Mouse: A Definition





He waited on the porch for Lex to catch up with him, his mind going a hundred miles a minute. Lex had said that he wanted Clark in his life, butů the implication had been just in his bed. He didn't want that. They had been friends, and he had wrecked it. Clark squeezed his eyes shut; he would not shed tears over this. "Mom? You busy?" He hadn't even been listening for Lex's footfalls until they hit the creaky board that was directly behind him, and Clark twitched, startled.

 

A firm hand pressed against his lower back as Lex stepped up beside him. "Stop apologizing," Lex said to Clark, speaking in a low voice so anyone in the kitchen couldn't hear through the screen door. "It's annoying when there is no need."

"Yeah, well, when you say things like I'm lucky that you'll come out this way so I can still be in your bed and in your life, it makes me feel like I've done something that I need to apologize for." He sighed as he felt Lex's hand on his back. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do around you anymore, Lex. Just when I think you're okay with things, then you go and say something like this and I just don't know anymore. I thought... I thought you were glad to be with me." His voice was pitched as low as Lex's was, but he fell silent altogether when Martha opened the door. "Hey, Mom. We need to talk to you."

"Hello, Mrs. Kent." Lex stepped out from behind Clark. "May we come in please?"

 

Martha looked startled by Lex's iridescent appearance, but stepped aside to let them enter. "Lex-"


Lex waved a hand. "I know. We'll get to that in a minute."

Clark glanced around the kitchen. "Where's dad?"

"In the barn," Martha answered.

"Can you get him, please?" Clark said. "It's important."

Martha agreed, worry pursing her lips, and she left the house. Clark hugged his arms tighter around him, feeling hollow. The happiness he'd felt earlier had vanished, leaving him empty.

Then, Lex kissed him.

It was just a brief kiss, Lex's lips pressing hard against Clark's before he stepped back again. Steel-blue eyes were serious as they met Clark's gaze. "Don't question my wanting to be with you," Lex said. "If anything, that is the only sure truth of this whole, confusing mess."

Clark studied Lex for a few moments. "I... I trust you, Lex. And... thank you. You don't... you don't know how that makes me feel." In that moment, Clark felt every bit the awkward, gawky alien he was, as he had no words and no way to really respond to Lex's declaration. "There are a lot of truths here, Lex. I just... you have to believe them. Believe *me.* I'm sorry it took all this to make me see it, but... I want to be with you. And that's the truth, too." He edged closer to as he heard his parents' footsteps approaching. "Um... they're coming back now." Clark was standing almost on top of Lex, and then he stepped behind him and put a hand on Lex's shoulder. "I need to touch you," Clark whispered softly. "Please."

"Just no big PDAs," Lex warned, and turned to the door as Martha and Jonathan came inside.

 

Clark squeezed Lex's shoulder in acknowledgement as Jonathan froze in his tracks.

"Lex--"

Clark watched the thousand things flit through Jonathan's eyes before settling on one frightening realization.

"Mr. Kent."

"Dad," Clark ventured tentatively. "We, uh, need to talk. All of us."

Jonathan's lips thinned, but he nodded and fully entered the kitchen. Martha started over towards the coffee maker. Jonathan stopped her. "Martha, I don't think our nerves need any assistance right now."

Martha wrung her hands, clearly wanting the excuse to do something with them, which had been taken away. She returned to Jonathan's side, as he folded his arms and looked between Clark and Lex. He gave no opening to begin. Lex made his own.

"So," Lex said casually, his gaze unwavering as it met Jonathan Kent's. "Clark tells me he's an alien."

Jonathan turned an outraged glare on his son. "I don't know why Clark would be telling you stories like that."

Lex deliberately dropped his eyes to his skin, over to Clark, and back to Jonathan. "Please, Mr. Kent. I don't insult your intelligence. I expect the same courtesy from you, as hard as it may be for you to give," he said, inclining his head and bringing his shimmering skin into the light from the window. "Now... I know what Clark's told me, and frankly... all I want is the truth."

Clark disregarded his father for a moment and looked over at his mother. "He doesn't believe me, Mom. We're... anyway, he just doesn't believe me. I tried to tell him the truth but he just doesn't trust me."

"Sweetheart, are you sure you want to do this?" Martha asked him in concern. "There's no going back."

Clark blushed and mumbled, "We've already passed the 'no going back' point."

 

"Mrs. Kent, all I want to know is the truth. I've told Clark that I do intend to be part of his life. That I *do* want to be with him, and while I think that he has doubts about my sincerity due to the situation, that's simply not the case. I want to be with your son. But I also want--*need*--to know the truth."

Clark nodded. "Yeah, I'm sure, Mom. Please? I mean, this is my decision, right? I chose to tell Lex because... he means a lot to me. I couldn't lie to him any more."

Martha traded a long, long look with Jonathan. "We have to tell him, Jonathan."

"No."

"Look at him. It's not like we have much of a choice. At least he came to us first, not his father or anyone else. He trusted us, Jonathan. We have to trust him, too."

 

"Listen, I know Clark is different," Lex said. "I figured that out on my own long before today. If I haven't done anything yet, chances are I'm not going to."

"That's very reassuring," Jonathan said sarcastically.

Clark was beginning to get irritated. He was being challenged for his choice. "Dad, we're not asking for your blessing, just verification of the truth."

 

"And if I don't want to give it?" Jonathan glared stubbornly at his son. "I'm not delivering this kind of information into the hands of a Luthor."

Clark's eyes darkened. "Are you challenging me? Over my choice?" He stood tall, glaring at his father. "I won't let you win; Lex is *mine* and I am his and there is nothing you can do to break that bond."

 

"Calm down, Clark. Getting angry won't get us anywhere," Lex said.

Clark didn't move. "He's challenging me for you. I won't back down."

"I can fight my own battles, Clark," Lex said with an edge to his voice.

"Not this one," Clark stated, still staring hard at his father. "This is between Dad and me."

"You have my answer, Clark," Jonathan said.

"Lex is worthy of my choosing," Clark said, defending his choice, the words coming naturally to him. "He is a hero that does not seek reward; he gives to those who are deserving without expecting in return; he has intelligence and a heart; he rules with a strong, but gentle hand; he cares for his people as a King, though Smallville is not the kingdom he would have chosen; he stands tall in the face of rumormongers; he is of regal beauty, fit for a royal; and he has the curiosity of a child tempered with the experiences of an adult. The truth, though, is not being given because he is worthy, it's so that I might be worthy of him."

Jonathan appeared stunned and Martha awed by Clark's speech. Clark waited with bated breath. He'd stood up to his father before, but never with this level of intensity and never for something this important. He felt like this was a rite of passage, the last hurdle to becoming an adult.

Behind him, Lex was silent and still. If it weren't for the reassuring thump of his heart, Clark would wonder if Lex was even there at all. He did not turn, though, to look at Lex. His focus was yet on his father, awaiting judgment.

Jonathan was at a loss as to what to say. He couldn't tear his gaze away from Clark, from the intensity and the barely controlled anger roiling beneath the surface.

 

Clark started to rock lightly on his heels, body tensing as though he expected some sort of physical attack. He focused on Lex's heartbeat, used the calming rhythm to regulate his own breathing and felt his body shift in tandem with the steady beat. Clark jumped when he felt a touch to his back, and then relaxed as he recognized Lex's soothing hand.

 

"I'm waiting, Dad," Clark said softly, eyes glittering dangerously.

 

Jonathan finally tore his eyes away and looked at Martha. "What do I do?"

 

"You tell him what he needs to hear, that you'll tell Lex the truth. *Look* at him, Jonathan. Does that really look like our Clark to you?"

 

Jonathan shook his head. "All right, Clark. You win. We'll tell Lex the truth."

 

"It's not a game, Dad. There is no win or lose," Clark chastised. "It's about choices, and Lex is mine and I am Lex's."

"Somehow I think this is more than just teenaged hormones, Jonathan," Martha said.

"I'm beginning to agree," Jonathan said.

 

"I think we have to trust him and Lex," Martha pressed.

"I know, Martha. I just don't have to like it." Jonathan looked carefully back at Clark. "Calm down, son. Nobody's challenging anything here. If Lex is good enough for you... then we're going to accept that. You're the one who made the choice, you're the one that's going to have to accept the consequences of that."

 

"Am I really that horrible?" Lex spoke up from behind Clark, his tone conversational with a hint of curiosity, as if he didn't care about the answer. Clark turned, stepping to the side so Lex could address Jonathan and Martha directly. Lex already knew Clark's opinion of him, so Clark knew the question was directed to his parents.

"You're not horrible, Lex," Martha hastened to assure him. "You're just... different from us. You're a new part in the equation, an unknown, and we just worry about the influence you might have on Clark."

"Unknown my ass," Jonathan growled. "You're a Luthor, you'll always *be* a Luthor, and you'll never know how to be anything else. I don't want you dragging my son into that mire you call a life, and I don't want his... specialness exposed to a man like your father, but it doesn't look like there's much of a choice left, now is there?"

 

"You're judging me based on my last name," Lex said. "I think if you look in the dictionary you'll find that is the definition of bigotry."

"Not if it's the truth," Jonathan said pointedly.

"Jonathan!" Martha gasped.

Lex simply nodded. "Yes, of course. The truth. Although it is futile, I assure you I am nothing like my father. His main goal in life is to make money and he doesn't care who he destroys to do it. I, on the other hand, am merely self-destructive and occasionally someone gets caught in the wake."

"I'm not going to let you destroy yourself, Lex." Clark stepped up and put his hand on Lex's shoulder. "You're too important to me." He rubbed his thumb across Lex's cheek, completely ignoring the other people in the room for the moment, his world centering again on Lex.

 

Lex did not comment. He continued to meet Jonathan's eyes, tilting his head slightly away from Clark's touch. Clark dropped his hand immediately, hating that even that small touch constituted a 'big PDA' to Lex. Suddenly, Clark wanted this part to be over with, *now.* He wanted to sequester Lex away somewhere private and touch him until he quivered. Begged, even, for Clark to touch him more than with just a light thumb across a cheek. And Clark would deny him until he went hoarse from pleading, and then touch him in a way that left marks.

 

Irrationally, Lex's cool regard to Clark only angered Jonathan further. "You treat Clark like this in front of his mother and me and then expect us to believe you when you say that you want to be with him?"

Clark turned and bared his teeth at his dad. "Don't. Push."

"Clark," Lex called his friend's name, and it was enough. Clark stopped and came back to stand behind Lex. "Mr. Kent, all I'm asking for is the truth."

Martha cleared her throat before Jonathan could answer again. "I'll tell you, Lex. What do you want to know?"

Jonathan glared at Martha. Clark looked intently at Lex. Lex indicated his thanks to Martha with a nod. "Clark has abilities beyond the normal. He claims its because he's an alien, an extra-terrestrial. I suspect it has more to do with the meteor rocks around here, just like the others."

"Lex, Clark wasn't lying to you," was all Martha said.

"I expected you'd say that," Lex said quietly. "I told Clark that I expected you to back up his story."

"Lex, why would Mom lie for me, especially about something like this?" Clark asked softly. Then he turned his glance to his mother. "I want... I want to take him to the storm cellar, Mom. I want to see if... see if that will make him believe me."

"Clark, you're not taking him to the cellar."

"Yes, he is," Martha said, quiet steel in her voice. "Jonathan, open your eyes. Clark's going through something important here and Lex needs to understand it, too." She turned back to the two young men. "Lex, I wish that you'd believe me when I say that Clark is telling you the truth, but if you need proof to believe him, then there's nothing else he can do but show you."

The trip to the cellar felt like a funeral march, with Clark's heritage the corpse in the casket weighing down on their shoulders. Clark could feel his dad's eyes burning into the back of his skull, but there were no more protests. Jonathan didn't seem to get that Lex was *it*, that there would never be anyone else for Clark. Like certain animals, Clark knew instinctively that he mated for life and Lex was whom he'd chosen. Somehow, because of this, Lex's skin had become an iridescent wonder, though the exact hows and whys were unknown.

A hanging naked bulb provided light in the damp cellar. The dusty mud tarp covered the ship in the corner. Lex and Martha gathered near it, while Jonathan stayed further back. Clark was the one to remove the tarp, balling it up and tossing it to the side.

"Lex, come over here. This is what you wanted to see," Clark said, waving his hand towards the ship. "This is what I came here in. This is the proof. This ship landed with the meteors." Clark stepped a half step back, reaching out to draw Lex forward to the ship.

 

Lex's expression was of thoughtful disbelief as he approached the ship. He glanced at Clark momentarily, and then returned to studying the ship. He circled it, running his hand along the hull, tracing over the figures etched in the metal. His hand dipped into an open hexagon shape and looked curiously at its placement. "Where's the key?"

"Key?"

"This is a keyhole, probably to open the capsule," Lex said as Clark joined him. "Therefore, there should be a key."

Clark shook his head. "That I don't know. I don't have it. The only thing I have is a tablet Dad gave me after... after you hit me. When he showed me the ship. I don't have a key. At least not shaped like that." Clark shoved his hands in his pockets instead of running them over the back of Lex's hand and investigating the keyhole. "Dad? Do you have the key?" Clark looked over at his father curiously, half expecting him to come up with it.

 

"No," Jonathan answered shortly.

Martha pursed her lips thoughtfully. "This is a long shot, but do you think it could be still in the field where the ship crashed?"

Clark looked at the shape again and shrugged. "Wouldn't hurt to look. Be right back."

 

"Clark!" Lex called out his friend's name sharply. Clark paused just as he was getting ready to go. "Do you need me to drive?"

"No, I got this one. Are you coming?"

"By all means, Clark, lead the way." Lex's voice was bordering on patronizingly indulgent.

"Hold on," Clark said shortly, a malicious grin spreading across his face as he swung Lex into his arms and started to run. Full-speed, it took them only seconds to reach Baker's Field, and Clark dropped Lex onto the ground feet first. "Here we are."

Lex looked around, slowly. "There's a lot of ground to cover."

"Not if you know what you're looking for." Clark concentrated, and his x-ray vision switched on as he scanned the field. The deep furrow of his ship's impact still remained under the surface, and the groove was easy to follow. He tugged Lex along behind him as he followed the groove, sweeping his glance from side to side until he saw it. About two hundred yards from the impact site, there was a thin piece of metal shaped like the hole in his ship. He let go of Lex, knelt on the ground, and drilled his hand downwards until his fingers closed around the metal disk. "I found it, Lex." He pulled it back up, stood, and put the dirty metal key into Lex's hand. "There's the key."

Lex turned the key over in his hand, focusing on it rather than Clark. "Clark, I just want you to know, whatever we learn from this, I think you are a bright, beautiful person and I'm glad to have known you, even without knowing the truth."

 

Clark ran his hands over Lex's, watching the colors swirl, cupping them and the key in his own hands as he kissed Lex softly, as chastely as he could. "I'm lucky to have known you, Lex, and even luckier that you want to be with me." He squeezed Lex's hands carefully. "Ready for the ride back?"

"Not yet." Lex closed the small distance between them, slanting his mouth over Clark's, initiating another, more powerful kiss. Their hands remained locked between them.

Clark opened under Lex's sensual assault and was rewarded by Lex's tongue sweeping inside his mouth, tasting, tempting. Slick velvety brush of tongue against tongue, and Clark made a small sound of contented pleasure. The kiss deepened, lips meeting and parting and meeting again in a wet symphony of ardor. His breath became harder to catch. Arousal spiked.

Lex pulled away, rubbing his lips together, and his heavy-lidded eyes met Clark's. "Now I'm ready."

 

Clark licked his lips, tasting the remnants of Lex's flavor still on them, and then he scooped Lex up and held him tightly against his body. The carry was much more personal this time, Lex pressed closely against all the places they could touch, and Clark ran again, this time stopping outside the storm cellar. "I don't know what will happen now, Lex." He ran his fingers over the key in Lex's hand. "But I want to do it together."

 

Lex nodded. "Together then, Clark."

 

In the cellar, Jonathan and Martha were arguing. They fell silent as Clark and Lex came down the steps, but there was no question as to what they'd been arguing about. Clark gave them a false, peppy smile, like they were both 100-percent supportive of him and Lex. "We found it."

"How did you know it was a keyhole, Lex?" Martha asked, leaving Jonathan to join the boys near the ship.

"Hypothetical deduction," Lex said. He ran his fingers over the markings on the ship. "If I use an American military plane as a comparative basis, these markings would be like the US plane's identifying markings, such as 'USA, F-18.' It stands to reason that a hole near capsule-like part of the ship, the cockpit on a US plane, would be the way to open the cockpit, since there are no levers or buttons to do so."

Martha looked impressed. Heck, even Jonathan looked impressed. Clark had already known Lex was pretty dang smart, but he was sort-of impressed, too, by Lex's deductions.

Lex put the key in the keyhole and stepped back as the ship immediately came to life. Wide-eyed, Clark stood close behind Lex, putting both hands on Lex's shoulders and looking past him at the ship. The ship lifted off the ground, its unseen engine humming, and hovered at waist height. Seams appeared on the cockpit and bright, yellowish light pierced the dim cellar
as the capsule spilt open.


Clark waited, heart pounding loudly in his ears for something more to happen. A full minute passed. The ship continued to hover, unmoving.

Lex started forward towards the ship, but Clark held him back. Lex glanced over his shoulder at Clark. "You can let go," he hinted strongly.

Clark took a shuddering breath and released Lex. He hugged his arms around himself, taking a few unobtrusive steps back, even as Martha and Jonathan moved closer to the ship along with Lex. Fear assaulted Clark, causing him to tremble. It was true, really true. He was an alien. Not human.

Clark had believed his parents when they told him he wasn't from earth, but to have it verified, to have the truth hovering in his face where he couldn't deny it, scared him. Some small part of him had hoped that his parents were wrong, that he was one of the meteor mutants. That he was normal, for Smallville. "I really am an alien."

Martha, Jonathan, and Lex all looked at him, but it was Lex's eyes he held. He gave Lex a wavering smile. "Told you."

There must've been something in his voice, because both Martha and Lex abandoned the ship and came towards him. He backed away quickly, and Martha hesitated. Lex did not.

A support beam stopped Clark, preventing further retreat. Lex came into his personal space, though he did not touch, and began to speak softly, words for Clark's ears only. "Alien, mutant, or human experiment, whatever you are doesn't change *who* you are, Clark."

"How can you be sure?" Clark asked in a scared whisper.

"Because you wouldn't be afraid if it wasn't true," Lex replied with quiet assuredness. "And I wouldn't... love you, if it wasn't true."

"You love me?" Clark felt his heart flip when Lex nodded. He took a shaky breath, this time caused by the emotions swelling in his chest, and a beaming smile broke across his face. "Oh, wow. Cool."

"Yes. Oh, wow. Cool," Lex repeated without inflection, a dry smile twisting his mouth.

Clark's grin turned goofy. "You'd prefer the Dance of Joy? I have several in my repetoire: Snoopy's, Ren and Stimpy's, Balki and Larry's, Numfar's..."

Lex chortled. "No, that's okay, Clark."

And then Clark suddenly *felt* the surreal oddity of the situation. In his storm cellar, after *just* turning on his little ship, Lex had admitted to loving him and Clark was talking about happy dances and it was just... unreal. An alien doing Ren and Stimpy's happy dance. An alien who loved Lex Luthor doing the Ren and Stimpy happy dance.

He could *feel* Lex standing so close to him, could *feel* Lex's body heat twisting around him, could almost *feel* the colors dappling over Lex's skin. With Lex's love to bolster him, Clark took several steps forward until he was standing close to the ship. Lex moved to stand beside him, and Clark slowly reached out to touch the surface, almost expecting to be burned. "L--Lex. Look. In the... console there. There's an opening. The tablet... I bet the tablet goes in it."

"Tablet?" Lex said almost absently, leaning in to get a closer look.

"Yeah. It's in the loft. Hang on a sec." Clark zipped off to the barn and was back again before anyone blinked. He unfolded the cloth that protected the tablet his father had given him and showed Lex. "Maybe it's another key, to, um, start the ship or something."

"Be careful," Martha warned, both worry and curiosity evident in her voice. "We don't know how the ship works. I don't want anyone accidentally hurt."

"Don't worry, Mom. I don't think it can hurt me. And I'll protect Lex." He turned around. "Mom's right, though, you could get hurt."

"Together, Clark, remember?" he said softly, and he put his hand back on Clark's shoulder.

"Right. Together." Clark leaned into the open capsule. Taking a deep breath, Clark slid the tablet into the opening in the console. There was a series of mechanical noises, and then another flat pad slid out. This was a smooth black rectangle, and on the rectangle appeared a small....
projection. A...

"Hologram," Lex supplied, as though he could read Clark's thoughts. "Talk to it."

"Talk... to the hologram? It can't hear me!" Clark cleared his throat anyway. "Hello?"

The hologram was of a human-looking man dressed in a body-fitted flightsuit. It was greenish-blue in color, solid and unwavering. It looked directly at Clark, as if it was sentient, and spoke gibberish.

"What? I don't understand." Clark looked helplessly at Lex. "I don't know what he's saying."

The hologram flickered once, and suddenly began speaking English. "Language: Earthen, English, American, Midwest dialect. Translator activated." The hologram addressed Clark directly. "Greetings, Kal-El. Question, please?"



Continued