Permutations

by Teaphile



Chloe burst into Clark's dorm room without knocking, a habit she'd developed over the past few months of living on the same residence floor as him. "Are you ready?" she called out, peeking around the divider between the desk and sleep areas. He wasn't there, but his boxes were, and she couldn't help rummaging through the open one on the bed. It was haphazardly packed with smaller boxes of various sizes and shapes, interspersed with CDs and personal items. She sorted through them, repacking and reorganizing what she could, trying to burn off some of the frenetic energy she felt.

"Boo."

Chloe jumped, nearly cracking her head against that of Clark's roommate, Andrew. "Dammit, Drew...." She feinted at him with the box in her hand. Then she actually looked at the box, which professed to be full of fountain pen cartridges, and shared a glance with Andrew. "Lex," she said, as if doubtful that his name was an adequate explanation. She tossed the box back in the larger one.

Andrew just nodded in understanding. "A name that solves all mysteries."

"You wouldn't believe some of the expensive crap he's given me over the years. You get used to him." Chloe sat on Clark's bed. She suppressed a smile at the memories of having to get used to Lex. It wouldn't do to accidentally clue Andrew in.

"I won't get a chance to, now that Clark and you are moving." He sat beside her, at the foot of his own bed.

"Well, maybe your new roomie will have his own rich, enigmatic friend to get to know. There's got to be more than one." She looked at her watch. "So where is Clark? We're on a schedule, and he's not done packing." Standing, she picked up an empty box and started filling it with clothes from the bottom of Clark's closet.

Andrew just lay on the bed, watching. "You might not want to do that. It can get pretty scary in there."

"I'll take my chances." Chloe's reply was muffled. She yelped a second time--far too many times in one day, in her opinion--as a strong arm closed around her waist and picked her up off her feet and out of the closet.

She whirled instinctively, smacking Clark on the arm. "I've asked you to stop that."

He smiled innocently. "But I was saving you from the closet. It was obviously eating you."

Ignoring his words, Chloe just stared. "Clark?" She tilted her head as if studying a slightly icky specimen.

Andrew's snickers came from somewhere behind her.

"Clark, what's that on your head?"

"A hat?" He touched the peaked red cap, tilting it slightly. The bell on the tip jingled.

Chloe shot Andrew a 'can you believe this?' look. "It's a Santa hat. Didn't we discuss this last year?'

Clark shook his head. "Nope. Last year it was antlers. You said no antlers, so I don't have antlers. Or a shiny red nose."

"Lex will never let you in the limo like that."

Clark nonchalantly started packing another box. "Good thing he's bringing the Land Rover, then."

"Speaking of which...," Lex's voice sounded through the open door, accompanied by a polite knock. He rounded the partition and nodded at Andrew and Chloe. He looked at Clark. He looked at Clark's hat. He plucked the hat neatly off Clark's head, folded it, and gave it to Andrew. "Merry Christmas."

"Gee, thanks," Andrew deadpanned.

Lex scanned the room quickly, noticing the disarray. "Clark?"

Clark turned to Andrew. "Have you noticed how they both say my name in exactly the same way? I'm beginning to suspect they're working together."

Andrew laughed. "And it's such a hardship for you, isn't it Stretch? Having friends like the billionaire and the babe here."

"Shove it, Shorty." Feigning anger, Clark went back to his packing.

Eventually Chloe and Andrew got tired of waiting and helped. Lex, immaculate in his wool car coat and scarf, prowled the room examining the various toys scattered about, studiously avoiding the nastier bits of dorm life. At one point Chloe exasperatedly dumped a pile of books in a box and turned to Lex. "For the record, I have three small boxes and two suitcases left in my room. I claim no responsibility for Clark leaving everything 'til the last minute."

Lex laid a gloved hand on her shoulder and leaned in to whisper in her ear. Her peal of laughter caused Clark to shake his head. "See?" he said to Andrew. "They're conspiring against me."

Andrew lowered his voice. "Do you think they're sleeping together?"

Clark smiled a little, shaking his head. "No more so than Chloe and I."

"Yeah, like that'll ever happen."

Clark folded the flaps in on the box and taped them. "I don't have anything to worry about from him."


Finally, an hour and a half later, Chloe's and Clark's possessions were stowed in the truck and the room looked significantly neater. They said their good-byes to Andrew, then headed out into the snow. The sky had darkened and the weather had become harsher since the last time they were outside, so they decided to skip the Christmas shopping and go directly to the rooftop condo which, as of that evening, they would all share.

They left the car to be unpacked by the servants, and went directly up. Chloe gasped as they walked through the door. The apartment was fully decked out for the holidays; candles gave off a soft, warm light, and the cedar garlands that decorated every horizontal surface filled the air with scent. A fire crackled cheerily in the living room, the scent of apple wood mingling with the rest. Chloe turned abruptly and threw her arms around Lex's neck, knocking his hat off. "It's beautiful," she said as he wrapped his arms tighter around her. She pulled back slightly and met his grin with a kiss, soft and sweet and full of love for the man who would do this for her and Clark. Lex never decorated, never celebrated Christmas except to give gifts, but this year he'd gone all out for his lovers.

Meanwhile, Clark divested himself of his outerwear and leaned back to watch, amused. Finally Chloe dropped back off her toes and smiled at Clark. "Your turn," she said.

"Can I take off my coat first?" Lex asked, doing so. He puttered about hanging up his coat, brushing off and putting away his hat, waiting for Clark to ambush him the way Chloe had. Instead, Clark and Chloe had both wandered into the living room and were admiring the decorations. Lex would have felt a little insulted, had he not already seen the barely-repressed smile on Clark's face. So Lex searched around the room, found a single sprig of mistletoe hanging in the hall, grabbed it and entered the living room.

Hiding the mistletoe, he sidled up beside Clark. "You can't beat me at this game, Clark."

Dark eyebrows raised. "Oh?"

"I have a secret weapon." He held out the delicate branch. "Nothing can defeat centuries of tradition."

Clark laughed and pulled Lex close. His lips hovered over Lex's for a moment. "Thank you," he whispered, leaning in for the kiss he'd been denying himself as much as Lex. The kiss was the opposite of everything Chloe's had been; it was intense, almost rough, quickly escalating with a passion that left them both breathless.

Chloe broke the silence. "That is so damn hot."

The men separated and smiled at her, both a little chagrined. "Sorry, Chlo. It's just that we haven't seen each other in two weeks. You at least got to see Lex Wednesday night, but I had that early exam Thursday," Clark explained.

"Oh, don't mind me. I understand. Carry on. Get naked, whatever. I'm happy sitting here and watching." As she spoke, Chloe leaned against the wall and crossed her arms in front of her, grinning.

Clark planted one last quick kiss on Lex and said, "Kinky."

Chloe snickered. "You don't know half my kinks, Clark."

The doorbell sounded, followed shortly by the entrance of the housekeeper and her three sons, who were carrying Chloe's and Clark's possessions. They pounced on their stuff as if they'd never seen it before, and had half the boxes open by the time Lex had finished paying the young men and giving final instructions to Mrs. Hudson. Mrs. Hudson, never a woman to waste time, busied herself pouring fresh eggnog for the three of them, nodding briskly at everything Lex said.

"So you'll be in Smallville the whole week?" Chloe and Clark looked up sharply at the housekeeper's question. They glanced guiltily at each other, then bent their heads back to their unpacking.

Lex answered affirmatively, then escorted the Hudsons from the apartment. He wandered back to the other two and sat cross-legged on the floor in front of them. He started casually picking through one of the boxes.

"Lex?" Clark asked hesitantly.

"Hmm?" Lex was absorbed with figuring out a wooden puzzle he'd retrieved.

"We need to tell you something."

Lex studied them both. They looked exceedingly guilty. "And what would that be?"

Chloe glanced at Clark, then straightened and met Lex's eyes. "We haven't exactly told our parents about our new living arrangements." She hunched slightly, expecting the weight of his disapproval.

Lex took a thoughtful sip of his drink. "That could be a problem, since I mentioned it in an e-mail to your father this afternoon."

"You didn't!" Chloe was on her feet and halfway to the phone before Lex spoke again.

"You're right, I didn't. But I very well could have, and then we'd have some trouble, wouldn't we?" He leveled his gaze at Clark. "Your father doesn't still hate me that much, does he?"

"Not so much, but you have to admit, this is a weirder-than-normal situation." Clark shrugged. He still hadn't come up with a convincing reason to have moved in with Lex, aside from confessing their relationship. "Lex...a whole week in Smallville?"

"What else did you have in mind?"

Chloe sat back down between the two men. "Well, we figured we'd just go for Christmas Day, that's all. See the families, then come back here to be with you. How will you justify a week in Smallville anyway?"

Lex's mouth crooked up in a half-smile. "Christmas party for the plant. I'll need to be there to prepare, after all."

Clark snorted. "Like you don't have people to do that for you."

"Ah, but you see, Clark," Lex shook his finger at him, "it's that personal touch that makes Lexcorp different from Luthor Corp."

"Lexcorp: Creating New Traditions." Clark and Chloe both quoted a recent television ad, rolling their eyes dramatically. "Isn't that an oxymoron? 'New Traditions'?" Chloe asked.

"I didn't write it, my marketing department did. It'll change in a few weeks anyway." Lex stood, fished in his pocket, and tossed his cell phone to Chloe. "Call your dad. Make it sound natural, like maybe you thought you told him already. Don't forget to add the part about Clark being here too."

Chloe took the phone and escaped to the bedroom she'd claimed as a sanctuary. She wasn't entirely sure she'd need one, but the three of them had decided to set strict privacy boundaries, so they didn't end up hating each other. She and Clark at least had had roommates recently, but Lex hadn't lived closely with another person since boarding school. If he felt he needed his privacy, who was she to object?

She dialed, and nervously played with her hair until the phone on the other end picked up. At her father's voice she took a deep breath. "Hi, Dad."

"Chloe?" He sounded surprised. "Why are you calling from Lex's cell number? Is something wrong?"

"No, Dad, nothing's wrong. I'm just borrowing his phone, that's all."

"Well, then, how are you? Did your exams go well?"

Chloe smiled, relaxing. "Yeah, they were fine. I think I aced a couple."

"Good, honey. And how's the paper?"

"It's fine. They're bumping me up to science reporter next term. No more copyediting for me!"

"You have to start somewhere."

Chloe sighed. "I know. But I'm in my second year, and I'm still not getting to do any real news."

"Science is real news. In fact, chemistry is paying for your education, so don't knock it."

"Speaking of money...I've decided not to live in residence next term."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. Clark and I are moving in with Lex. Actually, we moved in today."

A pause. "What made you decide to do that?"

"Well, we've all become really close. You know that already. But Clark and I rarely get to see Lex, unless one of us is with him at a public appearance. This way we can see him without having to go out at all. And it's cheaper. We'll get refund cheques for next term's fee."

"At least I won't have to worry about your safety, now. Nothing can get through security at that place unless personally invited."

"Thanks, Dad. I knew you'd understand."

"I understand that I want you to be happy. And that Lex needs his friends. But what if he starts dating someone? How will that affect you and Clark?"

"I really do not want to discuss Lex's personal life with you. You need to take that up with him."

"He'll probably tell me that's none of my business," he chuckled.

"It's hard being the employee of your daughter's best friend, isn't it?" Chloe asked teasingly.

"Oh, it's terrible, having an in with the boss."

"I love you, Dad."

"I love you too, Chloe."

Chloe spoke to her father for a few more minutes, then hung up and reentered the living room. Lex and Clark were deep in conversation, not even noticing that she'd come back. "What's up?" Chloe asked, tossing the phone back to Lex.

Lex caught it and gave it to Clark. "Game plan for telling the Kents."

"Well, Dad's just fine with the plan, although he may grill you for information later, Lex. You can tell Mr. and Mrs. Kent to call him if they want."

Lex nodded sharply. "Good." He turned back to Clark. "You next."

Clark looked at the phone as if it had suddenly turned to slime in his hands. "Wouldn't it be better to tell them in person?"

"Wouldn't it be better to let your mother tell your father, instead of having to do it yourself?" Lex shot back.

"Not necessarily. Dad's real big with coming clean on things, and being straight with people."

Chloe laughed. "Oh, if only he knew the truth."

Clark glared at her. "What was your excuse for moving in here?"

"It was easy. I just told Dad that we don't get to see Lex enough, and that this way we wouldn't always have to make special arrangements. We could spend time with him without having to get dressed up. Plus, it's cheaper than residence or an apartment of our own."

"Good," Lex said. "Clark, your parents always hate to see your picture in the paper with me, so they should like that line of reasoning. I don't think you should tell them I'm not making you pay rent, though."

Clark raised an eyebrow. "Would you rather have Dad think you just want my money?"

"You have a point. Use your judgement on that one."

"Nice to know you think I have some." Clark smiled to take the edge off the comment. They liked to tease Lex about his need to organize and control everything. "No, I think I should go down tomorrow and tell them in person."

Lex reached out and put his hand on Clark's knee. "If you're sure, then by all means. Take the Rover and go."

"But be back by four. The party starts at six," Chloe reminded Clark. "You don't want to be late for the meet-and-greet with the neighbours, do you?"

Clark's forehead creased. "Do I have to?"

"If you don't want to be shunned by the condo association, then yes," Lex replied. "They were already suspicious enough when I told them you'd be moving in here. Don't give them any reason to hassle us."

"You're Lex Luthor. What could they possibly do?" Chloe, wandering towards the kitchen, called out behind her.

Lex stood, as did Clark, and followed her. Lex ticked off points on his fingers as he spoke. "They could raise the fees. They could limit the number of parking spaces per unit to one. They could institute a rule that says everyone living in a unit must be related by blood or marriage. They can do anything. Condo boards are evil. You'll both have to read the guidelines or you'll unintentionally break all kinds of rules."

Chloe rummaged through the fridge. "What did Mrs. Hudson leave us for dinner?"

"She said something about a roast chicken." Lex busied himself at the wine cooler, pulling out bottles at random and reading the lables.

Clark, who had joined Chloe at the fridge, pulled out a wrapped baking dish. "Ooh, cauliflower cheese. I love that woman." He placed the dish on the counter and continued searching. "What are we getting her for Christmas?"

"Cooking lessons," Lex said, turning on the oven. Smiling, he started working a corkscrew into the bottle he'd chosen.

Chloe turned on him. "Seriously? You're getting a great cook like her lessons?"

Lex shrugged. "It's what she wanted. A week in Paris at a gourmet cooking school."

Chloe rolled her eyes. "You have such a weird sense of humour, Lex." Having found the chicken, she read the instructions taped to it and put it in the oven.


Clark stood by the sliding doors and gazed out into the night. The gently whirling snow obscured his view of the rooftop garden beyond, and the hour felt later, the night blacker, than it was. He flicked the light switch beside the door but instead of the usual floodlights he got a mosaic of red, green, and white fairy lights. He smiled at his reflection; whoever had decorated the penthouse had done a wonderful job. His grin widened when he realized that the rooftop was covered in at least two feet of heavy, wet, packable snow. He turned to Chloe, who was still sitting on the couch where they'd collapsed after dinner. "Hey Chloe?"

She didn't look up from her book. "Yeah?"

"Wanna go play in the snow?"

Chloe's head snapped up and her huge smile mirrored his own. "Hell yes!"

Both were already wearing jeans and heavy sweaters, so it didn't take them long to don caps, scarves, mittens, boots, and jackets and get out into the beautiful winter night. Clark immediately started rolling the bottom of a snowman, and Chloe collapsed into the snow with a loud thump, watching as the crystals cascaded down around her. She made a quick snow angel, then decorated it before covertly starting a stash of snowballs. Any winter outing with Clark eventually degenerated into a snowball fight, and she wanted to be ready.

When she'd amassed a fair number she joined Clark in finishing the snowman. As they stood back to admire it Chloe felt the expected hand down the back of her sweater, and the icy shock of snow between her shoulder blades. She shrieked and ran for her stash, realizing belatedly that if she didn't scream, he probably wouldn't do it. That didn't stop her from pelting him with snowballs, which he somehow managed to catch and throw back. She was just about to throw her last one when Clark's hand came up in some sort of signal. She watched as he carefully sighted Lex's office window and threw the snow. It smacked against the glass and Chloe chortled as she imagined the expression on Lex's face. Her own expression changed abruptly when Clark's last snowball smacked her directly in the forehead. "You bastard!" she shouted at him, and launched herself at his legs. He allowed himself to be taken down, and Chloe found all his ticklish spots as she climbed up his body to straddle his chest. "Do you surrender?"

Clark's eyes glinted with mischief. "No."

Chloe leaned down to stretch herself on top of him, hip to hip, elbows resting on his shoulders, her chin propped up on her hands. "Do you surrender now?" she asked again sweetly.

"Hmm." Clark drew a finger down the side of her face. "I think I might need more incentive." He cupped the back of her head and pulled her down into a kiss. His lips were cold, contrasting excitingly with the heat of his mouth and tongue. Chloe drew herself up his body a little farther, enjoying the slide against him despite the many layers of clothing between them. She sank herself into the kiss, delighted in the little shiver she got when he traced the roof of her mouth with his tongue. There was no doubt that she was warm now.

Clark pulled back a little. "Do you know," he whispered, nipping at her neck, "how hard it's been to not touch you at school?"

Chloe moaned as his tongue drew a hot, wet path up to her ear. "I know exactly what you mean." She tilted her hips, desperate to make contact with the erection she knew was hiding under his jeans. The world suddenly went black and cold for a moment, and Chloe looked up, shocked, to see Lex standing over them.

He wiggled the fingers of one gloved hand at them. "Hi," he said casually.

Chloe relaxed and dropped her head to Clark's shoulder, ignoring the burn of snow on her face. "Should we kill him?" she said into the ear beside her. "I think we should kill him."

Clark rolled them over on to their sides. "I agree." He let go of Chloe and quickly grasped Lex around the knees, refusing to be shaken off.

Chloe stood, mustering all the dignity she had, and carefully divested Lex of the bucket he'd used to dump snow on them. Clark also stood, not letting go of Lex at any time, and glared down at him. "The rules of snow fights preclude the use of utensils of any kind."

Lex smiled crookedly up at him. "Preclude? You're starting to sound like me, Clark."

Clark just continued to glare. "If you want to play, you have to play by the rules." His eyes darted to Chloe, then settled back on Lex. "No utensils."

"Except hats." Chloe stated, pulling her knit toque over Lex's head. A moment later she laughed when he yelped in shock as the snow she'd piled in the hat hit the top of his head.

Lex scrambled to get the hat off his head and turned on Chloe. "Lex, please," she begged as he slowly advanced on her, "I'm soaked through and I'm freezing. Can we just go inside and you can have your revenge later?"

"Oh, I think I'll be getting my revenge both now and later." He glanced back over his shoulder and smiled the smile that caused even his father to back off. "I haven't forgotten about your role in this scenario, Clark. You, too, will be punished."

While he was distracted Chloe had managed to duck inside and start stripping off her wet clothes. Clark, coming up behind Lex, nudged him and brought his attention to Chloe. "I think I need to get warmed up...how about you?"

Lex turned a wicked grin on Clark. "I agree."

By the time they'd rid themselves of their wet clothing and caught up to Chloe she'd turned on the fireplace in the master bedroom and was snuggled under the duvet, even her head hidden. The covers quivered slightly. Lex winked at Clark, and drew him over to the fireplace, taking a moment to bask in the warmth radiating from both the fire and his lover. The firelight flickered gently, casting patterns on Clark's skin, and Lex couldn't resist following the patterns with his tongue; shoulder to neck, rib to stomach he traced the light, until Clark gasped and pulled their mouths together. It really had been too long since they'd been together, and as Clark's tongue thrust into his mouth Lex felt that little thrill of giving up power to another person. He even found himself standing on his toes to close those few inches of height, bringing their bodies into alignment, hardness pressing to hardness, hands roaming forcefully. Lex broke the kiss and rested his head against Clark's shoulder, panting heavily, and felt Clark smile against his neck a moment before a slick, pointed tongue swept, in tiny licks, up from his tailbone to the small of his back. He cringed away, ticklish, and the tongue was replaced by a soft, warm body pressed up against him.

Lex turned in the arms embracing him and caught Chloe's lips in a kiss that mirrored the one he'd shared with Clark. She responded eagerly, cupping his head in one hand and drawing the fingers of the other slowly up between the two men, alternating between stroking his back and Clark's stomach. Clark backed away slightly, and Lex relished the feel of two sets of hands touching him; it was chaotic, and so never failed to surprise and arouse him. He felt Clark move around behind Chloe, who took the opportunity to wrap one leg around Lex's waist, rubbing her sex against his. Lex pulled her up a little, and gasped when Clark's fingers grazed his sac before moving on to stroke Chloe. She moaned, and Lex felt a flood of wetness. Clark chuckled a little, and Lex kissed a path up Chloe's neck to whisper in her ear, "Do you want it this way?"

She nodded before dropping her leg and backing Lex into the straight-backed chair beside the fire. Clark followed closely, continuing to touch Chloe voraciously. She leaned back against him, rubbing his cock into the small of her back and eliciting a sigh before pushing Lex into the chair. She straddled him, but he caught her waist before she could slide down. He ducked his head and tasted her, feeling her lean back into Clark to change her angle. Lex loved the way Chloe tasted, strong and spicy, different from Clark, but with an underlying similarity. Chloe moved then to push him back, and, smiling like a satisfied cat, swept her slick softness up the length of his cock before settling herself. She sank down halfway, then stopped, closing her eyes. She exhaled quietly as she took in the rest of him. Lex didn't move; he enjoyed that first slow thrust as much as she did. He pulled her close and she rested her head on his shoulder. Lex looked up to see Clark kneeling in front of him, obviously content to watch for the moment. The moment didn't last long as Chloe started to move slowly, rubbing her clit down his stomach and grinding into his pelvis at the bottom of the stroke. His eyes closed again, and Lex felt Clark's large hand on the back of his head, and he met his lips, tongue thrusting in time with his hips. He sped up slightly, and felt Clark's other hand in the hollow between his body and Chloe's, touching her in fast, hard strokes. Chloe whined again, barely breathing as she rode him, her hands gripping his hips with wonderful strength. "Oh, god," she panted, her movements becoming erratic, and Lex let her lead, barely holding himself back as her inner muscles tensed around him. She ground down into him once more and keened, then sighed, resting her head on his shoulder. She nipped up his neck and kissed him hard before pulling back to grin sappily at him. He smiled back, and she began the slow rhythm again. Lex couldn't hold back this time, and, gripping her hips, he leaned back and thrust deeply, once, twice, feeling that tingle and flood of heat. He shivered and held her tighter as he emptied into her, and vaguely heard her moan again. She collapsed against him and he held her loosely, but other, more insistent hands pulled him back to awareness.

Lex opened his eyes to see Clark, eyes glittering in the firelight, threading his fingers through Chloe's hair. She moaned happily and leaned back to look at him. He tugged gently at her blonde curls, and she nipped at his wrist before gently easing herself off Lex. She wobbled a little as she stood, and Clark caught her and led her to the bed before coming back to wrap strong arms around Lex's waist and guide him to lay beside Chloe. Lex grabbed a soft cloth out of the bedside table and wiped himself off before turning over to burrow face-down in the pillow. He wiggled his ass in the air, and heard both his lovers chuckle. Chloe smacked his ass gently and whispered, "slut," in his ear. He felt her get out of bed and pad over to the master bathroom, but got distracted when a broad hand stroked down his back. He sighed, and Clark laid down full-length on top of him, working his hands under Lex's chest and stomach. Lex briefly considered pretending he was asleep, but decided that wasn't punishment enough for Clark's previous treachery.

Putting that thought aside, Lex wiggled his ass again and felt Clark's hardness press into his back. Clark moved, kneeling on the bed, and Lex turned over to look at him. Chloe returned, taking a moment to run her fingers up Clark's cock. She shook her head. "I don't know how you guys manage not to be touching yourselves all the time." She faced Clark, straddling Lex's legs, still stroking. "The skin is so soft, it's addictive." Clark gasped and threw his head back as Chloe dove in, burying her nose in his curls, inhaling deeply where his scent was the strongest. "God, you smell good," she said.

Lex cleared his throat and glared at Chloe. She threw him a smile over her shoulder and released Clark. Crawling her way up Lex's body, she took position beside him and snuggled under the covers. Clark followed her path, but hovered over Lex, until finally Lex pulled him down to kiss him. He released Clark and murmured, "Fuck me."

Clark kissed his way slowly back down Lex's body, and a soft voice whispered gleefully in his ear, "Pushy slut." Chloe ran a finger down his chest lightly, and tweaked a nipple at the same time--and he was almost sure this was a coincidence--that Clark's slick finger slid into the cleft of his ass. Lex closed his eyes and once more let the feelings wash over him; Chloe gently petting him and Clark more forcefully preparing him made an interesting contrast, one that he enjoyed greatly. This was only the third time they'd all been together, and its very newness made it exotic and arousing. Lex felt himself growing erect again, and a small, soft hand snaked lower to help. He thrust into the hand gently, just as he felt Clark's fingers hit the magic spot. He gasped, and heard his lovers chuckle again as his hips left the bed completely. Clark caught his ass on the way down and Lex felt a blunt nudge, then the slow slide of entry. He took up the rhythm again, moving counter to Clark, while Chloe's firm grip on his own hardness moved counter to him. He fucked, and was fucked, and wondered how anyone could stand to have only one lover at a time.

Already over-sensitive, Lex climaxed quickly this time, then gave himself over to pleasuring Clark. He barely noticed when Chloe moved away. He wrapped one leg around Clark's waist and gripped as tightly as he could, so he was understandably confused when Clark shouted Chloe's name.

Lex opened his eyes and smiled when he saw the expression on Clark's face. Dropping his gaze a little lower Lex saw Chloe, bottle of oil in one hand, the other hand moving between Clark's cheeks. Clark moaned and gripped Lex tighter, pounding into him once more. Gasping, Clark came, and then relaxed into Lex. They lay there for a few minutes, until finally Clark became too heavy.

"Hey." Lex nudged Clark, who rolled off him, cleaned himself up, and crawled up the bed only to collapse again on the pillow.

Chloe kissed them both, and slipped under the covers between them. They fell asleep, sated and happy.


"Wakey, wakey." Clark gently shook his lovers awake, trying not to jolt them.

Chloe mumbled in her sleep, burying her head deeper into her pillow. Lex, however, woke completely. He smiled up at Clark. "Morning," he said, craning his head to look at the clock. "Early morning," he amended.

"Yeah," Clark said quietly. "I want to get out to the farm before Mom and Dad go into town."

"Are you sure you know exactly what you're going to say to them? I can script it out for you while you get ready, if you want."

Clark chuckled deeply. "I'll be fine, Lex. Trust me. I've been handling my parents for years."

"I'm just concerned that they'll force you to choose between them and me," Lex frowned. "You might choose them. You'd feel obligated to choose them."

Leaning over Chloe, Clark kissed Lex. "I won't let it get that far. I promise." He felt Chloe move again, and figured she was waking up. He spoke a little louder. "Besides, Chloe's the perfect beard."

Chloe's hand flung out carelessly, just missing his face. "Shut up," she murmured into the pillow, not even opening her eyes. "Go home. Bye." She wrapped the blankets more tightly around her shoulders and snuggled into Lex.

Clark planted a kiss on her cheek, spared another for Lex, and left his bed for the long trip to Smallville.

*

He arrived at nine to find his parents just pulling on boots and coats. He stomped the snow off his own boots as his mother hugged him tightly.

"Clark," she said. "we weren't expecting you so soon? How'd your exams go?" She let go of him, and he was quickly engulfed in his father's arms.

"Fine. Were you headed out somewhere? I have something I need to discuss with you."

Martha shared a look with Jonathan. "We were just going to get a Christmas tree, but that can wait," Martha replied. "Is something wrong?"

Clark took off his outdoor clothing and led his parents into the kitchen. "Not so much wrong, as different. Sit down."

His parents sat. "Son, you're not making us any less worried here," Jonathan commented.

"I know. I'm sorry." Clark joined them at the table and toyed with the edge of a placemat.

Martha grabbed his hands before he could destroy the fabric. "You can tell us anything, Clark."

He smiled at them. "It's actually good news. At least, for me and Chloe it is." He caught his mother's expression and hastily added, "Not like that, Mom." He took a deep breath. "Chloe and I have decided not to live in residence next term."

"You're getting an apartment together?" Jonathan asked. "Won't that be more expensive than living on campus?"

"Actually, Lex invited us to live with him. For free."

Silence fell, and Clark could see his mother trying to form words. Finally she managed, "W-why.... I know you three are friends, but why would Lex want two students living practically on top of him? He must be too busy to take care of you."

Clark relaxed. The conversation was going better than he'd anticipated, although his father had yet to weigh in. "We don't get to see him very often, unless one of us is going somewhere public with him. Then there's always his business associates around. And photographers, too. This way we can see him even if it's only for five minutes between him coming home and going back out."

Jonathan sighed. He looked up at Clark steadily. "There's nothing I can say to change this, is there," he said, making it less a question than a statement.

"No. We already moved our stuff in last night. There's a Christmas party tonight, and we'll get to meet the rest of the residents."

Jonathan sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. "Well, one thing I do know is that Lex isn't polite enough to let you stay if he doesn't want you there." He fought back a smile at the indignation on Clark's face. Baiting him about Lex would never get old.

"Daaad...." Clark rolled his eyes melodramatically. "Lex won't kick us out."

Martha leaned over the table towards Clark. "Honey, I know you've been hiding your powers from Lex and Chloe for a long time, but don't you think it'll be more difficult if you're living together? What if something happens?"

Clark ducked his head, as if he hadn't considered that. "I managed to hide them from Andrew for a year and a half, and we shared a tiny bedroom. I don't think Chloe and Lex, in that huge condo, will be a problem."

"If you're sure, then. But don't take any chances." Martha patted Clark's hand and stood. "We should go get that tree, before the good ones are gone. Coming, Clark?"

Clark grinned. "Of course. I wouldn't miss it."


Clark spent the day with his parents--finding and cutting a tree and decorating the farmhouse--in a state of constant amazement. He'd been sure he'd have to fight a little, have to defend Lex and his motives, but it seemed that Chloe was a key factor in his parents' acceptance; they trusted her to keep a wary eye on Lex. Clark knew he must look like an idiot, but he couldn't help but laugh softly to himself every time his mother talked about how sensible Chloe was, and how she'd never do anything rash or dangerous. Their whole three-way relationship had been Chloe's idea, really, after he'd told her what had happened between him and Lex in September. She hadn't even needed a few minutes to think; she'd just suggested they both jump Lex then and there. Lex had been the sensible one that day.

Finally it was time for Clark to leave for Metropolis again. The drive took longer than he'd anticipated; on a Saturday evening in December the traffic shouldn't have been so thick. As he sat in stop-and-go traffic he guessed that there was some special event that he didn't know about. He hoped he wasn't too late.

He was very late getting to the penthouse. Lex had left a note for him, explaining that he and Chloe had decided not to wait for him, and that they'd left his clothes laid out in the bedroom Clark had claimed. Although Clark's taste had matured through contact with Lex, he still liked to pretend he had no concept of fashion. Chloe and Lex got so much pleasure out of dressing him, and feeling superior to him, that he couldn't deny them. Besides, it saved him a lot of time when one or both of them made sure everything was ready for him. He changed quickly into the black wool pants and dark red linen shirt that lay on the bed, and went downstairs to the party room.

He'd been there before, on a tour with Lex, but had never seen the room full. The pool tables had been moved to the ends of the room--but were still usable--and the sound system was playing light jazz. He scanned the room for his lovers, and found Chloe, wearing a short gold dress, talking animatedly to an older man. Lex was dressed similarly to Clark, but his shirt was dark blue, and he was eyeing the hors d'ouevres critically. Clark joined him.

"They're dead, Jim," he said over Lex's shoulder.

"Hmm?" Lex sipped his wine and continued to glare at the food.

"The shrimp. They're not going to attack you."

Lex finally noticed him. "Oh. I was just wondering what the point of cocktail sauce is. And why it's present at this party."

"Why wouldn't it be?" Clark shrugged when Lex rolled his eyes at him.

"It's pedestrian, Clark. Bourgeois. If you need cocktail sauce to cover up the fishiness of your shrimp, then you shouldn't be serving the shrimp. A percentage of my condo fee goes to these parties. I seriously wonder if it's being used properly."

"You should definitely bring it up at the next meeting. Take lists of acceptable and unacceptable refreshments, including what countries each item should be imported from. Offer the services of your caterer. For a finder's fee, of course." Lex ignored him, so Clark picked up something that looked like not-very-blue blue cheese on toast and took a tentative bite. "Not bad," he said.

"It's cambozola," Lex explained. "They take a camembert and grow gorgonzola inside it. It's a fad."

Clark frowned. "I am aware of the theory behind cheese-making, but I really don't want to think about my cheese growing, Lex."

"Says he who just swallowed a mouthful of mold." Lex finally decided that the prosciutto was acceptable, and put some on a plate. "So, how'd it go with your parents?"

"Fine, actually. They barely argued at all." Clark poured himself a glass of wine. "I think they've been brainwashed."

Lex's mouth twitched. "Yes. Sorry about that, but I had to test the technique on someone...."

Clark fought the urge to smack Lex on the head, and filled a plate with food. He was headed towards the dessert tray when a slim arm wrapped around his waist and Chloe's head appeared in his field of view.

"Hiya, Clarky," she said, giggling.

Clark just raised his eyebrows at her. "How much wine have you had?"

Chloe shook her head. "None."

Lex joined them, taking a sip of his own drink. "That's right. She went straight for the bourbon."

Chloe didn't resist smacking Lex on the arm. She hugged Clark a little tighter. "I'm just happy you're here. Your parents haven't locked you up, so that means they're cool with you living here, right?"

"Pretty much."

"Good. Now, you have to come over here and meet...." Chloe dragged him to the other end of the room, and Clark really started to enjoy the party.


The next day the three of them were on their way to Smallville for the holiday, Chloe driving and Lex giving orders to the mansion staff over the phone. Clark pretended to nap in the back, but simply drifted in a haze of happiness. He was pretty sure this would be the best Christmas he'd ever had; Smallville, his family, and his two favourite people he'd never have to be separate from....

He sat up straight and stuck his head between the front seats. "Guys?"

Lex snapped his phone shut. "Yes?"

"We can't all stay at the mansion. I mean, we've been assuming that we would, but--"

"How would we explain it to our parents?" Chloe moaned. She briefly rested her forehead on the steering wheel before turning her attention back to the road.

"Well," Lex began, then paused. "No, I can't think of any reason you'd stay with me." He gazed out the window for a moment. "It won't be that bad. We've spent lots of nights apart."

"But we weren't living together then," Chloe responded. "The whole point to moving in together was so we'd never have to be alone. Okay, maybe not the whole point, but a good chunk of the point."

"We'll just have to make sure we see each other during the day. You two are pretty much free," Lex smiled when Clark snorted; he was not looking forward to having to do chores again. "...and I can schedule my own days. Production is low right now."

"And then there's the party," Chloe added brightly. "We could probably arrange to stay over that night."

"Except that there's no reason for me to be there," Clark told her. "To be honest, I've been to enough Lexcorp parties lately. You two have to go, but I can stay home and relax in front of the fireplace, not caring about anything or anyone but me."

Lex glared at him and Chloe flipped him off over her shoulder. "So I guess I'll spend that night with Lex, and you'll have to be alone, Clark," she added.

Clark sighed and rested his head on her shoulder. "You'll both just have to make it up to me then, as many ways and times as possible."

Chloe laughed. "Big hardship there," she said, shaking her head. "I don't know if we can deal with that."

Lex half-turned and leaned his elbow on the back of his seat. "I don't know if I want to. After all, I still owe you for the other night."

Clark met his gaze with mild surprise. "You wouldn't."

Lex's eyes laughed. "I would."

Chloe navigated the back roads of Smallville with some delight. She liked coming home after being at school; the town always seemed new again. "So, who am I dropping off first?"

"Me," Clark answered quickly. "Mom wants you two to come in and say hi."

"All right then, to the Kents!" Chloe yelled out, putting her foot on the gas. "This will be a Christmas to remember!"

"Or one we'll never be able to put behind us," Lex joked.

The Kent farm was fully decorated, inside and out, when they arrived. Jonathan came from the barn to greet them. Lex was concerned about the reception he'd get from the elder Kent, but all he got was a warm smile and a firm handshake. Obviously, Jonathan really was okay with their living situation, or at least with what he knew of it. Martha joined them, not having bothered to even put on a jacket, and when she gave Lex a hug he knew everything would be fine.


Chloe, absorbed in watching an intense conversation between her father and Lex, jumped when a large hand landed on her shoulder. Turning at the same time, she saw that the hand belonged to Lionel Luthor. She smiled tightly at him. "Mr. Luthor. I didn't know you were coming tonight."

He dropped his hand and smiled back at her secretively. "Good evening, Miss Sullivan, and merry Christmas."

"Thank you." Chloe sipped her drink, desperate to find something to say. "Are you enjoying yourself?"

"I am now. You look lovely tonight."

Reflexively, Chloe looked down at her long red skirt and black sweater, chosen to project the image of 'plant manager's daughter' rather than 'plant owner's date'. "I'm flattered that you think so."

Lionel took a long swallow of his own drink and stared over Chloe's shoulder. "So, you're living with my son and Mr. Kent."

Chloe nodded. "Yes."

He turned his stare on her. "Is that all you have to say?"

Chloe shrugged and tried to look relaxed. "Is there anything else to say? If you want to know something, you should ask."

Lionel smiled. "Yes, I should." He locked eyes with her again. "So, Miss Sullivan, are you sleeping with my son?"

Raising an eyebrow, Chloe smiled and held his gaze. "That's none of your business, Mr. Luthor."

He nodded. "And what about Mr. Kent? He's an interesting young man, if I recall."

"Also, I believe, none of your business." She swallowed the last of her drink.

"How old are you?"

"I'll be twenty in January."

Lionel circled around to her right side and watched Lex again. "And you're attending university?"

"Yes, thanks to Lex. After all, he bought the plant and made my father a partner after you laid everybody off for no justifiable reason."

"You seem to know a lot about the situation. You're studying business, then?"

Chloe smiled tightly. "Journalism."

"Journalists aren't to be trusted, Miss Sullivan."

Chloe just shook her head. "That's one opinion."

Lionel laughed suddenly, drawing attention to them. He leaned closer and murmured in Chloe's ear, "I like you, Chloe, and I'll give you a half-million dollars to switch your major and marry Lex."

Chloe smothered her grin and whispered back, "Not a chance."

"Your loss. You'd make an excellent Luthor." Lionel nodded sharply at her and strode off to corner someone else.

Chloe peered morosely at her empty glass. She really wanted another vodka and cranberry, but didn't want to be drunk if Lionel approached her again. She sighed, refilled her glass with straight cranberry juice, and joined her father and Lex.

"Hey, honey," her dad greeted her.

"What did my father want?" Lex wasn't nearly so good-humoured.

Chloe plastered a bright smile on her face. "He offered me a half a million dollars to major in business and marry you," she said cheerily.

Lex's eyes widened. "He did?"

"He said I'd make a good Luthor."

He swallowed. "What did you say?"

Chloe swatted him. "Oh, what do you think I said, Lex?" She paused for effect. "I said yes."

Lex realized he'd been had at about the same time that Gabe started laughing. "That was mean, Chloe."

"Thank god he didn't ask you to marry him," Gabe added, laughing again as his daughter shuddered dramatically. He turned back to Lex. "So, we'll see you Christmas Eve?"

"I'll be there," Lex answered, raising his glass to his lips.


Lex was sure that Martha Kent was possessed. How else could he explain the fact that she'd invited him and the Sullivans over for Christmas dinner? He stared at her a little longer. "You didn't...invite my father, too, did you?"

"Of course not, Lex," she answered easily. "He flew to Florence this morning and won't be returning until the new year."

"Good. I really don't need him offering Chloe money, baiting Mr. Kent, making passes at you, and trying to hire Gabe away from me." Lex, seated at the kitchen table, resumed polishing the silver. No one was ever idle in the Kent household during the holiday season. Lex had learned that early on in his association with the family, so he'd offered his services as he waited for Clark to get home.

Martha snorted. "He's not that bad."

"He is. The other night he tried to pay Chloe to marry me. Later on he suggested to her that she get pregnant; apparently I'd have to marry her then." He wiped the polish from a particularly large serving spoon and put it in the dish pan next to him.

"You could do much worse, Lex. In a few years, when she's old enough to want to settle down...." Her voice trailed off uncertainly.

Lex picked up the dish pan and joined Martha at the sink. "I have to admit, I've thought about it." He ran some hot water in the pan. "But there are other issues, circumstances at work right now."

Martha looked up briefly from the carrots she was peeling. "Is it Clark?"

"Yes. But probably not in the way that you think."

"Hmm...do I think he's been half in love with you for years?" She met his surprised look. "Talk to me, Lex."

Lex busied himself washing the silver. "Things are changing among the three of us. That's really all I can say right now."

"I'll get it out of Clark, later." Martha gathered up her carrots and started chopping them. "So, what did you get them for Christmas?"

Lex cleared his throat.

"I'm not going to be embarrassed when we open gifts, am I?"

"No, no. I have family-appropriate gifts. I--" Lex cut off what he was going to say when the back door opened and Clark and Chloe stomped in looking, to Lex's trained eye, like they'd been having fun without him.

"Hi, kids," Martha said brightly. "How's Pete?"

"Not back yet," Clark answered, taking off his jacket. "His flight got delayed. Mrs. Ross gave us rum cake." Clark dropped a plastic bag on the table.

Lex joined them and peeked into the bag. "If he wasn't there, what took you so long?" His eyes shifted from one to the other and the corner of his mouth quirked up at the guilty looks he got.

Clark glared at him but Chloe answered confidently. "Last minute shopping, of course."

"Of course. You two go off 'shopping' while I sit here slaving away for...." He trailed off at Martha's look. He cleared his throat and tried again. "...while this paragon of womanhood prepares for a holiday feast never to be forgotten, with only my untrained self to help."

Martha smiled. "Much better," she said.

"I couldn't agree more," came Jonathan's voice from the stairs. "Lex, Chloe," he greeted them as he joined them at the table.

Lex was just about to ask Jonathan if he'd gotten the window fixed, but his cell phone prevented him. He answered, listened for a few moments, thanked the caller, and hung up. "I have to go take care of a crisis," he announced to the group, standing and gathering his coat. He looked at Chloe. "I'll see you tomorrow night, I guess."

"Yeah," she answered, smiling up at him.

"Good-night, all," Lex said, heading for the door. A chorus of good-nights followed him out.

Lex was just drifting off to sleep when his bedroom door creaked open. He peeked at the intruder, then pretended to still be asleep as Clark stripped off his clothes and climbed into the bed. A long arm settled gently over Lex's side and across his chest, the hand coming to rest over his heart. Lex fell asleep to the pressure of soft lips on the back of his head.


Pale, ineffective sun broke through Clark's window on Christmas morning, waking him far too early. He'd grown accustomed to sleeping relatively late while in school, and hadn't readjusted to farm life yet. His parents didn't expect him to help out too much while on vacation, so they made an effort to be quiet in the mornings. This morning, though, he could smell breakfast cooking and hear his parents moving around downstairs, so he figured that was his cue to get up and join them. It was Christmas, after all, and he wanted to spend some time alone with them before the rest of his extended family joined them.

He dressed quickly in clothes suitable for work; the farmhands were all at home with their families, and although the work on Christmas had always been light, certain chores still had to be done and it wasn't fair to his father for Clark not to help. On his way downstairs he resisted the urge to call his lovers before breakfast. He'd be seeing them soon enough, and calling them that early was a bit obvious, not to mention intrusive. Clark entered the kitchen to find his father at the stove tending the eggs while his mother took fresh cinnamon rolls out of the oven. They chatted merrily, rehashing the evening before which the family had spent with the Rosses. When Clark took a seat at the table Pete's new girlfriend was coming under fire.

"I don't like her," Jonathan stated, piling the scrambled eggs into a bowl. "She's disrespectful."

Martha piled the rolls on a plate and handed it to Clark. "Just because Jenny called Smallville a 'backwater country town' doesn't mean she's a bad person," she replied. "I've referred to it that way myself every once in a while."

Jonathan joined them at the table. "Yes, but you live here. That gives you a right to complain, because you understand the town. Outsiders should keep their opinions to themselves."

"What if I told you she grew up on a farm, Dad?" Clark asked, piling his plate high with eggs, sausage, and rolls.

Jonathan looked at him askance. "She did? What kind of farm?"

"A vineyard, I think. In California."

"That's not real farming," Jonathan scoffed.

"So, Clark," Martha broke in smoothly, "when's Lex getting here?"

"Speaking of outsiders...," Jonathan muttered, not looking up from his food.

"Around noon."

"And Gabe and Chloe will be here at one." Martha gazed into middle distance as she thought. "If we plan dinner for five, we should have enough time to open gifts this afternoon instead of waiting until after dinner."

Clark cleaned his plate, deciding to forgo seconds. "I'd better get to work, then."


Clark resisted the urge to pace. The way he was feeling he wasn't sure if he could keep to a normal human speed, and he really didn't need his parents questioning his nervousness. He instead busied himself in the dining room straightening forks, polishing wine glasses, and making sure everything was perfectly symmetrical. He briefly considered where everyone was going to sit, then realized that it didn't matter as long as his father and Lex weren't beside each other.

"Clark," his mother's voice interrupted his thoughts, which he suddenly noticed had turned into pacing. He stopped abruptly.

"Yeah?" He headed towards the kitchen, where Martha was preparing dinner.

"Sit down and stop pacing." She waited until he sat, then continued trussing the geese. "I talked to Lex the other day," she began, then hesitated.

"Oh?" Clark asked innocently.

"He suggested that maybe there's more going on between you than you've told us." She held out one hand as Clark started to protest. "I guessed. He didn't admit much, just that 'things were changing'. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to what that means."

Clark sighed, then looked around the house, checking for his father. He wasn't around. "A few months ago we all figured out that we're pretty much equally in love with each other." He dropped his head, embarrassed to be discussing this with his mother. "We decided to give this relationship a chance."

Martha didn't stop working. "All three of you? Together?"

Nodding, Clark continued. "It's been great, so far."

Martha did stop this time, turning to face her son. "Clark, I've always accepted that you're different, but...this is a little more 'alternative' than I'd expected."

"What did you expect?"

"I knew how you felt about Lex, so I was prepared for that, but honey, a relationship between two people is hard enough. I'm really not sure three can work." She wiped her hands on a dishcloth and guided Clark to the table to sit opposite her.

Clark sat and idly peeled a clementine from the box on the table. "I've been studying polyamory--that's what it's called--and some people I've talked to said it is possible to make it work long-term. Besides, this might be normal where I come from."

"True, but Chloe and Lex are from here." She emphasized the word with a finger on the table.

"Mom," Clark said, taking a bite of orange while he thought about what he was going to say. "Do you know anybody more open-minded than Lex and Chloe?"

Martha shook her head, half-amused, half-concerned. "Just be careful. I don't want you heartbroken twice over if it falls apart."

"It won't"

"I'm glad you think so." Martha sighed and went back to her work on the geese. "I don't have a clue how to tell your father."

Clark joined his mother, kissing her on the cheek. "I'll find a way." He started pacing the kitchen again, absently finishing his orange. "I'm just worried that something'll slip today."

"Clark, sit down." The doorbell chimed gently. "Or better yet, get the door," she added, but Clark was already past her on his way to the front of the house.

As he'd expected, Lex had arrived, his hands full of paper sacks of brightly-wrapped gifts. Clark barely let him set the bags down before enveloping him in a warm hug, taking the opportunity to kiss him as well.

"Mmm...orange," Lex murmured against his lips.

"Merry Christmas, Lex," Martha called from the kitchen.

Clark and Lex pulled apart and joined her. Martha caught Lex licking his lips and shook her head ruefully. Clark grinned as Lex put an arm around her, limited by her position at the sink.

"Martha," Lex greeted her. "Does Christmas always smell this delicious?"

"In my house it does," she answered. "Clark, why don't you get Lex some eggnog and go sit in the living room?"

"In other words, get out of your hair?"

"Yes." Martha shooed them out and went back to her preparations.

The two men did as she asked, taking their drinks and the gifts into the other room. Unable to resist, Clark emptied the bags, arranging the gifts carefully under the already overflowing tree. Lex sat on the worn couch and watched as Clark puttered. "Clark." Lex pointed at the seat beside him. "Sit."

Clark obeyed reluctantly. "You sound like Mom."

"She's a wise woman."

Clark faced Lex seriously. "She knows. About all of us, I mean."

Lex nodded. "She said she'd talk to you." He put a calming hand on Clark's knee. "I'm glad she knows. I'm sure each of us will need her advice at some point."

"I know when my mother became Chloe's, but when did she become yours?"

Lex laughed. "If I thought about it I could name the date and hour." He made a face and sipped his drink. "I was married and you were in jail at the time."

"Oh."

"Right."

Just then Jonathan entered the room, ending that derailed train of conversation. "If we do this next year too, we'll need a bigger tree," he remarked, sitting down opposite Clark and Lex.

"Or a bigger room," Clark answered. "How about the mansion?"

A fleeting look of distaste darted across Lex's face. "No," he said bluntly. "I've managed never to spend a Christmas there before, and I won't start now."

"The penthouse?" Clark was genuinely curious about that option. He'd like to have Christmas in his new home sometime.

"We've only got four rooms," Lex emphasized. "I'm sure Gabe and your parents don't want to share."

"We could work something out."

Jonathan eyed the two quizzically, trying to read the conversation going on beneath the surface. They'd always been easier to read when in each other's presence, a fact that Jonathan had his suspicions about, even as he was grateful for it. "We can have Christmas here for as long as need be," he finally said, watching their reactions.

Both were distracted, however, by the commotion at the kitchen door. A deep voice called "Ho ho ho," and was followed by an exasperated female voice.

"Dad...." Clark could practically hear Chloe's eyes rolling as she directed him to the living room. Martha followed, laden with hot drinks and snacks.

Chaos reigned for a few minutes as everyone arranged themselves around the room. Chloe ended up on the floor in front of Clark and Lex, Martha beside them, with Gabe taking the other armchair. Drinks were passed and light conversation made until Martha suggested they open gifts.

Jonathan--who was nearest the tree--was delegated to passing them out, one by one. As each gift was opened it was passed around to be admired, with the exception of Lex's gift to Chloe. Jonathan watched, amused, as she took out the black leather blazer and squealed, throwing herself on top of Lex to hug him. She stayed there, half on Lex, half on Clark, for the rest of the afternoon. Neither young man seemed to mind. Gabe had noticed too, and looked like he didn't know whether to be amused or amazed.

Lex surprised Jonathan the most that year--no matter what Chloe did--with his gift. In opening the large, light package he felt tears come to his eyes as he recognized the aerial photograph of his farm, every acre of it in full colour. "Thank you, Lex," Jonathan said huskily, moving across the room to shake Lex's hand. As he turned to sit back down he noticed Clark lightly stroke Lex's hand, and suddenly everything became clear. He didn't know why he hadn't realized it earlier.

The last gift opened, Martha declared it time to eat.


"I told you you'd get gravy on your jacket," Lex told Chloe mildly as they settled back in the living room after dinner.

Chloe dabbed at the leather again, hoping the water wouldn't stain it. "I really wasn't expecting that roll to go flying into the gravy boat. That sort of thing usually doesn't happen."

"Well, I warned you when we went in to dinner that if you got gravy on it I'd never buy you clothing again." Lex reminded her unnecessarily. He sat beside a smiling Clark on the couch, and Chloe dropped herself between them, forcing Clark to move over.

"Not even the vintage Dior dress you two liked so much?" she asked in a cajoling tone that never worked on Lex.

Lex had to think about that one. The dress had been amazing, and it fit Chloe perfectly. He shared a glance with Clark and could tell he was thinking the same thing. "No."

"I love you," Chloe said sweetly, fluttering her eyelashes.

"Not so much as a shoe, Chloe."

Chloe leaned back against the couch, arms crossed in front of her. "Aw. You're mean."

"Yes. Yes I am," Lex agreed smugly.

Clark was too tired and satiated to do anything but chuckle quietly as his two lovers sparred with each other. Finally they came to an impasse, and he leaned over and kissed each one gently on the cheek. "You're both idiots, but I love you anyway," he said.

END



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