He had thought somewhere between his last girlfriend and his first wife trying to kill him he had gotten rid of such ordinary feelings like jealousy. He had thought that – when he slept with someone he *didn't* do business with – it was purely for entertainment. Just for the satisfaction. He had also thought that a simple farmboy from Bumfuck, Nowhere would never be able to get under his skin, much less touch him – and hurt him – the way Clark Kent did.
But now, sitting in his car on his way back to the mansion from the Kent's farm, with that special picture still fresh in his head, he could feel tears burning behind his eyes.
He hadn't cried since his mother had died. He wiped his eyes dry with his sleeve, and parked his car in the garage. Even before he arrived at his office, he called Mercy.
"Meet me in the gym in twenty," he growled without preamble into the phone, shutting it down before the woman got a chance to answer.
He really needed to let off some steam.
Two hours later, he limped into his bedroom, slowly got rid of his sweat soaked clothes, and stepped very carefully, and with a barely suppressed moan of pain, under the hot spray of the shower. Apparently, someone had managed to piss off Mercy even more, and the steam *she* had been letting off had been tenfold to his.
The water cascaded down on him, and he moaned in pained pleasure, feeling his muscles slowly relax. He lost track of how long he stood under the shower, simply enjoying the feeling of the hot water. When his skin started to turn a deep, angry red, he shut the water down, walked very slowly out of the shower, brushed his teeth, and crawled under the covers.
He closed his eyes, and tried to sleep. But though his body was bone-tired, his mind refused to let go. And suddenly the pictures came crashing down on him again.
Clark and Chloe, cuddled together on Clark's couch, holding each other tightly. He turned around in his bed with a groan that came only partly from the injuries Mercy had inflicted on him.
Lex closed his eyes, pressed his fists against the lids as if he could erase the picture with this gesture. He couldn't. Of course he couldn't. Clark. Chloe. He'd always known that they were friends. Had always known that they were close. But up until today he hadn't known just how close.
He moved around in his bed restlessly, until sleep finally embraced him about one hour later. But his dreams were filled with pictures of Chloe laughing at him and Clark mocking him. Just because he’d admitted his feelings to Clark.
When he woke up at 4.30 in the morning, he stared blankly at the ceiling. The images of his dark dream still haunting him. Not quite half an hour later he got up - surrendering to the fact that sleep would elude him for the rest of the night – and started his day early.
Work, after all, was all he had left.
Clark knew that Lex was moody sometimes. Especially after a little run-in with his father. But the mood he was in today, beat anything Clark had ever seen from him. Moody was the understatement of the year.
The man that was currently fleeing from Lex's office was pale, and Clark was sure he even was shaking a little bit. Wow. Lex seemed to be in an exceptionally bad mood today. He knocked carefully, and peeked around the door.
“Hi, Lex,” he greeted.
And moved back instantly when an old Chinese vase shattered on the wall next to the door. He guessed it must have been pretty expensive. A loud curse followed. Then silence.
Very, very carefully, Clark opened the door again. Lex was standing with his back to the room, looking out of the window. His shoulders were tense and anger was rolling off of him in waves. Clark was severely tempted to simply run away. But just for a moment. Then he remembered that he was almost invincible, and Lex really couldn't harm him.
So he finally stepped in, closing the door behind him, and clearing his throat carefully to make his presence known to Lex.
“What is it you want this time, Clark?”
Clark startled slightly. Lex hadn't even turned around, and his voice sounded tired. And bitter. His instincts to help kicked in immediately, and he stepped closer, reaching out a hand to grab Lex's shoulder, and turn him around so he could face the other man. But mere seconds before his hand could meet the shoulder of his friend, Lex moved slightly, causing Clark's hand to drop in empty space.
Clark was stunned. Never before had Lex been so furious with anyone that he had pushed Clark away. Had denied himself the comfort Clark was offering.
“Lex, I …” he began, but Lex interrupted him before he could continue.
“Clark, no. I'm really not in the mood to deal with your little problems. If you have to say something, do it now. If not, I would ask you leave. I have work to do.”
Clark swallowed, and when Lex finally turned around, he was shocked to see his friend’s face. A face that was normally vibrant with life, blue eyes sparkling, and the mouth turned up in a slight smile. Now this face was bare of every emotion, the eyes cold, lips pressed together in a thin line. But what really frightened him, were the hands balled into fists at his side. He knew that Lex couldn't hurt him. Not physically at least. But it was the mere thought of his friend – his *friend* - raising his hand in anger against him that made him tremble. Involuntarily, he took a step back. He didn't know this Lex. This Lex was a stranger. A stranger Clark couldn't help but be slightly afraid of.
This Lex was 100% Luthor.
And all Clark wanted to do now was get away from this Luthor. He took another step back, raising his hands in a gesture of don't-hurt-me. “I … nothing, Lex … it's okay … I’ll … just go. Okay?”
He turned around the moment his back hit the door. His fingers trembled so much that he could barely open it, and when he finally heard the soft 'snick' that indicated the opening, he practically fled through it, closing it behind him.
He was home less than a minute later, his heart thumping wildly in his chest, his throat raw from the suppressed sobs, and his whole body shaking uncontrollably. He sat down on his couch in the barn, curling around a cushion, and only then, there in the safety of his refuge, did he then allow the tears to fall.
It was already late in the evening when Lex rubbed his tired eyes. He felt drained. The day had been a total and complete mess from morning until now, and his plans for the night involved merely him and a bottle of his best and most expensive Scotch. He shut down his notebook with a sigh.
He startled heavily when the doors to his office were opened with a loud bang, revealing a mightily pissed off Chloe Sullivan. Her gaze wandered through the room until she found him.
“You!” she growled, and slowly walked closer. “You mean, rotten sonofabitch! You bastard! You insensitive prick! I should smash your stupid skull in! How could you do that? I don't care if you had a shitty day! And I also don't care how you treat the people who have to work for you! But I *DO* care a great lot about how you treat my friends. And the way you treated Clark today was beyond anything I’ve ever heard about you.” Panting a little, she came to the end of her tirade, standing directly in front of his desk, her hands on its surface, her face close to his. After a little pause she moved back to stand straight again, and said, this time a little more quietly, “How could you do that, Lex? To Clark of all people?”
Lex sighed, covered his face with his hands for a moment before he lifted his head, and looked Chloe directly in the eyes. With a very quiet, very controlled voice he said, “Look, Chloe, I don't know what your problem is, but if you have boyfriend trouble I'd suggest you go to said boyfriend and talk to him.”
Chloe cocked her head slightly, and looked confused. “Boyfriend trouble? Leave Jimmy out of this, will you?”
Now it was Lex's turn to be confused. Jimmy? “Jimmy? What Jimmy?”
Chloe crossed her arms before her chest. “Jimmy Olsen … my boyfriend. He has nothing to with this!”
Lex laughed humorlessly. “Does Clark know about your Jimmy?”
Now the puzzlement was complete, and Chloe sat down. “Of course he knows about Jimmy. He introduced us. Lex, I came here to talk to you about Clark. About the way you treated him today.”
Lex was tired. He yearned for his Scotch, and the only thing that was currently between him and said booze was a tiny, 5 foot something woman, hissing at him like an angry cat. And all because he kicked her boyfriend out of the office today. “Chloe, I have to admit that I don't know what you're talking about. Would you please just leave now, go back to your Clark … comfort him … whatever it is that you couples do. Just go.”
With that he turned around, moving to the sideboard where the Scotch was beckoning him to come closer.
“Clark and I … Lex, we're not a couple.”
Chloe's voice sounded as if she was barely suppressing her laughter. And Lex so didn't like to be laughed at.
“You don't have to lie to me, Miss Sullivan,” he pressed out between clenched teeth. “It's not as if I'd care. And I've seen you. You seemed very close and cuddly last night in the barn.”
“You saw us?” she asked surprised. “Wait … you were at the Kent's farm last night.” It wasn't a question, more a statement. “And now you think that Clark is my boyfriend.” Her voice sounded a little incredulous. “Of course … that explains everything. Your behaviour. Your weird comments about *my* boyfriend. How could I be so blind when it's so obvious?” She seemed to be talking to herself, but Lex couldn't help himself. He turned to her once more, gazing at her where she was sitting on his couch with a grin on her face that grew larger every second.
“Care to fill me in?” he asked, proud of himself that his voice sounded cool and neutral.
“You're jealous!” she beamed at him.
“I am not!” he answered with as much dignity as he could muster. Which wasn't very much, considering that Chloe had just uncovered his biggest secret.
“You *so* are, Lex Luthor! And you thought he was with me! That's why you were so cold to him today. Why you wouldn't even let him touch you when he tried. Geez, Lex … you scared that poor guy half to death. And today of all days ... “
Her voice trailed slowly off, and though Lex really – really – didn't want to ask … he did. “Why? What’s today?”
A hard slap upside his head made him wince. Not because it hurt but because it came unexpectedly. He turned around, ready to chew Chloe out, but the look in her eyes made him take one step back.
Just in case.
“It was exactly five years ago today that he pulled you out of that river. A really bad decision if you ask me … but you didn't. So … you better think of something to make this better again … or else ...”
Chloe didn't finish her sentence. She didn't have to. Lex knew that Chloe could be mean. He sighed before turning back to her. Yes, she could be mean but she was also a good friend to Clark. The best maybe. “Got any suggestions?” he finally asked.
The beaming smile was all the answer he needed. And the only warning he got before hurricane Chloe got into action.
Clark didn't pout. And he didn't mope.
Those were girlish attitudes. He sulked. It was a manly sulking kind of thing. He was angry. And hurt. And a little bit smug about the fact that Chloe – after hearing what had happened at Luthor Manor earlier this evening – had jumped into her car and driven up there. Most likely to rip Lex a new one.
Right now Clark couldn't care less.
He hugged the pillow in his lap tighter, burying his face in the soft material. Tonight had been supposed to be a night with his old friend. His *best* friend. Whose life he had saved. Exactly five years ago.
With a sigh, Clark turned sideways, lay down on the couch, and tried to keep his tears in check. He’d planned a nice dinner at his parent's house. He’d even sent them to Metropolis for the weekend, so he and Lex could be undisturbed. And now? The food his mom had prepared so lovingly was undoubtedly sitting on the table growing cold, the candles were still waiting to be lit, the wine was waiting to be opened. And here he was, hiding in the barn, in his fortress of solitude, definitely not moping.
The sound of a car approaching had him lifting his head, but then he let it sink back down again. Apparently, Chloe was done with her revenge and was now coming back to comfort him. But then he raised his head again, cocking it slightly like Shelby sometimes did. That wasn’t the sound of Chloe's car. That was the sound of a very expensive sport's car. And it was stopping in front of his house right now.
Clark's curiosity got the better of him, and he looked through the wall to the car. A sleek, black Maserati stood in his parent's yard, one door open, Lex still inside. He was fiddling with something on the car's dashboard.
Suddenly, soft music filled the air. A soft swing that seemed to float through the darkness of the night directly to his heart. Lex got out of the car, leaving its doors open so the music could be heard. He had one single rose in his hand, and was now making his way up to Clark's fortress.
Clark sat up, still clutching the pillow tightly against his chest, and though he knew that Lex was there, he startled slightly when he heard Lex's soft call.
He wiped away the last remnants of his tears, and answered, “Up here, Lex.”
He was still a little insecure, not knowing what had caused the strange mood … the hostility against him earlier today. So he wasn't quite sure what to expect. Why was Lex here? Why was he … Before he could finish these thoughts, Lex was there. Standing at the top of the stairs, with an almost shy smile on his face. And Clark could almost feel his resistance melting away.
With a sigh he closed his eyes, dropped his head on the top of the pillow, and asked, “What do you want, Lex?”
Lex bowed his head, gazing down at the floor, and if Clark hadn’t known him better, he'd think the great Lex Luthor didn't know what to say. But hey … this morning had given him the proof that he didn't know Lex at all, right? So he simply waited. Waited for Lex to say something. He expected him to say that Clark caught him during a bad moment this morning. He expected him to say that he'd had a phone call from his father – Clark knew that Lex was always irritated after that.
What he didn't expect though was Lex's mumbled answer, “Apologize.”
Clark opened one eye carefully, seriously considering pinching himself, because there was no way he could’ve heard what he just thought he heard.
Lex Luthor*never* apologized. Clark knew that. But then … there were so many things he’d thought he’d known about Lex, and he’d been spectacularly wrong about some of them, hadn’t he?
It wasn't polite. Clark didn't *want* to be polite right now, although he could almost feel the disappointed glare from his mother all the way from Metropolis if she found out about his rudeness. He didn't care. Not right now.
Slowly, Lex came closer, fiddling the rose between his fingers, playing with it absentmindedly. “I wanted to apologize to you. For my earlier behaviour.”
“Did Chloe tell you to come?”
Lex flinched a bit, and Clark knew that he'd hit a bull's eye. He closed his eyes again, and sighed into his pillow, “Go away. I don't want to see you. Take your apology and go.”
“Clark, please, I … ouch.”
The wounded sound from Lex caused Clark to open his eyes, and he saw the little drop of blood where Lex's finger had come in too close contact with one of the rose's thorns. Another sigh, and he got up. He walked over to Lex, and reached out a hand. “Let me see it,” he demanded.
Lex showed him his finger, and Clark saw that the thorn was still anchored in the skin. “Sit down,” he said, pointing at his couch, “I'll need tweezers for this.”
Lex sat down, his head bowed. It would take Clark only a second to run up to the house, get the tweezers and be back to the barn, but he forced himself to walk at human speed. He needed a little time to think. What the hell was this all about? Normally, Chloe could yell her head off … if Lex had set his mind on something he could be as stubborn as a mule. But he was here. After Chloe had paid him a visit. So why? Was he maybe … just maybe … serious about this whole apologizing thing?
With the tweezers in hand, he walked back to the barn, climbing up the stairs to his fortress. Lex was still in exactly the same spot he’d left him, head bowed. Looking for all the world like a scolded schoolboy. Clark shook his head with a fond smile, but put a neutral expression on his face when he sat down next to Lex, holding out his hand, wordlessly demanding Lex to give him his injured hand.
“Why are you really here, Lex?” he asked quietly, while quickly and carefully removing the thorn.
“Because I was an idiot who jumped to conclusions. *Wrong* conclusions I might add. I … it took Chloe to shove the truth in my face. Very loudly to be honest.”
Clark smiled softly. Yes, Chloe might be small, but her voice – just like her heart – was big. “That still doesn't explain why you're here. You could have just called me.”
Silence. Clark still held Lex's hand in a loose grip, inspecting the wound. Then …
“I really am sorry, Clark. Sorry for being such a complete and utter bastard when you came to visit me earlier.”
Clark dropped Lex's hand, not knowing what to say. So he remained silent, waiting to see if Lex would continue. He did.
“I saw …,” a sigh, deep from within Lex's chest, “I came by your barn yesterday. And I saw you. And Chloe.” Another sigh. “Here. Together on the couch. And I thought that you … and her … that both of you … “ He trailed off, not finishing the sentence.
“You thought Chloe and I were … what, Lex?” Slowly, Clark started to get a very good idea of what Lex must have been thinking. Chloe had had a big fight with Jimmy last night, calling him all kind of names, and Jimmy, though usually a friendly and all-in-all very sweet guy, had finally lost his temper, and had fought back, catching Chloe completely unaware. She had stormed off, directly to Clark who had taken her in, hugged her, comforted her, and had helped her to let off some steam – first – and see the logic behind Jimmy's reaction – later. Lex must have seen the comforting part of the whole evening. The two minutes it had taken to able to calm her down enough to actually hold her. If he’d come by those two minutes later, he would’ve seen her throw another temper tantrum, throwing things around – thank god only things that wouldn't break – and beat Clark to her heart's content. She knew she couldn't hurt him, and using him as a living, breathing punching bag helped her sometimes.
“I thought you were more than friends. That you were lovers. And I … I was jealous.”
He’d said it. It wasn't as hard as he’d thought it would be. Now it would be Clark's turn to forgive him. Maybe they could share their first kiss, and then he would drive them to Metropolis and they could have a boy's night out. Maybe even stay overnight at his apartment where Lex would show him all the things two guys could do to each other to feel good.
But Clark remained silent next to him. No breathless “Really?”, no happy “Oh Lex!” followed by afore mentioned kissing, nothing. So he finally turned his head, risking a glance at Clark. And swallowed. Clark's face was an unreadable mask.
“Say something,” Lex said after another minute of silence had passed.
“What do you want me to say, Lex? You saw me and Chloe, thought we were lovers, and got jealous. I still don't understand why you're here. Do you want me to back off from Chloe? So you can have her? Because hey … I'm not her loverboy. That's ...”
Lex's head flew up, and he stared wide-eyed at Clark. He said … he did … he thought *what*? He took a deep breath, sending up a little prayer to whatever deity was willing to listen to him, and leaned forward, stopping Clark's rambling with his mouth.
Literally. It was the first time Lex had felt anything like it, and he decided he couldn’t laugh at those people anymore who said that they had felt time stop when kissing their beloved ones. Time *could* stop. Time *did* stop. For one long, endless moment he felt like he was floating in open space. Until he realized that Clark wasn't kissing him back. That Clark was sitting motionless, almost stonily next to him. That Clark was definitely *not* melting into his embrace like he had imagined he would on his ride over here.
Chloe had said that Clark had feelings for him. Had she lied to him? Was this just some big plot to make fun of him? Was this just …
In that moment Clark took a deep breath, and reciprocated the kiss. Hungrily. Passionately. He seemed to be all over Lex in a heartbeat, and before Lex could even finish his latest thought, Clark had pushed him back against the armrest of the couch, and had one hand under his shirt. Lex moaned deeply into the kiss when he felt that big, warm hand on his bare skin.
After a few minutes they broke apart, panting, grinning. The only sound in the room was the soft music floating in from the outside. For a moment they simply gazed at each other then Lex murmured, “Do you forgive me? For being an ass and jumping to the wrong conclusion?”
Clark softly kissed the tip of Lex's nose, and whispered, “I do.” Another kiss followed, soft, gentle. “So … are you hungry?”
Lex stared at him. This swift change of topic threw him a little, but he nodded carefully. He was indeed hungry. His last meal had been … had been … breakfast, he guessed. “A little,” he confessed. With a big grin, Clark pulled Lex to his feet, pressed one more kiss to his lips, and pulled him over to the house. “My mom made dinner. So … if you have no other plans ...” he trailed off, leaving the sentence unfinished.
Lex chuckled slightly. “Sounds great.”
On their way over to the house, Lex stopped at his car, turned the music off, and locked the car. When he wanted to walk on, Clark remained where he was. Lex looked questioningly at him. “Don't do that *ever* again, okay?” Clark said, his voice slightly hoarse.
Lex shook his head. “No,” he said, “I won't.”
And that he could promise.
Oh, how wrong can you be?
Oh, to fall in love
was my very first mistake.
How was I to know
I was far too much in love to see?
Oh, jealousy, look at me now.
Jealousy, you got me somehow,
you gave me no warning,
took me by surprise.
Jealousy, you led me on,
you couldn't loose, you couldn't fail,
you got suspicion on my trail,
How, how, how all my jealosy
I wasn't man enough to let you hurt my pride
Now I'm only left with my own jealousy.
Oh, how strong can you be
With matters of the heart?
Life is much too short
to while away with tears
If only you could see
Just what you do to me
Oh, jealousy, you tripped me up
Jealousy, you brought me down,
You bring me sorrow, you bring me pain.
Jealousy, when will you let go?
Gotta hold of my possessive mind,
Turned me into a jealous guy.
How, how, how all my jealousy
I wasn't man enough to let you hurt my pride
Now I'm only left with my own jealousy.
But now it matters not if I should live or die
'Cause I'm only left with my own jealousy.