“Hey.” Someone kicked Clark’s foot lightly.
Clark grimaced and kept working. “Hey.”
“Haven’t seen you in a while.”
“It’s been a little busy around here.”
“And I still haven’t seen you.” His foot was kicked again, less gently this time. “You mind?”
Clark sighed and slid out from under the truck, wiping his greasy hands. “What’s up?” He rose to his feet slowly, his gaze everywhere but Lex Luthor’s eyes. He had trouble looking too deeply into those eyes. He looked at the silver Porsche instead, startled. “I thought for sure that was totaled.”
“It was. I bought another one.”
“It’s great,” Clark said lamely. His gaze was drawn inexorably to the slender frame. Black. What was it with this guy and black clothes?
A graceful shrug. “When something you need breaks, you replace it.”
Clark leaned back against the truck. “Around here, we usually just do what it takes to make what we’ve got work.” He noted growing impatience from beneath lowered lashes. Lex had always gotten pink when he was pissed off, scalp and all.
“What’s this about, Clark? You’ve been deliberately avoiding me.”
“And don’t bother lying to me. Again.”
The word hung in the air, challenging, and Clark lifted his gaze, startled. “I’ve been busy,” he said in a soft voice, ignoring the challenge. “So have you.” Clark managed not to cringe as the grey eyes narrowed, and the normally sharp gaze became surgical.
“So that’s it. Damn it, Clark, you know I had no choice. It was a business decision—”
“Lex Luthor didn’t used to be in the business of buying up mortgages and evicting people, you know.”
“We’ve experienced severe financial losses this quarter. That maniac—”
“Those people are my neighbors. My friends. That means something to me.”
He stepped closer to the truck, fists clenched. “I used to mean something to you.”
Clark found himself holding his breath. With an effort, he let it go, slowly.
“We used to be friends.” The determined expression twisted slowly into a parody of a smile. He reached out to lay a hand on Clark’s shoulder. “Maybe more than friends.”
Clark shoved the hand away, not troubling to conceal his strength. “You’re wrong, Luthor,” he said in an uneven tone, watching the man stagger back with wide eyes. “I don’t know you.”
Luthor slipped his hands into his pockets, shifting his stance as he regained his composure. “We need to come to an understanding, here, Clark.”
“I think we understand each other just fine,” Clark said flatly, knowing it was true.
Lex Luthor’s face drained of color and expression, his voice hardening again. “My father has offered a half a million dollar reward for information regarding the whereabouts—”
“I’ve got work to do.” Clark sat down and slid back under the truck. He lay there, staring blankly at the undercarriage as Luthor stood in silence a few feet away.
“You’re making a serious mistake, Clark,” Luthor said finally.
He almost sounded sad, and Clark closed his eyes. He didn’t move. Luthor walked slowly back to his car and got in, slamming the door so hard it sounded like a gunshot, then sat a few more seconds before he started the car. When he began to drive, though, he moved fast – as fast as Clark had ever heard Lex move.
More than friends. Yes. Lex’s eyes, his mouth, his hands, his body – Clark had noticed those things from the moment Lex had taken his first breath. Luthor was right, and wrong, desperately wrong. Suddenly claustrophobic, Clark struggled out from under the truck and started to run.
“What the hell did you do, run all the way?” Lex tossed Clark a bottle of water, scowling.
“Yes,” Clark rasped, fumbling with the cap.
“Well, at least no one can follow you that way.” Lex shook his head and turned back to the television again, hitting the rewind button on the remote. “Pull up a chair. My lair is your lair.”
Clark gulped down half a bottle of water before he realized he’d seen the tape before, many times. Putting the bottle down, he moved closer to Lex and rested one hand gently on his shoulder. "Why do you keep watching this?"
Lex shrugged, his eyes riveted to the moving figures on the television screen.
Clark turned toward the screen as Lionel Luthor, surrounded by shouting reporters, draped an arm around his son's shoulders. The son flashed a flip, hollow smile, and Clark felt his skin crawl. "The person or persons responsible for this act of terrorism will be brought to justice." The smile became a sneer. "It's only a matter of time."
"He finally has the son he always wanted," Lex said, one corner of his mouth curling upward in a sardonic twist. "Do you think roses would be appropriate?"
Clark slipped his arm around Lex's shoulders. "I think turning this off would be appropriate." He took the remote from Lex's hand and pressed the button harder than he had to. The television went dark, leaving only the soft blue glow of the computer monitors.
Lex turned toward him, expressionless. "You shouldn't keep coming here."
"Where else should I be?"
"You're aiding and abetting a terrorist."
"You're not a terrorist, Lex."
Lex snatched the remote from Clark's hand and turned the television back on. Images of burning buildings lit the room. "You're wrong. Watch it burn, Clark. It burned to the ground. I only hire the best."
"No one was hurt. You made sure no one was hurt."
"I've probably put genetic research and cloning technology back fifty years."
"I don't care."
"You don't care about arson? How about grand larceny?"
"I'm still a very wealthy man. I doubt there's a LuthorCorp bank account on the planet I didn't have a back door into. You want to see the balance transfers?"
"No," Clark said harshly, knocking the remote from Lex's hand. It clattered loudly to the cement floor. He took Lex by the shoulders. "I want to see you."
Lex pointed at the screen. "There." His voice shook. "There I am."
"No." Clark pulled him close. "That isn't you."
"How do you know?"
"Lex, for God's sake-"
"How do you know?" Lex's face was twisted, his voice pure acid, but Clark saw nothing but pain, heard nothing but desperation. "We're identical. Down to the last chromosome, we're fucking identical."
"He doesn't look anything like you," Clark whispered, and kissed him.