His whole body felt as if on fire. With one caress and the liquid response of Lana's mouth, Clark could no more control the actions of his body than he could stop the earth from turning upon its axis. Theirs was an undiluted kiss of passion, pure and innocent with the first inkling of a stronger, overwhelming desire. Lana tasted luscious and sweet like finest of chocolate melting upon his tongue. Her body shivered within the confines of his sinewy arms, unprepared for the onslaught of emotions his simple kiss generated within her. Any rational thought or objections flew out of her mind as she gave herself permission to just receive

and react in rhythm with Clark. Consequences be damned.

Never in his most fanciful dreams would he have expected tonight to turn out like this. In a fleeting moment of clarity, Clark mentally noted that he should definitely find some way to thank Lex for his usually unwelcome interventions into his love life. This time it hadn't backfired in his face. No Whitney, no damsels in distress, no awkward shyness or stupid necklace to get in the way. The vivid thought of nothing coming between them brought him careening back to the present. He explored her with deep, gentle strokes of his tongue, his body masterfully fighting the insistent urge to give himself over to the conflagration that threatened to consume him. Random thoughts raced through his brain, mostly concerned with what he wanted to do with her - tasting her skin, the tips of her breasts, moving down the slight dip of her abdomen as he made his way to the curls at the apex of her thighs. Inexperienced he night be, but not unimaginative.

They kissed even harder, her mouth now moving, ravishing his own, as they strained to press closer to each other. A soft feminine moan escaped her lips as she returned his ardent exploration. His hands moved from her back to her hips, pulling her tightly against his aroused member. Not even the surprise of the suddenly intimate gesture brought Lana out of her sensual reverie. He drew up so possessively against him that it seemed as though the heat of his body would fuse them into one. The touch of his mouth had a strange effect on Lana. The feel of his lips, firm and warm against her, the soft fabric of his tailored suit beneath her fingers and the satin-over- steel strength of his shoulders under her palms sent a quiver of sensation through her. Against her breasts she could feel the sudden thud of his rapid heartbeat. Pulse for pulse it match the rhythm of her own. Somewhere in the inner recesses of her subconscious, she knew that she stop him, that what they were doing was wrong. Then why in the world did it feel so right?

Reluctantly she pushed against Clark, easing him back far enough to separate their lips. Dazedly he gazed down at her, his beautiful green eyes dilated with desire. His dark eyebrows creased with the confusion he didn't even bother to keep hidden. Lana craned her head back slightly to look up at him, his hands still resting upon her hips. "Clark," she whispered, her breath coming out in short shallow pants. She struggled to gather her thoughts enough to confront him with the quite uncharacteristic action he had just undertaken.

Clark instinctively knew what she was about ready to say and wanted to put it off as long as possible. But his conscience wasn't about to permit him to take advantage of her as a distraction. "I know." It was more than a simple statement; it held his entire frustration and pent-up passion as well as his desperation for all of the times he was thwarted in his attempts to gain Lana's affection. Her indescisiveness about Whitney was as much as a talisman interferring in any possible relationship between them as the damned meteorite necklace she usually wore.

Lana reached up and caressed the soft golden skin of his cheek, reading the raw emotion betrayed by his expressive eyes. She desperately didn't want to hurt him, he was too good for that. But she honestly didn't know what she wanted, his ardent kiss had proven that. Clark had proven he could be counted on, even if he didn't always show up on time. She found herself suddenly challenging the entire paradigm her life had existed in until now. Inexplicably, Clark had become the unexpected factor in her life...no matter that he wasn't the most popular or the star of the football team. But now was not the time or place to reevaluate her romantic relationships...it was too close and personal for her to be able to sort out her jumbled feelings.

"I just have to think about this, Clark. It's all happening too fast."

"I hadn't planned on doing that," he murmured into her hair. If he had wanted to, he could have rested his head upon the top of hers. He could smell the delicate scent of her shampoo, along with faint traces of an alluring perfume. He swallowed hard, trying to clear the giant size lump that had formed in his throat. "Not that I regret it," he shyly whispered. His heartfelt admission made Lana shudder from its impact. A panicky sensation rose in her throat, cutting off her ability to reply but reminding her that she desperately needed to flee before she gave into Clark's innocent seduction.

She pushed away from Clark, a little harder than she had planned and replied apologetically, her voice clouded with an almost teary emotion. "I've got to go." She fled from the room, not bothering to shut the door behind her.

Lana roamed the party, desperately looking for her cousin so that she could return home. Finally she spotted Lex, and with him was her cousin, who appeared quite the cat with the saucer of milk. Lex heard Lana's hurried approach and turned to face her, concern in his expression when he saw her dismay and the fact Clark wasn't with her. What the hell happened this time?

"Lana, what is it? Is there something wrong?"

"I'm not feeling well. We need to go home."

"Lana..." Lila's objection came out at almost the level of a whine, but Lex had already distanced himself from her as he helped Lana find their coats. She followed along behind them, quite disappointed that they would be leaving so early. Lex pulled Lana over to the side, curious as to the sudden departure.

"Lana, where's Clark?"

"In your office, I think...That's where I left him." She sighed as she struggled into the coat that Lex held out to her.

"Should I even ask what happened?"

"It doesn't concern you, Lex."

"It does when it involves Clark. He's my friend." The expression on Lex's face lost all of the holiday mirth it held just moments before. All that was reflected back now was a seriousness as deadly as the grave. He placed one hand tentatively on her shoulder, partly in friendship and partly to hold her there while he said his piece. "That day in the cafe...when I said I thought you were with the wrong guy, I was right.......And I think you know that now too. Don't you? Ask yourself in all that soul-searching you seem to do. Would I rather be a trophy on someone's arm, whose entire meaning in life is purely decorative? If so, no offense but I'd have to put you in the same category as your more metropolitan cousin. Or do you want more out of life, possibly in the position of a goddess in the eyes of a guy more worthy than anyone I know?"

Lana visibly sagged at Lex's words. She saw the truth glimmering there, it was just too hard to admit it at the moment. "Please, Lex..." She pulled away from him and head for the door. Lex's parting shot echoed through the entryway, chasing her down and forcing her to hear it, even if she wasn't listening at the moment.

"Then ask yourself: who showed up tonight, who did you the favor, and who would never let you down?"

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"Here you are. Why in the hell didn't you go after her?" Lex stuck his head in his office to see Clark toying absently with the billiard balls on the pool table. "What did you do to scare her off like that?" His half- hearted attempt at levity wasn't even met with a tolerating smile from Clark, who looked as though he had just lost his best friend.

Clark looked up from the captivating moves of the small hard orbs and stared at his friend for a moment. "I did something really stupid. I kissed her."

Lex breathed a sigh of relief, exaggerated a bit for effect. "Is that all? God, you'd think the way you two were acting, it was the end of the world. Let me guess, you tried to comfort her while she was upset with Whitney...and things went from there." Clark nodded, stunned at the fact his friend was so astute. "Clark, don't look so surprised. That move is almost as good as negotiating a woman under the mistletoe, especially if she's a little tipsy. You just happen to play it off better than most guys because you're sincere about it. Speaking of mistletoe...." Lex pulled on his shirt and sprig of greenery slipped out. "That was

starting to itch...don't ask."

"Don't worry, I won't." Clark replied. "But Lex, you can't keep interfering like this. The suit and the limo, that was cool. The fact you held Whitney up really hurt Lana's feelings. I'd like him to disappear sometimes but not at her expense."

"Listen Clark, you can choose to believe me or not but I didn't have anything to do with Whitney's no-show. All I did was plan the party, loan you the car, get your suit, take the mercy date off your hands ...nature did the rest. At the most, the jock was going to be held up by the coach, not his car, for a few minutes. I had no idea that he wouldn't make it at all. Not that I'm disappointed, but give me some credit here."

"It doesn't matter anyway. She's not interested and I made a fool out of myself."

"I can't say whether or not you made a fool out of yourself, but she IS interested. You just have to hang in there."

Clark brightened at Lex's reassurance. "Okay...but what was with the mistletoe?"

The end???

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Author's Notes: Okay....this is one version (probably the most likely of what would happen between them at this point). But for all of those insatiable people out there who want to see them actually...uh hem..."get it on" as they say in the vernacular, I am positing a potential steamy alternate ending. You'll just have to let me know what you think. Personally I love the picture of Lex with the mistletoe stuck in his shirt....makes you wonder what exactly he was up to. Hmmmm, another idea for a story perhaps????