation on her pad and turned to leave. "Oh, and Lex... thanks. You're right, not everyone does date the opposite sex." Clark noticed her eyes flick over him before going back to Lex. "I appreciate that; I don't want to offend anyone."

Oh, man. Was his sudden lust for Lex that obvious?, Clark thought, starting to panic again. It was getting ridiculous. He'd had nothing but best friend feelings for Lex until tonight, other than the occasional stray dream, where Lex's smile would reach his eyes and Clark would wake with sticky sheets.

Okay, so maybe Clark had these thoughts before, just not admitting to them, but that was normal, right? Normal for humans, anyway. It didn't explain why he wanted to reach across the table *right* *this* *instant* and show everyone in the Talon that Lex belonged to him, using lips and a lot of tongue. Maybe even teeth.

God, what was *wrong* with him? Did the sight of the animals mating on the farm this morning kick-start some alien breeding hormone inside him, and Lex was the mare to his stallion? And was he really that pompous to think that *he* was the stallion?

Well, perhaps...

No. No, no, no, no, no. First of all, Lex had too much down below and too little up top to be a mare. Second of all, Clark wasn't gay. He liked Lana. Pretty Lana, with her pretty legs and her pretty breasts and her pretty smile and her pretty eyes...


None of which were doing *anything* for him right now, other than reminding him of how *different* she was from Lex. How she'd be soft and mewling instead of hard and demanding like Lex. How--

Okay. Stop. Deep breath. That's right. In and out. In and out. In and out. Just like--

ENOUGH! Clark was *really* beginning to think that something was going on with the wiring in his brain. He shook his head and sneaked a look at Lex out of the corner of his eye. Lex was staring at him with an intent expression, one that said he was working *something* out in that always active mind of his.

So maybe there was a huge neon sign over Clark, advertising his thoughts.

Or maybe Lex was just trying to figure out why Clark was shaking his head like he was having a fit.

"So, um, Lex... triple whipped cream?"

Lex steepled his fingers, elbows resting on the table as he continued to look at Clark. "Isn't that what you wanted?"

"Well... yeah," Clark said. And maybe he could steal some of Lex's cream when the drinks came out. And crap. There it went again. "I just didn't think that was your thing."

"What, whipped cream?" Clark swallowed hard at Lex's grin, promising and secretive at the same time. "I happen to be quite fond of whipped cream, in certain situations."

Clark didn't have to ask what the situations were, his imagination was filling in the blanks *quite* nicely.


Awkward silence, all on Clark's part, and Lex seemed to be getting more amused by the second. Finally, Clark blurted, "It's not a date!"

Ever felt fifty pairs of eyes on you at the same time? Clark had before, but that didn't make it any less humiliating. He shrank down in his seat.

Lex, naturally, did not react with embarrassment to Clark's brilliant attention-grabbing declaration. He didn't even bother to look at the staring patrons, instead shrugging nonchalantly and murmuring, "Your loss."


Rewind. Lex wanted this to be a date? Okay, score one for SuperGeek. "Wait. Do you *want* it to be a date?" Smooth. Score two for SuperGeek. "I think I'm going to shut up now."

His mouth shut up, anyway. His stupid brain kept working overtime.

"Clark, it's okay." The expression that turned up the corners of Lex's mouth certainly suggested that it was, but Clark could tell that it didn't quite reach Lex's eyes. "It doesn't have to be a date."

"But what if I want it to be?" Crap. What was that about shutting up again? Open mouth, insert foot. "I mean, not really, but kinda?" Open mouth, insert foot, and swallow.

Lex paused. It was an interesting habit that Clark had noticed. Whenever something caught Lex off-guard, he went perfectly still, like someone had hit the pause button on his remote. It lasted barely a moment. "You mean, you want it to be just the two of us out tonight and not be joined by your other friends," Lex surmised.

"Yeah, that's it." Clark jumped at the excuse. It was true, but he had a feeling there was something more happening this night than simply two friends having coffee. "Just you, me, and triple whipped cream." Oh, God, did he just say that? By the suppressed smile making the corners of Lex's mouth twitch, Clark had.

At the rate he was going, he should just paint his face red.

Lex, graciously, did not tease or fully smirk at the buffoon sitting across from him, as a different waitress brought their mochas. Instead, he raised his mug in a silent toast and began to eat the whipped cream with a spoon.

Clark had the irrational urge to pout. And to take away Lex's spoon.


And then he did. Without warning, he just reached across the table and took Lex's spoon out of his hand like it was the most natural thing in the world to do, and it kind of *was.* Because after all, Lex *did* have a tongue, and *that* thought was hot and disturbing all at the same time.

There was another pause, and Clark was seriously tempted to hunt for Lex's remote control.

"Clark, may I have my spoon back please?" Calm and polite, like he was asking to have the salt shaker passed to him.

"Um... no?" Clark made the refusal sound like a question as he slipped the spoon into his mouth and sucked. He closed his eyes before he did something stupid, like moan because there was just a trace of Lex on the spoon and it tasted *really* amazing mixed with the whipped cream, and suddenly those vague imaginings Clark had had about why Lex liked whipped cream got a *lot* sharper.

When Clark ventured opening his eyes again, Lex was watching him with hawk's eyes. Eyes that weighed, measured, and were about to either proclaim Clark nuts or dissect him. Clark wasn't too thrilled about either prospect and his lips quivered as he tried to smile, to brush off his odd behavior.

"Clark," Lex lowered his voice, leaning forward slightly for privacy. "Are you trying to tell me something?"

"I like whipped cream?" Clark lied pathetically. It wasn't like he could tell Lex the truth: that his hands, chest, and groin had begun to ache to hold Lex down and drive into him like a stallion did a mare, and Clark had already had that conversation with himself about the mare/penis/hair thing.


Lex continued to study Clark until the young man was ready to jump out of his skin. "Clark, I have known a lot of people in my life and I have been fed some incredible lines of bullshit by some very fine actors, but never before have I been fed a bigger line of crap than you just tried to hand me as badly as you handed it."

Clark's red blush deepened. "Um.... I do like whipped cream," he insisted weakly, the whole urge to maul Lex incessantly not making it any easier to think. "Really."

Lex's gaze was still hawkishly sharp. "Yes, I can see that you do, Clark."

"Um... we... this... I... um..." Clark could not think of a single thing to say that would explain why he'd taken Lex's spoon and then licked it himself. "How's your coffee?"


A tiny tic in Lex's cheek, and he relaxed back in his chair. Smiling in a not nice manner, he lifted his coffee and took a sip. The overabundance of whipped cream had a deleterious effect on drinking, however, and Lex got some of the white substance on his face.

Clark shoved back his chair with a loud squeak on the floor. "I'm s-sorry," he stammered, and fled the Talon.

He didn't get far. He sank to the curb near the back of Lex's car and buried his flaming face in his hands. He took shallow breaths, trying to gain some semblance of control. He needed to go home, to talk to his parents and try to figure out what the hell was happening to him. He needed to get away from Lex before something untoward happened, something that could destroy their friendship. He needed to stop seeing Lex with whipped cream (semen) dotting his face.


Clark snapped his head around, wild eyes landing on Lex. Lex stood partially behind him, worry creasing his brow. "Do you want me to take you home?"

Nostrils flaring, Clark grasped his knees as a spike of something sharper and stronger than arousal shot down his spine to his balls. His skin felt tight, the pressure in his chest increasing to almost painful proportions. That odd scent was back, strong and heady, clouding his senses. "Lex--" he rumbled in a voice much deeper than his normal one. A rumble of thunder followed it, the dark clouds he'd seen earlier rolling rapidly over Smallville from the west. A spring storm.

Lex flicked a glance at the clouds and removed his keys from his pocket. "C'mon, Clark. I'm taking you home."


Clark almost fought Lex, but reacted to the steely command in his friend's voice. He rose from the curb and waited until he heard the chirp of the car alarm, and then settled himself in the passenger seat. His hand reached out and caressed the stick shift as his earlier thoughts poured back in a rush, and he jerked away as though he was scalded by it.

He watched as Lex got into the car, watched Lex's muscles ripple under his skin as his eyes looked *through* Lex's peacoat and shirt. He slammed his eyes shut, leaning his head back to rest against the headrest. Peeking at Lex, no matter how much he wanted to, was *not* the right thing to do, but Clark's good intentions were fast being outstripped by need. His hand reached up and ran along the seam of the sunroof as he willed Lex to just *drive.*

"Clark? Are you all right?"

"Just drive." Clark barely recognized his own voice as it rolled out of his throat, a counterpoint to the storm brewing over them. Raindrops--large, fat globules--started splattering and breaking against the windshield, and Lex flipped on his headlights and wipers. The rhythmic thump and squeak of the wipers on the windshield was echoing loudly in Clark's thoughts, synchronizing with the hot spears of *something* rolling through his body.