For JoAnn--Smallville

"I'm afraid," Clark whispered. He fiddled with his ring and the gold kryptonite's facets made geometric patterns on the walls. "I'm so afraid."

"Don't be." Lex draped the towel around his neck, and they both ignored the blood. The mattress creaked as he sat down.

"What if he's right? What if it is my destiny to conquer earth?" Clark reached out, touched Lex's split lip, his bruised cheek, the purpling marks around his neck. "Is that so hard to imagine?"

"Don't worry." Lex brushed back Clark's hair and kissed him, soft and sweet. "I'm here. I'll always be here. I'll protect you. Let me worry about it."

Clark closed his eyes against the future. Gave in to the embrace.

"I'm sorry."

Lex's touch burned like kryptonite.

"It'll be all right."