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Clark's seen a picture of Amanda--Lex keeps it in his dresser in his Metropolis apartment. Stuffed in a box with other things that Clark's shuffled through on nights a lot like this one, but turns out totally different. There's a picture of Victoria, too, and a couple of other women he doesn't recognize--one of them with Lex at a doubtless expensive resort somewhere in Europe, where everyone's topless and tanned dark bronze, and she's gorgeous in that slick way the women in Cosmopolitan always are.

Lex looks--very young. Younger than the people around him, but Clark recognizes the curl of his mouth, the way he's watching the camera, and it's still Lex. Lex at twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, and Clark wonders how anyone could change so much and stay so much the same.

"Clark?" There's the sound of a glasses being taken out, and Clark stuffs everything back in the drawer, shutting it with a silent click and loosening his tie quickly. Brushing a hand down the front of his dress pants, he makes sure there's a crease he can blush at when Lex points it out and throws his jacket lightly over his arm, walking out the bedroom door with a classic Clark stumble like anyone who's just come from an emergency trip to the bathroom.

He didn't really need the picture to see the resemblance and when she turns around to smile, he finds one to answer it as Lex drapes himself across one end of the couch, close enough that the pale blue skirt of her dress brushes his knee. Dark hair and dark eyes, slim and ethereal and someone to protect. He and Lex, he thinks sometimes, probably have exactly the same MO in their personal lives, and it's a little jarring to see the edges of himself reflected in someone so different.

"Sorry," he says, taking the glass Lex offers and tossing it down before awkwardly pulling his coat on. Part of him wants to stay, and it's that stupid, immature part of him that knows the second he and Chloe are gone, Lex will be alone with her, and it makes a little twist in his stomach that he can't quite control, no matter how much he wants to. Putting the glass on the coffee table, Clark straightens his jacket. "I've sort of got a final tomorrow, so--"

Chloe looks up, brows raised in surprise--Lex, too.

"I thought you said it would be a snap," Chloe answers with a puzzled smile, and Lex looks at him with a little tilt to the head that says he doesn't understand--but Clark's gotten that look from him all night, and it's instinct to shrug and duck his head.

"Should be," Clark answers, and the flush that heats his face is almost genuine. "You know, if I don't oversleep and miss half of it." There's grins all around at that, and memories of Clark's freshman year at Metropolis University revisited with anecdotes custom tailored to the woman who's watching them with wide, dark eyes and a smile of honest interest.

Clark thinks he could like her.

"True," Lex says, and the grin may be a little forced, but no one but Clark can see that. Except she's turning her head, her own smile fading when she looks at Lex, and Clark feels his back tighten another slow notch.

She can read Lex, too.

"I'll call the limo," Lex says, getting to his feet in an easy stretch of muscle beneath the very expensive suit, casually loosening his tie as he crosses to the phone.

"You don't have to..." It's an old argument, and Lex's smile is a lot more natural. Clark knows Chloe will love it--Lex put his driver at Clark's disposal almost from the moment Clark and Chloe started college. It was a nice gesture, and even nicer when Lex took a deep breath one day during Clark's sophomore year and handed over the Ferrari for a surprise road trip that took him and Chloe to Chicago for a week. In all but name, the car's pretty much Clark's, and they both know it. Replacement for a lost truck and a lost dark haired girl that Clark used to think he'd never quite get over.

That's changed, though. Like a lot of things these days.

"Thanks, Lex."

It's obvious, by the fact that Lena doesn't move to get her coat or slide her Italian heels back on, that she doesn't plan to take advantage of the ride back.

There's a few awkward minutes of small talk--awkward for Clark, anyway, though Chloe and Lena are falling into discussion of everything under the sun, just like they have all that night. Clark thinks this may be the first time he's seen Chloe relax around Lex so much, laughing, bright, enjoying herself. She's never felt quite comfortable around the women Lex has dated when she and Clark have accompanied them--the opera and the symphony and the latest play or concert, the equivalent of a double date of some kind that's sort of weird if it was anyone but Lex. This is the tenth with Lena, and that's a record as far as Clark's been able to tell--he doesn't count the women Lex doesn't introduce to them, vaguely aware those are the ones that never made the cut in the first place, whether they know it or not. Chloe and Lena are only two years apart in age and already went shopping together once.

Lex's takes his personal life, this part of it, very seriously, and Clark's wondered before if this is Lex's litmus test. He's almost sure of it now, with the way Lex watches Chloe and Lena talk with a little smile.

It's--strange, to know Lex values his opinion that much. Values it more than the training his father instilled, and Lena is--well, close to perfect. Clark can see her in this apartment easily--imagine coming to visit Lex and finding her shoes on Lex's floor and maybe some rug she picked out in the living room, soften Lex's extremely Spartan taste. Her smile flashing bright across the room, Metropolitan debutante with a degree in sociology and a career in interior design, wealthy parents with all the right connections. She always knows the right fork to use and the right wine with dinner and laughs at Chloe's anecdotes of country life and loves to hear about Lex taking hayrides in Smallville.

Clark remembers his parents talking about how they got together, and how they'd finally started dating thanks to Pete's parents' efforts, and something in his stomach twists again.

Lex leans against the couch beside him and touches his shoulder lightly.

"That worried about the final?"

Clark finds a smile and pulls his gaze away from Chloe. "No. And no, you don't need to pay off my professor, okay?" That's a shared memory that's suddenly important now, and Clark gets another kind of grin, the one Lex wears just for him and a tap on his shoulder blade as Chloe gets up. Clark knows enough now to get her coat, helping her slide it on, listening to Chloe make plans for her trip to New York. She got the Times internship and there's a good chance that the Daily Planet will offer her a job when she's done. If her own skill hasn't gotten it, Clark knows Lex will have arranged it somehow. Not something Chloe ever needs to know.

Lena has a meeting in New York too, and Clark thinks of two entire weeks Lena-free.

It's a nice thought to take him back to the dorms.


"Clark--" Chloe stops, obviously trying to find the words, but he's been ready for this since her acceptance letter came the month before.

"I know." And he does. The narrow dorm bed seems a little wider when she stands up, pacing to the far wall of the room and staring down at her hands. They're trembling a little and he wonders if it would be easier for her if he acts more upset than he is.

"You do?" Little frown, sharp lines across her forehead, and God, she's--an adult. It's only hitting him now, with his room half-packed and his clothes strewn across the room in some sort of arcane packing ritual that he and Chloe have done at the end of every year. Longer hair than she ever would have worn in high school twisted into a messy ponytail and wide blue eyes that look suspiciously full.

"You--don't want commitments while you're there. Chloe, I sort of guessed." He had. And Lex had probably been looking for the right words to tell him for weeks--Clark's seen the concerned looks and the way Lex stops himself from saying anything. Clark can do oblivious unconcern with the best of them, but this is--not something he could have ignored, even had he wanted to.

"Oh." She stops pacing, coming to a stop in the center of the room, absently pushing back the sleeves of his sweatshirt above her elbows and the tears break over. Just a few, though. "I--you know I love you, Clark. It's just--"

"Three months and we're both too young to settle down." Clark watches her eyes turn toward the window. "Chloe, I--know, okay? Really." He's rehearsed this a couple of times--he'd have to have been blind *not* to see her worry and her fear and her discomfort, and it really is okay, though when he'd first realized it...it hadn't been quite so easy. "It's okay. It's--probably the best idea. We can talk when you get back to Smallville." Her eyes flicker a little, and he can pretty easily guess where those thoughts are going. She doesn't know Lana will be in Paris for the summer. "I want you to be happy. You know that."

Her smile hurts to look at.

"I know, Clark." Slowly, she drops down beside him on the bed, smoothing her fingers over the comforter she'd help him pick out their first day in college. "You're--being really great about this, you know?"

Clark smiles and shifts toward her, and she falls into his arms as naturally as she ever has. Warm, soft and hard, smelling of her bath gel and sweat and his clothes, a smell that's utterly familiar. His bed smells like her, and he wonders if the fact they've practically lived together in his dorm for the last year might have pushed her too hard.

"You'll still--call right? Be friends?"

Clark remembers the strange curl of Lex's mouth when they once discussed that particularly hackneyed phrase. But.

It's true.

"Yeah, Chloe," he murmurs into her hair. We'll always be friends."


It's completely appropriate that the phone rings ten minutes after Chloe leaves. Clark stretches out on his bed, picking it up with one hand and resting it on his shoulder against his ear.

"Kent speaking."

"Good to know." Lex's voice is amused, and Clark grins into the dark ceiling. "Finished packing?"

"More or less." Less being the definitive, and Clark studies the shadows above him. "You don't need to pretend you called about that, Lex. We've known each other too long for that."

There's a little silence, Lex thinking, but Lex thinks fast. "I wanted to see if you're okay." It's on a single breath, a little uncomfortable, but sincere.

"I want to know when you became psychic exactly." Clark rolls on his side, and the window comes into view. Just a slice of the Metropolitan sky and a few lights from downtown barely visible from his window.

"You'd be surprised what I can do when I'm interested," Lex answers with some amusement. "And distracting me won't help. What happened?"

"What do you think?" This time, the quiet stretches longer, and that's Lex deciding what Clark knows, what he doesn't, how much it's safe to say. "She broke up with me. And if you act surprised, I'm gonna hang up."

Lex sighs. It's pretty much an admission all in itself. "I thought so, considering she's leaving tomorrow." Through the line, Clark can almost hear Lex shifting in the chair. "Do you want company?"

"Am I a total girl, you mean?" God, he would like company, though. Lex's especially. "And you have plans tonight."

"Opera or drinking myself under the table. Really, Clark, you should know me better than that."

Opera means Lena, and Clark rolls onto his back, twisting his fingers in the phone cord. The sound of straining plastic reminds him that it's not too good an idea to do that, and he loosens his finger with some effort, dragging in a breath that he half-hopes Lex will hear.

"You have plans with Lena." It's hard to say her name. "I'll be fine, Lex. Have a good night."

"I would make reference to airborne porcines, but we're both aware that in Smallville, it's pretty much a given. Be dressed in ten minutes and I'll pick you up."

"Lex--" The whine isn't anything close to sincere.

"Stop being a girl. We'll go to strip club, then listen to bad country music. You can drink cheap whiskey and sing along after awhile. Very masculine. Go get dressed."

Clark grins when he hangs up the phone, wiping a hand across his face briefly before levering himself to his feet. His clothes are *everywhere* in various stages of disorder, but it's easy enough to hunt out something vaguely uncreased and clean, some khakis that he remembers Chloe buying him for Christmas last year. It's a jarring second, sharp burn, like touching meteor rock, but he pushes it down and away, pulling them on and grabbing a clean shirt from the dresser. Wallet, keys, and then he's out the door, locking it behind him, jogging down the hall to the stairs.

"You out, Kent?" Two doors down, Michael. Clark turns his head briefly in acknowledgement as he pushes the stair doors open.

"Out," Clarks calls. "Yes, you can use my Playstation. No way in hell you touch my laptop."

"Cool." Gone again, and Clark takes the steps at normal speed--he's learned the hard way that people will pop in unexpectedly *only* when he's using his powers. Emerging into the sticky April night, Clark sees the Ferrari gleaming under the lights. Metropolitan college students are jaded, but few are so jaded that they don't stop and stare when expensive sports cars roll into the parking lot, and fewer than that don't get a certain jolt when they recognize the license plates.

And really, Lex's plates are sort of self-explanatory, like the man leaning casually against the driver's side door, dressed down with a vengeance that still manages to look like a French runway on men's fashions.

"A little slow tonight," Lex observes, keys dangling from one hand.

"New car," Clark answers, pausing to admire it. "Blue?" Lena wears a lot of blue, Clark remembers, and he narrows his gaze on the shiny chrome and interior seats. Leather, black. Better.

"Deal with it." Lex grins as he opens the driver's side door and slides his gloves back on, and only Lex would drive with those gloves and look so--well, regular--doing it. "Get in, farmboy."

"That's getting old, Lex" Clark answers as he crosses in front of the car. There's fewer stares these days--for awhile, though, it'd been something of a thing, that the boring freshman Clark in the boy's dormitory, who the very first day had managed to fall over his own feet in the huge dining hall and spill jello everywhere, was also the same guy who had Lex Luthor dropping by with enviable items like concert tickets and small refrigerators that fit under the desk and endless bottles of any alcohol of choice. Not to mention the cars. All those beautiful, slick sports cars like prowling panthers among the sheep-like Volvos and Fords and Volkswagens lining the student parking lots.

"It's still funny to me." Lex hits the gas just for the fun of revving the engine, and it reminds Clark of the twenty-one year old he met years and years before--still getting his kicks from things that probably he should have outgrown, like the color purple and fast cars and pretty girls in clubs and long nights on the roof of his apartment, mapping the stars with the tips of outstretched fingers, sharing the myths from a dozen different civilizations between them.

It's--a warm thought, wiping away the afternoon effortlessly and Clark watches dusk approaching with something like pleasure.

"What do you want to do?"

"Not be so glad you skipped out on a date. Lena's leaving tomorrow too, isn't she?" Clark's forgotten that until now, and it's another kind of warmth when Lex smiles and shrugs.

"I'm going to New York in a few days. She understands." Of course she does--women that don't get it don't make the cut. Clark is Lex's Best Friend. Priorities are set. And Clark's gotten so used to that, so used to being Lex's priority, first and foremost and all of that.

This is really the first time he's felt that there might have been a battle involved, or at least a short period of consideration. And Lex is going to New York. As far as Clark knows, LexCorp has no business in New York right now--in point of fact, Lex has a huge board meeting Monday and another on Wednesday.

But--he's going to New York anyway, and Clark flicks his seatbelt on with unnecessarily sharp movements and concentrates on straightening his shirt.

"So. Anything in particular?"

Clark watches the campus disappear as Lex tries out the gear shift and shrugs.

"Not picky."

"You're not okay," Lex answers, and this is the one place Clark's always known Lex just isn't like any other guy on earth. Lex likes to talk things out. Problems out. Total one eighty from his father, or Clark's father for that matter, and it reminds him of Chloe a little. The ache's a lot less than he expects. "You want to talk about it?"

"I figured it was coming," Clark says, watching Lex fix his sunglasses with one gloved hand briefly before it returns to the gear shift. "It's not like I didn't--think about it. You know, with her being gone and all." Clark shifts in the seat. Lex is all kinds of comfortable with these kinds of discussion. Clark--isn't. "You knew."

Lex hesitates, then shrugs. "I suspected, yes." He can't see where Lex's gaze is fixed with the dark glasses in the way. "Clark--"

"I didn't exactly go picking out engagement rings, Lex," Clark answers, leaning his head back into the seat. "It's not--I'm fine. Just--something to think about."

"You've graduated. That is a lot to think about." And Clark waits for Lex to begin his recruitment speech, but that doesn't happen. "Technically, you can't deny me the right to give you a graduation present."

"Huh?" But Lex is staring off into the oncoming traffic with a perfectly innocent expression. "Lex---"

"And graduations are usually reserved for extravagant gifts."

"What are you thinking?" Thinking, nothing. Lex did something, and Clark's torn between curiosity and anticipation.

"Depends on if you say you'll accept it." There's a little curve to the corner of Lex's mouth, like he's sure Clark will accept. And he'd be right.

"All right, what did you do? Small island?"

Lex makes a noise that's torn between a cough and a laugh. "Yes. The Caymans. You like them? I can exchange for the Philippines, but it might take time if you're into Hawaii. God, you're strange. No. I--we'll go back to my place and I'll explain."

"Explain?" Gifts that require explanations. Huh.

"Yes, explain. Sit back and relax. Think of what you feel like doing tonight. Or we can call out for a lot of vodka and try for that alcohol poisoning you didn't quite achieve during Rush your freshman year." There's a definite smirk, and Clark flushes in memory of that day. And *what* had possessed him to try and join a fraternity anyway? Chloe holds to this day that meteor rocks were involved, but Clark's pretty sure it was something in the dining hall's food.

"You're going to remind me of this stuff forever, aren't you?" Clark's grinning too. Lex had apparently stopped by as he crawled his way into his dorm, the one and only time Clark can remember actually getting the concept of a hangover. Very human moment.

"As long as we both shall live, my friend."


Lex gets them both brandy while Clark studies the living room with a vague sense of disorientation. New blue vase, elegant and feminine and so not Lex that Clark's teeth are set on edge. A diamond bracelet is under one edge of the coffee table and a velvet box half-buried in a pillow. A silver hair clip that looks expensive is trapped behind a cushion. Casual disarray of the couch that Clark has to breathe through, and the scent of her perfume is light and airy around him.

She was here today, definitely. Probably from last night.

Clark drops into a chair as Lex hands him his glass, taking a longer drink than he usually does. Fits with the grieving ex thing, he supposes, as Lex's gaze turns concerned all at once.

"So. This present thing--" Clark forces himself to relax back into the chair and Lex grins widely, gesturing with his glass.

"Europe for three months."

"Whoa." Clark takes another drink of the brandy. "Lex--"

"It's nothing. I own a--well, a lot of houses. You can stay there. Think what you want to do with your life. Have sordid affairs with large numbers of women. What normal people do after breakups, but you'll have the advantage of not having to call the next morning, since you won't know the language."

"Yeah, that totally sounds like me," Clark answers, and tosses back the rest of the brandy. "What did you have in mind exactly?"

Lex tosses a small envelope at him, just waiting for the moment apparently, and Clark picks through the contents. Airline tickets, check. Eurorail, check. Small list of addresses, neatly typed on a computer no doubt.

"I know you were thinking about the entire backpacking experience, but trust me, much more fun to sleep on actual beds." Lex sounds amused. "And first stop, you might or might not notice, is Paris."

Clark sucks in a breath, carefully pushing the thick bundle of papers back inside.

"You're usually a lot more subtle than this." Lana's in Paris. Lex doesn't pretend not to understand.

"You don't have to see her. It's just--an option." Little flicker. "She's free, you know."

"I didn't know," Clark answers sharply, looking up and catching a curious look on Lex's face. "And even if--"

"And you're free. And that Romeo-Juliet thing you've done with her--this is your chance to find out." Lex tilts his head, tapping the couch. "Take a chance and find out this time if it's possible."

"Because all these years--"

"Exactly." Lex finishes his glass and stands up, reaching to take Clark's. "It's a possible thing, Clark. Just--think about it. You can see her or not. See her as friends. Or--"

"Yeah." Clark stands up for no reason he can figure out, following Lex to the bar. "It's--" Not a bad idea, come to think. Clark takes the glass Lex extends and doesn't bother not taking the entire contents at once. "It wouldn't be fair. I mean, what do I say? Hey, my girlfriend just broke up with me, and I'm trying to find a way to get over it. You feel like being an experiment?"

Lex snorts before taking a small drink, eyeing Clark's empty glass with resignation.

"I'm not giving you expensive brandy to abuse." Finishing his glass off, he ducks back in, expertly sorting through the bottles until he comes up with--yes. "Vodka. Good for any and all occasions."

"Screwdrivers?"

"I was thinking shots with the way you're tossing the brandy, but by all means." Lex gestures toward the kitchen and Clark follows him and the bottle, absently setting his glass on the bar as he passes it and noting the tiny pair of earrings on the edge. Platinum--he's good at identification of stuff like that now. Sapphire set. "And there's nothing wrong with talking to her."

"Am I fifteen again?" Clark watches Lex get a carton of orange juice out, noting the refrigerator is disturbingly well-stocked with things that he knows Lex doesn't usually eat. The variety of ice cream sauces is quite enough to make him flush and look away. "Lex--"

"Possibilities," Lex answers, putting the carton on the counter before going into a cabinet. "And you don't have to. Just go and enjoy the cheese. And the wine. And the night life."

"In other words, get laid."

"Thoroughly." Clark gets a grin that's as sharp as a knife, and friendly. Lex is in a *good* mood, and Clark steps back mentally to take this in. Lena might have been here when Lex called. There, low dusk of shadow just beneath the collar of Lex's shirt, and ethics fly out the window for Clark to see that it's *not* a shadow. It's a bruise. A-- "Clark? You okay?"

Clark tears his gaze back down to the counter.

"I'm just thinking."

"Alcohol is supposed to stop that sort of thing. I'm a terrible host." Lex opens another cabinet nearer the floor, pulling out an indecently large pitcher and pouring the entire contents of the vodka bottle in. Orange juice follows quickly. Lex eyes the mix with the expertise of a bartender making the perfect Manhattan "Get the glasses. Apparently, we're staying in tonight."

For some reason, that makes Clark grin as he picks up both glasses.

"Works for me."


Lex is probably the only person Clark's ever seen get drunk with such utter elegance. Some guys fall into strange, drooling piles of flesh that make weird noises or they do what Pete does and start falling asleep randomly, and Clark still has flashbacks of Rush and some of the stuff he saw before his effective blackout that didn't end until he woke up the next morning with Lex sitting on the edge of his bed, uncreased and frighteningly normal, reading Clark's psychology book, one foot against the edge of the trashcan residing by his bed.

That had been--a damn weird night. Hadn't helped that Lex had been kind enough to give him the hideously unvarnished commentary on exactly *what* he'd been like for those missing three or so hours.

But Lex, neatly stretched on the couch, shirt sleeves unbuttoned and grinning into the ceiling, was nothing like that. Coolly collected even now, more approachable than not, tips of his fingers slowly stroking the soft leather in a vaguely suggestive way that Lex probably didn't even know he *did*.

"Lex, you can't possibly sympathize. When the hell's the last time someone broke up with you?" The coffee table is pushed back from the couch so Clark can sit comfortably on the floor, legs stretched out in front of him, socked feet very far away. Something like amazing that he's even able to focus on them at all, but right now he can see every bone move every time he wriggles.

Cool.

Lex lets the glass rest on his chest, obviously having to think about his answer.

"It's happened." Though he doesn't sound very sure about it. Clark absently reaches for the pitcher and clambers onto his knees, refilling both their glasses.

"Right." He almost snorts the alcohol as he drops back onto his heels, leaning an elbow into the couch beside Lex's hip. "In other words, never."

"They tend to screw me over after, if that's any consolation." Lex pushes himself up on an elbow, taking a drink from his glass. "In many varied and fascinatingly inventive ways."

Clark pats absently at whatever part of Lex is in reach and shakes his head. "It's--not fair, you know?"

"It rarely is." In an alcohol-defying motion, Lex sits up and scoots back, slumping more comfortably into a corner of the couch, an invitation for Clark to crawl up and join him. It's almost depressingly easy to do, and it almost frightens him, how much he wants to. Pushing a hand into the soft leather, he slides up, leaning into the back and resting an elbow on Lex's upraised knee.

"It should be. Just once."

"You don't want much," Lex answers, and there's something in his voice that makes Clark pause, flicking his vision into normal so he wont' see through Lex's skull. The expression on the pale face is almost, but not quite, bitter. "Did you really think you'd end up forever, Clark?"

Clark looks down at his glass, wincing, and he feels Lex shift a little.

"I'm sorry." Lex sounds sincere.

"No you're not. You're honest." It's easy to drain the glass in one long gulp, but impossible to look into Lex's eyes now. "Is Lena forever?"

"I doubt it." And there it is again, that trace of something that Clark can't define. "It's--different."

"You like her." Maybe more than that, with diamond bracelets on the floor and plans to meet in New York.

"That's why I tend not to sit around thinking about it too much." And that's very Lex, ironic smile and all.

"You're very philosophical for someone who's actually in a working relationship. That's really helpful."

This time, Clark does look up and hates himself for the flicker he catches on Lex's face before the control's back in place. That look now, the one Clark hasn't seen in years, or hell, maybe longer, the one that means Lex doesn't want to be seen, and it's like sitting beside someone who isn't there anymore at all.

"I suppose it's not." Lex shrugs lightly, finishing off his glass before dropping it on the floor.

There's--really nothing to say to that.

"Are we drunk enough to forget this conversation?" Clark asks, and Lex looks at him in surprise. "I mean--I'm not trying to take it out on you, and I'm--feeling like crap so I am anyway. I'm sorry."

"What else are friends for?" There's a little curve to the corner of his mouth and most of the shadow's gone from his eyes.

Clark shakes his head and drains his glass, dropping it on the floor with the sound of breaking and okay, that wasn't good, but Lex's smile widens. "Not for this."

"I think we've gotten through worse than this, so don't worry." And he's right. A lot. More than luck usually gives you, really, and Clark thinks about that, putting more weight on Lex's knee and leaning his head on his arm.

"Don't you--" And a part of him wants to ask about Lena, but the rest of him isn't at all interested in hearing how wonderful she is. How great she is. How smart she is. How he's following her to New York in a few days because he canceled a date to play babysitter for his annoying much younger friend.

Ouch.

"I'm sorry I messed up your night." Pathetic drunk, and right, *now* he remembers the real reason that he doesn't like to drink. It's not about the frat stuff. It's about how fucking *odd* he gets when he's intoxicated. Lex's pants are smooth under his hands, and he's just catching on to the fact he's been rubbing the material idly. Lex hasn't seemed to have noticed, though, so Clark lets himself forget and keep doing it.

"Just opera, not the Second Coming. I'm sure I can survive without the latest interpretation of Hamlet." Lex stretches a little, reaching behind him to adjust the armrest against his back. "Get the envelope I gave you."

Well, that's easy. A single long reach and Clark gets it off the coffee table, unnecessarily borrowing Lex to keep upright. "What now?" Settled back, he lets Lex absently straighten his leg across his lap and leans forward just enough to make sure it stays there.

"Last ticket."

Clark flicks through the tickets, realizing a little distantly that his coordination's back pretty good. Alcohol wearing off already, dammit. But--his hand trembles just a little as he reads it, and the innocent paper falls on his lap.

"New York." His mouth is dry.

"Come with me to New York. Go after her and tell her how you feel." Lex folds an arm behind his head, blue eyes half-closed.

"I don't--" Clark stops, staring at it, then looks back at Lex. "Chloe or Lana, huh?"

Lex shrugs. "The crush of your life or the woman you love."

"That makes it easy."

"No one ever said it was easy, Clark. Take secret option three--put it in the past and look for more. You're only twenty-two--God, at your age, I was obsessed with--" Lex cuts himself off, blinking back into the present, more focused. "You'll get over it, if you want to."

Clark leans back into the couch, staring into the ceiling.

"Luthor Life Lesson time? I forgot to take notes." He smiles a little to hear Lex's laugh. "Is Lena serious?"

"I don't know yet." And that--shakes Clark, just a little. The automatic no isn't there, and this is the closest to yes that Lex has ever come. For Lex, it might as well be a yes. Yes, Clark, this is serious. Yes, Clark, you're going to find her shoes in this apartment a lot from now on. Yes, Clark, everything is going to change.

"Do you want it to be?" The words are dragged out of him without checking in at his head, always a bad idea, and he's cold sober. He knows where the bar is, and he can certainly drink himself into something like utter oblivion, but there's this chance that Lex might be curious how a supposed normal human guy could survive a few dozen bottles of hard liquor. Chalk it up to Smallville and mutations and good-bye to being the only normal person in Lex's world. Goodbye to being most important any day now, and Clark bites his lip at the thought that Lex could have gone out tonight without asking to see him, could have been at the opera and not thinking of him at all.

Selfish thoughts, selfish feelings, but--

"Maybe."

Clark nods numbly and the bar is only a few feet away. One of Lex's feet is trapped under his leg and Clark notices as if from a distance that Lex is kicking at him. "What?"

"What's wrong?" Sharp eyes. Drunk definitely, but never stupid, not Lex. "Clark, talk to me."

"I--I'm just thinking."

"Chloe? Lana?"

"Change." Change is never good. Change is waking up and finding out you're an alien one morning when you went to sleep human the night before. Change is floating after a good dream in bed. Change is x-ray vision and super strength and super speed and fucking super hearing and it's never being sure or certain, everything changes, except for three things. Lana. Chloe. Lex.

Lana, in Paris for the last few years studying art, forgetting Smallville as completely as she can. Chloe, who is going to New York to make a new life. Lex, who could be falling in love, and he can't do a damn thing about any of them.

"Change is inevitable." But Lex is watching him, carefully. "You do know that Lena doesn't change anything with us?"

He really doesn't think Lex is psychic, just really damn good at assessment. Drunk, high, stone sober, none of it stops that mind from moving. Nothing changes except her shoes and bracelets and the way she reads Lex's smiles and the way he smiles for her. The fact he has a blue car and a blue vase. The way she fits so perfectly into his life like she'd been created just for that slot. This apartment. His world.

"Of course not." And he knows his voice is giving him away and can't help it. Quickly, he shakes his head. "I'm being stupid, I know. Just--" Fuck. Dammit. "I like her."

"She's very likable." He can almost feel Lex trying to read him, but it's a night involving alcohol and Lex isn't going to be on top of his game in any way, shape, or form, not if Clark works to make sure Lex can't read him. "Clark...."

"I like her, okay? She's--good for you." Good for him, good for Chloe, not so great for Clark, but two out of three isn't bad. "She's nice and she's sweet and she's intelligent and Chloe thinks she's just great--" Fuck. Chloe. Clark swallows hard. "She's great."

"You don't like her." Lex says it slow and thoughtful, but it's mostly alcohol and Clark has a sudden and uncomfortable realization that the crux of this is right *there*. Lena *is* good for Lex. Better by far than any of the others, and she *likes* Lex. Likes the person Lex, likes his friends, doesn't seem to care when she's asked to share her time or her space or her boyfriend and oh God, her *boyfriend*, lover, all the definitions.

"I like her a lot." And he couldn't have sounded less convincing if he'd said he liked lima beans. Oh God. "She's perfect."

"Clark--" Lex is pulling himself all the way up, leaning forward, knee dropping from under Clark's hand and staring at him. They needed more vodka, right here right now, enough to black them *both* out so this conversation never happened.

"I want impossible things," Clark hears himself say and why the fuck isn't he shutting up? "Nothing changing. Or at least, not so fast." And this is fast, even for him, even considering the day he woke up able to actually *fly*, not float, and the day his hearing kicked in and the day he learned he was an alien. All those things, that changed his life so completely, and Chloe had been--God, so natural, fit right into everything so easily and so effortlessly and Lex, he can see it, is moving, just like she is. Clark's the one standing still.

The spoiled fifteen year old in him that's been the focus of Chloe's and Lex's attention for far too long is seriously throwing a fit.

"I should go." Somehow, he gets out from under Lex's leg, on his feet, swaying a little as the remains of the alcohol rush his head. Vision sparkles and dances in and out of x-ray, enough to make him dizzy.

"Don't even think about it." Lex braces a hand on the back of the sofa. "Clark, stop. Look at me. Just--"

"It's--a bad night," Clark says, as if it'll explain it, but it really doesn't. Not at all. Lex gives up on the standing, which is good because his balance is worse off than Clark's. "I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize." Lex's diction is always so damn good, even when he's drunk, and he's very, very drunk. A look confirms it, and there's a chance Lex won't remember any of this in the morning. That was a *lot* of vodka. "You're not going anywhere. Sit the fuck down."

"Lex--"

"If it's that damn important, I'll call my driver and you can go by her room tonight, before she leaves. Tell her--"

"It's not *about* Chloe!"

Oh fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

It falls remarkably like a very large elephant does when you didn't realize it was there until it's sitting on you. Like--this. Like no air and lots of weight and Lex isn't saying anything.

"What?" If Lex were sober, he'd know. He'd have figured it out, but Lex isn't sober, and that's good. So good. Incredibly good.

And Clark sits down, because he can't think of anything else to do. Though flying back to his dorm does rate on the list of pleasant possibilities, and okay, he's not as sober as he thinks he is.

It's hard to turn and face Lex now, but he has to. Meet blue eyes that are about as confused as he feels, and it's so damn easy to touch the leg closest, just for a second, Lex has never minded when Clark touches him. Never.

"Haven't you--" Clark stops, letting out a breath. "Haven't you ever been confused?"

"My life to date," Lex answers, but his gaze isn't fixing exactly. For all Clark knows, Lex isn't in the room at all. "It's not figuring things out that's the point. It's just deciding to do it whether or not you know why."

Maybe elephants should always fall on Clark. Lex is close enough to breathe in, orange juice and clean skin and the faintest traces of Lena's perfume, and to hell with understanding and to hell with why and what the fuck, to hell with change too. He wants this one for himself.

Lex tastes like orange juice and brandy and like something Clark's been dying for all of his life and never knew it. Warm, sweet, soft, God, so soft, so perfect and he doesn't have to deal if he doesn't have to think. It's jealousy, if he admits it to himself, and he can't justify what he's doing, so he's not going to. And Lex--seconds of shock, seconds of nothing, seconds of time that don't exist outside Clark's utterly frozen mind before fingers are in his hair and pulling him closer, and Lex is kissing him back.

Kissing him *back*, on this couch, in this room, and he's got Lex's attention, all of it. The shifts of his body so they're closer together, less of a reach to touch, the way Lex moves against him like it's been something his body's been trained to do. Open mouth and slick tongue and tight, tight fingers holding Clark like he might back out, like he might pull away.

Like Lex has been starving for this, and Clark thinks he has been, too.

Lex pulls way with a wet sound that sends a shock straight into Clark's cock. Blurred blue eyes trying to focus, but he isn't letting go.

"This--is a bad idea," Lex murmurs, but he's licking his lips like he's looking for Clark's taste there still.

"Don't think." Easier than talking to get Lex down, warm and pliable and pale on leather, slim, muscled body just waiting for Clark. He trails curious fingers down Lex's face, across soft lips that catch the tip, sucking it into his mouth, and Lex closes his eyes. Clark braces an arm against the headrest, leaning down, pulling his fingers away to taste that mouth again, getting a knee between Lex's legs and grinding down, the way he likes it, the way he knows *works*, and gets a soft groan for it, making him do it again. His free hand's fumbling the buttons on Lex's shirt loose, revealing inches of pale, pale skin and another bruise Clark hadn't thought to look for. They stare at each other, endless seconds on the edge of something that could, would, will change everything.

Lex's phone rings, and it breaks the lock. Lex sits up, pulling away from Clark's limp hands, curling in on himself as he reaches for the phone, pausing to blink himself into some kind of sobriety and then takes it off the hook.

"Luthor speaking. Lena. No, I'm awake." There's a pause and Clark focuses his hearing, listening...

"...if you're not busy, I can come by tonight after the opera."

Clark's eyes flicker to the old-fashioned grandfather clock in the corner. Eleven.

"I--" Lex looks at him and Clark breathes out, locking with blue eyes and Lex said it a long time ago, the trick in getting something you want is knowing when to ask, what moment to use, what pressure to apply.

How hard to push. How much you want it.

It's. Change. "Lie."

"I have an early meeting," Lex says slowly, shifting the phone in his hand. "My manager called from--Smallville. I--I'll be back in time to meet you at the airport before you leave." Pause, and Clark doesn't bother listening anymore. "Yeah. Okay. No, I'm sorry too." Clark's not, and he runs his hand over Lex's knee, catching Lex's eyes.

Her disappointment is obvious, and it should, could, maybe make him guilty, but it doesn't. Not when he can reach out and touch Lex's face with the tips of his fingers, see the blue eyes close, little shiver beneath the skin, and Lex is telling her goodbye fast, phone back on the hook, and Clark reaches over him and pulls the plug from the back.

Lex--is going to ask questions, and he doesn't want that. His mouth's already open, and Clark drowns out the words, the thoughts behind them, wanting pure physical reaction, wanting Lex's mind to shut down and just go with it. Change isn't always bad, doesn't always have to be terrifying, be unwelcome. It can be this. His best friend touching him with delicate traces across the back of his neck, pulling him close, and this is the one part of Lex that Clark's never had, the part that moves against his body like something liquid, the part Clark's never been able to touch and maybe never really thought to want to until now.

Buries his mouth in the warm offered throat, Lex's fingers sliding through his hair, breathing hard and fast and arching against him. Clark gets the knee between them and they're sliding against each other, and Lex is so *hard*. Whispering things Clark can't hear and doesn't really want to because her name isn't among the words. Biting on the bruise she left and sucking, and it's juvenile to want to erase her like this. He doesn't care.

Lex, who only tightens his grip, sliding hands down his back, pulling up his shirt and finding bare skin, drawing his fingers up Clark's back, blunt fingernails digging in every time Clark makes him twitch.

And Lex tastes so good. Everywhere, shoulder and throat and chest and face and God, his mouth, his perfect mouth that has to have been made for Clark's tongue to explore. Pliable under Clark's touch and letting him do anything he wants, and he wants--oh God, everything that's possible and a lot of things that aren't. Clark gets a shaky hand between their bodies, sucking a kiss into the curve just below Lex's jaw while he pops buttons and gets skin, smooth and slick with the beginning of sweat and he wants--God, everything. Every part Lex hides and protects and everything, everything that Lena's seen that he hasn't. Thinking is a blurry grey area Clark disregards, finding his feet on the carpet and pulling Lex up, catching him when the sudden change in position makes him stumble.

"Come on."

Lex has a housekeeper, and Clark blesses her quietly for the neatly made bed that doesn't have a trace of Lena in or near it. No lights, not necessary, he could find his way through here in perfect dark. He pushes Lex down on the edge, toeing his own socks off, pulling his shirt off after. Getting to Lex's shirt before the alcohol-slowed fingers can do it themselves, stripping it away and straddling his lap, grinding down to keep the focus from those eyes.

"Lex," he whispers, cupping his jaw, staring into his eyes. Soft, soft press of lips and lowers Lex down, tempering himself, remembering every lesson learned with every girl, with Chloe, practice for this maybe. Can't hurt Lex. Except in ways he'll want. He cradles Lex's head and kisses him, opening his mouth and Lex doesn't smell like her anymore. Smells like juice and like himself and like Clark, too, like he's been pressed against Clark's body all day and *that* thought's another almost violent jolt, making Clark hiss and bite Lex's lip, suck it into his mouth. Has to get Lex to where he is, what he needs, maybe what they both need, and oh God, Lex's hands on him are so good, so right--warm on his stomach and his chest and over his back and holding his head, sucking his tongue hard and twisting up against him. Need, want, everything. *Everything*.

"Yes," he hears himself murmur, bracing both elbows on the bed--bare skin to bare skin and Lex's mouth hard on his jaw and his throat and his shoulder, and he tips his head, down, closing his eyes. "God, yes, Lex. Please. Let me have you."

Muffled sound and a sharp buck, and Clark grins at the hard suck in the hollow of his throat, light thickness of feeling that has to be something like pain but too good, too hot to really try and describe. Just enough to arch and shift so their cocks are lined up and he can thrust and make Lex make those sounds, those wonderful, needy sounds that he'll never get tired of hearing.

"Fuck," Lex murmurs, biting down hard at a slow grind that's driving Clark out of his mind, and he can't--can't wait. Rolls on his side and pulls Lex with him, close enough to breathe his taste, close enough to kiss, one hand braced between his shoulder blades and his other unfastening his pants. Jerking them down just enough, hooking a leg over Lex's hip and almost tears through the soft material of Lex's pants. Hot, hard cock, already sticky, slick, warm in his hand and he does what he likes to himself, slow stroke and his thumb around the head, digging in the underside enough to get a hiss. Slicker now, but not enough, and Clark licks his palm, quick and dirty, wrapping it back around Lex and hearing his low, pleased groan. "Clark--"

"Yeah." Yes. Lex, fucking his hand and twisting up into him and sucking kisses to his lips and his jaw and his face. Nails digging deep into his shoulders. "Come on. Do it for me." Tightens his grip and gets to see Lex gasp, and he *wants* to see this, all of it, and wants Lex to see him, too. "Open your eyes. Look at me."

Shocky blue, so intense there isn't any other color in the world anymore, swallowing up Clark's vision, and he rubs himself on Lex's thigh desperately, breath raw in his throat, scratchy. Shared, panted breath, synching up, and that's even hotter, until Lex pries a hand off his skin and it's wrapped--oh God, around his cock, jerking him off hard and fast and dizzying.

It hits Lex first, and Clark feels the surge through the body pressed flat against his, every shudder and groan and the words that string together with his name sprinkled all through. Lex, Lex coming in his hand, Lex saying his name in sheer pleasure, shaking in his arms, and that's more than enough, he's coming, twisting, needing to be as close as possible, touch all of Lex right down to the core, have all of it and maybe write his name on Lex's body so they both know.

It's a long time before Clark breathes again.

Longer time before they both shift up the bed, pulling the blankets down, and Clark can't make himself let go, doesn't ever want to. Curls up around the slim body and wraps a possessive arm around Lex, burying his face between sweaty shoulder blades and listens as Lex falls asleep, heartbeat sure and steady, deep breaths and Lex's fingers twined through his against Lex's stomach.

Maybe Lex doesn't want to let go either.


It's the ringing that wakes him up--and Clark doesn't think anything of rolling over and reaching out, only vaguely aware of the lack of cord for his fingers to tangle in and the strange, pin-clear sound of someone on the other line.

"Yeah," he yawns absently, and there's a stunned silence on the other end.

"Clark Kent?"

Fuck. Clark sits upright, blinking morning fuzziness out of his eyes, looking down at bare chest and messy jeans, tack of dried sweat and semen layering his stomach, and completely not his bed. A little roll shows Lex still sleeping, quietly and neatly, one hand twisted in the pillow, the other loose on the mattress, fingers curling in slowly from where Clark's hand had been only seconds before.

"Hi Lena." He knows how to lie. Raised to do it well and for any and all occasions, spur of the moment inspiration popping into his head, and he runs a hand through his hair as Lex stirs, rolling against his hip.

"Clark. I--didn't expect you to--did I dial the wrong number?"

Did she for some arcane and completely unnecessary reason have him in her rolodex? Clark grins a little and reached down, stifling the little shock of discomfort with a delicate trace of Lex's exposed shoulder.

"No, no--you have the right one. Lex let me crash here last night." He sees Lex's eyes open, fluttering a little in surprise, and it never ceases to amaze him how *fast* Lex recovers from shock--flickering expression of confusion, then fast, furious wash of memory like the movie of last night on fast forward behind his eyes. Bracing up on one arm, Lex stares at Clark, and mouths one word.

Clark nods.

"Oh." She sounds--a little surprised, and Clark leans back into the pillows. "Has--Lex left yet?"

"Let me check." Covering the mouthpiece, he looks at Lex. "She wants to know if you've left yet."

It's really interesting--Lex is still Lex, but sleepy and probably hung-over, and everything's a little delayed as he thinks. Discomfort and maybe something like guilt, a quick flicker of anger that disappears before it even gets a chance to spark, and Lex shakes his head, starting to pull away. Grabbing his wrist, Clark stops him, holding his eyes.

"No--looks like he already left. He's driving me to the airport, so I'll tell him you called."

"All right." Another pause, and women, he thinks, have an instinct about this sort of thing. Something off, something that's located in the human reptile brain and says territory is being trespassed, no matter how unlikely the trespasser may be. Lex isn't pulling away anymore, but the blue eyes are narrowing. "Sorry to wake you up. Thanks Clark. I'll see you later."

"Bye." He hangs up the phone, gently releasing Lex's wrist. They stare at each other for a few long minutes. "You okay?"

"For some reason, I thought I left this behind when I grew up." Lex's voice is bitter, and Clark feels himself pull back a little, and he hopes his body isn't following his head. "I--fuck, the *airport*?"

Clark blinks. "What?"

"I can't see her today." In a single quick movement, Lex is sliding to the floor and stalking to the bathroom. Curious, Clark follows, noting absently that Lex looks just as cool morning as afternoon. Clark stops at the door as Lex stops in front of the mirror, and long fingers close on the edge of the sink. "Fuck."

"What?"

Little half-turn, and Lex is looking back at him with wide eyes and a smirk that's never had even a passing acquaintance with humor.

"She'll know."

Oh. *Oh*. Clark's fingerprints on Lex's back and his teeth on Lex's neck and he hadn't really been as careful as he could have been, and there's a section in his mind that tells him that part of it was deliberate.

"I didn't know you took her that seriously," Clark says, and his voice is surprisingly cool. Points for self-control, because all he really wants to do is pull Lex back to bed and spend some time looking him over. Strip off those pants and touch him. Carefully. All over, just study and enjoy and lick and maybe ask Lex to talk to him in that low voice he used the night before.

Narrow look that's more than just anger--guilt, definitely, and Clark leans into the door, watching Lex, still everywhere except inside his skin.

"Clark--" Lex runs a hand over his head, eyes turning down. "We--" Shouldn't, can't, didn't, won't again, no, Clark's pretty much done with that sort of thinking. Pushing off the doorway, he crosses the three steps separating them, pushing Lex gently against the sink, trapping him with an arm on either side. Fast, hard lick across already parted lips and right, Lex is his best friend and Clark's had years to know him, understand him, ways that no one could compete with, and Clark's not about to let anyone else try. He's done that, and Lana's in Paris and Chloe's going to New York, and this time, just this time, it's going to go a little differently.

Pressing his forehead to Lex's, Clark breathes out, feeling Lex *not* drawing away. "Hangover?"

"No." Little movement of hands that brace themselves beside Clark's on the sink. "To the airport, Clark? " Silky soft, and Clark pulls back, looking down. "You were right. Friendship sure as fuck doesn't allow for some things."

Probably, that should hurt, but Clark just cocks his head, studying Lex. "I was...improvising."

Something like a blink, and more expressions than Clark can count. Lex is slipping out of his arms, putting feet of cool tile between them that might have been miles. Lex can create distance with nothing but a look. "No. You had the right idea."

"You're supposed to meet her anyway. I couldn't think of an excuse for you not to be there. Or me, for that matter." Clark thinks about moving, but decides against it, turning into the sink and watching Lex try to withdraw more. The bathroom's big, but not that big, and there's no way out for Lex without passing him. He pauses, thinking. "We have until two, you know. It's only nine."

Little shiver that's all skin, and Lex might be trying out his best form of denial, but his body remembers, and Clark's does too.

"What did you want me to say?" Clark says slowly, drawing out each word and dropping it between them like a pebble into a quiet pond. "Yes, Lena, he's here. Yes, he lied, he didn't go anywhere. No, he can't come to the phone. Yes, I spent the night. Yes, in his bed. Yes, with him. I'm screwing around with your boyfriend, you want me to wake him up so he can talk to you before I do it again?"

Lex winces.

"So I wanted you to lie last night, and I lied this morning, and we'll both lie at the airport later. And I. Don't. Care."

Choked laugh and Lex is gripping the towel rod hard enough that his knuckles are stretched white, tendons clear beneath fragile skin. He's not looking at Clark at all.

"Lex--"

"This is such a fucking *cliché*, Clark!" Little strained laugh that could almost hurt to hear, and Clark can't help it, has to go over to him, touch him, hands on his face and tilting it up and Lex is just--probably still a little drunk, but mostly sober and mostly aware and mostly here and looking down, mostly aroused, and Clark kisses him. Hard, fast, possessive, and right, Lena and Chloe at the airport, fuck them and fuck the flight, and Lex was held up in Smallville and Clark overslept, and would Chloe expect him to come the day after a break-up anyway?

"Come back to bed." Nips gently on Lex's lower lip and Lex isn't fighting him, not really, not when he pulls and Lex follows him back out, vivid dark stains on his skin that Clark's aching to touch and trace and mouth for at least a few hours, wonders if Lex will just lie there on the bed and let him.

Lex pulls away, but he doesn't retreat--more a gathering of himself together, licking his mouth and looking at Clark.

"Take off the rest of your clothes."

He should have considered Lex probably wouldn't be passive very long. Clark's fingers are on the button, peeling down the khakis and his boxers, and he sits on the foot of the bed, leaning back to watch Lex strip with quick, violent movements.

Pushed down onto the mattress and *held* down, and Lex kisses like he's trying to crawl inside Clark through his mouth, one hand on Clark's cock, ruthless stroking that's making him arch and beg and whimper and grab for something, anything to brace him, ground him, but there's nothing but soft comforter for him to touch, bury his fingers in, scratch into. No possible rhythm to follow, and Lex's mouth is against his ear.

"This what you want, Clark?" Thrust against his hip, and no, not until this moment, this second, not until the feel of Lex's cock sends a shocked heat through his body, little spurt of pre-come into Lex's hand, probably all the answer Lex will need if he's paying attention. "This kind of experiment?"

Clark reaches up, finally, pulling Lex down, closer, riding the erratic rhythm and looking for air, and he kisses Lex, tastes blood and sweat and anger and *want*.

"Yes."

Sex had always been--good, Clark thinks a little dazedly when Lex pulls away, crawling across the bed and pulling out the drawer in the bedside table, and Clark moves up to the head of the bed, rumpled sheets and blankets that smell like them both. Good sex, sometimes slow or fast, thrusting into wet heat or being ridden or being blown, or God, that one incredible night where they'd done everything, but Lex is. Very different. Nothing sweetly romantic or fumbling and he's probably always known Lex doesn't have a lot of sexual inhibitions, but the hands on his body, hard and rough, know what they're doing, slick fingers on the tip of his cock in an almost brutal squeeze, sliding down to his balls and behind with a fingernail, sliding inside him with expertise, knowledge. White flare of something that makes him push down, and the difference, the strangeness is washed away under a rush of pure raw sensation.

"It'll hurt," Lex says, very low, very soft, nothing like a warning, more like a promise, and Clark nods. Lex slicks his cock like this is something he's done a hundred times, and God, for all Clark knows, he has, and then Clark's on his stomach, knees pulled up, so suddenly he barely has time to get his hands under him, no time to think at all before a blunt nudge and dull pressure on his ass and Lex--

"...you had no fucking *idea* what you were getting into, did you?" Pressure, a slow, relentless push inside him and Clark can *feel* himself stretching, opening up, and Lex is being brutal with both of them. Lex's hand on his shoulder tightens, hard enough to break someone without Clark's abilities, and he blinks. "...none."

There's a low sound, and Clark realizes a little distantly he's the one who's making it. Steady stretching and Lex is still pushing inside and he *likes* this, oh God, it's good. So good, and he digs his elbows in, pushing back against Lex, wanting it faster, harder, however Lex wants it, just *now*.

"Clark--" And the sharp stretch cuts off all words, Lex thrusting inside, all the way, buried so deep Clark can't find air, can't even *think*. Groaning into the pillow and thick heat inside him, and it's never ever been anything like this.

He's gasping, barely aware of Lex's hands sliding over his back, his thighs, settling against his ass before pulling out with an almost aching slowness and thrusting back in. "God, Lex--"

"Think this'll be casual?" Lex murmurs, almost too softly to hear, and Clark's not sure he's meant to. Still trembling with it, with all the differences, with Lex's slow, steady thrusting that's not quite rhythmic enough to follow, cant' do anything but take it, breathe through it, get so hard he's almost dizzy and God, he wants to touch himself, ease it a little. God, please. "You have no idea."

Anger that's almost like something Clark can taste on the back of his tongue and he lets Lex have it, doesn't even have a choice but to go with it, every slow, achingly hard thrust inside and the low burn that's barely subsiding between and teeth on his back in short, hard bites that make him tense and groan.

"Faster," he breathes, and Lex braces both hands on his hips, blunt nails digging into his skin.

"Fuck yes."

Blur. Everything. Brutally hard, pushing inside and Clark can hear every desperate, needy noise he makes, clawing at the pillow and it's enough to hear Lex behind him, hissed breaths behind clenched teeth, and God, so good. So good, so--much, and overload, orgasm, fucking new *word* for it when it slices through him, making him arch and scream and his cock's shudder against his stomach, coming so hard he can't see. Endless eternity when Lex falls into him, coming inside him, rush of heat that tightens every nerve, aftershocks almost painfully good and Clark's addicted, knows he is. Wants do to this again and wants to do this to Lex and wants to see his face when he does both.

Lex is warm beside him, possessive hand on the back of his neck, grip almost enough to break bones, and Clark turns just enough to look at him. Sweat and closed eyes and flushed, perfectly gorgeous, perfectly his, and this is a possibility that's become fact.

He's not letting go.


The airport is crowded as hell, so that's Clark's excuse to keep close, brushing every so often against Lex, who is unbelievably tense beside him, though it doesn't show anywhere but his eyes. Flickering traces of blue that glance at him every so often, and Clark doesn't look away any time he catches them.

Lena and Chloe are both waiting impatiently, on their feet almost as soon as he and Lex arrive, and Clark knows that they're late.

"I almost thought you wouldn't make it," Chloe says, dropping her carry-on beside her chair and taking a few brief steps before coming to an awkward stop. Her eyes flicker to Lex before settling somewhere around Clark's throat and he smiles.

"My fault," Clark answers, and he sees Lex glance at him from the corner of his eye. "Delayed in the shower. I wouldn't have wanted to miss saying goodbye."

She looks like she might cry again and he can't let her, gently pulling her close in a friendly hug. She feels--almost foreign, too light and slim, like he could break her if he isn't careful, and it's strange, because he knows her body as well as his own.

"Clark--"

"Don't," he says, and he means it, stepping back and letting his hands fall naturally from her arms, smiling a little. "You're going to have a good time. Just remember to email."

"I can do that." Awkward, awkward, and pointless as hell, and Clark wants to know what Lex is saying to Lena. Maybe he's the only one who notices how Lex flinches, just barely, when she touches him, light stroke of his shoulder, and maybe Clark's the only one who would know what it means. She's saying something in a low voice and Clark knows Lex feels him watching, just by the way the long fingers knot behind his back. "Shit. Clark, they're boarding. I--look, when I get back--"

"Things will be different. But hey, you know where I live." He grins and it's easy to lean forward, kiss her cheek, take in the memory of her scent before he pulls away. "Be careful, okay?"

"Sure thing. Lena, they're boarding."

A glance at Chloe, and there's a distracted nod before Lena takes a slow step backward herself, and the reptilian brain is probably in effect, or intuition, or whatever it is, because whatever is going on between them, it's going badly, no matter how smooth it looks on the surface. Clark pushes his hands into his pockets and takes the few steps separating him from them, coming to a pause just beside Lex.

"Have a good time," he says, and her gaze flickers to him--something like suspicion in it's depths, but he's evaded far better than her for a hell of a lot longer. Lex is so tense he's about to start vibrating, and Clark casually lets his arm brush against him. "Hope the flight is okay."

"Thanks Clark." Her gaze goes back to Lex, still puzzled. "I'll see you soon." It's not a question, but it might as well be, and Lex smiles like he always does, charming, and tells her something that Clark doesn't bother listening to. "You're going to be in the city for a few more days, Clark?"

"A couple of weeks at least," Clark answers with a lazy grin, and she nods easily, but her smile's fixed, looking between them.

It can only get more awkward, but for once, Clark's not feeling it as a negative, and he watches her walk back to her chair, picking up the expensive designer bag, sliding it gracefully over her shoulder. She feels it. Change. It's instinct. Yes, Lena, you already lost him. Yes, Lena, you should be suspicious. And yes, Lena, I'm not really sorry at all.

"Enjoying yourself?" Lex murmurs, and Clark shrugs, watching them hand their tickets over, another look from Lena that's fixed and closer to--not knowing, not exactly, but *something*. Something that will sit in her mind and make her call Lex tonight from her hotel or her apartment and Clark wonders what Lex will tell her. Wonders if he wants to be there to listen.

"Saying goodbye to Chloe," Clark answers, and brushes his fingers against Lex's arm, deliberate, not intimate, meaning nothing really except he can and he wants to. He can still taste Lex on the back of his tongue. "Ready to go?"

Lex looks at him then--long, intense look, studying and weighing and a lot of other things that mean Lex is confused and doesn't like it. Doesn't like what he's doing and doesn't like why, hates the lack of control and Clark moves a little closer, into Lex's armor-like personal space, making him tilt his head and look up. So close they can almost touch.

"Anywhere specific?"

Clark licks his lips, thinking a little. "I need to finish packing my room up. Want to help out?"

Little, invisible twitch, and Lex steps back, but not quite--away. Not really.

"All right."


"You want to tell me what the *fuck* that was about?" Lex asks as they make the highway in record time, and his voice is so even that it could be any conversation on earth. Steady, calm, gloved hand on the gear shift, and Clark wonders if Lex keeps concealer in his bathroom just for moments like this. If Lena had been any closer, there's no way she could have missed the pale violet shadow under Lex's jaw. Reaching out, Clark rubs his fingers into it, the makeup coming away, and Lex's flinch is delayed reaction and half-hearted at best

Lex isn't used to it, used to pulling away from him, and it's a little heady to know that. He's taken it for granted since they met.

"I said goodbye to Chloe and Lena. What did it look like I was doing?" And okay, not at his most mature, but he watched her *touch* Lex, when he can't, not in public, not yet anyway.

"You were baiting her." Slight edge to his voice, and Clark turned enough in his seat to face Lex, drawing his leg up on the seat.

"I can't bait her about what she doesn't know."

"Amazingly, that was exactly what you were doing." Lex shifts gears like it's he's thinking of breaking someone's neck, and maybe he's thinking of Clark's. There's a moment where he thinks Lex won't say anything else, then the pale lips tighten briefly. "Clark, what happened last night--"

"And this morning, and in the shower--not casual, right?" Clark leans back in the seat. "Don't start doing a revisionist history. That crap doesn't work on me."

Lex takes a breath. "We were both drunk."

"That doesn't explain this morning." He's being harder than he needs to be, and Lex is freezing, pulling so tightly in on himself that it's actively worrying.

There's another stretch of silence, and Clark can hear Lex breathe, slow and easy, the way he does when he's controlling his temper, when he's trying to work something out, and maybe the dorm's a good idea. Lex doesn't blow up in public, never does.

"What do you want me to say?" Lex answers softly, and Clark leans an elbow on his knees, noting the tense lines of leather across Lex's knuckles.

"Say you won't go to New York. Stay here."

"In the city?"

"With me."

The car swerves, just a little, and there's a chance the leather coating Lex's knuckles will split. Glancing at the traffic and glad it's not too bad, Clark looks back at Lex.

"I thought you were going back to Smallville." Quiet, careful voice.

"I'm getting an apartment with a guy on my floor, since I got that internship at the Planet." That interview had been almost as good as a graduation present, even if Lex still denies he had anything to do with it. "I was only going back for a couple of weeks until the place is ready."

"I thought you'd take my offer for Europe for the summer."

Clark smiles slowly and feels Lex's gaze fix on it briefly. "I'm thinking about it."

Another silence, more comfortable, less tense, and Clark fingers the knee of his jeans.

"You have a meeting on Monday," Clark says carefully, setting the statement carefully between them, and the car tenses again. "I don't think you can cancel it."

"I have a lot of meetings. Hence the title CEO." But there's no sarcasm in his voice, and Clark tentatively leans back in the seat. "Where are you moving your stuff until the apartment becomes available?"

"Mike arranged for us to use the old frat house down the street," Clark answers, watching the university campus approach. The parking lot is sparsely populated, and Clark can see Pete's car is missing from it's usual reserved for RAs space. As they pull in, Clark slides his seatbelt off and fingers the door before pushing it open. It's going to be a hot afternoon, and Clark rubs the back of his neck absently.

Lex follows him silently to his room, almost heeling him the entire way, strangely sensitizing until he could feel the hairs on the back of his neck rising, a little shiver to his skin with every breath. He fumbles the key into the door, walking in to the nightmare of unpacking he left behind.

"Half-packed?"

Clark shoves his hands in his pocket and grins sheepishly. "I started packing."

"This isn't packing. This is a demolition. God." Shaking his head, Lex reaches into his pocket, unfolding his phone.

"Lex, are you calling your staff?"

The perfectly natural, familiar smile's welcome and Clark can't help smiling back. Lex in a good mood, a *Lex* mood. Little traces of wicked amusement, simple pleasure, and mischief. Very much the man he first met in every way.

"Yes. Definitely. Where's your roommate?" Lex asks, dialing the number.

"Already left after the last final." Lex is pacing the room, stepping between half-heartedly packed boxes and piles of clothes, randomly tossing things onto Dan's stripped bed as he moves. Clothing mostly. His laptop. Clark starts putting his more important things in bubble paper, sitting on his bed as Lex gives orders over the phone.

"Okay," Lex says, pushing the off button and snapping the phone shut. "They'll be here in a few minutes." Lex looks around the room, stepping over another box to remove the bubble paper from Clark's hands. Lex brushes the toe of his foot against an unpacked suitcase, and the tight expression is back. There's only inches between them, and Lex looks--guarded. More than guarded. Lex lives in emotional eddies that would exhaust anyone else, and Clark's not at all surprised to feel the withdrawal, comfort level forgotten again.

They might never have been friends for so long.

"You think I'm treating you like a whore." Clark is surprised by the hard sound of his own voice. "Like all the women you expected me to use and throw away in Europe."

"You're not?"

"Show me how to prove I'm not. Or take it out on me."

Lex's pause is all in the way he considers, before taking the last step between them, so close Clark can feel the warmth of his body through the grey summer suit. An almost tentative hand touches his face, slicking along Clark's cheek, like he's memorizing Clark by touch, and Clark shuts his eyes, leaning into the cool fingers. Ghost-tracing of his face, sliding into the bangs that almost want to fall in his eyes, pulling out the curls lightly, because Clark hasn't had time to get a haircut since midterms.

Clark leans forward, warmth drawing him, pressing his face briefly into the front of Lex's pants--hard heat, yes, musky smell he's come to crave, and Lex shivers beneath the soft cloth. He mouths the material just a little, soft pressure of his lips and a little teeth behind it, bringing his hands around and wrapping them gently around Lex's knees, sliding up the backs of long thighs slow and gentle, working his fingers into the muscle. The hands in his hair twist, tighten, and Clark bites lightly at the head of Lex's cock through the material, tasting nothing but cloth and expensive detergent and it's not *enough*.

"Clark--" Hands loosening even with the instinctive jerk of his cock, the low hiss of his voice, and Clark slides his mouth up, little space between the buttons on Lex's shirt that he can lick and get skin. Sweet, smooth, hinted with salt and soap, and his fingers slide around to the button of the pants. Sharp breaths above him, and Lex could pull away but he won't. Clark drops his hands when they're unfastened, looking up briefly to see Lex watching him before getting the zipper between his teeth and pulling it down. "Fuck."

Clark picked up that trick during Rush. What he's about to do--he grins and the smell's stronger, and he noses the boxers a little before pulling them down in easy stages, licking any bare skin that appears, and then pulls down sharply with both hands, Lex's clothes around his knees and completely open to whatever Clark wants to do. He takes a second just to look, see--large, smooth, hairless cock, different, but it's a little too much sensation, coming close to overload and he grabs his own cock and squeezes the same second he takes the head in his mouth.

"*Shit*--" Lex closes a hand on his shoulder, knees almost giving out when Clark sucks, licking around the edge, picking up all the taste. Salty, bitter, a little soap, but the purest scent of Lex here, now, and he sucks hard for a brief second before he takes more. Swallows just to feel Lex moan above him, and the hand in his hair twists tight again. "Yes, suck me."

Far too comprehensible a sentence and Clark pulls just enough so only the head is in his mouth, playing with it, tonguing the slit hard enough to get a shudder and another sharp twist, hips moving instinctively. Pulls away completely to just mouth him, down to the base, ducking enough to catch smooth, soft skin, graze it gently with his teeth, take each tight ball in his mouth and suck just a little, enough to get Lex to stop breathing and maybe stop thinking and just *do* this. Slide both hands around Lex's ass and come back up, look up long enough to see glazed blue eyes staring back at him, hold that when he goes down completely, and he knows how to do this.

Rush had been educational, to say the least.

"God, Clark--" Whispered, not enough air, and Lex sounds like he's drowning and liking it, and Clark swallows again, pulling back, and Lex is--moving. Instinct, reflex, sex this thing that is all about the body and what it needs and wants and Lex is as vulnerable to a mouth around his cock as any guy. Everything, even anger, is lost to it, wet heat and Clark fights a grin when Lex starts fucking his mouth.

Hard.

"God, yes, suck me, Clark. Yes. Just--there, right there. More. *More*." Hard, demanding, desperate, a lot aroused, and Clark sucks harder and then drops his jaw and Lex takes over. Hard thrusts that stretch his mouth, bracing himself with his feet on the floor and his hands on Lex's hips, and Lex is stroking his face with hard fingers. "Pretty mouth, God, thought about this so much--"

*good*

"--how you'd look when you did this for me..." Trailing off when Clark pushes his tongue into the underside on the downstroke, and the thought tickles his mind that they didn't lock the dorm room door. Anyone could walk by, hear Lex saying those things, saying his name, know Clark is making Lex Luthor, businessman and billionaire, national legend, most powerful man in Metropolis, come right here in a cheap dorm room by a student bed. Anyone could walk in and *see* this, and God....

It's a rush, and he almost misses the second Lex lets go, the shaking that starts in his thighs and over his hips and Clark swallows and Lex comes.

Hard.

Swallowing fast, salt and bitter and interesting, different, and Clark files the body memory away for future thought, just going with what he knows. Sucking and licking and Lex is collapsing. Clark catches him, Lex straddling his lap, sweaty and flushed and infinitely fuckable and no one, *no one* sees this except Clark.

So maybe he should want the door locked after all.

Hard breathing against his face, before he's pushed back on the bed, and Lex is in his mouth, licking away the taste, scraping against Clark's tongue and mapping his mouth, making him arch up and groan and try to get closer, maybe get his pants down, maybe beg Lex, please, touch me or just let me touch myself and look at you, and it would be pathetic except it's Lex and that makes it, God, so right.

Lex, kissing him lazily now, sated and touchable and Clark slides his hands under Lex's shirt, rubbing his thumbs over hard nipples, over amazingly soft skin. He can feel the fine lines drawn by his nails on Lex's back, raised patterns he can trace, random memory of when he put them there, smiling a little as Lex shivers with every touch.

"Your staff will be here in a second," Clark says finally, half-hoping for traffic, but there's the faintest sounds of lots of footsteps, and Lex sits up, redressing fast and dirty, ignoring creases in the pants and the wet stain on his shirt from Clark's mouth. Licking his lips, Clark sits up.

"Get packed." Lex's voice is tight, nothing given away, and Clark frowns, glancing at the floor, then the pile on Dan's bed. Oh.

"Right." His duffel bag is buried under a pile of books and Clark stuffs his clothes in--bare fit, but close enough. The bathroom was pretty much emptied when Dan left, since Clark doesn't really have a lot of bathroom things, but he grabs his toothbrush and empties the contents of his drawer before throwing the bag over his shoulder. Lex has his laptop, neatly sliding it into it's case.

"I canceled the Monday meeting yesterday," Lex says, and Clark lets out a breath, leaning into the doorway. There's a breathless pause, then Lex neatly pulls his jacket off, folding it over the laptop's case before pulling the strap over one arm. Unbuttoning the sleeves of his shirt with casual flickers of his fingers, and it has to be Clark's imagination that he still looks perfectly capable of running a meeting, even with a creased shirt and wrinkled pants. "I canceled all my meetings today, too."

Clark pauses, thinking through the two simple sentences. "You're not going to New York."

The blue eyes don't have anything in them at all. It's Lex at his most guarded, and that look's never been turned on Clark before. It's almost like a slap. And it's a lot like a victory.

"I'm not going to New York."


Lex engages in teleconferencing with his laptop and his cellphone from the bedroom and Clark dozes intermittently through the late afternoon, stretched out in a t-shirt and shorts he changed into once they got back to the apartment, covered with a light, handwoven Indian blanket that Clark remembers vaguely from girlfriend number three. A lot of the time, though, he just watched Lex.

He's spent a considerable amount of their friendship overlooking a lot of things about Lex. Dismissing. Setting aside because it wasn't important, because their friendship had enough disaster marks on it and there had to come a time where Clark had to make a decision. It'd been--this. Compartmentalization. The Lex that was his friend and the other one, businessman and Luthor heir.

It's--jarring now, to see the one he usually ignores. Fingers flickering rapidly over the keyboard, long phone calls that seemed to be little more than excuses for people to flatter Lex, endless deals that he could only half-understand, and a part of him wonders why Lex is--letting him see. Why after all this time and all the lines they've drawn, all the care that's been taken by both of them, that Lex is letting it all spill over.

There's an uncomfortable suspicion in the back of Clark's head that no matter how this goes, their friendship, what they created in Smallville and carefully nurtured up to yesterday night, is--gone. Slashed apart with sex and damaged further with everything else, and Clark shivers a little in recognition of the simple fact of it. Whatever comes out of this now--and God, he really hadn't realized, had he, how *much* was riding on what he chose to do--it'd never be the same again.

Change.

"You all right?" Lex glances over at him, and Clark lets his mouth quirk in a half smile, his eyes falling naturally closed again. Close enough to touch Lex's hip if he shifts even a little, and he hears rather than sees Lex find a water bottle and open it, taking a drink before closing and setting it aside. A few seconds of keys clicking, then he feels Lex relax back into the pillows, and an absent hand touches his face.

He's careful not to move, barely breathes at the slow stroking, nothing like arousing, closer to comfort. To who, Clark's not sure, but it doesn't matter--easier to very carefully move enough to be easily in Lex's range, let himself be petted, slitting his eyes open to watch Lex reading the laptop's screen, his entire concentration devoted to work, but his body's still Clark's.

He half-wakes when the fingers pull free of his skin, opening his eyes on a darker late afternoon day, the light slanting through the wide windows marking squares on the floor in liquid gold.

"Hungry?" Lex's laptop is folded away, papers and files stacked on the foot of the bed, and Lex is stretched out beside him, inches away, close enough that Clark should have felt him breathe, just from proximity.

"Yeah. Where are you taking me?" Yawning, he sees Lex grin and shakes his head on the pillow. "Nowhere dressy. I didn't bring any clothes for that."

"Boy scout, Clark." Lex taps the headboard, lifting himself on one elbow. "Clothes in the closet. Go get dressed."

"What's wrong with fast food? And when did you buy me clothes? And *why* did you buy me clothes?"

"One, I hate McDonalds when I remember the reason I don't own stock in it." Lex rolls on his back as Clark's feet find the floor and he luxuriates for a second in the feel of the thick carpet before standing up. "Two, it's a Friday night and contrary to popular belief, I really do have a life outside business and I'd like to indulge it. Three--" Lex lifts his head briefly and Clark sees the sharp smile, "three, I've never, ever gotten to dress you and I'm taking advantage of it while I can."

"What's wrong with how I dress?" Chloe's upgraded him, he admits it. She shopped for him, in fact, and he remembers the look on his father's face after the first of such shopping trips, staring at his son like a stranger.

"Nothing," Lex answers, lying back down and the blue eyes sliver closed. "I just want to dress you."

Oh. Clark pushed the closet door open, blinking a little at the contents, then leaned back out. He always forgot that Lex didn't go shopping--he simply ordered entire department stores.

"Lex? Uh, where exactly?"

"Right in front. White plastic cover. Bring it out with you."

"You're being literal about dressing me, aren't you?" And that is--not a thought conductive to going anywhere, and Clark takes a breath before grabbing the bag, carrying it out. "I need to take a shower first."

"Mi bano es tu bano," Lex answers, eyes still closed. "Mi bano, mi jabon, mi casa, mi cerveza, mi vodka, mi--"

"Have you been drinking?" Clark asks, approaching the bed and dropping the bag on it before carefully crawling up from the foot.

"No." Lex opens his eyes, regarding Clark with something like mockery and a lot like pain. "I just lost my--"

The phone's ring brings Lex upright, the hazy look clearing, and they both glance at the cellphone lying innocently on the nightstand. Slowly, Lex reaches out on the second ring, glancing at the digital face before an unidentifiable expression slides across his face. Clark crawls up the rest of the way, but he doesn't need to look to know who it is.

There's an almost too-obvious pause before Lex pushes talk, and Clark settles down on his stomach, fixing his gaze on Lex's face.

"Lex speaking. How's New York?" There's a long pause, and Clark wonders what she's saying, is almost tempted to listen in. Folding his arms under his head, he feels Lex trying to shut out the room, concentrate on the woman on the other end of the phone. Lex is a multitasker by nature, focuses instinctively on what's important to the moment, always has, and Clark moves a little closer, just enough to brush his fingers over the untucked hem of Lex's shirt, fine silk that he's always loved to touch. He has to wonder if Lex has any sheets like this, imagining them against his skin, against Lex's, and smiles as his hand finds bare skin just above the waist of Lex's pants. Flesh jumps and there's an almost imperceptible hitch in his voice, and Lex reaches down, pulling Clark's hand free. Clark pliantly lets Lex pull him back but twines his fingers through Lex's, studying the contrast. Tanned gold against cream, Lex's knuckles no longer perfectly symmetrical from a few too many breaks, long fingers callused artistically, attractively. Clark raises the hand to his mouth, biting gently on the pad of Lex's thumb, tonguing the skin a little before turning it back over. Short nails, blunt edges, expensive manicures when Lex makes the time to go, but they're a little longer now than usual, and Clark slides his tongue over the edge of finger and nail. Body memory reminds him of how these had felt on his back--they could have drawn blood if he was anyone else.

Lex's palm tastes like sweat and leather and a little like pencil lead and wood--Clark strokes his tongue over the middle, pressing his lips briefly before sucking gently on his wrist. Listening with half his mind to Lex, cool voice and cool inflection, tiniest hitching breaths every so often and Lex isn't looking away from him at all anymore. Shorter responses and Clark wonders what Lex would do if he carefully slid his hands back under that shirt, let his mouth follow. Straddled Lex's lap and unbuttoned his shirt with his teeth, wonders if that would be enough to make Lex hang up the phone mid-word.

"Yes, I'm sure," Lex is saying in his coolest voice, but he doesn't sound very sure at all. "No, it's important I be there. No, I--yes, I know. I *know*." Sharp upward note and Clark lifts his mouth away, watching Lex's face. He never dealt well with guilt--about as likely to take it out on the person he injured as anything else, and wow, Lex is feeling *guilty*. Not good at all. Scooting closer, Clark leans just close enough to breathe two words in Lex's ear.

"Hang up."

Lex turns his head, just enough to look in Clark's eyes, close enough to share a breath, and Clark licks across Lex's mouth hard and fast, between slightly parted lips, tasting spring water and worry.

"I need to go," Lex says slowly, wide eyes locked with Clark's. It's too much to resist--a little selective hearing and Lena's voice is coming straight over the line like his ear's pressed to the phone.

"...you're going out?" Surprised and maybe a little hurt. Trying so hard not to be, and Clark feels the familiar twist in his stomach, and he *is* causing that thread of uncertainty in her voice, that hurt. Yes, yes, yes, and he's gotten pretty good at feeling guilty, pretty damn good at taking responsibility for everything, and yes, Lena, I'm doing this and this time, I'm not going to be sorry.

"Dinner," Lex says slowly, and Clark feels Lex trying to pull away, get control of the situation.

"With Clark?"

Clark blinks, something interestingly like anticipation growing inside, makes him bite his lip. Sharp edge in her voice, like she felt something, maybe heard it in Lex's voice, and Clark presses his forehead into Lex's shoulder briefly so Lex can't see his almost-hysterical smile.

"Of course with Clark." Lex makes it sound obvious, and his voice is definitely edged now, Lena's got to hear that. Guilt, Lex, never a good combination make, and there's more, but it's not important enough for Clark to concentrate on and listen to. He hears Lex say goodbye and the click of the phone turning off, doesn't lift his head until Lex wraps their twined fingers around his chin and pulls him up sharply.

"What are you doing?" Lex says softly, and Clark holds the blue eyes There's hurt in them, confusion, traces of the bone-deep, almost habitual rage that Lex wears just under his skin, under his cool, the emotional damage his father installed and few people ever quite got through, and Clark's never seen it turned on him like this before, other than a carefully-forgotten night long ago in a garage.

"Winning." He's not sure how else to put it, how clearly to mark it out, and he knows Lex will never, ever believe him no matter how he says it. Lex is Lex, and the friendship's damaged beyond repair--if Clark screws this up, that's it.

Sex changes everything. He's surprised that it doesn't scare him as badly as it should.

"Winning." Twisted crook of Lex's mouth, a little curl of amused resignation, because Clark's speaking in a language Lex thinks he understands.

Clark leans forward, brushing his mouth over Lex's, hearing the phone drop for the hand that curves around the back of his neck. Instant triumph of Lex's response, forgetting her, forgetting dinner, forgetting everything but Clark, here and right now. The soft lips that open for him and the lean body that shifts against him, necking on the bed like they're teenagers in the loft, and if--God, Clark regrets revelation that didn't happen years ago, because he'd have liked to have Lex in his loft, surrounded with straw and on that worn couch, before Lex was LexCorp and Clark was just the best friend. Thinking that then, it would have been easier, before Lex got harder, before Lex started believing his own press.

Before somewhere in the back of his mind, Lex started wondering if Jonathan Kent was right about how Luthor blood stains everything it touches.

"Let me have you." He whispers it against Lex's mouth, licking the corners. The answer is all in Lex's body, the hand that drops to slide between his shoulder blades, pulling him closer, hard grind of Lex's hips against his. Soft, slow touches in his mouth, Lex lazy and wanting in a banked heat that's nothing like urgency, no fast, lightning hot touches that arouse too fast to appreciate, but slow burn. Expertise in every careful touch, slow circles rubbed into Clark's back and Clark tilts his head at the feel of Lex's mouth on his throat. Tightens his grip on Lex's hand, fingers tighter, taking the slick, wet caresses with a low sigh, a spreading warmth like wired lethargy. Willing seduction, every trick he's ever guessed Lex had, some he never expected, like the way Lex draws the tip of his tongue over his collarbone, insanely sensitive skin that shivers, soft breath after that makes him tighten. Soft sucks in the hollow of his throat where his pulse is beating too hard to even hear the sound of his own soft moans. The slow, languorous shifts of Lex's body against his, tantalizingly light rhythm and shift of muscle, clothing scratchy, unwelcome, unneeded.

Lex is learning his body. Patiently, lazily, thoroughly, like a gift he never expected to receive, like a toy that he's always wanted, like something valuable and desperately needed. Lex, sliding long fingers in his mouth, pressing down on his tongue, watching Clark suck with calm arousal, flaring bright and hot in his eyes. Taking Clark's earlobe between his teeth and biting carefully, following the curve up with his tongue, ticklish heat that doesn't make him laugh, only squirm and breathe hard around the fingers in his mouth.

Lex sits up and his hands are gone, mouth gone, looking down at him like he's evaluating the latest product produced by LexCorp labs. And Clark wonders what he looks like, sprawled on his back, breathing erratic, flushed, and harder than he could have believed possible.

Sly quirk to his mouth that's very much like satisfied. "Go take your shower."

Oh fuck you, Lex.


One long, cold shower later, Clark's looking with interest at his reflection in the mirror as Lex circles him like a general inspecting troops.

"You clean up nicely." So does Lex, elegant and summer-cool in blue and tan, like some Esquire magazine ad in motion, but no picture could possibly capture all the energy flickering off Lex's skin like something touchable, breathable, fuckable, and Clark's still hard.

The shower didn't help, and neither did all the touching. Stupid, impersonal, friendly Lex-touching, fixing the collar of his shirt, straightening the fall of it on his shoulders, never once hitting bare skin or a single erogenous zone except they're all erogenous zones right now, even the places that aren't supposed to be. Soft light tan linen, white cotton shirt, so very very low-key and elegant and so very not like him even in the mirror, like a different person is standing there entirely. And God, does he need a haircut.

"Thanks. So glad to know you approve." And so sad that it's kind of true. Lex approves in such interesting ways. "Where are we going anyway?"

"By the river," Lex answers, straightening the cuffs of his shirt as if they'd dare crumple, flash of platinum on his wrist. "Tenabraun. You've been there before. It's cool enough now to eat outside." Come June, it'll be hell on earth, but it's edging on evening now, and Clark nods silently, fingers twitching against the soft linen of the pants.

"Clark?" Clark jerks his gaze up--Lex is going through his dresser, picking out wallet, keychain, sorting through a few pieces of mail on the dresser and Clark blinks, trying to remember when the housekeeper came by with the mail.

Though granted, Lex's staff are the most discreet people on the planet.

"Yeah?" He's got to get over looking in the mirror. Turning around, he puts his back to his reflection and crosses to sit on the bed, belated worry about wrinkles making him grin. There's a reason he's always preferred jeans and t-shirts.

"Leave a note to tell Mary what you want for breakfast." Lex opens one of the envelopes with the tip of one nail, pulling out the letter with a little frown of concentration. "And can you find--fuck." Lex half-crumples the paper, and Clark glances quickly at the closest breakable in the room. It's a good few feet away.

"Something wrong?"

"I need to go by the office," Lex says evenly, letter crumpled in one hand. "Negotiations apparently aren't going well and I need to find out why." There's the smallest, bitterest laugh that hurts to hear. "Never mind. I know exactly why. Ready?"

Clark checks for his wallet with one hand, then nods slowly.

"Sure."


They take the Porsche, which is a relief since it's red and it's sort of a sentimental favorite in that it actually survived Smallville. Clark figures that any car of Lex's that does probably has pretty much a charmed life and he doesn't worry that Lex is treating such things as driving laws as bad suggestions and topping one hundred on the highway.

Lex doesn't talk much, but the crumpled letter is sitting between them on the seat, and Clark's tempted to find out what exactly has Lex vibrating like that. No, wrong word. More like a tuning fork wrapped in heavy velvet--unable to see it but simply feel it, and it's a wonder the car isn't shaking along from the sheer repression going on. Lex is pissed as hell, Clark's so aroused he actually hurts, and it may say uncomfortable things about him that Lex angry is just about as hot as anything he's ever seen.

LexCorp is one of the newest skyscrapers to take up residence in downtown Metropolis, huge and arrowing toward the sky in delicate glass and metal. Looks fragile, breakable, like the wind could destroy it with only a breeze, but Clark remembers seeing the engineering plans spread out across the living room floor when it was being built. Lex's headquarters, homefront, favorite fort, and if he didn't have a heavy hand in the architectural design, Clark will personally eat a meteorite for breakfast. Shiny-bright, lights awake like eyes all over the building watching them, and Clark follows Lex to the private elevator that goes straight to Lex's office.

"I never asked why you don't live here," Clark says as he watches the numbers.

"Hmm?"

"There's an apartment above the office." He's been all over the building--being Clark Kent, Lex's best friend, is better than a badge or security access in some cases. There's sublevels he knows he's not supposed to comment on, pretend to be unaware of, and some high-security areas that he doesn't bother with because there's meteorite trapped behind lead there, but that's about it for restricted areas. "I know you designed it for something."

"Yes, just what I need. See if I can really make business my entire life and not just most of it," Lex comments dryly, arms crossed, fingers so still on his arms that they might as well be tapping. "I don't know what to do with it, honestly. The original design called for it, and I didn't bother to correct." Lex pauses, obviously thinking. "I think there's a garden, though."

"Think?" Clark lets his mouth twitch and a little of the tension eases.

"There's a chance I could have ordered one built, so think, yes. You can go look if you like." Lex finds his wallet, pulling out a shiny key-card that's obviously never been used. "Go on up and I'll come get you when I'm done. God knows, I doubt you'd enjoy listening to me fire a couple of dozen people."

"Probably not." Clark fingers the card gently, feeling the elevator stop. Lex steps out as the door slides silently open, then pauses briefly to look at him. "I'll be fine. Though you know, might have to weed or something while I'm there, so don't blame me for grass stains on the pants." Lex's mouth curls up in a little grin that's absolutely real. "Farmboy, remember?"

"My garden is your garden. I'll be up as soon as I'm done. You can call my secretary if you need anything--no doubt she's in my office as we speak, making lists of people I should have had killed before now." With another grin, Lex steps out, and Clark watches the door slide closed before shaking himself and pushing the button. A few short seconds, and he inserts the card into the slot. Instantly, the door opens.

Foyer, or whatever, and Clark steps out on something that's vaguely mosaic, light from the floor to ceiling windows breaking through to bathe the entire room in liquid red-gold from the setting sun. Catching his breath, Clark explores. Huge, open, airy rooms, painted or paneled, tiled, textured or flat, different styles, obviously someone who was given carte blanche to play with whatever they wanted to. Elegant, definitely, and Lex in a way Clark's not sure how to describe. Like Lex through stained glass, maybe, the colors of the different parts of his personality fragmented through an entire apartment, and Clark follows the easy, open floorplan, chains of rooms with something that approaches amazement. Only the most minimal furniture, but Lex's fingerprints are stamped on everything, everything, and no, this isn't the work of a random designer with a taste for the eclectic. Too many open spaces where things should be, and Clark takes a second to decide the pattern.

Easy enough to figure it out during his second circuit, though, and he leans into a doorway and breathes in the cool, jasmine-scented air.

This is something Lex is *creating*. Inch by inch, object by object, room by room, like the building itself but more so. Lex's space, only Lex's, and it's so different from his other apartment, with the impeccable taste and eye for art and detail and the general, almost templated feeling of wealth surrounding him. The Luthor in Lex that knows the value of show and how to use it.

This though--it's like walking inside Lex's skin, and Clark closes his eyes just to take the feel of it, all of it.

The garden is just the same--Clark breathes in as he pushes the glass doors open, emerging into fresh air and light and cool greenery like a canopy. This *is* Lex, right down to the white roses by the door and the small, plain stone path cut through, to the little table where Clark finally sits down and remembers how to breathe.

It's--like the castle, nothing in the visual, everything in the feeling when Lex adapted it to himself, when you walked into one of those overdone rooms and felt the differences that Lex's presence made. But--Clark can almost guess that Lex hasn't been up here in a long time--no dust or dirt or anything like that, but the feeling, almost, of something given up, pushed aside, relegated to the back of Lex's highly-compartmentalized mind. Getting to his feet, Clark almost stumbles to the half-wall, staring over the city as it plunges into late dusk, brilliant in yellow-orange and red, and Clark can see Lex *living* here like he hasn't lived anywhere else, not since leaving Smallville, not since the last day in the castle when Lex's presence was gone and it felt cold and empty and was once again nothing more than forbidding stone.

It's well after dusk before Clark feels Lex's presence, and longer still until the doors open and Lex walks outside, and Clark turns around to watch.

It says home, Clark thinks, looking at Lex in his natural habitat, surrounding him like the most perfect glove ever created. And he wonders why Lex wants to stay transplanted.

"I don't see any grass stains," Lex says, hands in his pockets, easy walk to Clark's side. Even Lex's body seems to feel it, the difference, a relaxation that's close to relief, even if it's unconscious.

"Got caught up in the view," Clark answers, leaning into ivy and rough stone, and Lex stops a pace away, head tilted like he's trying to follow the progression of Clark's thoughts through sheer will. "You should live here."

Lex smiles, but there's the lightest trace of shadow behind his eyes.

"I might, eventually." He doesn't sound like he might, though, and Clark reaches out, sliding his fingers over one cotton-covered arm. Lex takes the step that separates them but doesn't do anything else.

"I like it."

"I'd give it to you if I thought you'd accept it."

More than Europe or a truck, concert tickets or a pretty dark-haired girl of his dreams, more maybe than even wanting stability, Clark wants that, wants these rooms, wants Lex in them. He can imagine it, in some really fucked-up part of his mind that's concerned with impossible things. The part that's pretty much had free rein up until now, and he files away the thought and slides his hand down Lex's arm, pulling Lex's hand free of his pocket. "We missed the reservation, right?"

"Very much so," Lex answers, and there's a sudden tightness to his mouth. "It doesn't matter. I can--"

"Can you get take out? I'd like to stay here." Clark blinks as the words fall out of his mouth, and his mind's obviously forgotten how to check in with logic.

"Here?" There's a--hesitation is the best he can do to describe it, but not a negative one. Like Lex is being offered something he knows for absolute fact he can't have.

"Why not?" He wants to see Lex here. Watch Lex in his own space, feel it around him, around them both. "You look tired. I've been out with you before, Lex, and you never eat, you talk. To anyone. Everyone." Clark remembers those times, remembers how he clenched his hands under the table and smiled while wanting nothing more than to call for security and set up a little tape wall around Lex so he'd be left alone. He remembers Chloe teasing him about it and remembers--Claire's?--droll comment that Lex should invest in bodyguards.

Clark remembers liking her *a lot* for that suggestion and wondering where one bought hired muscle these days anyway.

Lex's fingers slide through his, cool and smooth, and the chuckle is low and sincere. "You're right. I'll worry about how well you're able to read me when I'm less tired. What do you want?"

"Chinese. Oriental. Chopsticks."

"Done." Lex steps back, but there's the hesitation again, and Clark has to force himself to unwind his fingers and let Lex go. "Find a room you want to eat in. I can almost guarantee there's a television here somewhere."

Clark's got the place memorized already, and he grins as he follows Lex inside, kicking off his shoes and unbuttoning the cuffs of his shirt, padding across cool tile and through arched doorways, finding the windowed room that had a working television in a simple cabinet, sitting down to flick through DVDs and videotapes--old videotapes, used ones, Lex's, and it clicks. Putting aside the discs, he pushes the cabinet farther open and sorts through the various boxes--some old movies, some shows that he can almost see Lex watching as a kid. Lex, a kid curled up on a rug one of the Luthor houses, watching Wiley Coyote and Scooby and maybe He-Man, though that makes Clark make a sound he's never going to admit is a giggle.

"Mocking my video collection." Lex is dropping beside him, reaching by for a box on the upper shelf.

"You kept all this?" Clark waves at the collection--children's cartoons, adolescent shows, and he'll guess somewhere in here is Lex's first porn. Which would be interesting.

"Had a conspiratorial nanny who helped me hide things," Lex answers, tracing the front of the box with a wistful look. "You knew my father."

Yeah, Lionel probably hadn't been real big on remembrance.

"So, find anything you want to watch?" Lex puts the tape back and Clark scoops it up, grinning at the cover.

"Animal House." He taps it on his palm. "You gave me a copy of this when I started college."

"Yeah, I always wanted to ask if it influenced your decision to Rush," Lex answers, eyeing the tape. "Clark--"

"VCR here somewhere?"

"I have it on DVD."

Of course he did. Clark wraps his fingers around the edges, eyeing the shelves above his head and pushing onto his knees when the VCR comes into view.

"This one."

Marcy, the secretary, calls up to say dinner's arrived before they've gotten past the credits. Lex's mouth is red and the collar of his shirt is unbuttoned when he goes downstairs, and if Marcy is as good a secretary as Clark thinks she is, she's going to know what's going on up here.

Will also hopefully have the sense to block all calls, and Clark turns off Lex's cellphone when it rings, stuffing it behind a cushion and kicking socked feet into the rug when Lex comes back in, looking as innocent as he can.

"I heard my phone." Lex looks more indulgent than upset.

"I turned it off and hid it," Clark answers, reaching for one of the bags. "What did you order?"

He gets a raised eyebrow for his trouble, but Lex only sits down beside him, opening containers at random.

"Sesame chicken, rice, eggrolls, rice, God knows but I think it's beef, rice, and more rice." Lex puts the rice on the floor and hunts through Clark's bag for the chopsticks. "Remote control, use it. I haven't seen this in awhile."

"Gotcha."

Lex unearths wine from somewhere--Clark's beginning to think it magically appears anytime Lex wants it. They have their feet on the coffee table and Lex keeps stealing the chicken and broccoli off his chopsticks, which ends up being sort of fun, because Lex is sexy when he's playful. Even sexier when he's licking soy sauce off Clark's chin, and Clark gives up and takes both sets of chopsticks away, feeding Lex with his fingers just so he can watch Lex suck on them and God, that makes him dizzy and he needs--dammit....

Long damn two hours.

"Watch the movie." Lazy voice from somewhere around his chest, and Clark forces his fingers away from the few remaining buttons on Lex's shirt, wrapping them securely in the hemline and wishing he hadn't gotten a damn movie out at all. Warm, heavy weight, and so relaxed, God, so perfect, and if anyone, *anyone* tries to interrupt for any reason short of nuclear detonation within a five mile radius, Clark might very well kill them.

"Are you going to sleep?" Clark asks, shifting his leg a little, and Lex fits so comfortably between them that Clark's beginning to wonder what he's been missing for all these years. There's a pause before the slow negation, and Clark gives into temptation and slides his hands up Lex's arms, smooth cotton and smoother skin, coming to rest lightly on his shoulders. "Liar."

"Luthor," Lex counters in a soft drawl. "Synonym. Not tired."

"Tired." Clark grins and brushes a kiss against Lex's scalp, feels the soft shift of Lex's body when he does. And he seems to have forgotten that Lex, like his cars, can go from zero to eighty in less time than it takes to spell Mississippi, because Clark's trapped against the corner of the couch and Lex is straddling him, sleepy arousal and nothing at all like anything Clark's ever wanted to resist. Kiss with heat and promise and Clark finds the memory of how to use his hands and draws them up Lex's back beneath his shirt, moaning at the feel of Lex's cock sliding over his.

"*Not* tired." Deliberate grind, and Lex's mouth on his pulse is vicious.

Clarks' cock jumps, his heart jumps, and very possibly his body jumps for a little too long to explain with basic physics, and he gets back down to the couch from four inches above it hoping to God Lex didn't notice. Fast, liquid hot mouth moving over his throat, into the collar of his shirt, and God, Lex.

"I'll cook you breakfast if you go to bed now," Clark mumbles, almost not meaning it, and Lex lifts his head slowly, cocked to the left as he considers the thought. "I did sort of notice that you actually do have those obscure things in the kitchen like pots and stuff."

"No food." But Lex looks interested. "You can cook?"

Drawing his fingers up Lex's back, he stops just above the collar of the soft blue shirt.

"I can cook and use a telephone to annoy your housekeeper and I can *read* too. College graduate and all." Lightly, Clark lets his fingers work into the tense muscles of Lex's shoulders, feeling them go lightly liquid. "Deal?"

"You're good at negotiation. Remind me to bring you in on my next merger."

Clark grins as Lex slides to the floor with liquid ease and takes the offered hand, letting Lex pull him to his feet. It's simple, companionable work to pick up the boxes, storing leftovers in the fridge and throwing away empty boxes, and Lex is tired, Clark can see it in the very deliberation of his movements. Makes Clark wonder what went on downstairs in that office and wish he'd applied a little x-ray and hearing to check things out.

His tour of the apartment told him there were four bedrooms, but he doesn't even glance down the hall, following Lex into the master and absently unbuttoning his shirt. Hamper, hamper...

"Bathroom," Lex says over his shoulder, and Clark nods, walking in, giving a glance at the mirror. Still the new Clark, different Clark, the one embracing this change thing. Coming back out, Lex is sitting on the edge of the bed, one shoe in his hand, thoughtfully looking out the uncurtained bedroom window. Big window, Clark realizes, pausing for a second to stare into the grey-black night sky, the layout of downtown brilliant below

"Polarized," Lex says when Clark takes a step forward. "Out but not in. I like to see my demesne."

"You really got into history class, didn't you?" Clark answers, sitting down and pulling the shoe from Lex's hand, reaching down to slide the other one off and tossing both in the general direction of the closet. Lex doesn't really fight him much, just closing his eyes and taking a breath.

"Variety. Medieval and Renaissance. Machiavelli was easier reading than Thucydides--more practical, too." It's natural enough with Lex's eyes closed to let his fingers unbutton the blue shirt, and Lex tenses only for a second, another delayed reaction that disappears like Lex can't bother to summon the energy to force something that's not natural, not with Clark. "And--I have no clothes here." Lex opens his eyes, and the flash of pain in them makes Clark ache. "Clark, why are we here again?"

"Because I'll cook for you?" Clark gives Lex his most innocent smile and pulls the shirt down, untangling Lex from the sleeves with a strangely comfortable amount of ease. "And since you don't use it anyway--"

"And Lena can't call here since she doesn't know the number." Lex pauses in thought. "I'm not sure I know the number either."

"Right." Bonus there. Clark stands up long enough to strip off the pants and leave them in a little pile on the floor of abused linen. "Come on. I make really good eggs."

Lex gives him a look, but his fingers are sliding to the button of his own pants. "Eggs?"

"Eggs. Things. Something. Lex, you think I was ever going to let *Dan* cook? He can't even follow a recipe. And you know Mom."

Lex's mouth quirks. "Yes, I doubt anyone could get away from Martha's influence without the basics." Lex shuts his eyes again briefly. "She made me learn how to make cookies, you know."

Clark didn't know, but that's--interesting. Really interesting, and he scoots back a little on the bed, brushing a casual hand down Lex's back. Such smooth skin, the lines from his nails already gone, and he wants them back for some reason.

"What are you thinking about?" Clark asks, unable to really help the touching. Lex isn't pulling away or anything like it, so that's as good as permission.

"Trying to remember the phone number, actually." After a second, Lex half turns, giving Clark a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. "Get the lights, would you?"

Nodding, Clark scoots back down, finding the switch near the door, listening to Lex moving around quietly, blankets pulled back, and yes, so Lex, this entire place. Fitting so perfectly around him, even with the pieces missing, and Clark's smiling as he crawls back into bed, finding Lex by touch because that's the most fun way, collapsing in a tired heap on warm cotton, pushing his feet under the blanket.

Moonlight spills silver over the floor and Clark's just a little fascinated, leaning over Lex to look out the window and there's a strange sense of vulnerability and security in here--a wide window to see out but never see in.

A lot like Lex is to most people, he thinks.

"Enjoying the view?" Lex sounds amused.

"I like heights," Clark answers, still staring out, a little breathless. "Weird, I know, but--yeah. I like to see the world from the sky." And how close could he stumble to his secret and not hit on it? Questions, questions, and Lex is rolling on his stomach, head on folded arms, tilted to look out, too.

"I used to hate them." His voice is soft. "I got attached after a while, though." Lex makes a soft sound, and Clark wants nothing more than to kiss him. Some satisfaction in brushing his mouth across the back of Lex's neck, slow and easy, and Lex leans into it with a sigh that makes Clark tighten--not just in arousal, either. "You said sleep."

"You sleep," Clark murmurs, dragging his tongue down Lex's spine. "Didn't say anything about me."

"And I'm supposed to rest with you doing *that*?" There's a laugh in Lex's voice, but nothing like pulling away, and Clark shuts his eyes and gives himself just a few more seconds to taste. And God, Lex tastes good, he could just do this forever. "Make you a deal, Clark."

"You think you can out-negotiate me?" Clark asks, brushing the tips of his fingers over Lex's scalp, down his throat, feeling Lex move into every touch. "You can try."

"Buy you a car."

"You always let me use yours." Clark grins as Lex chuckles, letting his hands slide to warm, bare shoulders, rubbing gently into tense muscle, and there's a good chance Lex is purring. "I may never need to buy a car of my own in my life."

"Good point. Hmm." Lex's hand closes lightly over his wrist. Soft, simple stroking with his thumb, and Lex sounds sleepy. "Island? Hawaii?"

"Not that big into sand, but thanks."

"Chocolate?"

"Huh. I can live without it."

Lex makes a low sound like a laugh. "What do you want?"

Easy one, jarringly simple, and Clark lets his fingers slide gently when Lex arches into him. "Stay here tomorrow. Order more take-out. Go look at furniture."

"Go look at--" Lex pushes himself up on his elbows and gently pulls until Clark's down beside him. "Look for furniture?"

Clark gestures around the room, making his movements big enough to encompass the apartment. "Lots of space. You know. Like chairs and a rug and what the hell, go splurge for a dresser."

"I don't stay here, Clark."

Clark grins a little in the dark, wondering if Lex can see him.

"Wouldn't hurt just to add a few things." Shifting close enough to kiss but not quite, Clark touches Lex's face. "You like taking me shopping."

"You're easy to shop for," Lex answers, then makes a sound. "Fine. Shopping. Fuck. Tomorrow night there's a charity dinner anyway." His voice stops sharply, and Clark can feel the searching gaze like a touch on his bare skin.

"Why does shopping connect with a charity dinner?" Clark asks, and Lex doesn't answer for endless seconds. "Lex?"

"Even the best tailor needs time to do measurements." Fingers in his hair, soft and sweet, and the kiss is even sweeter, arousal buried beneath the warm, thick familiarity and affection and Clark licks his lips as Lex pulls away.

"God, Lex, you need another suit?" Clark's breathless.

"That would be always, but no." No smile except in his voice, and the hand pulls away, resting lightly on his wrist. "For you. For the dinner. Now, you have your deal. Go to sleep."


Lex's housekeeper is probably the only person Clark is actually nervous around.

It's not that he thinks she's psychic, though she does come from Smallville, so it wouldn't exactly be a shock. Sharp green eyes in a woman otherwise completely unremarkable except Lex has kept her since leaving Smallville and that's saying something. She walks around the kitchen not only like she's been here before, but like she owns it, and Clark mixes eggs while wondering if she was really, really fond of Lena, because if she was, well, she's out of luck.

However, point in her favor, she arrived with an arsenal of food. More than strictly required for breakfast and lunch and maybe dinner. More than required for a week of breakfasts and lunches and dinners. More than possibly required for an army's week of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and Clark pays attention as she orders grocery store people to put things away, and she might as well say, my kitchen.

He's perfectly willing to hand it over to her, if for no other reason than she also brought enough clothes for Lex to have no excuse not to stay here, and brought his stuff too. How they managed to get past Lex to put it all up is still a mystery, but then, Lex barely stirred when Clark slipped out of bed, so maybe he really *was* exhausted last night, either that or these people are also mutants from Smallville, and wow, Lex chose some good ones.

She drops a list on the counter beside him, and Clark moves the pan onto the flat-top stove and picks it up, eyeing it curiously. Phone numbers. Speed dial equivalents. Apparently, while he was chopping onions, she programmed the phone.

Oh. And he still doesn't know what the phone number is here.

"Miss Neward called several times," the woman says without a trace of anything in her voice, and that takes talent. Clark slops a little egg over the side of the bowl and is completely unsurprised how magically paper towels are thrust into his hand. Another list is handed over, much longer, and Clark nods. Missed calls. Great. Lena's on there a lot.

"Morning, Margaret." Lex's voice is just on the edge of awake, and he glances around the busy kitchen without a trace of surprise. Pajama bottoms from the clothing Margaret had delivered. Entirely too sexy for simple words to describe, so Clark doesn't bother trying. "Efficient as always."

"Good morning, Mr. Luthor." Margaret. Huh. "Can I get you some coffee?"

"Please. Clark, you're cooking." Lex sits on the stool at the edge of the counter and gives Clark his absolute best fully-attending look, and Clark carefully checks the level of butter in the pan. "Am I going to survive, Margaret?"

"If he remembers to add salt, likely, sir." She sits a cup in front of Lex and refills Clark's without a sound, turning back to whatever strange ritual arranging of the pantry has to be done. But no--she puts a salt shaker in Clark's hand, and Lex grins, taking a drink of coffee. "I took the liberty of programming the phone, sir. If you need anything, please call. Good morning, Mr. Kent, Mr. Luthor." And--gone, like the substantial whirlwind she is, and Clark pours the egg mixture into the pan and tries to remember how this omelet thing goes.

"I wouldn't eat without her," Lex says idly, and Clark watches Lex pull the papers towards him, looking them over. The smallest frown crosses his face and his gaze arrows to the phone, lingering there for long seconds that seriously spoil Clark's peace of mind.

"I'm trying to prove that you do eat," Clark answers, and Lex looks up. The battle, fought and ended with Lex pushing the notes aside and picking up his coffee, and Clark breathes easier, letting a smile turn up his mouth. Watching the pan carefully, Clark picks up his coffee cup. "You know, I would have settled for a coffee plantation for graduation."

"You just don't want to go through the measurings of a tailor." Lex's voice is richly amused. "Too damn bad. And I'm not seeing a newspaper."

"God, Lex. We'll pick one up before we leave." Clark carefully lifts the pan, trying to visualize how his mother did this. Not easy. Not easy, even if super speed grating of the cheese had gone far too well, possibly because his skin is very much invulnerable to accidental grating. "Relax. Enjoy the morning." Sunrise in the kitchen had completely transfixed Clark in place--utterly gorgeous, spilling onto the white tile, and Lex tilts his head as if he knows what Clark is thinking. "Tell me you had nothing to do with this design and I'm not going to believe you."

"Believe what you want. I might have mentioned liking the view from up here." Wistful again, and it centers like an ache in Clark's chest. Stay here, stay here, stay here. Lex will. No doubt about it.

Getting the spatula, Clark concentrates carefully, then makes the transition, runny side to cooked, and okay, having good reflexes counts for a lot. Back down, sprinkle cheese, let it cook for a second, and he's done. Thank God. Done.

"That is a very large omelet. I'm impressed." Clark hears Lex stand up, the scrape of the stool across the clean tiles, and then Lex is behind him. Brush of fingers over his bare stomach, and Clark takes a deep breath, letting it out only when Lex's mouth brushes the back of his neck. Warm, wet, mostly friendly, but it's Lex, and he's hard, instantly, and he knows Lex knows it. He can feel Lex smile against his skin. "I'll get plates."

Clark nods, removing the pan from the heat and sprinkling parsley on top. And then there's the eating, which is sort of fun, since Lex keeps stealing off his plate just because Clark doesn't eat as fast as he does.

"God, Lex, you're a baby. I'll make you another."

Lex waves his fork vaguely in the air, and it somehow resembles conducting a symphony and also looks like Lex is trying to kill something that's flying. Hmm. "We're on a schedule."

"You're kidding." Clark slaps Lex's fork away. "It's Saturday. Even you take breaks. I know you do."

"First off, Saturday of a benefit dinner."

"What's the benefit exactly?"

Lex ponders this for a few second while making serious headway through the omelet. Must be good. Either that, or Lex is too hungry to care if it's horrible. "I'm not sure. Cancer or children, I think. In any case, you want furniture, I want you in a suit, and there's lunch--"

"Lunch?" Clark pushes Lex's fork away again and starts eating a little faster.

"Eating, Clark, remember?" Lex smiles, all teeth and charm, which is highly dangerous, as any enemy of Lex has learned to his--or her--regret. "I have some phone calls to make, a few things to do, and we should be there by six. And somewhere in there, I have to make time to fuck you."

It goes straight to Clark's cock and stays there, his fork clattering to the mostly-empty plate and Lex is finished eating, still eyeing him with a little grin.

Lex glances at the clock hanging on the kitchen wall and pushes off the stool, gracefully cornering him against the counter as Clark turns slowly around in his seat. Strong, gentle hands push his thighs apart, stepping between, mouth brushing against Clark's as he speaks "But time being what it is now, I have something else in mind."


The phone rings in the elevator, and Clark hadn't even realized that Lex had picked up his mobile until he pulled it out of his pocket, flicking it on with a snap of his thumb.

"Lena." There's a long pause, and Lex leans into the back wall, mouth curving up in a smile. "Yes, everything's fine. It was a late night." His head tilts a little and Clark watches Lex pull out the note with all the messages. "Yes, I just got your messages." Long fingers tap a vaguely impatient rhythm against his thigh, and Clark watches Lex grin a little and thinks about tuning his hearing over. "Yes. I know. No, no, he's fine. Terribly upset about Chloe." Lex's eyes come up, hot and bright on Clark, pinning him to the elevator wall with something very like malice. Like he's not talking to Lena with the same mouth that fifteen minutes ago was wrapped around Clark's cock. "No, of course not. I'm sure he'll be very glad to hear that. I--yes. I do see it here. Thank you. I'm sure he'll thank you too. Do you want to talk to him?" Lex pauses and Clark wishes belatedly that he'd tuned his hearing to hear what she was saying. "I'm sorry. No, no, I know, busy even on weekends. Yes, I'll have this phone with me all day, so you can reach me here." Long pause, and Lex cradled the phone against his ear, and that smile suddenly broke over his face. Not the cool one he was doing for Clark's benefit, but the real one, the one that Clark had seen three days ago and had changed everything.

That one.

"I miss you too. Come back home soon." Lex pauses again, looking away, and Clark bites down on his lip when Lex turns away, eyes going distant, and he might as well be alone in the elevator, because there's the realization that Lex has forgotten he's here. "Yeah. Very soon. Goodbye." There's a long pause as Lex studies the phone in his hand before turning it off, and Clark clenches his fingers into the rail behind him, his hands sink into the metal like into soft butter. Not a good idea. Not at all.

He. Doesn't. Care.

Lex is silent as he slides the phone in his pocket, still in whatever territory Lena owns him in, and Clark breathes out slowly, watching the numbers ring by until they're on the bottom floor and emerging into the main floor of LuthorCorp.

The car's already out front. Lex slides into the driver's seat in thoughtful silence, and Clark wishes he'd broken the phone by accident or something, and he really, really wishes Margaret hadn't brought home those messages.

"So what did she say about Chloe?"

Lex's small smile changes, twisting into something far less pleasant and a lot more familiar. The pain is as obvious as the mockery. "I wondered how long it would take you to ask."

"You wouldn't have said it out loud if you didn't want me to ask," Clark says, fixing his entire attention on the traffic that they seemed to be outdistancing like Lex is thinking of taking up a thriving career in stock car racing. "So I'm asking."

"She misses you." The smile twists further. "Regretting her decision. Thinking about things. Putting them in perspective. Wondering if she should have taken the internship at the Planet instead. Wondering if she should come back to Metropolis for a weekend." Lex's head tilts. "Need help in picking out rings, Clark? I know an excellent jeweler."

"Enjoying yourself?" Clark asks between clenched teeth, and the words are hurting Lex as much as they're hurting him. The difference between Lex and most people, Clark sometimes thinks, is while anyone will strike to hurt, Lex always makes sure he hurts himself as well. Like he has to pay for everything he does, even his anger.

"Incredibly." Almost vicious turn of the wheel, changing lanes recklessly, and the ironic thing would be if Lex finally found out what he was because he almost killed them both in a highway accident. "We need to go by the apartment. Lena had something delivered that I need to see. And Chloe's apparently left you a message."

Surreal conversation with the man he's been fucked by, blown by, calmly discussing their girlfriends or exes in some really otherworldly version of friendly conversation.

"Okay." Another twist, and Lex isn't creating that particular tone just to hurt him--it's unconscious and damning as all hell, and there's the first flicker in the depths of his mind that maybe, just maybe....

No.

The drive's silent, and Clark curls his fingers into the edge of his t-shirt to keep from breaking anything, like maybe Lex's seat.

The old apartment is quiet, like they left it the day before, cleaned to a high gloss, all rich antique and expense, Luthor straight through, and there's a package lying neatly on the table by the door, letters sprinkled around it like confetti. Shiny-silver label of some designer on the box, and Lex glances over the mail briefly before picking up the box, carrying it to the living room, sitting on the couch Clark seduced Lex on two days before. Clark's torn between following to see what it is and maybe going for a little run to Alaska and back to destress, and Lex, God....

It's easier to go into Lex's bedroom, finding it cleaned and deserted, and Clark walks back to the dresser, fingering the handle of the drawer before pulling it out. The box is on top, and Clark takes it back to the bed, dumping the contents on the flawlessly straight bedspread. Lex doesn't have a lot of pictures--Clark's been meaning to ask if there's a reason that Lex doesn't care to take a lot of pictures, and idly sorts them into piles. Boarding school, obviously older pictures taken by the school or something like that. A few snapshots taken with a Polaroid camera in Bali or maybe the Caymans, skiing in Switzerland, a couple in some sunny resort somewhere that looks hot and inviting. Lex and pretty girls, Lex and interestingly pretty guys, Lex and--

Amanda, Victoria, Claire, and now Lena. Graceful, beautiful, has-a-fucking-L-for-the-first-letter-of-her-name-symbolism-much? Lena. Pretty in pastel print wearing a huge pink straw sunhat at a polo match--Clark remembers Lex was playing that day, and wonders for the first time if it was for her. He hasn't, to Clark's pretty thorough knowledge, played polo in years.

Lena in emerald green crepe that makes Clark wince instinctively at a gala thing or museum opening that hadn't been exactly a date, more like Lex really, really needed to not go alone or be swamped into hiding by eligibly attractive socialites. Lex liked being social but not so much being on the menu. Clark wonders who took the picture. They look--very good together, and the photographer knew it and exploited it ruthlessly. It could be any of a thousand future moments in Lex's life, with her, picture-perfect captured moment and all that's missing from that picture is wedding rings.

Lots of Lena, and he hasn't been paying attention, he thinks, not until recently, not until the world shifted, when Chloe started pulling away and Lex started looking like maybe, just maybe, he'd found the Lexian equivalent of peace. When the word love slid into Clark's mind and didn't mean quite the same thing as it had six days before, six weeks before, six years before, and Clark stands up and walks back to the dresser, picking up the envelope with the tickets.

The ticket to Paris, the ticket to New York, because Lex is his friend and wants him to be happy, and it's all about change and possibility and maybe, just maybe, he's been running his entire life from the very idea of it. He can pull Lana up in his mind's eyes--dark and fragile and achingly beautiful, the core of want as powerful, as inescapable as it was at ten, twelve, even then, before he knew the words to describe it. Before Lex, before Chloe, before being alien and different, before flying and before super speed and hearing and x-ray vision, there was always Lana.

Everything changes, Lex had told him once. Static is what you get when you don't move, don't want to, don't try.

"Clark?"

Lex is leaning against the doorway, watching him, and Clark turns away, carrying the envelope back to the bed, dropping it on the pictures with something like resignation.

"They're open ended, the tickets," Lex says, voice very steady, very low, betraying nothing. "All of them. Paris or New York, you can be on the plane in an hour."

"Run to Paris and tell Lana I've always loved her?" And it would be true, he thinks, blinking back the core of pain that's grown mellow over the last years. The way grieving for what you can't have, won't let yourself have, grows less sharp, less pressing, the way Chloe's smiles and touch and warmth had coated the memories with a blanket of bittersweet nostalgia that he only touched when he wanted to. "I'm not using you, Lex," he says, pushing the piles into scattered abandon.

"I'm not sure you know how to do anything else." It hits like a truck, a train, an elephant maybe, or just like truth when it's real. And if there's bitterness in Lex's voice, Clark can't say he doesn't have cause. "I'm going out for a couple of hours. Margaret will be here." Lex pauses, something growing between them like inevitability. "You know how to call my driver."

"Lex--"

"Clark." The cool, even tone freezes Clark's tongue, makes him look up, and Lex is never good when he's vulnerable, but there's nothing to read, face or body. For a second, something could have flickered in the blue eyes, something raw and angry and edged in black-red rage that could blindly destroy everything in its path if it was ever, ever let loose, and Clark has always been amused when people say Lex is cold. He's always known better. "Nothing changes, Clark. We'll always be friends. I promise."

Lie. Clark had asked Lex to lie to Lena, and he might as well have said, and lie to me, too.

Lex disappears back out the door, and Clark feels the envelope crumple a little in his hand.

"Everything changes," Clark says, and maybe he's telling Lex, the room, and himself, or hell, maybe he's talking to God and asking why it has to. Pushing himself to his feet, he crosses to Lex's closet, pushing the door open, randomly scanning the sheer amount of clothing, before walking back out and searching the room. No clue what he's looking for, under beds and in the desk and he's in the living room without even being aware how he got there and Lena's vase fits here, perfectly, coolly elegant, and on the couch there's a little bronze statuette and Clark drops down on the cushions to pick it up.

Alexander the Great. Of course.

"Mr. Kent?"

Clark's on his feet too fast--he knows it, can't help it any more than he can help the fingerprints he presses into the bronze back of the statue, and there's no way to cover or hide or do anything but stand there, staring, and Margaret just looks back without a hair turned. Like she didn't see anything, and well, he wishes, God, how he wishes, that he still cared.

"Yeah?" Even to himself he sounds surly and he bites his lip, imagining his mother's face if she could have heard him use that tone with a woman. "I--yeah?"

"Mr. Luthor asked me to check on you," Margaret answers, and manages to look surprised he's still here without her expression changing. Clark feels himself begin to fidget. "Do you require anything?"

Therapy, maybe, but Clark's still fingering a statue and he wonders what Lena has learned about Hephaestion.

"Where does Lex go for his suits?" Clark hears himself ask, and Margaret's head might tilt, but he's not sure. "He said I need to see a tailor."

"I can have Michael drive you."

"Okay. Can you have him ready in about ten minutes?" Clark glances down at his watch, then back up. "Umm--did Lex leave any other, um, instructions?"

"No, sir." She waits, like there's nothing else to do in the world, and Clark shifts his feet, dropping the statue on the couch before half-turning and the vase catches his attention.

"Send someone to clean up a broken vase, would you?"

Clark kicks the stand with his foot on the way to the bedroom and the sound of shattered porcelain reaches him just as he closes the bedroom door.


It's much longer than a couple of hours. Clark thinks about trying the phone, but he doesn't bother--he's pretty sure Lex has turned it off.

The LuthorCorp building is half-deserted, only third shift in evidence and a few maintenance who nod as he passes, keycard and ID in hand, and the elevator seems even more unnaturally silent on the ride up. Back inside, Clark notices that Margaret must have ordered someone to clean up after them this morning and ducks into the refrigerator to make a sandwich, looking at the telephone sitting innocently on the counter.

Not a trace of breakfast remains, and the kitchen feels more achingly empty than it did the first time Clark saw it. Dust and decay aren't what makes something dead, and Clark wonders why Lex abandoned it, what made him shut it up and leave it beyond the edges of memory, when he can feel Lex here more than anywhere else.

He remembers his first day in Metropolis, after his parents left. Lex had dropped by his room, and it'd been near midnight so he still wonders how Lex knew he was up. Sitting on the cheap grey tile of his floor, jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt in some soft grey that made him look a little younger than twenty-five and a lot less intimidating than Lex Luthor, business magnate. Little shiny-metal flash of whiskey between his knees, looking around the room in approval and he'd brought the little refrigerator that day that Clark still has, sitting in storage with his other stuff.

Adrenaline-slick, Clark thinks now, hot with energy and he hadn't known why then, wouldn't know for months, but Lex coaxed him outside and they'd gone over the entire campus and Lex related stories of beer bashes and togas and a little smile when he mentioned Rush, quirk of his lip when he pointed out his own expulsion that told Clark that Lex really didn't mind that it had happened.

Lex, unguarded and bright and real, and it's always, Clark thinks, been there. This moment, this feeling, this change.

Getting to his feet, Clark wanders through the rooms, needing to get energy released, fast, needing something to occupy hands and mind. Terrazzo and colored tile and Clark explores every room inch by inch, familiarity settling in comfortable and warm and he *knows* this place so well he could walk it blind now. Boxed in the master bedroom closet is a stack of photo albums, and Clark pauses briefly.

It's too like him to wander through other's people privacy. X-ray vision and destinies tend to make one a little less caring about Constitutionally guaranteed rights, but he's gotten okay with that under the right circumstances and he pretends it's justifiable now. Clark sits down and pulls out the top one, flicking through it at super speed, filing away everything he sees for later thought. Lily Luthor, Lionel Luthor, Lex, older people that could be grandparents, an older woman he doesn't recognize but he thinks might be Pamela.

Other things. School records. Papers. Essays, and he's always known Lex is smart, but there's smart and then there's rewriting the Einstein on your thirteenth birthday. Sucky spelling, though, childish cursive with the firm press of pen into paper, like Lex wanted to make sure the paper knew who the hell was writing on it, and Clark grins as he puts it aside, stacking everything neatly as he puts it back inside, closing the cardboard carefully so he won't leave a crease. The smallest album's the one he stops at, opening it up, looking into the pictures taken by--Chloe. Pete. Mom.

Them. Hayrides and barbecues and Lex out of place and not out of place at all, and Clark thinks of Lex at twenty-two and it's there, all of it.

This. *Them*, when Lex was an obsessed twenty-two year old guy in Smallville and Clark never thought to guess.

Somehow, this makes it harder, and he's not sure why.

Walking back out, he looks around the bedroom for a few minutes. Bed and that's it, but it feels like there *should* be more, like there were things that Lex had in mind, blank spaces that practically yell, something belongs here and isn't.

The entire apartment says that, though, and Clark checks his suit on the hanger before walking back out, pacing the hall because he needs to move and he's not sure how much Margaret actually listened to him when he asked her to do something for him.

Checking the clock, it's edging on four, and Clark breathes out carefully as he goes back into the living room. The startled ringing of the phone brings him up sharp, and it's bad, so bad, that his self control has gotten frayed enough that he's hovering four inches off the floor before he can find the ground again.

Second ring, and Clark thinks about such luxuries as Caller ID and why, *why* doesn't this phone have it, and then walks over, taking a deep breath and picking it up.

"Clark?"

It's--not Lex.

"Chloe." He gets a stool by chance, almost knocking it into the far wall before he can get his fumbling hands under control, pulling it underneath him and perching tentatively on top. Something throbs in his head that feels like relief or maybe terror, and he's almost, *almost* sure, that he knows what she'll say.

He knows Lex very, very well.

"Clark." Her voice is shaking and she might have been crying, but he's not sure anymore "I--called Lex's and the housekeeper forwarded me here." He should ask Chloe for the number. Apparently, everyone has it but him and Lex. "I--look, I know--this is going to sound--Clark?"

He's stopped breathing. Everything's stopped, maybe, turning slightly on its side, and maybe shaking a little, because the elephant is quite obviously offering to get up and go away, and this is all it's going to take.

"Yeah," he breathes, running a sweaty palm over his knee. "I'm here."

The silence is uncomfortable, almost painful, but Clark's not looking for words to fill it, doesn't even want them.

"I've been thinking," Chloe says slowly. "Talking." To Lena, very likely. To Lex, definitely, and Clark glances at the envelope on the counter for a few long seconds before fixing his gaze on the window outside. "About--New York. About you. And me." Another pause, less meaning-filled, more like Chloe's working her way through her own head, and Clark shuts his eyes hard, edge of ache and relief and he's loved Chloe for so long.

"...and the Planet still has internship openings." Her voice sounds desperate, edgy, thready, and he wants to say, very sure, but it's not. She's not sure, and he's not sure, and there's nothing about this conversation that's anything he's willing to accept. "Clark, I can--"

"No." His fingers close over the edge of the counter and there's no point in pretending he'll be able to hide that from Lex very much longer, what with his fingerprints ending up on various items two inches deep. One day, he's sure, he's going to be laughing about it. And one day, Lex is going to tell the story about how it happened, and it's going to be true. And Clark's going to be there to hear that story.

"No?"

It's change.

"No." And it's strange, that his voice sounds so sure when he's shaking on the stool and there's sweat edging his forehead and his stomach hurts like meteor rock is nearby to make him miserable, but-- "Chloe, I'm not--I won't be your safety. We--I could have come with you. You could have stayed." Blinking, Clark brings his body under control and wipes at what isn't anything like tears, he'll swear it to his dying day. "We didn't. We never even thought about it."

"Clark--" And it's her too, she feels it, he knows she does. She's been seeing the elephant for longer than he has. She knows how it moves and how it shakes things and knows that when it's done, nothing can ever stay the same. She's just always been brave enough to want to see what happens when it's done. Pressing the heel of his hand into his eyes, Clark takes a shaking breath. "Clark, I love you."

"I love you too." It's true, and it's been true for so long that it's not even a question. "Chloe--you don't want to do this. Or--anything. I love you. I just can't--"

"Can't what?"

"Stop change." Spaceships and superpowers and Lex. "Tell me you want to come back and get married. And that's what you want, that's--" No. No. "Tell me that when you got the offer from the Times, you thought even once about turning it down for me." And it's unspoken, that not once did Clark think to go with her, even apply there. Never once.

She hesitates, and it's obvious, and it hurts but it also eases the ache away, mellowing it, and he thinks, maybe, that he doesn't need to cover it anymore.

"No, I didn't." It's almost a whisper.

And he hadn't either.

"You know we'll always be friends, right?" And that's as true as the love, as true as anything else, maybe more true than anything he's said to anyone, and he can almost see her smile through the tears. "Always, Chloe. Promise."

He hears the elevator open behind him and says his goodbyes, pushing the phone back into its receiver and taking a breath. Reaching across the counter, he picks up the envelope, pulling out the ticket to New York.

Lex is lounging against the arched kitchen entry without any expression at all, and Clark deliberately rips the ticket in half and drops the pieces on the floor.

"Paris busy?" he asks slowly, and Lex follows the fluttering papers with his eyes until they settle on the cool tile.

"I didn't think I'd need to." Tight voice, and Clark pushes himself off the stool, and Lex doesn't back up but only because he's Lex.

"What would it take to make you--" Clark stops, because Lex is stepping back, and it's frighteningly like retreat and Lex does not *does not* retreat.

"I'm a Luthor," Lex says slowly, and Clark is going to ask--tell--his dad he can't ever say that name to Lex again. Ever. No matter how much they piss each other off every Thanksgiving and Christmas from here on out. "I'm a pragmatist."

"You're Lex. You believe three impossible things before breakfast." Clark doesn't want to take another step. Lex is about a breath off from disappearing into himself so deeply that Clark will be digging for years to get him back out again.

"Such as?" Coolly controlled voice, coming to an absolute stop in the middle of the living room, and Clark takes one step and stops, glancing at the clock.

Breathe. Just breathe. Not yet, not now. "It's after four. We only have two hours." Clark forces himself to move again, and Lex follows him with his eyes as he walks by, and Clark has to pause, just for a second. "Lex, your tailor wouldn't accept my credit card. I--um, why? Does he usually give suits away like that?"

There's a ghost of a smile--barely there, not very amused but it's Lex still and Lex is cocking his head just a little.

"I called to tell him you might be stopping by."


Clark could live life happily never having gone to one of those again. From the look on Lex's face on the limo ride back, he wasn't alone.

Huge, massive hotel ballroom, *crowded* with people, sophisticated and rich and annoyingly eyebrow raising every time they saw him and Lex. Lena's name had been on a few too many lips, and Lex had been a little too easy in answering.

"Was that supposed to be fun?" Lying his head against the headrest of the seat, Clark considers life on an island somewhere. The Caymans, perhaps.

"No. It was supposed to be charitable and make you very, very thankful they don't happen very often." Lex is unfastening his tie as they speak, running a finger beneath the collar of his shirt. "But, think of it this way. That was the absolute worst catering in the history of mankind."

"And?" Clark can't help scooting a little closer, and Lex doesn't pull away. He gets a flash of a tired grin as Lex turns his head.

"Anything you cook should be absolutely wonderful in comparison."

Clark lets his eyes narrow and reaches out, taking the tie and pulling sharply. The once immaculate tie is nothing but a piece of dark patterned cloth in his hand and Lex is laughing at him with only his eyes. "I'm never making breakfast for you again. Ever."

"I'm crushed."

"Or--" Clark thinks carefully. "I'll make it every damn day and make you eat it."

Lex flickers--no other word for it, less than movement, more than emotion, something more felt than seen, but it's there. Then Lex is leaning forward, and Clark closes his eyes at the warm mouth, a kiss that's brandy and smoke and dinner and dessert, bittersweet and wanting and a lot of other things. Clark fingers the buttons of Lex's shirt without thought, sweaty skin underneath that he ducks his head to taste, and Lex is making an interesting sound that edges on a purr. Addictive to hear, to feel in the hard body against his.

Wonderful, warm skin, sweet against his mouth, and Clark got the collar pulled aside, sucking a kiss into the juncture of throat and shoulder, straddling Lex's lap and feeling Lex's hands slide up his back, over his hair, light and gently familiar.

"I--" He stops himself, sucking in a shuddering breath, feeling his erection straining against the fine material of the pants, and God, that hurts and he just needs-- "Lex, I want--" And it's just depressing that the words never slide out like they should, like Lex can say them so casually, make them sound so hot and so right, then Lex is tilting his chin up and smiling and he tastes a lot like brandy when they kiss.

"Fuck me? Here?" Suggestive rock that is pretty much a yes, good idea, and he's grinning.

Clark drops his head. "You know. Big space, comfortable, private--"

"Limo," Lex answers, licking a line from Clark's mouth down to his jaw, running his teeth over the skin so lightly it's just a tease. "Something about them..."

"Yes. Definitely." Clark fumbles the waistband of the pants, trying to find the button, catching his breath as his knuckles graze hard heat through the material. "Lex--"

Lex is grinning, breathless with something like laughter and a lot like arousal, dragging his hands down, finding hidden buttons and zipper, lifting just enough to pull them down his hips and Clark skims all the skin revealed, hard, soft, pale, a little slick with the beginnings of sweat and he can hear himself breathing like he's about to die.

"How do you want to do this?" Tongue curling in his ear and Clark's cock jerks like it wonders exactly what's taking so damn long anyway. "Clark--"

"Any way. Whatever. Just--" Condoms, lube, physics, all those things that are pretty much not existing on any plane of Clark's mind worth discussing when Lex runs his knuckles tickle-light over his cock through the cloth. A button from Lex's shirt ends up on the floor, pearl-white and alone on dark red carpet, and Clark reaches down with absolutely nothing like motor control. Pants. Down. Good. Lex on his back, on his knees, on his lap, on--him--fuck fuck fuck and Clark doesn't even care that he just ripped the zipper.

And Lex is still laughing through the arousal, like sex is the most fun you can possibly have ever, and Clark's perfectly willing to agree, right here and now. Lex, pushing Clark away long enough to stretch out one hand and find some magically hidden drawer, and pulling out--

Oh thank God. Lube.

"Okay, that's planning." Not that he cares. Not that it isn't funny or great or going to be something Clark's going to personally see stocked in every car Lex owns from this day forward, not that he *isn't* going to buy stock in that company and get deliveries made daily, not that he's not going to remember for the rest of his life to carry some with him everywhere he goes, but Lex with his pants neatly folded on the floor--and when had that happened?--is pretty much stealing his ability to process. Tube in hand, spreading it on his fingers and taking in the feel, and Lex resting comfortably on the seat and looking far too dressed for someone missing half their clothes--how *does* Lex do that? One knee gracefully raised, hands folded neatly behind his head like it's a day on the beach and nothing like about to be fucked, seriously, seriously fucked, right through the seat of the limo if Clark's cock has any say in the matter, and right now, it has majority rule in his head.

"Prepared." Tilt of his head, sparkling eyes, and Clark locks this memory, building it up vivid in his head, because this is one he wants to keep, for good, forever, no matter what else ever happens. "Two fingers, in me. Easy enough?"

Clark sucks in a breath and leans down, kissing the mouth that's smiling at him, that's talked to him and cared about him and told him things no one else ever would. Slick, wet, hot mouth that clings and touches and feels so perfectly right, and he works his way blind down, finding the hole by dint of simply skimming across it, and carefully, gently, pushing his fingers inside.

Clark lifts away to watch, bracing a hand on the seat beside Lex's head, seeing the expression of utter pleasure slip across Lex's face. "*Yes*--"

"Okay?"

"You need to fucking *ask*?" Little arch of hips and Clark figures this out, not so hard, kinda obvious, sliding and stretching and trying very hard not to imagine his cock doing this or he won't be doing anything but coming right now. "Right--yes. There. Fuck yes, good--" Lex lets a sharp breath out, and Clark can feel him forcing himself to relax, opening wider, and logic tells him to add another finger. Slow, careful stretching, he doesn't want to hurt Lex, not ever, and certainly not like this. And God, it's hot to watch, Lex's hands above his head, digging into expensive leather and arching into the seat, all because of what Clark's doing to him. "More--God yes."

"You look--" The words dry up in Clark's mouth, dusty and useless, nothing even close to being able to describe what he's seeing, feeling from the man spread over the seat like the best meal in creation, and when Lex's head goes back, he has to lick, suck, bite softly into silky damp skin and it's just so perfect. And Lex is slick and hot around his fingers and maybe, maybe, oh please, maybe now-- "Lex?"

"Yeah. Okay." Breathing sharply, and Clark fumbles around on the seat, unwilling to give up what he's doing even for his cock, bordering on desperate until his fingers brush the cool plastic, and he pulls it up, slicking his cock as fast as he can, which is very fast indeed. Lining everything up is pretty self-explanatory, and so okay, he might have just been into the heterosexual aspects of sex before now, there's a *lot* of crossover in the basics. Go. In. Now.

Pretty simple, and the hot, tight, slick slide sucks the breath out of him, like the look on Lex's face when he does it. Long thighs up around his waist, pulling him in faster than he ever would have dared on his own, and there is nothing on this planet that could tear him away. "Oh God, Lex--"

"Yeah." Breathless, laughter under it all. "Not--bad...." Tense and Clark forces himself to stop, waiting for Lex to relax under him, changing the angle enough to brush his mouth over Lex's jaw, closing his eyes because Lex like this was too sexy and he wants this to last. At least a little.

"Not--bad?" Lex's hands in his hair, gently pulling his head up, and the glazed blue eyes have everything in them. It's--not just sex. It's not just the difference and it's not just--just anything. And it's on the edge of his tongue to say, I love you, but this isn't the time and maybe it would be the worst time, and Lex will never, ever believe him if he says it now. Easier, better, more real to do it with his body, slowly pulling back out and holding Lex's gaze when he thrusts back in, so careful, so gentle, and Lex makes an impossible sound that's going to cut all these festivities short if Clark's cock ever hears it again.

"Good," Lex murmurs, and his heels dig into Clark's back. "Very--*fuck*--good."

"Very--good fuck," Clark corrects breathlessly and sex maybe isn't supposed to be fun as well, but it's part of it too. Another thrust, a little faster, and Lex is matching the rhythm, pushing Clark harder, and everything loses meaning, words and sound blending into simple and inescapable need to feel. Just feel. Just feel Lex shudder and arch and his cock drag across Clark's stomach like a brand and feel Lex watching him and feel Lex pushing them both toward orgasm and this is just--too--good....

"Lex, do yourself, just--let me--" Words flitter in and out and Clark's not capable of full sentences, but Lex's breathless smile is a good answer, wrapping his hand around his cock and there isn't any time left, Clark's so close he can actually *see* something like an edge of light and no fucking *wonder* people compared orgasm to death, because he's seeing the resemblance. Pattern of slick, hot, fast thrusts, deep and hard, harder than he'd thought he'd ever go, and Lex rocking to take it like it's nothing at all. Clark blinks sweat from his eyes to watch it, see Lex jerk himself off, feeling every single shudder, every movement, come on Lex, come on, come for me...

"...please, Lex, come for me..." He's saying it out loud, and maybe Lex takes it like an order, because there's hot wetness on his stomach and that's--oh God, that's *it*, no one could stand that, no one, not Lex making those sounds and twisting beneath him and coming on him and Clark thrusts *hard*, and finally, thank God, he's awash with pure sensation.

Brilliant feeling, like how colors taste and good music smells, the best oblivion on earth, and he floats back to his body with something very like perfect contentment.

"Jesus." Lex's voice is breathless.

"Yeah." Snuggling down into Lex's chest, half-unbuttoned silk shirt and bare wet skin, and Lex is just boneless under him. Warm, solid presence under his body like a really good mattress and Clark shuts his eyes.

"You ready to go home now?" Breathless, amused, utterly sex-exhausted voice, and Clark nods, but he's grinning, too. Lex said home.

Lex said *home*.


She's coolly graceful in the half-lit living room with a glass of Lex's brandy, and Clark's less surprised than he should be as they walk in from the elevator into the foyer. The living room's dark and feels different with her there that takes Clark's mind a second to click into place, and the odd first thing that springs to mind is wondering how she got in without the keycard.

She doesn't belong. At all.

Lex is as expressionless as the worst days with his father, coming to an absolute stop at the arched doorway, smile vanishing, and Clark's hand tightens on the fingers that instinctively try to pull away.

"Lena."

"Lex." Swirling expensive business skirt, pale silk shirt with the collar askew, looking at them with an unreadable expression. Clear eyes flickering over them, seeing--a lot, actually, these suits are pretty much a lost cause. Clark can see the long night here written into every line of her body like prose, and she's more than angry and more than hurt and he should be guilty, miserable, unhappy, because he did this.

He *made* this moment, or maybe a car accident seven years ago did, but it doesn't quite matter.

There's a second when everything could be in flux--that's change, Clark thinks, feeling Lex's hand cold and stiff in his, the way his body tenses, the flicker of blue eyes that says he knows this moment is the last one.

And then he half turns, gently pulling his fingers free of Clark's.

"Go get changed," he says carefully, clearly, and Clark doesn't want to be here for this anyway. Nodding, he straightens his jacket by instinct, and it's impossibly hard to pass by her, but she never looks at him at all, even once. All that gaze for Lex, just for Lex, and Clark shuts the bedroom door behind him and leans against it, breathing through something that's both pain and relief.

And the slivers of worry threading through it all, because he'd been sure there'd be more time. Lena's *had* time, and random shots of memory flicker on and off when he strips off his jacket and the ruined shirt. Pictures and images and everything he's seen between them since the first time he saw them together.

Time. Time to get through Lex's insanely complex defenses, time to work her way into his life, time to meet the people closest to him, be seen with him, and Clark thinks suddenly of the dinner tonight and the question on so many people's lips, and the surprise she wasn't there, and if he's honest--if he's honest about it, sex in the car with Lex was about a lot of things but it was about erasing, too.

They were looking for Lena with Lex, because they'd seen what Clark had felt. They *fit*.

"...the *hell* is going on?"

High, angry voice, but Clark can hear the pain underneath--the real kind, the kind he's felt, the kind that echoes in the memories of Lana and Whitney. Hard to listen to, harder to ignore. If he wants to, it'd be easy to hear it all, every word. Simple tuning, just for a second...

"I don't know."

Maybe he doesn't want to listen.

Pulling the shirt off, Clark throws it at the far wall, trying to pull his mind into some sort of order. Changing clothes has never been something he's devoted his full attention to, and as the t-shirt slides over his head, Clark tries to find something--anything--to distract him.

"...was it just a cover for you, Lex? That's what you were looking for? Nice girl to hide the fact you're sleeping with another guy?"

"Like half of fucking Metropolis isn't aware of my sexuality, Lena. You think I give a shit?"

Maybe. Maybe Lex....Clark stops, forcing out a breath and sitting down on the bed to remove the once-glossy shoes. Kicking them toward the general area of the closet, Clark lays back, smooth comforter under his body, staring up at the ceiling high above. It's easier to tune them out, voices raising, Lex losing his cool more by the second, maybe the biggest single sign that Clark didn't think of.

Lex is *yelling*.

"Is this why you didn't come to New York? Do you think--do you really think I'm going to just--"

"No." It's hard and cold and far lower, and Clark sits up. "I never expected that."

What? Finding his feet, Clark slowly walks to the door, and something in his head says, stop. Don't. Because he can justify so much he's done, but not this, not with that note in Lex's voice, not the shattered control that Lena might not know the meaning of, but Clark does.

"Lex?" Or maybe she does know.

"I'm sorry, Lena." Clark's hands find the door without even meaning to, pushing his forehead into cool, polished wood, and it's not victory that makes him close his eyes. And he'll tell himself that until he believes it. "I never meant for this to happen."

"What--" And there it is. Sick realization, knowing, all wrapped up in a single cut-off word, and this is what change is like when you cause it for other people. It should hurt Clark more. "Lex--"

"I'll call down to have a car take you home." Utterly cool, in control, Lex. So Lex.

"Lex, stop." Clark breathes at the hard sound of her voice--fear and determination and God, like Lex, like Lex when he wants something so badly he'll do anything to get it. Anything at all. "Just--stop. Lex, you--we need to talk about this."

"There's nothing to talk about."

"You're throwing everything away for a rebound fuck with your best friend?" The words fall perfectly--no hysteria, no anger, but cool, utter reason, and she's *good*, and she knows where to strike, how to hit, and even Clark winces when he feels the words sink into Lex, into them both. "You're not--you're not his, Lex."

The silence doesn't last long *enough*--or maybe it lasts too long, Clark's not sure, sweat breaking out on the palms of his hands, and he can hear Chloe's voice on the phone with the implicit offer of everything going back to how life was three days ago. A part of him wants to do just that, even now.

And a part of Lex wants that, too. Lose the memories and the sex, the feeling, this place that's Clark's now too, even if Lex doesn't know it, shut it up and shut it down and everything can easily end right now. Because maybe, just maybe, neither of them were ready for this kind of change. And maybe, just maybe, they could pretend there'd never been one.

And maybe, just maybe, Clark's going to tell his rational brain to fuck itself into oblivion and his hand's on the doorknob and he's going to--what? Go out there and perform the worst play in history and God, Lex, I can do it, I'm not scared, and you can too.

"I've never been anyone else's."

It's heady, shocking, exciting, terrifying, humbling on some level Clark's never known existed.

Flicker of heels and Clark opens his eyes when they come to the door, flash through of a slim feminine skeleton moving toward the door and maybe he deserves this. Maybe he can listen to what she says about him, what he's done, what he's ruined, how he can't be what Lex really needs. Maybe he can sit through it because it doesn't matter, and maybe he can let her have that if she needs it, take something away other than the knowledge she's lost.

Strangely, he doesn't want to give her that, though. Even for this.

"Leave him alone." Lex's voice is closer, and Clark can, if he wants, blink over and see Lex standing there, but the voice is enough. It's the Luthor in Lex, Lionel in Lex, the one who goes after things he wants and knows how to stop what he doesn't, the one who gives orders that are always obeyed and the one that no one, no one living can hear and not know what lives under Lex's skin other than brilliance, ambition, and will.

"I don't think he needs your protection, Lex." But she's stopped, instinct winning over anger.

"I don't think you want to play the part of the wounded ex-girlfriend out of some suburban community theatre production, and I'm certainly not interested in watching." There's the flicker of plastic and then Lex's voice is clear and calm. "Michael? Bring a car around for Miss Neward. Thank you."

"Lex--"

"Now."

There might be more, but Clark's breathless, eyes closed, pressed against cool wood and he's--somewhere else entirely. Somewhere in this apartment, this world, this change, and it's not scary, not bad, not a disaster in the making and sometimes, God, sometimes, change can be good.

Change can be *this*.

The door opens, and Clark stumbles out, feeling Lex catch his arm, opening his eyes and almost forgetting to be embarrassed, but Lex only tilts his head like he expected nothing else.

"Hungry?" Walking by him to strip off the suit jacket, disappearing into the closet to hang it up neatly, though the shirt and probably the pants are pretty much lost causes. There's the sound of movement, Lex changing clothes, and Clark breathes out something that sounds like a hysterical laugh. He smothers it under his palm, tasting cold sweat. "Margaret sent up an entire damn sandwich tray for no reason I can figure out."

That's it. That's--all, that's Lex calmly asking if he wants to eat, and that's him, leaning into the doorway, and maybe, just maybe, that's relief. When Lex comes back out, sweats and a t-shirt, sensible socks, look of thoughtful interest in late-night dinners, Clark feels himself shaking for no good reason and God, his control sucks recently. He. Doesn't. Care.

"I love you." There. Natural, unthinking, maybe just the right moment to say it for Lex to believe it, and it sinks into the air, the room, into Lex, with no visible sign except one.

And really, it's the only one that matters. Lex, with a trace of something like a smile, something that could be hope, and God, yes, yes, something that is belief.

"Then that makes things easier when we move in here, doesn't it?"



Epilogue:

There are about a thousand boxes in the foyer. Clark's not going to actually *say* that Lex is getting off on the entire fun of ordering his staff around, but then, he doesn't have to. Lex would probably admit it openly if asked.

"Lex, if I ask, what are the chances of getting out of here while they do this?" Clark's not into the whole micromanagement thing. Delegating is good, and he's been holed up in the kitchen with Margaret for over three hours. She's getting tired of him quickly. He's getting tired of himself.

"Absolutely none." Lex ducks into the refrigerator for a bottle of water. Almost relentlessly sexy in jeans and some sort of loose shirt that's mostly buttoned, and Clark wonders if anyone will notice tiny buttons sprinkling the living room floor from--earlier. "Your parents call back yet?"

There's a reason the phone is still off the hook, and Lex glances over with a raised eyebrow and a really annoying smirk.

"I'll let you answer when they call, if you like." Clark reaches over the counter to put it back on the hook and Lex's hand stops him, almost supernaturally fast. Gentle rub into his palm with a callused thumb that makes Clark smile.

"Far be it from me to interfere in interfamilial disputes."

"You're scared of my dad."

*"I need to tell you something, Lex. Three impossible things you can believe before breakfast."*

*"Is this why you ordered take-out this morning?"*

*"No, that's because I'm not cooking for you again until you beg me. Pay attention, this is important."*

*"All right, fine. Go ahead. Thing one."*

*"I'm never leaving you."*

"I'm more scared of your mom." Lex gives him a grin, disappearing out of the kitchen in a blur of overcaffeinated energy. It's--scary on some level, but mostly immense fun, or at least it was two and a half hours ago. Clark gets another celery stick from the tray Margaret left out for everyone to snack on and chews morosely. There's loud sounds of things being moved around, dropped, and Lex's cheerfully strident orders that practically echo in every corner of the apartment.

"Did you get moved in okay?" Clark asks Margaret politely as she cuts up vegetables.

"Fine, thank you." He's not sure, but he thinks she might like it here. The housekeeper's suite is pretty cool and has its own entrance elevator. And remarkably remote from his and Lex's room, which probably is a good thing. The clear eyes come up and give him a long, level look, and she could say, get the hell out of my kitchen and stop annoying me, but she doesn't need to, and it softens into something that's in the general realm of a smile. Picking up the water bottle, Clark retreats, stepping around numerous boxes just in time to catch the one thing that really is making this day worthwhile.

"Jesus Christ, where the *fuck* did that come from?"

Grinning, Clark gets around the last set of roadblocks and walks into the living room where Lex is viewing the one thing Clark ordered subversively. Over the internet, no less, and very late last night.

"It's a recliner." Circling the living room, Clark comes to a stop a few feet from Lex, who looks as if the world has just announced its intention to become communist and death to the joys of capitalistic enterprises. "I like it, don't you?" Big, fluffy armrests, one with a hidden compartment for such necessary items as cheetos and remote controls, and lube if Clark has anything to say about it, and Lex has taken two actual steps back, bumping into him. It's a nice shade of maroon.

"No. Clark--" There's an edge of something like desperation, and Clark smirks around the mouthful of water. "You didn't."

"It's comfortable." He's tempted to punctuate that by sitting down in it, but Lex needs to be eased into these sorts of things. Granted, not quite keeping in theme with the room, but still. It--fits. And he knows Lex knows it. "Remember that whole thing with sharing and compromising and--"

A really dirty look, and Clark tries to look reasonable and honest. He's failing. "This is because of that thing with the clothes, isn't it?"

"This is because of that thing with the tailor for six hours yesterday, yeah." Clark carefully screws the lid back on the bottle, vaguely aware of the interested glances of Lex's staff. "Lex, you're slowing them down. You're scaring the movers. Come on. Somewhere. Just outside for awhile." Getting Lex's arm, he figures shell shock is mostly responsible for the fact Lex moves, and it's one of those really *good* nights that are cool and comfortable. May is getting stickily hot.

*"Lex, nakedness isn't going to make this easier."*

*"More fun. Trust me."*

*"You realize we've had sex twice this morning, right? Normal people need downtime."*

*"Normal people are bruised after the kind of sex we just had. I'm guessing that's thing two, right?"*

*"You're smarter than you act sometimes."*

*"I'll show you my Mensa creds after you're done. Tell me."*

*"I'm not exactly human, Lex."*

"You're lucky that I love you." Lex is looking around the skyline, and Clark detects a hint of a smile that's carefully concealed under something like a frown. "What time are you due at the Planet tomorrow?"

Internship. Clark sighs, leaning back into the table while Lex watches the sky for a few more seconds. "Around eight in the morning. Don't be smug, Lex. It's not a good look."

"It's a wonderful look. Would have been far better if I could have seen Perry's face when you explained--what did you call it? Possible conflict of interest?" Even more smug, and yeah, Clark would honestly have liked to see that too.

"You own the Inquisitor, Lex. You don't think, just maybe, it might be a little weird for me to report for the Planet and live with the competitor's owner?"

Lex takes a measured step forward, hands behind his back like a general viewing the latest unpromising string of new recruits right before a battle. "Maybe a little." Lower voice. Another step. Clark fights not to crush the bottle. "Bribe you with islands and recliners for paper secrets." The grin is everything that's sexy in the world, and Clark feels his mouth go dry. "Get you drunk and ask what the latest scoop will be." Another step closer. "Seduce news items out of you." Another step, they're almost touching, and Clark wonders if Lex would really have to do anything but talk in *that* voice. "Or--"

"Lex?" There's about a dozen people inside, lots of glass that will let them *see* outside, and that's mattering less by the second.

"Hmm?" Fingers reaching out, just touching the hollow of his throat through his shirt. Clark breathes out and wishes he'd thought to close the blinds when they came outside.

"Lex. We're sort of not alone." And that's really not that big a deal, right? They all work for Lex full time anyway. And--

"I'm pretty sure they're aware of the fact we sleep together." Lazy trace up to bare skin, and Lex is enjoying this way too much. "The entire moving in thing might have been a clue."

"They--don't need a visual." Clark licks his lips and feels Lex's gaze fix, hot and bright. God.

Lex braces both hands on either side of Clark on the table. Brush of warm air against his skin, no lips, not yet, teasing like an art form, and Clark thinks about the fact that the little table might not survive much longer.

"True." Ghost over his jaw, and then a wet, long lick up to his ear, before Lex pulls back, but still so close it would be achingly easy to lean forward and kiss him. God, so easy. So-- Lex steps back, grinning. "I'll send them home."

The *bastard*.

*"And the third thing?"*

*"Yeah, I was saving that until you started breathing again."*

*"You're funny. Really. And still not naked. And still no breakfast."*

*"Lex--"*

*"Tell me."*

*"I think--I think I like change."*

The staff disappears with an almost magical alacrity, and Clark grins as he walks back inside, navigating the boxes still arranged in some sort of Lex-specific organization he still hasn't figured out. Margaret's vanished from the kitchen, Lex is humming something vaguely tuneless in the living room and isn't hacking up the recliner, and Clark's--here.

"Clark, tell me this isn't your collection of Airplane movies. Tell me this is an accident."

"You gotta get a taste for slapstick comedy," Clark answers, leaning into the living room door while Lex sorts through one of the boxes with energetic efficiency.

"You know you're going to be watching a lot of things with subtitles, right? Just because of this?" Lex's grin is wide and bright. "Compromise."

And the apartment doesn't look unfinished anymore, even spread around with boxes and half-packed various household items drooling bubble paper and tissue stuffing. There's a new rug in the living room and his telescope's in the garden outside. Lex played Grand Turismo 2 for six hours straight last night with Clark's Playstation and there's a recliner in the living room.

And silk sheets on the bed, though Lex doesn't know about those yet. Clark drops the empty water bottle in a mostly-unpacked box by the couch, kneeling beside Lex to see what else they have to put away, and there's a brush of fingers across his jaw that--fits. A fast, friendly kiss that reminds him what they were doing outside and probably will be doing on the floor in a few minutes.

It's change.

And it's good.