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Disclaimer: Smallville and all related elements, characters and indicia © Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television, 2002. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations—save those created by the authors for use solely on this website—are copyright Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster.

Author's note: This is my first Smallville fic! I'm so excited because I knew this was gonna be a show for great fanfic and had wanted to write one from the very beginning. Of course a good Lex Luthor gave the most inspiration, and I finally got down to it.

Had a Bad Day Again
by Nymph Du Pave

Lex Luthor rubbed his temples and sighed looking down at the files on the table in front of him. Cutting out the sounds of the overcrowded coffee house had been easy. Drowning the voice of his father, the words of the spiteful man as he told his son to fire twenty percent of the work force at the plant... Well, that had not gone so compliantly, but in the end it had staggered out of his head, defeated for now but swearing future vengeance.

Meanwhile, the files of good and honest employees lay beneath him, their pictures screaming silently in hopes that he would feel something for them and hold up against the tyranny his father dispelled. These hard working folks had become another fragment of the game his father ruthlessly kept pulling him into. One where he seemed to know each move that Lex would feint and his real incentives behind every false motility.

The fact that these people would soon become jobless and searching for a way to make ends meet because of this little sport, this father-son competition... On that topic he was strangely... emotionless. He had no doubt that his indifference would make his father proud, if only egocentrically so, and that troubled him. It troubled him that he was becoming what his father always told him he would. He was becoming what his father was working so hard to mold and sculpt from human flesh and blood that reminded Lionel too much of Lex's mother. On that same road, it troubled him somewhat that he could not place himself in his father's employees shoes, could not grasp what it was that he so valiantly excepted his father's fencing duel for.

To be honest, though, he knew his grounds for picking up the saber. Proverbial as it was, he had wanted to defeat his father. He had excepted the provocation with glee, and no other influence entered that mind other than to defeat his father, to prove to Lionel that he was his own man, and that he would not be controlled by anyone.

However, he had been lacking in the half of him that should have felt for those workers. Finding himself more willing to fight his father for his own selfish motives than for the balance in life of the twenty percent of his father's employees that he himself managed... That he himself was responsible for. It had been exactly what his father wanted, exactly what he had set out to do from the instant he picked up on Lex's defiance.

It had also been the reason for his loss, the reason for his father's next addition to the already voluminous Lionel Luthor victory hall. He had in that moment become an emotionless killer bee, calculating and cruel in it's life long purpose and used his son, his own son, to gain just a little more. He'd manipulated the boy's emotions to chip another layer off of Lex's individuality, one that cause too much of a struggle to get back.

He just wants another drone.

He rubbed his temples again, feeling frustration filling every nerve ending in his body, and he succumbed to it. It was an emotion, and right then any emotion would fulfill his purpose, at least temporarily. This showed he had some semblance of humanity left in him, but it seemed to be slipping away, and fast. Luckily there was enough still there that this departure distressed him. He could see that compassion was quickly losing its definition, the word being replaced by spreadsheets and dollar signs.

And a growing hatred for his complacent father.

With this rage coursing through his body he could make himself believe that he felt disappointed in his failure to protect the steady paychecks of families depending on him, but he wouldn't be able to hold off that void much longer, that vacant spot where feeling would normally reside in a human being. He hated to resort to the prototypical reasons, but the cliché of not having a 'loving father' did seem to hold true consequences in his life. It had made him a blank slate where he should have felt pain and joy and empathy. For someone so young to be so experienced in every area that holds position in future years, but to be so blind and lost in the world off compassionately sentient motives...

That was it. He just felt lost. Which was why his father's path for him seemed so tempting and scary at once. No emotions, no regret, no fear...

No loss.

No love, he reminded himself. No soul.

Someone purchased Lionel's human core a long, long time ago and Lex doubted if his father even noticed the hollow feeling, the gash where his essence would have been held. He professed to have feelings for his son, but Lex could not remember ever hearing the word 'love' come from his father's lips, or even seem to hold a place in his cold, reptilian eyes.

A familiar voice suddenly broke through the barrier he had placed between him and the clamor of the joint, causing his stomach to flutter and his mind to clear, as both always did. He looked up, lips forming a little half smile, eyes greedily searching for the one face that proved that he still had something mortal dwelling in the interior. His gaze found the back of Lana Lang's head first and he knew that Kent could not be far. Clark seemed to have a thing for the pretty, sorrel-eyed cheerleader.

Or ex-cheerleader, he thought, having overheard a conversation between her and a patron. Good for her.

Sure enough, there he was, standing in front of her, his tall, well built frame hovering, but not obtrusively. Nothing about Clark was ever off-putting or less than innocuous. In his passion for life he sometimes overlooked the image he put off: confident, clean, nonjudgmental. Too many people were suspicious of someone so pure and caring, so self-sufficient, so...

Goodytwoshoes, he mind quickly supplied. His smile grew. That fit Clark to a "T", the boy that wouldn't even accept a gift of a brand new truck for saving Lex's life. Well, that had more to do with his father's abrasive attitude towards Lex as a person, but Clark hadn't put up much of a fight.

He recalled what little he remembered of the accident. He had been so damned sure that he had hit Clark... And so damned lucky that he hadn't. He could've drowned, no. Would have.

And not even a memo from good ol' dad.

He breathed in deeply, putting the sour thoughts of his father aside. His admiration of Clark Kent had been reaching a different level as of late, one that was both comfortable for Lex, and a little unsettling. He wasn't used to having too many feelings on any topic that didn't involve money or acquisitions. So having so many on one that breathed and spoke and laughed... This was a fairly new experience.

He looked back up at Kent, feeling the strange emotions taking him over, emotions that he'd never had for another. There was a whole melange melding in there, too many things for him to identify at once, too confusing for someone not yet twenty and usually so controlled and contrived.

Here was Kent, the source of Lex's newfound disarray, glancing down at Lana with puppy-love so painfully evident in those bright and wide open eyes. Argh. Not that Lex could really blame him... She was quite a sight and as sweet and angelic as they came. Perfect for Clark.

Lex, however, knew he felt something for Kent, and though he knew not what exactly, he was positive it made him and Lana... Well, rivals in a sense.

He found it odd and troublesome that for once in his life he fared no chance with his competition. Lana had Clark in the palm of her delicate little hand, his teenaged heart so obviously beating for her every breath, fragile in it's unsullied affection. And she had no real clue of that blinding devotion that Lex found himself mysteriously craving.

It was an interesting twist to the cliched little triangle of love.

If he ever happened to catch Kent's smoldering gaze upon himself, if just for an instant showing that young and naive lust for the youngest Luthor of the feared and hated Luthor Corp... Well, Lex didn't know exactly what he'd do or how his feelings on the situation would crack his flawless wall of deliberate composure, but he knew what might have to change about him. What had truly already begun to change.

Clark started towards the seat across from him and as their eyes met, Lex's heart began the familiar staccato that seemed to accompany any approach from the young man. Lex smiled, trying to portray a cool and calm exterior without exposing the bundle of nerves within. He not only feared puncturing his imperturbable listlessness in front of Clark, but now the whole coffee shop.

He hid his disappointment as Lana made her way over to the two of them, hid his gut reaction as the girl made herself comfortable on the arm of the chair Kent was currently sitting in, and merely took a deep breath, looking up at her.

As he glanced into her eyes, he almost bellowed in frustration. She was looking at a completely unaware Clark with eyes that portrayed just how she felt about him. Sweet devotion, wonder, surprised attraction, curiosity... The realization that the person next to her was different and special. Everything Lex saw in Clark's eyes when he looked at Lana. Everything that two completely honest and infatuated people had to share.

Everything that Lex himself had to desperately shield.

For a moment he hated Lana Lang. All she had to do at anytime was just look at Kent with those chocolate brown eyes and he'd be forever attached. It could never be that easy for him. Because he was a Luthor, because of the way he was raised, he didn't know how to show those emotions. If there was anything he feared it was a fear that had been installed with the last name. Vulnerability. He couldn't fully grasp just what he wanted from Clark, but he knew that to gain it, he would have to be vulnerable. Unguarded. Defenseless. Naked. He would have to show himself, his real soul, to Clark. He didn't even let himself see the real him.

Lex was on the verge of picking up his files and leaving when he caught Clark's stare. He found refined curiosity in those elusive brown eyes, but there was also something else that seemed to border on... Attraction? Was he crazy? Had he really seen interest before the young man had looked away shyly.

In that single instant Lex's heart had stopped, and everything felt thick and distorted. The only thing he could compare it with was the single most romantic night he'd spent, which was more cute in his memory than really romantic.

He had been fourteen and a girl at the boarding school in Metropolis had been eyeing him. Being the player that he was, he had flirted and tried to get her alone with him but the adorable little redhead was different. She didn't play his games and because of this, he had found her intriguing. One night he had snuck out to see the newest attraction at the traveling carnival and found she had done the same. He had walked with her back to the boarding school, talking. Once they had approached the windows he had smiled and said goodnight. Before he could turn to leave, she pulled him to her and kissed him quickly. It was a clumsy kiss, even for a fourteen year old and he figured she'd never done anything like it before. But it struck a chord in him, something that told him that he had been waiting for this kind of feeling. A week later, before he could really talk to her again, she was removed from the school and sent back to her family. He never knew why.

That whole night equaled the odd and tingly sensation he had felt once Kent's eyes met his. On the walk back to school with the girl he had had no trouble at all being 'Lex'. Not Lex Luthor, but just Lex. And there was something about Clark that brought that out in him. He was more sedate, less cocky and affected.

These eyes were telling him that maybe he had a chance at something with Clark after all. Maybe he had a chance at a magnified and pure version of that feeling he had once experienced. Still seeming as though he was lost out in the middle of the Pacific with no compass and a mere fishing boat to find his way home, he straightened in his chair, a little more bravado going a long way. The night might be cloudy, but the North star was still faintly visible and he was going to do his damnedest to navigate.

As he spoke with Lana and Clark about the courage to change, the coincidence of the conversation was not lost on him. He also found a way to apply this courage right away. Lana's was quitting the familiar cheerleading squad to become independent. Clark's was that he had joined the football team against her his father's wishes. Though this was not quite as serious as Lex's business predicament, Kent had to live with his father. Lex didn't.

Lex found himself smiling at the duo. "Well, you two have inspired me." They'd never know he was speaking of more than just the management of his father's plant, but he hoped someday he and Clark would be reaping the benefits of this encouraging conversation.

He decided that night to begin subtly competing for the affections of another that were already focused on a contrary entity. He certainly had the work cut out for him.