Watch It Fade

by Pearl-o

Lex tells Clark things about his mother sometimes.

Not often, but once in a while, when they're doing other things, like playing pool, or talking in the loft. Clark never knows when Lex is going to mention it, or why, but Lex probably has reasons of his own, some kind of pattern or extra factor.

Clark likes it when Lex talks about her. It's selfish, he thinks. He likes that Lex tells him things he doesn't tell anybody else. He likes the way Lex's face looks when he talks about her.

Sometimes he wishes he had other secrets, the small, in-between kind -- the kind he could give back like that. Lex's face would probably look a little like that again if he did that.

If Clark was Lex, he wouldn't tell Clark anything.

When Clark comes over this afternoon, Lex looks at him thoughtfully, and takes him upstairs, to a room he's never seen before. There's a picture on the wall, a painting, and Clark knows who it is before Lex even says anything.

She's pretty. Pretty, with pale pale skin and red red hair, and if he tries he can almost see Lex in her eyes, which looks amused and intelligent, and her mouth, which is not quite smiling, but not quite doing anything else either.

She looks a little like Clark's mom would, if she was thinner and razor sharp and ... more Lex-like.

The whole time he's watching the painting, Lex is watching him carefully.

Lex's expressions are the sort of thing that make Clark want to run and take shelter in his vocabulary homework, just to try and figure them out. Right now, he looks -- unconcerned, indifferent, maybe. But a little too much so. Nonchalant, Clark's brain offers. Insouciant.

"She looks nice," Clark says, smiling at Lex.

Lex relaxes the slightest bit, and lets out a breath. "It was painted a few months before she died. My father couldn't accept what was happening at all. He wanted to preserve her forever, keep her limned in perfect detail and accuracy. Like he could stop it simply through force of will."

Clark nods, and he never does know what to say when Lex tells him these things. But he thinks it just matters more that he listens.

He wants to say, "You must miss her a lot," or "She would have been proud of you," or "She's very pretty," but each of those things is stupider than the last.

Instead, he picks up Lex's hand, and kisses it. His skin tastes of salt, and he looks when he hears Lex laughing.

"I don't know what you think you're doing," Lex says.

He flushes. "I just..."

"I know. Come here."

And it's like another secret to share, because it puts that same look back onto Lex's face.

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