by Shelly

Summary: This is about TRUTH between CLEX!

Spoilers: for ZERO.

Rating: PG

Archive: May be archived anywhere.

Disclaimers: I don't own the characters, I just play with them.

"Are we okay, Clark?" Chloe asked as she watched her friend undo his seat belt. She had given him a ride into town after school. Clark was doing Lana a favor by getting the Talon set up to open for business tonight. Lana was going to be late because Nell had suffered a slight accident and they were still at the hospital. With Whitney. So Clark, naturally, had offered to help. If Chloe didn't have other plans and a story to write up for the Torch, she would have hung around to watch Clark Kent waiting on customers.

"What do you mean, Chloe?" Clark asked as he turned to face her. "Okay about what?"

Chloe sighed. "You know... our friendship. Are we okay... after that dumb stunt I pulled digging into your adoption and all. You were right, Clark. It's totally private and you are not some mystery for me to solve. You're my friend. Right?"

Clark grinned at Chloe. "Of course we're friends. Forget about the past. I know you're a dog with a bone when something piques your interest. You just have to remember that I'm nothing more than a simple farm boy."

"You're a lot more than that, Clark Kent," Chloe shot back. She watched Clark smile and felt like melting. Even after two years of friendship, Chloe found it hard to believe that Clark was oblivious to how smart and how beautiful he was. Of course, he was also oblivious to her as anything other than a friend. Clark was clueless about her crush on him. Thank God for small favors.

"I owe you an apology too, Chloe," Clark continued. "I shouldn't have blown you off like I did. It wasn't right."

Chloe shrugged. "Hey... Lana comes first in all things," she replied, trying hard to keep the hurt she felt about that out of her tone.

Clark winced. "You're right," he allowed. "I do focus on Lana to the exclusion of many other things. Including you sometimes. And that's wrong and I'm sorry. You're a good friend, Chloe, and you mean a lot to me."

Chloe felt a warm glow spread throughout at the words, Clark's tone and the smile he was giving her. He meant it. "You mean a lot to me too, Clark," she replied. Chloe smiled back at Clark then felt his arms wrap around her in a hug. She let herself melt against him for a moment, reveling in the warm strength that was Clark Kent. But her smile soon faded as Chloe realized she had a confession to make. "Clark... there's something I need to tell you," Chloe said, pulling out of his embrace.

"What is it?" Clark prompted, not liking the tone of her voice.

"Remember how I told you that I was backing off of the adoption thing? Dropping it," Chloe said.

Clark nodded. "I remember."

Chloe sighed then realized her best be was to just say it. "I kept the file I made," she blurted out. Then she steeled herself for Clark's reaction.

"I see," Clark replied, softly. Then he prompted, "Why?"

"A couple of reasons," Chloe admitted. She could see that Clark was hurt and she couldn't blame him. "Since it was obvious that you didn't know the details about your adoption... that your parents hadn't told you... and you said you thought about it everyday... I thought maybe... someday... at some point... you might want to take a look at what I found." Chloe's words tumbled all over each other, but she hoped she made sense. That Clark understood what she was trying to say.

Clark was silent for a moment, then he nodded. "Thanks. I might want to do that," he conceded. "Why else did you keep it?" He had to ask.

Chloe shrugged. "The reporter in me," she said honestly. "But I promise I'm not going to do anything with the info unless you tell me it's okay. I won't even bring it up again."

"I believe you," Clark whispered. He knew he could trust Chloe to keep her word. He had to believe it. So much depended on his secret remaining just that. A secret. His future. His life as he knew it. Everything. "I have to go," Clark said, reaching for the door handle and sliding out of the car.

"So... we're still okay?" Chloe called after him.

Clark nodded and smiled. "Yeah... we're okay," he assured her, then he grabbed his red backpack off the seat and closed the door. A moment later Clark let himself in the Talon, using the key Lana gave him at lunch time. He closed the door behind him and leaned against it for a long moment. He felt tired to the bone with all that had happened of late. But Clark didn't want to think about that now. So he set his backpack down and went to work setting things up for tonight's business. Took him about five minutes at super speed, then he went behind the counter to work on his homework 'til it was time to open the doors. Clark had just finished with Math when he heard the door open. It had been locked so Clark stood up to find Lex suddenly there. "What are you doing here?" Clark asked.

Lex smiled. "I came to see you. Your mom told me you were helping Lana. So... you're going to wait on tables?" Lex teased.

"I'm going to try," Clark countered, laughing. "Chloe wanted to take pictures."

"I would have paid her for them," Lex shot back, then he sobered and said, "Can we talk?"

Clark came around the counter and sat down on one of the couches. "Sure... what's up?" he asked. Clark could see that something was bothering his friend.

Lex began pacing. "Remember last week, at the opening, how you asked me if what happened at Club Zero was the truth?"

"You mean Amanda killing Jude Royce?" Clark queried.

"That's what I mean," Lex confirmed.

Clark studied Lex for a minute then prompted, "What about it?"

Lex stopped pacing. "It wasn't exactly the truth," he blurted out, locking eyes with Clark. Saw the boy's surprise and continued. "But it's the truth I have to live with. I don't know if you can understand that, Clark."

"I can," Clark replied, softly. He stood up and faced his friend. "Sometimes we have to manipulate the truth and make it something we can live with. I understand that, Lex."

"So... we're okay then?" Lex countered, hating the hesitant tone in his voice. He wanted Clark to understand but it was complex and sometimes he didn't really get it. But Lex needed Clark, period, and that was what mattered most. "You and me... we're okay?" Lex clarified.

Clark smiled. "Yeah... we're okay."

Lex felt relief wash over him leaving him feeling a bit dizzy. "Your father hates me more than ever now," he stated, matter-of-factly.

"I'm not my father," Clark whispered, seeing the sadness that nearly darkened Lex's eyes to black. "He doesn't know you, Lex. I do."

"No... you don't, Clark," Lex replied, with a heavy heart. "I doubt you ever will." There were times when Lex doubted he knew himself.

Clark shrugged. "That's okay. We all have secrets, Lex. I can respect that if you can."

Lex understood what Clark was offering him. An invitation to let go of the past and put it behind them. To move on. "I can do that," he said firmly.

"Great," Clark replied, feeling his own sense of relief. He didn't want to lose Lex's friendship. In some strange way, Clark felt bonded to the older boy. "Shake on it?" Clark requested, thrusting out his right hand.

"I have a better idea," Lex drawled, as he let instinct take over. He stepped forward, pressing Clark back until the boy hit the nearest wall, then Lex held him there with his own body weight as his fingers curled in the boy's thick, dark, locks. Noted that it felt like raw silk. Then Lex pulled Clark's head down and claimed the sweet lips for his own.

Lana entered the Talon in a flurry. She had made it on time after all. But barely. As she moved to close the door behind her, she saw a sight that made her freeze. Lex Luthor was kissing Clark. Her Clark. A gasp escaped Lana and she saw Clark push Lex away. "I... I'm sorry!" Lana blurted out. "Um... I have to go to the bathroom." That said, she turned and fled.

Lex didn't care about Lana. He looked at Clark. The boy was stunned and embarrassed, his face flushed a rosy-red. "I'm not sorry, Clark," Lex stated. "I'll do whatever it takes to be your friend... but this is the real me. This is what I want from you. This is... the truth. Can you handle it?" Lex spoke from the heart then he waited, eyes locked on the beautiful face before him, as Clark Kent decided his fate. Their future.

Lana dawdled in the bathroom. Five minutes passed before she finally found the courage to come out. Found the place deserted, but there was a note on the counter in Clark's handwriting.

Sorry, Lana. Had to go.

That was all he wrote. Heaving a sigh, Lana whispered, "I'm sorry too."


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