A Conspiracy of Love

by Signe

Category: First-time, romance, humor.
Spoilers: None
Beta: Thanks to Alison for rushing through a great, quick beta for me, on Boxing Day too!
A/N: For Cleo, on her birthday.
Feedback: Is like water in the desert, manna in the wilderness or lube in Lex and Clark's bedroom.

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love. --Hamilton Wright Mabi

"That's the eighth already tonight," Clark muttered under his breath. Only clearly not as much under his breath as he thought, as he felt Lana's breathy reply whispered in his ear.

"The eighth what?"

"The eighth slimy socialite Lex has kissed already tonight." And he really hadn't intended to say that out loud. Maybe all the fancy booze Lex's hoards of waiters were serving had gone to his head. He'd taken a fresh glass after each escape from a company wife who'd come on to him or tried to force him onto the dance floor. Two glasses after the dolled up had-to-be-a-grandmother had tried to steer him outside, with one hand on his butt and one hand heading even worse places. Maybe even aliens had their alcohol limit. He just wished it would make him mellow out a bit, relax or something, instead of simply loosening his tongue and disengaging his brain. Stupid tongue.

Stupid Lex's tongue, stuck down socialite number nine's throat.

"Well, it is New Years Eve, and there is a lot of mistletoe around, Clark. You should be going around, notching up the figures yourself." She grinned at him, a hint of wicked under the candy pink lip gloss. He sometimes wondered why it had taken so long for him to see that side of her. But then, he'd been putting her on an unreachable pedestal for years. He liked it now that she'd stepped down, or fallen down, or whatever had happened, and finally become a friend. Especially after the awkward spell following her accident and their final, definite, we're-really-not-dating-anymore break-up. He just wasn't too enamored with her plan right now. Or the laid-back way she was viewing Lex's behavior.

"It just doesn't seem right." He knew he wasn't making sense, and, heaven knows, he couldn't put into words what was wrong with Lex making out with a few attractive women. "They don't look right."

Lana tilted her head consideringly, one French-polished thumbnail daintily between her lips. "I don't know. I think he looks quite good with Macey Caruthers. She's definitely his type."

"His type? And what's that, apart from homicidal and money grabbing." And Clark couldn't be bothered to even attempt to keep the petulance out of his voice. After all, Lex had invited him to this party as his best friend, yet he'd spent all evening, all of a very long evening, schmoozing with a bunch of silly over-made-up women and hadn't even spoken to Clark yet. And Clark had spent it avoiding those same women, who seemed inexplicably keen to meet him.

"Tall, attractive, brunette. In a nutshell." Lana smiled at him, a depth of amusement shining through. He didn't see why she found it so funny.



"Huh?" It really hadn't taken long for him to get lost in this conversation.

"For you, doofus."

"Really?" And shit, he'd sounded way too eager to accept that, and Lana's face told him she hadn't missed that. Still, he could at least claw some dignity back and not start channeling a fourteen year old girl by asking if Lana thought Lex lurved him. "So, you, um, really think he likes me?" On the other hand, he could throw dignity to the wind. This was, after all, the girl who'd seen him fall over his own feet more times than any one else on this planet. So it wasn't like he was starting with much dignity anyway.

Lana wasn't laughing at him though. "Yes, Clark, I really do think so. In fact, I know so, and so would you if you weren't so clueless!" Spiky words, but softened with a comforting hand on his arm, reassuring.

"I don't have a type," Clark said, wondering. He'd certainly not been dating row after row of bald guys, waiting for Lex. "I mean, there was you," and he looked up shyly, relieved to find Lana still looking comfortable with the conversation, "and Chloe, Jessie and Kyla. All very different."

"Not that different. None of us were going to last, we were all girls that wouldn't work out. We were substitutes, too. It's OK," she carried on as he tried to interrupt, tried to politely deny her words. "Sure, it hurt for a while, but it's all for the best really." Resolutely. "Yes, really. And we've ended up friends, which is what we're meant to be."

Clark hugged her, then gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "Mistletoe," he said, pointing upwards.

He thought about what Lana had said for the rest of the evening. He didn't feel the need for wine anymore, so piled a plate with pigs in blankets and mini-quiches, shrimp and spanakopitta (and man, did Lex find the best caterers, or what?) and found a quiet, out of the way corner where he could sink into the background and watch without being noticed. He always enjoyed watching Lex, seeing the way he moved through crowds, effortlessly, a path parting before him just because he expected it to. And he even watched as Lex smiled at all the women that came along and hung, no, clung on his arm. And he found he didn't mind anymore, because the smile wasn't Lex's full-on smile, wasn't the smile he'd received when he'd walked in the room hours earlier, a smile that had warmed him from across the room.

A smile that was now aimed at him from just two feet away. He grinned back, slightly startled to realize that he'd been so distracted Lex had been able to creep up on him like that.

"Had your fill of charming all the matrons?"

Clark grimaced, and belched.

"Yes, that pretty much sums up my feelings towards most of them!" Lex laughed and patted him on the back with his one free hand.

"Didn't stop you kissing all the pretty ones, though." Damn it, he must still be in blurt-out mood. He wished it had an "off" button.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were jealous." Lex swirled the glass in his hand as he spoke, as though trying to read something from the deep red liquid, then looked up with an expression Clark couldn't quite place. It might have been hope, although there again, that might just have been a reflection from Clark's own face.

"Of course not!" Yeah, that was a good attempt at indignation.

"Because if you are, I should point out that we're standing under a sprig of mistletoe right now." Lex voice had got lower, so Clark had to move in, just a little closer, to hear him clearly above the noise of the party.

"I think I'm a little tipsy." He was certainly feeling light-headed right now. Not much blood flowing to his brain. All gone south, far south. Lex and wine, a fatal combination for Clark.

"I'm smart, Clark, but even I can't translate that bit of Clarkese into a yes or a no." He finished his drink, and put it down, Clark's eyes trailing the movement.

"Yes. No, yes." How was he expected to think in all this heat?

"Hmm, well, if I give each answer equal weight, that's two-thirds yeses to only one-third noes."

What was Lex talking about? "I don't remember the question." Clark was fairly sure there'd been a question, but that was all he could say for sure. He tugged at his tie, trying to be careful to loosen it, not pull it to pieces. He put his scraped-clean plate down on a nearby table, so as to give the job two hands. Lex beat him to it though, flicking the knot loose and undoing his top button for him, smoothing over the lapels of his jacket.

"They always seem to get tighter by the end of the evening," he remarked. "As for the question, I didn't exactly ask it. So, just to be sure we're both on the same track, do you want me to kiss you under the mistletoe?"

Clark looked down, scuffing his still-shiny new shoes against the hard wood floor. He looked up again, through his eyelashes, somehow feeling as though he was looking up at Lex, despite being the taller one. "Is it only because there's mistletoe?" he asked softly.

"That's just a convenient excuse."

"Yes," Clark whispered, his voice cracking slightly and barely audible even to himself. He cleared his throat and tried again. Firmly, "Yes."

He heard 'Fly Me To The Moon' softly playing (had Lex planned this?), the tapping of heels on parquet as people wandered past their little enclave, idle business chatter and bad pickup lines. He heard the kitchen staff complaining about their tired feet, and a car revving up outside and skidding slightly on the icy drive. A wisp of smoke strayed by, rising from a huge cigar; for once he didn't mind the smell, it was just one more detail in the melange making up this moment. The ballroom lighting was bright: chandeliers and countless white fairy lights gave equal glory to everyone, but here, in this little corner, it was softened, streaks of shadow painting Lex's face with a broad brush of muted purple. He'd seen Lex look like this before, but only now was he allowing himself to think how beautiful he looked in this light. Not just good or handsome, but truly beautiful. Pale skin that looked almost silky smooth, ocean grey eyes full of secrets but that gave worlds to Clark. He would tell Lex, later. He'd not said enough, needed to say more, but for now it seemed yes was working well enough.

Clark wanted to remember it all, every tiny detail. He wished it could all be in slow motion to give him time to memorize. Then warm, dry lips brushed his, and suddenly Lex was there, right up against him, pressing into him, solid and hard and how could he have wanted to wait for this? He forgot everything else, happy in the loss that was no loss at all.

This was how it was meant to be. No distracting slide of slick lipstick, no scary sensation of holding someone too frail, too tiny, too easily hurt, in his arms. No holding back, no uncertainty. No "what if's" to tangle his mind and distract him. Not even any worries about his quiche-tainted breath, because he'd seen Lex eating water crackers piled with caviar and some spicy things Clark didn't have a name for, and besides, Lex was above minding such mundane matters.

This was strength and knowledge and understanding and so much longing. Years of longing, all thrown into one kiss, pent up longing he'd locked down so that now it was bursting out. This was two of them feeling the same, he was sure of that. Lex's sharp teeth biting his upper lip, Lex's tongue lovingly caressing his own would have told him that if he didn't already know in his heart. It might be the only thing he was sure of in his life right now, but it was enough. It would ground him, weight him to the earth and make him belong. It would give him wings and make him soar. It was the most unbelievable feeling, but Lex's lean muscles under his questing hands were also the most believable reality. It was confusing and contradictory and so right and good and wonderful. Alcohol had nothing on this, could never make the world so good to be alive in.

It was everything in one glorious poetry of feeling, sending his blood flowing faster through his veins, making the oxygen in his lungs sing hallelujahs, and making his groin ache with desire. Tied down, flying, dancing. Standing still, feet motionless with nowhere better to be than the place he was, body leaning into the tall frame holding him, he was dancing. His heart was dancing, and as he drew back the tiniest fraction to look at Lex, he knew by the glow in Lex's eyes that he was dancing too.

"I'm glad I was waiting under the mistletoe," Clark whispered, barely taking his mouth from Lex's to speak.

"I'm glad you didn't check to see there's no mistletoe."

Surely-- No, not even Lex-- Clark looked up in disbelief. No mistletoe hung anywhere near them.

He laughed. Sneaky Lex.

God damn, how he loved sneaky Lex.

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