by Serenade

Note: The quote Clark is thinking of comes from the Kinsey Millhone novel H is for Homicide, written by Sue Grafton.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I only wish.

Sometimes, Clark misses the bus on purpose. It's not that hard: all he has to do is linger behind at his locker for another fifteen minutes, pretending to be looking for that misplaced English textbook. If he's lucky, he'll catch a glimpse of Lana when she comes to open her own locker; if he's very lucky, he'll manage to look away before she sees him, so he won't have to witness the closed expression settle over her face. The expression that says, I know, but I can't. Because I don't. Not you.

Clark's not good at looking away.

Lex would tell him that his eyes give him away. Lex would tell him that he needs to learn to be subtle. Or would he? Lex doesn't seem to go for subtle himself. Limousine rides and expensive concerts in Metropolis hardly qualify as low on the radar. Or maybe they are subtle, on the Lexian scale of things. The man lives in a frigging castle, after all, and gives away trucks like Halloween candy.

To Lex, a friend isn't someone you hang out with; a friend is someone you bend your world around. Since Lex found out that Clark likes Lana, he has done just about everything short of desert island shipwreck to get them together, and Clark still can't be sure the desert island thing isn't on the agenda somewhere down the line. But Clark already knows deep down that it doesn't matter if Lex has a million clever plans, because the one thing you can't buy with money is someone else's heart.

There's a line Clark read in a book once--"You can't make anyone love you and you can't keep anyone from dying." It's stuck with him ever since, the impossibility and heartbreak in those dozen words.

You can't make anyone love you.

And Lana's never going to look at him the way she looks at Whitney.

Clark knows that if he but asked, Lex would set him up with any number of attractive, amenable girls. Or even--even the women, the dark-eyed, slow-smiling women Lex has hanging off his arm at every function. All of them classy and gorgeous and smart, and all of them smiling in that slow, secretive way, as if there is something special they know.

But maybe Lex just has that effect on people. Clark has lost count of the times he has felt that same slow smile creep onto his face at Lex's voice or Lex's gaze. Lex has a way of making you feel like you are the focus of all his attention. When his eyes fix on your own and that intense expression falls across his face. The expression that says, Anything I can, I will. Because.

Lex isn't like anyone else Clark has ever met.

And Lex doesn't believe anything's impossible.

You can't keep anyone from dying.

But isn't that what Clark did, that day at the bridge? When he pulled Lex from the water, and breathed life back into his lungs. Maybe, sometimes, you can keep someone from dying, if you want badly enough to save them. Not all of the time, but sometimes. And maybe that's all you need, to make a difference to one person's life.

And maybe, sometimes, you don't have to make somebody love you.

Because maybe they already do.

Clark slams his locker door shut and walks out into the late afternoon sunshine. The sky overhead is summer blue; the air smells of baked asphalt and melting ice cream. Sunlight gleams from the surface of the silver Porsche as it slides up beside him with a purr.

"You look like you could use a lift, Clark. Want a ride home?"

Clark smiles at Lex smiling at Clark, pretty certain he looks like an idiot but not caring anymore.


Sometimes, Clark misses the bus on purpose.


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