Summary: Lex learns about trust and love from an unlikely source.
Notes/Warnings: AU, so very AU
Fair warning, dear readers—the mistakes here are all my own. Thanks to danceswithgary for her encouragement and of course, the lovely cover!
Omg, if you knew how this part made me bleed my own blood…
Morning made itself known, bit by bit…the sunlight that leaked around the shades was still dawn weak, but it was enough to pry Alex's eyes open. He stretched—he *tried* to stretch, but there was a weight pinning him to the mattress. An arm, a leg, a hip…a mop of damp black hair fanned over his chest…Clark was snoring, his cheek stuck to Alex's skin. He was hot, a furnace really, and Alex could feel little beads of sweat between them, rolling down his ribs and his neck, and Clark's body hair pricked and tickled him from chest to hip. It was hot in the little room, stuffy and close. The cheap sheets were sweat damp, he was sticky and he smelled. And he was happier than he'd ever been.
"Mmm, Lex, I can feel you're awake. Why aren't you sleeping?" Clark yawned, and unfolded more of himself across Lex.
"Because I'm being baked in a creaky little bed by a walking stove. And I'm sweating, and I stink--and how." He made a face, wrinkling his nose. "Get off!" He tried to swat Clark away when he made a sloppy attempt at kissing his nose.
Clark chuckled, "I'm glad to see you too…boy, are you hungry as I am? 'Cause I'm *starving*." Alex snorted at his tone of surprise---when was Clark not hungry? "Should I make something?" He asked and rolled to his back, and Alex almost regretted the loss of his heat. "I can make oatmeal, or toast…what do you want, Lex--coffee or tea?"
"I want you to heat the water again so that we can get cleaned up and dressed and get some real breakfast."
Clark pouted, but heated up the water again. "It's ready," he said to Alex with a mischievous smile--there was a brief blur, a little breeze and a fully dressed Clark was holding out a steaming towel with a smile.
"All reet," Alex breathed. "This…this is going to be the most interesting partnership in the history of the world."
Just before they left the room, Clark blurred out of sight again and when he came back, he was holding a pale yellow rosebud. He slipped it into Alex's button hole, kissed him on the cheek.
"Thank you, love, this is nice. Where did you get it from?" Alex asked, his fingertip flicking away the few drops of dew still on the petals.
"From…from…not here. Let's go eat, hunh?"
There were very few places that Alex felt an attachment to, very few people—but Anna's café was a place where he felt warm and comfortable and she had managed to endear herself to Alex by being very blatant in caring about him.
Sure enough as soon as they stepped over the threshold, Anna was there to greet them with open arms. Clark looked at him from the corner of his eye, a little smirk curving his mouth. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy the scolding Alex was getting.
"Where have you been in so long? I thought you abandon me for someone else? Naughty boy. And you look like you've eaten nothing since you came here last…thin as a stick, a crime. Sit, and I'll bring you a coffee and your handsome young man a café au lait, whipped cream on top. And he'll want an American breakfast am I right? We'll do two eggs for him, and extra bacon, of course. Alexander you will have the same." Not really a question, more of an order, Alex thought. He sat back and relaxed, smiling at an open mouthed Clark.
"You look a little overwhelmed," he said.
"Steamrollered is the word," Clark grinned. "What's a café au lait?"
Alex shrugged. "Coffee sweet, with milk, the way you like it. Clark, listen…I talked with my father recently. He asked me to come home, go into the business with him." He took a cigarette out of a sliver case, flipping it in his fingers, over and over. Clark watched him do it and waited patiently for Alex to speak…
Alex sighed. "Business…all that stuff, I never cared about it. What interested me as a child was science. I…was briefly interested in writing, but…" He jerked his shoulder in a not quite shrug. "Besides, Dad is still Dad, and I'm still me and…" He tapped the cigarette on the table, lips pressed into a thin, pale line.
"And you’re not sure if joining your dad is the right thing to do?" Clark studied him. "Science hunh? Not music? I'm surprised. The way you are about practice, performing…you work so hard, I just thought that music was a part of you."
"Well, there's no point in doing something unless you try to do it well…" Alex leaned back and lit the cigarette. "Truth, I got into it late—I picked it up here and there, hanging around the clubs way back when Dad kicked me out. I'm no more than adequate. It amazes me Walt hasn’t shown me the door yet."
"Are you kidding? You're kidding—you have to know how good you are—hey, Mac White invited you to blow with his band on stage—*you*, not Miller."
He shrugged carelessly. "I figured he did it to insult Miller, you know--not inviting him on stage in favor of a local."
"Alex. Don't do that. You know how good you are—and if you don’t than believe me when I tell you, you're better than good." Clark blushed and looked down, and they were both spared having to speak when one of the waiters swept up to their table with their orders. They watched his movements as if they'd never seen so fine a performance in their lives—they were both so intent on his actions that he finished off with a flourish and nearly a command to enjoy their breakfast.
Alex looked up first. "I dig that you love me and I love you back, you know that…I'm just. Damn. I admit I'm confused and I don’t handle confusion very well. It's--things have changed completely and so quickly and I'm not sure where I stand or what I should do…about anything. Do you have any idea how that feels Clark?"
"Hunh. I think I do." Clark took a quick sip of coffee, grinned uneasily. "I know that you want to have some kind of relationship with your family, especially your brother, and I guess I want that for you too but…think hard about joining with your dad. Bruce said something to me that I understand a little better now; he said that your freedom was a gift—"
"Bruce? He can go to hell for all I care."
"Lex, you—look, forget Bruce. Just think about this—you have to choose your own path, make your own decision. And having said that, I'm gonna ask you to choose me," Clark said, and flushed. "I'm not really helping any, am I?"
"Not really. But--I want to. Even though this thing we have here—it's almost as scary as meeting with my dad," Alex smiled wryly. "I don’t have any practice with—with being in love like this. The only other time I thought it was love, so many people got hurt…" Alex sighed. "Ah, shit. We'll talk about that some other day. It's not that big a deal."
Clark was staring at him again, his green eyes seemed to pin him to his seat. "It is a big deal, Lex, of all people I know how big a deal it is. How scary it is to let love in, mostly because of Whit…but you know, since then, I've met so many people who cared--Chloe, Walt, Pete, Willy…and Reggie, I'll have to tell you about him some day. I owe him a lot. He really looked out for me, brought me to Metropolis--" Clark stopped and stared at some distant point. "He was so sad. Like one day he'd just walked off the path and gave up on life."
Alex nodded, "Yeah, well…sometimes all it takes is a day, Clark. But he still cared enough to help you. That counts for something. And if he brought you here, than in a way I owe him too--he made it possible for us to meet, right?" Alex laughed, and blushed a bit. "Listen to me. Being around you turns me into a romantic sap."
Clark grinned. "I don’t mind. Not at all."
" Some things that happened for the first time
Seem to be happenin' again
And so it seems that we have met before,
And laughed before, and loved before,
But who knows where or when."
It was just about perfect. The last trembling note of When or Where died away, and when Clark opened his eyes he was almost surprised to see Chloe smiling at him, he'd felt Lex so strongly while he was singing. He could feel the smile on his own face and he knew how the two of them looked, the very picture of high school sweethearts. The audience ate it up, clapping and whistling as they swirled around the dance floor. Clark leaned in and kissed her cheek, she sparkled when she smiled, and dipped a little curtsy at the crowd.
The spots went from gold, to white, to blue, a signal that they were heading into the last set of the evening. Lex stalked towards the front of the stage, head down—he looked to be totally concentrated on what was to come.
The band swung into another tune, ready for Lex to take center stage. Lex tossed a quick look, a small smile on his lips that lit a little fire in Clark…a memory, so sharp that he almost gasped, filled him…sitting on Lex's bed, watching him lift the clarinet to his lips, fingers he knew were strong, warm, relentless, caressing the keys, and wishing Lex was touching him….
In the memory, Lex was standing shirtless in the windows, warm morning light gilding him, turning ivory to gold—and his suspenders framing his perfect, perfect….ass. Clark bit his lip--his trousers were definitely tighter than they had been. He shifted, feeling warmth flood his cheeks, and just at that moment Lex turned and winked at him, and his gray eyes widened just a bit before a lazy heat filled smile graced his face. He turned, the lights went down and he was bathed in blue.
Nightmare. Clark frowned just a tiny bit. He wasn't too crazy about the tune…not that it wasn't a good tune, and it was a great showcase for Lex. It just…made him feel uneasy. As far as he was concerned it was one long cry of pain. Clark shuddered. No one else seemed to feel that way about it so he just smiled and took his seat next to Chloe. But as the song played on, as Lex poured his heart out into the night, he found Chloe's fingers in his own. He sighed, and she squeezed lightly.
Most of the people in the club tonight, including Chloe, had no idea what had happened recently. Clark hoped sincerely that she would never know. Everywhere in Metropolis, the changes were making themselves felt. For all it was supposed to be the boulevard of lights, Bessolo Boulevard was full of shadows, and folks in the know walked faster, looked over their shoulder a little more often …
"Cheer up, CC. You look like it's the end of the world…no matter what he did, he loves you okay? Want me to talk some sense into him?" she whispered.
"What—oh! No, no, it's nothing Alex did." He snorted and whispered back, "Just please don’t hurt my—my man. Promise, he's been good."
She didn’t look convinced, muttered something about leopards and spots, and high heels and butts….
The tone lightened and the band took off into something wild and hot and the kid tickling the ivories was doing a pretty good job, but he was no Pete. Clark caught the look of exasperation Lex wasn't even trying to hide. He shook his head. He hadn't found Pete—he hadn’t heard him or seen him. He had his fingers crossed that he'd contact him or Lex…he had to, piano was in his blood and barring New Orleans, this was the best place for him.
"Okay. You probably—I know you heard rumors going 'round these last few months—well, I can tell ya at least one of 'em is true. The Luxor has changed hands again. Who's the boss—not sure." Walt shoved his hand through his hair before going on, "Now, nothin's going to change—'cept for the better—for us. I got that straight from the horse's mouth—"
Alex wiggled his eyebrows, and tried to subtly point with his chin—the whole band kind of shifted a bit, putting a little bit of distance between their boss and themselves. Walt blanched. "Horse behind me?"
Alex muttered, "Oh yeah, gate, right behind you…"
Mr. Louis was standing in the doorway, hands clasped behind him. "Greetings, all. I see Walter has informed you about the change in ownership. As you may know, the former owner was forced to sell…it seems he had a death in the family. Several." Mr. Louis' smile was full of deep satisfaction. "Things are looking up, boys, looking up. Mr. Cook, if you and you also, Mr. Roth, would come to my office at your earliest convenience?"
Walt nodded. "Sure thing, Mr. Louis. Sir."
Mr. Louis was stationary in the doorway.
Walt gulped. "Hah! Say, whadaya know—looks like we got time right now—"
Mr. Louis smiled, and sailed out and Alex and Walt scrambled to follow.
"Walter. I've gone over your contract…there were some oddities in it I corrected. I believe this leaves you free to compete in the Battle of the Bands in Gotham City…" he checked a leather bound calendar on his desk,"…the first of July. Not quite Independence Day, but close enough, yes." He ignored Walt's open mouthed surprise. "I believe the competition and a honey moon dovetail nicely. I think the new management would be happy to foot the bill. Let me be the first to congratulate you."
Walt began to stammer as Mr. Louis handed him a stuffed envelope. "I can't…I shouldn't…"
"Go on, Walter; let your lovely bride-to-be in on the good news. Alexander, if you'd stay please."
"Of course." Alex felt like he was staring into the mouth of a cannon, a big red x painted on his chest.
Mr. Louis sat squarely in the high back leather chair, elbows planted on the desk top, his hands folded. He was silent for long seconds, so long that Alex was able to keep from fidgeting only because he'd been well trained not to….
Mr. Louis sighed deeply. "Change has come Mr. Roth, change has come. Or should I say Mr. Luthor?"
"Luthor, Roth--it really doesn’t matter anymore."
"Mmm. You know Alexander, I've had my eye on you for some time, and I must say--I'm somewhat disappointed in you."
Alex felt a surprising jolt at that—"I hardly think you know me well enough to be disappointed with me." He tried for dry sarcasm, but his voice cracked. He had a brief intense flash of memory…his dad's office and muffled crying….
"I'm disappointed it took so long for you to rid yourself of that parasite Mahaney. I thought at some point you'd realize that he had no real hold on you but…" He tapped the desktop with his long thin manicured fingers, surprisingly thin for such a big man. Alex blinked. His mind was wandering and Mr. Louis was looking at him…"Your father owns the Luxor, did you know that? I see you didn’t. That makes you my superior, doesn't it?"
"No, it means Lionel Luthor owns the Luxor. I have no idea why…nothing's changed for me, Mr. Louis. My life is the same it's always been."
Mr. Louis nodded. "I'm glad to hear it. We'll talk more about this when you return." He stood. "Your father is…an interesting man, Alexander."
"He is that." Alex sighed. He should have known…one way or another, if Lionel thought he needed to be back in the fold, he was going to make it happen.
They were on the train, celebrating the wedding of the year, as far as the band was concerned. They were singing around the piano and passing bottles of champagne from table to table. Chloe sang from her perch on the piano, swinging her legs and belting out a hot version of Green Eyes. Walt was leaning on the side of the high backed piano, staring up at her like she was the sun. She still wore the creamy white dress, and little white hat she'd been married in.
Walt held up a glass and shouted, "June 29th—don't anyone forget this day—ever!" The band hollered back, whistled and stomped as Walt and Chloe drank champagne together. He let out a whoosh and crowed, "The day yours truly became the luckiest man—hey Mrs. Cook, you look like a million bucks!"
"You ain't so bad yerself, Mr. Cook—c'mere, let me plant one on ya!"
"Okay—and let's just have that glass whadaya say? I think you're good and oiled now baby!"
"You might be right—" she winked broadly and tilted a bit sideways on the piano. "Whoops!" He swept her off, and she threw her arms around him. She whispered wetly in his neck, "Not really all that drunk, you know…" they kissed, long enough to bring out the little boys in the men around them. There was whistling and a chorus of catcalls, and one of the guys pounded out Tiger Rag on the ivories, so naturally the band fell in, shouting, "Where's that tiger, hold that tiger, hold that tiger…"
A blast of cool air blew into the car, swirling through the smoke…Clark stood in the open car doors and let an uneasy looking Pete in. "Hey guys, look who I found."
They crowded enthusiastically around Pete, who looked pleased at the welcome. Clark was grinning ear from ear, and Alex was right behind them both, smirking. "He found him all right, standing right on the platform, coming in from Jersey. We didn't even let him take his hat off—snatched him right up."
Clark grinned. "Yep, easy as pie," but the glance he tossed back through the doors said 'don’t make me angry again'. Alex grinned. It hadn't been quite as Clark claimed, getting a colored man on that part of the train--certainly not easy as pie—but he had a feeling from now on, it would be for Pete, at least. Clark could be quite…persuasive.
Pete was grinning as wide as Clark. "Hey Walt, Chloe, congratulations." He looked Walt up and down. "Look at you, son, togged to the bricks---and your missus is extra ow!" He shook his hand like it burned and Walt beamed and straightened his bow tie.
"Yeah, well…a fella only gets married once. So I hear." Chloe elbowed him—hard.
"I really wanted to be there…" Pete started, and Chloe grabbed him into a hug.
"Hey, Pete, don’t you worry about that—we know you had family stuff—I'm just glad it's all right now. Gee, we're damn glad you’re here now!" Chloe pulled him over to the piano, and shoved the poor guy playing it off the bench. "There ya go, Pete, show these mooks how Tiger Rag's supposed to go…"
He was sitting in the last row of seats in the dark Pullman car, alone. The guys were settling in their seats, conversation low and slow…pillows were coming out, along with blankets. Walt and Chloe were in their sleeper, courtesy of Mr. Louis. He'd been awfully generous, paying for their tickets and all.
Alex rested his cheek against the window, watching lights fly by in the dark, a faint smile on his face. Clark reached up and grabbed a blanket and pillows from the compartment overhead and slid in next to him. He turned his face to Clark. "Hey." He reached out his hand and Clark took it, eased in next to him.
"Hey yourself. Here, I have something I want you to look at." Clark dropped an envelope into Lex's lap.
"Shanghai? Who do you know in Shanghai?" he asked and looked closer at the address…"Bee--Bruce." He tossed it back to Clark. "No thanks."
"Come on Lex, I've got a stack of postcards and a bunch of letters and they all ask the same question—'will Lex forgive me?' Come on. At least look at it. Just once—that's all I'm asking."
Alex's eyes went icy, spearing Clark. "And if I do, will you tell him to stop writing you?"
"No, I will not. Bruce is my friend too. You—you can't order me not to have a friend." Though the stubborn set of Alex's jaw made Clark think that crying out loud, he did so think that. "Lex!"
He looked somewhat chastised. "All right. I just don’t understand how even after knowing what happened, you can be friends with the man. He's seriously got bats in his belfry, Clark. You don’t know him like I do," he said.
Clark sighed and leaned until they were shoulder to shoulder. "Then you should know Bruce wouldn’t hurt you purposely…read the letter, please?"
"Okay. Later on, or…tomorrow morning at breakfast I will. Satisfied?"
"It's a start. Yes. And how 'bout I give you a reward?"
"It's a start."
Clark angled towards Alex, and pressed soft dry lips to his, brought his hands up to cradle Lex's head, smooth as velvet, warm…he loved the feel, the way Lex fit into every part of him.
"Clark, be careful," Alex mumbled into the kiss and Clark laughed a little.
"Think everyone knows by now…but I'm listening out, don’t worry." He licked Alex's neck, and nibbled tender skin, the way he knew Alex liked. He loved the sigh it made, that tiny little sound of surrender. It made Clark stiffen, knowing that he could do that, knowing how much Alex depended on him…he kissed his way back up Alex's neck, captured his mouth again and kissed him as slowly as he could, kissed him until he could barely stand it, until Alex sucked at his lip, bit down—it was sharp, short—and he felt it, like he hadn't felt falling from the tracks, felt it like he was wearing the necklace and the shock made him gasp, the pain made him hard.
"Ah, you like that? Alex purred and shifted on the seat. Clark moved too, his hand drifted down until it settled on Alex's hip, squeezed tight, pulled him close, until they were pressed together, shoulder, hip, thighs…when they were as close as they could get, Clark settled the blanket over their laps. Alex spread his knees, and shifted Clark's hand, groaned a little. "Come on Clark, don’t tease me."
"We've got to be quiet…" Clark rubbed his hand along Alex's inseam, higher and higher until his palm was resting over Alex's fly, rubbing circles over the hard ridge marring the perfect tailoring. Buttons came undone, belts opened so carefully, and Clark slid his hand into Alex's pants, and led Alex's hand into his own. Alex eased lower and spread his legs wide as he could…
Slowly, quietly, Clark stroked Alex, and rocked his hips to the rhythm Alex made with his hand. Clark bit his lip, sucking it hard to keep from moaning as loud as he wanted to. He could feel the warm slick smearing Alex's length, smoother now, faster--he lifted his fingers to his mouth to taste, and Lex moaned. "Jesus, Clark…" his voice was rough, the struggle not to be heard made it break and his fingers clamped around Clark's cock, harder, pushing him closer to coming. He jerked in Lex's grip. "Tighter…" he dropped his head back and hissed. Alex silenced him with a kiss, dragged his mouth across Clark's jaw, sucking at the soft place under his chin, and Clark shuddered. "Oh, that's good," he breathed against Lex's shoulder, loved the feel of Lex in his hand, hot, hard, silky, moving in and out of the tight circle of his fingers, dragging the hot head of his cock over his palm. He shivered when Lex's fingers bumped along the ridge of his, teasing shudder after shudder from him.
"God, quiet--I can't—I'm going to come…" Lex was pumping him faster now, tighter…"Wait, wait…" He fumbled with his free hand at his pocket, searching for his handkerchief, pushing it at Lex. "We're going to make a mess—"
Lex snorted and pulled the handkerchief away. "No we won't," he whispered and bent over him, took the head in his mouth and sucked hard. Clark grunted--orgasm rushed through him like a storm, before he could warn him, he was coming in Lex's mouth. Lex moaned, tiny muffled sounds that sent shocks of ecstasy through Clark and he felt Lex trembling against him, felt his arm moving as he jerked himself and came into Clark's handkerchief….
"Oh God, oh fuck--" Lex was panting, his mouth pressed against Clark's neck. "I think…I think I hurt myself."
Clark chuckled weakly. "I'm not sure, but I think I blacked out in there somewhere." He took the wet handkerchief from Lex and shoved it in his pocket.
"Souvenir?" Lex muttered, his eyes already falling shut—Clark could feel the change in Lex's breathing, knew he was drifting off. He rearranged their clothes, kissed Lex's forehead and eased his head back against the seat.
"Go to sleep—I'll watch over you." He got a sleepy mutter and an annoyed huff in response….
If you're curious, Tiger Rag, recording by Art Tatum
part 53, the end