Category: Humor, fluff, Clex friendship
Rating: PG (for a bad word, somewhere)
Spoilers: Very small for "Stray"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to so many people and none of them are me. Ah well.

Summary: Lex's inner kid gets some appreciation.



Lex was pouting.

Clark squinted as he entered the Luthor Castle den, then shook his head to try and dislodge what must have been an hallucination but to his supreme shock and amazement, the visage remained.

Lex was definitely pouting. Childishly. Sullenly.

Magnificently. A pout to end all pouts and Lex's hand edged out to shove angrily at a very tall stack of comic books sitting on the edge of his desk, piled in glossy, full-color glory, almost three feet high. Clark's own hand shot out and caught it and the stack just before disaster struck.

The pout deepened. "I don't want them anymore."

Something akin to a whine, and Clark couldn't help but gape at his friend. "Lex " He sat down slowly, no sudden moves just in case there was something really wrong for in Smallville, one never knew, did they. "What's going on? Why do you have all your comics out and why don't you want them anymore?"

Lex sighed and displayed an impressive eyeroll. "These aren't my collection." He settled back in his leather desk chair with a distinctly smug attitude. "This wouldn't even be a tenth of it -- if these were all different issues that is."

Clark stared at the yard-high stack. "Those aren't different issues?"

"No, they are not." Each word enunciated with increased displeasure and a pair of Luthor lips tightened into a straight line. A line that threatened, like clouds before a twister, to turn into something much, much worse. Like a pout. "These are all one issue, Warrior Angel number two-seventy-four, the last issue of the last three month story arc in the Amazing Worlds Universe, Amazing World Seven - The War of The Wizards, in which Warrior Angel finally learns the origin of his second incarnation, The Savage Angel, and wherein we, the loyal readers, finally get a chance to own a collectible of no small value, which is why I don't want this stack of moldy, worthless tree detritus."

Said firmly, concisely, with all the finesse of a CEO explaining a quarterly report to an audience of brain-damaged chimps and Lex laced his fingers across his chest. "Now. Is that a little clearer?"

Clark blinked. Try to formulate a reasonable, non-combative reply and quickly gave up. "Lex?" he asked slowly. "Have you lost your marbles?"

The normally serene face flushed deeply. "There's an extremely limited edition holographic cover on one copy of this issue, Clark, and I Want It," Lex hissed. "And I don't want anyone else to have it because if they get their slimy little jelly-stained fingers on it, they'll probably a. never let me buy it from them or b. rip me off to high heaven for it." His arm swept across the desk and dozens of Warrior Angels fluttered, then plopped gracelessly to the floor. "Damn it."

"So wait you bought all these issues hoping you'd get the special cover?" Comprehension was dawning over Clark's horizon and the landscape scared him just a little bit.

Lex's patience, whatever there was of it, was thinning like ice over a spring lake. "Yes, Clark. I bought all these issues, figuring that Castle Comics would be SMART enough to place the issue in their best selling store, which would be Metropolis Comics and Games, where I could then go and purchase my collectible in relative peace without making an uncomfortable scene." A short huff. "Obviously, I was mistaken."

"Obviously." Clark bit his lip, hard. The urge to laugh was bubbling up and that was not good. Not good at all.

"Morons," Lex intoned with finality.

"Dopes," Clark agreed. He quickly coughed to cover up an hysterical choke.

Lex's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Are you laughing at me?"

Clark shook his head frantically. "Never. Trust me, Lex, not in a million years would I ever laugh at someone so so um focused as you are."

"There's nothing wrong with being focused, Clark." Lex leaned forward, full lecture mode turning on with impressive speed. "Sensing a goal, keeping the mental pressure on until said goal is obtained -- these are all good things. A measure of a man's determination."

Clark leaned forward as well. "It's a comic book, Lex," he whispered.

Two angry dots of red stood out on Lex's cheeks. "Out." His nose twitched and his finger jabbed toward the door. "OUT!"

Clark jumped up from his chair. "But, Lex "

"OUT! Out, out, OUT!"

"But "



Clark always appreciated his limitless endurance and speed, mostly for local tasks, but he really enjoyed taking a few hours off to go to new and exciting places , ones he'd never been to before.

Like New York. Los Angeles. Chicago.

And Rickentuck, Idaho. The site of the largest comic book emporium in the United States -- Rick's Rickentuck Comic Book Conundrum. Wholesale, retail and everything in-between the sign said and upon entering, Clark believed it. A palace of Princess Libertys, a skyscraper of Sonic Men and a warehouse of Warrior Angels all stood before Clark on full heroic display.

Clark hated to admit it but it was all rather impressive in a gaudy, overdone sort of way.

Nah. Make that really impressive in all the best ways possible.

Clark turned toward a sullen teenager behind the counter, the identical quintuplet of the five other teens he'd seen in the last five comic book stores he'd visited in the past hour, in five different states.

Amazing. "Hi," he said politely. "I'm looking for the latest Warrior Angel, number two-seventy-four, War of the Warlocks."

The teen glanced up, disdain etched into every feature. "That's War of The Wizards and they're over there. Next to the sign that says "Warrior Angel." A sneer. "Think you can find it?"

"Sure can," replied Clark brightly, thinking that if he ever became a superhero, the first on his list to eradicate from civilized society would be snotty comic book store employees -- otherwise known as all comic book store employees.

He'd give the job to people more deserving of it. Like hardened criminals. Or psychopaths. Or both.

Clark made his way past the large Princess Liberty display, trying without much success to ignore her amazing ability to restrain an amazing pair of breasts beneath two amazingly microscopic slivers of pink Spandex.

Wow. Maybe he'd get her to save his butt someday.

In the Warrior Angel section a huge and very confusing array of choices awaited him. The was Warrior Robot Angel, Warrior Angel -- Egyptian God, Warrior Angel -- The Battle For Gorilla City ah, yes, there it was. Beneath rows of opaque plastic covers, an entire wall of Warrior Angel -- The War of the Wizards, special issue, one holographic cover available and Clark glanced around before turning on the X-Ray vision, full blast.

This superpower thing had the minor and mundane covered cold, Clark thought, searching for a tell-tale glint of foil. He squinted and was just about to give up when a bright glimmer caught his alien eye.

There it was. The Golden Holographic Warrior Angel, stuck in the very last spot of the very last row. Clark fought back a whoop and instead became a measured study of calm indifference as he plucked his prize out of the rack and walked to the counter, fighting the urge to smack Princess Liberty on her shapely cardboard behind, just for the hell of it.

"That'll be two-ninety-five," said the counter clerk, shoving the comic in a brown bag with an irritating lack of respect, a huge pimple above his right eyebrow both distracting and disturbing in the extreme. "And if you think you're going to get the special cover, forget it. I heard Lex Luthor got it before it hit the stands."

"Is that so?" Clark asked, supremely casual, feeling very much the superhero among the lowly mortals as he carefully tucked the brown bag into his jacket where it seemed to glow with joyous warmth. "I'm not really into the special covers -- I just like the story."

The clerk snorted like a donkey. "Yeah, right."

"Have a nice day," Clark replied sunnily and was gone, flying down the road back to Kansas before the clerk could even begin to think of ignoring him.


By late that evening, Lex's pout was gone and a distinctly sheepish look had taken its place. He shuffled around the pool table, hit another ball without looking before turning to Clark, and shrugging helplessly.

"I'm sorry about this morning, Clark," Lex rambled, looking very much like The Little Boy Who Did Wrong and Knew It. "It was stupid of me, I was total asshole for no reason and if I ever try to throw you out again, just slap me."

Sad, embarrassed look and Clark wondered if this was how Lex's mother saw her son, realized in his heart it was and decided he loved Lex all the more for it.

Loved him like a brother, of course, he mentally corrected with a start. "No problem, Lex. And as a peace offering, I'm going to give you something, a special something, but only on one condition."

Immediately, Lex's expression went from guilty to intrigued. "And that condition would be?"

"That you don't ask me how I got it. Ever," Clark replied firmly.

Amused, Lex chuckled. "I can't wait to see what this might be." He pretended to debate for a moment, then smiled. "Agreed."

Clark couldn't wait any longer. He'd planned to tease Lex with it, maybe even hold it over his head and watch him jump for it, but the excitement was too great for even the best of silly games.

"Here," Clark said, holding out the shining book, no less glorious for the dull clear plastic book report cover he'd used to protect it. "This is for you."

Lex's jaw dropped to his chest and the look on his face was everything Clark had hoped for and more.

It was priceless.

"Holy shit." Slow syllables, one ground out after the other and Lex kept blinking as if the magical cover were blinding him, pixel by pixel. "How ..."

"Ah, ah, ah " Clark warned. "No asking."

"Okay, okay," Lex said quickly ... desperately. "No asking."

Lex held out hands that were obviously trembling, just a little, and Clark lowered the book into them with just the smallest flourish. He'd done a lot things in his life that he'd held some pride in but this was possibly the least painful, thus most rewarding one of all.

A simple gift for a complicated friend. Perfect.

Besides, Lex looked like Clark had handed him the moon.

"Um so what do I owe um " He looked flustered, the little boy shining shamelessly through the fa├žade of bored maturity and Clark wondered again if there might have been one good Christmas in Lex's life where he and his mother played under the tree with a toy so special, both of them wished the day and the discovery would never, ever end.

Or if Lex had ever known any Christmas joy at all.

"It's a gift, Lex." Clark shrugged. "Besides, you're the geek, not me."

The little boy vanished and a sly eyebrow was raised. "Did you just call me a geek?"

"Oh, yeah." Clark laughed and picked up the abandoned pool cue. "That's the other condition. Didn't you know? I get to call you on your geekdom, nerdiness and general "focused" ten year old self from this day forward."

A shot straight into the side pocket and a sharp smile crossed Lex's face. "You play a dangerous game, my young apprentice."

"Ha. I was once the student, but I am the master now."

"You still have much to learn, padawan."

"Oh yeah? And just what the hell is a padawan anyway?"

"See? Just one of the many things you have to learn."

"Yeah, right geek. Ow! Hey, that hurt!"

"Much to learn, Clark-O-Wan. Much to learn."



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