Superman was a much better friend than Clark had ever been.
The first time he thought that was while Superman was untying Lex's restraints after he'd been kidnapped (again). Lex was so surprised he forgot to blink, or even breathe for a moment. Superman, ever aware of Lex's changing moods (much more than Clark was, his brain helpfully reminded him), stopped for a moment to look at him.
"Something wrong, Luthor?"
Lex didn't want to do anything as plebian as shaking his head, but he wasn't sure he was capable of actually vocalizing anything at the moment. Instead he quirked an eyebrow, letting that one small movement encompass the whole of the situation, Lex tied to a chair, lightly beaten, and having to be saved by his arch-nemesis.
It was clear that Superman didn't believe him, it has been a long time since a kidnapping has served as more than a minor annoyance, but after a moment he just shrugged his shoulders and continued untying.
Superman was also a lot less nosy than Clark.
Later Lex tried to pretend that that whole moment never happened, but the thought just wouldn't leave him alone.
The next time it occurred to him was when Superman was flying him out of yet another dangerous situation. The hero was grumbling about the whole situation, not that Lex blamed him exactly, when he mumbled something about "Lois is going to kill me for skipping another date."
"You're dating Lois?" Lex blurted out, and then immediately regretted it. He heard more than a lifetime's worth of Clark's relationship highs and lows with Lana, and Lex really didn't want to get him started on the epic of Lois Lane.
Supermen, though, just blinked as though surprised that Lex didn't already know, and Lex's surveillance teams will be hearing about this one, before saying "Yeah, for about two months now." Oh, people were so getting fired. "She's really great," Superman continued with a grin.
And that was apparently it. No dissertation on her loveliness or dissections of what the possible meaning of her every action or any sort of endless drivel that no one wanted to hear. Just "she's really great" and if Lex wanted to know more he'd have to ask.
Even if Lex was in a state of denial about the whole thing, he had to admit the lack of teenage-type angst was refreshing.
Superman was in the middle of lecturing Lex on the wickedness of making evil robots when Lex had another epiphany moment; he was really starting to hate them. It suddenly occurred to Lex that, all those things Superman was lecturing him on? Lex had done all of them. Superman never seriously accused Lex of anything he hadn't done, and he could always tell if Lex was involved in a scheme almost immediately. Superman understood Lex, it seemed, and a whole lot better than Clark had too.
While Lex was still reeling from the blow of that one, it occurred to him that the things Superman were saying actually made sense. Naive as hell and not the least bit practical, but there was nothing fundamentally wrong with his argument. The facts were all accurate and the logic was all sound. Lex got the distinct impression that if he civilly disagreed, rather than just throwing subtle insults, they might actually get a debate going. Granted, it probably wouldn't actually go anywhere, but it wouldn't be a pointless shouting match either.
Lex didn't test it. There was only so much upsetting of his world-view that he could take in one day.
The final straw came the day that Lex was exiting the completely lead-lined room in his penthouse dedicated to studying Superman. Of course lead-lining does shit when Superman is waiting outside the window to lecture you and can see through the open door.
Lex froze with the door open, which really wasn't helping matters, though at this point it probably wasn't hurting either. Either way Superman was sure to have seen enough for him to feel justified in barging in and smashing the whole room to bits.
But Superman did not barge in and did not start smashing. Instead he rolled his eyes indulgently – indulgently – and said "You should see some of the stuff in the Batcave. I better not find any bugs in my apartment though." And then he went right into a lecture about how Lex needed to stop performing experiments on humans.
At that point Lex decided he might as well just throw in the towel and admit Superman was his friend, his best friend even. Not that that stopped Superman from continuing to be his arch-enemy too. Lex's life had always been ridiculously complicated after all, no reason to stop now.
And that's why Lex was currently sitting out on his balcony with a bottle and a half of scotch and two glasses.
Lex had just been married, and subsequently almost killed by his bride, for the sixth time. They hadn't even gotten out of the church before this one had made her move, and Lex wasn't sure if he should be embarrassed for marrying someone stupid enough to think she could get away with killing him in front of everyone, or impressed that she had broken his record for turn-around from matrimony to attempted murder. He eventually decided on a compromise where he got drunk enough not to feel anything.
He was nursing his third (fourth?) glass when his brightly clad arch-nemesis-cum-best-friend finally alighted. Lex silently poured Superman a glass of scotch and the superhero accepted just as quietly.
After a long while, Superman finally spoke. "You should make your next wife get a psych eval before you marry her." There wasn't really anyway to respond to that but to laugh, so he did. Lex laughed and laughed and after a few seconds Superman started laughing with him. And if Lex's laughter was a bit hysterical, well he had every right to be.
When they had both calmed down Superman asked, "Seriously though Lex, why do you keep marrying these women?"
Lex had to think about that for a minute, not because he didn't know, but because he wasn't sure how to explain something he understood on such an innate level. Eventually, he responded. "You remember my first wife, Desiree?"
"Yeah," Superman said, curious.
"I still remember the first time I ever met her. She came up to me and told me that she had come to save me."
"Oh," said Superman, and then after a long pause, "You know, you're allowed to save yourself."
"I don't think I can," Lex replied in a small voice.
"You can Lex, I know you can," Superman insisted. "And if you ever need help… all you have to do is ask."
The next words slipped from Lex's lips without the help, or even the permission, of his brain. "You're a much better friend than Clark."
Superman literally sputtered in disbelief. Such a waste of good scotch, Lex thought sadly. "Lex, I am Clark."
"You're much more honest than he was too. That's another point in your favor."
"What, you think I put on the suit and become a different person?" Superman asked, eyes searching his face. "Jesus Lex, you do, don't you? I know I wasn't the greatest friend ever back then, but that's because I was a teenager. I was stupid and self-centered, but at that age it's practically an obligation. If I'm a better friend now it's because I've grown up, not because I'm wearing a bunch of bright blue spandex."
Lex considered what he used to be like when he was sixteen, and if he was drunk enough that the thought made him want to physically shudder, he was not yet so drunk that he couldn't suppress it.
He thought about conceding the point, but the two of them got caught up watching the sunset and neither of them ended up saying anything. They sat in silence for a long time after that, watching night fall over Metropolis. At around ten or eleven Superman got up and said he needed to go patrol, but Lex should yell if he needed anything. He also, damn him, took the rest of the scotch because apparently Lex has had enough to drink tonight. The bastard.
Metropolis was beautiful at night. Lights twinkled and the din of noise from the day settled down until it was barely audible from the penthouse balcony. Lex considered getting up to go get another bottle of something a couple of times, but he couldn't quite bring himself to walk away from the city, from his city.
It wasn't until the first streaks of dawn touched the sky that he got up and went to bed. He'll sleep until four or so and when he wakes up he thinks he'll give Clark a call.