The Perfect Gift
Orithain & Rina
Disclaimer: Not ours darnit or we could have them act the stories out for us.
"Your parents are really okay with you staying in Metropolis for a couple more days and driving back with me?" Lex stared at the college freshman with the same disbelief heíd have displayed at being presented with proof of the Second Coming. "Did meteorites get into their water supply?" he demanded suspiciously. While Jonathan Kentís animosity had simmered down to a somewhat distant politeness over the last four years, he still preferred to keep Clark as far away from Lex as possible, so this was utterly unheralded.
"Yeah, theyíre okay with it." Clark didnít mention the heated discussions his decision had caused and the fact that even though his father had finally relented, he wasnít happy with the plan. "I didnít have any time to do any shopping before the end of the term, and this way I can get everyoneís gifts here."
He smiled and looked around Lexís penthouse. "Sure you donít mind me crashing here with you? I mean, I might get in the way of your wild parties."
"Right. Wild parties. Let me just get rid of all the swinging guests," Lex retorted sarcastically. "When do I have time to do anything but work? Trying to push Lexcorp ahead of Luthor Corp is a full time job and a half." Yet despite his busy schedule, he somehow always found time for Clark whenever the younger man showed up at his office or home.
"Youíre not really going to drag me to a mall, are you?" he asked, suddenly appalled by the possibilities.
Clark chuckled and shook his head. "No, I already know what Iím getting you, and I can manage the rest on my own." He paused and scuffed his foot against the carpeting. "Which reminds me, are you doing anything tomorrow night?"
"Well, I didnít think I was, but apparently thatís about to change," Lex chuckled. "So what common manís delight are you planning to introduce me to this time?" he teased, sipping his cognac.
"If I tell you, it wonít be much of a surprise, will it?" Clark asked, giving a bit of a nervous smile.
"Suddenly Iím afraid," Lex replied, but the sparkle in his eyes gave him away. "Should I increase my insurance coverage?"
"No parties, I promise," Clark chuckled. "I just... want to give you your Christmas gift before I go back to Smallville, okay?"
"Ah, I see. So do I get to give you yours here where your father canít glare at me?" Lex said, smiling now. "We can order dinner, even pizza if you want, and just relax. We havenít seen much of each other lately, so you can catch me up on your life."
"And you can do the same," Clark shot back. The fact that their friendship had survived this long amazed everyone who knew them, but it seemed the ultra-rich playboy and the farm-fresh college freshman were truly friends. "I havenít heard your latest scheme for deposing Lionel yet."
"Iíd toss him in a shark tank, but that would be too cruel... to the sharks!" Lex growled at the reminder of his father. "Iíve been leading a boring, model life lately, work, work, work. Itís making Lex a dull boy."
Clark dropped down to the couch and stretched out across it. "Never happen, Lex, youíre anything but dull, as all the stories flying around the gossip columns can attest to."
"Clark, if I did even a quarter of what the papers attribute to me, my dick would fall off," Lex snorted. "Not to mention that Iíd never have time to sleep or eat."
"Well, it would be a fun way to go," Clark laughed. "But I knew that - about you I mean."
"So you admit that I am dull?" Lex replied, enjoying the verbal fencing. "For all the use it gets, my dick might as well have fallen off. Then again, considering my last two wives, itís probably best to keep it in my pants."
Clark snorted and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "Lex Luthor, dull? Never in a million years would I believe that one, though considering your wives have that strange tendency of trying to kill you..." He smiled apologetically for bringing up the subject. "Sorry."
"Why? Itís the sorry truth," Lex sighed. "I really need to stick to men. They just batter me, not usually try to kill me. Iíve lost count of the number of times youíve rescued me, you know."
"Itís a habit," Clark offered along with a sickly smile. "There could be worse ones, I suppose."
"Yes, trying to kill me is a much worse one in my admittedly biased opinion." Lex got up to refill his glass. "Would you like anything?" He was thinking about Clarkís obvious nervousness and wondering what he had planned. "You realize Iím going to be up all night trying to figure out what youíre planning, right?"
"Yeah, I sort of thought that would be the case as patience isnít one of your virtues. Letís just say I might need a beer or two in me before giving it to you."
Lexís eyebrows rose. "Now Iím really curious. You have to give me a hint," he wheedled.
"Youíre the type who opened all your gifts Christmas Eve, arenít you?" Clark asked, already knowing the answer to that.
"Of course. The few that I hadnít already found in their hiding places weeks before," Lex replied, shrugging. "I like instant gratification."
"Shocking," Clark said dryly. "As for my present, itís going to have to wait until tomorrow, so deal."
"You are a rotten tease," Lex observed. "Well, if youíre not going to give me my present, can I give you one?"
"You donít have to do that," Clark protested.
Lex rolled his eyes. "How long have I been trying to give you something bigger than a breadbox that your father would let you keep? I know I donít have to; I want to."
"I dunno, about five years?" Clarkís smile faded, and he looked away from Lex and out the window. "Maybe I should give you yours first though, just in case."
"Are you planning to annoy me so much that I wonít want to give it to you?" Lex scoffed, laughing. He couldnít imagine anything that would make him feel that way. "I donít really think thatís an issue, Clark."
"Not annoy, no..." Clark murmured before pushing to his feet. "Be back in a minute." His complexion visibly paler under his tan, he walked to the guest bedroom and returned carrying a long, slim package, which he handed to Lex. "This is the first part of it."
"Ah ha, I get my gift tonight!" Lex accepted the package eagerly and looked startled when he felt the weight of it. "Something to ward off my enemies when youíre not around?" he laughed, already unwrapping it.
Lex stared down at the metal rod heíd uncovered, then raised confused eyes to Clarkís face. "All right, you got me. What is it?"
"Itís real, right? You canít bend it or anything," Clark asked, urging Lex to try.
Eyeing him strangely, Lex pulled on the steel bar. "No, I canít. No one could. So are you going to tell me what this is all about?"
Clark took a deep breath and held out his hand for the bar. "Itís about the fact that I wanted to tell you that I... I can." With quite visible ease, he twisted the bar into a pretzel knot and looked over at Lex, who was staring at him. "Iím not quite human, Lex. I - I wanted you to know the truth."
Lex tore his eyes away from the rigid metal that Clark had twisted as easily as Lex would a pipe cleaner, and he blinked a couple of times. "Well. Thatís certainly interesting. I mean I sort of knew, not being a complete moronóyouíre a rotten liar, Clarkóbut... Ďnot quite humaní?"
"Not quite human as in not from Earth." To emphasize this, Clark unknotted the metal bar and aimed a blast of heat at the end to melt it.
Lex gaped at the bar as the tip briefly glowed white hot and cooled to cherry red. He could feel the blast of heat from where he sat, and he raised incredulous eyes to Clark. "Not from Earth? I really need a drink." Heíd expected another meteor mutant not an alien. "Oh wait, I have a drink." He tossed back the remainder of his brandy.
"Yeah, I came down with the meteors." Waiting with downcast eyes, Clark absently kneaded the softened metal, twisting it into abstract shapes, wondering if heíd just done the stupidest thing in his life.
"You came down with..." Lex got himself another drink, scotch this time. He had a feeling he was going to need it. "Youíre an alien. From another world. Jesus fucking Christ, we really arenít alone."
Clark gave a pained laugh and turned away to look out the windows, still clutching the mangled steel bar. "Yeah, merry damn Christmas."
"God, the most fantastic discovery in the history of mankind and I canít tell anyone." Lex shook his head. "It must drive you nuts when you hear people arguing over whether thereís life Ďout thereí." He eyed Clark curiously. "Whatís wrong? Okay, Iím a little freaked, but you know, this makes a lot more sense than any theory Iíd come up with. Funny how reality works."
"Yeah, great discovery," Clark echoed quietly, not looking back as Lex as he didnít want to see his friend studying him like some growth in a Petri dish. This had been the good reason heíd put off telling Lex about this for so long; why the hell hadnít he remembered it?
"Okay, I recognize that tone. Whatís wrong?" Lex moved up behind Clark, a hand coming to rest on his arm. "What are you imagining now?"
"You - wanting to dissect me," Clark answered honestly.
"Dissect you! Clark, no! If anything Iím worried about anyone finding out and trying to do that. Of course Iím fascinated by what you are, but I always was. I just know now that thereís even more to you than I already thought. I want to know about the world you came from, what itís like, how you got here, why youíre here, but I would never do anything to hurt you. You should know that."
"I know," Clark said, finally looking back over his shoulder. "Thatís why I told you."
There was only one thing to say to that. "Thank you." Lex smiled wryly. "I can guarantee you that this is one gift your father is really going to want to see returned."
Clark winced. "Iím not sure you want to let him know you know." That was one hell of an understatement. Jonathan Kent hadnít gone after Lex with a shotgun in years, but he might take exception in this case.
"That would probably be best for my life expectancy," Lex agreed blandly. "God, no wonder he didnít want you to have anything to do with me or my father. You have the self-preservation instincts of a gnat."
"Go to hell, I can take care of myself." Clarkís tone may have been heated, but inside he just felt drained.
About to reply angrily, Lex saw the twisted metal bar out the corner of his eye and deflated. "I suppose you can at that. There really isnít anything I can give you, is there? Not even my protection."
"You can give me your friendship," Clark whispered, looking out the window once again.
"Youíve always had that." Lex watched Clarkís reflection in the window. "Did you really think that knowing this would change it?"
"I hoped." Clark raised his eyes again, watching Lex watch him in the window. "I wouldnít have told you otherwise."
"Iím glad. But donít think weíre not going to discuss years of lies eventually," Lex warned pointedly, meeting Clarkís reflected gaze. "You may be my best friend, but Iím still pissed about that."
Clark sighed and nodded but remained silent, not having anything to say to defend himself in that matter.
Lex eyed him. "No argument? Which means that Iím going to have something to hold over you for years," he gloated, grinning. "Oh, this is going to get me my own way for the next decade, at least."
Clark finally turned away from the window and gave a faint smile. "If you do, Iím just going to hold you off the balcony until you stop," he commented. "And it takes a long time for me to get tired."
"Ah, so now we find out the truth, youíre just a big bully," Lex chuckled. "And I thought you were afraid of heights?"
"That kind of went away when I found out I could fly."
"You can fly?" Lex blinked. "Well. So youíre not just strong and invulnerable, I take it?" He eyed Clark. "Youíll have to tell me all about it. But right now I think we could use something to eat."
"Go ahead, I might be sick if I ate anything right now."
"Then weíll wait." Lex shrugged. "I really donít think throwing up on me would improve the evening for either of us." He reached out, placing a hand on Clarkís arm. "Itís okay, Clark. Weíre okay, really."
Clark managed another smile. "You always did take even the strangest things in stride," he sighed, looking down at the metal bar in his hand and setting it on the floor.
"I lived in Smallville," Lex pointed out. "After people have walked through walls to try to kill you and shape-shifted into a clone of you, an alien or two is nothing to get excited about. Besides, youíre still you."
"Thank you," Clark said quietly.
"Thank you for finally trusting me." Lex shrugged slightly.
"It wasnít that I didnít before. Itís just Iíve spent all my life being told never to tell anyone. Itís hard to break that habit, you know?"
"You make it very hard to stay mad at you," Lex observed. "Itís a good thing I donít really want to."
"So, does this mean I still get my present?" Clark asked, giving a real grin.
"Of course. Tomorrow." Lex smirked. "You were the one saying we had to wait, after all."
"Ass," Clark muttered before laughing. "Itís good to see that some things never change."
"Thatís our friendship, the stuff of legends," Lex replied, grinning. "And now I know I can hide behind you when your dad gets the shotgun."
"About my dad... I wouldnít go bragging to him that you know about this quite yet, or he might get the shotgun," Clark reminded him.
"No, as I said earlier, Iím really not planning on it. Sometime after never sounds about right to me." Lex shuddered as he imagined Jonathan Kentís reaction to this little development. No, he wasnít about to give the older man any more reason to distrust him.
"Thatís probably for the best, and you know what? I am getting hungry. What should we order?"
"Clark Kent hungry, now thereís a shock." Lex smiled. "Whatever you want is fine with me."
"Is that wit? You need to pay whoever writes your jokes more, Lex," Clark snorted. "How about ribs?"
"Sounds good. Iím easy," Lex replied.
"Thatís what Iíve heard," Clark laughed.