The TV cameras were there.  Lionel Luthor hugged his son, big smile on his face.  He was the perfect image of the proud father.  Lex had saved the kids, he had saved Earl, and he had saved Luthor’s reputation in Smallville.  But Lex knew the truth; he could feel it in the cold embrace.  Lionel was upset and disappointed that Lex had acted emotionally.  The outcome wasn’t important.


Lex’s eyes rested on the Kent family.  Martha and Jonathan were hugging and kissing Clark with a love that Lex had seldom experienced.  He wished for a moment that he were a simple kid from Kansas, with loving parents and caring friends. Well, at least he had one caring friend.


Lex was still watching them when Clark moved away from his parents’ arms.  He could see Mr. Kent trying to stop his son.  Lex smiled, not even a moving train could stop Clark when he had that resolute expression on his face.


Lex used this opportunity to get away from his father.  A snake was warmer than those arms around him.  Lionel grabbed him closer, before letting go.  A Luthor never wastes the opportunity for good P.R.  Lex ignored the stare he got from his father and moved toward his friend.


"Clark." Lex wanted to touch his friend, needing to reassure himself of his well-being.  "Is
everything all right?"

"No," was the abrupt answer.  Then, without notice, he found himself surrounded by strong arms.  This was a true embrace.  Lex could feel the love and warmth.  He almost wished that Clark hadn’t chosen this very public moment to display his affection, but dismissed the idea quickly.


The next words made him freeze. "You scared the heck out of me, Lex.  Why did you do something so stupid?"  Those were his father words, minus the heck part, of course.  They all thought that he was a stupid, irrational boy.  No one understood why he was willing to make such a sacrifice.


Lex answered angrily.  He had hoped that at least Clark would appreciate his gesture.  "Gee, you're welcome, Clark, for getting Earl to release your classmates before everyone blew up.  Have you been taking parenting lessons from my father?" He tried to pull away from that embrace, but strong arms kept him close.  Then, Clark spoke again.  Simple words, but the tone betrayed the deep feelings.  "You were almost killed!"

Lex spoke without thinking and before he knew he told Clark the reason he went in.  Lex wanted to keep Clark safe.  He wanted to protect him, even if it meant his own life.  Of course, in the end, Clark saved him, not once, but twice in a few hours. 


In the end, it didn’t matter who the hero really was.  One look at that smile on Clark’s face and all his fears disappeared.  Clark was fine; they were both okay.  That was the only important thing.  With that thought, Lex was back in control.  Nothing could shake him, not even his father.


Of course, there was one thing that he wanted to do before returning to the center stage: he wanted to see Clark blush.  It wasn’t too difficult either.  With Clark still in his arms, he just whispered a few words in the boy’s ear. "You do realize the entire state is watching on television and that our picture will be splashed on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow."

Clark moved away quickly.  Lex didn’t think he had ever seen such a shade of red.  A Santa’s suit was paler than Clark’s cheeks at the moment.  Lex couldn’t help but laugh at the sight.  He almost felt sorry when Clark left to go home, looking as if he wanted to disappear from the face of the earth.


After promising to go to the farm the next day, Lex’s thoughts moved away from his friend.  He would have loved to continue their discussion, but he had more important things to deal with, namely his father.

Lex decided that he was going to fight fire with fire.  He turned on his charme and began answering questions.  Soon, his father was forgotten and the spotlight was shining on him.  Lex could imagine the title in the next day’s news: ‘Lex Luthor saves teenagers’, ‘Lex Luthor helps sick employee’.

With his confidence back, Lex decided to go after his father and hurt him where it hurt the most: his wallet.


“And Luthor Corp. will create a team to investigate claims that our operation in Smallville is poisoning the land.  My father and I want the best for this town.”


The flash from the cameras almost blinded him at the last statement.  This was going to be big news in Smallville.  Lex should have cared more; he just got revenge against his father and he was going to be loved in this town.  He should have cared, but then he saw Clark staring at him, a big smile on his face, and nothing else mattered.


Not even his father pretending to hug him again.