This is for my 50ficlets table at LJ! I hope you all like it. Let me know what you think. :)

Title: It Is What It Is
Fandom: Smallville
Pairing/Characters: Clark, Lex
Rating: PG
Word Count: 746
Spoilers: none
Summary: future fic; It didn't have to be like this, at least if you asked Clark.
A/N: for my 50ficlets table (LJ), prompt: 'black and white'

"It didn't have to be like this."

Though Clark hadn't meant to say that, it slipped out anyway. The simple words managed to throw Lex Luthor off and stopped him mid rant. His expression remained full of hatred, but Clark could see something shift in his eyes. A part of him was pleased that he could still read Lex and another part of him wondered why he still cared.

Why he always cared. Then again, this wasn't just anyone. It was Lex and though he had grown up, he hadn't completely lost the part of him that longed for his best friend and the friendship that they used to share.

To the world they were Superman and Lex Luthor- mortal enemies, representing black and white, good and evil. Only a few people, Clark included, knew that it was much more complicated than that.

"Your attempts to distract me are futile, Superman," Lex sneered, clearly oblivious to his thoughts.

And the mask was up again. Ever since Lex revealed himself to be alive, he had been fighting with the League, trying to them down any way he could. Clark's alter ego was his favorite target and there was never a day that Lex didn't seem to be plotting to kill him.

Or was he? Clark sometimes wondered. If Lex had really wanted him dead, he would be done for. His former best friend turned nemesis was too smart for his good. No one, not even the League, would stand a chance if Lex had really been trying to take them down.

"I wasn't trying to distract you," Clark told him sincerely. "I didn't even mean to say it. But, now that it's out there, I need to know. Lex, aren't you tired of this back and forth?

"First of all, I'm not 'Lex' to you. It's Luthor. Remember that. Secondly, I am not tired of anything," Lex replied coldly. "I don't intend to stop until I eliminate you, alien."

"Is that really the plan?" Clark challenged. "We both know that if you really wanted me dead, I'd be six feet under."

"Well, if your costumed pals didn't keep getting in my way, trust me, you would be gone," Lex insisted confidently.

"If you say so," Clark said, the doubt he had clear in his tone.

"Just because you're getting lazy doesn't mean that I've given up," Lex informed him. "However, I hope that's not the case, because I hate it when people make things too easy for me."

"I'm not getting lazy," Clark retorted. "Being tired isn't lazy." He sighed. "Why does it have to be like this, Lex?"

"Clearly you don't listen," Lex responded. "But that's not a surprise. And I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Again, why is that?" Clark wondered. "You know who I am. Why do you keep pretending that you don't?"

"In an introspective mood tonight?" was the response that he received. "You bore me when you're like this."

"It doesn't have to be like this," Clark repeated.

"No, but you made it like this, didn't you?" Lex finally said, dropping the façade. "You didn't trust me with your precious secrets."

"Why couldn't you wait?" Clark asked sadly.

"Why couldn't you trust me?" Lex retorted.

"It wasn't that easy," he said. "I was a teenager … I made a lot of mistakes, I can admit that now …"

"The great Superman is actually admitting he was wrong," Lex interrupted sarcastically. "Stop the presses. Oh wait, that's you too, isn't it?"

Ignoring him, Clark continued, "But it wasn't just me. I had never met anyone like you before and you were so curious. I didn't know what to do."

"Just stop," Lex interjected. "It's too late."

"Is it?" Clark wanted to know. "Is it really too late?"

"Yes." Though he said 'yes', his eyes told a different story. Lex seemed to deflate slightly. "Just … go home, Clark. Tomorrow, we'll pretend this never happened." Clark. It had been so long, too long, since Lex had called him that. It was enough to cause his heart to ache, longing for better days, and bringing back memories that were long buried.

"And if I don't want to?" Clark tried.

"You have no choice," Lex said simply. "Because I will." Then, without waiting for Clark to reply, he walked away, leaving Clark alone.

It didn't have to be like this. But it was, and there was nothing that Clark could do to change that.