There was a light shining from the open loft doors; Lex smiled. Clark was definitely up there—no way would he leave a light on in an empty room—or the loft. Jonathan's sense of thrift had worked itself into Clark's bones too. He let out a long breath that only now he'd realized he was holding. Seeing Clark like this…it was a treat he gave himself. Any day he acted in a manner that Jonathan or Clark would approve of was a day he deserved something good. His good was tall, wrapped in denim and flannel and crowned with a smile that outshone the sun.
Clark, you have no idea just how…corny you make me…..
Lex smiled to himself as he crossed the yard to the Kent's front door, but the smile faded the closer he walked. Good had had a different meaning, before. In Metropolis. Time was something good only came from a glass filled with too much scotch, or crystals glimmering on a knife edge, or an express delivered brunette willing to do anything, anything at all…Lex glanced back at the loft, in time to see Clark moving away from the open door. He stopped on the porch, slid his hands into his pockets and waited.
Sure enough, Clark came trotting up, so openly pleased to see him that Lex felt his heart skip. Clark came up on the porch taking the steps two at a time and landed on the top with his hand on Lex's arm. His fingers twitched—Lex got the feeling that if Clark could, he would have hugged him instead. Silly thought, but Lex indulged himself for a moment.
"Lex! I was in the loft, didn’t you see the light?"
"Yes, but I thought it would be polite to greet your parents first…"
"Lex, come on. You don’t need to ask Mom and Dad's permission to visit me!"
"Lex knows what manners are, Clark," came Jonathan's stern voice. Lex hated that he blushed—he could feel his ears burn but he turned to Jonathan with a smile—and was surprised to find Jonathan was smiling back at him.
"Good evening, sir. It's good to see you. And if you don’t mind—" he inclined his head towards Clark and Jonathan tracked the movement, wound up staring at Clark, taking in his son's bright color, his dancing eyes and shook his head, a tiny movement Lex might have missed if he wasn't staring himself.
"Go, you two. Lex…see if you can't explain good manners to my boy here. And by the way…it was good of you to donate so much to the Med Center." He waved away Lex's protest. "It could only have been you. We, the town…appreciates it." And his eyes bore him out—the smile went all the way up to the brilliant blue.
Lex ducked his head, and Clark clapped a hand on his shoulder, his fingers curled over Lex's collar bone, long fingers, big hands…Lex struggled to contain the twist of heat that wanted to grow….
Clark pulled at Lex, a barely felt tug at his hand, and said, "Let's go—I have something I want to show you."
"We try to keep it clean but there's always some…waste…that gets out of the boxes," Clark said apologetically.
Lex refused to notice the…waste…and dirt were clinging to his shoes, the Testoni ironic wingtips meant to represent…well, in this instance, they said that he was badly overdressed. The smell of chicken waste—Lex huffed. waste my ass—shit is what Clark meant to say-- and wet straw and damp concrete made his nose sting. He wondered how Clark could stand it and the little voice that loved describing his flaws, in minute detail, said because he's a good, decent person who cares about more than appearances and mindless comfort—
Clark turned to Lex and wrinkled his nose. "I know, it smells weird, especially if you're not used to it. Oh, this was kind of a stupid idea anyway, Lex—I'm sorry." He looked down and gasped, "Your shoes. Crap, I didn’t think about that…."
"It's not important, Clark." Lex surprised himself by managing to sound sincere. "Don’t forget why we're here. You wanted to show me something?" Lex had by this point figured out they weren't going to segue into one of his fantasies and he was genuinely curious as to what Clark could possibly want him to see. A new chicken…house? Some ingenious new way to dispense feed and water?
Clark dropped his head to his chest and mumbled, "Um. No, it's dumb…let's just go."
Now it became a matter of…what exactly, Lex wasn't sure. But this was a test of some sort—or, not a test. He felt somehow it was a pivotal moment, and Clark--he wasn't going to hurt Clark if he could help it.
"Clark," Lex said sharply and pulled himself up imperiously, fixed Clark with a look as sharp as his voice had been. "Let's see this—whatever it is. Right now." He softened, leaned into Clark's space just a bit and whispered, "Please?"
Clark had stiffened at Lex's tone, but he instantly relaxed, his head bending towards Lex's, and he smiled, that little curl of his mouth that was as amazing and shattering as the bright joyful grin Lex loved being on the receiving end of.
"Okay Lex, but promise me you won't--oh, just--here." He opened the door to a little room, filled with lights and warmth. A strange chirping sound filled the air and then Lex saw…chicks. A lot of them, scratching and cheeping and…being baby chickens. Sweet little yellow balls of fluff…with the coldest reptilian eyes. He smiled. Those little eyes fixed him with a familiar gaze; they almost made him feel at home.
Clark was talking, reaching out to him. "I was thinking today, you know, that you've done everything, been everywhere, I mean, you've had experiences I can't imagine. And I got this bug--I want to give you something you've never had."
Clark pulled Lex's hand up, arranged it so it was palm up and coincidently cupped in Clark's own big, warm hand. Lex gasped—at the heat, at the feel of Clark's skin, so strangely intimate against his own—and the odd, odd feeling of little dry claws scratching in the soft skin of his palm.
"Yeah, I thought, 'I bet Lex has never seen real chickens, or baby chicks, or held one'..." Clark blushed even harder and Lex lifted an eyebrow in amused surprise. This was nothing like he'd imagined Clark had wanted to show him. Clark was…always a fresh surprise.
"So. I thought you might like to do that…hold a chick…" even lower Clark said, "I wanted to give you something no one else had before. Sorry. It's stupid, I know."
Lex had heard of love hurting, of being painful, of it bringing you to your knees. He'd read love poetry, even used it to his own advantage more than a time or two—a good poem and copious amounts of alcohol could do wonders but…this feeling. This was love distilled, concentrated, and poured straight into the soul.
He was distracted by the quick hop-shuffle of a chick bent on escape and Clark and he laughed at the same time, both their hands wound about to make a cage for the chick and there they were, almost holding hands. And Clark…was looking at him, his eyes searching Lex's face for something Lex couldn't imagine, but whatever it was, Clark seemed to see it. He smiled at Lex. This was a smile different than any of the smiles Lex had ever seen on him to this point, and Lex thought that he had memorized all Clark's smiles. It was…Lex dropped his eyes. It was almost too much. It was more than he'd hoped for—dreamed of.
He looked up again and smiled back at Clark, whose smile had dimmed, worry was edging into the corners of it. "Oh god, this really was a stupid idea—"
Lex shook his head, no, not ever—"Clark. I like it. I never experienced anything like this. They're so small, so…perfect. Delicate little fluff balls, full of life." Lex bit his lip. "Ah. Well, that was trite."
Clark beamed. "Oh no, Lex, I know just what you mean." He looked down on the little ball of yellowish fluff. "When I was little, I loved the chicks, wanted to play with them so bad, but. Well. One day, Mom put one in my hand like this, her hand under mine, and she said she trusted me, she'd make sure I didn't…" Clark stopped short and shook himself before smiling at Lex again. "Yeah, anyway. I'm glad. You liked my gift."
"Yes. Very much." Lex gave the chick back to Clark, heard his contented sigh as he tucked the chick back into the incubator. Lex marveled again, how did someone so—so decent, care so much about someone like him?
"Come on, Mom made pot roast and a peach pie and you look all out. Time to take a break from being the world's youngest billionaire," Clark teased, laid his arm over Lex's shoulder and it felt as careful a hold as he'd had on the chick. He looked at Lex. "You know, it's okay to relax…."
Lex decided to take him at his word, and slowly laid his head against Clark's chest. He felt rather than heard Clark's sharp intake of breath, the slow release. Clark's hand came up to cradle the back of his skull, hold it as delicately as he had the chick, as he would some frail, breakable thing…as he would, Lex was sure, his heart.