A/N: This takes place an undetermined time in the future shortly after Lex learns Clark's secret, and Clark knows Lex found out. . . .

//It's not what you thought when you first began it you got what you want now you can hardly stand it.//

Chapter One

Lex sat alone in his study, slowly drinking a glass of brandy. He finally had his answers. But he didn't feel the joy or sense of victory he'd expected.

An old cliche kept running through his mind. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

He'd gotten what he'd wished for but now he had it. . . His father had taught him the matching, and more agressive, proverb from India.

Don't go hunting tigers unless you are prepared to find one.

His father had taught to to always be ready for anything. And he thought he'd been ready for the answers. . . he couldn't believe how badly he'd miscalculated the consequences. He gotten his answers, and lost his best friend. He did not, currently, consider it a good trade.

A line from a song he'd once heard on the radio played in his head.

"I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then. I wish we could start this whole thing over again."

He almost laughed knowing the words had been about a romance and that his feelings for Clark were those of a brother. What would he do if he could start over again? Not look for the answers? No. He would look; he knew himself well enough to know that. He was one who, even knowing what was inside, would open Pandora's box. A wry smile twisted his lips at the thought. But hope and been left in pandora's box. He wondered if there was any hope left for him and Clark. He decided he would have changed how he dealt with Clark.

Maybe he would have told Clark not to bother lying to him, since he could always tell when Clark lied. Clark was much to honest a person to be a good liar. Lex on the other hand knew that he was very good at telling lies, and almost as good at detecting them.

Part of him wanted to be angry at Clark for lying to him, but the remains of his conscience wouldn't let him; not with all the lies he'd told Clark. He figured that they were even in that area. He had lied to Clark. Clark had lied to him. He'd hidden things from Clark. Clark had hidden things from him.

He knew that if he was going to be angry at anyone it should be his father. His father was the one who'd taught him not to trust, to lie and to hide things. He also knew that Jonathon had probably pressured Clark not to trust him because he was Lionel's son. He had to admit that in some ways Jonathon had been giving his "son" very good advice. Of course Jonathon wasn't Clark's biological father, but he'd been more of a father to Clark than Lionel ever had been for him.

Lex was not angry at Clark. Anger made one careless, and it was not in Lex's nature to be careless. Oh, he'd lost his temper a few times, but this was not one of those times; he knew he couldn't let it be. Not if he ever hoped to get his friend back.

He took another sip of the brandy and shifted positions slightly, working different possibilities over in his mind. Ways he could regain Clark's trust and friendship. Or at least the friendship. He knew Clark would never trust him again, and he respected Clark for that. To trust him again would be foolish, and Lex had little use for fools. But Lex wasn't sure there could be a real friendship without trust. It was a Catch 22.

When a knock on the door interrupted his thoughts he was half expecting/half surprised to see Clark walk in. He quickly stood up and set his glass on the nearby table. "Clark."


"Please, sit down. We need to work this out."

"You think we *can* work this out?" Clark asked as he took his usual seat. He honestly hoped Lex brilliant mind could find a solution to this problem.

"Between us Clark I think we can do anything. Even rule the world if we wanted," Lex answered with confidence.

Clark wasn't so sure. "Somehow I think that might be easier than fixing this."

Lex had to admit the truth of that. "Have I ever told you I hate it when you're right?" Lex asked in an attempt to lighten the mood.

"You hate it when anyone *but* you is right." Clark retorted, with a small smile.

Lex gave an almost-shrug. "And sometimes I hate it when I'm right. Do you remember what I said when you asked me if we'd ever end up like Kyle and Rickman?"

"Of course. You said our friendship would be the stuff of legend. But it was real wasn't it? While it lasted?" Clark asked, needing to know.

Lex considered for a very brief moment before he answered. "Yes. I think it was. Despite the lies we told each other. Who knows. Maybe *because* of the lies we told each other. I know that part of the reason you didn't tell me was to protect me. Only part, but still part; and that has to count for something. And part of the reason I lied to you is that I was so . . . . desperate not to lose your friendship, your respect."

Clark knew how hard that last admission was for Lex to make, and was astonished. "It really meant that much to you?"

Lex was completely serious as he answered. "Yes, Clark, it did. And I think that it always will, to some part of me. To the part of me that is my mother's son, not my father's. You're still the only true friend I've ever had. I wish you'd quit talking in the past tense."

Clark found himself wishing the same thing. Wishing he *could* quit talking of their friendship as something of the past. But he knew he couldn't. "But that's what our friendship is, Lex. Part of the past. I thought you'd know that better than me. I've gotten to know you, Lex, you would not have a fool for a friend; and I be a fool to ever trust you again."

Lex allowed himself a tight smile at hearing Clark voice his own earlier thoughts. Clark did know him better than most. "You never trusted me before. I'm not saying that wasn't smart, but what's changed?"

"You knew I had secrets and didn't trust you with them. That meant I wasn't a fool and you respected that, even if you didn't like it, and we could be friends. Now that's changed and we can't."

Lex almost laughed at the irony, almost. "This *is* a switch. You being cynical and me being hopeful."

Clark didn't respond and after a moment Lex continued, "If our friendship is over then why did you come, Clark?"

"To find out if the friendship had ever been real. To say good-bye."

"Clark, the question of wether or not the bond between us was real is as much yours to answer as mine. What do you think?"

"It was for me. I kind of liked having an older, wiser brother to ask for advice, or occasional help. I'll miss that. A lot."

"Remember when I said I thought of you as the younger brother I never got to have? I wasn't lying. Not then."

"And now?"

Silence answered.

Clark sadly nodded his head. "Good bye, Lex." He was about to leave when Lex voice stopped him

"Clark. There is a promise I want to make you. A promise I *will* keep. I will keep your secret. I won't go to the press, or anyone else. For old times sake. I owe you that much."

Something in his one-time-friend's eyes told Clark he could trust this final promise. That Lex would keep his secret. He might use it against Clark himself one day, but he would not tell the world about it. "Thank you. And, Lex. Slow down when you're driving," Clark finished with a small grin.

Lex gave a wry smile in return. Acknowledging the reference to the first time they met; to the event that had begun their friendship.

Lex walked to the window and saw the blur of color as Clark super-sped away. Had he remembered how he would have wept. As he ran Clark cried for them both. Cried for a friendship lost. For a bond that was not meant to be. A bond that destiny would not allow.

A/N: Chapter 2 will take place in the future and things will go just as Ryan warned Lex that they would.