Disclaimer: Smallville and all related elements, characters and indicia © Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television, 2002. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situationssave those created by the authors for use solely on this websiteare copyright Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster.
A touch of fresh sawdust tickled the inside of Clark Kent's nose and he wriggled it against a sneeze. Failed in his quest and the loud "ah-choo!" echoed through the bare-walled theater. He winced with embarrassment as a slim, dark-clad figure whirled to stare at him, a thick sheaf of blueprints held in his outstretched hands.
"Bless you," said Lex, dropping the papers onto an already messy worktable.
"Thanks." Clark sniffled and waved an expansive arm at the in-progress renovations. "How's Cafe Luthor coming along?"
"Great," replied Lex coolly. "Although I'd appreciate it if you didn't call it that."
"What should I call it?"
"You can try Lex's Folly for a start." Lex searched through another pile of papers, picking up one covered with numbers. He grimaced horribly. "I had no idea commercial light fixtures cost so much. Guess I'll have to cut my personal budget down somewhere."
"It's straight to tap water, huh?" Clark winced uncomfortably when he leaned into to catch a glimpse of the figures Lex was examining. "Wow. Twelve hundred dollars for _one_ sconce? One _plastic_ sconce? How many of those would you need?"
"For the entire place? Forty, maybe?" Lex replied grimly. "Of course, they take special bulbs. Bulbs only this maker sells."
"That's a rip," Clark grumbled indignantly.
"Yep. It certainly is. That's just the start of it." Wry glance, and Clark couldn't help but blush beneath its intensity. "And to think. I wanted to build a plain old parking garage where bare bulbs would have sufficed."
Clark squinted, the numbers on the page blurring into nonsense. "But this is a good idea, isn't it? I mean, you'll turn a profit, and ... and ..." He shrugged helplessly. "Lana is really thrilled with this opportunity, Lex. I've never seen her so happy."
The sheet tipped out of Lex's grasp with a dusty _plop._ "Tell me, Clark," he said softly, so close to Clark's ear, his lips were nearly touching the skin. "Do you think I agreed to do this for Lana?"
"Uh ... um ... " Clark stuttered, then shrugged. "No, I guess not. You want to do this for yourself. To make a profit but in a way the community will approve of. To, um, better your standing here in Smallville."
Lex laughed softly. "Try again. The public loves convenient parking just as much as they love overpriced lattes. More even."
Clark blew out a long breath. "Okay. You're doing this because you've always had a secret desire to be a cafe owner. It's in your blood. The sound of the juke box, the smell of the sugar packets ..."
A warm hand grasped Clark's shoulder, squeezed hard, then fell away. "No, but I give you credit for your stubbornness." Lex leaned back against one of the upholstered pillars, arms tucked across his chest. "For your information I'm doing this because you wanted me to, Clark. What you wanted for Lana's sake, sure, but that's not what I'm interested in. I'm only interested in doing what I vowed to do the day you pulled me from that river. Do you know what that is, Clark?"
"Lex ..." Clark warned, but he felt the blush creeping skyward, straight up the roots of his hair.
"I asked, do you know what I promised to do, Clark?"
He looked down at the powdery floor, unable to meet Lex's eyes. "No."
"I swore to give to you, Clark Kent, anything your heart desires."
Clark groaned, then rolled his eyes. "Lex, for the love of ..."
"It hasn't been easy either," continued Lex smoothly, ignoring Clark's protests. "Between your father's honor code, your impossibly stringent moral standards in regard to rewards, gifts and just plain friendly gestures, I've recently been reduced to allowing myself to be interviewed for a high school newspaper on the very day I turned down the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post _and_ the Daily Planet, not to mention my newfound occupation as a greasy spoon owner. " A sigh, filled with heavy drama. "All in one week too."
"You didn't have to do any of that, Lex," Clark insisted. "I mean ... I just asked that as a favor for Chloe and I only helped Lana with the business plan. You could have said 'no'."
"Could I?" Lex's smile was as warm as sunshine.
"Of course, you could have! What would have stopped you?"
"I already told you. What stops me is the fact that, like Lola in Damned Yankees, whatever Clark wants, Clark gets. I just wish we could be more direct about it." Lex shrugged. "But, however it's done is fine by me." The gray eyes narrowed. "I just don't want you ever thinking I'm doing these things for anyone but you. Especially not for the mercurial Miss Lang. She's a nice girl, I guess, but I wouldn't put myself out on this sort of limb for her, not in a million years."
"Then why do it at all?"
Lex's laughter, bright and surprisingly honest, echoed through the empty building. "Because, my dearest Clark, I'd not only go out on a limb for you, I'd saw off the branch I was sitting on if you said it was a good idea." He picked up Clark's neatly bound business proposal, the one that Lana delivered the week before. Smiling, he flipped through it. "Besides, I couldn't resist these adorable little graphs and drawings. Did you do them by hand? They look like you did."
So much sweetness in Lex's voice, Clark was taken aback. "Yeah. Listen Lex, I ... I don't believe that you're doing all these things just for me. I mean, that's crazy. You can't possibly give me everything I want. It's just not feasible."
"Really?" Lex looked up, his expression turned sharp ... knowing. "Okay. Let's try a test run then. Ask me for anything. Anything at all. And see how fast it's yours."
Clark folded his arms across his chest defiantly. "There's plenty of stuff you wouldn't give me."
Clark thought for a minute, then smiled. He tilted his head toward the door. "Your custom built Lamborghini that's sitting outside. The one you waited a year and a half for, telling me every day how great it was going to be when you got it." He leaned forward with a catlike grin. "Your beautiful, new, royal purple Lam. I want it. Give it to me."
Lex reached into his pocket and a set of car keys hurtled toward Clark so fast he had to struggle to catch them. "It's yours. Next?"
Clark gaped at him, the keys dangling from shaking fingers. "Lex!" he cried.
Lex rolled his eyes. "NEXT!"
"You can't be serious!"
"I've never been more serious. Now what else do you want? If it's a national monument, you'll have to settle for a reproduction in your backyard unless the government gets desperate. We'll work on that."
"Oh, come on, Lex." Clark gingerly tossed the keys back to him, but Lex made no move to catch them. They clattered noisily to the floor and Lex simply stared at him ... waiting. Clark could feel the blood pound through his throat. "You're scaring me now," he croaked.
"I don't mean to scare you, Clark," replied Lex, each word falling from his lips deliberately. "But I want you to understand the special place you hold in my heart. A place that no one else shares, not now -- not ever. I want that to be very clear between us. You can't ask what I will not move heaven and earth to give to you or do for you. But only for you ... not for anyone else, not unless you ask me for them."
"God, Lex." Clark took a deep inhale of dusty air. "I mean, come on. This ... this is just nuts. I don't believe you."
"Then try me again." Amused tone. "And make it interesting this time. I tried to give you a car on Day One, remember."
Clark bit his lip. Lex was just pulling his leg, maybe even challenging him and Clark's hammering heartbeat calmed. It was okay, he could still answer a challenge, maybe even turn the tables a bit.
Even on the unflappable man before him. "Okay, I've got something," Clark said. "Something you definitely won't give to me, not in a million years."
Lex ducked his head to hide his chuckles. "Oh, Clark."
Here it comes, Mr. Smug, Clark thought. "A kiss. A full, on-the-mouth kiss," he said triumphantly. "I want one of those."
The chuckles died away, and Lex look intrigued. "A kiss?"
Clark nodded, brimming with the confidence of a hockey player who was a goal ahead with only five seconds left on the clock. "Yep. And not a fake one either."
Nonplused, Lex took a step closer. "Tongue or no tongue?"
Clark blinked, confused, but before he could reply his lapels were tangled in Lex's fists and he was being pulled down into what possibly could have been the hottest kiss of his life. Warmth and wetness, teeth and soft lips, all of it passionate, slow and just this side of perfect.
Goal. Point. Game tied.
"That was the easiest one yet," Lex whispered against Clark's mouth when he pulled away. "What's next on the list?"
Stunned, Clark could do nothing but stare him, mouth agape.
A sudden crunch of jangling ladders echoed through the theater. With a short sigh of what might have been disappointment, Lex turned toward the sound of heavy footsteps. "The builders are here," he said, straightening his jacket out, sparing a second for Clark's badly wrinkled collar. "They'll need my undivided attention, I'm afraid, if I don't want to embarrass myself completely with this nutty scheme."
"Yeah. Right." Clark swallowed, his lips still tingling. "Um ... uh ..."
"Come by the house tonight. You can help pick out the curtains." Lex winked and then turned to the burly workers filling up the room. "Gentlemen. Right on time."
Clark stumbled backwards toward the exit and barely remembered to look right or left before taking off at something close to the speed of sound. The early spring fields churned up beneath his feet and for the first time in memory, he was short of breath.
He sucked in air madly, Lex's vow still ringing through his mind.
Whatever Clark wants, Clark gets. No matter what it might be.
Later that evening Clark walked into the Luthor library, watching as Lex stared thoughtfully into the roaring fireplace. A muted gray Henley shirt clung to him beautifully and if Clark had ever wondered if a man could look ethereal in firelight, he had his answer.
It was a definite 'yes.' "Hey," said Lex, glancing at him, eyes overbright in the warm light.
"Hey." Clark rubbed perspiring hands on his jeans. "Lex ... about this afternoon."
"Yes?" Quietly, without a hint of anger or upset. Accepting ... of whatever Clark wanted. As always.
"There's something else I want."
"And that is?"
Clark looked up, hoping against hope that Lex would understand. "You."
Lex crossed the distance between them in two strides. Warms hands on each side of Clark's face, drawing him in, making him breathless, this time with happiness ... and desire.
"Ask," Lex said, before their lips met. "And you shall receive."