Summary: Clark gets a clue and *finally* does something about it
Notes: Part of Ghini's Neil Gaiman Title Challenge. Also a companion piece for "The Land of Summer's Twilight"
Clark paced. There was no other word for it. For a moment he stopped, guiltily wondering if he'd end up making a visible, worn path in the floor boards. Seconds later, he was back to walking back and forth, like a caged animal.
He sighed. This was really beginning to annoy him. Now, if he really set his mind to it, he was sure he'd find a reason for this... mood. He'd been so dependant on his powers for so long now, it was about time he started using his brains as well.
Summer holidays were supposed to be relaxing, but Clark was beginning to feel... well, not exactly bored -- more... restless. It was just that normally he had his friends to keep him from thinking too much about the things he tried so desperately to hide from. Not just his ordinary alieness, his powers, but also the fact that he was looking for more in his life. 'Don't go down that passage, it's a dead end...'
Problem was it wasn't, but every other path seemed to be -- they were just dead ends like his friendship with Lana. Well, the friendship wasn't a dead end, but taking it anywhere beyond that? Definitely.
And Chloe? He'd tried, he really had. But it had been another dead end. For her sake he'd really hoped it had worked out, but beyond normal curiosity? Nada. And he was afraid that if he didn't back off he'd be jeopardizing their friendship -- hell, he'd probably damaged it already.
Take another passage. Clark didn't really have that many friends and lately he'd been too caught up in his own problems to realize that he was actually pushing them away. Or at least neglecting them. Like Pete, who was very upset that Clark chose to spend as much time with... Lex as he did.
Frowning, Clark dropped on the couch, leaning back and staring at the ceiling. He closed his eyes, trying to get to the core of his problems.
A minute later he was up, pacing again. Yeah, trapped and nowhere to go. No matter what path he tried to take, it turned out to lead nowhere or just... seized to exist.
Kinda like the Goblin King's labyrinth, where the walls would move, change when you weren't looking. Only in his case, the walls weren't even visible. A metaphorical labyrinth.
Like a blind man stumbling through the Goblin King's maze, creepy creatures laughing and ridiculing his inability to cut to the core of his trouble, to find the center of his own infinite, invisible labyrinth. To see beyond the tip of his own nose.
Clark frowned again. So what would he have to face to get out?
'I know what haunts my dreams.'
No. Never. He was enough of an alien as it was, no need to add to it by admitting...
"I'm..." he whispered, sinking slowly down on the couch. "God, I'm so screwed..."
Laying down, he curled up, listening to the sounds of a late Kansas evening. He wasn't sleeping, just... dozing. And as always, images surged through his mind. The claustrophobic feeling of walls all around him, of up becoming down and vice-versa. Of a taunting, knowing chuckle and eyes... Clear grey-blue eyes.
Clark sat up abruptly. "Fuck."
'Why not simply admit it?'
How could he ever...
'You know who your Goblin King is. The one who's pulling the strings, pulling *your* strings...'
Taking a deep breath, holding it and then letting it slip out, slowly.
And somehow, that must've been the magic word, because all of the sudden, he had an all too clear view, from where he was standing to the center, the goal of his maze-like travel of thoughts.
He was standing in front of the gates to the mansion before he could even finish the idea. For a second he had his doubts, especially when he realized he was only wearing jeans, a t-shirt and... sans shoes. A sweep revealed the lights still on in Lex's study.
A shadow of a figure on the balcony caught his eye and the anticipation coursing through his body took him by surprise, and he was climbing the wall, heaving himself up and over the railing a moment later, met by a surprised stare from Lex. Grinning like a loon, Clark jumped onto the balcony.
"Clark?" Lex sounded puzzled.
"Sorry to barge in like this, but no one answered the door and the lights were on up here, so I kinda thought..." Another little whitr lie, Clark hoped would slip by. He hadn't even thought about the door when he'd spotted Lex up there. He felt the blush creep into his cheeks. What if this was a bad moment for this? "I... I'm sorry, maybe I..." What if Lex was busy?"
And why was he staring at Clark like that? Partly as if he couldn't believe Clark being there, on the balcony and partly as if he wanted devour him. Clark silently scolded himself. He knew very well what caused those looks. The same kind of... attraction that made him stare at Lex, whenever he thought the man wasn't looking.
Still, he couldn't quite get Lex to meet his eyes.
"Clark?" Like Lex was a drowning man, trying to keep the panic out of his voice, like Clark's name was the only thing to keep him afloat.
"Ye-yeah?" This was the turning point, there was really no going back.
"What are you doing here?" Not that Lex sounded like him being there was a bad thing.
"I... I was out for a walk..." Another lie, another protective reaction.
"Clark?" Lex shook his head, as if trying to clear it. And he was still avoiding Clark's gaze.
"Yeah, Lex?" Clark steeled himself. He was still 99.9% sure that he'd been reading Lex right. And by now, he was 110% sure that he wanted the very same things.
"You aren't wearing any shoes..." Clark smiled. It was hard to slip such little things under Lex's radar. And he way Lex was staring at his bare feet, Clark was fairly sure he'd be spending this summer without shoes and sock -- a lot. And... Lex was leaning forward.
"I... I guess I forgot to put shoes on..." Clark kept his voice calm, belying the turmoil in his mind, his stomach, like a thousand butterflies were loose down there. A little north of where his blood was currently heading.
Lex continued, head buried against Clark's shoulder. "In a hurry?" As Lex moved his head, to nuzzle Clark's neck, Clark felt the heat coil like lava in his veins. And before Clark could stop himself, his hand came up, cupping the back of Lex's naked scalp, revelling in the silk-like feel of skin.
"Lex?" Clark whispered, barely getting the words out. He needed a little more proof that this was ok. For a second Clark had his doubts as Lex pulled back a little.
"I..." And Clark noticed, for the first time ever, that his friend seemed to have trouble finding the right words. And finally, *finally* Lex met his eyes.
"I know, Lex, it's ok." Clark wasn't sure how, he just knew. And God, how he wanted to kiss mouth, so close, so taunting... And before he realized it, he was leaning into Lex's embrace, pressing his lips against Lex's. His heart sang with surprise and joy as Lex instantly picked up, kissing him hard in return.
"Clark." Lex was panting, like he'd run for a very long time without rest. "Please tell me this is real."
Clark didn't answer at first, he simply pulled Lex closer, enjoying the intimacy, nuzzling Lex's neck. Then he answered with a chuckle: "If it isn't, I don't ever wanna leave." And if it wasn't real, Clark was bent on making it last for as long as possible, dipping his head once again, catching Lex's slightly parted lips in an enthusiastic kiss.
It looked like he'd conquered his labyrinth after all -- and maybe, there was a happy end in this as well -- for the both of them.