The Joke's On Pete
Today was going to be a great day.
Clark Kent smiled in anticipation as he unloaded his homework into his school locker. It was April first – April Fool’s Day – and time again for another battle in the ongoing annual joke war between him and Pete Ross.
Every year since the third grade, Clark and Pete had played April Fool’s jokes on each other. They started off simple: pepper gum, exploding cans of snakes, and glued quarters. As they grew older, their jokes became more complex and dirtier: stolen clothing from the locker during showers after gym, fake diaries passed around school, a teacher calling on only one of them for an entire class hour. The rules were: there weren’t any rules. Humiliation or frustration was the goal. Bribery and recruitment of others to assist were allowed, as was involving innocent bystanders unknowingly. It was left up to the victim to explain the April Fool’s gag and take any punishment that resulted.
Clark had a great frustration gag for Pete this year. It had taken a lot of preparation and twenty bucks for each of Pete’s locker neighbors to set up, but it would be so worth it.
Normally, Pete had locker number 682, Bobby had 681, and Zach had 683. Today, however, during first hour, Clark excused himself from class on a bathroom pass and, armed with locker combinations and superspeed, switched the contents of lockers so that Pete’s things were in 681, Zach’s were in 682, and Bobby’s were in 683. Carefully, Clark bent the hook on the three lockers so they didn’t latch, stuck a piece of electrical tape over the latch-hole on locker 682, closed the locker, and returned to class.
As anticipated, Pete went to his locker to exchange his books after second hour. Clark spied on Pete from a distance, watching as Pete used his combination and opened locker number 682, only to find that his things weren’t inside. His face was a study in total confusion until Zach ambled along, as planned, and questioned Pete.
"Dude, why are you in my locker?"
"Er, sorry," Pete said, frowning as he moved to locker 681. Tentatively, he used his combination and the locker opened to reveal his belongings. He glanced over at locker 682, spotted the tape on the latch, shook his head, and retrieved his books for the next class.
Clark knew Pete’s schedule by heart, and he was watching again after fourth period, as Pete went automatically to locker 682. Clark sniggered when he saw Pete pause, open locker 682, spot Zach’s things, close the locker door, and use his combination to open locker 681.
During fourth hour, Clark tried not to grin devilishly when he asked to use the bathroom pass.
Lunch came, and Pete went back to his locker under Clark’s distant eye. Clark got odd looks from those around him when he giggled. Pete checked the locker number carefully before opening number 681, only to find his belongings weren’t in there. Cue Bobby.
"Hey, what’s going on? Get out of my locker, man."
Pete blinked in confusion, used his combination on locker 682, opened the door, and found his things in the locker. He glanced at locker 681. "Bobby, why did my combination open your locker?"
"The latch is broken," Bobby answered. He gave Pete a narrow-eyed look. "If I find anything missing, you know who I’m going after first, right?"
"Yeah, man. I didn’t touch anything."
"Good." Bobby shut his locker door and strode away.
Pete scratched his chin, reached over, and opened locker 683. He saw the tape over the latch and Zach’s things inside. He closed Zach’s locker, his own locker, and said loudly to himself, "Caffeine. I need caffeine."
Clark would deny skipping down the hall during sixth hour to Pete’s locker.
Zach was at locker number 682 when Pete arrived after sixth hour. Pete stared at Zach and then at locker number 681 for a long moment before using his combination and opening it. His things were inside. He reached over and tried to open locker 680. It didn’t open. Clark knew Pete was catching on.
Near the end of the last class of the day, Clark ditched out of study hall, put everyone’s lockers back in order, fixed the latches, stuck a note on the outside of Pete’s locker door that read: "Where’s Pete’s Locker?" and escaped school early with a maniacal cackle.
Munching on a candy bar, Clark headed directly for Lex Luthor’s castle-in-the-corn. Since Pete hadn’t pulled a joke on him at school, he bet his parents had gotten roped into helping Pete and wanted to avoid them for as long as possible. He was safe at least until dinnertime without needing to call home to tell his parents where he was.
"Hey, Lex," Clark greeted, folding the top of the uneaten portion of the candy bar wrapper and sticking it in the front pocket of his flannel shirt, as he wandered into Lex’s office without invitation. None was needed, for Clark was always welcome. He tossed his coat and backpack on the usual chair in front of Lex’s desk.
Lex had been seated behind his glass-toped desk, the fire in the fireplace crackling warmly behind him, but he rose with an unfamiliar smile on his face and rounded the desk towards Clark. Lex was wearing white today, the dress shirt unbuttoned at the collar and tucked into charcoal gray trousers. He made Clark feel grubby in worn jeans, blue t-shirt, and red flannel.
"Clark, hi," Lex said, an oddly soft note in his voice that went with the smile – a sort of joyful-shy quirk of his lips that Clark had never seen before.
"Are you happy about something?" Clark ventured a guess, looking down slightly as Lex stopped right in front of him.
"More than," Lex answered, his steel blue eyes alight with pure emotion. Without warning, he slid his hand behind Clark’s neck and pulled Clark into a kiss.
Clark was frozen, eyes open wide, as Lex’s lips brushed against his own. He was completely, totally, utterly, and wholly surprised. He didn’t move, his brain scrambling to decipher what was happening.
Lex brushed his lips against Clark’s again, and then pressed his mouth firmly over Clark’s. He exhaled shakily through his nose, his breath hot on Clark’s upper lip.
Instantly, Clark felt as though he’d been shot point blank in the chest. The floor shifted beneath his feet, and he wrapped his arms around Lex for balance and support as his knees wobbled. It was a good thing Lex knew mouth-to-mouth, because Clark could no longer breathe.
Lex’s mouth moved back and fourth over Clark’s, drawing Clark into the kiss. Clark’s heart hammered loudly, kicking up speed when Lex’s tongue slipped between Clark’s lips and swept against his own. Clark made a noise deep in his chest and learned that the phrase "weak in the knees" wasn’t just a saying.
The kiss broke as Clark collapsed back against the arm of the chair where he’d tossed his belongings. The chair screeched along the floor, jarred by Clark’s sudden weight. It started to tip and Clark threw his hand backwards to catch himself.
Lex’s husky chuckle at Clark’s precarious balance caused a tingle along Clark’s spine. Clark cleared his throat, cheeks pink, released Lex, and settled properly in the chair after dumping his coat and backpack onto the floor. He cleared his throat again, trying to meet Lex’s gaze. "Youkissedme."
Lex laughed, leaning against the desk in front of Clark. "What?"
Clark licked his lips and rubbed them together, still feeling Lex’s kiss. "You kissed me."
"I did." Lex’s eyes crinkled in the corners with his smile. "I plan to do it again, too, in a few seconds."
Clark blinked dumbly at him.
Lex’s smile grew larger. He stepped forward between Clark’s knees, caught Clark’s face between his hands, and whispered, "I never though you’d feel the same as I do." He lowered his head and captured Clark’s mouth in another kiss.
Clark’s toes curled – his toes literally curled – in his boots the instant Lex’s lips touched his own. Lana never made his toes curl. Chloe hadn’t made his toes curl, either. Nor had Tina disguised as Lana, or tipsy Linda at the party last year, or being kissed on the cheek by Pete. Pete.
It hit Clark like a bucket of ice water. This was Pete’s April Fool’s joke. It had to be. Somehow, he’d gotten Lex to kiss Clark, and Clark had a sinking feeling Lex was a bystander, not a paid participant.
Clark grabbed Lex’s hands, pulled them from his face, and broke the kiss. Lex’s pale lashes fluttered as he opened his eyes and his languid gaze focused on Clark. Joy and desire lit the blue-gray orbs from within, making Lex’s eyes shine brightly.
Clark felt a lowdown tickle. He liked the look in Lex’s eyes a lot. It was so rare to see Lex truly happy, and Clark was about to destroy it, if what he surmised was correct.
"Lex, it’s imperative that you tell me the truth," Clark said, a hint of dread in his voice. "Did Pete put you up to this in any way?"
"Pete?" Confusion washed over Lex’s features, giving Clark his answer.
Clark cursed silently, damning Pete to an eternity of datelessness. He’d been right: Lex was an innocent casualty in the joke war.
Clark thought fast. Whatever Pete had done had prompted Lex to kiss Clark out of the blue. Clark may have had sticky dreams once or twice about Lex – which was normal, he’d read – but he’d never consciously imagined kissing Lex. Considering his reaction, he should have been fantasizing about Lex all along.
"Go out with me Friday night," Clark said, releasing Lex’s hands to trap him instead around the waist.
"Are you asking me on a date?" Lex said with amusement, playing with the collar of Clark’s red flannel.
"Yes." Sure, Clark had never been interested in guys, but
successful relationships were based on close friendship and physical chemistry.
He and Lex most definitely had both. "We’ll go to a movie and for coffee
The corners of Lex’s mouth curled up. "Okay. It’s a date."
"One we’re not going to keep secret, either," Clark stated. If he was going to pursue something romantic with Lex, he was not going to be ashamed of it. Lex didn’t deserve that sort of treatment, whether they were just friends or something more. "I’m not naVve. I know there’ll be problems and repercussions, even though I’m eighteen. My dad’s going to flip, and who knows how your dad’s going to react, but I’m not going to hide this, Lex. I hide enough of myself as it is."
Lex’s gaze sharpened immediately. Clark threw him a bone before he could say anything. "I live in Smallville, Lex, and you’ve… experienced the locals. Don’t ask, just accept non-explanations, and I won’t hide from you."
The wheel was visibly turning in Lex’s head, as he weighed, measured, and calculated the need to know everything versus what was being offered. "You’re asking me to trust you without trusting me in return."
Clark said nothing, just continued to steadily meet Lex’s eyes. He’d learned with Pete that the full truth endangered more than it was worth and trust had nothing to do with it. Pete now expected Clark to always save the day, took unnecessary risks, taunted the bad guys, and was occasionally kidnapped and used as bait by those bad guys Clark failed to stop during their first encounter. No, Clark would not divulge his origins or voice his abilities to anyone again.
But, as he’d told Lex – and demonstrated as Lex tried to step away and found he could not move – while Clark would not speak, he would not hide those abilities from Lex anymore.
Lex looked down at the arms around his waist, attempted to escape again with a bit more force, and failed. "If I didn’t know how you felt about me, and I didn’t equally care about you, I wouldn’t agree with your request."
Clark cringed inwardly. What Lex said implied that ‘Clark’ had professed liking Lex in a more-than-friendship manner. "Yeah, um, this is going to sound weird, but how did I tell you what ‘I’ felt?"
Lex’s brows pulled together in a frown. He plucked a folded piece of white notebook paper from his shirt pocket. Before he said anything, Clark shook his head.
"Don’t show me," Clark said. "If I know what it says, you’ll think I asked you on a date out of guilt and not because you turned me inside-out with a kiss."
"I’m not sure I understand," Lex said hesitantly.
"Do you know what today is?"
Clark was apologetic. "It’s April first. April Fool’s Day."
Clark heard the wall slam over Lex’s emotions, his eyes and face going perfectly blank. He tried to move away, but Clark wouldn’t let him go.
"Clark–" he began angrily.
"No," Clark interrupted. "You’re staying put until you hear
Lex stilled, his hands clenched, crushing the folded note. His gaze was icy as he stared down at Clark.
Clark took that as an indication to spill. He had one chance not to screw up something he hadn’t even known he wanted until today. "I didn’t write that note, Pete did, as part of our ongoing April Fool’s Day joke war."
"You set me up?"
"No!" Clark said immediately. "I didn’t know you got caught in the crossfire until you kissed me. Even then, it took a few minutes for my brain to de-mush to figure it out."
Lex’s left brow twitched upward. "’De-mush?’"
"Yeah." Clark felt a blush spread across his cheeks. "It’s not everyday that your best guy friend kisses you." He dropped his eyes and added, "Or that you find you like it more than any of the girls you’ve kissed. Tons more."
"So, my kissing you was a complete surprise," Lex said, "and you in no way feel the things written in this note."
"I don’t know what’s written in the note," Clark said. He peered up at Lex from beneath his lashes. "But I do know that I want to hook up with you, and that’s no April Fool’s joke."
Clark kept one arm around Lex’s waist, preventing him from leaving, and plucked the waded note from his hand. "This–," Clark held up the note, "–is a lie." He tossed it over Lex’s shoulder and the desk, and into the fire in the fireplace. "And this–," Clark straightened in the chair, curved his free hand around Lex’s skull, and urged him closer, until their mouths were a hairsbreadth apart, "–is the truth."
Clark closed the short distance between them, pressing his lips to Lex’s, his eyelids falling shut. He nipped at Lex’s lower lip before laving it in apology with his tongue. He hummed audibly as the world spun off its axis.
"Clark," Lex mumbled in breathy surrender against Clark’s mouth. Clark felt Lex’s strong fingers twine into his hair and his head angled. Lex slanted his mouth over Clark’s, deepening the kiss, his tongue thrusting between Clark’s lips. Clark met Lex’s tongue with his own, stroking, sliding, and snaking sensually around, until Clark sucked lightly and Lex mewled in the back of his throat.
The angle of the kiss changed again. Lex pressed Clark back into the chair, his knee on the seat between Clark’s legs. Heavy, shaky breathing filled the office, along with the wet rasp of mouths meeting, parting, and meeting once more.
Lex broke the kiss first, gulping in air inelegantly. His face and bare scalp were flushed with splotches of pink. His mouth was red, puffy, and moist. His eyes were glittering, hiding partially behind half-lowered eyelids. Clark’s adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed thickly. Lana who?
"You know," Lex said huskily, leaning over Clark. "I could have been humiliated by this joke war of yours. I think I deserve some restitution for my almost-pain."
Clark dipped his fingers in the pocket of his flannel and offered up his half-eaten candy bar from earlier. "Butterfinger?"
Lex burst out laughing, ruffling Clark’s hair as he straightened. "Dork."
Clark grinned goofily, returning from Planet Kiss, and chuckled when Lex snatched the candy bar. "I don’t see why I should pay you back," Clark said, as Lex settled against the desk across from him. "Pete’s the instigator."
"Ah, but Mr. Ross will get his when he learns we’re dating because of him." Lex bit vehemently into the Butterfinger. He grimaced. "Ow. How can you eat this? It’s like a chocolate-covered brick."
Clark clacked his teeth with an evil smile. Lex paused, thought a moment, blinked, and winced. "Remind me to teach you the proper way to give head when the time comes."
Clark blushed, Lex grinned, and the joke was on Pete. By trying to humiliate Clark, he instead succeeded in giving Clark the best gift ever.
Clark had been right: today was indeed a great day.