The Break

by Celli Lane

Written after "Zero." Feedback always welcome (and cherished).

"It's okay to do what you want to do...until it's time to do what you were meant to do." --The Rookie

"Mr. Luthor?"

Lex barely looked up as the intercom on his phone beeped. "What is it, Donna?"

"Mr. Kent is here to see you."

Now Lex did stop what he was doing. "Really? Well, send him in."

"Yes, sir."

Clark bounded in. Lex noted with amusement that the ever-present flannel of his high school days had been replaced by a Kansas State sweatshirt. "Lex! How are you?"

"I'm great." The two young men shook hands. "It's really good to see you again, Clark. I didn't think I'd even hear from you for another couple of months."

Clark shrugged. "Spring break, you know. I'm headed home for the week, but I thought I'd stop by first."

Only Clark would consider the trip from northeastern Kansas to Metropolis a "stop by." Lex grinned. "Just home? Nothing exotic for your first spring break?"

"Nah. I've got four years to show up on MTV."

"Highly overrated."

Clark lifted an eyebrow. "Really?"

"Oh, come on. Aren't you tired of the 'Lex's wild youth' stories yet?"

"That depends. When are you going to stop providing material for them?"

Lex and Clark settled into two of the large, comfortable seats at one end of the office. Clark looked out the window. "Wow. It's amazing here."

Lex half-smirked. "It's not exactly Smallville," he said simply. Not even Clark needed to know that he missed the lonely grandeur of the mansion, the bad coffee at the Beanery, and even--God help him--the fertilizer plant. "It's where I need to be." Which was the truth.

Clark leaned forward a bit. "Isn't that the Daily Planet building?"

Lex snorted. "The bane of my existence? Yes." Just last week, the Planet had run another story about his father's dealings with organized crime. The story was true, of course, but who cared about truth when your stock was down ten percent--

Clark had an odd look on his face. Half eager, half nervous. In four years, Lex had learned to beware that look. "Clark?"

"Um, I have to tell you--I declared a major last week."

There was this buzzing in Lex's head. It went well with the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Clark was going on about aptitude and research and creativity and fast typing, for crying out loud--

"--and a lot of our students get internships at the Planet, so I'll actually be spending summers in Metropolis--"

"Journalism? You're majoring in journalism?" The buzzing had turned into a loud roar.

"You should see my stuff, Lex. I mean, I'm only a freshman, but I'm--"

"You're going to be a reporter?" Lex was on his feet now.

"Jeez, Lex, it's not a swear word."

"To you, maybe." Lex started to pace. "Why can't you major in business? You know I'd give you a job here any time you want."

"Lex--" Clark was on his feet, too.

"Or agriculture. Your parents would love to have you back on the farm. Or--hell, if you love writing so much, get an English degree. My father probably owns a publishing company somewhere--"

"Lex! Stop it!"

Lex gave serious consideration to throwing up. "You can't be a reporter. I can't be friends with a reporter."

"I won't write about you!"

"Clark. We both know that's crap."

The two men stared at each other. Clark took a half-step forward. He held out a hand. "Lex...I need you to understand. This is what I'm supposed to be doing. This is right. Lex?"

Lex made a sound that might have been a laugh, if there had been any humor left in his body. "Oh, I understand." It would be so easy to pretend that this was just a phase, that Clark would change majors another half-dozen times before graduation. That they could still be friends. Lex stalked to the window and stared out. "I understand. I just don't think you do."


"Donna!" Lex roared. When his assistant appeared in the doorway, he said, "Show Mr. Kent out, will you? He won't be back."

"Ah...this way, sir."


Lex fixed his gaze on the Daily Planet building. He waited through the stuttering protests from Clark, the well-practiced soothing from Donna. Waited until the door closed behind them before he dropped his forehead to the glass. "Goodbye, Clark," he said softly.

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