Christmas Eve in the Castle

by Annie

Still not mine.

Christmas Eve in the Castle
by Annie

Rated PG
Summary: Christmas Eve; Clark brings Lex a present; pre-slash Disclaimer: Still not mine, although I did ask Santa. Feedback:

Okay, so Lex was drunk. Very drunk, in reality, and the fact that he was sitting in his dim library on Christmas Eve couldn't possibly have anything to do with it. The brandy bottle was empty, but he was pretty drunkenly sure it had already been half empty when he picked it up to start with. He reeled across the room and threw open the window, forgetting to brace against the frigid Kansas Yuletide temperature. He pitched the now-useless bottle far out onto the driveway, almost giggling as he thought that the next time the postman delivered the mail he might get a flat. He could hoof it back to town and commiserate with the meter maid.

(Plus, now it was snowing, such a very Smallvillian thing to do on Christmas Eve. This definitely warranted another drink.)

Bastard postal worker anyway. Brought him about 400 Christmas cards this past month, and after opening about half of them, Lex had given up finding one that wasn't stamped with some corporate CEO's name. Even Lionel. Cretin. Signature-stamping his own son's Christmas card. No, it wasn't Lionel. Probably his secretary. Not the executive assistant, surely. Martha Kent would never have allowed such a breach of holiday sentimentality.

Well, except one card. The only one he had noticed with an actual hand-written address on the envelope. He knew the handwriting, of course. Had known it from countless hours of pretending to look over a shoulder at book work, when what he had actually been doing was trying to be close. Useless effort, but the card was nice anyway. Little rustic, snowy rural scene, deer and rabbits capering around a huge, snow-covered fir. Enough to make a person puke. (Mmmm, Lex, best not to think about puke right now.)

He was breaking the seal on another bottle when it came to his attention that someone was standing in the doorway. He had already dismissed all the staff to go home to their families for the holiday eve, nicely generous Luthor thing to do, accompanied by the requisite hefty Christmas bonus envelopes. He knew without looking up that it would be Clark. Clark Kent was the single person on the face of the earth who was allowed to see Lex unannounced. The single person on the face of the earth he didn't want to see right now.

"Clark," Lex boomed in welcome, tipping his refilled glass in the boy's direction. "What can I do for you on this snowy Smallville evening? Would you like a drink? I think there's eggnog in the refrigerator...."

Lex's voice trailed off as he looked a bit closer in the dim light. Clark was standing still in the doorway, frosty white coating his blacker-than-black hair, holiday-wrapped box in his hands. Hurt in his eyes.

"Why didn't you come, Lex?" he asked quietly. "It's Christmas Eve. It was just dinner at the farm, and here you are, all alone and drinking yourself silly instead of being with people who...."

"Despise me?" Lex laughed darkly. "How many extra chores does it take to get Jonathan Kent to allow a Luthor in his house on the holiest of holidays?"

Clark almost took a step into the room, but stopped, still unwilling to let the hurt go. "Mom wanted you there," he said. "It's Christmas, and you shouldn't be here alone. I wanted you there. We had presents..." he faltered, raising the box in his hand minutely, and then looking down at the floor.

Lex smirked before he could stop himself. "What? Red Ryder BB gun hidden behind one of the drapes in the living room?" He took another deep drink from the cut crystal in his hand, swallowing around the sudden lump blocking his throat as Clark looked up at him, hurt flaring in his eyes again. The smirk left his face and Lex cursed the alcohol riding roughshod over his sensibilities. No more. If he caused one more flicker of hurt on that wonderful face he would rip out his own tongue with the ice tongs.

He stepped closer and reached up to brush the melting flakes from Clark's hair. The boy almost flinched away from him, but stood his ground. "It's Christmas Eve, Lex," he reiterated, head moving involuntarily into the soft graze of Lex's hand. "It was just dinner. No one should be alone if they don't have to be."

Lex wasn't really listening, although he knew the gist of what Clark was telling him anyway. His senses were occupied with the silken feel of the dark strands weaving through his fingers. Damp, certainly, but incredibly soft, and he wondered idly, somewhere in the back of his mind, how anyone could not want to do this. How could Lana, all the times she and Clark must have been alone at the Talon, how could she resist?

He pulled his hand away guiltily, covering the motion with another swallow of brandy, soft burn in his throat to join with the slow burn in his insides, coiling low, waiting to strike.

"It's Christmas Eve," he agreed. "And actually this isn't how I usually spend it. Normally, we'd be in the penthouse in Metropolis, Lionel and myself, and about a hundred other people who only give a damn about expensive food and drinks. Noisy and horrible, and I am really glad I got to spend this year in peace and quiet. I even lied and told Lionel I was going to be out this evening, so he wouldn't drop by to ask what his secretary bought me for Christmas. Before you showed up, Clark, I was at the window admiring the lovely white Christmas this little burg has been graced with."

Clark shook his head. "Whatever, Lex," he dismissed Lex's little speech with a shake of his head. "Whatever you say. I tried. I've really tried. If you knew how much I..... wanted you to be there, how much I don't want to see you alone out here, you would have come. You still can. We have brunch tomorrow, after we open gifts and stuff. You're still welcome to come for that if you want. It'll be just us, so you don't need to worry about politics or gossip or anything. You can be an actual person for a few hours, if you want." Clark's gaze dropped back to the carpet again.

"Anyway, I brought you this. I collected these for you. Merry Christmas, Lex."

He handed Lex the wrapped gift and Lex took it wordlessly, turning around to set it on the desk behind him.

"Are you going to open it?" Clark asked hopefully.

Lex smiled softly. "Can I open it in the morning? Presents are for Christmas morning."

Clark nodded uncertainly. "Sure, I guess. You won't forget?"

"I won't forget. I promise."

Clark's face heated briefly. "I better get home. Mom and Dad are in bed and they don't know I left. I just had to come. Wish you a Merry Christmas and give you your present." He turned to leave the room and Lex couldn't let him, couldn't let him go away hurt.

"Clark," the firm voice stopped Clark in his tracks and he turned back hopefully as Lex stepped closer again.

Lex reached up tentatively and touched Clark's cheek. "Merry Christmas, Clark. I hope you get everything you want."

Clark looked at him seriously. "I wanted you to come tonight, Lex. Maybe next time."

Clark turned away from Lex's hand and walked out of the room, without even a backward glance. Lex's arm stayed where it was, phantom Clark-heat still warming his palm electrically.

Fool, Lex berated himself, heading back to the bar, finishing off the brandy and needing a refill. As he passed the desk, his eyes fell on the gift there. Cute snowman paper, even more vomit-inducing than the handy Christmas Eve snow, but he stopped anyway, intrigued. The question popped into his head; what DO you get for the man who has everything? No way he was waiting till morning to find out.

He sat at the desk and pulled the box closer, hefting it gently and shaking it. Sounded like a bunch of things in there, medium-weight, too heavy to be a shirt, thankfully. Lex couldn't even remember the last time anyone had given him a gift with any actual thought or effort behind it. He looked at the tag; simple To, Lex, From Clark, little holly leaves around the edges. He smoothed his hands across the top and then picked the red bow off gently. Careful opening then, not tearing the paper haphazardly, enjoying the unexpectedly heart-warming moment. Plain white box underneath, looking for all the world like a shirt box anyway, but when he lifted the lid, he went back to the bar for that refill.

Three big gulps of strong liquor to steady his insides. Thought and effort. Lex shook his head. How long did it take? How long for Clark to find and obtain them all. Cars. Little die cast cars, every single one of them a model of one of Lex's actual vehicles. And the note laying atop them, "Just in case you wreck any more of them, you'll have these to remind you. Love, Clark."

Love, Clark indeed. Lots of thought and effort here. There were fifteen or twenty, and Lex knew you couldn't just run down to the local Wal-Mart and pick them up in the 94-cent toy car bin.

Lex took yet another drink, heading back to the bar, trying to decide what kind of wine went well with Christmas morning brunch.

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