by Caro

Thank you to Ximeria for the quick beta. Feedback is always appreciated and loved and replied to.

A/N: For Rana Eros and Pearl and all the other December babies. Happy Birthday! Thank you to Ximeria for the quick beta.

Disclaimer: I asked for Christmas but apparently I've been naughty. Not mine, never will be.

It's the in-between times that worry Lex. The times when things are quiet and calm and his mind starts whirling. Looking back at a plan that he formed before he really knew much of anything and measuring the differences between where he expected to be and where he is. Calculating variances, running the equations over and over in his head until it's all muddled and it's like he can't figure out the formulas on the blackboard. Then Clark comes over, briefly stopping whatever he's doing at the moment, and drops down to press a kiss to his lips.

"What was that for?" he asks, though he knows the answer.

"No reason. Just felt like doing it." Clark replies.

Lex erases the blackboard and starts over in his head.

Lex knew the first time Clark was going to kiss him. They were standing on the edge of the road, watching the crushed heap that was yet another one of his cars. The air was slightly cold and there was a bump on the back of Lex's head that he knew would hurt much more later. Clark made a comment about his car insurance rates, and Lex had laughed. Clark leaned in close.

"You don't have to, you know." Lex had said.

"I know." Clark whispered back. Then he kissed him anyway.

With love comes responsibility. This is the one lesson that Lex has always been aware of, even before he woke up to find himself saved in emerald eyes. His father would have said something caustic about emotions and letting his success depend on others and his heart beats faster when he thinks of how easily Clark could break him. Or how easily he could make himself unworthy of that love.

Lex knows better than anyone that loving someone doesn't mean that you won't hurt them. His mother cared about him more than anyone else in the world. She still died and left him alone to be raised by Lionel. And as much as Lex still loves his mother, he's never forgiven her for that.

He doesn't like to think of the man that he would be if Clark were not in his life. His father plays the mirror to the possibilities. But even the fact that his father's still alive to battle with him is just another testament to Clark's influence on his life. Clark's the thing that keeps him from going too far; from letting all those solutions that come to him so easily become reality. Clark makes it difficult. Forces Lex to jump through hoops and go about things the long way. It's a lot of work and he's definitely not going to rule the world before he's thirty. But at least when he does, Clark will be at his side.

Lex froze a little, the ring in his hand. Clark watched him.

"You don't have to do this you know." he whispered to Lex.

"I know." Lex nodded, and slipped the ring onto Clark's finger. Someone said some words about them being joined in love and God, but Lex didn't hear any of it. He just remembered Clark's lips on his and the feeling that he was home.

Lex hates Superman. As much as Lex knows that they need him, that Clark needs him, he can't help it. He still hates him. And not just because the costumed blue alien has interfered with more than one of his plans. But because that's what Clark thinks that's all he can offer the world, an apology for being who he is, though Clark just rolls his eyes when Lex says that. The irony of it is that Clark is much more accepted now, as the alien, than he ever was when he just tried to fit in.

The world loves Superman.

Lex loves Clark.

Loves the Clark who's a better writer than Lois Lane could ever hope to be but gives up bylines rather than attracting attention to himself. Loves the Clark that hunches his shoulders down and makes himself look smaller, weaker, even though he's the basis of all of Lex's strength. Loves the Clark that makes the rest of the world wonder what the hell the world's most eligible man could see in him.

Loves the Clark that's always been able to see him, and not just the Luthor name.

Clark has changed a little physically since Lex met him. Looks a little more grown up, a little more like a man. Dresses up in suits when he goes to work. Hair slicked back when he's playing superhero. Though still, most of the changes are from within.

Lex has changed more physically. The meteors have slowed down his aging process but that doesn't mean he doesn't get older. He's not immortal after all.

It's night and Clark studies a scar on Lex's body. It's from last week when Clark, in his haste to get Lex naked, had bumped him into a nightstand.

"Flawed." Lex remarks.

"I like it." Clark says. "It's like a reminder that we were together."

Lex looks up at him. There are no scars on Clark's body. "What about you?" he asks. "Where are your reminders?"

"In here," Clark replies, pointing to his heart. "Everything in here is marked by you."

It's a lie, Lex thinks. There are parts of Clark that don't belong to Lex, parts that were developed under the guidance of the Kents, or even the brief touch of his alien parents. It's these parts that make him who he is, who Lex needs him to be. These parts that consider putting on a costume everyday and saving everyone, regardless of whether they deserve it or not. There's an innocence to Clark that Lex has never been able to take away, has never wanted to take away, an innocence he himself lost much too early on.

"Same here." Lex tells Clark, pointing to his own chest. It's a lie too, but it's a good lie.

It's his birthday. There's a rather big party that Lex wishes he wasn't attending but it's an election year so he smiles and drinks champagne anyway. He's barely seen Clark since they got here; he's been busy networking and Clark's doing the same, in different ways. Lex talks to politicians and people of power, those who he could call on later during the campaign. Clark talks to people with causes, and ideas. Later on, he'll tell Lex whose ideas he liked, whose ideas are worth looking into. They'll discuss it over breakfast tomorrow maybe. Tonight he has no intention of talking about anything work related, if they manage words at all. He thinks of Clark naked and spread out before him to keep going.

"Hey, Mr. Senator." a voice floats over to him. He turns and smiles. It's Chloe, looking stunning in Versace. Press is not invited to this party, but she's here as a friend. Even Lois Lane has managed to behave herself, somewhere, in some corner. He's pretty sure Clark's had to threaten her with bodily harm, not that he'd ever be able to follow through on it.

"Not yet Chlo, not yet." Lex leans forward and places a kiss on her cheek.

"Soon enough, Lex. Any quotes on this auspicious occasion?"

"Thought you were supposed to be taking the night off?"

"I'll take a night off when you do." She retorts, with a grin. "So, come on...something for my readers?"

"What do you want me to say?" He's watching Clark out of the corner of his eye. Right now, Clark's schmoozing with the head of the Metropolis Pediatric Aids Foundation. She's laughing at something he says.

Chloe follows his gaze. He can hear the smile in her voice. She's never held the fact that Lex won against him. "At least answer me this." she whispers and Lex tears his eyes away from Clark for a second. "Looking back, did it turn out at all the way you expected it?"

It's a common question, one that he's been asked many times on the campaign trail. But Clark's walking over to him to ask when they can go home and Chloe's smiling at him like a friend, and he wants to be honest.

"No Chloe, none of it went as planned." Clark's hand slides into his. "And for that, I'm eternally grateful."


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