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TITLE : "The Waiting Period"
AUTHOR : Lambourn
FANDOM : Smallville
GENRE : Drama, Humor, First-Time
PAIRING : Clark/Lex (of course)
SPOILERS : AU after "Phoenix".

SUMMARY : "Someone has beaten Lex to the punch."

There was nothing like seeing Clark's bright open smile after enduring a three hour conference call with his father, except when the smile was directed at someone other than him and it looked as though Clark didn't even notice Lex was there at all.

Normally this was business as usual with Clark when Lana was within his eyesight, except just last week Clark had confessed that the quest for Lana's heart was over. Lex had barely checked his delight from showing when Clark continued to explain that Lana wanted him as a boyfriend, but it had been his decision to remain as friends.

For as long as Lex had known Clark there had always been Lana there at his side and in his heart, except for that week or so when it was Chloe. For a few days there was the strange Kawatchee girl, Kyla, and before then, it had been the girl from the witness protection program, Jesse.

Regardless of the girl, he'd held to his rules about Clark. Until Clark turned eighteen, Lex only allowed himself to have long drawn-out visual exchanges with Clark, very brief hugs (longer than half a minute was pushing his control), and the occasionally purloined item from Clark's wardrobe in order to fuel his fantasies. Had Martha noticed the disappearance of Clark's socks?

When Clark turned eighteen three months ago, Lex had planned a trip to New York City to see their Planetarium and tour the Swann Institute. It was a gift that was supposed to not only show his intentions toward Clark (romantic) but to let Clark know that he *knew*, and didn't care. It would have been perfect, except when he climbed up the steps of the loft he found Clark and Lana "giving it one more shot" before Clark left Smallville for college.

A day later, he simply handed Clark the keys to the red truck as his gift, smiling as best he could as Clark drove off to pick up Lana for a date and went back to help clean up the impressive amount of broken crystal glasses and destroyed vases from his study. He was patient, he gave Clark and Lana a month to last. He was unpleasantly surprised to find out that they made it two months and three weeks before it all collapsed.

It was exactly seven days, three hours, and five minutes since he heard from Clark it was over with Lana. Had his father not insisted on the conference call to discuss a rare joint-offer from LuthorCorp, he would have made it to the Talon promptly at the end of the seven day window. He was here now, but it looked like Clark was occupied in the corner table with someone.

Someone who was unnaturally good looking and the recipient of Clark's smile.

Someone who was unfamiliar to Lex, and that was saying something considering he had a copy of every yearbook Clark appeared in since grade school.

Someone who was unfamiliar, attractive, *male* and had his hand on Clark's shoulder.

Lex could feel his teeth grinding together.

Move that hand or lose it , he thought darkly. He had just the sword to remove it cleanly too, and it was no movie prop. Either heard by Lex's unknown power of telepathy (it *was* Smallville) or coincidence, the hand disappeared from Clark's shoulder and moved under the table.

It could be innocent.

Lana placed a tall cappuccino in front of him with a strangely sympathetic look which was just wrong, because wasn't Lex supposed to be expressing sympathy for her? "Haven't seen you around lately, Lex. It's been at least a week."

"Seven days, three hours, and ten minutes," he replied absently, still working on his telepathy powers. Look at me, Clark, I'm here. Who the hell is that guy sitting with you and why does he have his hand under the table?

"That's Clark's new boyfriend, Damian."

Hot scalding cappuccino sprayed across the counter of the Talon. It was very unpleasant to feel it tracing the path of his sinus cavities, in addition to the projectile spray. He wasn't sure which was more embarrassing, to spectacularly spit up coffee in the most public place in Smallville or to be caught thinking out loud.

"You weren't thinking out loud, Lex. I could guess by your expression," Lana replied, wiping up the coffee from the counter. Perhaps she was telepathic, it would make sense with all time spent with a meteorite hanging around her neck. "No, I'm not reading your mind, you're just incredibly easy to read when it comes to Clark. Speaking of which, let's take this to your office before it makes the Ledger."

Still stunned by her announcement, Lex couldn't muster a protest about his poker face. Mutely he followed Lana into the back and started wondering when he received a major head injury. He was tracing back the ride over from the mansion in his mind for the incident, deliberately ignoring the fact that even with his impression of a cappuccino fire hydrant, Clark hadn't looked up from his conversation with a very dead man.

When he could breathe without tasting coffee in his nostrils, he spoke. "When did this happen?"

Lana smiled wryly, "if you ask Clark, he'd tell you that he's always sort of known he's different."

That made a certain amount of sense coming from an alien, but it didn't really answer Lex's question. "Lana, I spent a week in meetings and just got off a conference call from hell with my father. While the man has the ability to make time slow down to a crawl, it has only been a week. Clark was straight the last time I checked." So far, he amended. Lex had turned straight men gay before, it wouldn't be much of a challenge with Clark, who liked staring at him longer than was completely heterosexual in the first place.

"Did he tell you why he broke up with me?"

"He said he realized his feelings for you had changed to friendship over time." That was as diplomatic as he could get.

Lana laughed, startling Lex. "He broke up with me because he said he was tired of pretending and lying to himself about who he was. Then he said he hoped I wouldn't hate him for being different. I told him that we'd always be friends regardless of his secrets, so on Monday he approached the principal about starting up a Gay-Straight Alliance club at Smallville High. Damian is the vice-president of the club."

"Clark is gay and he has a boyfriend. That all happened this week?" Four years of longing and fantasies complete with plans on how to make that a fact, only with *him* as Clark's boyfriend, ruined. He was going to destroy something more satisfying than crystal when he went home. Perhaps a Porsche with a crowbar, or the pool table with a pick-ax. "How are his parents taking this?"

"His mom, she's taking it just fine, she said she always knew. His dad is a different story. Apparently he approached Chloe about her Wall of Weird, looking for an explanation. He thinks Clark was exposed to some type of meteor rock."

That brought a reluctant smile to Lex's face. He would have given his new Lamborghini to be a fly on the kitchen wall during Clark's coming out speech. It amused Lex that Jonathan Kent fulfilled all the small town farmer clichés, the good and the bad. "That's what I like about Smallville, when in doubt, blame the meteorites."

"Or LuthorCorp." Lana smirked knowingly and then held up her hand. "And in this case, I don't think it's that much of a leap. I've seen the way you look at Clark."

The smile vanished, and Lex straightened sharply, "In four years, I have never laid a hand on him in any way other than friendship, if you're implying that I did otherwise-"

"I know that, Lex." She interrupted, and then gestured down toward the dining area of the Talon. "Don't you think you *should* now that Clark's out and legally an adult? Four years is a long time. Just how long are you going to wait for him, anyway?"

"I'm not- I was…" Uncharacteristically Lex trailed off, and abandoned his excuses and denials. What could the truth hurt now, anyway. "Why do you think I'm here? Do you have any idea how long this week has been for me holding off until the waiting period was up? I was going to ask Clark to spend the weekend in Metropolis with me, before what-his-name beat me to the punch."

"His name is Damian, and what waiting period?"

"*The* waiting period. The seven day cool off period that you wait to ask someone out after they break up with someone else."

"I think you're thinking of gun restrictions."

Lex sighed tiredly, gripping the bridge of his nose, "there's a Republican Congress, and a Republican President, Lana. There are *no* gun restrictions. I never thought I'd say this, but thank god for Republicans. I've got a nice modernized Russian fully automatic hand gun that I'm dying to try out on this Damian."

Lana looked vaguely amused at his threat. There was a time when people took those threats seriously. "We're in business together, so you can't tell me that Lex Luthor can't find a better way at removing a rival other than by force."

"A better way? Maybe, but it wouldn't be as personally satisfying." He had hundreds of scenarios worked out for people who hurt Clark, it wouldn't take much to apply them to someone who had Clark. Lex still can't believe that it's not him. After all the on-again, off-again dramatics with Lana and waiting so very patiently for Clark's birthday, he never thought it wouldn't be him.

It was supposed to be Lex.

That's why Lex did the things he did, for Clark, with and without Clark's knowledge. There was all the squeaky-clean business deals he'd made when a bribe or extortion would have made it so much simpler, and then all the ways he'd learned how to graciously turn down bribes and favors when someone tried that on *him*. There was the fact he'd turned LexCorp into a serious competitor for his father just so he could break away from Lionel's ethically-compromised side. He stopped being the notorious Lex Luthor people whispered in fear about crossing in Metropolis board rooms and started being the one people wanted to do business with, wanted to impress.

When Clark was ready, he didn't want there to be any roadblocks between them. Now Clark was ready, but none of that mattered because Clark did not feel the same way about him. How was he going to concede defeat to another guy? How did Lana do it?

"It wasn't easy to give up Clark, Lex."

She smiled at his startled expression, and then grinned when his expression turned peevish at echoing his thoughts aloud again. "When you first came to Smallville, you had an emotional mask that made Fort Knox look open. When you said no originally about the Talon, I thought it was over because you didn't look like you'd give an inch. Then Clark told me to look deeper, that when you said 'no', you really meant 'interest me, challenge me'. So I did, I came up with a new set of plans and I got my foot into the door, but I never would have tried again if it hadn't been for Clark. He saw beneath that mask right from the start, and after four years around him, you stopped putting it on around him. When he told me how he felt about our relationship, I knew what he really was telling me that he didn't feel the same way about me as he did about you. I still love Clark, but it made it easier to let him go, knowing that I was letting him go to you."

"Lana, he didn't go to me. I think it's pretty obvious that even though I'm in the 49 percent of the population that he's apparently attracted to, he's not interested in me, since he's sitting next to Damian out there. If he was, don't you think he would have told me about his sexuality before now? Hell, before he left the closet. I'm supposedly his best friend and I had no idea, which really says a lot about the trust we share. Fuck." Lex turned away from Lana. It was time to go before he fell even further into an unattractive self-pity.

"You know what, if you won't listen to my words, then how about your own. 'A high school boyfriend is not a husband, he's an obstacle.' Take the advice you once gave Clark."

"I can't believe he told you that."

"I can't believe the lengths you went to set him up with me, and yet you're giving up so easily. Lex Luthor is a quitter, I never would have believed it." Lana sighed, getting to her feet to open the office door. "A quitter and a coward," she tossed over her shoulder, in a parting shot as she stepped down the stairs to the ground floor.

"I know what you're doing and it won't work!" He called after her departing back. "I've been manipulated by better people than you, Lana Lang!"

* * *

It wasn't going to work, he told himself after waiting until she was gone to retreat from the office. His father tried to play him using his emotions and he never let the bastard have the satisfaction of success, this was no different. Lana Lang was nothing compared to Lionel Luthor's manipulative touch.

Except for some reason his feet carried him over to the table where Clark was sitting along with his, fuck, *boyfriend*. God that word was never going to go down easily, for Lex.

"Lex!" Clark beamed, turning away from his companion to greet him and giving Lex an unimpeded view of the vice-president of the new Gay-Straight Alliance.

Whatever happened to pimples and oily skinned high school boys? Not for the first time, Lex wondered what it was about Smallville that encouraged beauty and homicidal behavior in its teens. Of all the possibly gay students at Smallville High, why did this one have to look like a Calvin Klein underwear model? Wavy blond locks of hair sculpting a handsome and somehow a little feminine face, with a hard, well-toned, well-tanned body better fitted to a Venice Beach than a Midwestern farm community; it just wasn't fair in any stretch of the imagination that Clark's boyfriend could be that good looking *and* gay.

Lex reached to run his hand over his head, before catching himself in the nervous habit. So he didn't have a full head of hair or a body made for the beach, he was still Lex Luthor and he had pride in himself. He was not going to feel inadequate in the face of Clark's choice. He'd save that feeling for the next phone call from his father.

"Clark, how have you been?" Lex forced himself to smile and wait for the explanation. It was a pose he was familiar with in the four years of being Clark's friend. Smile and wait for it, be it lie or the much rarer, truth. He could do this.

"I'm great, I missed seeing you around this week. You were in Metropolis during my last two produce deliveries." Clark turned back to his boyfriend for a quick mental conversation, before nodding to the open seat on the other side of the booth. "Do you have a minute? I'd like you to meet Damian."

"Sure, Clark I've got a minute." Lex made no move to sit down, simply dropped his hand lightly on Clark's shoulder before leaning into the booth to offer his free one to the teen. He willed it not to shake or accidentally clinch into a fist and drive through the boy's sculpted jaw. He was made of tremendous mental will, especially in the fact of Clark. "I'm Lex Luthor, Clark's best friend."

Remarkably that sounded a lot less possessive in his head than it did coming out of his mouth.

Damian's blue eyes met his and instantly sized up the statement and the intent. He licked his lips, and took the hand, shaking it with a firm squeeze. "Damian Cross, it's nice to meet you, Mr. Luthor."

"Call me Lex." He replied easily, still keeping his hand on Clark's shoulder. "So how did you cross paths with Clark, Damian?" Lex kept his best board room smile on, as he felt Clark shift under his hand nervously.

"Um, Lex, Damian and I started a club at school this week," Clark began, his eyes moving back and forth between Lex's anticipatory face and Damian's growing curiosity at their exchange.

"Yes, Lana briefed me about Smallville High's first step in open-mindedness toward sexuality. Congratulations, Clark. It sounds like a worthy cause to support, let me know if you need any fundraising help for your club. LexCorp is always looking for the right place to make a charitable contribution." Lex moved away from their side of the booth and finally took the empty seat.

"Thanks, Lex. I knew you'd understand." Clark smiled brightly at him, before his expression slipped a little, "not everyone has been as supportive to the idea. My dad thinks I'm high or something, and some kids have taken to graffiting our posters. Even Principal Reynolds didn't want to allow it."

Before Lex could offer to get Reynolds fired (again) from his job, Damian jumped in with a smile and an arm draped across Clark's shoulders, "He changed his tune pretty quickly when he saw Chloe Sullivan's draft for her next article to the Daily Planet, entitled 'How Small-town Homophobia Is Taught In School'. The reversal in administration policy broke land speeds."

Lex was back to imagining how smoothly his 2000 year old authentic katana would cut through Damian's flesh, only this time not stopping at the hand, but taking the whole arm instead.

"Yeah, Reynolds is grudgingly on our side for fear of the ACLU knocking on his door. Chloe has him tamed with the power of the press. I should have shown that article to my dad, it couldn't have hurt." Clark joked softly, subtly leaning into the touch.

Lex drove his teeth into the soft underside of his lip to remove the knot welling in his throat at the sight across from him. "Give your father time to adjust to this, Clark. He's only had a week, right? A week is barely enough time to conceptualize, let alone try to accept. He loves you, so he'll come around."

He never thought he'd feel such a rare kinship with the elder Kent.

"I know," Clark smiled gratefully at Lex. "Mom is working on him. You know the last time she had to lobby this hard for me was when I became friends with you. That turned out better than I could imagine, so I have hope for this."

"Yes, your father no longer holds his rifle in hand when I come over. Now he just sharpens knives and talks about the chipper-shredder in gleeful terms." Lex turned to Damian with a raised eyebrow, "Speaking as *the* corrupting influence on Clark, I'm curious to know what you have to look forward to on your first visit to the Kent farm."

"Whatever the reaction, I'm not afraid to be out in Smallville. Being afraid is a waste of time and energy better focused other more pleasurable pursuits." Damian's eyes lingered on Clark as he drew out the syllables of 'pleasurable' to an almost indecent length. He ignored the cloaked but deadly glare Lex sent in his direction, and stood, "It's later than I thought it was. Sorry, Clark, I've got to run."

Clark slid out from his seat in the booth, not seeming to mind the way Damian brushed his body against Clark's. "Oh that's okay, Damian, we got a lot done anyway. I'll call you if I need something more."

"Do that. Hey, listen do you want to go out tomorrow night to see the opening of 'Constantine' at the multiplex?"

Lex focused his gaze on the tacky impression of Osrisis on the far wall. It was exceedingly appropriate for the hell he was living. He was watching some kid take Clark away from him right before his eyes and the only thing that would make Hell complete would be a visit from its master, his father.

"I'd have to ask, but that sounds like fun."

He kept his eyes on the décor, unable to see if Clark's eyes were filled with excitement at going out with Damian. "Constantine" had been a movie they had both looked forward to seeing, Lex because of his enjoyment of the comic book and Clark because it starred his favorite actor, Keanu Reeves. It was a movie they were supposed to see together. It looked like Lex was never going to see this movie, he'd never be able to enjoy it without wondering if they had sat in the back of the theater together, hands together, Clark's hand wandering higher during the slow story-building scenes-

Blood settled on his tongue as he bit harder into the side of cheek to cut off that thought.

Damian grinned, flashing perfect white teeth. "Great. I'll pick you up around five. We have dinner Abby's near the theater." He slipped his backpack over his shoulder, and then glanced over at Lex with a smile that rode the edge of smug victory, "It was nice meeting you, Lex."

Enjoy those teeth, asshole. They'll be using them to identify your body. He forced himself to smirk back, while contining in his mind the debate between dismemberment by powersaw or chipper-shredder. "Likewise."

If anything Damian's smile widened before he sketched a wave at Clark and left.

The silence at the table opened between them and then lengthened into full awkwardness. Lex tongued the soft wound in his mouth, before glancing at his watch readying an excuse to leave when Clark spoke, "Are you okay, Lex?"


Okay, so this died because of the fact I lost my laptop to Toshiba for 1 month, and didn't make an outline before I closed the file. I also, it occurs to me that Lex is way out of character, like he talks too much and all I can say is it's AU after Phoenix- so pretend Lex was never institutionalized, Clark never went behind his back to his father (i.e. Memoria), the CoCK is still intact but undiscovered, and Clark is more puppy than pitbull asshole we've seen so far.

Originally I wrote this for someone's birthday. Um I won't say who, because obviously I suck, since I didn't finish it. Let's just say the prompt was this: "I love possessive touching--gripping someone's chin, shoulder, unexpectedly. Actual, active seduction--one character going all out to get the other one. I vacillate on who I like to initiate between Clark and Lex though. Shall have to ponder in more depth. I love obsessive Lex--when he's collecting things about Clark--like his shirt."

So you can tell where the story was going, it just didn't get there.
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