Disclaimer: I own nothing... not even my soul.
Why did Lex look sad as he handed Clark the tiny box? "Congratulations," he said, his voice deeper than usual, rougher than usual, and quiet.
Clark took the box with a nervous smile and shrugged. "It's just high school graduation. It's not a big deal."
Lex smiled. "Then it's a good thing I toned it down when I bought your gift."
Clark giggled as he slipped off the white ribbon and shredded the silver paper. He yanked the lid off the box and peered inside. Two silver keys on a plain key ring rested on a bed of white cotton. "Lex, I don't think I can. My dad will never let me.
Lex still smiled but it didn't light his eyes. "That's the beauty of it. You're eighteen now. Your dad has no say in this." Clark opened his mouth to protest and Lex raised a hand. "Now, before you protest strictly on principle, you have to see it."
Clark closed his mouth and reluctantly followed Lex to the garage. Lex pushed a button to open the garage door and walked towards the door as it rose. Clark followed, gaping when he saw a shiny dark blue Ford Explorer. Lex stopped a few feet from the SUV and turned. He watched as Clark circled the Explorer, with his eyes huge and round and a smile that could've sold anyone a tube of Crest Extra Whitening.
Lex didn't let him get in another word. "I'd like to go on the record as saying that I wanted to get you the H2 if for no other reason than I knew you'd refuse it and I have a weird desire to own one. Clark, I looked at American-made vehicles for you. I was completely out of my element. At the very least, accept it so I don't have another un-used Ford vehicle in my garage."
Clark turned his Crest smile from the Explorer to Lex. "They don't make Italian SUVs?"
"Well, they do, but I wanted to make sure you could pronounce the make and model." He approached Clark and took the keys from the box. Opening the driver's door and bending over the seat, he slipped the key in the ignition and held the door open for Clark. In head to toe black, he looked a little like a valet.
Clark bounded into the driver's seat. "Lex, you really didn't have to."
"I know," he whispered. Quietly clearing his throat, he leaned over and pointed out the stereo. "I didn't want to touch the exterior but your dad doesn't have to know about this."
Clark leaned over to check out the rows of glowing neon buttons. "You upgraded my stereo?"
Lex shrugged. "What can I say? I'm a closet geek. All you need to know is you have a six-disk changer with 180 watt tweeters and 2600 watt woofers. You've got all the ampage this vehicle can handle."
Clark just looked at Lex stunned. "I don't know what to say." He watched Lex wince, bracing himself for rejection. "I won't insult you by refusing to accept it. Thank you."
"I just want you to have a way to get around in Metropolis. No friend of mine is going to wind up taking public transportation." Despite the joke, his eyes remained dark.
"Lex, what's wrong?" Clark prided himself on being the only person in Smallville who knew Lex well enough to know when something was off and he wasn't just being his usual brooding and repressed self. "Extravagant gift notwithstanding, you just don't seem yourself."
Lex's jaw twitched and he seemed on the verge of answering. He swallowed hard, considered and finally said, "I'm going to miss you." He lowered his eyes and shoved his hands in his pockets.
"There's something else, isn't there?" Clark turned in his seat, facing Lex who stood outlined in the open doorframe.
Lex backed up a step to give Clark room to step out of the vehicle. "Let's not do this here," he said softly. With his hands still shoved deep in his pockets, he turned and started back towards the house. Clark closed the door and followed him.
They didn't return to Lex's office in the library. Rather, Lex led him into a generically elegant sitting room. He sat at one end of a leather sofa so brown it was nearly black and nodded for Clark to sit at the other end. They sat in silence for a few long moments. Lex didn't even look at Clark as he tried to a find good way to say what needed to be said. Ultimately, it was Clark who spoke. "Should I be nervous? Because you're starting to make me nervous. Lex, are you dying or something?"
Lex finally made eye contact. He shook his head. "This would be easier if you weren't so brilliantly nave." Clark didn't respond. He just looked confused. Lex continued. "You're the only real friend I have. You're the only person who has 24-hour access, not only to the mansion, but to me. When you need me, I drop everything for you. There's nothing I wouldn't do for you. But there is something you should know. Clark, I..."
Why was Clark looking at him so sweetly, so innocently, so expectantly? He looked down at his hands folded in his lap, glanced at Clark's hands. Larger, darker from working out in the sun, rougher from hard labor. Manly hands compared to his elegant, fine boned ones. A deep breath and he exhaled hard, forcing the words out. "I think I love you." He closed his eyes, kept his head down, held his breath.
Then Clark answered, "It's OK, Lex. I love you, too. You're my best friend."
Lex sighed, "It isn't quite like that, Clark." He met Clark's gaze. His heart was pounding and his hands were shaking. He hadn't done this since he was a teenager. The big Luthor secret. That which could never be spoken. It had disgusted his father to hear and was to blame for his exile to Smallville, but he had to say it. "I'm bisexual."
Clark's eyes widened as those words sunk in. He stared, not moving, not breathing. Then, in one motion, he lowered his eyes and stood, swiping his palms over his thighs a few times. "Lex." That single syllable resounded in the thickness of the tension. It felt hard and sharp after the gently reverberating silence.
"Clark, I'm sorry." Lex didn't have a chance to stand. He barely shifted his position before Clark backed away.
"I have to go."
Lex blinked once slowly and nodded.
Clark's voice shuddered, "I have to be alone. I have to think." He continued backing up until he backed into the hallway. Then he bolted.
Lex hoped he didn't get lost trying to find his way out.
Four days later, the Explorer was still parked in Lex's driveway. And Clark still had the keys. Lex was trying to work when Clark appeared in the doorway of his office.
Silence. Lex as motionless as a rabbit that had heard a dog approach and was debating whether to run or to quietly accept his fate. "What did you need, Clark?" Lex answered quickly, but his voice was soft.
Clark approached slowly. "Can we talk?"
Lex squared himself in his chair and looked up at Clark. "You don't have to do this."
Clark looked stricken. "Do what?"
Folding his hands and straightening his spine, Lex replied darkly, "Humor me like this. The car is yours; I'm not asking for anything in exchange for it. You don't have to feign interest. You deserved the truth so I gave it. Just don't patronize me."
"That isn't it," Clark said quietly. "Please, I just want to talk."
Lex sighed heavily, but Clark knew this game. Lex pretended to be angry so he wouldn't have to admit when he was hurt. He gestured to the chairs across the desk from him. "Sit down. Make yourself comfortable."
Clark placed a hand on the back of one chair but didn't sit. He glanced at the nearby sofa. "This feels really formal. Can we sit over there?"
Lex sighed again but he stood and moved to the sofa. After Clark sat beside him, he grumbled, "Comfortable?"
"Not exactly but it'll do," Clark replied quietly. He sat staring at Lex staring at him. He knew he wouldn't win a stare-down with Lex so he relented. "How do you know if you're, you know, gay?"
Lex swallowed and clenched his jaw so tightly the vein in his temple throbbed. His answer was barely a whisper, "You just know."
"Are there signs?" Clark knew Lex wouldn't answer that. It was probing and too personal. He didn't bother waiting for an answer. "I've thought about kissing you." Lex was looking at him questioningly. He didn't want Lex asking questions so he kept talking. "Not just thought about it in passing. There have been in-depth sequences about what it would be like. There have been dreams. They don't always stop at kissing."
Lex's eyebrows went up, but his eyes fixed on Clark's mouth. His lips parted and his tongue peeked out just a bit. "Clark, you don't have to do this."
Clark pushed himself closer to Lex. He could feel Lex's breath. Quietly, "Is it different than kissing a girl?"
A hot rush of breath and a whisper, "You tell me." Lex leaned in quickly. Pressure of mouth on mouth. It was softer than in Clark's mind.
Lex's mouth was hot, hotter than Chloe's. Hotter than Lana's. Lex's tongue gently nudged Clark's lips apart and he granted him full access. Rolling and pressing, Lex's body mimicked his tongue as he inched closer to Clark. Soft press of Lex's chest against his.
Clark's arms went around him. Lex snaked one arm around Clark's waist and the other stroked Clark's cheek and slid back, combing through his hair. Then as suddenly as it had began, Lex's tongue returned to his own mouth, his lips closed definitively and he pushed lightly against Clark's shoulder.
Clark very slowly let his eyes drift open to regard Lex who sat waiting, the willing guinea pig in Clark's experiment. Lex's eyes looked brighter now, the darkness momentarily lifted.
Lex grew impatient, but he asked softly, "So, different from kissing a girl?"
Lex let himself just look at Clark before asking, "Is that good or bad?"
Clark just stared at him. Precious breaths passed between them; minutes might have passed with them not moving, just staring into each other's eyes. Both hoping the eyes really were the doorway to the soul. "Lex?"
"I can't breathe."
Lex smiled a bit. "Uh-oh."
Eyes round, Clark gasped, "What's wrong?"
"I think your experiment was conclusive. With that reaction, you're probably gay."
Clark looked at Lex's swollen, blushing lips. "Is that good or bad?" he teased.
Lex smiled, a real smile because his eyes sparked this time. "You tell me."
Clark's only response was to pull Lex against him and kiss him again.
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