by Jojo

Thanks to Karen T. for betaing.

Oh, it was heinous.

Lex put the phone face down on the desk and hit 'speakerphone'. His father's voice and its familiar rendition of Luthors Do Not filled the room more effectively than any Dolby Surround Sound assisted music of Lex's choice (which, currently, was the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show since Lex appreciated cult movies as much as the next guy).

He ran his hands over his face, stretching his skin into a ghoulish mask. The top of his office desk was polished to a high sheen and he made faces at himself while he contemplated his latest fuck-up with a measure of irony.

Lex liked women. He liked women a lot. One might say he had a decided preference for leggy, full-lipped brunettes but, really, that had been a type set long before Smallville. The fact that this type could apparently span both sexes was a new thing but, then again, there were probably very few boys - no, young men - in the world who looked quite like -

"Are you listening to me?"

"With bated breath, Dad," Lex replied promptly, at his ingratiating best.

Lionel breathed with just a hint of a frustrated growl. In the background, hushed voices indicated he was holding this conversation in front of several minions, likely in his own office. Nice that such sensitive conversations with Lex were relegated to business hours - but then Lex wasn't convinced Lionel ever stopped working.

Was this the future that awaited him?

Abruptly, Lex opened his calendar. He quickly searched for events labeled 'vacation' and discovered, to his dismay, that the last time he'd had a break had been... before Smallville. When all of his time could easily be qualified as 'vacation'. Hence the enforced exile ("It's very simple, Lex. Do as I tell you or you can pay for this latest fiasco yourself.") and now his father's feral presence on the phone.

"I'm beginning to think you have no idea why I've called."

"I'm sorry - this isn't a father-son bonding chat?"


Lex smiled wryly and reached for a bottle of water. He didn't have a clue why Lionel had called; it was half past seven in the morning and it was a Sunday. The call had woken him. The call had woken him mid-way through a dream that, frankly, lacked the subtlety he usually expected from his own serpentine Luthor mind, involving, embarrassingly, a particular farm boy and - oh God, Lex had reached a new level - bales of hay. It was also distinctly possible that they - yes, Lex himself had been there, too - had been rolling in said bales of hay.


"Have you even read the papers this morning?"

Lex opened his email and watched his inbox fill. He couldn't believe how many people now worked on the weekends. According to the time on his first email to Lex, his father had been up since half past five. Christ, he was obviously destined to become a workaholic. "I'm not sure if they've even been delivered."

Lex correctly identified the noise that followed as Lionel grinding his teeth. Lex gulped down some water and leaned back in his chair, kicking his heels up onto his desk. His father wasn't actually physically present to see it but Lex liked to act out his 'casual' routine in every possible way. "Dad, while I can see you've been up hours already, and you've probably been to the gym, had a meeting or two and, I don't know, had tea with the Queen, I'm still a little fuzzy. What exactly are they saying about me now?"

Clark Kent was at his office door twenty minutes after he'd hung up on his father. Lex had yet to change into suitable clothes and was still just wearing a pair of pajama pants. They were not, in any way, shape or form, sexy.

Clark blushed anyway. Lex politely tried not to notice.

"Er... I can come back."

Lex waved a hand dismissively. And then stared at it. Would it be considered an effeminate gesture? This was Kansas; purple shirts were probably considered effeminate. Maybe he should rethink his wardrobe if he wanted to pull this best friend shit off seriously. "No, no, Clark, it's fine." Perhaps he should invest in some kind of a robe. Navy blue or black. Plaid? God, no, he couldn't go quite that far. Perhaps a suitably masculine symbol on a pocket would suffice. A Ford truck or a keg of beer...

"What can I do for you, Clark?"

Clark shuffled awkwardly and then seemed to gain some confidence. He gave Lex a slightly terrified smile. "It's, um, kinda... well, Lex, the thing is..."

Lex knew what 'the thing' was. And, while part of him would have liked to watch Clark fumble his way through an entire sentence skirting around the issue, he did want to get dressed at some point before noon. "Don't worry, Clark, The Journal is being dealt with by my lawyers as we speak. I don't know who they talked to - whoever this 'close friend' is, they're certainly no friend of mine if they're spouting this kind of nonsense for a few hundred bucks. I'm very sorry, Clark, for any embarrassment this has caused you or your family."

It was depressing to see how easily Clark swallowed Lex's words. How the tensed shoulders slumped and his grin bloomed into its usual example of farm boy wholesomeness. No flicker of doubt or suspicion crossed his face. "Oh! Sure! I knew that - it's just, my parents were, er..."

"Freaking out?" Lex offered, gently, imagining Jonathan Kent's reaction that morning. Come to think of it, he'd probably been up at the crack of dawn, much like Lionel. They had, alarmingly, far more in common than they thought.

"Not so much freaking out as..." Clark laughed and flung himself into a chair comfortably and stretched out. He really did have very big feet, Lex thought, distracted for a moment. "Actually, they sat me down and asked me if there was anything I wanted to tell them."

Lex's eyebrows slid up. This was a surprise, to say the least. "They did?"

"Yeah. Then Dad brought out this long, convoluted story about my great-uncle Edmond and his 'friend'..."

"My God." Apparently, the Kents had unplumbed depths.

"No kidding. Jeez, I hope Chloe doesn't dig that up one of these days. I'll never live it down." Clark frowned as he apparently imagined this scenario with increasing horror. "Anyway, it was weird, but I told them that, well, you and I weren't..."

Lex shook his head. It seemed the right time to deny something and, if anything, Lex could always say he had perfect timing. "Exactly."

"They looked pretty relieved. But it was cool, you know? Not that I'm gay or anything," Clark flicked his hair out of his eyes, "but if I was, at least I know they'd be so straight-forward about it."

Lex smiled appreciatively. "Yes. That's always nice to know." Lex had a momentary flashback to bales of hay and one discarded plaid shirt, and his eyes widened. He swiftly sought for something appropriate, something safe to say. "So. Lana!" Yes, time to talk about Lana. Definitely. "How's Lana..."

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