Lex looked at his glass of scotch. "It's better to reign in hell."
"What do you mean?" Clark put down his armload of vegetables and flowers.
"Clark! I didn't hear you." Lex turned around, his face brightening into a smile. It didn't quite reach his eyes.
"I could tell. How much have you had?"
Lex shrugged. Not enough. "I just told my father he could take his offer and..."
Clark stared, confused but happy. "It's what you wanted. It's what you've been talking about since you got here - how you were going to get your dad to take you back to Metropolis, see that you were...you know."
"Worthy?" Lex made the word sound like an insult. "I proved myself worthy. I was better than adequate, Clark. I just turned this plant around. I just posted the biggest profit ever, without cutting workers or quality. I was better than adequate, so Daddy says I can come home to be his 'special assistant.'"
"Lex. You're shaking." Clark walked over and put his hand on Lex's shoulder. "You're cold." He found himself stroking it, the way he'd done the night before. Lex leaned into it.
"I think. I think I just declared war on my father. I turned down his gift, I insulted him. My father is a very powerful man."
"I know that. So are you." Both hands now, stroking and calming and warming.
"Not yet. But I will be, Clark. I will show him how to be powerful. I will be Alexander to his Phillip. I will take this little kingdom he has bequeathed me, and I will use it." Lex looked up at Clark. His eyes glowed. "Will you help me?"
"Help you? How can I help you? I'm in high school." Clark's emotions churned.
"Be there for me. Be with me. Keep me doing the right thing. Be. My friend. Be more than my friend. If I have you by my side, Clark, I know it will be all right." His eyes still glowed, but there was desperation in his voice.
Clark bit his lips. "Whatever I can do. Whatever you need me to do, Lex. Or be. Let me help."
"Then let the war begin." Lex's words were brave, but he shook harder under Clark's hands, and, when Clark knelt beside him to draw him into his arms, Lex sobbed against Clark's shoulder, whispering apologies to his father.