The doors bang open loudly and Lex doesn't even have to look up to know that it's Clark and that he's pissed. "Hello, Clark. One of these days you're going to knock someone out when you open the doors that quickly." Clark's hands land on his desk and finally he looks up. "Was there something I could do for you?"
"Something you could do for me," Clark says, raising his eyebrows. "Are we business partners now?"
Lex sighs, putting his pen down. "I don't know Clark. Seems like I don't know what we are these days."
"You lied to me," Clark says, his mouth flattened out in an angry line. "You told me she was dead! You said it right to my face!"
Lex sighs. "I know, Clark. And I'm sorry. It was the right thing to do."
"You lied right to my face!"
He knows this is the last thing he should do, he knows it's about the worst possible thing he could be doing, but he does it anyway. He starts laughing. "Look at you," he says, giggling, feeling a little bit on edge. He knows he way past a little bit on the edge if he can feel it. "All affronted, Clark. Just, up in arms at the fact that I lied to you." He stands, mocking Clark's expression. "To your face!"
Clark's expression hardens and Lex can feel that glare stab him right in the chest. Still, he continues to laugh. "I'm glad you think your betrayal is so funny."
"Oh, Clark," Lex says, rolling his eyes, his laughter finally dissipating. He walks over to the wet bar and pours himself a Scotch. "First of all. This is what Chloe needed. I gave her my word that I would protect her and I did." He turns to look at Clark. "She needed to be dead. As far as my father was concerned, she had to be dead. He made one attempt on her life, Clark, and he was damn near successful."
He pauses for a moment because even still, even now, cold fingers of fear run down his back at how close he'd come to causing Chloe's life to be cut short. "And you, Clark, as experienced as you are, are a terrible liar. I needed you to think, I needed everyone to think, that Chloe was dead. Because if you think my father didn't have feelers out here watching your every move, you are sorely mistaken."
"What does that mean, as experienced as I am," Clark asks, his angry visage slipping for a moment into confusion.
"I'm glad you asked, Clark," Lex says, smiling and taking another sip of his drink. "Because that brings me to point two. Which is this. You. Are such. A fucking. Hypocrite."
Clark's eyebrows rise. "I'm sorry?"
Lex laughs, rolling his eyes. "You're so good at playing dumb, Clark, that sometimes I almost believe you."
The confusion on Clark's face is enough to make Lex start laughing again, but this time it's not hysterical. This time it's bitter, and sad, and it feels like it weighs about ten tons. "What are you even--"
"For Christ's sake, Clar," Lex yells, welcoming the swell of anger finally surging within him. "I am so sick of being on trial with you! I am so sick of having to prove myself to you, over, and over and over," he yells, slamming his glass down on the bar and walking quickly to where Clark stands. "Are you this fucking hypocritical? Really? Because you lie to me, time and time again, Clark. You've been lying to me on a daily basis since the moment we met!"
Clark shakes his head. "No..."
"Don't! Don't do it again. For once, Clark, be honest with me! Just admit that you've been lying to me," Lex says, his hands grabbing Clark's biceps roughly. "Admit that you're a hypocrite to be so offended that I lied to you, when all you've done since we met was /lie to me/!"
There are tears in Clark's eyes, and for one second Lex almost relents. Then Clark blinks and he can see the lie in his eyes again and he tightens his grip on Clark's arms. "You're wrong, Lex."
"I'm tired of this, Clark," he says, his voice low and menacing. He thinks he sounds an awful lot like his father right now and he doesn't like that, but he can't help himself. "I'm tired of proving myself to you. This isn't what friendship is supposed to be. This isn't what you and I are supposed to be. You're supposed to be my best friend, Clark," he says, and he swears to himself as he hears his voice cracking. He vows to himself that he will not cry, not yet, not here. "But you're not, are you? Because my best friend would know that I only lied to him because it was the right thing to do."
Clark's eyebrows lift and he looks into Lex's eyes. "And doesn't that go both ways, Lex?"
"You don't have to prove yourself to me, Clark," Lex yells, letting go of his arms and throwing his hands wide. "I know that you would never hurt me! I trust you, implicitly. I'd trust you with my own fucking life!" He shakes his head. "But the same is not true for you, is it? And I just wonder, Clark, how many times can I prove myself to you?" He steps forward again and this time his grip on Clark's arms is lighter. "How many ways can I tell you I care about you? Show you that you mean more to me than..." He shakes his head, searching through his mind for the words he's looking for. "More than anything, more than anyone. Because I'm running out of ways, and I'm running really, really low on patience, Clark."
Clark's tears are back in his eyes now and Lex almost lets himself think he's gotten through to him. "Then why do you lie to me," he asks, his voice soft, merely a whisper. "Why did you continue to investigate me? Why are you obsessed with me?"
"I'm obsessed with finding out the truth, Clark," Lex said, his grip tightening again. The energy surging through him worries him, he thinks if he lets himself, he could lose control and really hurt Clark. That scares him more than anything. "Whatever it is you're hiding Clark? It scares you. The possibility of it coming out, of someone finding out what it is? It terrifies you."
He pauses, making a concerted effort to look Clark directly in the eyes and try to tell him just how much he cares about him. "And that makes me crazy. To know that this secret is so dangerous, so terrifying, that it makes you lie like this. That it makes you be something you're not, which is manipulative and cold and a liar."
"I'm not manipulative--"
"I just want to help you, Clark," Lex says, and he can feel his tears so close to the surface. He wonders if he lets them go if Clark will finally cave. "I can help you. I can protect you. I know the world better than you do, I know the dirty secrets. I know how they're kept. I can help you, Clark, but I have to know what it is I'm hiding," he whispers. "You can trust me, Clark. Don't you know that by now?"
Clark's hands come up to his face and hold it there, his eyes searching his. For the first time in a long time he actually allows hope in. Clark shakes his head. "I can't, Lex," he whispers. "I can't tell you. I can't tell anyone."
"Yes you can," Lex hisses. "You can trust me."
"It's not about trust, Lex," Clark says, and his voice is much stronger than Lex would have thought it would be. "Too many things happen. Too many people are after you. You could slip so easily, Lex, and it wouldn't even be your fault." He shakes his head, and Lex knows that he's sorry. He knows that Clark is being completely honest with him right now. "And that's a risk I can't take."
It's not enough. This shattering, this breaking inside of him, he thinks this must be what it's like to lose it all. "I can't do this, Clark," he says, letting go of Clark's arms and stepping back. He can feel the tears on his face and he can't even bring himself to feel ashamed of them. "I can't do this anymore. I love you, Clark. I've loved you since the day I met you. I've been looking for you all my life. Someone I could trust. Someone that actually loved me back--"
"I /do/ love you back, Lex--"
"I can't keep living my life wondering what moments you're going to trust me and what moments you're not," Lex says, and his voice goes a little high. It gets a little unsteady. "I can't keep trying to keep you, Clark. I should already have you."
Clark is shaking his head and walking towards him, and when he moves to back away Clark is right there, holding onto him. "You do have me. You have me, Lex, but I can't tell you this. I can't tell you /this/. But it's just this. Just this one thing."
"You know everything about me," Lex says, feeling drained, feeling numb. "Everything. My father. My mother. My brother. You've seen me at my worst. You've seen me break and shatter into a million pieces." He shakes his head. "I'm sorry, Clark, I can't do this anymore. I can't be friends with someone who isn't willing to give back to me what I've given to them."
Clark shakes his head. "Please, Lex--"
"I wish I could have been what you need," Lex says, leaning closer to him, his face inches away. "I wish I could have been someone you trusted. I tried to be. I tried so fucking hard, Clark. I don't have anything left to offer."
There's tears on Clark's cheeks as Lex jerks his arms out of Clark's grasp, sinking into the chair behind his desk, looking down at the papers. "Lex, I just can't."
"I understand," Lex says, feeling emotionless. There are tears streaking down his face but he can't feel them anymore. He can't feel /anything/ anymore. "You should go home."
"Go home, Clark," Lex says, squeezing his eyes shut. "Please."
When Lex looks back up Clark is already gone, a final whispered 'I'm sorry' still ringing in Lex's ears.
He almost smiles because as it turns out, he is just like his father: he has nothing left.
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