"A time machine, Luthor?" Superman smiled in the face of the other man's barely
controlled rage, holding the device up in the superhero version of keep-away. Luthor would
probably have snarled in fury if he wasn't trying to be above that kind of thing. Instead
he stood and glared at Superman, his white coat flapping in the breeze from the broken
window, his whole demeanour cool and unruffled.
"I'd be very careful with that, if I were you, Superman," Luthor said, his voice
tight with anger at having his latest invention taken in yet another of their interminable
power plays. "That's a very sensitive-"
"What the hell?"
The ground wasn't underneath Clark's feet anymore - he dropped for a split second until
his flight reflex kicked in. Looking down all he could see was ocean - it spread out and
around him as far as he could see.
"I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore!"
It wasn't like crazy stuff hadn't happened before when he'd tried to destroy Luthor's
latest ill-advised scheme, but he couldn't remember a time when picking up one of Luthor's
gizmo's had transported him to
to wherever this was.
He looked down at the gizmo in question. Perhaps he should to say to 'whenever' this was.
His own inch-deep finger impressions marred the surface of the small, loaf of bread-sized
machine, and the lights that had flickered across the surface when he'd grabbed it from
Luthor's lab were now dark. He'd squashed the thing in his surprise, and now he was
stranded until he could find someone to fix it, or find some other way back.
Clark didn't panic. He'd travelled through time before. Not often, but often enough to
know there was always a way back. He just had to find it.
Flying again - after choosing a direction at random - he scanned ahead to look for land.
He hadn't seen what the time setting on the gizmo had been, but judging by all this water
he guessed that it was far enough into the future that global warming had become an issue.
Or maybe far back enough in time that the continents hadn't risen yet?
He was going to lecture Luthor until his ears bled if Clark had been thrust way back into
the dawn of time. Never mind that Luthor hadn't created the time machine as a weapon
against Superman, he would have known that Superman would come to destroy it, as he
destroyed all of Luthor's more dangerous toys, and he should have made it a lot safer.
That was the problem with Luthor's creations, it wasn't that they were inherently evil, or
even that Luthor's intentions were always inherently evil, just that everything always
went wrong with his plans. And usually it was Clark that took the brunt of it.
He flew over the water for miles, scanning in every direction. He even scanned the water
in case he found Atlantis or some other underwater civilisation where he could ask for
directions, but he saw nothing, not even fish. The air was devoid of birds, and the water
was devoid of anything larger than krill. The only thing that moved in the water were
long, trailing plants, something like kelp, writhing faster than the waves.
When he finally saw land, there was no sign of civilisation, just more plant life. And
most of the plant life appeared to be vines. There weren't even any tree species that he
Now he started to worry that Luthor's device had sent him to another world entirely
instead of another time. If that were the case, then he would have little to worry about
as he could navigate through space as easily as he could navigate through Metropolis.
Except, he looked up to check, he was pretty sure that was his sun. Although it didn't
shine as brightly as it had yesterday his yesterday it was still in the
right place. He checked out the stars overhead visible to him even in the daylight
and they were familiar, although not exactly where he remembered.
Finally he saw a dome, dingy off-white and definitely something man-made. There were
plants, odd looking vines, creeping all over the dome, and the vines turned deep purple
pods toward him, tracking his movements as he looked for a way in. He avoided them as he
found a weakness and lifted one panel corner, sneaking inside and then pulling the panel
back in place as the vines tried to slide tendrils underneath and into the building.
A quick X-Ray of the building, which turned out to be a large, partially underground
compound, revealed one human form. Clark quickly hid the device under some very old boxes,
cursing when they splintered and broke, and strode out to meet the resident. The halls
were dusty, and some of the rooms he passed where full of old boxes. X-Rays revealed the
boxes to be full of a lot of utterly random things: disintegrating books, books that were
carefully preserved; old machinery and technology Clark couldn't recognise; jars and
preserved items that could have been food - many, many years past their use-by date. It
looked like some extremely advanced preservation techniques had been used on the organic
items, but that they had failed a long time ago. A lot of the items, all covered in dust
and old leaves, he simply couldn't recognise at all. Mechanical or organic, they all
appeared as alien as things he'd seen on other planets.
As he walked, tendrils of vines reached out towards him, trying to grasp at his hair and
shoulders. The purple pods followed his every move, and a closer inspection showed them to
be faceted, with iridescent structures reminiscent of insectoid eyes. He shuddered as he
pulled the tendrils from his hair again. They were strong and grasping, and just creeped
The whole place had an atmosphere like some kind of decaying museum to weirdness, and
those plants were way too happy to see him. The damned things were not even coming in from
multiple access points, but had come in behind him and were growing down the corridor as
fast as he was walking.
He swatted one away that tried to crawl into his ear, and came face to face with the only
other human occupant.
Luthor looked at him, his expression showing little surprise. Instead he appeared calm to
the point of numbness. He was wearing a beige shirt that hung to his knees, over simple
beige slacks. The design was simple, the construction messy, and the fabric coarse. It was
disconcerting to see him in beige. Luthor just didn't wear beige. Purple, black. White
when he was trying to make a point about his own innocence and strength in the face of
Superman's invading alien evil, but never beige. Even stranger, he had bare feet. Clark
couldn't remember seeing Luthor's feet bare outside of a hospital room. He looked mostly
clean, but also looked somewhat unkempt. Something Clark had never seen before, not even
after one of Luthor's numerous car accidents or homicide attempts. Nothing changed the way
Luthor looked no matter what he went through, he was always pale, handsome, and
"What's going on here, Luthor?" He demanded in his best Superman voice, feet
planted wide and arms akimbo.
Luthor walked up to him, smiling a little, his expression vague, then leaned up with a
small, white object in his hand to zap at the creepers. The creepers squealed like
tortured piglets and curled up their leaves, withdrawing back the way they had come,
letting go of the walls and pulling out of the dome.
"What is the meaning of this, Luthor?" Clark tried again, but Luthor just smiled
and walked closer, pocketing the device he'd used to get rid of the creepers, and placed
one hand on Clark's chest.
Clark stepped away, but Luthor followed him, serene smile in place, and put his hand back
on Clark's chest.
Luthor's mouth moved, as if he was trying to talk, but he made no sound. He seemed a
little puzzled at the silence.
Clark tried to step back again, but Luthor once more moved with him, and put his arms
around Clark, leaning forward to put his face against Clark's neck. Clark put his arms up
and out, as if avoiding getting Luthor-germs. "What are you doing? Get off me!"
Clark pushed him back, and finally Luthor found his voice, rough and rasping. "You
"What do you mean, I came back?" Clark backed away another step, regarding
Luthor with suspicion.
"I don't know, Clark." Luthor's voice was a coarse whisper, as if he hadn't
spoken in a very long time.
Clark gasped at the use of his real name, but Luthor continued as if he hadn't noticed
Clark's shock. "You died. You died so long ago. There was no way you could
Luthor paused, one finger to his lip as he seemed to work his way through a puzzle.
"I can feel you so you're not a hallucination, and you're not a solid hologram or I
wouldn't be able to smell you, either."
Clark was affronted at being told he smelled, but he listened to Luthor's rambling,
watching as Luthor's face changed from the vacuous expression it had held to the much more
familiar look he took on when he was working on a mystery.
"I died?" He thought about the time machine he'd hidden. "What year is
"I have no idea, Clark. What century are you from?"
"Century?" Clark backed up another step. How far had he travelled? "Twenty
first. How far have I come forward in time?"
"I'm sorry, I really have no idea. I'm guessing maybe a few billion years? Trillion?
I can no longer keep track of time. I have other, more important machines to keep working.
Time pieces have no real meaning anymore."
"Ba ba billion? A few billion years?" Clark stuttered. "I'm going to kill
you!" He reached out to put his hands around Luthor's neck, as he'd done so many
times before, and slammed him up against a wall, feet dangling, but Luthor didn't appear
afraid or even startled, he just smiled again, that soft, unfocussed smile.
"You are certainly welcome to try, Clark," Luthor said, calmly.
"And stop calling me Clark!" Clark let him go, let him drop back to the ground.
"I can't really remember chronological details too well anymore. I take it from the
way you're behaving that you're from the centuries when we were enemies? I was born in
yes, 1980 so therefore
if you're twenty first century we would be
"We'll always be enemies, Luthor! And whatever trap you set to get me here, I'll
"Oh, I dare say you will," Luthor ended his sentence with a slight cough.
"Please, pardon my voice. I haven't used my voice in
Im not sure. A good
few hundred years. Occasionally I yell at the invader vines, but otherwise
"A few hundred years? Why not?" Clark was derailed from threatening Luthor by
the unexpected statement.
"To whom would I talk? I've been alone here at the end of the world for a very long
"Why? And hang on, why are you still alive after millions of years?" Clark let
go of his shock at Luthor using his real name and started to focus on the anomaly of his
presence in this time. Luthor certainly didn't look the age he claimed to be he
looked just as young and smooth as he always had, and moved with the same easy confidence.
"One of the 'gifts' of Kryptonite mutation. Baldness and immortality. I cannot
"Oh, well, that's cool, I guess," Clark had known about his own immortality for
a while, and knew he'd outlive everyone he loved at some point. It was something he
wouldn't have to face for a long time, though, so he rarely thought about it. 'Cool'
wasn't something he should probably say, but he wasn't sure how to react to this placid
Luthor who knew his identity. The current situation had him quite discombobulated.
"No, it isn't. Are you hungry? I just made some lunch; perhaps you'd care to join me?
I do remember you always enjoyed your food."
"Er, yeah, I guess," Clark was totally thrown by the situation, but he had no
reason to believe that Luthor was lying. He was acting harmless, but then Luthor often
extended an olive branch to Clark, only to use that branch to slap him in the face. Clark
had been caught more than once, trusting bright blue eyes and not protecting his back.
"You're not going to try and poison me, are you? Kryptonite coffee, or
"No, Clark, what would be the point? You're the first living soul I've seen in
several millennia; I'm very pleased to have the company." Lex seemed so sincere, as
charming as he was when they first new each other.
"Oh, yeah, okay. Millennia. So, what's for lunch, then?" Clark was used to Lex's
impeccable manners, even at the oddest of moments. It was always an odd juxtaposition
between Lex's old school etiquette and his determination to destroy all who stood in his
way, no matter how low he had to sink to do it. Lex had enjoyed the old school villain
routine, sitting behind his desk with his legs casually crossed, offering wine or cigars
while Superman ranted and yelled and threatened.
"Vine soup. I eat a lot of vine. They are now the dominate form of life on the Earth,
and have been for a few hundred thousand years, but over the past hundred years or so,
they've managed to eat nearly everything that walks or crawls upon the planet and they're
starving. Soon they'll probably become extinct. It will be interesting to see what comes
along after that, as there appear to be only insects, and the parasitic bonfers that prey
on the vines surviving now."
"Bonfers came from the planet Torook when the Torooks invaded. They're neither quite
reptile nor mammal, but they've managed to survive when all other animals and birds were
wiped out through disease and predation. They are difficult to catch, and they don't make
very good eating. So I eat a lot of vine. I cannot, of course, starve to death, but I
certainly feel hunger. It's a very boring diet."
They walked down towards an area of the dome set aside as a dining area, and Luthor served
them both bowls of green soup with the same grace he'd once served Clark water, or soda,
or snacks made by his cook back in the Smallville mansion.
Luthor smiled again as Clark sat down, tucking his cape neatly under his legs, and that
vaguely happy smile on Luthor's face was as creepy as those invading vines. Clark took a
mouthful of the green soup
and promptly spat it out again.
"This is disgusting!" He restrained himself from getting up and grabbing Luthor
around the throat again. Nothing that tasted that bad couldn't be poisonous.
"Yes, that's true. I've never really developed a taste for it myself. Although I find
that if I don't eat for a few days, hunger gives it a certain palatability. I do have some
other food items in storage," Luthor looked thoughtful. "I should have offered
"No, no," Clark thought of the state of the stored items he'd passed on the way
in. Lex had always prided himself on offering Clark the finest that money could buy, and
Clark felt a little sheepish for his ill grace in accepting the awful soup. Lex would hate
having only sub par food to offer. "I'm not really hungry, it's fine."
"But tell me, Clark. How did you get here?" Finally Lex's curiosity about
Clark's appearance was engaged. Lex's interest in whatever Clark had to say reminded Clark
of when he'd been a teenager and couldn't wait to get to Lex's house. Lex had always been
interested in whatever Clark had to say, like no one else had been. Instead of telling
Clark to get over it, or stop being weird, or whatever his other friends had said, Lex had
always listened as if what Clark had to say was the most important thing in Luthor's life.
"A time machine. You built one, or bought it from someone - a wizard, maybe. I took
it from you, and it activated when I picked it up."
"And it sent you all the way here, to me. Why?"
"I don't think Luthor, that is, you back then, intended it to do that. You were
probably going to use it to steal information or destroy the Justice League or something.
I think I just picked it up at the wrong time."
"The Justice League
I remember them," Luthor said, looking away with a
whimsical smile. "I never was overly fond of the JL, but they didn't last very
"What do you mean?" Clark fished for information. If he made it back home, he
might need whatever he could find, and if this Luthor was oddly friendly and forthcoming,
all the better.
"I mean that I only remember the League being around for a few hundred years. They
came and went. Sometimes the governments of the day would make them illegal, or
unconstitutional, and they'd reform in different ways, but eventually they went
"How did they go away?" Clark wanted to know if there were any super villains he
needed to know about.
"Everyone goes away. People go away. Governments rise and fall. Everyone dies.
Genocide and war and evolution and extinction. The ice caps go away and the world floods.
The ozone layer goes away and the world burns. Everyone dies. Countries invade and other
planets invade and we fight and we change. After a few million years evolution changes
everyone so much that human beings don't really exist anymore. All the species change and
die and all that survives are the freaks that can't die."
The way Lex had recited those facts in such a weary tone of voice, gave Clark the chills.
Clark stirred his spoon in the soup. The slimy texture reminded him of the aloe vera mix
Batman used on his burn wounds. "Are there many of you? Immortals?"
"Me. Just me. There were a few others, for a while. But they weren't truly immortal;
they were just very, very hard to kill. Eventually they managed to die. Some by
decapitation, some by burning, some by flying into the sun. There's a limit to how long
anyone wants to live, Clark."
You call me Clark, so you know
"Everything. You dont remember it, because it hasn't happened for you, yet. But
we were enemies for only a few hundred years. We were friends for such a short, troubled
time when we first met, but I always cared for you. I cared for you greatly. Then we were
enemies, and we were both so passionate about it!"
Luthor smiled brightly at Clark, as if this was an enormously funny joke, and Clark
couldn't help but twitch his lips in return, even though he didn't get it. As far as he
was concerned, Luthor was the evil nemesis who cursed his life, but this Lex certainly
didn't seem to feel that way.
"Then, after a few hundred years of fighting one another, and uneasy truces, and
working as resentful partners to protect the Earth, and trying to destroy each other, you
came to me one day and said you were sorry."
"I said what?" Clark surreptitiously pushed away the soup. Even the smell was
"You just flew into my office. It was early summer. Warm, but not unpleasantly so,
and the windows to the balcony were open. It was late afternoon, and I remember that the
sun was turning everything gold. I don't remember the year, or even the century, but I
remember the time of day. You flew in, as gold as the sunlight, stood at the end of my
desk, and said you were sorry."
"Sorry for what?" Clark snapped. As much as Clark had felt guilty for some of
the things he'd done to Lex when they were best friends, he felt that the things Lex had
done afterwards more than justified anything Clark had done wrong.
"Everything. You apologised for the lies, for not trusting me when we were younger,
for all the abuse. You apologised for using me, for stealing from me, for repeatedly
knocking me unconscious and destroying everything I'd ever attempted to achieve."
Luthor looked off into the distance suddenly, "No wait, I do remember the century. It
was soon after my ninth time in Presidential office. I was using the name Douglas
O'Conner, and my wig was strawberry blond. You were using the name Chad, then. Chad
Mortlock. It would have been about 2560. We'd been fighting and hating each other for a
very long time by then."
"You had nine times in office?" Clark was horrified. So horrified at the idea
that Lex had made President fourteen times he overlooked the fact he'd been placed in the
position of having been the one to say he was sorry. After everything that Lex had done,
it was Clark that apologised?
"Oh, more times than that. A lot more. It doesn't really get that much more
interesting by repetition, but practice makes perfect, and I didn't have a lot else to do
in between alien invasions. Most of the time I think I did a very good job. Of course,
sometimes I'd get a little bored, and perhaps just a tad despotic", Lex held is
fingers about an inch apart to demonstrate 'a tad', "but I have no regrets over my
times in politics."
"And I just decided to apologise? Why on earth would I apologise to you, Luthor?!
You're the criminal mastermind!"
"I think you were just sick of the fighting, Clark. And as bored as I was. Making
peace with your enemies is at least something else to do."
"Maybe. If I was over 500 years old, as you say, perhaps I was senile." Clark
wasn't sure why he was believing everything this vague, beige-wearing Lex was telling him,
but Lex had always had an intense earnestness when he'd lied to Clark, and this Lex just
didn't seem like he was connected enough to be bothered lying. "So
I said sorry
and you just forgave me?"
"Why 'of course'?"
"I always forgave you, Clark," Lex's voice held a note of humour, and his eyes
gleamed just a little.
"No, you didn't!" Clark jabbed a finger towards Lex, annoyed at the outrageous
lie. "You held grudges and destroyed cities to get revenge!"
"Not at first, when we were first friends I forgave you all the time. Later on I held
grudges, true, but it was only because you never apologised."
"Perhaps, but that's all it takes, Clark. You apologised and said you wanted to be
friends again. I yelled for a while, and you stood there with your arms folded I
hate that pompous 'Superman Pose' by the way and yelled back. We fought, of course,
viciously. But by midnight we'd exhausted ourselves, and were curled up together on the
couch. We spent the night watching ancient holovids - the really old ones that only
operated in four dimensions - and eating deep fried Popplers. It was a very pleasant
"I said I was sorry, and you forgave me, and that's all it took? After everything
that we've done," Clark was incredulous, but it was a nice story.
He wondered what Popplers were.
"Yes. You said you wanted to be friends again. You're the only friend I've ever had
after all, and after all those centuries, I was lonely enough to accept any kind of olive
branch. I was just so grateful to have your company again, to have you in my life
" Clark stirred the soup again, watching it solidify into a gelatinous
mass. He didn't argue that he'd done things he should have apologised for, back when he
was a stupid teenager, but he wondered if Lex had also offered his regrets. Unilateral
we stayed friends?"
"Yes, for a long time."
"How long is a long time?" Considering how far in the future Lex was saying he'd
travelled, he really didn't have a reference for 'a long time'.
"Human lives are so fleeting, it's like the life span of mice. A thousand life times.
We lived long enough to see only one religion survive the New Crusades. Don't put your
money on Christianity, by the way. We lived long enough to see world peace. We lived long
enough to see every ethnic group of people become one single, honey-coloured, black-haired
race. We lived long enough together to watch the human species evolve, meta-humans and
homo-superior become the norm, and long enough to see the human race become extinct."
"Why did it happen? What caused the extinction?"
"Time, Clark. That's all. The human race as we knew it had only been around a few
hundred thousand years when we were born. A few million years after that, it was
unrecognisable. A few million years later again there was nothing left."
"What did we do?" Clark couldn't imagine knowing what to do with himself for
millions of years, as the world went by.
"Helped, tried to save people, at first. But as the centuries passed, all we were
doing was interfering, and most of the people who were on the planet didn't think of us as
anything other than peculiar, unkillable cave men. We were simply ancient curiosities, and
even your powers were not all that special or unique any more."
"So we just
"Lived. Made our happiness were we found it. We travelled the stars for a long time.
You and I explored countless worlds. I invented a system of terraforming empty worlds so
that human survivors and the others that lived on this world could grow and escape. You
helped forge thousands of civilisations, but most of those have gone."
"Where are they now, why didn't you go with them? If there are other worlds out
there, why stay here alone?"
"We came back here to die."
"You and I. We'd lived so long, so very long. You were tired. Millions of years,
Clark, you have no idea what that's like. You were so tired. By the end, we admitted we
were only living for each other, to keep each other company. We came back here so we could
die together, in each other's arms. We were so tired."
"You didn't go through with it? You tricked him
into dying and you
changed your mind, didn't you!" Clark shouted.
"No, I died. We came back here, to the planet that nurtured you, that gave me life.
This was the planet where we'd first met, that had shaped us and created us, and here we
would die in each other's arms. We built a huge funeral pyre, and I gave you a poison I'd
developed which would kill you painlessly. I kissed your lips and took the poison myself,
then lit the fire."
"The fire didn't work? The poison failed?"
"No, they worked. I woke up. I dont know how long I was dead, but when I woke
the ship we'd travelled in had rusted into the soil, and whole new species had risen to
conquer the old. This was no longer a planet barren and devoid of life, but rich with
greenery, even if it was somewhat limited in scope."
"You survived a fire?"
"You don't understand. That pyre was almost nuclear in size. I used some of the most
powerful accelerants known to me, to make sure we couldn't come back this time. And you
didn't. You're not immortal, you're just very hard to kill, but eventually, we found a
way, and you had your peace. But I didn't. My ashes had fused into the soil, and by the
state of our old ship, it must have taken many thousands of years, but I came back. That
ship was designed to fly through suns, so I cannot even guess how long it took to decay
"I didn't realise you were that
powerful. I knew you didn't get sick, and you
healed quickly from bullet wounds, but I didn't know you were that strong."
"I get stronger. The longer I live, the stronger I get. Now nothing will kill me, not
for long. And god knows I've tried. Recovering from fire that reduces me to nothing but
ashes is a long and painful process, but it still happens. Over and over."
I'm sorry, Lex." Clark hadn't realised what a burden immortality
could be, but he was getting an idea of the horror from Lex's quiet recitation of facts.
"It's not your fault."
"Yes, it is." Of everything Clark didn't really feel he had to apologise for, he
knew that Lex wouldn't be in this position now if Clark hadn't come to Earth dragging so
much Kryptonite behind him.
"Causality doesn't mean fault, Clark. And I don't regret my life. Just the length of
it. I achieved so much, and I'm proud of a lot of what I've done. I loved every minute
that I spent with you. We were actually very happy together, and when we decided to end
our lives it wasn't out of pain or unhappiness, just that we were both very, very tired.
Life has to end sometime."
"Everything should die, Clark. Everyone has the right to die," suddenly the
distance Lex had been maintaining slipped, and the distress broke through, he started to
rock, a pinkness showing on his cheeks, eyes too bright. "Everything should die.
Everything should die. Everything should die. Everything should die. Everything
Clark stood and grabbed Lex, pulling him from his chair and holding him against Clark's
chest while Lex finally broke, repeating that he had the right to die over and over, his
head tucked under Clark's chin. Then he was quiet.
"I dont even have the mercy of madness, Clark," he said, his voice
suddenly calm again. "My mind heals, too. The boredom should driven me mad, and it
does, over and over, but my mind heals. That's one of the worst things. I will live, and
be sane and aware, until the end of this universe."
"I'm so sorry," Clark repeated, and held Lex closer, rubbing his hands over
Lex's back in a hopeless gesture of comfort.
"You won't be staying long, will you?" Lex's voice was muffled against his
" Clark couldn't find an excuse not to stay here, time really wasn't
the issue when he had a time machine stashed in the building. Lex saved him from having to
find some lame excuse, though.
"This is a horrible place, and I'm sure that spending any time here is distressing. I
do apologise for that. Could I beg an hour or two of your time, though?"
"Yes, of course," and as much as Clark wanted to be away from this place, away
from this desperately sad man and this horrible vision of his own inevitable future, he
couldn't begrudge him time. Lex had given him so much, and not only pain, fear, and anger,
but also his support and favours and gifts, both wanted and unwelcome. He could at least
spend a couple of hours with Lex.
"Thank you. I don't mean to be greedy; I know you have given me many millennia
Lex looked up, the gratitude in his eyes made Clark horribly uncomfortable.
"Thank you. Come on, I'll show you something."
They wandered down the softly lit corridors. "Did you build this place out of our old
"The bits I could salvage, but most of it was useless. This stuff," Lex tapped
the soft white walls, so thin that they were lit from the sun outside, "is actually
old bone. For a long time there were these flying things, kind of shaped like
Pterodactyls, but I think they evolved from bats, with a wing span of about sixty feet.
Their wings expanded like a concertina and each fold was plated with this stuff. Even
though they have been extinct for a long time, I collected enough of their wing plates to
build this place. It's the only thing I could find that was strong enough to keep the
"You're very self-sufficient," Clark didn't mention the horrible food.
"I don't have much else to do. I tend this place, keep the vines out, grow or
scavenge what I can, and watch the years go past. Sometimes the vines win, and they eat
"They eat you?" Clark couldn't keep the horror out of his voice.
"Oh yes, it's quite karmic. They eat me, and I eat them. Energy can never be stopped,
it can only be converted. You'd think being eaten would convert my energy into something
else, but no, I recover from that, too. Cleaning this place up after it's taken me a few
years to recover from being plant food is always a bitch, but at least it's something to
"Yeah, I um, guess," Clark couldn't imagine being so bored that being eaten by
some sort of savage Venus flytrap could be regarded as entertainment.
"Here," Lex gestured him into a room. "I keep all the mementos I've been
able to salvage here. As you can imagine, most of them have disappeared or been destroyed
over the years."
"Yeah," Clark was shocked by how little there was to show for such a long life.
There were containers in here, made of a fibre that he guessed came from the vines as
well. They were rotten and crumbling, mildewed in places, but clean of dust. It seemed Lex
made the effort to keep his small treasures as intact as possible.
"Tempus fuckit," Lex pulled down one of the boxes and pulled out solid sheets of
clear material. "Old pictures, Clark. I had them preserved like this so old
fashioned. Transferring them to something more technical turned out to be a mistake as the
machines would become obsolete, then unserviceable, or they'd simply decay into dust.
Clark sat cross-legged on the floor, his cape surrounding him, as Lex eagerly showed him
old photographs of them both together. Posing on a thousand worlds, smiling, arms around
each other. Ruling planets, saving lives. He grinned as Lex showed him a few gossipy news
holograms, one of the 'grams was of them fighting bitterly. It was reassuring to see that
they could still tear into each other in the future. Lex held the old hologram projection
machine as if it was made of spun glass. As futuristic as it was to Clark, it was
obviously an ancient antique to Lex.
"There are portraits of us hanging in galleries all over the galaxy, Clark! Or, there
were, a lot of those galleries aren't around anymore. Actually, a lot of those planets
aren't around anymore. But I love to remember them. We were very well regarded. The people
loved us. Sometimes we would live as unto gods."
Lex looked at Clark, his expression dreamlike lost in memories - then he put up a
hand to stroke Clark's face. Clark held still and tried not to flinch. Lex had never
struck out at him physically, both of them knowing there would be no point, but still
Clark had been conditioned to expect violence from Lex, not a soft caress.
"I loved you so much, for so long," Lex said, voice soft.
Clark tried to grin and shrug it off, uncomfortable with the intensity. "Not when I
come from! I think you'd like to see me dead!"
"No, never. You made me so angry, but you were only able to make that angry because I
loved you so much. If I hadn't loved you, I would never have cared so much. I think most
of the time I was angry at myself for being unable to stop loving you."
um," Clark blushed and looked down at the small painting of the two
of them he held. The material it was painted on was powdering under his hands, though he
held it as delicately as he could. He couldn't admit that he'd had a massive crush on Lex
when he'd been a teenager, it was too embarrassing, and that his disappointment in Lex had
mostly come from his disappointment in losing Lex's friendship, not so much from Lex's
attempts at evil and destruction.
"You're still young, Clark. When you get to my age you give up caring at all about
anything embarrassing. I may not look like it, but I'm a very old man, and old men say
embarrassing things. I miss you so much," Lex stopped and swallowed, getting himself
under control again. "You have been a part of my life since I was nine years old.
Enemies for a short time, lovers and companions for so much longer. It's difficult being
"I guess," Clark felt his face heating up. He'd known it was coming, he wasn't
surprised when Lex said they were lovers. He hadn't even pretended to himself that they'd
only been friends. He knew that if he could have had his old Lex back, he wouldn't have
just stopped at only friends. He'd known there was attraction, along with the hate and the
resentment and the anger. If he had his life over, with the confidence and knowledge he
had as an adult, he would have trusted Lex and he would have seduced him, Jonathan Kent,
homophobia, and fear of Luthors be damned. But still, hearing it put into words meant he
had to acknowledge it, not just let it be the passing fantasy of the occasional lonely
"Here, one of our wedding portraits," Lex said, handing Clark a stone tablet. It
had quite a nice image of the two of them carved into the surface. "That will last a
long time. Perhaps it will be found and puzzled over by a future species who will argue
that we could never have existed because their god only made the universe a couple of
thousand years before they came along."
"That became a bit of a theme for us. We'd visit a new world, be feted as the cool
alien visitors, and get married according to local customs. We had some lovely honeymoons
Lex looked off into the middle distance, smiling, lost in memory.
"I guess you get very bored here," Clark said. Clark thought about honeymoons,
and zero consequences, and things that happened at the end of the world. He thought about
a million lifetimes together, and Lex a million lifetimes alone. He couldn't conceive of
that kind of loneliness.
"Yes," Lex said, and gave Clark a look that said 'duh!'
"Do you want to
would you like to have sex?" Clark asked, his voice
squeaky, surprised at his own forwardness.
"Do I want
Are you sure?" Lex looked genuinely surprised, the first truly
focussed moment Clark could remember since he'd arrived here. "Why are you asking? I
thought you came from the time when we were enemies?"
"Yeah, but you said you always loved me, right? And even though we hate each other,
you've always been attractive. And I haven't done it in a couple of years and you haven't
done it in a lot longer than that, and no one would know, right? I mean, we could, like,
and it wouldnt be awkward at all. Right?" Clark rushed
out his statement, which he tried to make sound totally logical and sensible, and not at
all like a teenager trying it on.
If you're sure, Clark. That would be wonderful. But I don't want to make you
"I'm sure I will be uncomfortable, but I want to. I used to think about it a lot when
we were kids, and
I can't justify it, okay, Lex? The offer is there,
yes or no. Don't make me explain why or
"Yes, Clark," Lex smiled, and took his hand, and they both stood up and left
Lex's dusty tomb of memories.
Lex led him down another winding corridor. It seemed like Lex had just built the place on
a whim, with no real goal or direction in mind, and all the corridors and domed areas were
just randomly placed wherever the vines and the ground made it easiest. Lex led him into
his bedroom, which had the same dim lighting through the bone walls as the rest of the
place. The bed was pretty basic; a frame made of bone, strung with vines and stitched over
with old pelts.
"It's mostly bonyer pelts. They're small and hard to catch, but I had plenty of time.
It's not very comfortable," Lex looked disappointed, as if he'd wanted to offer more
to Clark. "The pelts are easier on the skin than the fabric I make from the
"It's fine," Clark said, and took off his cape, spreading it over the pelts. The
vibrant red made the place look more civilised, a little more modern. Or perhaps that
should be old fashioned, he thought.
He toed off his boots, and undid the clasps that held his uniform together, letting it
fall to his waist. Lex looked at him with a hungry expression, and reached out to stroke
"I never forgot how beautiful you are," Lex said, and leaned up to kiss him.
Clark didn't quite know how to react, but Lex did. Lex kissed him like he'd done it a
million times before as if it had never become boring. His hands threaded into
Clark's hair, stroking him gently, caressing his ears. Clark leaned into it, enjoying the
confident way Lex kissed him, the way Lex's hands stroked down his back and caressed his
ribs, unerringly finding the places Clark liked to have touched and stroked and petted. It
had been a long time for Clark since he'd been with someone sexually. Not as long as for
Lex, of course, but long enough that he started to get hard very quickly, and couldn't
hold in a small groan of excitement.
Lex's clothes were held together with crude ties, and Clark pulled them apart, letting
them fall. After all he'd been through, Lex's skin was still unmarked and unblemished, not
a single imperfection to mar him, to show the horrors he'd suffered. Clark picked Lex up
and carried him onto the bed. Lex didn't stop kissing his face. Clark's nose, his eyes,
his eyebrows, his lips, his cheeks, Lex kissed all of them as if re-memorising a sculpture
"I missed you," Lex said, as he rolled Clark over on to his back, rubbing
Clark's chest with a movement Clark found both soothing and arousing. "I didn't think
I'd ever see you again."
Clark let his own hand wander, exploring smooth skin he'd often seen, but never been brave
enough to touch. It was as silky and warm as he'd imagined, and Lex moaned in soft
appreciation at the caresses Clark bestowed, leaning into them with soft desperation.
Sighing gently, Clark leaned back, letting Lex push him how he wanted, move and touch him
as he desired, Lex's expression was as intense as if he was working on some device for
world domination, but softer in the mouth, a gentle smile of happiness before he moved to
taste and lick at Clark's skin. Clark let his legs fall open, let Lex move between them,
and groaned and arched up into Lex's mouth. There was more skill in Lex's mouth than Clark
could ever remember having felt before, and soon he was whimpering as that wet heat
hungrily devoured him. Lex's eyes were slitted, his expression blissful, his cheeks
hollowing and filling as he reduced Clark to a whimpering puddle on the bed.
If he hadn't believed Lex before, he believed they had been were lovers now. No one had
ever guessed how much Clark liked having his balls bitten without being told, and
generally even then they would be too gentle. Lex knew exactly how Clark liked to be
bitten, how much pain he could take without it being uncomfortable, how much an
invulnerable Kryptonian could truly enjoy the sharp nip of teeth on sensitive skin. When
Lex went lower and sank his teeth into the rounded flesh of his perineum, Clark almost
left the bed entirely, arching up and begging for more.
Before Clark could reach completion, Lex stopped, and straddled him. "You're going to
fuck me now," Lex said, lowering himself.
" Clark looked around, wondering where on earth they
could get lube at this time and in this place, but Lex just shook his head and smiled.
"You can't hurt me, it'll be fine."
But Clark thought that it had to hurt, if it had been so long since Lex had had been with
someone, and he wanted to protest, but Lex was forcing himself down, head thrown back,
eyes closed. The strain of it was in the line of his throat, the sweat on his upper lip
and shoulders, the tendons in his neck, but the pleasure of it was in the tiny little
whimpers of delight and joy he uttered as Clark slowly slid in.
"Oh," Lex said, face pink and voice soft, as his skin became flush with Clark's,
and then he smiled down and wiggled just slightly, settling Clark comfortably within. He
leaned forward, rubbing Clark's chest again, knowing not to bother with Clark's nipples,
but using his fingernails to scratch, to force Clark to feel him.
It would have been better with something other than spit for lube, Clark thought, but not
much better. There couldn't be much better than this, with Lex twisting his hips and
clenching his muscles like a professional, like someone who knew just how Clark loved
having his dick twisted around inside of someone something Clark was only
discovering now. Clark found out just how much he loved having Lex ride him like this,
both of them groaning and grunting like animals as Lex moved up and down, the muscles in
his thighs straining.
Lex bent his head, biting at Clark's chin and chest and Clark wanted it to go on forever,
wanted to spend an immortal lifetime buried in this man, but it was all too new and too
surprising and too good, and too soon he was spilling deep inside of Lex. Lex took himself
in hand, a fast hard stroke with a twist on the end that Clark emulated when he knocked
Lex's hand aside and took over. It didnt take Lex long, either, before he painted
white stripes on Clark's chest, coughing and whimpering his pleasure.
Clark gathered him close as they pulled apart, wet and sticky, and Lex tucked his head
beneath Clark's chin, whispering, "Thank you, Clark. Thank you," before drifting
Closing his eyes and ignoring how uncomfortable the bed was, Clark focused on the warmth
of Lex's body, the way he fitted in so neatly against Clark, like he knew exactly how to
place his limbs so they'd be the most comfortable, Clark fell asleep as well.
When he woke up, he was alone. He put on his uniform again, not bothering to try to find
whatever it was Lex used as a bathroom. He didn't want to find out that Lex used vine
leaves or vine juice to wash himself. The smell of Lex's come on his skin was oddly
exciting, anyway, and not something Clark wanted to lose too soon.
He found Lex sitting in the corridor where Clark had come in, his beige, dried-vine
clothing back in place, and the time machine on his lap.
"This is what you used to come here, isn't it? This is the time machine you
"Yes. I wanted to get it away from you before you did something terrible with it. I
didn't mean to come here, though, it went off accidentally."
"No one would come here voluntarily. I've repaired the damage to it," Lex put
the machine back on the ground. "Are you leaving me again?"
"I can't stay here. But you could come back with me? You can be with people
"No, I've already lived my life. I don't need to live it all over again."
"Please, you can't stay here alone. Please come back with me." Clark couldn't
stand the thought of leaving Lex here, so bored, so alone, not able to die, not able to
even lose himself in the freedom of madness.
"No. The Lex from your time, he has the right to live his life not knowing what the
future holds. You know that he loves you. Like my body and my mind, my love for you will
never die. No matter what happens, that will always be there. But you should escape from
this place. Go back and live your life, too. Live a long and happy life. Just promise me
that when it's time for you to go, you must make sure I'm really dead first. Don't leave
me here alone."
Clark took the device from Lex and reset the timer; it was such a simple design. Lex, the
Lex of a million life times ago, had made sure the machine was as simple and clean and
tidy as a battery operated alarm clock. So simple, even Clark could set the timer. It was
easier than flying around the world fast enough to turn time backwards. This would have
him back faster than thought.
He set the time back to less than a minute after he'd originally stolen it from Lex, but
didn't activate it, just placed it on the floor.
Leaning forward, he placed a gentle kiss on Lex's cheek. He took Lex into his arms,
hugging him hard and tight, like he'd done way back when he'd been a teenager, like the
first time he remembered holding this elegant man. This Lex would remember a million more
hugs, but his Lex back in his own time, back home, would only recall those they'd shared
Clark would remind him of those hugs and that affection, once he went back. He'd remind
Lex how much they'd needed each other, how good they'd been together. He'd tell his Lex
how unimportant their constant battles were, and that in the grand scheme of forever,
they'd be better off as friends than as enemies. He'd tell his Lex he knew that Lex loved
him, always had and always would, no matter how much they fought and argued. He'd teach
his Lex how to bite and scratch, and how to accept being loved and cared for. He'd teach
him how to love Clark all over again.
Clark put his hand around this Lex's neck and snapped it quickly and cleanly, severing the
spinal column before Lex could even register what was happening. He'd never killed anyone
before at least, not intentionally. There had always been 'accidents', but never
had he just put his hands on someone and deliberately murdered them. But Lex's life had
always belonged to Clark, ever since he'd pulled Lex out of the water, he'd felt the
responsibility for Lex's life and actions. It was one of the reasons why they fought so
bitterly, because Clark couldn't let go of that responsibility.
Now, that life was his to take, and death was a mercy he could give. He picked up the
limp, dead body and cradled it close in his arms, letting Lex's head drop against his
shoulder in the parody of a groom carrying his bride over the threshold.
Clark flew, tearing a hole through the bone ceiling of Lex's compound, leaving the
horrible, clasping vines behind, up through the sky, through the atmosphere, into space.
As he was leaving the atmosphere, he felt Lex twitch, the first thump of Lex's heart beat
returning. He ignored the twitches as the new life was again snuffed by lack of oxygen.
There had never been time for Lex to regain awareness.
He had all the time in the universe to fly, and there was no way Lex could regain
consciousness while they were in the vacuum of space. He flew at the speed of thought,
without making allowance for anything that got in his way. Asteroids or planetoids, he
used his heat vision to blast them into pieces so they couldn't slow his journey. He flew
so fast that he could feel the body in his arms tear and break, but even here, with the
lack of pressure that should have torn apart fragile human flesh, Lex's healing ability
kept him together.
He flew for months.
Without turning or breaking or stopping he flew. He had a lot of time to make up for. The
body that should have decomposed simply discoloured, recovered, and died over and over
without ever waking up.
He flew until he found a sun. A yellow sun. A new sun. A sun that had not long been born,
only a few million years old. In the years of the universe, it was a mere baby, and it
would live until the universe had grown so old that it stopped expanding and started to
turn in on itself, contracting into a black hole the size of a fist. This sun would see
the end of time.
The journey had long since burned away Lex's clothes. Despite bruises and the swelling
caused by the vacuum around them, Lex's skin still appeared almost pink and almost
healthy, as if all he needed was a few minutes with the earth beneath his feet to regain
Clark placed a gentle kiss on Lex's sleeping lips and hurled Lex's body into the infant
sun. Together they would burn until the end of time. This time, Lex would never come back
Then he turned around and flew back.
It was mid winter, and the wind was bitter. Lex's balcony doors were open to let out the
smoke of his cigar and he paced inside, angrily stalking up and down the office. The thin
morning sunlight bathed the office in shades of blue and grey.
Clark flew down into the office, through the open doors, five hundred years early.
Beta: I couldn't find anyone to beta read this, so
I'd appreciate it if you could tell me where I've made any mistakes, or point out what
needs to be improved.
The title: This isn't a song fic, but when I was trying to think of a title that
fitted, I remembered this old song. If you're interested, here are the lyrics to 'Until
the Twelfth of Never'. Or you can
download the song here. It's 50 years old this year! Still pretty.
Until the Twelfth of Never
Artist: Johnny Mathis 1957
You ask me how much I need you, must I explain?
I need you, oh my darling, like roses need rain
You ask how long I'll love you,
I'll tell you true
Until the Twelfth of Never,
I'll still be loving you
Hold me close, never let me go
Hold me close, melt my heart like April snow
I'll love you 'til the bluebells forget to bloom
I'll love you 'til the clover has lost its perfume
I'll love you 'til the poets run out of rhyme
Until the Twelfth of Never and that's a long, long time
Until the Twelfth of Never and that's a long, long time