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Clark's grin split his face from ear to ear as he entered the castle office.

"Produce delivery." He announced loudly, as though the large box full of vegetables in his arms wasn't a big enough clue to give it away.

Lex looked up with a slight smile, then glanced sternly at his watch.

"Late. You know the cook tells me the punctuality of the deliveries has greatly improved in the last year, and you're back in town for two days..." he broke off, shaking his head sadly.

Clark shrugged unrepentantly. He'd insisted on making the delivery to the castle instead of Matt, the new farmhand who had been making the deliveries for the past year while Clark had been at Metropolis University.

"You'd probably have got it on time if I'd let the new hand do it, but I insisted for old time's sake and then..."

"I know. You had to rescue a stuck kitten or something. It's great to be back in Smallville, isn't it?"

Clark grinned at Lex and didn't bother going into the details of exactly what kind of meteor mutant he'd encountered. His mom said it had been pretty quiet in the last year. Did they wait for him or something?

"For old time's sake then, I should offer you a game of pool," Lex said, shuffling his papers and preparing to get up.

Clark studied Lex quickly. This was a strange but necessary habit he'd developed over the last year.

Lex had moved to Metropolis to run LexCorp just as Clark had started at Met U. Neither of them pretended it was a coincidence, but neither of them had mentioned it directly. There had been a few dark comments from Jonathan, but even they had been limited, as Jonathan had become mostly used to Lex Luthor in his son's life during the past years.

Clark had been very glad to have Lex in Metropolis, and had felt only a little bit guilty when he realized how much easier it was for Lex to run LexCorp from Metropolis, and that he probably hadn't come sooner because of Clark. But he wouldn't have traded the last few years of close friendship for anything, and he certainly wouldn't have wanted Lex anywhere but in Metropolis as Clark had tried to acclimatize to the big city and College life.

Lex had helped Clark move in, arriving in a bright metallic blue Ferrari and leaving it - and a myriad of other cool stuff - for Clark to 'borrow', although strangely he always seemed to need it and some of the other more expensive items back whenever Clark's parents came for the weekend.

Clark had been inundated with offers to join fraternities, all of which he'd attributed to the Ferrari and which he'd therefore declined, until Lex had said it would probably be the best way to fit in. 'Fit in' were always magic words with Clark.

His pledge week had been easy. He'd had John, the Grandmaster of the fraternity as his pledge sponsor and he done things like tidy his room and wash his clothes. He'd wondered at the shell-shocked look on some of the other pledge's faces during that week. How spoiled must they have been to be so shocked by menial labor? Maybe John had just been a really nice guy and hadn't given him the full works, like, oh, Clark didn't know, cleaning toilets with toothbrushes, or something. John had graduated now and moved into a very nice job indeed at LexCorp.

Clark had still been able to see Lex at least every week, usually two or three times, and he'd surprised himself a little at the depth of his relief that Metropolis hadn't seemed to damage their relationship at all. Lex still always seemed to be available to Clark; despite the fact that Clark knew Lex was just getting busier and busier.

LexCorp had grown at a rate that had seemed to surprise everyone but Clark, who had never had any doubts, and the rivalry between LexCorp and LuthorCorp had reached dizzying heights. A week never went by without something in the Wall Street Journal and the Planet about it. The media loved it and Lex's profile had risen and risen.

But still, whenever Clark was around, Lex seemed able to make time. One evening soon after the start of college, Clark had been bored with his reading, tired of his drunken roommates and missing his friend, and had called Lex to see if he was available. Lex had agreed and they'd gone out for pizza - which Lex hated but Clark loved. Clark often made Lex eat pizza, much to Lex's very vocal irritation, as he insisted it was a part of his college experience that he needed to make the most of, as Martha never let him have it at home. They'd then gone to see Dr Strangelove at an old theater, a favorite of them both, and discussed the movie and life in general way into the night.

It had only been when Clark had been reading an article in The Planet the next day about a society reception with the Mayor and a member of the British royal family that Clark had remembered that Lex should have been there, and had obviously blown it off for pizza and old movies with Clark.

That was the first inkling Clark had that maybe Lex wasn't just conveniently free whenever Clark called, and now that he thought about it, how stupid of him to think the president of a major corporation would be. And so he'd begun to watch and listen to Lex carefully when inviting him out, to try and check to see if Clark was a welcome distraction from the tedium of corporate life, or stopping him from taking over Poland or something.

From the last frowning look Lex was giving one of his papers and he put it down, this was one of the important times.

"No, it's OK," Clark said, standing up from where he'd perched on the couch, "I've got a few deliveries left to make," he lied. "How about I meet you at the Talon in an hour? Lana can bring you the wrong coffee and it'll be like we've never been away."

Lex smirked, "Sure, that'd be great."

Lex watched as Clark smiled sunnily and left. Maybe in an hour he'd be able to understand exactly what his father was up to by sending him newspaper clippings of the stock exchange. Maybe he was just reminding Lex that LuthorCorp stock was still higher, if not by all that much, than LexCorp. Sighing, Lex tried to figure out his father's latest game, pleased to have the simple treat of coffee with Clark to look forward to.


Lana met Clark at the door of the Talon an hour later, and he smiled as always in response to her lovely face. He was glad that Lana, Pete and Chloe were coming back for the summer, although Pete and Chloe were taking a few weeks on a road trip together to reinforce their new relationship. They'd both gone to NYU and Lana to Kansas State and he'd missed them all.

He'd mentioned to Lex, trying not to look too pathetic, how glad he was they were going to be in Smallville so he wouldn't get too bored or lonely over the summer. Lex had nodded and said he'd be pleased to see them too. At Clark's surprised look he'd shrugged and said he'd been thinking of going back to Smallville himself for the summer, as the heat and pollution in the city during the summer months was unbearable.

Clark had nodded sagely, ignoring both the glow in his chest and the faint pang of guilt, and said he'd heard some of the elder students say the same. Which was actually true, he had, and so it wasn't quite as lame an excuse as Jonathan's snort when Clark told him suggested he thought it was.

But Clark was still very glad his old friends would be there, and was about to greet Lana enthusiastically when he saw the worried look on her usually sweetly calm face.

"Clark! Thank goodness you're here," she said in obvious relief.

"What's wrong?"

"It's Lex."

"Lex?" Panic sparked in Clark's chest. "What is it? Where is he?"

"He's over there." Lana gestured to a table in the corner, and Clark's heartbeat steadied at the sight. He was safe.

"When he came in he looked disorientated. I asked if he was OK and he wouldn't answer. He kept shaking his head. I sat him down and when I finally got him to say something." Lana placed a calming hand on Clark's arm, "He asked me who I was and where he was. I think he may have amnesia."

Clark shook off Lana's hand and rushed over to Lex.

"Lex?" Lex looked up. His eyes were wide. "Lex, what happened? Are you OK?"

"Who are you?"

Clark ignored the rather selfish prick of pain that Lex didn't at least know him, and sat down beside him.

First things first.

"Lex, are you hurt?" he scanned Lex's head and saw no damage.

Lex shook his head. It was a wide, childish gesture, completely at odds with the usually restrained mannerisms Clark associated with Lex.

Clark took a deep breath. "Lex, I'm Clark."

"Clark." Lex repeated seriously.

"Yeah. Do you remember what happened?"

Lex shook his head again.

"What do you remember?"

Lex scrunched his face up like he was trying to think. Lana approached, carrying a tray.

"Just before you arrived, he asked for some juice," She told Clark as she set a glass of orange juice down in front of Lex, "There you go, Lex. I brought him some coffee before, but he didn't seem to like it."

Clark's eyebrows rose. Lex was a great caffeine addict so that was almost stranger than Lex not knowing who he was.

"I don't remember her," Lex looked at Lana. "She's pretty. Is she the new nanny?"

Clark blinked. "Nanny?"

Lex nodded, drinking his juice happily.

"Lex," Clark said slowly, "How old are you?"

"Five," Lex replied promptly. "And a half," he added, looking seriously at Clark as though to reinforce the importance of those six significant months.

"Jesus." Clark and Lana exchanged a startled look.

Lex hummed as he sipped more juice and they stared at him.

"What are we going to do?" Lana asked softly.

"I don't know. I guess," Clark shrugged, "I guess I'd better take him to the hospital, get him che..."

"Nooo," Lex exclaimed, dropping the juice, "I don't wanna go to the hospital, I'm OK."

"Lex," Clark explained patiently, "There's something wrong."

But Lex was shaking his head frantically, "No, no. I don't like hospitals. I'm OK, see." For some reason Lex took two long, demonstrative breaths, "See? I'm OK."

"No, Lex, you're not. Something's happened..."

"No!" Lex was looking panicked, "I can't be sick, he gets so mad." Lex's breathing was starting to labor, "If I go to the hospital, he'll be cross, last time he said..."

Lex broke off gasping for breath.

"Lex! What's the matter?" Clark's panicked tone seemed to make Lex worse, and his face became red.

"Lex!"

Lex was patting his clothes frantically, wheezing violently, and suddenly Clark flashed back vividly to second grade, and Lucy Barry scaring him when she'd had an asthma attack.

"Lex." Clark grabbed Lex's hands, realizing he was searching for an inhaler, which of course he didn't carry. He moved close to Lex, meeting his frightened eyes.

"Lex, you don't have asthma," he said, projecting every ounce of calm into his voice he could manage. Lex stared at him. He rubbed his back soothingly. "Lex, listen to my voice. You don't have asthma any more. You just think you do. It's psychosomatic. You're fine. Breathe deeply. Breathe with me."

He continued to talk calmly, breathing deeply and Lex mimicked him, his own breaths beginning to calm and deepen.

Eventually Lex was breathing normally, and staring awestruck at Clark.

"That's it, well done." He patted Lex's back gently.

Clark looked around now that Lex was better and realized they'd attracted a lot of attention.

He stood up, "Lana, I'm going to have to take him home with me. Mom'll get our doctor to come out."

Lana glanced around as well, perhaps thinking like Clark how much Lex would hate the idea of people staring at him like this, "OK. Call me if you need anything."

He dredged up a smile for her and she smiled back weakly, worry written on her sweet-tempered face. "I will. Thanks Lana. C'mon Lex."

Lex stood up and, to Clark's shock, slipped his hand into Clark's.

Clark stared into Lex's trusting, open face, and didn't have the heart, no matter how weird it looked, to stop him. So he led Lex, Lex who was so cagey about touching anyone, out of the Talon by the hand. Lex's slim hand was significantly smaller than Clark's, and soft and warm, and feeling the comparatively almost delicate fingers in his abnormally strong ones made Clark feel ridiculously protective.

Of course, Clark had always felt protective of Lex, who had been in stiff competition with Lana for the most-stalked member of the Smallville community while they had lived here. However, the last year of living in Lex's natural habitat had dulled that feeling slightly, and instead the feeling, experienced fairly regularly in Smallville and strengthened in Metropolis, of Lex looking after Clark had flourished.

Still, this tenderness towards Lex was not at all new for Clark and he smiled without a trace of mockery, when Lex Luthor wiped his nose on his three hundred dollar shirtsleeve.

He decided to take the truck back to the farm in case his father needed it and leave Lex's Jag in town. It had probably been easier to get Lex in the truck than it would have been into the low-slung sports car too, as Lex seemed to be a very curious child, looking around, watching and inspecting everything in the street he could, and not exactly refusing, but not exactly helping, when Clark tried to get him in the truck.

The ride home was mostly quiet, as Lex seemed to have just discovered the contents of his pockets. After Clark had named all the items in there Lex didn't recognize, amused at having to tell Lex Luthor what car keys were, Lex spent the time very seriously trying to shuffle his credit cards like playing cards, frowning at how difficult the raised letters made it.

They arrived at the farm shortly, and Clark got out and went round to help Lex. He unbuckled the belt and took Lex's elbow but Lex shook it free. Clark looked up to see Lex staring wide-eyed over his shoulder. He spun round, half expecting to see a meteor mutant on the prowl. Two in one day, jeez, and he'd only just got back, but saw nothing but the usual farmyard scene.

He glanced back at Lex and realized that Lex was staring at the cows.

"They're just cows, Lex," he said, soothingly.

"I know," Lex glanced at him, clearly affronted, before looking back at the herd. "They're huge." It occurred to him that a five year old, city-born Lex might never have seen real cows.

"They won't hurt you," he assured him.

Lex looked at him, doubtfully, and then back at the cows.

"'Kay," he said, still frowning and slid out of the car in a move that had all the Lex hallmarks of grace and elegance. Clark was just about to wonder if he was back to normal, when Lex's hand slid into his again. Obviously not.

Smiling slightly as Lex kept Clark between himself and the cows, but continued watching them suspiciously over Clark's shoulder, Clark led him into the house.

"Hey Mom," he said, suddenly wondering if perhaps he should have thought about what he was going to say before now.

"Clark," his mom turned round with a smile, "Oh, hi Lex..." she tailed of as she noticed their hands.

"Mom, something weird has happened to Lex. He, well, he seems to be five."

"Oh." His mom knew how to sum a problem up, all right.

He turned to Lex, "Lex, this is my mom, Martha."

Lex smiled shyly at her, but moved closer to Clark, pressing against his arm. His mom beamed, "Goodness, he's cute like that."

Yep, his mom had it in a nutshell.

"He didn't want to go to a hospital," Lex pressed closer and Clark squeezed his hand reassuringly, "I've, um, checked for damage, and he doesn't seem to have hurt his head."

"You're sure?" his mom asked frowning, "What else could it be?"

Clark x-rayed Lex again, more thoroughly, realizing he had checked very quickly in his panic earlier. "No definitely nothing broken, but..." he tailed off, looking closely, "there is something strange... He seems to have inhaled something, there's some sort of residue in his nose and windpipe."

Lex was looking at Clark in bemusement.

"Um, hmm." Martha went to get a tissue and approached Lex, who pulled back when she put the tissue to his face.

"Clark, you try."

Clark took the tissue and looked at Lex. How strange was this? He sighed.

"Lex," he said, putting the tissue to his nose, "Blow for me." He blushed at his unfortunate choice of words in front of his mother, who tactfully appeared not to notice.

Still, Lex obeyed and to increase the weirdness of his day so far, Clark helped Lex Luthor blow his nose.

Ignoring the ick factor, both he and his mom inspected the tissue, with Lex deciding to join in and looking at it intently too.

"There is something there," Clark said and went to touch it, when suddenly he stepped back.

"Meteors," he declared, "Not much. I couldn't sense them in him at all, but definitely some in there."

His mom sniffed it, "And something chemical. Maybe someone was burning something infected with meteor dust and he inhaled some of the smoke on the drive to the Talon. I'm sure he would have had the top down in this weather."

"Well, I guess he should be OK, then, after a while, the residue seems to be fine enough for the body to be able to work it out naturally." His mom declared.

Clark felt a little dizzy with relief. As amusing as a baby Lex was, he really wanted his friend back.

"Mom, can he stay here tonight? I know he'd rather as few a people as possible saw him like this."

"I guess so," Martha said with a slow smile, "I don't know what your father will say."

Clark grinned.

Suddenly there was a piercing ringing noise, a yelp and a clatter. Lex's phone had rung, causing him to leap up in fright and knock over the chair he'd been sitting on.

Clark rushed over to him and Lex shocked him anew by throwing his arms around him.

Stunned and suddenly overwhelmed by the familiar, subtle but expensive scent of Lex so close, and the warm, hard body against his, Clark froze, until the phone shrilled, making Lex jump again, and he remembered what he was doing.

"It's OK, Lex," he soothed, "It's just your phone."

He reached into Lex's jacket pocket and pulled it out, gently easing away from Lex. Seeing the way Lex eyed it like it might bite him, Clark flicked it open. He glanced at the display, where it said 'Gabe'. That was a relief. A conversation with Lionel, for example, he did not need.

"Hello Mr Sullivan."

A pause. "Clark?"

"Yes Sir."

"Clark, is Lex there? He was going to phone me about a meeting on Wednesday morning."

It was Monday afternoon. Clark wondered if Lex would be better by then. He'd better tell Gabe what was going on. Gabe had been made vice president of LexCorp, and Clark knew Lex trusted him, even though he'd never said so.

"Mr Sullivan, I'm afraid Lex is sort of ill right now."

"Is he OK?"

"He, um, well, he's reverted to childhood," he looked at Lex, who was watching him talking on the phone in fascination. "We think it's meteor related, but that he'll be OK in a while. Can you, uh," he had no idea what Lex did all day, except that it involved a lot of paper and phone calls. "Take care of things?"

"Well," Gabe paused, "I can handle most things, but the Wednesday meeting is a takeover. It needs his authorization. Is he going to be compos mentis by then?"

"I don't know."

"Welll, it can probably wait, if it has to. It's not a hostile takeover. The negotiations are done; it's merely a question of signing the contracts."

"OK Mr Sullivan, I'll have him call you as soon as he recovers."

"Thanks Clark, and call me with any news, or if I can help."

"Yes sir. Thank you. Bye."

"Well," he told his mom, "Mr Sullivan's going to take care of the business, so I guess all we have to do is take care of Lex."

As if prompted by his name, Clark looked to see Lex tugging on his shirt to draw his attention.

"Hungry," he said shyly.

"Oh my goodness," his mother threw her hands up in horror at the idea of someone being hungry in her kitchen. For his mother, adults reverting to five year olds were no excuse for poor hospitality.

"Sit down Lex, what would you like?" She ushered Lex into a chair, who threw a slightly panicked look over his shoulder at Clark, who gestured comfortingly.

"Cookies." Lex said decisively, "Chocolate cookies."

Clark laughed, and they both looked at him.

"Sorry." He apologized, smiling at Lex, who smiled back happily, "It's just he's always teasing me about my diet, and I've never seen him eat chocolate. Guess even Lex Luthor liked chocolate as a kid." He grinned at his mother, "You'd better not give him too many, though, or he might go into some kind of sugar shock."

Lex frowned. "Lots of cookies," he said firmly.

Clark grinned, Lex was going to hate hearing about this, "Unless he's been holding out on me and secretly eats stacks of cookies every night."

Both Clark and his mother laughed. Lex seemed to realize suddenly they were laughing at him and he hunched his shoulders.

"Sorry Lex, we're not laughing at you."

Lex looked up at him and his eyes were wet.

Clark's heart squeezed, and it was the only thing to do to go over to Lex and hug him. "I'm sorry, Lex, you can have as many cookies as you want," he promised recklessly as Lex sniffed in his arms.

"What the hell?!" The gruff tones of Jonathan Kent were shocked.

"Dad, Lex is..."

"What the hell are you doing, Luthor?" Jonathan demanded harshly of Lex.

Shocked, Lex cowered back into Clark's arms.

"Dad, you can't speak to him like that," Clark said firmly, "He's ill and he's very, well, sensitive."

"Ill?" Jonathan took in Lex's frightened face and the way he clung to Clark, "What's wrong with him."

"He's reverted to childhood," Clark explained, yet again, "He thinks he's five."

"What! You're kidding," Jonathan looked at where Lex was hiding in the crook of Clark's arm, one wide, frightened eye peeping at him. "That's ridiculous."

"Oh, I don't know," Martha said with a smile, "I've heard better. How about fat-sucking dieters?"

Jonathan snorted, but watched without comment as Martha handed Lex a plate of cookies.

Lex smiled beatifically at her, fright forgotten at the sight of the cookies.

Lex reached up cautiously and touched Martha's hair. "Pretty," he declared. "Soft, too."

"Why thank you Lex," Martha said, and gently patted his shoulder. It seemed that the way to win young Lex's heart was through his stomach as he didn't even flinch and started happily on his cookies.

Jonathan and Clark exchanged looks as Martha produced a tissue seemingly out of the air and wiped Lex's nose, mere microseconds after he sniffed. Clark supposed once you had it, you never lost it.

"He seems to have inhaled something with traces of meteor. It's not gone into his lungs, so he should get rid of it naturally." Clark told Jonathan, "There's no point calling a doctor. Historically they're not much help with meteor problems."

"Unbelievable." Jonathan sat down, watching Lex eating his cookies with the look of intense concentration they apparently deserved.

"I've said he can stay here until he gets better." Martha told Jonathan, who didn't protest, merely nodded in resignation. "Clark, he can have your room, and you'd better sleep on the couch. I can find him something to sleep in, but if he's not better tomorrow, you'll have to nip over to the castle and pick something up for him to wear in the day."

Clark wondered if practicality came with giving birth. Baby came out, common sense the marvel of men the world over went in.

A little snort of laughter from Jonathan brought his mind back to the moment. He followed his father's amused gaze to where Lex sat, one of the cookies on his plate nibbled into a square, another into a triangle. The symmetrical star Lex seemed to be attempting on the third was clearly giving him a bit more trouble, but Clark had seen that look on Lex's face before, and knew the cookie would be conquered.

They all watched Lex eat his cookies and he, with childish unconcern, watched them back, apparently finding them all just as fascinating as they found him.

Martha brought him a glass of milk, which to Clark's endless amusement he drank in noisy, happy gulps, when Clark would have sworn blind Lex had only ever had milk in coffee, and that it would certainly be a cold day in Lionel Luthor's penthouse before he saw him dribble some down his chin.

As Martha, with a look of maternal bliss, wiped his face, and his nose for good measure, Lex rubbed his eyes extravagantly with his fists.

Decisively, Martha disposed quickly of the meteor-laced hanky.

"Take Lex upstairs and show him your room and the bathroom, Clark." Martha's eyes flicked over her son's well-insulated frame and Lex's slighter build. "I'll find another blanket in case he gets cold overnight, and see if we have anything to fit him."

"C'mon Lex," Clark held out his hand naturally to lead Lex upstairs, but Lex shook his head and held out his arms in an unmistakable gesture.

Clark gaped, "You want me to carry you?"

Lex nodded, and shook his arms impatiently "Tired."

"C'mon Lex, you can walk upstairs," Clark insisted, aware of his father's amusement over his shoulder.

Lex pouted. An unmistakable pout. That was distinctly unfair, and Clark briefly regretted all the times he'd used it to get Lex to do something.

Some of the tolerant affection he was feeling must have shown on his face, because Lex seemed to scent victory.

"Tired, Clark," he smiled slyly, and Clark gave up while one of them still had their dignity in tact. Maybe.

"Okay, okay."

He reached down, uncertainly awkward, but Lex seemed to know what to do, and wrapped his arms around Clark's shoulders and his legs around his waist, snuggling contentedly into his neck.

Clark masked the melting of his insides with a sarcastic mutter about how it was a good thing he wasn't from around here or he'd have a broken back at this angle, threw a warning look at his father who also appeared to have a pithy comment to hand, and took Lex upstairs.

"There's the bathroom," he gestured as they passed and then he sat Lex down on his bed.

Still dressed in Armani, Lex looked a little out of place in his bedroom, and that strangeness was bizarrely something normal for Clark to cling on to as Lex looked around his room. He gave Lex the clothes Martha threw up behind him and told him to get ready, and that he'd be back soon when Lex looked slightly alarmed.

When Clark returned with a blanket a short while and some super-speeded chores later, he hoped Lex would be changed. He wasn't. Instead he was sitting cross-legged on the bed, doing Clark's math.

"Lex! What are you doing? I told you to get ready for bed."

Lex looked up, "Thought I should do this first." Lex searched Clark's face and flinched, "Are you mad?"

"Uh, no." He came over and took the pad from Lex. The first page of problems was done in childish writing, nothing like Lex's usual confident scrawl, but definitely right.

"You did this?" He asked, rather redundantly.

Lex nodded.

"How old are you?"

"Five and a half," Lex looked worried, "I can do better. Really I can." He clearly thought that Clark was disappointed, "I thought it was revision." He made a snatch at the book.

"No, no. That's really OK," Clark smiled reassuringly at Lex, who beamed back.

Martha came in. "He's not ready?"

"Umm no." Clark grinned, "He's been doing my work."

Martha laughed as Clark showed her the page.

"Clever boy. But it's time for you to go to bed."

Lex nodded obediently and stood up, handing the clothes to Clark and waiting expectantly.

Martha and Clark exchanged a glance.

"Ready for bed," Lex prompted Clark, holding out an arm.

"You'd better help him, Clark," Martha said with a smile, preparing to leave. "Goodnight Lex."

"Wait! Let me get this straight, he can do college math but he can't get himself ready for bed?"

Martha shrugged, "I expect he's had a nanny as well as a tutor all his life; he's probably never had to."

She left. Traitor.

Clark faced the problem at had. "Jeez, you must have been spoiled."

Oookay. Clark unbuttoned Lex's shirt with his lazy cooperation. Man, Lex was pale. Clark noted the contrast of his tanned hands against Lex's white skin. And skinny, he thought, looking at Lex's defined ribs and slim waist. Although, he mused, as he knelt down to undo his belt, perhaps skinny was unfair. He looked at his flat belly, more slender, really, maybe lean. And it suited him. Clark's fingers brushed Lex's skin as he manoeuvred the belt, and it was very warm and smooth, amazingly soft over hard muscle.

As Lex looked down at him with a tired, innocent expression, reaching out a lazy hand to stroke Clark's hair, an image of how Lex's face usually was - knowing, confident and strong - made Clark feel suddenly awful at thinking anything about his friend's body. Lex would hate to be so vulnerable and Clark felt like he was taking some obscure advantage by dwelling on it. He blushed and jerked away from Lex's hand, but felt even worse at the instant flash of hurt.

He smiled and squeezed Lex's hand to reassure him, and completed the rest of the operation with his eyes half closed and a reckless touch of super-speed over the really key areas, but somehow he was pretty sure the visions were still burned on his retina.

He led Lex, rubbing his eyes but uncomplaining, into the bathroom and washed his face and cleaned his teeth, amazed at how Lex just stood there compliantly, watching him with tired, trusting eyes.

He took him back, fresh-mouthed and yawning, to his bed and settled him in.

And, yes, OK, Clark was pretty sure he'd never seen anything so cute in his life. Lex was wearing his old pajamas, with - embarrassingly for both of them - cows on, and was snuggled happily under a homemade quilt, his face and lips flushed from the warm water. Puppies weren't this cute.

"Smells of you," Lex said, sleepily, "Smells nice."

Little fluffy bunnies weren't this cute.

"Love you Clark," he said closing his eyes.

Little fluffy bunnies playing with puppies weren't this cute. Clark decided he'd better leave before he dissolved into a sentimental puddle of goo.

"Yeah. Love you, too, Lex." But he was already asleep.


The next morning Clark simply wasn't brave enough for a shower or, God help him, a bath, and so he washed Lex again and was very glad Lex apparently didn't have to shave given the amount of wriggling a fully wide-awake Lex did during the process.

He left Lex watching his mom make breakfast, with promises of not being gone too long, to speed to the castle and pick up some clothes. He felt guilty at the housekeeper's relief when he told her Lex was with him, and cursed himself for not thinking to phone.

When he got home moments later the breakfast was nearly ready.

"Clark!" Lex exclaimed happily and held out his arms as though Clark had been away for days rather than minutes. Clark hugged him and he felt so good, he couldn't resist dropping a quick kiss on his head, despite his mother's presence.

"Clark," Martha said with a smile as she placed the pancakes on the table, "Lex was just telling me how he remembers you having a party here while we were away once."

"Really! Oh, God, that's great," Clark's knees gave out in relief, and he sat down heavily. He was going to get better.

"Yes, and as I keep asking him he seems to remember more. He remembers all the cows dying, and us all being cross. He got quite upset."

"Didn't mean to hurt the cows Clark," Lex still looked a bit stricken and Clark hugged him guiltily.

"I know, Lex, I'm not angry."

"Really?" Lex looked hopeful.

"Really. How about some pancakes?"

Young Lex appeared to want more calories in a day than old Lex in a week judging by the number of pancakes he took and the reservoir of maple syrup he poured on the plate, but Clark really didn't have it in him to moderate him. He thought he'd probably make a bad parent; spoiling his children outrageously.

There was a knock at the door.

"Gabe," Martha smiled brightly, "Come on in."

"Morning Mr Sullivan," Clark said, looking away from where Lex was seriously dividing his pancakes into regular geometric shapes. "Everything OK?"

"No. No, I'm afraid not." He looked pale as he sat down where Martha motioned.

"What's wrong?" Clark asked.

Gabe produced a weighty looking document with a LuthorCorp logo on the cover, and tossed it on the table in front of Clark. Clark picked it up and opened it.

"It's all on page one," Gabe's voice was weary, "But the words you want to pay particular attention to are 'hostile takeover'."

"What!" Clark scanned the page.

"I'm afraid so. I got a phone call from Lionel Luthor himself. He told me that he knew of his son's condition and any attempt to get his signature on the Marsh Enterprises takeover would be destroyed by his lawyers if not properly witnessed with evidence of Lex's competence. He said he'd have a doctor here certifying Lex unfit within the hour if we even tried."

"How is this possible?" Martha asked, "LexCorp's doing so well."

"It's the Marsh deal. I thought it would be OK to wait, but not with LuthorCorp making this move. There's far too much capital committed to it to fight off LuthorCorp if the deal's not signed. It would usually only take Lex's signature, but without the president's authorization we can't complete the deal unless fifty one percent of the shareholder's agree it. We're completely vulnerable."

"Oh my God." Clark thought of how Lex would react if he recovered to find his father had won, and LexCorp was lost.

"We can't complete the deal without Lex. He's got seventy percent of the shares. When he floated the company he made sure he kept total control. We're helpless without him."

They all turned to stare at where Lex was steering his perfectly regular pancakes on a sea of maple syrup with a fork.

"Shit. It's coming back, but nowhere near fast enough. If we did it on his signature, no doctor in the world would pronounce him competent if Lionel challenged it." Clark clenched his fist feeling helpless, wanting to help Lex, but not knowing how.

"Mom said he gets his memory back quicker as we remind him." He said slowly. "Maybe if we took him to the office it would start to jog his memory about business?"

"We've got to do something," Gabe said, "Lex could lose his company and people could lose their jobs, their homes. Lionel's moving fast; he could have this sewn up by tomorrow night."

"We'll give it a try." Clark stood up. "Lex, we're going on a trip now."

Lex looked mournfully at his pancakes as he stood up, but didn't protest, "'Kay Clark."

Clark sighed at Lex's sad face. How Lionel had ever done anything to hurt Lex when he was a child was utterly beyond him, when the sight of Lex's sad face at leaving a tiny bit of pancake on his plate wrung his heart.

"Mom, can we take a couple of muffins with us?" he asked and smiled when Lex's face lit up.


Gabe had come in the LexCorp limo and they drove to Metropolis in that, Clark glaring at the driver who stared at Lex holding Clark's hand.

Lex was very good tempered, not complaining when Clark kept blowing his nose and throwing the tissues out the window, trying to speed up his recovery. Perhaps this didn't strike a five year old a particularly odd behavior.

"Let's try and jog his memory some more Clark," Gabe suggested as they sat in the limo, Gabe opposite where Lex was sitting snuggled happily against Clark's arm.

"OK." Clark sat Lex up so he could look at him, manfully ignoring the pout.

"Uh, Lex, do you remember having a Halloween party at the castle?" Clark had invited practically the whole school, and for once Lex seemed to enjoy the party, maybe because no one but Clark had recognized him dressed as, of all things, Batman a la Tim Burton, complete with mask, rubber and cool gadgets.

Lex screwed his face up as he did when he was concentrating, the action striking Clark as so alien once again, in comparison to the usual blank expression when Lex was thinking. He'd joked once you only knew there was anything going on in there because you could hear the wheels turning.

"Yes!" Lex's face cleared, and he looked proudly at Clark. "De de de de de de de de, Batman!" He sung suddenly, shocking both Clark and Gabe.

Clark howled uncontrollably, and Lex giggled happily at having made him laugh.

"Oh. My. God," Clark wiped his eyes, "I always figured you more Michael Keaton than Adam West. Some things I'll tactfully not mention when you're better, but some things you are never living down my friend."

He grinned at his unsuspecting friend, who went to snuggle him again in response. Unable to resist, his gave Lex's warm, lean body a quick hug and then sat him back up again.

"Okay, uh, do you remember when we met?"

Lex thought again.

"Yes." He looked seriously at Clark after a few moments. "I hit you with my car."

Clark froze, realizing belatedly that had been a stupid thing to ask, but he'd wanted to hurry Lex up so he could remember all their friendship. He glanced at Gabe.

"No, Lex. Remember, that's what you thought, but you missed me." He felt a guilty pang, even stronger than usual, for lying to his friend when he was like this.

But Lex was shaking his head; "I hit you with my car."

"No, you didn't."

"Yes, I did."

"No you..." Clark stopped, realizing that that was a stupid game to play with a five year old. Man, he missed being the least mature one in this relationship.

"Lex, you didn't, but let's try something else. Umm..."

"That's what you always say." Lex looked sad suddenly, "But I did. I hit you with my car and then you pulled me out and saved my life."

He gazed at Clark, "You looked like an angel," he whispered, softly.

Clark blushed, not really able to think of anything to say and glanced to where Gabe was looking distinctly uncomfortable.

"Oookay." Clark decided to move onto something safer. "Do you remember where you went to school?"


Clark had tried to explain to Lex how he'd really regret it later if he held Clark's hand when they entered the LexCorp towers, but the hurt liquid blue eyes made him feel like he'd kicked a puppy.

Gabe called ahead to get as many people out of the way as possible, and they went in through the back entrance.

"Mr Luthor," Lex's secretary May leapt to her feet as they arrived. She had been one of the few Gabe had told Lex was ill, as they were trying to keep it secret. Startled, Lex pressed into Clark's side for reassurance, and he squeezed his hand.

"Lex, this is May, your secretary. Do you remember her?"

Lex studied her cautiously from behind Clark. She smiled at him, uncertainly encouraging.

"Yess," Lex said slowly, "May Couthino." He looked to Clark for reassurance, and Clark smiled at him.

"That's right, and that's your office in there." He led Lex through into his office.

Lex clutched Clark's hand tightly, staring wide-eyed around the large room with the floor to ceiling windows and the incredible view. As Clark gently pushed Lex further in, he turned around suddenly and pressed his face into Clark's shoulder with a small whimper.

"What's the matter?" Clark asked sharply, concerned.

"High," Lex whispered, his eyes squeezed shut.

Clark remembered Lex telling him he'd been scared of heights as a little boy.

"Gabe, could you close the blinds," Clark asked, feeling Lex trembling against him. He stroked Lex's smooth head.

"It's OK," he assured him gently, when the view was blocked, "You can look now."

Lex peeked carefully over Clark's shoulder but wouldn't let go of his hand as he walked around the office, picking things up and examining them.

Gabe sank into a chair, watching Lex, and buried his head in his hands. "It's no use, he'll never recover in time."

May, who had brought in coffee for them, asked timidly, "In time for what?"

Gabe looked up at her, his face haggard and shrugged. "We're trying to keep it secret, but. Well, we're in the middle of a quite complicated takeover of Marsh Enterprises," May nodded, "The contracts are ready, but they can't be signed because of Lex's illness."

Gabe sighed, "It would be OK to wait a while, until Lex is better, but LuthorCorp is taking advantage and staging a takeover. We can't fight it with so much tied up in Marsh." Gabe's voice was defeated.

May looked confused, "But surely," She glanced at Clark, "Surely if it's so important, Mr Kent could..."

She tailed off. Clark stared at her uncomprehendingly. May stared uncomprehendingly back.

"Could what?" Clark asked.

May blushed under the scrutiny, "Well, I mean, you don't actually need him, do you? I mean. I'm sure all the other major shareholders would be against a LuthorCorp takeover."

"May, Lex has seventy percent of the shares," Gabe explained, tiredly.

"Uh, no," May looked at Clark again, "No, he doesn't."

"What?" Clark and Gabe asked together.

May frowned at them. "Stay there."

She nipped out of the office, while Clark and Gabe shrugged at each other and watched Lex, who had let go of Clark and was finding his aquarium fascinating; playing a complex game of hide and seek with the fish, which seemed to involve a great deal of giggling and probably quite unfounded accusations of cheating.

May returned with a file, "Here."

She handed a page from it to Gabe.

Gabe scanned it and then stared up at Clark.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he yelled a mixture of anger and exultation in his voice.

"Bad Gabe." Lex's attention had been drawn by the shout, and he was frowning, "Don't shout at Clark."

"Sorry Lex," Gabe said, glancing at Clark.

Lex scowled at him suspiciously, as though thinking he might yell at Clark again and went back to watching the fishes, one eye still on them.

"Tell you what?" Clark hissed at Gabe.

"That you own twenty five percent of LexCorp shares!" Gabe hissed back.

"What?!" Clark's voice was a good register higher than normal. He grabbed the paper from Gabe, and sure enough it was a copy of his signature and Lex's on a sheet of paper, transferring twenty five percent of LexCorp shares to him. It was dated a while ago, just after his eighteenth birthday.

"Yes, uh, Mr Luthor transferred all but forty five percent of shares to you. Legal has had a copy for ages; it's all above board. Unimpeachable, even by Lionel Luthor." May looked very pleased with herself.

"My God, Clark, do you have any idea how much that's worth?" Gabe asked, his voice hushed.

Clark had an idea, having seen some figures in the papers on Lex's desk a while ago, and even as used to his friend's riches as he was, had been rather overwhelmed by his wealth. Jesus. Ever so much more than a truck, Dad. Sorry.

How had this happened? He stared down at the paper in his hand and suddenly remembered one day Lex had shoved a piece of paper in front of him, saying he needed it for car insurance so Clark could drive his cars. Car insurance! Clark had just signed it, trusting Lex and not bothering to read it, assuming it had something to do with the sheer number of ridiculously expensive cars Lex had written off during the Smallville years.

"Lex!" Clark yelled, "Come here!"

Lex looked up startled and approached Clark cautiously.

"Lex, look at this, do you remember why you did this?"

Lex looked at the document in his hand, frowning. Then his face cleared and a flicker of something definitively adult crossed his face. Embarrassment.

"Umm," Lex shifted slightly, "I, uh. I wanted to check myself. That I couldn't do anything too big without convincing the other shareholders it was OK." He looked down at his feet. "Or you. I knew you'd never let me do anything. Um. Bad."

Lex made a face.

Clark remembered an argument they'd had just before his birthday. Lex had been talking about some deal he was thinking of that would upset one of his father's ventures. It had been something, if not strictly illegal then walking close to the line, and Clark had maybe been slightly disapproving, although he hadn't said so exactly. He remembered Lex watching him thoughtfully as he'd chatted on about the nature of good and evil after, when they'd watched an enjoyable, but highly derivative action film. It hadn't been long before the date on the contract.

Lex was looking at Clark worriedly. "Are you mad?" He asked, eyes frightened.

Unable to stop himself, Clark pulled Lex into a hug, not caring about Gabe or May. "No. I'm not mad."

He looked at Gabe. "What can we do?"


It still hadn't been easy, even so.

It had taken a very long time to gather fifty one percent of the shareholders' votes, but everyone from the post room workers to the vice presidents had been on the phone to shareholders; some of them who would never had imagined being involved in such a crisis decision. Some refused, thinking it a joke, or too busy, and each one that did worked Clark's blood pressure up a notch, but by the end of the day, they had done it. Fifty one percent on board.

They spent the evening in Metropolis, in Lex's living quarters at LexCorp towers, as Clark had not wanted to leave just in case of some unforeseen disaster between now and the morning meeting. They watched cartoons on the TV, with Lex snuggled contentedly against him and as he'd seriously told Clark about the different animals in the Jungle Book, Clark had kissed him gently on his forehead, warm affection coursing through him.

Feeling a little mischievous and perhaps a little tired of being the sensible adult, but not at all guilty, Clark had ordered pizza, which Lex, apparently, loved. Clark itched to get a camera at the mess he'd made of his face and clothes by the time they'd finished.

He put Lex to bed again, slightly disappointed by the sensible plain cotton pajamas he'd found, and sat for a while watching Lex sleep, not examining his emotions too closely.

The next morning Clark refused to let Lex come to the takeover meeting, sure Lionel would know it was going ahead and almost certainly turn up, and that Lex would never forgive him if he let Lionel see him this way.

He'd insisted on going himself, however, to make sure everything went smoothly and had resisted the power of the pout, silently apologizing to his mother for every time he'd used the same trick. He left Lex in the bed, trying to turn a muffin into a perfect cube and watching the Wacky Races on TV.

The meeting was almost finished when Lionel Luthor swept into the room, accompanied by lawyers and doctors.

"I have to insist that the takeover of Marsh Enterprises is void. My son has been ill for the past few days, and he's still ill now. He was in no fit condition to authorize this takeover."

Clark stood up, glad to have the opportunity. "Yes, that's true. Which is why he didn't."

Even blind, Lionel's cold gaze fell unerringly on Clark. "Clark Kent?" Lionel laughed, "I shall definitely want to be there when my son finds out you just lost his company for him."

Clark smiled, an unpleasant smile, which felt strange on his face, but very appropriate. "The deal has gone through with fifty one percent of the shareholder's voting on it. Without Lex." Clark handed Lionel a copy of the deal contracts and, to save time, legal documentation proving Lex only had forty five percent of the shares.

Lionel thrust it at a lawyer behind him, and stared with disturbing accuracy and intensity at Clark. "My son would never allow that to be possible. This is a fraud."

Clark should his head. "The documentation is perfectly legal and registered months ago. Lex has signed legal documents since then confirming actions as the majority shareholder, but with only forty five percent of the shares."

He grinned at Lionel. "By the way, the next thing they voted on was your no-longer-quite-so-hostile takeover bid. It's been rejected."

Lionel snapped his fingers at the lawyer he'd thrust the papers at, who was looking a little sick, and very scared. "It seems in order, Sir." The man said weakly. "Mr Luthor had about forty five percent of the share, and Mr Kent about twenty five."

Lionel's nostrils flared. "Fine," he snapped. The lawyer cowered.

His smile was cruel as he turned back to Clark, "When he gets better, tell Lex that twenty-five percent of your company is well above market price to pay for a whore, even one as pretty as you."

There were gasps in the room, but Clark just met Lionel's sightless eyes and smiled, feeling a mixture of disgust and pity for a man who knew only sex, power and business and nothing about friendship and love.

When Lionel swept out of the room he heard audible sighs of relief and turned to meet awkward eyes with a smile and heartfelt thanks.

The meeting adjourned, he went to find Lex, who was napping in the LexCorp bedroom, curled up on his side, face smooth and content.

He watched Lex sleeping, not bothering to quell the coiling sweetness in his chest as he watched his friend. Lionel Luthor had taken this sweet, loving, open child and had made him wary, deceptive and strong; but he had not destroyed the essential core of sweetness and caring, no matter how much Lex feared it. Clark knew there was no reason for Lex to have let go absolute power over the company; the fact that he feared it might be necessary was proof enough that it wasn't.

Clark smiled. He'd waited too long to tell him his secrets, feeling unable to do so because they were as much his parent's as his own, but he couldn't keep them any longer and truly call himself Lex's friend, which he valued more than anything.

He went and sat down on the bed. Lex opened his sleepy eyes and smiled sweetly at Clark, opening his arms like it was the most natural thing in the world. And perhaps it was. Clark pulled him up into his lap and hugged him, his face against Lex's smooth warm neck and breathing in the smell of drowsy Lex.

He kissed his head in what could fast become a hard habit to break.

"Come on. We're done with business here. We won."

Lex smiled at him mildly, clearly just happy that Clark was happy.

"How about a trip to the zoo?" Clark said, on impulse.

"Yay!" Lex said, suddenly wide-awake and pulling, childishly heartless, out of Clark's arms.

Clark laughed and took Lex in the bathroom, washing him up. It seemed strange once again for Lex to stand there compliantly while Clark ran a washcloth over his face and head. OK, it wasn't exactly the most sanitary and Clark knew the fastidious Lex would be horrified, but he didn't shower or bath him, just quickly washed his torso, and dried him. He put some deodorant on Lex and hesitated briefly over the cologne in the cabinet. A five year old really wouldn't wear cologne, but, well, Clark loved the way Lex smelled, so he splashed a little on him.

The amusement he felt as Lex kept sniffing himself helped to keep Clark's mind on the job as he swiftly changed him from pajamas to slacks and a sweater, but he was pretty sure once again that the image of smooth white skin would remain in his mind.

The zoo was fun, and Lex had particularly enjoyed watching the big cats for hours until Clark bribed him away with the promise of cotton candy. Clark had to wonder briefly at the weird psychological twists in a boy that made him afraid of cows, but want to stroke the tigers.

He wondered if it looked stranger for two grown men to be holding hands, or for one of them to keep blowing the other's nose and placing the used tissues in an ornate box.

That night when Clark put Lex to bed, excited and chatty about the zoo, he'd only settle if Clark stayed with him, so Clark lay in bed, holding Lex as he snuggled against him, voice getting slower and sleepier as he talked about the native habitats and practices of all the animals they'd seen today. It wasn't Ancient Greek history or philosophy, but Lex still liked to share his knowledge, and Clark still loved to listen to him talk.

Soon, though, Lex was asleep, the clean, smooth lines of his face emphasized by the dim light and his pale face shining in the moonlight, made his soft, slack lips look pinker. Lex was beautiful, Clark thought.

This was not, of course, the first time this had crossed his mind; he wasn't blind or stupid. But there were so many other things Lex was - strong, smart, funny, his best friend - that he'd sort of filed this knowledge away in his head, only to be taken out and pondered very late at night, and Clark had always blushed the next time he saw Lex.

Still, in that part of his mind there had been the promise, the certainty of someday. Someday coming when Lex's beauty would mesh together with everything else Clark loved about him and find a perfect whole. Clark hadn't felt the need to hurry that day along; knowing with absolute certainty that someday would be followed by everyday and always.

The knowledge had come to him early, only months into their friendship, and he was pretty certain he'd communicated that knowledge somehow to Lex; possibly his furious blushes had given him away. That day he'd kept staring clumsily at Lex, and Lex had smiled understandingly and talked about high school and Lana, and college and experimentation and the importance of trust and friendship. Clark had heard a promise in Lex's voice that day and made his own silent one in return, and, kissing Lex softly on the forehead now, he wondered if it wasn't time, past time, for those promises to be fulfilled.

He went to sleep with Lex in his arms, a smile on his face and hopes for tomorrow on his mind.


It was obvious from the second Clark opened his eyes.

The blue eyes were sharper and more guarded, watching him measuringly, instead of curiously or wonderingly.

But they still smiled when Clark woke.

"Good morning." Voice more measured, confident.

Clark brazened it out. It probably wasn't the best thing to be caught in bed with your previously defenseless best friend.

"Good morning," he actually sounded brazen. Happy even. Maybe that's because he was.

Lex smiled, "It could be worse, I suppose. At least I'm not wearing cow pajamas. Promise me you'll burn those and never speak of it again."

Clark laughed, "I take it you're feeling better? No impulse to cut your food into parallelograms?"

Lex looked slightly embarrassed, "You know, order in an unordered world was very important to me as a child, but now I have my own company, I can control real people and leave breakfast foods in peace."

"Now we have a company you mean," Clark said, frowning at Lex.

Lex definitely looked embarrassed.

"Lex, that was..."

"Don't tell me it's too much. It's my company, and I'll do what I like with it."

"It's ridiculous! Why would you do that..."

"Oh, just in case my father drugs me and tries to take it over."

"...it's completely... What?!"

Lex's face twisted. "I guess it's kind of flattering he resorted to it really."

"How do you know?"

"He sent me a newspaper clipping Monday morning, and I couldn't figure out why. It was dusty, particularly over the LexCorp figures and I blew on it. It was a sort of greenish dust."

It was on the tip of Clark's tongue to tell Lex he should be more careful, but honestly, warning Lex against dust had to be only a very short step away from stopping him from ever leaving the house again. Although frankly, on reflection, it didn't seem all that unreasonable to Clark.

"Don't think I haven't noticed you changed the subject," Clark said, instead.

Lex sighed, "We were having a conversation, a while ago, and you talked me out of doing something a little... unethical. It wasn't the first time either that I hadn't done something because of what you might think of it, so I decided to make it so I had to think about what you might think. Besides, I knew it would drive your father insane."

"Hey," Clark stifled a laugh, "Don't be like that. He was pretty nice about you staying there when you were, uh, indisposed."

Lex groaned, and rubbed his face, "How embarrassing. I'll never be able to enter your house again."

"Nah, they loved you. I think Mom would have adopted you. You were pretty cute."

If it were anyone but Lex Luthor, Clark would have had to have called that a blush.

"Yeah, I noticed you kept kissing me," Lex said sarcastically.

"Well, you kept hugging me!" Clark retaliated.

"Well, you were very huggable," Lex smirked.

"Well, you were very kissable."

They grinned as they looked at each other, but the grins disappeared slowly as the look went on too long.

There was a moment of awkward silence.

"It's a good job I'm better now then, isn't it?" Lex shrugged, moving to get up.

Clark recognized an out when he heard one, but he had no intention of taking it up, and caught Lex's wrist.

"Oh, I don't know, it had its up side," he said, knowing what he was saying was written on his face.

Lex stared at him, and the slightly vulnerable look in his eyes was reminiscent of the last few days.

"Really?"

"Yeah."

Clark leaned forward and brushed his lips across Lex's, to discover that kissing Lex's soft, warm mouth was ten times more addictive than kissing his forehead.

Clark shifted as Lex wrapped his arms around him, and let himself feel all the pleasures of Lex's body against his he'd been furiously sublimating for the past few days.

They broke apart, flushed, and if Lex with his world-renowned poker face was looking that happy, Clark dreaded to think how goofy he must be looking right about now.

"I've got some things I need to tell you, Lex. Stuff I should have told you before."

Lex looked up sharply. Clark was pretty sure all his love and trust was just glowing from his face, in a sickening, romance-movie kind of way, but judging from Lex's expression, which was possibly cuter even than any of the others in the last few days, he didn't seem to mind.

"But before that... you know you haven't had a shower for, like, three days," he said, sniggering at the look of sudden appalled horror on Lex's face.

"Oh my God," Lex shuddered, looking down, and Clark could practically see him visualizing such horrors as dirt, and maybe even some sweat. "I've got to..." he gestured to the bathroom. "Right now."

"Yeah," Clark agreed, "Need any help?" He asked innocently.

Lex glared at him, then his expression softened at the glint in Clark's eye.

"I suppose you could wash my back. I could have a relapse."

Clark nodded sagely. After all, it was only being safety-conscious.

Grinning, Clark grabbed Lex and picked him up, cradling him in his arms.

"Clark! Put me down!" Lex looked shocked.

"What? You liked being carried before."

"You really are going to have fun with this, aren't you?"

"Ohhh yes."