Work Header

Birthday Blues

Work Text:

Birthday Blues

by Artemis

Rating: PG-13 (for naked Lex thoughts) Disclaimers: I don't own the pretty boys or their friends in the Smallville universe. Spoilers: Season 1; parts of Season 2. Helen never happened. Summary: It's Clark's 20th Birthday and Lex has a surprise. Only it goes all wrong and a desolate Lex is comforted by Clark. Warnings: Same Sex (MALE/MALE) relationship. If this turns you off or offends, go back now Author Notes: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD. DO NOT READ IF YOU WANT TO READ THE STORY UNSPOILED. Hee. This story was inspired by my mom who just made a cake, which in turn reminded me of the first birthday cake I ever made for a friend. Baking isn't exactly difficult, but if you've never done it, it's easy to make some pretty basic mistakes. Poor Lex. September 2003.

Birthday Blues
By Artemis
September 2003

"Clark! You're early." Lex trailed off, looking away as he bit his lip nervously, the gesture showing just how unhinged he really was. Damn, Clark! This was not part of the plan. Actually, everything leading up to this moment hadn't been part of the plan, and now he had to find some way to get the brunette out of the penthouse for at least the next hour.

"Lex? I thought you didn't care if I just dropped by, and since we were going to go out to catch a movie..."

Lex held back a groan as he saw the curiosity shining from Clark's eyes. This definitely was not good. An overly curious Clark was never good. Sort of like an overly curious Lex. He blocked Clark from leaving the entryway and entering the room, trying to shield the living room as much as possible with his body.

"Lex? What's going on?"

Lex caught the puzzled look that Clark cast him, but he stayed where he was. So the fuck what if Clark thought he was acting weird. He just needed to get Clark out. Now.

He grabbed the leather jacket Clark had just taken off, a gift from Lex last year, and tried to herd the boy back towards the door. "Put this back on, Clark. I..." He cast his mind wildly for an excuse to kick Clark out, something Clark might vaguely even buy, but came up totally blank. "You need to go. And come back in an hour. Because."

"I just got here!"

"I know, I know. I just...I'm expecting a business call any time, and I should be done in about an hour."

Lex winced internally. Okay, that was lame. Clark had sat through hundreds of business calls before. Hell, he'd sat through hour-long phone calls that consisted of nothing but Lex getting reamed out by his father. Lex didn't have secrets from Clark.

"Lex. Don't you want me here?"

Lex winced visibly this time. Fuck. Now Clark was looking at him with big green eyes just brimming with hurt. He felt like he'd been punched in the gut.

Damn the boy for being able to somehow make the most ruthless businessman in the country into a big marshmallow with a center gooey enough to cause his father to have a coronary. If his business associates saw him right now, they'd be on him like ravenous wolves feasting on a lame deer. In fact, most likely his father would be leading the pack.

Fuck it! He was Lex fucking Luthor, not Bambi. He could take on a college kid and come out on top.

"Clark, it's not that. I just...have things I need to take care of right now. It would be more convenient for me if you came back in an hour. Besides, you'd be bored waiting here."

Yup. Lex fucking Luthor. One smooth operator and clearly the biggest bad in Metropolis. Who just happens to get tongue-tied and brain-dead around a certain younger, gorgeous brunette college student. He might as well declare hunting season to be open at this rate.

"But you've never minded before when I---"

"Why don't you take the Ferrari?" Lex cut in desperately, making a quick grab for the keys to the red Ferrari on the pegs near the door even as he tried to convey an air of casual suggestion. "You could take a quick spin, maybe grab a latte---"

"Lex," Clark rumbled unhappily, frowning, "You have a cappuccino machine here. And why are you practically throwing the Ferrari at me? What's going on?"

Lex panicked, a very un-Luthor-like response but appropriate for the situation, as Clark turned around and pushed his way past Lex. Lex watched in dread as Clark came to a dead stop just inside the living room, and he closed his eyes, not wanting to see anymore.

Fuck. This was just on par with his life. Nothing ever seemed to go his way, and everything always seemed to just spin out of control. Fate was a bitch and she screwed him over every time.

He'd meant well. He'd had the best of intentions.

He'd gotten up early, excited about the plans he'd made for the afternoon and evening. Clark was supposed to come over around one. They were going to catch an afternoon matinee in the theater, then head out for dinner. Afterwards, they would head back to the penthouse and just hang out.

Or at least, that's what Clark thought.

In reality, Lex had buzzed around the penthouse like he'd just popped handfuls of speed, practically bursting into song as he'd gotten everything ready. He'd prepared all the necessary materials the night before, and everything had been laid out on the kitchen counter or placed in the living room just waiting for him.

He'd started with the kitchen. After all, baking a cake took time. So he'd read the directions carefully, and he'd measured out everything accordingly. He'd popped the mixture in the oven, set the timer, and went to the living room to start on the next item on his list.

After all, one of Lex's most valuable skills was multi-tasking.

He'd done considerable research into what sort of decorations to buy. After all, birthday decorations for the average American weren't exactly his specialty. He'd spent most of his formative years being spoiled rotten by his mother and father, with catered themed parties that were designed months in advanced by the best party planners in the city. As soon as he'd turned twelve, he'd been whisked off to boarding schools in England and that was the last he'd done much of anything in the American way until he graduated at seventeen.

Well, unless you counted coming to Metropolis for breaks and following the great American rich brat pack tradition of partying, drugs, alcohol, and sex.

So after much research, he'd gone to this rather gauche and slightly sterile establishment called "Paper Warehouse". It wasn't at all what he was used to as far as...well, anything. However, he'd found everything on his list. Streamers, balloons, ribbon, banners, paper napkins. All the prerequisites, it seemed, to properly decorate his living room in a manner that an average American kid would have grown up experiencing.

So he'd begun his second task of the day by blowing up balloons using the helium tank he'd bought just for this occasion. He wasn't quite sure what normal people did with the helium tank once they were done with it, but he assumed they must store it for any future occasions requiring the use of floating balloons.

Maybe those occasions were more plentiful than Lex realized.

That had gone well enough, even if it had taken at least a dozen frustrating tries to master tying off the end of the balloon into a knot. Lex had always thought of himself as a coordinated individual, but for some reason balloon tying seemed to require a special sort of dexterity. Several balloons had gone flying in different directions through an impressive display of propulsion before he'd gotten the hang of it.

Next, he'd pulled out his diagrams for placement of the streamers and while hanging them up he used a measuring tape to make sure that his arches were perfectly matched. He'd bought everything in red and royal blue, Clark's favorite colors, and had tried to twist them like the pictures he'd seen. However, for some reason the twists wouldn't stay in place. They were either too tight and the streamers would curl up like a tube, or they were too loose and the streamer curls would sag.

At that point, when he'd finally gotten his first streamer to stay twisted, the oven had dinged. So Lex had gone to pull out his cake, only to realize that it wasn't right. It had been lumpy and had had a huge bump in the middle. He'd chosen a 9x13-baking pan, and he'd seen enough cakes to know that they were supposed to be level. Not bowed! However, he hadn't bought another box of cake mix, so he'd naively hoped that the frosting would make it look more presentable. Thus he'd found himself setting the cake on the cooling rack and spreading the frosting on the cake thickly. (He'd made a chocolate cake and used chocolate frosting, knowing Clark had a secret weakness for chocolate.)

So after he'd frosted the cake, he'd gone back into the living room to tackle the streamers once more. After much struggling and two rolls of scotch tape, he'd finally gotten the streamers taped up where they were needed. He'd gathered the ribbon ends of the balloons, because apparently ribbon was the traditional material to use so that's what he'd bought, and had gathered the balloons in vast bunches to place in the appropriate pre-charted areas. It had started to come together, the decorations matching his diagram perfectly.

He'd tackled the banner next, a special-ordered one that read "Happy 20th Birthday Clark!". He'd hung it in the center of the far wall across the floor to ceiling windows so it would be the first thing that Clark would see when he came into the room.

Everything had been proceeding according to plan, the apartment had smelled pleasantly like chocolate, and Lex had only had to wrap Clark's gifts before he would be all done.

Normally he just paid the stores to gift-wrap for him, but this year he'd decided to give everything a personal, homey touch. So he'd gotten down on the floor with wrapping paper, ribbon, and Clark's presents.

It had taken thirty minutes before Lex had thrown down the wrapping paper and tape with a huff. The presents had looked horrible, with too much tape and folds of paper where there shouldn't have been folds. The green sweater he'd bought for Clark impulsively over the winter---because the soft cashmere had perfectly matched a certain pair of eyes---hadn't come in a box, and so that particular gift had just looked lumpy and utterly amateurish. By this point, he'd already wrapped each gift twice, and he'd become so frustrated because he couldn't see how his second attempts had been better than his first attempts.

He'd scowled fiercely and glared at the recalcitrant gifts. They'd looked like a first grader had wrapped them, not a genius twenty-something who'd graduated from Princeton at the top of his class! Ribbon had been wrapped around the packages in twists and knots that looked pathetic!

Deciding that he needed to take a break before he started throwing thing, he'd gone into the kitchen at this point to get a bottle of water---there was no way he was going to let himself start drinking after the morning he'd had---and Lex had nearly let out a primal scream of rage when he'd seen the cake! It still looked lumpy, almost like a beached whale, only the frosting had all melted! A pitiable thin, runny chocolate layer had covered the cake, with most of the frosting having run and settled on the sides of the pan.

Lex hadn't known what to do, and when he'd turned around, he was just in time to see most of the streamers fall down from the ceiling, as well as the balloons that had been so carefully taped strategically in place. Decorations fell to the floor like confetti, the entire room looking like a disaster area as half of everything still remained up and the other half was piled onto the floor.

With it approaching noon, Lex had been tempted to sit down and bawl like he hadn't done since he was eight years old. However, he was a Luthor, damn it, and he wasn't about to have an emotional breakdown over some party decorations.

He was rich. He was brilliant. He was Lex.

So he'd quickly called his assistant, who'd arranged to have a caterer stop by with another cake and a team sent by the party planning company LexCorp used who would redecorate the penthouse living room and Clark's presents. At that point, he'd only had an hour and a half before Clark came over, but Laura promised that the appropriate people would be over in thirty minutes to fix everything with plenty of time to spare.

So Lex had opened the door expecting the caterer or the party planners, not one too-early best friend.

NOW Lex wanted to sit down and cry. All his well-intentioned plans were ruined and he'd fucked up Clark's birthday.

He opened up his eyes and let out a low moan as Clark glanced over into the kitchen area, noticing the dirty bowls all over the counters and tables, and he walked over to see Lex's wretched version of a birthday cake. Lex went into the living room and sat on the sofa, placing his head in his hands.

"I'm sorry, Clark."

Clark lifted his head up and turned to see Lex sitting on the sofa, the perfect picture of misery. His head was bowed, his knees supporting his elbows and his hands hiding his face. His shoulders were slumped, and Lex looked as pathetic as his living room.

Decorations were lying everywhere, obviously having fallen from wherever Lex had originally placed them. Balloons were scattered all over the apartment floor, both blown up and deflated, as well a few stragglers that were randomly free floating across the ceiling. Wrapping paper and tape were bunched up and in pieces all over the floor, while ribbon was thrown over everything.

Clark felt his chest get heavy and warm as he went over and took another look at the cake on the counter. It was pretty obvious Lex had baked it himself, and he must have spread the batter out unevenly before putting the pan in the oven. He'd also spread the frosting on the cake without letting it cool first. All first time baking mistakes and not that unusual.

He felt a giggle trying to fight its way up his chest, but he managed to stifle it. Lex already looked miserable, and Clark knew Lex didn't really know the meaning of failure. This must seem like the end of the world to him.

Clark thought it was all very...sweet.

It would shock most people to associate the word 'sweet' with Lex Luthor, but no one knew Lex Luthor like Clark did.

Lex had people who did everything for him. Or almost everything. Lex didn't have anyone to bath him or dress him, but Clark was pretty sure that if Lex desired it he could easily find body slaves who'd be willing to fulfill those duties. Or whatever the modern day equivalent would be.

He wouldn't mind that job if there was an opening.

Clark blushed as images of naked Lex and lots of naked Lex-flesh flashed through his mind. He tried to banish those images as quickly as they appeared, chiding himself.

Best friends didn't undress each other in their minds.

Of course, Clark would much rather undress Lex in reality, but he'd never found the courage to actually do anything about it.

He was pretty sure Lex had feelings for him. But the thing was, he wasn't positive. He'd only seen Lex with women while in Smallville, and Lex hadn't dated anyone since moving to Metropolis to expand LexCorp. His excuse, when asked by Clark, was that he was married to LexCorp for the next few years until he'd gotten the company well established.

Lex had never made a move towards him, and Clark was pretty sure Lex never would.

He thought it had something to do with Lex being older, or at least it had when Clark had been in high school. Now that he was a freshman in college, he thought it might be that excuse plus having something to do with Lex being a Luthor. Lex had all these hang ups about being a Luthor, and he knew his father's insults and jabs over the years had probably helped to form at least half of them. Thank God his mother had never sniped away at Lex like that, too.

It would be so easy to think that even if Lex were attracted to him, that maybe his age or Lex's last name were all that held Lex back. Only Clark wasn't totally sure either of those reasons were why Lex kept their relationship platonic. It could be that Lex had never hit on him because it had never occurred to him. Because he wasn't interested in Clark. Or guys.

Sure, there were rumors about Lex that he'd heard at school, but there were rumors about practically everything concerning Lex.

Clark bit his lip. But this really was sweet. Lex-sweet, in the way that Lex often was with him.

Like how Lex had known that Clark loved fireworks so he'd arranged for fireworks at Clark's first unconsented-parents-are-away party back in that first year, just as he'd bribed the police to stay away from that same party. Or how Lex had arranged to have one of his mom's pies delivered to his dorm room every Wednesday his first semester in school because he knew Clark would be homesick. Clark had found out after that third pie that Lex had had them flown in every week via helicopter.

Clark had no idea how much it cost to fly the helicopter to Smallville round trip, but he was pretty sure that he'd been eating the most expensive pies in history for the last nine months. And Lex had just shrugged off the gesture like it was just a trip to the neighborhood grocery store.

He walked slowly into the living room, a smile playing around his mouth.


Lex cut him off, muttering in agitation, "You weren't supposed to be here, yet. I had it all under control. People were coming to fix this mess, make it better. Right for you. A cake, decorators..." He groaned. "I'm sorry, Clark. I wanted to surprise you."

"Well, I am surprised," Clark said with a chuckle.

Lex finally looked up, and Clark's heart clenched at the misery in the blue eyes staring up at him despondently.

"It was supposed to be a good surprise. You know, cake and ice cream. Presents. A private concert, with dinner at the planetarium."

"Private concert?" Clark echoed.

Lex nodded forlornly. "Yeah. Black Eyed Peas."

Clark knelt and put his hand tentatively on Lex's knee. He felt his heart make a suspiciously squishy clench, and he asked softly, "And the planetarium?"

Lex shrugged, his shoulders slumped. "It was supposed to be a surprise, too, but I guess it's all ruined. A picnic dinner catered by Randolf's in the planetarium. It's closed for the night for us. You know, dinner under the stars. And there's a new show I thought you might enjoy."

Clark felt a sappy smile spread across his face.

"I'm so sorry," Lex said, looking into Clark's eyes intensely. Almost like he was willing Clark to feel how bad he felt. "This was supposed to be a memorable birthday. I wanted to make it special since it was your first one away from home and..." Lex waved a hand indicating the room, "Instead I get it all wrong. If it's any consolation, people should be getting here any minute to fix it."

"I think it's just perfect," Clark whispered. He cast another glance at the presents that Lex had obviously tried to wrap himself, and he repeated, "Just perfect."

He leaned forward, closing his eyes and pressing his lips against Lex's. After a few seconds of meeting unresponsive lips, Lex softened and began kissing him back. Clark felt hands in his hair, and he moaned at the sudden feel of Lex pulling him in closer.

He opened his eyes lazily when Lex finally pulled back, and he remained kneeling in front of the older man. Lex was looking at him, his eyes flitting over Clark's face trying to see only Lex knew what. Clark had no idea what his friend was looking for, but he must have found it because he finally allowed a soft smile to grace his face. It was a good look. Clark told himself he'd have to make Lex smile like that more often. He watched, entranced, as Lex lifted his hand, touching his cheek gently.

"Are you sure?" Lex asked softly, a rare look of hesitancy in his eyes and voice.

Clark just smiled brightly, and he said with a little exasperation, "You're my best friend. I love you. And I've waited for years for you to do that!"

Lex blinked, and Clark was amused to see shock being openly displayed on Lex's usually unflappable face.

"I...I love you, too, Clark. I always have. And I've been waiting for you---"

Clark leaned in for another quick kiss and pulled a stunned Lex up from the sofa. Lex was really adorable speechless, but it was his birthday and he wanted his presents. "We can talk about it later. I want my presents. And my cake."

Lex shook his head slowly, and he foolishly tried to tug his hand back. "But if you wait, a cake made by a professional will be here soon. And this mess will be cleaned up."

Clark mock-scowled and tugged the hand that he was definitely refusing to let go of anytime soon. "I want the cake you made me. And what part of 'it's just perfect' didn't you understand?"

"But, Clark..."

Clark took pity on the lost look on Lex's face. Lex did brilliantly with long-term planning and strategies, but surprises obviously sent the Luthor heir into shock.

Clark would have to try to find ways to surprise Lex in the future.

"Come on, Lex. Cake and ice cream first. Then presents. Then you can tell me all about what we're doing tonight."

Lex followed Clark passively in the kitchen, their hands still linked and a bemused smile on his face.

"You're right, Clark. It's just perfect," Lex said, casting a look at their joined hands. "Just perfect."