My present is a fic.
Title: Douce Nuit
Pairing: Clex (it's retro!Clex, ie no season 5 angst) set circa Season 2
Rating: R for 'Really, I mean it. Do not click if offended by slash. *g*'
Warnings: smut, schmoop and santa hats but no real spoilers (Kate: it turned out way more with the schmoop than I originally intended, but ... *points at porny bits* see those?! those are for YOU!)
It’s Christmas Eve and Lex Luthor is at his desk, a sprig of holly above the fire the only sign that someone in the mansion (the cleaners, no doubt) acknowledges the festive season. The double doors to Lex’s office swing open, one after the other, admitting a dishevelled Clark Kent, carrying a large box, from which a long strand of red tinsel dangles.
‘Clark,’ Lex rises from his desk, ‘I wasn’t expecting you. I thought you would be busy with Christmas preparations.’
‘I am!’ Clark beams widely at him. ‘But I was thinking about what you were saying the other night.’
Lex, touched by the fact that Clark had reflected on his carefully constructed words about their difficult-to-define friendship, returned the smile.
‘... and I thought: that’s just not fair!’
Lex’s smile faltered. He hoped that he wasn’t going to have to listen to some distasteful defence of lying.
Clark, who had moved towards the fireplace, deposited the box on the coffee table and flopped down onto one of the low leather sofas.
‘What do you mean, Clark?’ Lex lowered himself slowly onto the other sofa, watching Clark closely.
Clark leaned forward. ‘What you said about having no Christmases: no trees or decorations or anything? That’s horrible!’
‘Oh.’ Lex recalled a throwaway allusion to his discomfort with all things festive. It had been prompted by a mechanical reindeer which produced a squeaky version of various Christmas carols: clearly a favourite of Clark’s, since Lex’s wince had resulted in pouting, hence the need for a brief explanation.
‘And I thought, well, you’re not that old. We can still have fun! And we’ve got heaps of decorations at our house, so I brought some for you.’
‘Clark, that’s very kind, but I’m not really sure...’
‘And mom says I can hang out with you.’
And what does Jonathan say? Lex wondered.
‘It’s Christmas Eve, Lex! That’s when people in France give each other presents: well, at midnight. Lana told me that once.’ Clark looked chuffed with this feat of memory. ‘So I’ll be able to give you yours in person.’
Lex’s protest died on his lips.
‘Oh!’ Clark looked Lex up and down and evidently the dress attire registered for the first time. ‘But you’re all dressed up. Did I...? Are you... ? Were you doing something important?’
‘It’s ok, Clark. Nothing is more important.’ Lex moved quickly to his desk and dialled the gate. He donated his opera tickets to one of the security guards, who definitely deserved a night off as a reward (and an incentive) for discretion.
Returning to the sofa, Lex said. ‘I really appreciate you spending time with me, Clark. I have been worried that we’re drawing apart. Your friendship means so much to me and ...’
‘Do you want to see what I brought?!’ Clark positively pounced up and seized the box. He wobbled, though, as he attempted to circumnavigate the table and for a moment Lex was worried that he would be squashed under six-foot-three of farmboy. Clark flung out a hand and caught himself on the arm of the sofa, but looked shaken.
‘Are you ok, Clark?’
‘I feel a bit strange.’
‘Sit down.’ Lex slid over on his sofa and Clark descended shakily beside him. The frown quickly flickered away as his eyes rested on the box of decorations again. He leaned forward and grabbed at it.
‘Look! Tinsel!’ He picked up several strands and flung it over Lex like confetti. ‘And Christmas lights!’ A long strand of gaudy plastic objects was placed around Lex’s neck like a Hawaiian lei. ‘And crackers for later. And baubles. And a wreath. Oh, and a santa’s hat.’ Large firm hands slipped something red and fuzzy over Lex’s scalp. Frozen in indecision between the classic fight or flight responses, Lex’s face fought to retain composure in the face of such indignity.
Before he could formulate a suitable riposte, Clark had reached into the box and produced the final decoration with a flourish. ‘And mistletoe!’
Clark waved the little sprig above his head and burst into half-stifled giggles.’
‘Clark, are you sure you’re alr...’
Lex’s words were cut off by large plump lips bumping his, messily, and attempting some kind of awkward sucking of his lower lip. Lex, battling two years of repressed and tortured lust and confusion, responded a second too slowly. By the time he kissed back, Clark was pulling away, blushing.
‘Merry Christmas.’ Clark muttered it awkwardly, his eyes cast down, the mistletoe fallen from his hand.
Lex swirled the taste of Clark around his mouth. Creamy, chocolatey, unbelievably arousing, but what was that other flavour? ‘Clark, have you been drinking?’
‘No-oh!’ Clark pouted and rolled his eyes, confirming Lex’s suspicion. ‘I just had a few of those chocolates.’
Clark paused and stared straight at Lex for a moment. Lex’s pulse quickened. There was a certain way that Clark Kent looked at him that made Lex feel as if he could see every spot on his soul. This was one of those moments. Clark extended a long finger and stabbed Lex in the chest with it. ‘You look really funny!’ The grin broke loose.
‘I’m sure.’ Lex grimaced. ‘What chocolates, Clark?’
Clark slumped back awkwardly. ‘Oh the one’s mom had. She didn’t want them. I think they were from your father, actually. She told me to throw them out but they looked nice.’
‘Clark, were these liqueur chocolates?’
‘Mm hm.’ Clark nodded, eyes like saucers. ‘They tasked kind of weird. Mom’s always saying I shouldn’t have alcohol. We think it interferes with my p... um ... things. She put it in the pudding once and I was all funny.’
Distractingly, Clark shuffled sideways towards Lex and flopped his head onto Lex’s shoulder. His hair tickled Lex’s neck. ‘And I feel all funny now. But I’m safe with you, right Lex?’
Lex shifted awkwardly in an attempt to discourage, or at least hide, his growing erection. ‘Sure, Clark. But I think maybe you should go home if you’re not well.’
‘No!’ In one quick movement, Clark lifted his legs from the ground and curled up on the sofa, nestling into Lex and dropping his head to rest on his legs. ‘I don’t want to go home. I want to stay here.’
Lex stared down into the huge brown eyes, his body rigid with tension. Clark, demonstrating surprising intuition, shifted his head towards the source of Lex’s anxiety. Lex gasped and glanced away involuntarily as Clark’s cheek brushed against his erection.
Clark, apparently mesmerised, nuzzled at Lex’s crotch, making little moaning noises.
Lex swept the santa’s hat from his head, attempted to unravel himself from the tinsel and lights. Then, running his fingers through Clark’s hair, he cupped Clark’s head and gently tried to lift him away so Lex could ease out from under his attentions. It took a lot of willpower.
‘Clark, you’re not yourself.’
Clark sat up suddenly, furious, and Lex grimaced internally. Clark, once irate, was hard to reason with. This was going to be a difficult evening. Scratch that. With his cock already pulsing in his pants, this already was a difficult evening.
Clark shot out an accusation. ‘You don’t want me.’
It wasn’t what Lex expected, which was a passable summary of the entire evening so far. ‘Clark, please don’t be angry. Your friendship means the world to me. I would never do anything to hurt you or to damage that. You’re the best friend I have, Clark.’
The finger extended into Lex’s chest again. ‘Stop talking! You’re always talking!’ The pout had returned, but pouting was better than rage. ‘I just want to … be with you.’
Lex’s mind went into overdrive cataloguing the various interpretations of that phrase and whether they were applicable to the current scenario. Clark reached a hand into Lex’s lap and cupped his hand around the hard mound in Lex’s dress pants, narrowing the field of possibilities considerably.
‘Lex, I ... I trust you.’
Evidently encouraged by Lex’s momentary silence, Clark shuffled closer again, stroking his other hand over Lex’s chest and trying to find gaps between his shirt buttons.
‘I know I’m safe with you, Lex. You’ll look after me. Please don’t send me home.’
Clark’s lips hovered inches from Lex’s face. Lex Luthor made a split-second decision that he thought he might regret later. But once resolved, Lex was a man of action. He shot from under Clark’s grip, made two quick calls to his staff, activated the security shut-down on the room and called ‘Follow me!’ to a startled Clark, who trailed puppy-like in his wake through the corridors of the mansion.
Clark caught up with him on the stairs. Large hands ran over his back and stroked over his ass, making him catch his breath. He didn’t look round.
‘Where are we going?’ Clark was breathing hard and fast.
Lex unlocked the door to his bedroom and slipped inside. He switched the lighting on at a low setting, as Clark moved past him to stare around the huge space. There wasn’t much to see. Lex’s bedroom was large and bare, a simple king size bed draped in high-quality linen the only obvious furniture. The connecting rooms housed more personal objects. But there was a balcony, strung with lights, and Clark moved towards it.
‘You do have decorations! Pretty lights!’
Lex laughed. ‘They’re there all the time, Clark. But, yes, I don’t usually turn them on. I thought the staff might appreciate the gesture at this time of year.’
Clark gazed around the room and then turned to face him. Lex prepared his cautionary speech. ‘Clark, I just wanted to talk where we can’t be interrupted.’
‘But you’re not yourself and I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do.’
‘Clark, I’m responsible for you. Your parents trust me. You trust me. I can’t take advantage of that. Don’t you see …’
Clark moved forward and gripped Lex by the shoulders. ‘No… I don’t see.’ His eyes lowered to stare at Lex’s body and Lex shuddered under that gaze. ‘I don’t see nearly enough of you.’
Then warm lips were pressed to his and he was sinking into Clark’s grasp. Clark tugged Lex’s suit jacket off and sucked at Lex’s neck. Clark was warm and close and smelled like a cornfield after a thunderstorm. Lex ran his hands up under Clark’s plaid shirt and began unbuttoning hastily. Gasping, he ran his hands over Clark’s sculpted chest as Clark rained wet kisses on him.
Clark pulled back for a second, shrugging the shirt to the floor. He looked godlike and childlike at the same time, flexing his muscles and batting his eyelashes at Lex. And smiling: thank god, smiling. Lex resolved to play along as long as Clark remained happy. And Clark, staggering forward, definitely seemed … happy.
Strong arms grasped the back of Lex’s shirt and Clark evidently felt that Lex had endorsed a certain level of active participation because the shirt was ripped from his back with an incredible tearing sound. Lex, taken aback, gulped for air and stared. Clark dropped the remnants of one of Lex’s best shirts to the floor and smiled bashfully. ‘I’ve always wanted to try that.’
Lex fell on him then, pushing him back onto the bed and straddling him. It was obviously time to take charge. Although he was massively turned on by the shirt-ripping exhibition, he didn’t think leaving a drunken sixteen-year-old possible-extraterrestrial in charge of the pace of intercourse was the best course of action available. Clark didn’t seem to mind. He lounged beneath Lex and shifted his hips to rub himself on Lex’s thighs. Lex went to work on Clark’s belt buckle as he leaned forward to kiss Clark again and whisper in his ear.
‘God, you’re so beautiful.’ He slipped his hand into Clark’s jeans and they gasped simultaneously. Clark’s cock was hot and smooth and sleekly hard against Lex’s palm. Lex pulled away to stare at him, tugging the jeans and boxers down, so that Clark’s cock lay bare against his stomach. Lex buried his face in the curve of Clark’s hipbones and moaned senselessly. Lex’s mind was struggling to think of comparable objects of beauty, equivalent works of art, analogous moments of transcendence, and came up short.
This was, of course, impossible to explain to an impatiently aroused teenager, and Lex really should have been more considerate. Clark reached an arm around Lex’s shoulders and tugged him up towards him. His kissing was improving exponentially and while Clark’s tongue traced over Lex’s, he took Lex’s hand and placed it firmly back on his cock.
Clark’s breath quickened rhythmically as Lex stroked him. ‘Oh. Lex. Oh. Wow.’ Lex, watching Clark’s flickering eyelashes and glazed expression, wanted so much more. He slipped down the bed, brushing his lips over one of Clark’s nipples in passing, and took Clark into his mouth.
Clark screamed his name, his voice oddly high-pitched and strangled, and large hands closed around Lex’s scalp.
Lex kept things nice and simple, ran his tongue up and down the length of Clark’s cock, and sucked at the tip before dipping his head and taking Clark deep into him. Clark shifted beneath him, moaning words of praise, and Lex tried to slow things down by changing rhythm and slipping away to run his tongue over Clark’s balls and suck them gently into his mouth, but Clark just writhed impatiently and his hands tightened on Lex’s head drawing him back to his cock. He bucked into Lex’s mouth as he came. Lex swallowed fast and held Clark for a moment, before kissing the last drops of come from the head of his cock and slipping away. He slid up the bed to lie beside Clark.
Clark who was still mumbling Lex’s name incoherently, reached out and pulled him into a tight embrace. His eyes were shut tight but he found Lex’s mouth and sank into it. Lex let his body melt into Clark’s and let his lips, kissing Clark’s, tell the story of his devotion. When he pulled away, it felt like tearing himself in two.
‘Clark, I’m sorry. I meant to take things slower.’
‘What are you talking about?’ Clark looked genuinely baffled. ‘It’s your turn.’ He rose from the bed and swiftly stripped his jeans, boxers, socks and shoes off. He grabbed Lex’s hand and pulled him up beside him. Clark fumbled with Lex’s belt buckle. ‘You might have to help me with this though.’
‘Clark? You don’t have to do this just because I did it for you.’
Clark frowned. ‘No. Talking.’ He bent to press his forehead against Lex’s and hissed ‘shh!’ at him. Clark’s breath, warm on Lex’s face, made him smile and he stole another kiss from Clark’s plump lips. It was easy after that to let Clark tug his pants off and watch as Clark fell to his knees before him. Firm hands gripped his buttocks and Clark whimpered as Lex’s erection bumped against his cheek, his eyes, his forehead. Clark rubbed against Lex and finally ducked to lick slowly from the base of Lex’s cock to the tip. Lex was reminded of a large wildcat, licking her young: it was an action of appropriation and possession and Clark’s large hot tongue felt like bliss.
‘Lex. I might need some help. I don’t know how to do this.’
Jolted from reverie, Lex stared at the impossible vision of Clark Kent on his knees with Lex’s cock butting at his lips, was rendered uncommonly inarticulate. ‘Ah. Clark, you’re... you’re ... perfect.’
Somehow it was the right thing to say because Clark smiled before sucking Lex’s cock into his hot wet mouth and rubbing his tongue under the edge of the head. He gripped the base of Lex’s cock with one hand and cupped Lex’s balls with the other, gently running his thumb over them.
Clark evidently took verbal instruction well, because he responded to Lex’s stream of feedback (‘oh yes, like that Clark, that’s right, that’s it, oh god, you feel so good!’) with enthusiasm, and Lex thought he might come almost as quickly as Clark had.
Lex was on the edge of orgasm when Clark’s lips withdrew abruptly. He moaned in protest at the cold air hitting his cock after the warmth and comfort of Clark’s mouth and he bit his lip to keep from begging as Clark rose from his knees.
Clark pushed Lex back onto the bed and clambered on top of him. He lay stroking Lex’s forehead, watching him with an expression that could be mistaken for love.
Lex swallowed his frustration. ‘Yes?’
‘Thank you for being with me.’
Clark’s eyes reflected the lights from the balcony. They sparkled. ‘I should be the one thanking you.’
Clark slid off Lex to lie beside him, resting on one elbow. ‘No. I mean it. It’s not just the chocolates, ok? No one ever… accepts me, believes in me. Everyone, even my parents, they all treat me like... like I’m dangerous ... or in danger ... or something…’
Lex wondered if it was too late to remind Clark about his ‘no talking’ proclamation.
‘... no one takes me seriously like you do.’
Lex stared into those inhumanly beautiful eyes and thanked whatever quirk of fate had sparked this response in Clark Kent.
Clark continued. ‘You know that present?’
‘Clark, you don’t need to give me anything, especially after tonight. Just don’t let this change things between us.’
Clark frowned dismissively. ‘But I want it to change things. I want this ... us … that’s … that’s my present. Well, that and I want you to ...’ Clark blushed hard. ‘I want you to fuck me.’
Lex’s cock jerked at the words, and Clark was getting way too good at noticing such things because he had Lex cupped in one hand stroking him before Lex could speak.
‘Clark, that’s a huge thing to ... I don’t think this is the right time.’
Clark moved closer and his erection rubbed against Lex’s legs as he continued to stroke Lex. ‘Lex, I want this. I want you. I want to feel you inside me. That’s what you want, right?’ Lex knew his silence was incriminating. ‘I was scared at first. I guess I didn’t want to think about it. But I have thought about it and I want it. I just ... didn’t know how to bring it up.’
Lex couldn’t help but smile. ‘So you scoffed a box of stolen liqueur chocolates to give yourself some Dutch courage?’
‘Dutch?’ Clark puzzled.
‘Never mind. Clark. It’s not that simple. It’s ... it will hurt.’
‘No.’ Clark stared determinedly into Lex’s eyes. ‘You can’t hurt me.’
Lex recognised this statement for what it was: both an admission and a dare, though he couldn’t call Clark on either of these attributes. That would be a sure path to Clark abandoning him. There was only one course of action open to Lex: unspoken acceptance. And that meant ...
Clark smiled gently, recognising the thought process that Lex was working through. Lex wondered if the alcohol had heightened Clark’s emotional intelligence at the cost of some loss of reflex control. His scientific curiosity would have loved to explore this train of thought further, but Clark was rolling onto his stomach and making bedroom eyes at Lex.
Lex ran one hand over Clark’s back. The deep dimples above Clark’s buttocks mesmerised him and he repositioned himself to kiss them. Clark hissed. Lex ran hands over and round Clark’s buttocks and slipped his fingers into the crack, stroking up and down over Clark’s hole, which started Clark moaning Lex’s name again.
‘Clark, roll over.’
Clark did so, frowning. ‘Please, Lex!’
‘Yes, it’s ok. I just want to see you.’
Clark beamed at that. ‘I want to see you too, Lex. I didn’t know we could do it like this.’
This admission of innocence made Lex’s heart ache so hard it overruled the alarm bells that it had simultaneously rung in his brain. Lex pressed a button on the wall beside the bed that released a secret drawer. He found the lube and slicked some over his fingers. Returning to lie beside Clark, he pushed one and then another into Clark, who gasped.
‘Clark, are you ok?’
Clark glared at him and Lex played one last card. ‘How about you tell me if it hurts and I’ll stop.’
Lex slicked his cock and positioned himself between Clark’s legs, gently pushing his legs up and slipping a pillow underneath his hips to help with the angle. When they were ready, he positioned his cock against Clark and pushed halfway in with one smooth slide. He watched Clark’s eyes widen and roll back in his head. Clark grabbed Lex’s hips and pulled him roughly forward, so that Lex slid all the way in. Lex groaned with pleasure. When he opened his eyes, Clark was smiling up at him proudly and Lex gave in. He rocked inside Clark, and Clark smiled and grabbed him and held him tightly inside.
When the visual stimulation of watching Clark got too much, he closed his eyes. But then there was just the feel of Clark, hot and tight around his cock, and the sound of Clark moaning beneath him, his own erection rubbing hot and swollen against Lex’s belly, begging for attention. Lex slid in and out and they moaned in unison.
‘Oh Lex, you feel so good. Lex! Lex! Oh Lex!’ Clark moaned Lex’s name like he was pleading.
Lex rocked harder and faster and rougher and Clark rolled his eyes open and registered Lex’s determination with a quiet smile. Lex hit orgasm as they exchanged looks. He collapsed spent over Clark and the boy held him in his arms until he slid out of him.
Clark looked smug and self-satisfied. It sparked a burst of anger in Lex. The simplicity with which Clark played their silent battles always staggered Lex, who was used to infinitely more intricate Luthor power-play. If Clark thought Lex’s acceptance of Clark’s ‘gift’ meant he had ‘won’, he was wrong.
‘Your turn, Clark.’
‘What?’ The startled response was exactly what Lex had hoped for.
‘Your turn. To fuck me.’
‘But, Lex, it hurts.’
‘You seemed fine.’
‘I... yes, but I’m different. I mean... I’m a bit, uh ... bigger than you.’
Lex smiled at the pride. ‘Yes. You are. But I’ve done this before. I can take it.’
Clark looked uncomfortable. Uncomfortable and turned on.
‘Clark – I want things to be equal between us. You’ve been … honest with me. You trusted me. I trust you. I know you’ll stop if it’s too much. Won’t you?’
Clark nodded wordlessly and Lex pulled him close and then turned over. Clark ran desirous hands over Lex’s back, and shuffled down the bed to bury his face in the small of Lex’s back. Lex strained to hear what Clark was mumbling.
‘... so incredible...’
Clark moaned and licked at Lex and nestled his face between Lex’s cheeks, and any last regrets faded from Lex’s mind. Clark’s tongue explored the crack and rasped over the hole, his breath hot between moans.
When Clark finally drew away, Lex directed Clark to the lubricant.
‘Got it.’ Clark’s voice was deep and husky.
‘Start with your fingers.’
Clark slid the first finger in very tentatively. Lex shifted comfortably and encouraged him to try more. It took some minutes of wriggling and speaking calmly to convince Clark that he was fine. The sound of Clark’s fast breathing was more than enough encouragement.
‘Ok, Clark. Now.’
Clark whimpered. His cock, when it pushed inside, sent searing stabbing pain pulsing through Lex, but it didn’t matter. The pain had always faded within minutes. He hadn’t done this for years, but he had no regrets. Lex relaxed into the sheets beneath him, opening to Clark.
‘Tell me what it feels like Clark.’
‘Oh, Lex ... wow, it’s so good. You’re so beautiful. You feel so good, so tight around me. You feel wonderful, you feel … like home. Like I’m where I belong, and oh, wow, Lex ...’ Clark moved only slightly within him. Lex assumed this restraint stemmed from concern for him.’
‘Clark, you can ...’ It was hard to get a word in edgeways.
‘Oh Lex, I’m going to come. I’m sorry, I can’t hold on, you’re ... Oh I can’t believe you let me do this. Oh, Lex, I love you. Oh.’
Lex felt Clark shudder inside him and waited for the withdrawal. It was slow and slick and he was suddenly and frighteningly empty again. He pulsed with pain but it felt right somehow, and he was happy to accept Clark’s embrace when he tugged him close.
‘Lex, you’re so amazing. You’re so wonderful.’
Clark snuggled him. ‘Can I taste you again in the morning?’
‘Ah… don’t you need to go home?’
Clark shook his head. ‘I told them I was staying with Chloe because it’s just her dad and her usually. I told them they invited me to stay the night. I’ve got to be back for morning chores, though – cows still need fed on Christmas Day.’ He shrugged apologetically.
Lex’s heart thudded in his chest.
‘So I can stay, right?’
‘Yes, of course. Do you want me to make up the spare room?’
‘No!’ Clark shoved Lex away and then pulled him close again. ‘Are you crazy? I want to be with you all night.’
Lex thought his heart might actually burst from his chest. ‘Ok. I’m sorry, Clark. It’s been a long time since I’ve been with anyone that wanted to hang around afterwards. I didn’t want to assume anything.’
Clark was silent, pondering this, for a moment. ‘That’s ok. I think I understand. But I’m with you now.’
‘Yes, and I couldn’t be happier, Clark.’
‘Can we get under the blankets now?’
‘Sure.’ Lex smiled and Clark wriggled around trying to find the edge of the covers.
‘Lex, this is the best Christmas ever!’
Lex smiled. ‘Even without decorations?’
Clark paused. ‘Oh no! We left them downstairs!’
Lex placed a hand firmly on Clark’s shoulder. ‘Let’s just leave them, shall we? Wait here. I have something to share with you.’
Clark rolled under the covers and watched Lex walk across the room and open the panel that covered the room’s control panel– temperature, lighting, music. Lex flicked through the menu.
‘What are you doing?’ Clark called from the bed.
‘Be patient!’ Lex called back. He knew, even if he found what he was looking for, that Clark would never understand its true meaning, but it didn’t matter.
He found the track, finally, and switched it to play. He slid into the bed beside Clark as the first haunting notes echoed around the room.
Clark shuffled closer to lay his head on Lex’s pillow. ‘It’s Silent Night.’
‘It’s the same tune.’
‘But it’s not in English.’
‘French. My mother used to sing this to me. So, you see, I do like carols. I’d forgotten, Clark. You reminded me.’
Clark smiled and drew Lex close. ‘It’s perfect.’
Lex stroked a lock of Clark’s hair back from his face. ‘Yes, it is.’
They melted into sleep together.
Douce nuit, sainte nuit !
Dans les cieux ! L'astre luit.
Le mystère annoncé s'accomplit.
Cet enfant sur la paille endormit,
C'est l'amour infini,
C'est l'amour infini!
Sweet night, holy night!
In the heavens the star shines.
The foretold mystery comes true.
This child sleeping on the hay,
Is infinite love,
Is infinite love!
ETA: Thanks to rakshanda for explaining the incomprehensibility of 'fairy lights' to a US audience. Oops!