A/N: I actually wrote this after I wrote the sequel, but this plot bunny popped into my head first. I wasn't going to write this, because it's corny fluff/angst, but then the plot bunny for the sequel "Stuff of Legend (which was supposed to stand alone, and I guess still could) decided to have some small ties with this story. It's pretty awesome, because this story really did need to be written. Anyway, read this, it's pretty short, on its own for Clark/Lex friendship, but if you want Clex goodness, read the sequel. The sequel has a pretty awesome plot, and it's a lot less corny than this one…for the most part.

Protecting You

Lex stared out the large window behind the desk in his study. The castle was empty, save for him, because he didn't want his staff to see his potential breakdown. He didn't know for a fact that there was one coming, but the stressful thoughts of merging his father's company with his at the same time as he was suffering the turmoil of officially having no one left in the world to be semi-close to had tears prickling at the back of his eyes. He didn't know if they'd fall, he didn't even know if he was still capable of shedding tears after so many years of holding them back. He heard the door open but didn't turn away from the window. It was probably someone with papers for him to sign about merging companies, and they all knew to leave it on the desk and scurry away. He would do no business today, it could all wait until tomorrow.

"Lex?" Lex stiffened at that voice, one he hadn't heard in six months.

"What are you doing here?"

A soft chuckle. "I told you I'd be here with a bottle of wine the day of the funeral, so we could celebrate Lionel's death together, remember?"

Lex remembered very well. They had been sitting in the study, Clark doing his homework at the table in the homework while Lex finished up some paperwork. His father had burst into the room and began a rant about how incompetent Lex was, how he was a fool spending so much time with a high school geek. Clark had balked loudly when Lionel had stooped to insulting Lex for being gay, and Lex had thought the boy would walk out of the castle and his life forever. No one knew he was gay, except his dad and a select few men he had experimented with in college, and he thought the small town farm boy would be disgusted, but Clark had stood up and started shouting at Lionel about how love and attraction were not something you could peg to the opposite sex, how people were free to love whomever they wanted, Lex especially. Lionel, who hadn't even been aware Clark was there, had sworn to destroy the little farm boy, because no one spoke to him like that, and Clark had sneered and glared until the man left with the threat hanging. Lex had slumped visibly, worried about what his father would do to his best friend, and Clark had insisted that he could take care of himself. Lex had asked if he could watch his own back forever, and Clark had said the man would die someday, since no one could live forever. He laughed and joked that he'd bring Lex a bottle of wine the day of the tyrants funeral and they'd celebrate Lex's freedom together. Lex had laughed despite himself and jokingly made Clark promise. He'd thought about that promise a lot since his and Clark's final falling out. Another argument about Clark's secrets…he'd found the room in the castle…and never would have dreamed that Clark would keep the promise after they hadn't spoken at all for six months straight. Jonathan Kent had even been the one delivering his produce in that time, so they hadn't seen each other at all. He'd given up trying to find Clark's secrets in that time, but mostly because his father had been dead set on destroying the Kent's son and Lex wanted to stand in the man's way as much as possible. It was ironic that Lionel had come up with so much less on Clark than Lex ever had, despite the innumerable resources at his disposal, and then had been shot point blank by the very private investigator he'd hired to do the job.

"Why?" Lex asked, addressing Clark who still stood behind him.

"Because you're my best friend," The high school senior said as though it were obvious. At this exclamation of friendship, the tears that had been threatening all day finally began to fall, but they were in anger and anguish, not the stress that had been clinging to his shoulders since his father's death the day before.

Between anger and anguish, anger won out, racing through Lex's veins as he turned to the boy. "Why now, Clark? Where were you the last six months when I needed you? You have no right to come in here spouting friendship when you refused my apologies and refused to see me for six months! For three years you were the only thing keeping me from turning into my father's clone, despite the fact that you couldn't trust me with your secrets. And what kind of best friend does that make you? Who the hell are you to call me your best friend? Best friends trust each other, and I never had your faith!" He yelled.

"You always had my faith, I trust you implicitly!" Clark insisted.

Lex threw the tumbler of scotch in his hand against the wall to his right in an expression of anger. "Get out," He hissed, turning from the man and clasping his hands behind his back. He was the picture of the man his father had wanted him to become as he returned to staring out the window.

"No!" Clark said vehemently, making Lex turn incredulously. "I never told you everything because I was trying to protect you! At first I was protecting you from my dad, because he told me not to tell you and that he'd go to Lionel for help ruining you if you ever found out. The day after that last fight we had was when I realized that if I could stand up to Lionel, I could stand up to my dad and I came up here intent on telling you everything. Your father was standing at the front door on the phone and he was trying to convince somebody to do…something…to you to get all the information he could on me. I walked up to him and said you didn't have any information on me to give him, and told him to leave you alone. He said he would, if I vanished. I don't know if he was more intent on still wanting you to be a Lionel clone or if he realized how much I treasured our friendship, but he pulled a contract out of his jacket stating that I'd never see you again for any reason besides business and he'd do whatever to help you and your business advance as well as stop his experiments with the meteors and meteor mutants. I made him add on that he wouldn't do anything to hurt you, then I signed it. Your safety was more important than anything. Upon his death, the contract became null and void. I never stopped being your friend, and I've always had nothing but faith in you."

Lex was stunned, but he managed to compose himself. "So, let me get this straight. You made a deal with the devil that you'd stop hanging out with me if my father would build up my business and stop creating more meteor mutants, all so you could protect me? What were you thinking, Clark? By that time I had all of my father's employees under my control! Why would you make a deal with the devil over something as silly as my physical health?"

"'Cause that's what best friends do! I was worried that if you continued to fight him on everything he'd put you back in Bellevue, and I couldn't let that happen. I'm really sorry for cutting all ties with you the last six months, but I wouldn't change what I did. You didn't hear the things he was plotting to have done to you, and I'm almost certain he wouldn't have stopped there. Can you forgive me?" Clark asked, giving Lex the puppy-eyes. He leaned over the desk and presented the bottle of red wine he'd brought.

Lex took in the name and year of the wine with interest. "Where did you even get this? You're not 21, first of all, and this is a two thousand dollar bottle of wine."

Clark laughed. "I should've known you'd know your wines as well as your scotch. Mom took me to California last weekend. She was going to a wine tasting that Lionel had to be at to finish up some work they had to go over and thought it'd be a good cultural experience. A snob that was there as well bet me that I couldn't name five different types of red wine. He wanted to make me look foolish, but I had been looking for the perfect wine to use for us to celebrate your dad's death. I didn't know he was gonna die soon, obviously, but the promise that he was mortal kept me going after the deal I made with him. Anyway, by then I had become a connoisseur of wines…sort of…and swiftly named ten different forms of red wine. He was flabbergasted and shelled out three thousand bucks. I wasn't going to take it, but my mom told me I should, just because the guy was being a complete ass. I asked the owner of the vineyard what wine she thought would be best suited to celebrate the death of Satan and she pulled this out of her own private collection. Taught me how to store it properly for the eventual occasion and everything. I couldn't think of a better way to spend three thousand dollars. I really didn't think Lionel would kick the bucket before I was 21, but he did, which means I can't drink it, but you can!"

Lex grabbed the bottle from his friend. "I'm not celebrating my devil-dad's death alone, that would be weird. You'll have to stay the night, though, because I'm pretty sure it'd be a race between you're the Kent matriarch and patriarch to plotting my death were I to send you home with even an ounce of alcohol in your system."

Clark whooped as Lex moved towards his liquor cabinet to get glasses and a corkscrew. "Uh, Lex, about my secrets and stuff…I really want to tell you, but…" Clark said, his voice serious.

"It doesn't matter Clark, your secrets are yours to keep," Lex told him dismissively. He knew Clark could hear the hurt in his voice, but didn't expect him to pick up on why.

"No, I'm going to tell you, I am, I just need you to promise me something first…" The farm boy said nervously.

Lex was angry at that. "If it doesn't go without saying that I'll keep your secrets to myself, then maybe-"

"What? No!" Clark interrupted. "Of course it goes without saying that you'll keep my secrets and that you'll protect me if it comes down to it. That's not what I was going to ask. I need you to promise me that you won't hate me after I've said my piece, okay?"

"I could never hate you, Clark, you're my best friend, the best anyone could ask for," Lex said, confused. He turned to his friend, wine temporarily forgotten, and watched him take a couple deep breaths before the younger man launched into an explanation about his real parents, how he came to Earth, and the reasons for Lex's hair loss and all the mutants. The last bit of information was that the farm boy, poster child for unrequited love with Lana Lang, was gay. "Wait, you're not gonna say I turned you gay, are you?" Lex asked cautiously.

Clark laughed lightly. "Nah, I realized I was gay last year when I was in the changing room after P.E. and found myself physically attracted to Whitney. He started flirting with me when he realized why I was staring, we went on all of one date, realized we were both better as jock and nerd, and left it at that."

Lex chuckled. "Okay, so anything else?"

He didn't expect it when Clark nodded, staring at his feet. "Yeah, part of being an alien means I have certain…powers. I can run faster than a speeding bullet, and one time I even ran fast enough that time had pretty much stopped around me; I have this icy breath, which is weird since I don't require air; I have heat rays built into my eyes; I'm pretty much indestructible, except around the meteors, which are radioactive chunks of Krypton; I have super strength; I have x-ray vision; I have super hearing; Oh, and I floated once," He said, shoving his hands into his jean pockets and lightly kicking at the stone floor he was staring at.

Lex considered all he was told. "I could use this to my advantage," He muttered. Clark looked up in shock, hurt written all over his face, and Lex hurried to correct himself. "Not like that! I meant right now, for our celebration idea. I have a bunch of stuff that my father gave me that I didn't have the guts to destroy, in case he asked after it. I was planning on taking it all into the garden and destroying it. Some of it is really heavy and big and supposedly indestructible, so I thought you could help me with those items." Clark started to laugh loudly. "What?"

Clark waved the question off. "I was just trying to imagine you losing your perfect composure and taking a sledgehammer to some priceless urn or something. The image that came with it was really funny," He explained.

Lex tried to imagine it himself and couldn't help but chuckle at the image it brought to mind. "Well, despite the fact that you'll probably laugh at me, I still want to do it. Take out all my anger at the recently deceased on his 'gifts'. You can help or don't, but I'm going to thoroughly enjoy it."

Clark snickered. "I wouldn't miss this for the world. Just...wait here for a sec, okay?"

Lex nodded and suddenly Clark wasn't there anymore. He literally waited only a second before Clark strode back into the study, a sledgehammer swung over his shoulder. Lex laughed heartily at the smirk and blush on Clark's face. He had really missed his best friend.

(A/N): If you want me to write a one-shot semi-sequel to this about the destruction of Luthor property, let me know in a review. It'll be a total crack!fic, whichever I've never written before, but I think it might be fun if I had the right motivation. Remember, everyone, there's Clex goodness in the sequel "Stuff of Legend", 'kay?