by Basingstoke (firstname.lastname@example.org)
First snow. First real snow in two years. Last year it had been weird, warm-then-freezing in flashes all winter. They'd had a few flurries but nothing stuck except the ice.
Today, though, the snow was drifted a foot thick in places. School was cancelled because the buses couldn't get out of the garage. It was warm, though--thirty-four degrees--so it would melt off in just a few days. They'd have to enjoy it while it lasted.
Clark waded down the sidewalk on Main Street, looking for someone to play with. Chloe was at home and refused to come out. Pete was busy with his science project. And...well...Clark didn't have that many friends.
He headed for the Beanery, figuring that hot chocolate was just about perfect for today.
As he reached for the door, it opened under his hand, and Lex nearly walked into him. Clark grinned.
Lex smiled. "Clark. Isn't it a school day?" He moved out of the doorway and onto the sidewalk. He was dressed in a long black coat and sensible boots, with his laptop bag slung over his shoulder.
"Snow day." Clark bounced on his toes.
"Of course. All the little boys and girls sled and build snowmen in blissful freedom while we working stiffs hunch over our desks cursing our malfunctioning cars." Lex walked down the sidewalk and Clark followed him happily.
Clark worked that out in his head. "You're stranded? You walked all this way? For coffee? Don't you have a cappuccino machine at home?"
"I'm not about to take my beautiful Ferrari out into this. It was built in a tropical climate, you know." Lex winked. "It's not far. And the Beanery makes better coffee than I do."
"Oh. Well, you forgot something."
Lex eyed him. "What did I forget?"
"All us little boys and girls?"
"We have snowball fights." Clark swooped down and gathered up a snowball in an eyeblink. He held it up and advanced on Lex threateningly.
"Clark, no! My computer!" Lex flung his arm in front of his face.
"Oh..." Clark backed off.
"Hang on." Lex bent over to set the bag on the sidewalk--but instead grabbed up a hunk of snow, straightened and pasted Clark right in the face. Then he ran, laughing.
"Lex! You cheater!" Clark wiped snow from his eyes and chased after him, bending periodically to scoop up fresh snowballs. He threw as he ran, aiming for Lex's uncovered pink scalp.
"All's fair in love and snowball fights!" Lex crowed. He ducked around the corner of the library. Clark stopped dead--that was a basic ambush. He wouldn't have fallen for that one when he was eight.
Clark crept close to the side of the library as quietly as he could, considering the snow creaking under his boots. He scooped some snow off the bushes and made a colossal snowball, as big as he could manage. He had to hold it in both hands so it wouldn't break apart. Then he snuck up to the corner, waited for a moment, and whirled around it with the giant snowball held at Lex's face level.
It smashed against the brick. Lex, who had been crouching, tackled Clark neatly into the snow and pinned him with a delighted look on his face. "Never try to outmaneuver a Luthor," Lex said, kneeling on Clark's arms. "Do you like your snow down your jacket or in your hair?" He grinned and tossed a snowball from hand to hand.
"I like it down your jacket," Clark said, and rolled over, knocking Lex off him and under him. They rolled across the library side yard laughing.
Finally Clark lay spread-eagled in the yard, grinning at the sky, trying to remember how to make a snow angel the right way. Chloe was always telling him there was a wrong way. Lex got up and tramped back to his original hiding place to fetch his bag.
"Is the laptop okay?"
Lex returned and sat back down beside him, there in the snow. His coat was completely covered with snow, enough that it looked checked, not black; his cheeks bore patches of pink, and his ears were bright red. "The bag is waterproof and insulated. I was bluffing."
"Good." Clark smiled at Lex.
Lex wasn't smiling back. "You like it when I lie to you?"
Clark punched his arm. "That's not a lie. That's a bluff."
"A year ago--when I met you--you would have called it a lie."
"I would not."
"You would have." Lex stood up again slowly and brushed himself off. "I have to be going."
"Wait." Clark jumped up. "My house is closer. Like, a lot closer. We can walk back there and I can drive you to the castle."
Lex shook his head. "It's not that far, Clark."
Clark poked Lex in the chest. "Quit arguing." He grinned.
Lex stepped back again, tilting his head back to look at Clark slit-eyed. "When did you get so pushy?"
"After I met you."
"Uh-huh. Well then. Which way is your house from here?"
Clark pointed and they started walking.
Main Street to K-533 to County Road 4100 was the fastest way to Clark's house. Main Street was wonderful, but K-533 dampened Clark's mood pretty fast. There were very few cars on the road, but the snowplow had come through and turned all the gorgeous white snow into nasty gray slushpiles. The sidewalk was half-covered in the waist-high piles and both Clark and Lex were quickly soaked.
They trudged slowly and wordlessly along the road until Clark suddenly stopped. "This is so stupid." He turned to Lex, who was expressionless as a statue. "You know what I can do! You've seen it! You've still got the stupid car in your garage!"
Lex didn't react. "And the security tapes. And the gun you bent."
"So why are we pretending? I can get you home in a minute and a half."
"That fast?" Lex said.
"That's if I take the long way." Clark closed in, gesturing to his back. "Come on. I'll carry you."
Lex laughed. "Carry me?"
"Well, it's not like I can put you in my pocket! Piggyback. Come on." Clark turned his back and was gratified when Lex placed his hands on Clark's shoulders.
He bent and grabbed Lex's thighs beneath his long coat, hosting him easily. Lex made a surprised noise in his ear.
"You knew, Lex."
"Of course I did. But it's still a bit of a shock to feel it." Lex moved easily into place, embracing Clark's shoulders and resting lightly in Clark's hands.
It felt--funny--to have Lex pressed up against him like this but at the same time, perfectly natural. Clark started stepping forward, but stopped himself. "Lex? Wrap my scarf around your face so you don't get windburn."
Pause. "Windburn," Lex repeated, sounding amused. Clark shivered a little at the draft down his collar as Lex unwrapped and rewrapped the warm wool scarf.
Then Clark started running, faster and faster and faster, noting landmarks with one part of his brain and cradling Lex with another part and saying wheeeeeeeeeee in a third, as always, because this was fun--and as always, it ended too soon. He stopped on Lex's front lawn.
Lex still held onto Clark's shoulders even after his set him down. "Clark. My God." Lex felt his way around to the front of Clark, his eyes wide and shining and his cheeks pink above the red wool of Clark's scarf. He slid his hands up to Clark's cheeks. "That was amazing. Like flying! Like--I don't even know! God, you do that all the time?"
Clark had never heard him sound like this. He sounded amazed. Clark had finally shown him something he'd never seen before. He nodded.
"That's incredible. That's..." Lex trailed off, stroking Clark's face with his cold leather gloves and staring into his eyes. The ice frozen onto Lex's coat from the run broke off, falling softly to their feet. "You really trust me, don't you?" Lex said.
"I always told you so."
"Yes, but you actually do."
"Of course I do," Clark said. Who was better at keeping secrets than Lex? Nobody Clark knew, that's for sure.
"Oh, you beautiful boy," Lex said, and his hands closed behind Clark's neck and he leaned up and he kissed Clark.
Oh. Wow. Um. Wow. Okay. Maybe. Definitely. Wow.
Clark settled on yes and kissed back. Because Lex was his friend. Because he did trust him. Because this was kind of weird, but a lot less weird than the fact that Clark was alive.
Lex pulled back with his eyes closed.
Lex opened his eyes. He looked--scared? A little bit? "Yes?"
"Do you have any hot chocolate inside?" Clark grinned. Hot chocolate. That's all he needed, and this would be a perfect day.
"Yes," Lex said. He grinned back.
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