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"Clark, what part of stay out of this don't you understand?"

"Lex, please, don't..."

"No! I mean it, Clark. Don't even think about getting involved, it's too dangerous."

"Which means you need help, Lex."

Sceptically, "Your help?"

"I think so, yes."

Tilts head on one side, considering. "And would this be the point at which you decide you have remembered something else about the day you pulled me out of my car and saved my life?" Eyes narrow and his expression hardens as Clark ducks his head and won't meet his gaze. Laughs shortly. "No, I didn't think so. And, in that case, I don't need your help."

"Lex..."

"Stay out of this, Clark! I mean it. And just to keep things really simple for you, let me repeat... I don't need your help. I don't want it."

"Lex, you're my friend, I want to..."

Shakes head. "No, Clark, you're not my friend. Didn't your father tell you? Luthors don't have friends, only enemies... and people they use." Tight, hard smile. "Which category do you fall into?"

"Screw you, Lex!"

"Thanks for the offer, Clark, but you're a little young. Look me up when you've grown up a bit." Looks Clark up and down, deliberately blatant. "Maybe then..."

"Damn you!"

"Too late, Clark, someone got there ahead of you."

Smile turns brittle as Lex turns on his heel and strides away. Swallowing hard as he forces himself not to look back, not to see the expression he knows is on Clark's face. Because if he sees it he won't be able to keep himself from going back to wipe it away and then this damned farce will have been for nothing. And he's already hurting every bit as much as he's sure Clark is and Lex hates it, hates the circumstances that have brought him to this. But keeping Clark safe and free of the shit that's drowning Lex's life right now is what matters. And maybe when it's all over he'll let himself shed just a few tears for the destruction of the best friendship he ever had.

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