There's something about four-year anniversaries. Clark isn't sure what it is. Four isn't a nice, round, impressive milestone like ten or twenty-five. It doesn't represent beginnings like one. But it's the number of years you spend in high school and the number of years you spend in college, so maybe that's part of it.

The problem is, what do you get for a guy who literally has everything, and what he doesn't have is surely something he doesn't want? Clark has a twenty-one year old college kid's income, while Lex is a bazillionaire. He has personal shoppers who buy him the latest gadgets and sound systems and cars the second they hit the market, sometimes even before. Lex's favorite restaurants are the kind that are so expensive they don't even have prices on the menu, so Clark can't take him out to dinner. Operas and plays make Clark snooze, so he's not going to spring for that, either.

Lex is one of those enviable people who has that ability to pick the perfect present. He'll see something while he's out on business or doing lunch or just going on a stroll, and he'll buy it right then and there. Clark, meanwhile, is reduced to agonizing for weeks, sometimes months on end, furtively consulting friends and parents.

Clark's gifts have all been alien-oriented so far. For their one-year anniversary he gave Lex the octagonal key that had once been part of his spaceship (Lex was both angry and amused; Clark didn't blame him, considering he'd found the key first). He gave Lex a rather poorly-made diamond for their second-year anniversary (made with his strength and heat vision and cut and polished likewise; Lex was charmed and kept it on his bookshelf). For their three-year anniversary Clark flew Lex to the Arctic and showed him the Fortress, with explicit instructions to the AI to let Lex in anytime he wished (Lex was oddly touched, which just went to show that he was still unfathomable).

This time, though, Clark is going to do something non-alien for Lex, something only Clark Kent can do. He is going to prepare a nice, romantic dinner, give Lex his mundane gift, and then take Lex to bed and make him come three times. It's going to be perfect.

As soon as the thought forms in his mind, he knows something is going to go dreadfully wrong.

---

The phone rang while Clark was trying to remember if he was supposed to take the chicken out before putting the dough into the pot. The phone wasn't very far away, but Clark let it ring several times before picking it up. Maybe if he delayed the inevitable, it wouldn't come.

"Hello?" He poked the chicken around in the pot. Dough in with the chicken? Take the chicken out and then put in the dough? Was he supposed to take the vegetables out or leave them in? The vegetables were pretty mushy by now, he was probably supposed to take them out. . .

"Clark?"

It was Lex. He was probably calling to say he had to stay late and couldn't make it home for dinner. Or maybe he'd been kidnapped by hoodlums who were holding him for ransom that Lionel would never, ever pay because Lionel was that kind of father and needed Clark to rescue him.

"Yeah, what's up?" Clark asked, trying to sound upbeat and not like he was imagining Lex, beaten and bruised and tied to a chair while a masked criminal held his cell phone to his face.

"Are you cooking dinner?" Lex asked.

"Yes," Clark said, hoping that meant Lex was coming home.

"Great," Lex said. "Can you make enough for three? I'm bringing someone home."

Christ. Of course this would happen. Clark had candles and wine and flavored condoms and of course Lex would bring someone home for dinner.

"If you can't, that's okay," Lex said. "I can pick something up--"

"No, no, it's okay." Clark prodded frantically at the chicken some more. He could improvise. The dinner was already half-finished. "I'll think of something."

"I'm very sorry, I know this is kind of last-minute--"

"Who is it, anyway?" Clark interrupted. It couldn't be a business associate; Lex always dined out for business matters. Bringing someone home for dinner was a personal thing, reserved for family and friends.

Oh no.

"My father." Lex didn't sound nearly as depressed as Clark felt. "He invited himself, actually."

"That sounds like something he'd do," Clark said morosely. Moving mechanically, he began to remove the chicken from the pot, placing it on a large dish.

Lex sighed. "He likes to make life difficult for me. For us. Are you sure you're all right, Clark?"

"Yeah! Yeah." He wasn't devastated. He hadn't been planning this night in advance for days or anything like that. He hadn't cut his afternoon class so that he could go grocery shopping. He hadn't specifically picked this evening because he knew Lex didn't have any business meetings that might run over and it was sufficiently ahead of their actual anniversary that Lex wouldn't have any surprises planned. No. Not at all.

"All right. I'll see you later."

Clark hung up the phone very, very gently and stared at the pot of simmering broth. He contemplated ruining the dinner on purpose. But, well, he'd worked really hard on this dinner, and killing it would only embarrass Lex and give Lionel a reason to gloat. He could impress Lionel, maybe, by making it the most perfect dinner on the planet, not give Lionel any more reason to be the smug, smug bastard he always was--

Wait, why did he care what Lionel thought anyway? He and Lex were perfectly fine, their fourth anniversary was coming up, and Clark wasn't about to let Lionel ruin an otherwise perfectly fine evening.

Determinedly, Clark began putting droplets of dough in the broth.

---

The chicken and dumplings turned out fine, if not quite as good as Martha's. Clark had already been planning freshly-steamed green beans as a side; after a quick look in their alarmingly well-stocked pantry he added roast potatoes. He tossed together a quick salad, and then popped over to the corner grocery store for dinner rolls and fresh fruit for a fruit salad dessert.

There. That had better be enough food for three people. Hopefully Lionel didn't eat like a black hole or anything. Clark had never shared a meal with Lionel Luthor before.

That was kind of odd, now that Clark thought about it. He and Lex had been, well, "together" for almost four years and yet he'd never had a proper meal with Lionel. Not that he minded, but--why now? They'd been living in the penthouse since Clark started college, so why did Lionel suddenly invite himself over tonight? It was something to chew on.

The penthouse door beeped softly to announce Lex's arrival.

"Clark!" Lex called.

"I'm in the dining room!" Clark called back.

The penthouse did have a proper dining area, but Clark and Lex rarely used it. It was only the two of them, after all, so they usually ate all their meals at the breakfast island (or breakfast continent, as Chloe had once called it). But, well, Lionel was a special occasion, so Clark had arranged three places at the end of the table in the dining room.

"It smells delicious," Lex said as he came in, Lionel following half a step behind with the look of an anthropologist observing an inferior culture. "Is that chicken and dumplings?"

"Yeah," Clark said. "Hope your dad doesn't mind."

"Not at all," Lionel said, baring his teeth in a grin. "It's very quaint."

Clark bit the inside of his cheek and thought happy thoughts. Thoughts of how much fucking he and Lex would do after Lionel left. Lex was always extra-crazy in bed when he and his father had any sort of prolonged contact. Clark could see why. "It's my mother's recipe," he said.

"Ah." Lionel glanced at the offerings on the table. "Well then, we'd best not let it get cold."

"Sit, Dad," Lex said. "I hope you're not waiting for one of us to pull out a chair."

Lionel took the seat at the head of the table. Clark and Lex exchanged looks. Lex seated himself on Lionel's left while Clark hovered, sure he was forgetting something.

Ah ha! "What does everyone want to drink?" Clark asked. "We have water, milk, iced tea, coffee, juice--"

"Iced tea is fine," Lionel said.

"Same here."

Clark fetched two glasses of iced tea and a glass of milk for himself, then seated himself on Lionel's right side.

"Feel free to serve yourself," Clark said, uncertainly. He wasn't sure how this was supposed to work. Was he supposed to serve? That seemed a little presumptuous.

"All right." Lionel sounded perfectly neutral as he spooned some chicken and dumplings onto his plate.

The dinner actually went surprisingly well. Lex asked Clark how his day went, and Clark carefully didn't mention that he'd skipped his afternoon class. Clark asked how Lex's day was, and Lex replied that it had been a perfectly usual day until Lionel showed up. Lionel grinned and interjected an anecdote from, surprisingly enough, not actual history but Richard Adams's Watership Down.

"A Wide Patrol would sometimes come upon General Woundwort crouched under a tussock of grass, inquiring as to why they were off their patrol route," Lionel said.

"I didn't know you started taking lessons from rabbits, Dad," Lex replied.

Clark had never read the book and had no idea what they were talking about.

"These rabbits were surprisingly humanlike in many ways," Lionel said, "despite their inferior knowledge. Efrafa was a very efficiently-run warren, you must admit."

"Yeah, if you don't mind the complete and utter lack of freedom," Lex said. "Efrafa would have broken down eventually. It was on the verge of it. The does were cold, remember?"

Lionel waved a hand. "It would have come under control. Once enough rabbits died off and the warren reached a state of equilibrium, the does would have been able to bear kittens again."

As far as Clark could tell the argument was never satisfactorily resolved; it was difficult to determine because Lex brought up what seemed to be a completely unrelated Greek philosopher, and then he and Lionel debated that instead. Clark decided to just keep his mouth shut and eat. He was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and he had a feeling Lex was too, though he looked completely at ease. Well, as much as he could while arguing semantics.

"Well," Lionel said, once dinner was finished, "I suppose you're all wondering why I invited myself over so abruptly."

You're moving away, Clark thought. Far, far away. To Alaska. To Puerto Rico. To Madagascar.

"I'm afraid I need somewhere to stay for a while," Lionel said, "as my own abode is currently being renovated."

Lex didn't bat an eyelash. Clark wondered if this was what madness felt like.

"For how long?" Lex asked.

"Oh, a week should be long enough, surely," Lionel said. "I wouldn't dream of inconveniencing you."

Well, you are! Clark thought, rather hysterically. Some of that must have shown on his face, because Lex glanced over at him and said, "Well, Clark and I need to discuss this--"

Lionel made a poo-poo gesture. "Oh, please. It isn't as if the penthouse isn't large enough. You won't even notice I'm here. I'll have my things sent over tonight."

Well. That was that, then. "I'll get dessert," Clark said. He might have sounded less manically cheerful and more like a serial killer, but he thought it was allowable, given the circumstances.

---

Clark staggered into the kitchen the next morning, stifled a yawn, and reached for the Froot Loops.

"Good morning," Lionel said pleasantly.

Clark nearly dropped his bowl, spoon ringing against the inside. He stared blankly at Lionel, who was seated at the breakfast island, and responded, "Good morning" for lack of anything else to say. He wondered how he looked to Lionel, with his sleep-tousled hair sticking in all directions and clad only in his pajama bottoms. Lionel, for his part, was neatly groomed, albeit dressed-down in a short-sleeved polo shirt and what might have been only $100 slacks instead of $500 ones.

What in the world was Lionel still doing at home? Clark glanced at the time. 10:00 a.m. Lex was long gone.

"A man in my position can relax a little in the mornings," Lionel said, correctly interpreting Clark's actions.

By "in his position" he meant "semi-retired." LexCorp had finally swallowed LuthorCorp two years ago. Lionel still retained his old position and much of his personal wealth and property, but he now worked at Lex's pleasure, and everyone knew it. Back then, Clark had wondered how Lionel felt about that, king of the pride usurped and brought down by his son. Sitting at their breakfast island reading the newspaper, Lionel didn't seem to mind.

"Don't you have class?" Lionel asked.

"Not until eleven o' clock on Thursdays," Clark said, pouring cereal into his bowl. He wondered how much he should pour. Would Lionel think he was a glutton? But he'd decided he didn't care what Lionel thought. He defiantly poured a little more into his bowl, then carefully closed the cereal box and opened the fridge. They kept two kinds of milk in the penthouse: 1 percent milk fat for Lex, who had very balanced eating habits, and full-fat unpasteurized milk from the local health food store for Clark, who was used to milk straight from cows and thought city milk tasted like thin plastic and chemicals.

"Ah, the leisure of youth," Lionel said. "Lex, of course, was running a company at your age."

Clark poured a generous splash of milk on his cereal and waited until the colorful little life preservers began to bob and float before stopping. "Yeah, well." He shrugged and dug his spoon into the bowl, making sure all the loops were evenly coated with milk before replacing the bottle in the fridge.

Lionel said nothing, only turned back to his newspaper. He rattled the pages. "What do you think of Metropolis's new superhero?"

Clark's spoon paused briefly on the way to his mouth. "Uh. I haven't really been paying attention."

"Really? Tsk. I thought you were a journalism student." Lionel turned the page with more ostentatious crackling. "He's been the favorite of the papers lately. It seems that the public can't get enough of 'Superman.'"

Clark hated that name. It had started out as a quote, some overawed woman he'd saved from a mugging squealing, "It's like he's a--a superman!" And it'd stuck. It didn't help that Clark had decided to fly around with his family crest emblazoned on a chest like a brand, to remind him of all the ways in which he could--and had--misuse his powers. The crest did, admittedly, look somewhat like an S inside a shield.

"What do you think?" Clark asked.

Lionel made a little noncommittal humming sound. "I think it's too early to tell," he said, and turned the page.

Despite Lionel's claims that they "wouldn't even know he was there," there was really no way not to notice Lionel's presence. Lex installed him in a bedroom all the way across the penthouse from their own, but Clark still ran into him almost every morning and he was always present at dinner. Fortunately, Clark didn't have to endure another meal alone with the elder Luthor; he didn't know if Lex's evenings just happened to be conveniently free for those few evenings or if he'd contrived it that way, but he was grateful. He wasn't sure if he'd survive more prolonged exposure to Lionel on his own. Or if Lionel would.

But even when Lionel wasn't physically there, his influence remained. Lex became paranoid about listening devices, performing daily sweeps and cautioning Clark to talk about nothing but the mundane while in the penthouse unless they were in the privacy of their own bedroom, which Clark checked for bugs quite often with his x-ray vision. Lionel also effectively destroyed their sex life; his constant presence irritated and stressed Lex so much that he couldn't get it up, even if he wanted to.

Worst of all, though, Clark couldn't go out. Lex knew about the costume, the heroism, all of it; he'd helped Clark design his alter ego. But he couldn't risk staggering in via balcony, drenched in mud or saltwater or reeking of ashes, and meeting Lionel's questioning gaze.

And their anniversary--their real anniversary--was only two days away.

That was it. Lionel had to go.

"We have this really horrible silverfish problem, you know," Clark told him.

"Really?" Lionel did not look terribly concerned. "I haven't seen any."

"They're really fast?"

Lionel licked his finger and turned a page in his book. "I'm surprised Lex allowed such an infestation to occur in the first place."

"Well, uh. He's really busy?"

"Hmmmm."

Clark gave up.

Next, Clark tried being an obnoxious teenager. Not that he was strictly a teenager anymore, and hopefully he'd never been a really obnoxious one (though he had a feeling he had), but hey, he knew how it worked, right? Play loud music, leave trash all over the place, and cop an attitude.

Unfortunately, Clark completely forgot to factor in Lex, who was, of course, home on Sundays.

"Clark," Lex said, surveying the living room, which was littered with crumb-strewn dishes, empty potato chip bags, and the occasional dirty sock, "is there some reason you seem to be incapable of cleaning up after yourself today?" He frowned at the stereo, which was pumping something noisy and bass-laden that Clark had found in Lex's CD collection. "And is there some reason you're suddenly into Chemical Brothers?"

"Uh, sorry," Clark said, hitting the remote and turning down the volume. "Cramming for a big test. You know how it is."

"That's fine," Lex said, moving into his office, "just be sure to clean up after yourself."

Clark discreetly cleaned it up. When Lionel wandered into the living room later, wearing nothing a wifebeater and sweatpants (what was really disturbing was that Lionel looked good; he was totally cut for an old guy), Clark inquired as to whether or not he'd been bothering Lionel earlier.

"Oh, not at all," Lionel assured him. "You forget I had to put up with Lex's adolescence."

It got to the point where Clark considered putting a llama in Lionel's bedroom. With his luck, Lionel would just move himself to the bedroom next to his and Lex's.

Finally, the day before their anniversary, Clark decided that it was time for drastic measures. If he could not eject Lionel forcefully from the penthouse for good, at least he could get rid of him for one night.

Lex constantly complained about his secretary, Brenda. For every compliment he had regarding her efficiency and extremely scary parallel processing skills, he had two more regarding the fact that, well, she seemed to be a big skanky ho. She was constantly coming onto Lex, standing too close and finding reasons to touch him and flatter him, despite the fact that she knew very well that Lex was in a relationship. Admittedly Lex didn't quite have a stellar track record when it came to monogamy, but it wasn't as if his sex life with Clark wasn't more than satisfactory! Or so Clark liked to think. Lex hadn't had any complaints for a while, anyway. Anyway, Lex called Brenda a social parasite, and if that was true then maybe this plan would work.

Clark dropped by Lex's work and found Brenda at her desk as usual, apparently doing three things at once.

"Yes?" she said coolly. She didn't care much for Clark, which was fine because Clark didn't care much for her. Her skirts were too short and she wore too much makeup and the other day she'd talked about the cut of Lex's shirt and how "flattering" it was despite the fact that it was exactly the same as all his other shirts.

"I was wondering if you were doing anything tomorrow night," Clark said.

Brenda arched one slender auburn eyebrow. "Why?"

"Well, there's this guy," Clark hedged. "Older. Widowed. He seems kind of lonely lately, and I was thinking of, you know, setting him up on a date."

Now Brenda seemed amused. "I'm beyond blind date games, Clark."

"Just one?" Clark wheedled. "You wouldn't have to do it ever again."

"No." Brenda turned back to her multitasks.

"He's really rich," Clark tried.

Brenda looked up. "Tell me more."

It was a little more difficult with Lionel.

Clark ambushed him that evening, after dinner, when Lex was holed up in his study doing important work-related things (Lex holed himself up in the his office a lot while Lionel was here, which was yet another reason Clark really, really needed to find a way to make Lionel leave) and Lionel sat in an armchair in the living room and read yet another book. He sure read a lot. Clark leaned over the back of his chair and asked if he'd be interested in escorting a lovely lady the next evening.

"I don't need someone to set me up on dates, Clark," Lionel said, eyes skimming along the lines of text in his book.

"She's really hot," Clark said. "She's totally your type."

"My 'type?'" Lionel said, bemused.

"Red hair," Clark said. Lionel's eyelids flickered. "Older, mature. And she doesn't know who you are," he added, "so she can't be after your money or anything."

"I hardly have any sort of fortune to speak of," Lionel said wryly.

Clark rolled his eyes. "Yeah, compared to, I don't know, Bill Gates or J.K. Rowling or something. C'mon." He tried the earnest puppy look. "You don't go out at all. All you ever do is just come home, eat, and then read or watch television for the rest of the night. You need to get out a little."

"You lose your taste for nights out on the town when you get to be my age." Lionel turned the page.

"It's not a night out on the town, it's just dinner. And maybe a show or something." Clark cocked his head and tried to look even more puppyish. The how-could-you-say-no-to-these-eyes? face. "I already told her yes."

Lionel sighed. "Well, since you are so very determined, I suppose I can unbend myself this once."

"Great!" Clark flashed what Lex called his million-watt smile, earning a very tiny smile from Lionel in response. "I'll call her and let her know. Um--"

"The Belle Rivière," Lionel said. "Six o' clock. She'll recognize me by the two red roses I have in my hand."

"All right," Clark said, and practically skipped off to his room to make the call.

---

Clark used to wonder why and how it took Lex so long to get ready when he didn't even need to style his hair and the most complex thing about his clothing was his cufflinks. He'd asked Lex repeatedly, and each time Lex just shrugged and said, "First impressions matter."

Now Clark knew the answer: he was in some kind of competition with his father to see who could take longer to get dressed. Lionel took his own sweet time getting dressed, wandering leisurely around the apartment, trying on different ties and exaggeratedly scrutinizing his hair in every available reflective surface. It made the soles of Clark's feet itch. He wanted to scream and pitch Lionel out the door. Lex was going to be home in an hour and Clark needed to make the Most Perfect Anniversary Dinner Ever.

"You look great," Clark assured him. "Perfect. She'll love you. Um, shouldn't you be going? You'll be late."

Lionel, immaculate in evening black with a wine-colored tie, said, "Nonsense. The Belle Rivière isn't even ten minutes away."

"My mom always said that punctuality is the respect you show for others by being on time." Clark tried not to fidget.

"Why in such a rush, Clark?" Lionel grinned. Clark recognized that sharkish, teasing smile. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to get rid of me."

"Um," Clark said. "Of course not. I just, uh, want you to have a good time."

"Well," Lionel said, "I believe I shall go, then. The driver is waiting. And I'm sure you need plenty of time to prepare for your anniversary with Lex."

Then Lionel was gone, and Clark was left feeling absolutely flabbergasted. He'd never had an opportunity to use that word, especially in his head. But it described his feelings perfectly: flabbergasted.

He was going to kill Lionel. He so totally was. But first, he needed to cook Lex's anniversary dinner.

Clark had decided to do something simple this time; he barely had an hour, after all. The wine was already chilling in the refrigerator; Clark opened one of the lower cupboards and looked for the pasta pot. He'd also need a large bowl for the salad--

The phone rang. Clark stared at it, every nerve ending coiled with tension. No. No no no no no. It continued to ring patiently until Clark picked it up.

"Hello?" he said. The universe so totally owed him one.

"Clark." Lex sounded normal, at least. "What're you doing right now?"

"Um," Clark said. "Making dinner."

"You haven't gotten very far, have you?" Lex sounded slightly concerned.

"N-no. I just started."

"Good. I want you to come downstairs."

What? "Why--wait, does this have something to do with our anniversary?"

"Of course it does."

Curse Lex and his surprises! Why couldn't Clark be the surpriser for once? This sucked.

"I, uh," Clark said, "kind of had plans. For tonight. For our anniversary."

"I know," Lex said. "It's all right, Clark. Just come on down."

He hung up. Clark stared at the dead receiver in surprise. He'd known? Then what was this about? Furthermore, what was he supposed to wear? After a few moments of panic, Clark decided that it must not matter, because Lex was usually very good about telling Clark when he needed to change. Clark ran into his bedroom and grabbed Lex's present, shoved on his shoes (mashing down the heels in the process, which for some reason always drove Lex crazy and not in the good way) dashed out in his jeans and t-shirt.

Lex was waiting patiently on the sidewalk in front of a limousine. Clark gave him a questioning look, but all Lex did was hold out a blindfold.

The blindfold wasn't heavy, so it wasn't lead-lined like the one they occasionally used in bed. Lex trusted Clark not to peek; either that, or he didn't really care. Clark shrugged and put it on, then realized that he couldn't find the door handle. Fortunately, Lex opened it for him.

Clark found the seatbelt by touch and sat mystified in the dark as the limo pulled quietly away from the curb.

"What's with all the mystery?" he asked.

"It wouldn't be a mystery if I told you," Lex replied.

Well, he was blindfolded, but that didn't mean he couldn't use his other senses. Clark extended his superhearing. Just the usual city noises: traffic, people talking, people dining. As the limo crawled on, taking a turn here or there, Clark determined that they were probably heading into the classy district, all high-rise hotels and fine restaurants. But why would he need to be blindfolded for that? Dinner at an eating establishment--sometimes fine, sometimes not--was usually part of Lex's anniversary gestures. Why make a production out of it now?

The limo rolled to a halt. Clark waited until the driver got out and opened the door for them.

"You haven't peeked, have you?" Lex asked, grasping Clark's arm. His hand was warm against Clark's skin, and Clark abruptly realized how distant they'd been since Lionel had invaded their penthouse.

"Where are we?"

"If I wanted you to know, I wouldn't have blindfolded you." Lex adjusted his grip so that he was holding the inside of Clark's elbow and guided Clark away from the limousine. A blast of air assaulted them as Lex opened a door, and then Clark was enveloped in a very familiar smell.

"Are we in a hotel?" Clark asked.

"Well done, Holmes," Lex said. He led Clark across the lobby and into an elevator.

"Can I take off the blindfold yet?" Clark asked.

"Good things come to those who wait," Lex chided him.

Clark sighed, but didn't argue. You didn't argue over Lex about petty things; it was a waste of time.

He heard the ding and the hiss-woosh of the elevator doors opening. Anchored by Lex's touch, he stepped out of the elevator, turned left, took seven steps, took another left, and then went down a hallway. Presently, Lex stopped, did something that probably involved swiping a card, and opened a door. After Clark was inside, Lex's fingers brushed his temples and the blindfold was removed.

They were in a hotel room, of course. Duh. But a hotel room with a kitchen and a living room and a bar and a forty-two inch plasma screen and what was probably the bedroom through those double-doors to the left. There was a balcony with French doors. Clark took a step in and his feet sank what felt like a foot into the carpet. It was kind of like the penthouse, but smaller. And with room service. And, probably, without a garden.

"Wow," Clark said.

"I thought we'd stay here until my father left," Lex said. Clark turned around and was greeted by Lex's smile. It made him weak in the knees and possibly in the head. "Happy fourth anniversary, Clark."

Clark, of course, ruined the moment by saying the first thing that came into his head. "I was going to cook for you."

"You can still cook for me," Lex said, unknotting his tie. "If you want. The kitchen's fully-stocked."

Clark was mesmerized by the hollow of Lex's throat as he started to unbutton his shirt. "You're always doing things for me."

"Like what?" Lex looked like he honestly wanted to know the answer, but that wasn't necessarily the case. He could just be humoring Clark.

"Like this," Clark said. He wanted to touch Lex, so he did, unbuttoning Lex's suit jacket and sliding his hands inside. "I wanted to do something special for you."

Lex laughed. Clark looked up, stung, and saw the open, happy look on Lex's face. "Clark," Lex said tenderly, "you are special," and kissed him. Clark came out of it like melted chocolate and wondered why they'd stopped. "You've saved my life," Lex told him, "and you're Superman. You cook for me five days out of the week and give me things like the Fortress."

Oh, right! Clark stepped back and pulled something out of his pocket. "I got this for you."

It was small and squishy and neatly wrapped (Martha had very patiently taught Clark how to wrap things properly over the years). Lex had the expressionless face that meant he had no idea what was going to happen next but wanted to look like he was on his game. He loosened the bow and began to meticulously pull apart the wrapping paper, sliding his nail underneath the edges to pop the tape. Clark bit his lip and tried not to jump up and down squealing "open it open it open it!" like a five-year old.

It was a beanie shark with a grey-blue back and a white underbelly, white felt teeth, and beady black eyes. The little tag on his fin said that his name was Crunch the shark.

"I saw it and, uh, thought of you." It had seemed like a better idea in his head: the shark was supposed to be scary, but instead he was cute, kind of like Lex, who was a cold-blooded killer to everyone except Clark, who got to see the fuzzy side. Now Clark just felt incredibly dumb, standing in the middle of this white-carpeted hotel room with Metropolis flashing and bright outside while Lex Luthor gaped at a beanie shark in his hand. Maybe he could say haha, wait, here's your real present! and give Lex something else instead. Like maybe his shirt, or an amazing blowjob.

"Oh Clark," Lex said, and he sounded so quiet and fervent, like a saint seeing God, "only you would buy me a beanie shark because it made you think of me." The wrapping paper crumpled in his hand as he pulled Clark in by the shoulders and kissed him, all love and desire.

"You like it?" Clark said, dazed, once Lex conceded to their need for air.

"I love it," Lex said. "I'll keep it on my desk." Then he started unbuttoning Clark's jeans, and Clark supposed he would cook for Lex tomorrow. They could order in tonight.



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