Lex's hands were cold. Clark knew this because he was rubbing said hands gently, trying to warm them up.
"Better? Can you feel them now?" he said, slipping Lex's gloves back on.
"A little." Lex scowled. "Although I wouldn't be losing sensation in my extremities if I weren't walking through Siberia with you."
Clark grinned, and dug in his pocket. "Here," he said, holding out a scrunched up bundle of soft cloth, "put this on."
Lex unfolded the black wool slowly, realization dawning on his face. He looked up at Clark in horror. "I'm not wearing this."
"Lex, it's freezing. You're freezing. Put it on."
"I look weird in hats," said Lex petulantly.
"Trust me, you look weirder with goose bumps all over your head. And your ears are turning blue." Clark tried not to laugh when Lex immediately pulled out his silver hip flask and started holding it up to his ears, squinting to try and catch the reflection in its shiny surface. "Now put the hat on, oh vain one. My mother made it for you, and where we're going the people won't care if your accessories aren't haute couture."
It was cold in Smallville in winter, even Clark was wearing an extra layer, and his breath rose in white puffs as they made their way to White Oaks Rest Home. Snow and gravel crunched under his feet and he wondered if Lex's slim black shoes were really keeping the cold and the wet out.
"If you'd let me drive," Lex observed when Clark voiced his concerns, "it wouldn't be a problem. Your truck might be too wide for this driveway, but you can bet the Elise would have made it."
"Lex, there's no way your cars could handle this weather. I'm not even all that comfortable driving the truck - there could be black ice, or-"
"So you said." Lex sighed gustily. "Hence the walking."
Clark didn't say anything, just looked pointedly at the hat still clutched in Lex's gloved fingers.
By the time they arrived at the front door, Lex had acquiesced and was wearing not only the hat, but also Clark's red and blue-striped scarf. It didn't really go with the rest of Lex's all-black ensemble, but at least he looked warmer. Or his eyes did, seeing as they were the only parts of Lex currently visible.
Said eyes speared Clark with a sharp gaze when they registered him staring. "What?"
"Nothing," replied Clark, and he turned to grasp the ornate brass doorknocker. He banged it against the door, twice, and dislodged an alarming amount of snow from the door when he did so.
"Remind me again who this woman is? And why exactly I'm here?" said Lex from behind him.
"She's Mrs. Devon, and she was my fourth grade teacher. And my dad's." Clark paused, thinking. "And possibly his dad's."
Lex laughed quietly, the sound muffled by the bright wool still wound about his neck and face.
"Anyway, she's nice, and really old." Clark continued, peering through the textured glass of the tiny window in the door. He could see a figure making it's way towards them. "And she's here for respite care while her family are skiing in Aspen. They aren't coming to take her home until Christmas Eve, so my mom sent me over with this basket of Christmas food for her." Clark held up the wicker basket, which was covered in a blue and white chequered cloth. Clark thought it was the same material his mom had used for the kitchen curtains. And one of his shirts. "And you're here because I hate old people's homes, and you owe me for making me go to that comic book store with you last week."
"Well, I guess that makes you Little Red Riding Clark," said Lex, unwinding the scarf to reveal cheeks that were pink with cold, "so what am I, the Big Bad Lex?"
"Lex, shut up." Clark just had time to get in a good eye-roll before the door opened on a short, round woman who Clark knew as 'Dorma'.
"Clark!" she cried, pulling him down into a surprisingly strong hug. "My, you're so tall! Is Martha with you?" She looked past Clark, her smile faltering a little when she laid eyes on Lex.
"Dorma, this is my friend Lex." Clark moved back so Lex could hold out his hand for Dorma to shake. "Lex, this is Dorma. She runs the home."
"And Clark tells me you do an admirable job," said Lex warmly, doing that flirty charm thing that he always did when he spoke to older women. Clark couldn't do it. He'd tried, once, during deliveries, but he'd ended up with his mom receiving a concerned call from one of their best customers.
It worked on Dorma though, because she gave a little fluttery laugh and waved them both inside. "It's always a pleasure to meet one of Clark's friends."
"We're here to see Mrs. Devon," Clark said, as Lex pulled off his hat with obvious distaste, "is she up?"
"Oh yes. She'll be thrilled to have visitors." Dorma bustled off down the hall and Clark motioned for Lex to follow her.
"So this Mrs. Devon. Is she as welcoming as Dorma?" Lex murmured as he fell into step beside Clark.
"Well," Clark said, shifting the basket to his other hand so it wouldn't bang into Lex's leg, "she's not as sane as Dorma, that's for sure."
Five minutes later, Mrs. Devon was illustrating this point better than Clark ever could.
"So I told her I'd already been to the Royal Wedding in a truck that morning, and why didn't she go back to the windmill where she came from?" Mrs. Devon shook a warning finger in Lex's face. He blinked, and Clark hid a grin behind his hand.
Suddenly, Mrs. Devon reached up and ran her hand over Lex's head. Lex, to his credit, only flinched a little, and gave the tiniest grimace as she examined his scalp.
Then she swooped in to Clark and whispered conspiratorially, "He's very shiny, dear. Do you polish him?"
Clark laughed so hard he almost fell off his chair. Lex and Mrs. Devon had matching indignant expressions on their faces, which only made him laugh harder.
"No, Mrs. Devon," he spluttered between gulps of air, "I don't polish him. But I'm sure he's very grateful for the compliment."
Lex didn't say anything, but he gave Clark a look that would have dropped a lesser man at twenty paces.
Oh yeah. He was gonna pay for that one.
Lex was uncharacteristically quiet during the rest of the visit. Clark was more or less occupied with nodding and smiling in what he thought were the right places in Mrs. Devon's stories, but he did catch Lex staring longingly at the door a couple of times. More than once Lex's eyes strayed to the sword hanging above Mrs. Devon's fireplace.
Mrs. Devon noticed, too, because she leant over to Lex and, in a rare moment of lucidity, said, "It belonged to my grandfather. He was a general, you know."
"It's very ornate," said Lex, "and unique. My father has one similar, but I've never seen a scabbard like that before."
Mrs. Devon smiled and patted Lex's knee. "You don't need it, dear. The blades which brought glory to our forefathers pale in comparison to the resources of the young." She turned to include Clark in her address. "You would do well to remind him of that, dear."
Clark looked over at Lex. He looked pretty freaked out. Clark could empathise.
"Anyway." Mrs. Devon sat up straight in her chair and smoothed out the skirt of her dress. "You'll have to go soon. I'm expecting a brigadier for tea."
By the time Clark pulled the truck up outside the mansion, Lex had been silent for a total of seventeen minutes, which was a really long time if you were the kind of person who didn't think anything had meaning until you'd made a sarcastic remark or historical reference about it.
"Come on, Lex." Clark unbuckled his seatbelt and waited for Lex to do the same. "It wasn't that bad."
Lex looked at him sideways.
"She's old. What was I supposed to say? 'Watch the bald comments, he's sensitive'?"
Lex rolled his eyes.
Clark changed tack. "You know, it wouldn't have happened if you'd kept the hat on."
This earned him an enraged eyebrow, but still no words.
"And I guess if it bothered you that much you could always, I dunno, powder it or something."
Clark laughed, victorious, and got out of the truck.
Lex swept past him on the way up the path. "Don't even think you're welcome in my house now, farmboy."
Clark grinned and stamped the snow from his boots. "Do you get this snippy in business meetings?"
"I'm not being-" Lex stopped, his key in the lock. "You're teasing me." He didn't sound mad so much as shocked that someone actually dared poke fun at him.
"Of course I am." Clark followed Lex into the hall and shrugged his jacket off. "It's a thing we do."
"Yeah, y'know. People."
Lex snorted and flung his jacket in the general direction of the coat stand. It flared dramatically in mid-air before hooking itself stylishly onto a wooden peg. Clark decided his own jacket wasn't ready for independent air travel and walked it over to the stand himself.
"And these mysterious traditions you 'people' have," said Lex, making finger quotations in the air, "is there one that stipulates the thorough punishment of those who tease?"
"Well, no. Not if the teaser in question offers to make it up to the, uh, teasee."
"I see." Lex frowned thoughtfully.
They were in the study now, and Clark was pleased to see a fire crackling in the hearth. He liked real fires. Gas ones never looked as warm, to him.
"So what, exactly, could the teaser offer the teasee in order to escape said punishment?" Lex had unearthed two bottles of water from somewhere and he tossed one to Clark.
"It depends." Clark twisted the top off his water and drank some. "On what the teasee wants."
"What I want?" Lex tilted his head, considering. "What I want..." Lex moved slowly towards Clark, tapping his bottle of water thoughtfully against his lower lip as he walked. "Anything?"
Clark's mouth had gone very dry, all of a sudden, but he managed, "Anything."
"Well in that case," Lex set his water down on the desk and leaned into Clark, grinning. "I want." Lex bit his lower lip, which made Clark's hands twitch. Then he bit Clark's, which made Clark's hands move up to Lex's waist, completely of their own accord, and pull him closer. "I want..." Lex kissed him slowly, a warm press of lips that moved from his mouth, over his cheekbone and up to his earlobe. Lex gave that a quick bite and whispered, "...to watch Spider-Man."
"Lex!" Clark could only watch, incredulous, as Lex sauntered to the couch and slid over the back of it.
"Come on, farmboy," he called, waving the remote in the air, "you owe me."
"I can't believe you want to watch Spider-Man again."
"It's a good story," said Lex, tugging Clark down onto the sofa.
"Yeah, if you're a comics geek." Clark ducked Lex's well-aimed kick at his head. Wouldn't do to give Lex a broken toe on top of everything else.
"It's got everything." Lex gestured at the screen. "Loss, betrayal. Tortured, lonely hero. Tragically flawed nemesis. Cool costumes. Kirsten Dunst. What's not to like?"
"Right," said Clark, pulling Lex's feet into his lap, "and it has nothing to do with the fact that you think Harry Osborne's like your soulmate or something."
Lex rolled his eyes, saying nothing. On screen, Tobey Maguire was missing the school bus. Clark could relate.
"Your feet are freezing," said Clark, pressing one between his palms.
Lex twitched his toes. "Feel free to remedy the situation. You are supposed to be making it up to me, after all."
"I can think of better ways," Clark grumbled, but he got to work just the same. Making Lex groan was always fun, and pressing his thumbs into the heel of Lex's foot did just that. Slow, smooth strokes produced little 'mmm' sounds that Lex probably thought he couldn't hear, and pressing his knuckles into the arch made Lex moan out loud. "You like that."
"No shit, Sherlock. You think I pay a masseuse for the good of my health?"
Clark dropped a kiss onto Lex's toe. "You know, I could give you massages. You don't need to pay someone."
"Yes, Clark." Lex stretched sleepily. "But, open-minded as your mother is, I don't think I could handle her walking in here to find you oiling me up."
Clark laughed. "She's not here at night."
"No, but you usually are." Lex lifted his head and gave Clark a wicked grin. "And there are much better things we could be doing."
It wasn't always easy dating an over-sensitive Luthor. But it was, Clark reflected as Lex pulled him down, worth it.
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