It turned out to be a lovely day, despite Lex willing it to be storming or snowing --- yes, a hailstorm would be just the thing to ruin a garden wedding, or more specifically, his best friend's garden wedding.
It was the middle of autumn. The ground was covered in gold, the trees a mixture of green, yellow, and brown, as if they could not decide if it was time to say goodbye to spring, and descent into winter.
For Lex, it was as if winter had already arrived, its cold harsh tendrils twining insidiously about him, announcing its presence. Lex had always loved winter. Winter had meant ski vacations to mountains over Europe with Clark. It had meant teaching Clark how to ski, and then competing the slopes with him once he had learnt the basics. It had meant snowball fights; he could still remember the icy shock of snow being stuffed down his shirt and a laughing Clark with shining eyes that didn't quite hide his emotions upon learning that that was the first time anyone had put a snowball down Lex's shirt. Even now, Lex could still recall how Clark had made it his personal agenda to introduce Lex to the world of snow fortresses and snowball fights, groaning when Lex insisted on employing strategies more suited to a general at war to beat the twelve year old kids that they were against. Winter had meant shared moments in front of fireplaces, huddling and sipping hot chocolate, talking in the faint glow of the flames about everything and nothing. In the vast expanse of snow-covered landscape dotted with only fir and pine trees, Lex could pretend he and Clark were the only two people in that perfect world.
Winter had meant all that. Until Lois Lane showed up.
A waiter dressed immaculately in a white shirt and bow tie stopped by him, offering a selection of wines and champagne from the tray he held. Lex wished that he had a good bottle of hard scotch with him now; he would have to drink at least fifty glasses of whatever that was being served to get reasonably drunk. Good quality wine was something he appreciate in most moods, and he knew it was the best wine anyone could offer, having picked it out personally from the cellars of the Mansion. However, this wasn't most moods, and he contemplated skipping out the wedding and driving the hell out of Smallville to hit some clubs he knew in Metropolis that could really serve up some shit.
Thank god he wasn't the best man. No, Pete Ross was that, and Lex could see him as he made small talk with various groups of people, smiling and cracking jokes as he made sure everything was running fine. Pete looked the same as he did 10 years ago, almost the same high school boy who Lex remembered detested him endlessly. The detest was still there, maybe more muted, more subtle, but still there, and Lex couldn't blame him. Pete, who had first hated Lex because of what his father had done to the Rosses, and then later because he had stolen Clark away from Pete. Pete, who still hated Lex, and maybe Clark too, for the hollow shell their friendship had become, just a word. But Pete accepted Clark's request that came out of the blue, never mind that their friendship had been reduced to a few postcards over the years.
Pete hadn't been first choice; Lex had. First choice in everything in Clark's life, except for where it counted the most. He could not recall what exactly he had said to plead off being the best man, something about how Pete should have the honour, especially since the wedding was to be held back at Smallville, and after all, weren't Clark and Pete best friends since childhood.
Or rather, before Lex had hit Clark at 60 miles an hour off a bridge. Clark seemed unconvinced, but had let the issue slide, recognizing Lex's tone and knowing there was something more going on, and that Lex would not budge.
Jonathan and Martha Kent had smiles all over their faces, as they greeted well-wishers, their arms about each other, delight evident that their only son was getting married. They had met Lois, approved of her, a pretty smart woman that was a good match for their son, in their opinion. Personally, Lex thought they were just relieved that Clark had brought home a girl. Not that Clark was gay to their knowledge nor his, it was just that Clark Kent didn't date. Of course there was that girl Jane from Met U that had lasted about a fortnight before Clark dumped her, a redhead Clark had met on the subway that had lasted about 2 months, an Amanda or something, and what had lasted the longest, an arts student called Sophia, a waiflike creature with auburn curls and impish grin that Lex had hated. Lex had secretly squealed with glee when he found out they had broken up because she was too much of a control-freak over Clark's life.
Lex snapped out of his reverie, smiling as Martha gave him a hug. Martha was one of the few permitted to touch him, and she had become an almost sort of mother figure to him over the years.
"Thank you for providing the mansion for the wedding. Everything looks so perfect." She looked about her, a wistful look on her face.
"It's the least I could do for Clark, Martha." A smile, not as genuine as the first, and he hoped that it escaped her notice.
"You know there was a time there when I thought Clark will never get with anyone." She looked at him appraisingly, a glint to her eyes that was not there previously.
Lex felt himself freeze, and willed himself to breathe properly. "Why is that?" He winced inwardly at how he sounded, not quite level, nor as casual as he hoped.
She gave a little sigh. "You know why, Lex. Just because I don't say it out doesn't mean I don't notice things. But maybe it's all for the best. I just want Clark to be happy."
"I'm sure he is." Hollow sounding fake words, and just then, the object of their conversation appeared, dressed in a snow white tuxedo that fitted him well, specially made by Lex's tailors for Clark. Lois had protested at first, wanting Clark to be in a black tuxedo handpicked by Lois, but after much persuasion from Clark about Lex feeling like he did not do enough as Clark's best friend, she gave in. Same thing went for the wedding, which Lois wanted held in Metropolis, but Clark wanted back in Smallville. His roots, he called it, and smiled at Lois in that puppy-dog way, and Lois had given in as well. Compromises after all, had to be made in relationships, and Lois knew when to give in.
"Hey Mom! Lex!" Clark grinned as he gave his mother a peck on the cheek.
"Hey honey, feeling nervous?" Martha looked up at Clark, shining with pride and love.
"Nawh... Well okay, a tad! Like gosh what if I forget what to say or something. Or trip on Lois' gown and end up smashing right into the wedding cake... Okay. I'm nervous."
They laughed, Lex included. "Relax sweetheart. I'm going to go check on the bride." Martha looked at both of them, an unreadable look in her eyes, and left.
"So, where's Fontaine?" Clark scanned the crowd, looking for Lex's present girlfriend, a little brunette with forest green eyes and a deceptively demure attitude. Fontaine was a karate black belt, and could easily kick the ass of people twice her size.
"Somewhere." Lex supposed he should be more responsive while on the subject of his supposed beloved, but was too distracted to care.
Clark raised an eyebrow, and peered at Lex. "What's up?"
"Nothing." Lex said, while his heart was screaming at him to just bite the bullet, and his head could think of nothing in response.
Clark pursed his lips, staring intently at Lex. In one fluid movement, he placed his palm flat against Lex's chest, right over his heart.
"Nothing my ass, your heart is beating like you just ran a six-minute mile."
God Lex just do it. He could remember what his father said to him, the first time they arrived in Smallville in that cramped helicopter. "Luthors are not afraid. We do not have that luxury.We're leaders. You have a destiny,Lex. You're never going to get anywhere with your eyes closed." Lionel's voice resounding in his head, and Lex thought it ironic that he was going to take the plunge, eyes closed.
"Clark, I ---" The loud blare of horns and heavy beats of drums cut through the chatter in the air as everyone fell silent at the emcee's announcement. "Here comes the bride!" Cheers filled the air, and catcalls, as Lois Lane stepped out, dressed in virginal white lace and silk, looking every bit the bashful bride.
Lex watched Clark watching Lois. Clark looked enraptured, and so totally in love, that Lex felt his insides turn cold, gripped by the clawed hand of jealousy. He recognized the look, had seen it enough times thrown at himself when Clark wasn't aware that Lex was paying attention. Funny how only when that look wasn't directed at himself that he recognized it for what it was. But it was too late, all those moments like the shadow of a passing cloud turned to dust.
"Lex? You were saying?" Clark's attention focused on him once more, but his clear green eyes had a hint of distraction in them, and Lex contemplated his next move, and decided to be damned with the consequences and just get it all out.
"Clark. I love you." There he said it, loud and clear.
"Yeah Lex, I know. I love you too." A wide goofy grin on Clark's face, and it was as if they were transported 10 years back before, to those lazy afternoons in the mansion where a billionaire talked about Machiavelli and a young farm boy listened intently to these impromptu history lessons with amusement. Clark smiled more then, smiles that reached his eyes and projected the innocence that Lex longed to possess. These days, the eyes often reflected weariness and the smiles were a cousin of Lex's public ones. Clark had grown up, but still, not all of that innocence was lost.
Lex shook his head. "No, I mean, I'm in love with you."
"Always have been," he added, as if that should make a difference.
A sudden pause, as if the world had been reduced to static, a strange buzzing in his ear that just would not go away, and he watched Clark, as his eyes widened and his mouth shaped like an `O', and he searched Lex's eyes, stared right through it into his soul, looking for whatever he was hoping to find, or hoping not to find.
They stood like that, barely breathing, realizations of something that was always there becoming more and more tangible with each breath.
"Lex..." Clark looked torn. He was never good at hiding what he was thinking, an open mask to those who knew how to read him, and Lex had spent years studying and mapping everyone of Clark's expressions.
An elegant shrug of shoulders, as Lex told the biggest lie of his life, as if everything inside wasn't falling apart. "It doesn't matter, Clark."
That did not seem to reassure Clark; on the contrary, Clark looked even more distressed and he opened his mouth to speak.
"Clark, it's time for the ceremony." Martha appeared almost magically.
"Whatever you want to say to Lex can wait til after the ceremony, right Lex? Lois is waiting." Without bothering to wait for an answer, Martha effectively herded Clark towards the podium.
The band struck up a tune, the age-old "Wedding March", and Lois walked slowly down the aisle, as the flower girl, Lana's little daughter Joy, marched solemnly in front of her, throwing flower petals about her.
Clark was standing at the end of the red carpet, ready to receive his bride. From where he was, Lex could see the anguish in Clark's expression, and knew that Lois had seen it too from the way her back stiffened as she reached Clark. They sat down on the chairs prepared for them on the podium, with Lois holding on to Clark's hand with her satin-gloved one.
The minister cleared his throat, and greeted the crowd.
"We are all here today to witness the holy matrimony of Lois Lane and Clark Kent."
He began to read a passage from the Bible that Lois had chosen and Lex tuned it out, more interested in seeing the interactions between Clark and Lois. Lois was stroking Clark's hand, while Clark remained unresponsive, eyes unfocused in deep thought.
When Clark's eyes cleared up, his whole poise alert in what seemed an eternity later, and stroked Lois' hand in response, Lex knew how the day would end. He stood up from his seat, whispered his excuses to the Kents about corporate takeovers and billions of dollars, and walked out, pretending not to see Martha's look of sympathy, refusing to look at Clark, knowing that he could not stay through the ceremony without jumping up and protesting that no, you cannot marry this couple Father, because I have been in love with the groom for the past decade and more, we belong to each other, and Lois Lane is a slimy bitch.
He got into his car, drove with no destination in mind, and wasn't really surprised when he ended up on the bridge, at the bank where an angel breathed life into him and stole his heart. And he wondered if it wasn't Lucifer himself in disguise, cloaked in black curls and bright green eyes and cherry red lips that spelt an aura of innocence that drew him like a moth to the flame, doomed. And he wondered if it really did matter at all.
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