by Pares

The leaves are wet and slip under his feet. It wasn't unlike walking on a scattered deck of playing cards. The shoes are handmade, the leather as thin and tough as the leaves, the soles slick as glass.

He wonders how much America's Funniest Home Videos would pay for a film of one billionaire scion falling on his ass in a five thousand dollar coat.

Fat gray clouds shoulder past the sun, but the threat of rain doesn't seem to bother Clark.

He's raking leaves, and if Lex was closer, he'd be trying to talk himself out of eyeing the kid's ass. But as it is, he just tucks his gloved hands in his pockets and concentrates on not falling down.

The daylight's tapering into silvery twilight, helped along by an overcast sky.

In his pocket, he can feel the three crisp pages, folded into an even rectangle.

Before he can call out, Clark turns around and grins, leaning on his rake.

"The pile's not high enough to jump in yet."

Lex isn't sure how he wants to do this yet, so he goes with his instincts and arches one eyebrow.

"Clark, I'd like to introduce you to my five thousand dollar leather duster. And you'd like to introduce me to... your pile of wet leaves."

Clark's grin gets a little sly. He is, after all, only 15 years old. Lex wonders how many times he's come within inches of getting a noogie. It wasn't as if Clark didn't have 6 inches and 30 pounds on him.

Lex almost blinked.

But that would have been a sign of weakness, and as much as he... liked Clark, he wasn't in the mood for a handful of wet leaves being stuffed down the back of his shirt.

"And as much as I appreciate the offer, I'm here on business."

Clark's open expression is immediately wary.

"You want to change Sunday's order? We've got the new apples--"

"Nothing like that. It's not... that kind of business."

Clark looks confused and Lex can hardly blame him. Who else but a Luthor would make an act of friendship a transaction?

A confession of love a business deal?

Although until that moment, Lex hadn't thought of the papers in his pocket in quite those terms.



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