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Author's Note: Written for jenn, upon the occasion of the anniversary of her birth. Big thanks to victoria p. and pearl-o for betas (and valient--if ultimately in some cases futile--efforts to straighten out my verb tenses). and thanks to jenn for being giddy and liking weird verb tenses, and making me write slash.

by LJC

It hadn't been an accident, exactly. But it hadn't been planned, either.

It had just happened, making everything in the months between the first time and the next time awkward and strange. Stranger. Clark isn't sure when his friendship with Lex had ever been anything even approaching normal. In the three years since a Porsche ploughing into him at far, far above the speed limit, "normal" had become a myth. His idea of who he was, where he'd come from, and what his future might be—nothing had been the same since that day.

Clark is pretty sure it wasn't normal to watch the muscles in your best friend's back coil beneath a soft grey wool sweater, as he draws back a pool cue to take an easy shot.

Normal isn't the word that comes to mind, when he thinks of nights spent with his eyes squeezed tightly shut, hand working furiously beneath the covers, first to familiar images of the girl next door who was almost something more, and the best friend who developed breasts out of nowhere, only to come thinking of grey-blue eyes.

Clark knows it's not normal to lean over and kiss Lex, one hand warm on the back of his neck for the space of a breath, while he can still hear his dad in the thresher in the back field, and the sun slowly slipping behind the line of trees that marks where the Kent Farm ends and the Albertsons' pasture begins. His father sings beneath his breath, thinking no one can hear him, the same way Clark can hear his mother hum tunelessly late at night when he should be sleeping and not listening for her footstep in the next room over—which would have been his sister's room.

He hadn't planned it.

It might have gone better if he'd actually thought about it, Clark had decided the next day during math class, while Chloe passed him notes about the upcoming SATs and Pete stared at the back of Michelle McReedy's neck as if he wanted to lick it (and, the way Clark knew Pete, he was pretty sure that wasn't far off).

While walking past the Talon and not going inside to see if—this week—Lana was speaking to him, Clark had tried to imagine what it would have been like if Lex hadn't stepped away from him, his features blank with shock. Tried to conceive of what sort of plan he could have made that wouldn't have ended the evening abruptly at six seconds past sundown.

He hadn't seen Lex for a week after the cloud of dust behind the Lamborghini had vanished around the bend in Hickory Lane. Lex had gone to Metropolis on business, and returned furious over some slight—real or imagined—from his father. He'd barely spared Clark ten minutes before he'd made his excuses, saying he'd have to see Clark some other time when things were less hectic, and they could actually talk.

By the middle of the next week, Clark had decided that if he'd had time to think about it, planned out what he'd have said, what he'd have done, he probably would have botched it even worse. He was seventeen and had had a girlfriend for perhaps all of two weeks. He could count on both hands (without using all his fingers) the number of times he'd purposely kissed anyone. All of them girls, only three of them while "sober", if red kryptonite could be counted as a drug.

So, it's not that he thinks he's a bad kisser. Out of practice maybe, but so far, he'd had no complaints. Certainly not from Chloe in the backseat of Pete's car, or Lana—not that Lana would have said anything. But Chloe would have. Especially that day, the state she'd been in. If he'd sucked, she'd have let him have an earful, he was pretty sure, instead of being all over him like an amateur porn queen auditioning for the role of a lifetime.

He couldn't have gone to his mom or Pete. Every time he'd tripped over his own two feet over someone before, it had been dissected and discussed, and advice proffered and taken usually either at the kitchen table over a peach pie or three—or in Pete's shed, flipping through his stash of his brother's girly magazines. Somehow, he'd doubted either of them would have been thrilled to learn it wasn't Lana, this time around. That the status quo had shifted into pay cable territory.

Lex had pretended nothing had happened, and it had driven Clark up a wall—but he hadn't known how to bring it up. Just pop by the mansion and kick off the conversation with "So, are you gay?"

Yeah. That would have gone over well. Especially since Clark wasn't particularly sure if wanting to kiss a guy made you gay. Correction: actually kissing a guy made you gay. He hadn't felt any weird stirrings for Pete, and he still had to change his sheets himself in the morning (before his mom woke up) at least once a week, thanks to remarkably vivid dreams about both Lana and Chloe, with guest appearances occasionally by Kyla and Jessie, his third grade teacher, and Lara Croft. It wasn't as if he was suddenly checking out the swim team every time he walked through the gym. Other guys in trunks just didn't seem to do it for him the way Lex in that grey sweater sticks in his memory. The way the curve of his jaw crops up at inopportune times like math class, or when he's in the Torch office typing up this week's feature. If Chloe had ever noticed he had a boner while writing articles about charity fundraisers or Crows basketball's losing streak, she at least never said a peep (for which he is grateful).

Lex had invited him over for movies, pool, even to play video games—something he hadn't done since that first year, when Luthor money and influence had meant owning a PS2 six months before the first one hit stores. Clark had waited for something—anything—that would have given him some idea what the hell was going on. He sat no closer to Lex than he had before. There had been no acknowledgement that personal space had ever been violated. Or that Clark could still feel, like ghost-memory, the tendons of Lex's neck beneath his fingers as his breath had brushed his cheek.

Lex had never made a move on him—nor had he seemed to be waiting for Clark to make a move on him. They'd just never talked about it, and every time Clark had tried to work up the courage to try, it was like Lana and that goddamned necklace all over again. Instead of an irradiated chunk of his homeworld standing between him and what he wanted, it was being seventeen and not knowing what the fuck he wanted. Give him mutants any day of the week. Flinging somebody thirty feet into a plate glass window is infinitely simpler than wanting to kiss your best friend.

In the end, Clark had almost convinced himself that they were going to pretend forever that it hadn't happened, when it happened again.

Lex had taken him out in the new car the second it had arrived, and they'd gotten halfway to Wichita before he'd pulled off the road. The car had come to a stop half-way up a dirt road that ended in "no trespassing" signs and a rusted gate to a field that looked like it hadn't been worked since 1992, and Lex had leaned over and, one gloved hand on Clark's thigh, kissed him.

"You're seventeen," Lex had said when Clark just blinked at him. "And I'm not. You don't know what you want, and I do. And I'm not even talking about what is or isn't legal in Kansas, here. Or what either of our fathers would say about it. Do you understand?"

Clark had nodded, unable to think of anything except how it would feel to kiss Lex again.

Svaha - (SVA-ha) The time between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder; a waiting for promises to be fulfilled


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