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"Bald men are sexy," Clark said without thinking and then shot a horrified look at Lex.

Lex smirked and reached his hand into the bowl of popcorn between them. "And here I thought we were watching this Next Gen marathon for the pseudoscience of the Star Trek universe. Silly me."

"Um," Clark said intelligently.

"So is there something you'd like to tell me, Clark?"

"Uh."

"Like the fact that, overlooking the bald reference considering Lt. Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture was viewed as hot by men of decidedly heterosexual leanings, you have just indicated that men can be sexy. Am I to take this for an admission of a less provincial viewpoint than I previously suspected?"

"I'm not a homophobe," Clark said defensively.

"I was not intimating that you were. But one can be completely straight, yet sympathetic to those who are not. If memory serves me correctly, your interests to date have been of the female persuasion."

"And look how well that's worked out," Clark muttered.

"So you've decided that since women are beyond your ken, you'd try the other side?" Lex paused to examine a popcorn kernel--for what, Clark had no idea. "That's an interesting approach to--"

"It's not an approach or a decision or anything, Lex," Clark interrupted. "I just think bald men are sexy, okay?" It wasn't exactly a shout, but neither was it a quiet statement.

"Okay."

Clark knew better than to think the conversation was over. He'd gotten Lex curious, and a curious Lex was a nosy Lex. He looked up at the wide screen in Lex's "playroom" and was relieved to see Picard gone, and Riker and Troi the focus.

"So, should I take this as a compliment?" Lex asked nonchalantly.

Fuck. Not a common word in his mental vocabulary, but he felt justified that its use was necessary in this instance. In fact, its repeated use would not be considered overkill. "Yeah."

"I'm flattered."

Clark closed his eyes and wondered if there was a Kryptonian way to cause the ground to open up and wallow him. A warm hand on his arm caused his eyes to fly open, and he looked into concerned blue pools.

"It's okay to think a friend is sexy, Clark. If that's all this is."

"And if it's not? All this is, I mean?" Clark mumbled.

"Then you're going to have to tell me what it is. I won't presume or assume. You mean too much to me for that."

Clark dropped his eyes to his hands. "This wasn't the way you were supposed to find out."

Lex nodded. "I understand. How was I supposed to find out?"

"You weren't."

A knowing smile. "Ah." A moment of silence. "You do realize that the thought in no way disgusts me?"

"Even though it's me?"

"Why would it?"

"Because I'm the pesky younger brother who always comes running to you for help?"

A laugh and Lex picked up a bottle of water, his fingers caressing the blue glass. "It's been quite a while since I've thought of you as my brother, Clark."

That didn't sound too bad. Clark decided to risk looking at something other than Lex's
hands...although what they were doing to the bottle... "How do you think of me?"

"First and foremost, as my friend."

In for a penny, in for a pound. "You ever...um, date a friend?"

"No."

"Oh."

"Just because I haven't doesn't mean I wouldn't," Lex clarified. "If Amanda hadn't..."

Lex had too much tragedy in his past. "I'm not Amanda."

Lex laughed. "I know that, Clark. Different equipment and all."

Clark blushed. "No, I mean I'm not--weak. I won't break like she did."

"Maybe you're not the one I'm worried about breaking. I think I will find it very hard to be casual with you."

"I don't want casual. And you won't break. I know you, Lex. You're brave, like when Earl was holding us hostage--"

"Bold, not brave, Clark," Lex corrected.

"You're brainy--"

"Passably bright, maybe occasionally brilliant."

Clark grinned. Lex needed practice in being humble. "Beautiful."

"Oddly becoming, in an exotic sort of way. Bizarre might be a better term."

"Beguiling and bewitching," Clark tossed out, wondering how long they could keep up the game. Or more accurately, how long he could keep up the game. Lex could probably keep going all night.

And wasn't that an arousing thought.

"Try befuddling and bedeviling."

"You help me and my friends. I'd call that bighearted."

"And my father would say that I'm a bleeding heart."

"You're built." Long, sinewy lines that could flex and bend.

"Some would say bony, certainly not buff and brawny as someone else in this room."

Clark went for the kill. "You are beloved," he said firmly, dropping all his defenses to let Lex see his heart. Lex stilled, then slowly shook his head. "Believe me, Lex," Clark demanded.

Lex raised his hand and let the back of it drag slowly along Clark's cheek in benevolence. "Then I'm not only beloved, but blessed."

They kissed--or bussed, Clark thought as he melted into Lex's embrace.

"Bed," Lex murmured.

"Boudoir." Yay for French class.

"I'll bottom--this time."

Knowing he couldn't top that--well, actually... With a grin that the Cheshire cat would envy, Clark conceded the bantering battle of words, winked at Picard who was once again gracing the television screen, and let Lex--his beau--lead him to the master bedroom.

What followed was a boon of bewildering, breathtaking, bedazzling, boundless bliss, and Clark realized that he'd lost something the day he discovered he wasn't who or even what he thought he was. He recognized the loss because now it had been found in Lex.

Clark belonged.