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"Clark, are you seeing what I should be seeing?" Lex swallowed convulsively at the sound of his own voice, or, rather, a voice that was definitely not his.

His face, wide-eyed and paler than it usually looked in the mirror, stared at him from the other side of the string of lights. Which was on, and sparkling, and at least that much had gone right.

"Lex, are you – did we –?"

He looked down, as a distraction from his voice's panicked babbling. Yes, that was flannel at his wrists, blue jeans on his legs, boots the size of terriers on his feet. The hands didn't look quite so big from this perspective.

Hallucination, caused by electrocution and meteor rock exposure? Or something else, caused by electrocution and meteor rock exposure?

He realized that he felt queasy, and was wobbling on his feet. It would not be good to go into shock out here in the cold. Around him, the pine trees the gardeners had transplanted from the Breyer farm to create a Christmasy feel glowed green in a distinctly uncomforting way.

Clark, always better at doing than talking, was clomping through the snow, heedless of the water damage to Lex's pants and shoes, grabbing Lex by the shoulders. "We've got to get out of here," he said.

He half-dragged Lex back towards the mansion, until Lex felt steady enough on his – on Clark's! – feet to walk unaided. He turned back, looking at the cheerily lit side of the front drive as if the Christmas lights themselves had betrayed him.

"It's freezing, Lex!" Clark complained, though he personally couldn't feel it through the other new and exciting messages from his senses. "Let's freak inside, okay?"

The sound of his own voice saying `freak' in that context nearly set him to hysterical giggling. Proof enough that Clark was absolutely right – inside first, panic next.

By the time they'd stomped through the snow back to the kitchen door, Lex had basically mastered the art of walking on bigger feet. He was pretty sure he'd be knocking things over for as long as this lasted.

In the kitchen, shaking the snow off of their shoes and clothes, they looked at each other – at themselves – in shared, stunned silence.

"Okay," Lex said at last, "I'm operating on the assumption that this isn't the result of yet another head injury or a relapse into better living through chemistry. But I must admit, that leaves me at a loss for explanations." Curious, he pushed back the cuff of his shirt and saw a sprinkling of black hairs, which twinged when he ran a finger against the direction of growth. Oh, and he was apparently right-handed now, which was another heaping helping of bizarre.

"Those Christmas trees were glowing when the electricity went crazy," Clark reminded him.

"Contrary to popular Smallville opinion, Clark, `meteor rocks' do not count as an explanation. The range of responses to meteor exposure is a mystery in itself, let alone any one specific physical reaction so far documented!" Lex managed to rein himself in before he started shouting. "This, this, doesn't defy scientific explanation so much as spit in its face and beat it bloody. And you were supposed to leave an hour ago if I hadn't talked you into helping with the lights," he added as that particular complication occurred to him.

"What are we going to do?" Clark asked. Lex didn't much like hearing himself whine.

"For the moment? I think I'm going to the Kent farm, and you're going upstairs to a very nice bedroom."

"But – I have chores, in the morning."

"So come over to the farm – pick a car, any car – and show me how to do them."

Clark closed his eyes. "We'll have to start at four-thirty."

"Ante meridiem? How do you survive?"

"Usually things are a little easier."

Lex would believe that more readily if this weren't Smallville, where new and exciting ways to kill people (often, specifically, Lex) turned up like clockwork. Except during the summer hiatus of blessed memory. He missed summer.

"Fine, you come by at four-thirty and, while we do chores, I will explain to you how to fake it at the plant."

"Oh God," Clark said, obviously realizing only now that he had to be Lex Luthor for an undetermined period. It was going to be rough, for a kid who wanted only to blend into the background and hated to be disliked.

"Everything will be fine, Clark. I promise. What the meteor rocks can do, they can undo." He wasn't convinced of that, but both of them needed some reason not to go completely psychotic, and false hope would do as well as anything else.

Clark scrunched his face – Lex hoped he never looked that confused in ordinary life – and considered this, then nodded decisively. "Okay. We'll talk about it in the morning."

He was gratified, but a bit nonplussed. Maybe Smallville's appetite for the uncanny had simply deadened Clark to the absolute insanity of their predicament. Or maybe Clark really was the ultimate optimist.

Either way, Lex would have to be the one to think their way out of this. As much as he liked Clark, which was roughly as much as he liked breathing, he wanted his own life back. The one with the money, and the cars, and the absence of high school drama except for vicarious enjoyment.

Four-thirty? He'd be lucky if he got to sleep before then.

"Fine. Give me your – never mind," he said as he realized that the keys to the Kents' truck were still in Clark's jeans, which he was now wearing.

"Try not to wake my parents," Clark warned. "Mom might be waiting up. Just say you're sorry and that you got caught up helping with the Christmas trees."

Clark knew that half-truths were better than lies, because they were easier to remember. Lex couldn't help but wonder how Clark gained that knowledge. He turned away, hiding his expression as he realized that he might now have the opportunity to figure out some of Clark's secrets.

"You know the way to my bedroom, right?" he asked, heading out. He heard Clark's soft assent just before he closed the door.

Pausing outside the kitchen, Lex looked up at the night sky. Clark's vision was better than his, and the usual scissors-sharp clarity of the rural nightscape was even more glorious. The stars shone so brightly that it was easy to remember that they were all full-sized suns, some with their own planets, a few possibly even weirder than this one.

His breath condensed in front of his face, but he didn't feel cold.

He felt like Icarus, standing on the brink of a great chasm, ready to fly. But this time, he wasn't going to get too close to the sun. He was going to learn what it was like to have wings, and then he was going to return to earth.

It was a stalker's wet dream, to be so far united with the object of his dark affections as to actually inhabit his body. Obsessed much? Sure, but was that supposed to bother him?

Smiling slightly, Lex headed to the Kents' truck, which was a black bulk against the snow. He wasn't sure he'd ever driven a vehicle of which one had to ask not how fast it went from zero to sixty, but whether it could wheeze up to sixty at all.

The ride to the Kent farm was easy, despite the size and sluggishness of the truck. The roads had been sanded and mostly cleared of snow by earlier traffic, and no one else was about this late at night. He wondered what Clark was thinking, whether he was repelled by the freakish new body in which he was trapped. The experience was likely to add to Clark's knowledge of the profound differences between them, the ultimate unsustainability of their friendship. When Clark saw what it was to be a Luthor, he'd know why Lex didn't have friends.

Think of it as extra incentive to reverse this condition quickly.

The next day was Thursday, which meant two days of high school before he could start researching their switch full-time. That would be a special joy. As a corollary, Clark-as-Lex would have to attend the plant Christmas party on Friday afternoon. And, fuck and damn, the LuthorCorp Christmas party in Metropolis on Friday night.

All considered, he'd rather have a different opportunity to learn Clark's secrets.

He pulled the truck into its spot by the barn and remembered to leave it unlocked. He'd never get used to the trust that clouded the Kents' minds.

As Clark had suspected, Martha Kent was in the kitchen waiting for him, reading through a sheaf of LuthorCorp reports. He wouldn't mind going through those himself, if he could manage it.

Lex opened his mouth to say hello, and then reconsidered. He was already too approval-seeking when it came to Martha, and this was only going to make it worse. But it had to be done, at least this once. "Hi, Mom."

"Hi, honey. You're late," she said without looking up, only a hint of disapproval in her tone.

"I'm sorry. Lex wanted to decorate the Christmas trees at the castle, only it turns out there are about a hundred of them, so it took longer than I thought."

Martha sighed. "I know Lex is your friend, Clark, but you have to be more responsible. I was worried. You could have called my cellphone to let me know you'd be late; that wouldn't have woken your father."

"I'm sorry," he said again, feeling like a heel. He should have told Clark to call as soon as the tree-decorating ruse had succeeded.

"It's all right," she said, rising from the kitchen table. "I needed to read these anyway. But don't let it happen again, okay?"

He nodded as Martha crossed the room and embraced him. She kissed his cheek, then pulled back to examine him. His hands raised, and he wasn't sure whether it was to push her away or squeeze her tight. The look on her face was distant, evaluative, and he swallowed his fear that she'd somehow noticed that he wasn't who he appeared to be. "You're growing up so fast," she whispered. "Leaving us behind."

Lex swallowed around the obstruction in his throat. "No, I'm not. I'd never leave you behind." He could speak for Clark in this, he knew. Tentatively, he put his arms around her and tried to relax. Clark got this every day. Was it so bad to take a little for himself?

"I know," she whispered. He could feel the heat of her cheek through the layers of his shirts. "I'm just being a silly old lady."

"Nonsense," he said with real heat, and she looked up at him, surprised. "You're being a beautiful, accomplished, wonderful mother." He took her hand and pressed a kiss into it. "And I'm going to bed."

He left her smiling after him and hurried up the stairs, wincing when he hit a noisy board.

He'd never actually been upstairs at the Kents' before, but the bathroom door was ajar, which simplified matters considerably. Even better, there was an ancient toothbrush holder with "Mom," "Dad," and "Clark" written underneath the appropriate holes, and he used Clark's brush. The toothpaste seemed different, smoother somehow, but that was probably just a brand difference.

Lex looked at Clark's serious, pretty face as he brushed, careful to reach back and get all the teeth as he was sure Clark would.

Oh, what the hell. He spit and raised his head so he could wag a disapproving finger at Clark's reflection. "Don't do that," he lectured softly. "Because it's wrong." He tried to keep frowning, but ended up just swallowing his laughter.

He noticed the hamper in the corner and wondered what Clark's sleeping attire ordinarily was. Well, a T-shirt and boxers were probably safe. He stripped off the flannel overshirt and jeans, then hesitated and put only the shirt in the hamper. Jeans didn't have to be washed every day. Or so he thought.

Sticking his head out into the hall, he didn't see anyone, so he left the bathroom and tried to figure out which door led to Clark's bedroom. He really didn't want to explain to Jonathan Kent why he'd barged into the master bedroom at eleven at night. Finally, he noticed small nailholes in one door, where a sign for a young boy's bedroom might once have been before it became uncool, and he took a gamble.

He knew he was right when the door opened only halfway before catching up against something. The something turned out to be a pile of clothes, as he discovered when he stepped fully into Clark's bedroom. The moonlight, and the snow reflecting it outside, was bright enough to let him see Clark's single bed, his paper-encrusted desk, and the loose clothes scattered around the floor like clumps of dirt after a gopher infestation.

The jeans looked comfortable on one of the larger piles. Lex was amused to see that Martha Kent's influence had led Clark to make his bed, down to the neat hospital corners, even while the rest of the room was devolving into primal teenage sludge. He pulled back the covers and got into the tiny bed, feeling the cheap mattress sag and bulge underneath him.

Clark really was from a different world, he reflected as he tried to get comfortable, knowing that he was coming perilously close to the behavior of the princess objecting to the pea under her featherbeds. Funny how his father, who had a horror of emotional coddling, had never forced him to rough it in any physical way. It might have something to do with the puny, ex-pudgy child who'd emerged after the meteor shower, sickly-looking and bruised from nearly a year of tests. Lionel might have thought that a physically weak son needed mental toughening more than anything else.

Or he might have had completely different motives. Analyzing his father's behavior had never been a productive endeavor.

His head felt different. It took him a few moments to realize that it wasn't the cheap cotton of the pillowcase. It was the hair, protecting his scalp from direct contact with said cotton. Like another cushion, another shield from the world he'd lost too early.

Lex stared up at the deformed ceiling – had Clark repeatedly bounced basketballs off of it, or what? There were actual dents, not just the usual cracking as a building settled with age.

Wake-up's at four-fifteen, Lex. Try to get some sleep.

Which reminded him to turn to Clark's night table and check the alarm clock. It was set for 7:15. This was a datum for the `Clark Kent' file cabinet in his brain-attic. Even assuming Clark was allowing extra time for incompetence on his part, he thought that a 7:15 AM alarm was a little anomalous.

He was never going to get to sleep. Not wired like this, not that anyone could blame him. The bed smelled like Clark, cheap soap and hay and something almost bitter.

There was one way to relax a bit.

Clark wouldn't have to know.

As he'd hoped, there were both tissues and lotion in the night table drawer. That was enough like permission to satisfy Lex.

This switch was his only chance to get up close and personal with Clark's body (Lord knows not everybody has a body like yours, he thought). He might as well do it right. He stripped off Clark's blue T-shirt and examined his body in the cool moonlight. Solid, well-defined arms, the curves of the biceps and triceps better than poetry, better than getting the reaction to precipitate right after thirty hours of trying. Chest like an advertisement for the Farm-Life Gym, firm pecs and hard nipples rising under his exploring fingers. Warm skin, and he could barely stand the way he reacted to fingertips teasing the small whorls of hair around his nipples. It was almost irritating, and exquisitely arousing. Tight, toned abs around a line of hair leading down under his boxers. Lex lifted his hips and solved that problem.

Well, hello, there, big boy. His cock jumped, returning the friendly greeting. The way the foreskin rubbed against the head when he touched it was another new sensation, and a wonderful one at that. The erection was warm and solid in his hand as he pumped a few times, then reached for the lotion, warming it for a moment in his hands before he reached down and reacquainted himself with his favorite new toy.

He closed his eyes and imagined himself jacking Clark off, imagined enthusiastic reciprocation. Clark's hand on his stomach, stroking as the muscles fluttered beneath the skin. His hand, rolling Clark's balls between his fingers. Clark's mouth, hot as the rest of him, on his neck, biting at his collarbone, traveling down his chest.

He had to stuff a fist in his mouth to silence himself as he came, hips pumping against air, riding the tidal wave of pleasure.

Lex let his hands fall to his sides with a sigh, accidentally slamming one shoulder against the night table. There was a loud crack, and he sat upright in the bed, hoping the Kents hadn't heard.

When he looked over at the table, it was sagging. Closer inspection revealed that the nearer two metal legs had bent, causing the table to tilt as if it were bowing to Lex. The alarm clock was slowly sliding off, so Lex quickly cleaned himself and then put the clock on the floor. The box of tissues and lotion went back into the drawer, which was intact though listing to one side.

His shoulder wasn't even stinging from the impact.

Testing a theory, he reached out and grabbed the table leg at the bend.

It looked to be solid iron, and it bent like taffy when he pulled it straight. The other leg was even easier. He hadn't gotten them quite equal in length; there was a new instability in the table that he fixed with some cardboard torn from the box of tissues.

The goal of relaxation had been achieved only briefly. But he'd confirmed a long-held suspicion, and that felt almost as good as the orgasm had.

When this was over, he and Clark were going to have a conversation. Possibly a loud one. Objects might get thrown, as his mother had been known to do when Lionel had done something particularly declasse. In his dream world, the violence of the conflict would have a direct relationship to the passion of the reconciliation. Reality would probably be less pleasant, but at least he'd know what Clark's friendship meant. In any event, they'd be freed from the cycle of innuendo and denial in which they'd been stuck for over a year.

Just think, Lionel had meant Smallville as a punishment.

Clark examined Lex's bathroom, which was larger than his house's kitchen, with trepidation. There were bottles and jars of things that Lex probably used, but with his luck he'd use them in the wrong places and wind up with a noticeable rash. Then Lex would be all over him for abusing borrowed property.

At least there was a recognizable toothbrush, with toothpaste waiting next to it. He brushed his teeth, staring at the mirror as he did so and watching Lex's face contort around the toothbrush. After he finished, he continued looking at his reflection.

After a brief look around as if someone might be watching, he opened his mouth wide, sucked in his cheeks, crossed his eyes and otherwise played with his new face. He had to stop several times to double over with laughter, but the fun was well worth the unfamiliar ache in his unfamiliar stomach. He scrunched his nose, pursed his lips, raised his eyebrows and winked; he grinned wickedly, scowled, and poked himself in the cheek; he pulled at the skin around his eyes until they were slanted and narrow, leered, and stuck out his tongue.

Lex, he decided, didn't have nearly as many expressions as his face did. Lex tried to hide, even though in Clark's opinion he wasn't all that good at it. He'd clearly never been taught that it took more muscles to frown than to smile. Or maybe he had, and thought the exercise was good for him.

Okay, now he just needed to pee and get undressed.

He stopped halfway to the toilet. In his own bathroom, all he'd have had to do would be to turn around, and he wouldn't have had time to consider what was about to happen. But if he'd been in his own bathroom, the problem would never have existed in the first place.

Calm down, Kent, he told himself. I'm sure Lex isn't having any trouble handling your equipment.

Strangely, that thought was not as reassuring as it should have been.

He forced himself to finish the journey to the toilet and raise the lid.

Okay. Careful observation in the boys' locker room had clarified that he was physically indistinguishable from human guys. There was nothing to worry about. This wasn't rocket science, where Lex really would have had an advantage.

Still, his hands hesitated on Lex's belt.

You're kind of choiceless here, he reminded himself. He fumbled the belt open, then the fly.

After all the buildup, it was almost disappointing that Lex's dick looked almost exactly like his, except for the missing foreskin, and worked the same, at least after waiting a minute for the shyness to dissipate. Using his left hand was also weird, but worked fine as long as he didn't think about it. It wasn't, he thought as he finished up and went to wash his hands, as if he hadn't seen Pete naked. So his hesitance wasn't about modesty among friends.

Now he had to find pajamas. Oh God, what if Lex slept in the nude? It would be Lexlike. Better stick with underwear.

After an initial period in which he tried to use his X-ray vision to scan until he realized why that wasn't working, physical exploration revealed no hampers. He did, however, find Lex's suit jacket tossed across a stool in what seemed to be a dressing room, so he left the tie, French-cuffed shirt and pants (which turned out to have a stealthy extra button on the inside that he almost tore off before discovering) on top of the jacket. The cufflinks went on a dressing table, next to a scattering of others. He left Lex's mom's watch there too. He'd wear something else in the morning. It wasn't his watch, in a deeper way than the rest of the stuff wasn't his.

Lex hadn't been wearing an undershirt, and he was chilly in just – jeez, were those boxer-briefs silk? They certainly were smooth against his vulnerable skin. He looked down and noticed that Lex didn't seem to have any hair anywhere. Not on his chest, his stomach, his underarms, or his legs. It was all smooth, pale skin dotted with occasional freckles over long, lean muscles.

There was a full-length mirror in the dressing room, and Clark examined Lex's body carefully. Funny, he never thought about it, but Lex worked out a lot, and ran himself hard. You wouldn't think it to look at him, maybe because he never wore T-shirts or shorts or even tight jeans. In a fair fight, Lex could probably have given Whitney a hard time. Not that Lex was likely to fight fair, which was part of the point of hiding, he guessed. Too bad that, in Smallville, being strong for a normal guy wasn't as useful as it was elsewhere.

And too bad that Lex hadn't gotten extra strength from the meteors along with baldness and fast healing. Oh, Lex had never said it outright, but his bruises, burns, cracked ribs and other assorted injuries had all disappeared faster than they should have. Clark was grateful for that, but Lex wouldn't have needed that ability so much if it weren't for Clark and the meteors, so it was kind of a wash.

Clark sometimes wondered what Lex thought of the fact that he didn't scar any more. He didn't have a scar from where he'd been stabbed at Club Zero, not one on his body, and maybe that made the ones in his head worse. The same with Desiree, and probably a lot of other incidents, if Lex's offhand comments were any guide.

Because of the healing thing, Lex's body was a lot safer than Clark's had been when he'd lost his powers to Eric. In retrospect, Clark was grateful for the incident, both because he'd learned more about his obligations to the world and because he'd gotten his powers back. This was a similar thing, and therefore it could be reversed just like the switch with Eric. Especially with Lex working on it.

Clark had been standing, daydreaming, for so long that he was starting to shiver. He should get to bed. As he was turning towards the door to the bedroom, however, he realized that the hairlessness hypothesis had not been entirely confirmed, as Lex would have said.

You're going to have to shower tomorrow morning – a few hours from now – anyway, he rationalized. Before he lost his nerve, he grabbed his waistband and tugged it out and down.

Bare as the rest of him. He let the elastic snap back into place, and winced at the sting. He had to be more careful with Lex's body.

Heading back into Lex's bedroom, Clark saw that one side of the bed looked slightly more used than the other three or so acres. A lamp, a digital alarm clock, a book, a box of tissues, and a few pill bottles were on a small table there. He turned on the lamp and then trudged back to the light switch by the far door to turn off the overhead lights. He was sure that Lex had a remote control to spare himself the transatlantic-length journey back and forth, but he didn't want to waste time looking for it.

When he got into the bed, he spared a moment to check the title of the book. `A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,' it said. It sounded a lot like something Lex would say about some Smallville event, like the Fourth of July picnic.

He set the alarm and turned off the light, then laid back against Lex's expensive sheets. The pillowcase was slick against his head – his bald head, he realized again. The creamy sheets, soft as spider silk, hissed against his limbs as he shifted in the bed. He'd never noticed how hair insulated skin from a lot of sensations, or maybe this was a human thing, but the slowly warming sheets were like hands sliding all over his body.

The phantom hands had their natural effect, and Clark felt his body stir with interest.

No, no, no, no. Also, no. This was wrong beyond standard-issue wrongness. Above and beyond the call of wrong.

The sheets tangled around his thighs, feeling almost liquid as they brushed against his skin.

He was the only one here – in the castle and in Lex's body, both. Who would it hurt? It was normal and natural. Even his dad had said so, in that indirect and embarrassed way when they'd had the talk about girls and being careful and a boy's best friend sometimes being himself. It was safe, safer than touching anyone or anything else because he couldn't break himself, and sometimes it felt like the only good thing in his life. It wouldn't hurt Lex. He'd never hurt Lex.

Clark brushed his left hand down the soft skin of his stomach, smoother and softer than the sheets, and pushed his underwear down. Trailing his fingers across his dick, he was amazed at the slow, inexorable rise of his erection, not much like the sudden hardness that he ordinarily got (often at the worst possible times). His vocabulary was inadequate to describe the swelling, twisting pleasure of it. He could feel his pulse pounding all over his body.

He swept his free hand over the line of his hip, pushing down on the hard line of bone until he gasped. He was sweating now as he grasped his dick more securely and began to move, sliding the delicate skin over the rigid flesh beneath. His thumb brushed against the naked head, bald just like the rest of Lex, and his hips surged involuntarily.

His fingers slipped over and between his thighs, searching for an inch of skin that wasn't fine and smooth and perfect. He could feel the orgasm building, coiling around his spine like a dragon. His panting breath was loud in the silent, dark room.

Clark brought his hand up to lick the palm, and the strange, salty taste of Lex's skin made him shudder. It was like being with another person, only not, and his wet hand resumed its frantic tugging, not caring any more if he hurt Lex's body. He brought his other hand up, tasting Lex, darker and more bitter than the taste of Jessie, or Lana, or Chloe.

And came with the force of a car exploding.

He lay gasping for several minutes before he had the strength to grab at the tissues and do some damage control. He could only hope Lex's staff would replace the sheets before they switched back. And that they wouldn't say mean things about Lex.

Lex, whose skin was like cream and who tasted like leather and wheat.

Oh, this is not good, he thought and fell asleep.

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