Under Pressure

by Talya Firedancer

Clark reaches his desk an hour late and Richard makes note of the fact that his lover came out of the supplies closet rather than the elevator in case he needs to cover with a handy excuse. Even though Clark has no restriction on lying the way his alter ego does so far as Richard knows, it's been obvious to him from day one that Clark is a terrible liar.

He doesn't grill Clark on the late arrival, because the cause could be anything. Literally. Between mudslides in Peru and evil plots enacted by megalomaniacal billionaires, Richard has given up on the notion of impossible.

What makes Richard take note is the fact that Clark doesn't look up all morning. He doesn't look in Richard's direction, doesn't glance around the office, doesn't look up to speak to co-workers, or even cast an eye at the digital displays scattered throughout the bullpen. With a nod to respecting this, he sends Clark an e-mail; it's less obvious than breaking in the middle of a busy newsroom to chat and anyhow, they're both under deadlines.

He gets no response.

In spite of his busy schedule he finds himself watching Clark, dwelling on the way one finger slips to his collar, loosens it. Next time he looks up, Clark's necktie is half-undone. The time after, Clark's suit jacket is off his shoulders and draped on the back of his chair. It's not that warm in the newsroom. If anything, it's somewhat chilly today.

Frowning, Richard sends a text, and Clark jumps as if a bullet has streaked through the room.

"Okay, that's it," Richard mutters, and gets up from his desk.

By the time he makes it to his office door, Clark is gone, leaving behind an idly-spinning chair and his suit jacket. With a sigh, Richard ponders the notion that the real reason Clark chose the reporter's occupation was that with the exception of Perry White's staff meetings, no one would ever think to question a man who was always suddenly dashing off in search of something.


Once a week every year, with no predictable intervals, Clark has to take time off.

The world gets by without Superman for a week, disasters notwithstanding. Up until now, he's made himself spend the time in the Fortress of Solitude. It lives up to its name, after all, and there's nothing there to set him off. Because for the entirety of that week, Clark experiences sensual stimulus ten-fold, a hundred-fold, until just about everything...

Well, turns him on.

The most embarrassing, inexplicable part of his Kryptonian heritage, which didn't seem to be in any knowledge crystal he'd yet scanned, was he had no idea what set it off. This time, he's not sure what to do. He has a lover, but he hardly wants to subject Richard to having a week of non-stop sex thrust upon him with no warning. He definitely doesn't want to disappear to the Fortress of Solitude leaving behind only an inane note of explanation. He's worried about what will happen if Richard comes home and he doesn't warn him first. He's doubly certain telling him to stay away will do no good whatsoever.

He flies straight home, overwhelmed with sound and hearing everything all at once, not able to pay attention to select threads as he is normally able. The thunderous rush of blood courses through him, clouds swirl across the sky all around him, the earth shifts and grinds unceasing. He manages to unlatch his skylight and burrows under the sheets of his bed, hands clamped uselessly over his ears, then tenses. The scent of Richard and that morning's sex surrounds him, permeates him, engulfs him.

Clark quivers, snakes a hand between his thighs, gives into the inevitable.

A millennium of heartbeats later, after breathing in, breathing out, and finding himself at a loss for composure, Clark comes to a single point of awareness long enough to recognize Richard's heartbeat beyond the door. He has a split second, as always, to make his decision; to stay here, in this moment, or flee in between the space between now and when Richard opens the door and spend the rest of the week in solitude after all.

It's the simple things that undo him, in the end. Richard is humming something old but good from Queen and he has Clark's suit jacket thrown over his arm and there's a devilish twinkle in his eye. Clark gets transfixed by the line of Richard's lower lip and by the time he realizes Richard is right there, within any normal person's line of sight, it's too late to flee without at least some kind of explanation.

"Mr. Kent," Richard says, pausing in the doorway while loosening his tie, "you got started without me." He manages to make reproachfulness into an inexpressibly sexy flirtation.

Beyond explanations now, Clark reaches up a hand and takes Richard by the wrist, and tumbles him willingly into bed.

"I hope you're up for taking a week off," he mumbles, in between finding new places for his mouth to press against Richard's skin.

"Why...ahh...why would I need to do that?" Richard wonders aloud.

"I can't let you out of bed now that you've gone and joined me here," Clark tries to explain, knowing it's not a coherent explanation, but there are better things for his lips to be doing.

"That's very flattering, but we've got work--"

"Then," Clark tries again, "you won't be able to leave the bed by the time I'm through?" Mouth pressed to the hollow of skin just above Richard's pubic bone between hip and stomach, he pauses long enough to seek out his eyes.

The electric leap of desire in those blue-green eyes floods him, overturns him. "Somehow, Clark, you're the only man alive that can make a threat like that sound so damned sincere." Then Richard groans and his head sinks back as Clark sets about proving it is not, in fact, a threat.


The next day Richard calls them in sick.