"Where's Dr. Hamilton?"
"How should I know?"
"I know he was here, Lex!"
Lex's eyes narrowed. "And what if he was, Clark?" He stepped out from behind the desk, the morning sun through the ornate stained glass casting a sinister red glow over the scene.
"You lied to me."
"He needed my help, Clark. He knew I had the diary, and that I was looking for a cure."
"You're still lying!" Clark lashed out and knocked over the chair beside him.
"Then you tell me what he was doing here," Lex replied calmly, the challenge clearly evident in his voice.
"It was your project, wasn't it? But he screwed it up and came running to you to fix it." Lex opened his mouth to reply, but Clark cut him off. "If my father hadn't been infected, you wouldn't have done anything, would you?" Clark fought back the hot tears that threatened to spill from the corners of his haunted green eyes, cursing himself for losing it in front of Lex. Crying like a five-year-old with a skinned knee wasn't going to help him intimidate Lex into admitting the truth. "You would have just let them die! A few more casualties in your private war wouldn't have even mattered, because people *don't* matter to you."
"That's not true, Clark." Lex set his jaw, determined not to let Clark know that he had just hit a nerve. "Not anymore."
Not anymore. There was so much truth in those words, and more often than not Lex thoroughly regretted that. He wasn't supposed to care about people. He was to know them just well enough to find a weakness to exploit and then toss them aside when they were no longer useful.
Smallville had changed all that.
Before Smallville Lex would have never believed that another human being would have been willing to risk his own life to save Lex's. Of course, he had discovered that Clark hadn't had to risk much of anything except his father's acceptance, but still, Lex had never been able to forget the feeling. It had crept into his psyche, spreading like a cancer that obliterated Lex's lifelong conditioning.
He looked at Clark, watched him shake with rage and fight to hold back tears, and he knew that he was supposed to see weakness--a pathetic little boy letting his emotions undermine his purpose.
But he couldn't
He saw instead strength, strength of conviction that Lex would never have. A strength forged by love.
It wasn't strength that kept him from expressing his love for Clark. It was weakness.
Admitting the truth required more strength than Lex could ever hope to have.
"Clark, I'm sorry."
Clark laughed, the harshness of it piercing Lex's chest like a knife slipping between his ribs. "I'm sure you are," Clark snapped. "You're sorry that I found out."
Lex's voice softened. He was dangerously close to pleading, but pleading was too much like begging, and Luthors didn't beg. They commanded, but never begged. "You know what I meant."
"How would I know that?"
Lex took a deep breath and prayed to a God he'd always cursed that he was strong enough to throw everything away.
"Because you know I care about you."
Clark forgot to be angry. He forgot why he was angry, and he forgot why he had come to the castle in the first place.
You know I care about you.
It was a bit of an understatement to say that Clark hadn't been expecting to hear that. He felt like he had just been hit over the head with a meteor rock. The slight softening of the voice and the relaxation of the muscles in his jaw and forehead would have been undetectable to those who didn't know him well, but for Clark it was as though Lex had waved a white flag and surrendered to his emotions.
"Lex, I..." Clark didn't know what to say. Though he'd dreamed of the moment that Lex would trust him enough to let him in, he had never considered that it would come at a time like this.
"I care about you too, but the past few days...we don't trust each other. What kind of relationship can exist without trust?"
"I can accept that you don't trust me. Why would you? I'm a Luthor. We're famous--infamous, actually--for our ulterior motives." The sarcasm wasn't lost on Clark. He winced slightly and looked away as Lex took a step closer. "But to know that you think I don't trust you...I'll admit, I'm a little disappointed."
Disappointed, of course, meaning hurt. Sometimes it seemed that Lex spoke a language of his own. Like certain tonal Asian dialects, one had to listen to Lex's inflection and modulation to understand his words. Clark knew that, too.
"I want this to work, Lex, you know I do." *You don't know how much I do.* "But there's always going to be this thing between us." Clark sighed, sadly, hoping he wasn't about to destroy the closest relationship he'd ever had with anyone.
Lex swallowed hard. "Then it can't work, can it?" He too sounded resigned. He tried to turn away, but Clark grabbed his arm.
"I want it to work." He looked deep into Lex's eyes, and Lex nearly shivered as he felt Clark's gaze seemingly reach inside him and touch the soul he'd always doubted he had.
"So do I," Lex whispered, the last vestiges of his emotional resistance falling away. He felt his inner self begin to separate like oil from water, with Lex rising to the surface and Luthor being left behind in the darkness.
It terrified him. Both of him.
"Lex, you can make anything work. Why not this?"
Why not this? It was a fair question. For once in his life, Lex told his Luthor conscience (if it could be called such) to fuck off.
"Why not this?" he whispered, and gently leaned forward and brushed his lips against Clark's. He felt Clark's lips upturn in a smile, then part to allow Lex access to his beautiful mouth. Lex moved deeper into the kiss, his tongue gently exploring Clark's surprisingly soft lips. He sensed Clark's inexperience, and allowed Clark to continue his own less-than-graceful exploration.
Clark pulled away first. "Lex?"
"I think it's working." He put his hand on the back of Lex's neck and pulled him in for another long, deep kiss.
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