DISCLAIMER - Not mine, I couldn't afford the motor and household insurance bills. I promise I'll scrub them down and give them back to DC comics, the WB and anyone else who does own a slice of them when I'm done with them. Story, such as it is, copyright Karen Colohan, April 2003.

Author's notes - Written for the Contrelamontre ambiguous endings challenge in 45 minutes. This is futurefic. Spoilers for Ryan and Rosetta.

As conversations in the warm afterglow of sex went, this one was verging on the surreal. By the time Clark's hesitant recitation of the message he'd found years ago in the heart of his spaceship was finished, Lex was staring at him in wide eyed disbelief.

"Why did it take you so long to tell me about this?" he asked finally. And why now, he wondered, but didn't say out loud.

"I'm not sure." Clark glanced up through the dark fringe of his lashes. It was a gesture that could still make him look like the innocent teenage farmboy he'd once been, even now. "It just seemed... well, I suppose I always doubted whether I'd read it right and... Lex, I was never the one in this relationship who wanted to rule the world by the time he was thirty."

Lex frowned. "Did you think I'd be jealous if you told me? Because apparently that was the destiny your biological parents had mapped out for you? I promise you, I got over my delusions of grandeur a very long time ago."

Clark fidgeted for a moment, looking embarrassed. "If I tell you something, do you promise not to laugh?" Lex nodded, encouraging him. "Every time I went to tell you I found myself thinking about Devilicus and Warrior Angel."

In spite of his promise, Lex couldn't entirely suppress the chuckle that bubbled up in his throat. It won him a reproachful look from Clark and he hurriedly turned the sound into a diplomatic cough.

"God, and I thought I was supposed to be the comics geek," he murmured finally.

"Issue number sixty six..." Clark said dreamily. "It seems such a long time ago, but I still remember Ryan telling me about the conversation he had with you when you came to see him in the hospital. You told him all about Devilicus and Warrior Angel and why they stopped being friends."

"Which you naturally assumed was Ryan's way of dropping hints about not trusting me," said Lex, his voice cool.

Clark slanted a sharp glance at Lex. "Actually, he told me how much you admired me. But things were different then, Lex. You didn't know what I was and I was still afraid of what might happen if you did."

"Even then you were clearly the hero," Lex said, his expression thoughtful. "You were the one who always saved people. Which meant that you were Warrior Angel and so I had to be Devilicus."

"Except that Warrior Angel was bald and you did your share when it came to being a saviour." Clark smiled reminiscently. "Your rescues just took a different form. You know that Ryan's last few weeks would have been a lot less pleasant if you hadn't stepped in to help."

Lex lay back against the pillows and studied Clark in silence for a moment. "So, when did you put all this together and decide that must make you Devilicus?" he asked finally.

All at once Clark became very interested in his hands, staring at them intently. "The message told me I was sent here to rule."

"And Devilicus wanted to rule with Warrior Angel at his side, but he turned him down." Lex stared at Clark, suddenly appalled. "Jesus, Clark! Were you afraid that I wouldn't say no? Did you think I'd want that?"

Slowly, the green eyes raised until Clark was looking right at him. "You wanted to be great, Lex. You wanted to be better than your father, to achieve more than he had, and on your own terms. Can you deny that you would have found it appealing?"

After a long moment of soul searching, Lex shook his head. "No, I can't."

"I didn't think so." A slight smile curved Clark's lips.

Taking a deep breath, Lex finally asked the question that had been on his mind earlier. "Why tell me about this now, Clark?"

"I - I don't know..." Clark's gaze slid away again and his hands twisted nervously in his lap.

Lex sat forward, his arms going around his upraised knees as he watched Clark, assessing. "Is the offer still open?"

A startled gasp greeted the question. "Lex?"

"We're still a flawed race, Clark, who sometimes need saving from ourselves." Lex moved, unfolding himself from where he was sitting. He slid across the mattress until he was behind Clark, wrapping his arms around him and holding him close. His next words were spoken into Clark's ear, a soft whisper. "Don't you think the way people have come to look up to Superman, to depend on him, proves that? Are you saying that you're ready to take up the mantle?"

The strong body was tense in the circle of Lex's arms, muscles taut. "I don't know. I... Lex, sometimes it scares me. When I see the very worst that the human race is capable of I'm afraid for the future of this world."

"And you think that a benign Kryptonian overlord could change that?" Lex tugged gently until Clark turned towards him. "With his faithful human consort by his side, of course."

Clark made a small sound, whether agreement or denial Lex wasn't sure. Then he reached up, taking Lex's face between his hands, pulling him close enough for their lips to meet. For long moments they traded deep, hungry kisses, but eventually Clark drew back.

"Would it really be so bad?" he asked in a small voice.

Lex stared at him, swallowing hard. "Christ, Clark, what's really frightening is the fact that you're asking me a question like that. When did I become your moral compass?"

Earnest green eyes met his, searching for answers. "There's no one else I trust."

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