Clark was the first to arrive, after the call to Lex to confirm. There could always have been another business crisis and he didn't want to assume. That was one of the things he'd taken a hard look at after his father had died, and how much he'd taken for granted. He pushed the thoughts aside a little and looked around for Lex, relaxing as the sun touched his skin.
Lex made his way down the street and across, already spotting Clark on the other side, head going back and forth as he looks through the crowd. A smirk lifts the corner of his mouth as he finally comes up to the younger man.
"I hope you didn't wait long, I walked instead of taking the car, so..." he trailed off his sentence with a shrug, taking in Clark's outfit with an arched eyebrow.
"No, I just got here. Nice day for a walk," Clark gazed up, unusual for him. "How are you doing, Lex?" He knew it would be different now he could see him.
Another smirk and a nonchalant shrug of a shoulder. "Holding up, I thought it was bad during the time Lionel was in jail but it turns out people were still following procedure back then. Now they expect completely new orders, someone they can look to for directions," he stated slowly as he turned to start in the direction of the coffee shop he'd suggested to Clark the day before. "Any day now, I expect one of them to come up to me and ask me to teach them how to tie their shoelaces," he joked.
Clark chuckled. "To be honest, some people do seem like they never learned that." He glanced at Lex, noticing the slight shadows under his eyes. "But that's not your job. Maybe you could hire someone to teach them?"
Lex contemplated the thought, for its amusement value alone then shrugged it off. "Nah, most days it feels good, to be looked up to, to be seen as a leader, but sometimes I just wish people would stop treading so carefully around me and just do their jobs, not second guess every single one of their steps as if I would fire them on the spot if they did something wrong."
He motioned towards the next corner, the coffee shop just around it and across the smaller street crossing the one they were on. "It's right over there, they've got the best coffee in this area and I heard the pastries aren't bad either."
"Sounds good. And yeah. I know what it can be like when people expect you to be a certain way and you realize that you're not that way at all. " A brief thought of his father came to his mind. "Sometimes it takes a lot to get past expectations. Sorry to get philosophical. I just keep thinking of these things."
Lex's eyebrow climbed high at Clark's apology. "Remember who you're talking to, there's no need to apologize for getting a little philosophical," he opened the door to the small coffee shop, holding it open for Clark to go through first.
It came as a bit of a surprise though, to hear Clark talking like that. The younger man had always seemed to know exactly who he was, or where he stood. "You still drinking black with tons of sugar? Why don't you go find us a seat while I get the coffee, do you want anything to eat?"
"Yeah, that sounds good, all of it. I don't think I'll ever change my coffee taste, and whatever you're having." Clark looked around for a table. "Inside or out?" He didn’t really have a preference, but maybe Lex did.
"Inside, we're too close to the Planet for comfort," Lex smirked and turned towards the counter. So some things about Clark had obviously stayed the same, even if others had visibly changed. An interesting thing he would keep in mind.
Waiting patiently in line, he perused the different kind of pastries laid out, wrinkling his nose at some of the more sugar based goods. 'It really isn't a surprise every third American suffers from diabetes...'
Finally in front of the counter, he ignored the expression on the, obviously new, barista’s face when she recognized him and ordered plain black coffee, a cinnamon latte, two blueberry muffins and a large brownie. He paid with a fifty and told the girl to keep the change, ignoring the blush that burned her face and turned back around, grabbing a handful of sugar packs on the way back to Clark.
"It feels like a long time," Clark said, quietly, when Lex sat down, not looking at him as he added sugar to his coffee. "I keep expecting Lana or Mom to come up and talk to us." It felt familiar and almost too comfortable. But it was good.
"I know what you mean," A wistful smile made an appearance for just a moment, before it turned back into the regular smirk. "How is Martha anyway? I haven't heard from her since," Jonathan's funeral. The day life in Smallville changed forever. The day he'd seen a look he would have liked to forget on the face of a woman whom he admired more than he liked to admit. "My last visit to the heartland of America," he finished instead in a caustic tone.
Clark knew exactly the date he meant, but didn't say anything. "Lonely. Smallville was all about my father for her. She's talking about moving up here, but change is sometimes easier to talk about than to accomplish. But she's better than she was just after."
Lex nodded in understanding, regarding Clark closely. It was obvious that Jonathan's death had stirred great waves in the way the younger man's eyes seemed to be darker for a moment, his shoulders more hunched. Lex decided to divert the topic. "If she ever decides to make the move, tell her I'll be happy to help her in any way I can." Shifting the brownie closer to Clark, he picked up his drink and took a swig, licking off the foam gathered on his upper lip. "So how did that article for Steve turn out? Any grand revelations?"
"Thank you, Lex. The article....no, no great revelations," Clark picked up the brownie almost absently and took a bite. "There just doesn't seem to be that much corruption on campus. Or at least not in the areas Steve deigns to let me investigate." He laughed.
"Maybe he'll trust me enough to cover the sorority dinners before graduation."
Lex chuckled before taking another sip of his latte. The shadows seemed to be on the wane again and maybe... "Oh I'm sure you'll be able to find something fishy, just wait until finals loom ahead. Underhanded dealing of sheet copies and answer sheets, people paying other people to write their essays. If all else fails, you could try sticking close to Chloe. She has an uncanny ability of finding stories where no one would suspect one."
And also an ability to get into trouble doing just that. But the same could be said for Clark, only that the younger man seemed to be the one who came out the hero in most of the cases, instead of the victim.
"We'd drive each other crazy within two hours," Clark said. "And well..." he trailed off, not sure he wanted to continue that line of thought, because thoughts of Chloe led to thoughts of Lois and right now was not the time to start thinking of Lois. "We can work together sometimes, if there's a mutual goal, though. But tagging along after her? Do you know what she'd do to me?" Clark mock-shuddered.
Lex bit back on the laughter and gave his f...Clark a mock-pitying look instead. "I can imagine," he said gravely.
Still something told him Clark had been about to say something different, but he was willing to let that go for now since it most likely didn't involve him. "There's always her cousin, which reminds me, you have to take better care of your notebook, Clark. Unless you want anyone to be able to see what you keep in there."
He took a bite of his muffin, waiting for the information to sink in. He knew Clark had secrets, it had been the big unspoken issue in the room between them ever since Smallville, but when it didn't pertain to that one secret, Clark certainly didn't seem to be overly cautious.
"My notebook?" Clark finally asked, hoping his voice wasn't cracking. "What do you mean?"
Biting his tongue again at the audible hitch in Clark's voice Lex took another sip of his latte before he answered with a smirk. "The only thing I can say for certain is that Lois got my messenger signature from your notebook and was trying to strike up conversation for a while," using a napkin to wipe his mouth, he added, "I hope you're not keeping any dangerous information on it that she might use against you."
"She IMed you?" Clark looked surprised. "Even knowing Lois, that's not what I would have expected. No, nothing dangerous that I can think of."
Lex was surprised he had to suppress a sigh of relief, then caught himself again. "Yes, she did. I don't remember much, the conversations where pretty much one sided. But it was amusing watching her try to get personal information, supposedly out of boredom."
He wouldn't trust that woman if she was hog-tied and gagged. There was just something about Lois Lane that screamed 'Treat with suspicion'. Taking another sip of latte, he waited for Clark's opinion. If the boy decided to share it.
"A bored Lois can be a very, very dangerous thing," Clark nodded, remembering what her last boredom had led to. "Though it can be interesting also. Depending on how much patience one has for her." He thought of her skin, under his lips, and flushed.
Lex's brow rose in interest as he watched Clark blush up to his ears. His last sentence coupled with the shade of red he was sporting at the moment, "Clark, was that actually an innuendo?" He barely held back from declaring 'I'm proud of you' given that it might not have been a wise statement to make. "Could it be that you have discovered hidden talents in Miss Lane that I have yet to notice?"
"I like her," Clark said, simply. "I know she can be pushy and more than annoying, but I like her." He could feel the blood rising in his cheeks, but it was true. And maybe if he said that, their meeting occasionally wouldn’t seem so weird. He hoped.
The blush was now almost maroon and Lex couldn't help but chuckle. "Does that mean you've finally moved past the lure of Lana Lang to find interest in a new woman?" It would be good for him. Even if he could choose better than Lois Lane.
Honestly, Clark seemed to have a penchant in reaching for the unattainable and complicated women.
"Lana...." Clark sighed. "You know, I care about her, but I don't know what it was I was in love with. And that isn't an insult to her. She was just....not who I thought she was. I love her, as a friend, and I always will, though." He studiously ignored Lex's question about Lois for the moment.
Interesting. He watched as Clark's eyes flitted to the side for a moment, then as the boy took a sip of his own coffee. They'd played this game so many times. Usually this was the point where Lex accepted the fact that Clark didn't want to talk about it, took a sip of his own drink and smoothly changed the subject. Usually.
"And what is it with Lois?" he asked bluntly.
"Mutual respect, slowly building friendship. Anything more, I don't know," Clark said, honestly. And he realized, that was the truth. Well, minus the sex. Even if she wouldn't admit it, he knew Lois respected him.
Lex nodded slowly, taking a sip of his drink, and regarding Clark closely. On one hand, he could let it go at that, but on the other, Clark had been too adamant about avoiding an answer for this to be it. It was too simple, even for Clark. And the blush was still firmly in place.
They weren't on as solid footing as they used to be, but Lex was willing to push a little further, just to see how far he could actually take this before he was shut down again, as he always would be.
"And that is all there is to it?"
Lex had pushed to that point before, what he'd usually gotten for it was a flat out lie. He was willing to see if today was going to be usual.
"Lex, how much can I trust you? I know I am the last person who deserves to ask you this, but it's not only about me," Clark said, realizing that he'd really let too much slip.
He'd refuse it until his dying breath, but he was choking on his sip of latte. It took him a precious moment to get himself back under control, but once he'd managed to grab the napkin and wipe of the gape, he regained his footing. He knew that this was probably going to be something to inane to even think about using in any way. That he was likely to laugh, but never in a million years. It had been a long time since Clark had looked at him like this and Lex knew, because he still remembered clearly the last time Clark had offered to put trust in him with anything.
"Clark," Instantly at least five grand lines came to his mind about trust and how much their friendship had always meant to him and that he would never betray him. But he discarded them. "I won't say a word about this if it's something you don't want to be known." He wanted to add a self-deprecating comment about the ability of a Luthor to keep a secret, but he refrained.
"Okay..." Clark dropped his tone as much as he could. "Lois and I are...having sex." He blurted it out as quickly as he could, because there was no other way to do it without choking.
That was....more than he'd suspected. The memory of the picture Clark had shown him of Lois flashed through his mind and he couldn’t help a sharkish grin crossing his face. Well, from what he'd seen. But what in all hell could be so bad about this that he in no way wanted anyone to find out? It had been a while since his own college days, but as far as he remembered, bagging an older student wasn't exactly bad for a reputation. At least not for a guy. Then it hit him. Chloe. He remembered what seemed a life time ago a conversation in his study involving a spring formal and Clark's female best friend, then remembered footage of a rather telling scene between her and Clark.
"I won't say a word," he repeated again, then took another sip of his latte. "So," he found a smirk in his repertoire and threw it at the blushing boy across from him, "Do those pictures you showed me of her give any incentive to her style in areas not related to dancing?"
Clark wondered if he was going to get any redder. If eventually it would become so dark it would become another color. "You could say that," he nodded.
Lex finally gave in and allowed himself to laugh at his friend. Some things did indeed never change. But it was a good thing others seemed to do. Deciding to let it go for now, he switched the topic to spare his friend death by mortification. "Well this new development might change my plans. I wanted to ask if you want to accompany me to the BMW exhibition next Saturday, but if..." he let the sentence dangle, giving Clark an option to shift the subject one way or another.
"I'll need to check my plans," Clark said. "But I'd like to. Let's say a tentative yes?" He was still hesitant, not sure how far is too far.
Lex nodded, accepting the answer as it was. He'd get the tickets to the exhibition just in case. If Clark decided to decline later, they'd just have to stay unused. Somehow this day looked a bit better than it did waking up.
"Alright, you can call me when you know for sure."
He took a look at his watch and realized he'd already been here longer than he expected. If he didn't make his way back to the towers now, he'd be late for the conference he'd precariously scheduled for an hour after his meeting with Clark.
"And on that note, I'm afraid I'll have to leave."
"Okay. I'll call you soon," Clark said. He was cautiously optimistic. This was the best time he'd spent with Lex since...well, since before the asylum, really, not that he wanted to think too much about that. "And I really enjoyed this time, Lex."
He gave another smirk, nodding in agreement. "I did, too, Clark. In any case, I'll see you soon."
He got up and left the coffee house, mulling over the fact that this was the first time he'd managed to get beyond the uncomfortable silence of unspoken words in the room. But Rome wasn't built in one day and there was still a long way to go. He wasn’t sure yet how far he even wanted to go. For now, he decided to go back to LexCorp Towers and do what the world paid him to do. Be a leader and show people how to tie their fucking shoelaces without his help or supervision.
Clark finished his coffee, watching Lex leave. It was a start. A small one, but it was a good one. He had hope, for the first time in a very long time, and it felt good.