Pairings/Characters: Lex/Clark, Lex/that other guy
Summary: Lex learns about trust and love from an unlikely source.
Notes/Warnings: we're getting closer to the clex, people!
Fair warning, dear readers—the mistakes here are all my own. Thanks to danceswithgary for her encouragement and of course, the lovely cover!
It's a tiny bit, yes, but soon…soon…the good porn!
I'm really glad that you liked the book I sent. I had a feeling you'd like Nancy Drew—she reminds me of you a little. Just don't let on I've been reading girls books. (smile) I'm glad Mom and Dad are well. Glad too the money came in handy. I wish I could do more.
Clark tapped his pencil against the lined sheet of paper in front of him distractedly…he'd been trying to write Hannah a letter for a couple of days now. The words just didn't seem to want to come. He worried about home—Hannah's letter mentioned the big factory on the edge of town had closed right before Christmas, and how money was a little tight at home right now. He put the pencil down, and spooned up the thick ice-cream floating in his shake; let it melt in his mouth as he turned his attention to the drugstore window.
Outside, an unseasonably warm end of January was melting the winter landscape—such as it was. Chunks of ice cascading to the streets filled the air with regular cracks and splashes. The melting ice sent water running down in a steady stream over the drugstore window, and the snow that had been lying in grimy drifts and hillocks on the sidewalks and in alleyways was now lakes of grey slush, that pedestrians and horses picked their way through carefully. It was supposed to be freezing still, not warm as spring but that was okay—the weather was topsy-turvy, just like his life. He ripped a chunk out of his hamburger, chased it down with a gulp of shake and turned his attention to his sister's letter. It lay open next to the one he was trying to write to her…he smoothed out the heavily creased sheet, a little grimy itself from being opened and folded and shoved from pocket to pocket. Looking at her familiar looped and swirling handwriting made him smile. He read again….
…Dad did manage to hire a new man to help out, and Mom's selling baked goods to some stores and restaurants downtown and that helps too. Now Clark, don’t you worry about a thing, this has nothing to do with you leaving, and it will get better soon. Things are looking up for Smallville. You'll see. Speaking of looking up, Monkey and I have been keeping the Fortress of Solitude for you, Doc. Whenever you come back home, you'll find it in perfect order. And if you ever feel like coming home, it's okay to do that. Mom and Dad do know that you had to find your fortune in the city. They're over that now, and they miss you. They send their love, I promise.
I'm real sorry that you and your girlfriend broke up, but I don’t know about this new girl you wrote about. She sounds like she could be trouble, pretty eyes or not. If she's got another guy on the line, you should avoid her. She can't date two guys at once, right?
He blushed a little at that part and apologized to Alex. It was just…easier that way. He put his pencil to paper and wrote.
--yes, I was sorry that Chloe and I broke up, but it wasn't working like it should have. It was not her fault, she's a great girl. We're still friends and we'll always care about each other but that's how it goes sometimes. She's so understanding that she's even trying to smooth the way between me and…
Who? He sighed, sketched in 'Alexa'. He erased it and put the pencil down…how did Alex do it? How did he just walk out and around and be—himself?
He'd promised Alex's friend that he'd look out for him and he'd thought he had a great plan to do so—one that involved lot of close contact, kissing, and hopefully more--but. Clark jammed the tip of the pencil into the tabletop in a fit of temper. He gasped, and looked around…slid his plate over the gouge in the wooden top—Damn it.
As plans went, Clark had to admit---his stank. Watching out for Alex depended on Alex being there to watch—and that wasn't working well at all. He groaned, and poked his straw around in his milkshake. The guy had been avoiding him like he owed him money. If it wasn't about the business of the band, Alex wasn't there. It was frustrating and—and—
A cough behind him made him freeze. Clark didn’t have to look to know who it was behind him. He smelled the familiar odd combination of expensive cologne, cheap soap and tobacco and underneath that…Alex, who at that moment was asking if he could sit, and looking at Clark in a peculiar way. Clark realized he'd been staring and maybe…sniffing a little.
"Oh, yeah, fine—I, um, was just leaving--" Clark swept the letters off the table and jammed them inside his jacket pocket.
Alex looked disappointed but smiled so quickly Clark wasn't sure if he'd imagined it, or hoped it. "I was in the mood for coffee and pie, but I didn't want to eat alone," he said, and shrugged the overcoat he'd started to remove back on, and resettled his hat.
"Oh. Pie?" Clark asked. "Well…pie…"
Alex smiled, and Clark felt the last bit of ice still surrounding his heart melt instantly. Alex ordered for them, and as the waitress walked away, casually said, "I just happened to be walking by the drugstore, and saw you here in the window, so I thought—fuck, Clark. I was looking for you. Wanted to talk to you. Have wanted to, but I was afraid. Didn’t want to be shot down. I—" He stopped and swallowed.
Clark tilted his head and said, "So…because you didn't want to be shot down, you decided not to talk to me at all? You'd rather kill something that's beginning than risk getting a black eye." he said, and it was a statement, not a question. It surprised him not at all, it was something he knew about Alex--how afraid he was of people.
"No, but I didn't expect you to get what happened." Alex flushed a deep red. Eyes glittering with anger, he grabbed his hat from where he'd dropped it on the bench, meaning to leave, but Clark was faster—he grabbed Alex's wrist.
"Lex—Alex—I'm not angry, not anymore. I just meant to point out the flaws in your plan…or your lack of one."
Alex let his head hit the back of the bench. "Clark…shit. Don’t try to understand me—I don’t get my self. Being me is like swimming upstream in an overcoat, most days.
The waitress interrupted them. "Here we are, sweetie," she said to Clark. "Two cups of coffee and two slices of pie. Apple. There you go!" She barely spared a glance at Alex before walking away, and Clark shrugged, the tips of his ears turning bright red.
"I come here a lot," he explained. Alex sipped his coffee without a word and smirked. "I do," Clark insisted. "She knows me—the cook knows me. It's just sometimes, I don’t feel like sitting in my room, which I've been doing a lot of especially since Chloe and Walt have found each other…so I come here, and write my letters, get my dinner and just watch the show in the street…" he trailed off as he looked out the window. "People. They can be so interesting," he said quietly.
Alex said, "You say that like you're not people," and he frowned when Clark dropped his head and turned red again.
"Well," Clark laughed softly. "I don’t mean that. I just like watching people doing—everyday things, I guess. Living life."
Alex leaned back and lit a cigarette, took a gulp of coffee and followed Clark's line of sight. "Yeah…it's not exactly average, this life of ours, hunh? Weird hours, weird people, booze and mezz and hot drama, hunh? Sometimes, I think we're all in some strange world that's sandwiched with the *real* one."
Clark smiled wider. "You sound like you read science fiction, Alex."
"Believe me," he said, "Science fiction's got nothing on me."
They ate in silence for a bit, sneaking looks at each other. Finally Alex said, "Listen Clark. I'd like to talk to you about…New Year's eve, but privately, if that's okay with you."
Clark stared down into his cup. "Yeah…I'd like to talk about that too."
"Well…good. Good. How about we get together tomorrow, at my place? We can…I'll make lunch. Or something."
Clark smiled, remembering Alex's apartment and his apparent lack of domestic skills. "Tell you what, how about I ask Frank for some sandwiches?" Clark chuckled. "If I'm not getting fed by Cookie and Sheila here, I'm getting fed by Frank and the crew there. What makes people think I'm hungry all the time?"
"Maybe because, you're hungry all the time?" Alex stood, he dropped his hat on his head, and tilted the brim back until the hat sat at the back of his head, and rolled his cigarette between his lips until it settled in the corner of his mouth. Clark watched all this with open-mouthed fascination. Alex winked and dropped a few bills on the table. "Here—my treat. 'Til tomorrow then, Clark."
He was gone before Clark could refuse the money. He counted the bills with a scowl. There was too much—what did Alex think he was, a bum? He shoved Alex's money in his pocket and paid for the coffees out of his own. Alex and he had a lot to talk about, that much was certain.