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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: With thanks and a ritually purified Clark for Bas and Rae (how you split him up is your own business, but I hear he's fun to clone).

by Juliette Torres

"Our friendship is gonna be the stuff of legend," Lex assured Clark.

"What, like Alexander the Great and Hephaestion?" Clark asked, giving him a sidelong look and a mischievous smile.

Lex felt himself smiling in return--easily, involuntarily, happily. He loved this boy. As strange as it was to feel that, it felt good. "Are you coming over tonight?"

Clark's expression suddenly closed. "I--I should probably stay home tonight."

"Clark." Lex paused. "Whatever I did. I'm sorry."

"It's not that," Clark said quickly. "I know it wasn't your fault. I don't blame you. There's nothing to apologize for." He put on another smile, and Lex could tell he was trying to look cheerful. The effort failed.

"Then why don't you trust me to--" The words had tumbled out before Lex could stop them. Fuck, but love made you do stupid things. This was what he knew about love, this heartache. He should have known it couldn't be so easy--not this, nor any part of their relationship. He turned to walk out.

Clark caught him and turned him back with a force that shouldn't have surprised Lex by this point, but did anyway, simply because he wasn't expecting to be stopped. "Lex. I do trust you. I do. But Lana wants to make sure we're still friends and I need to talk to Chloe and--"

Two girls: Lana and Chloe. The girl Clark had had a crush on, and still liked, and the girl who clearly had a crush on Clark.

"--I was talking with my parents and I called you my best friend, and they asked me since when."

Two minutes ago, being Clark's "best friend" would have put Lex over the moon, but now, the euphemism only made him question his true worth to Clark.

"I just--I don't want them to know. Not yet."

And that hurt even more. Two minutes ago, their shared secret would have made Lex feel special, and the implication of illicitness would have been exciting; arousing, even. Now, he was Clark's secret shame.

"Fine, I'll go," Lex said. He shook his arm, and Clark finally released him. "They'll never suspect. I'll see you later, Clark."

"Lex, what happened? Why are you mad at me?" Clark sounded so plaintive that Lex found himself turning back to him.

"I can't fix what I did if you won't tell me what happened," Lex said, frustrated. "You tell me I didn't do anything to you, that there's nothing to forgive, but I know I did do something and you don't want me touch you and what the hell am I supposed to think?"

Clark was shaking his head. "I didn't mean--"

"I don't want you to tell me what you meant," Lex interrupted. "You meant well, but I'd much rather you just tell me what happened and let me apologize."

Clark didn't answer. Just looked at him.

"Unless it was so horrible that I couldn't possibly make it up to you," Lex said. "Clark, what did I do?"

"It doesn't matter," Clark said. "I'm fine, Kyle's fine, we have the farm back, and Rickman--can't control anyone now."

"If it doesn't matter, why can't you tell me?" Lex asked. "Why won't you let me make it up to you?"

"You really want to?" Clark asked. "You really want to--kiss it better?"

"Yes," Lex answered fervently. "Kissing you is always a good thing." Then Lex faltered again, another possibility for his missing memories springing to mind.

But Clark answered, "Always," with a tentatively happy smile, so Lex pushed the thought aside. Clark reached up to unbutton his shirt, and turned his back to Lex. A few moments later, he pulled the shirt down, baring his back.

Bruises peppered Clark's flesh; round and regular, the size of silver dollars. Lex touched one on Clark's shoulder carefully, not pressing, just brushing his fingers over the skin. He looked up at what he could see of Clark's profile, but Clark didn't flinch away from the touch. "Jesus, Clark, what did I do?" Lex tried to think of what would produce this sort of injury. "Whale on you with a hammer?"

"It doesn't matter," Clark repeated. "Just--it doesn't matter."

Lex ran his hand down Clark's side, and slid his arm around Clark's waist. Clark relaxed against him, accepting the embrace. Lex kissed a bruise on Clark's shoulder blade. "I'm sorry," he whispered.

Clark's fingers laced with his. "There's nothing to forgive," he insisted.

Lex kissed a bruise next to the first, and pressed his cheek to Clark's back. "I'm sorry," he repeated.

"Forgiven," Clark replied, his voice a rough rumble against Lex's ear. "Always."