Lex always thought that "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" sounded silly on strings. You needed some brass, at least.
The intruding someone that had opened the door and let in the insipid sound of the string quartet pushed aside a coat and looked at Lex. Lex didn't look up. He was on level twelve, and a pause meant instant death.
"What are you playing?" asked Bruce Wayne.
"Tetris." One row. Four rows! No rows. Two rows.
Bruce sat down. "Oh. I hate those kind of games."
No rows. No rows. One row, but he was nearing the top. No rows--damn! He wasn't fast enough, and the last piece caught at the top before he could move it. The game ended. Lex looked up. "Why?"
"Because no matter how good you are, you always lose in the end." Bruce was a natural in a tux, as always; perfectly pressed and groomed. It was only his eyes that didn't fit. There was something vague and unfocused about him that didn't match the rest of the package.
"But that's life," Lex said.
Lex switched off the Gameboy. "So why are *you* in here?"
Bruce shrugged. "I guess I was looking for you. Why do you always hide in the coatroom?"
"Well. Last year it was Horace Greenely talking to my father about hair plugs. For me. This year, it's my father looking for a wife. Also for me."
"Hair plugs?" Bruce stared at Lex, wide-eyed. "Hair plugs. Wow. And a wife? Aren't you seventeen?"
"I turned eighteen on November 2nd." That morning, his father came into his room, sat on his bed, shook him awake, and told him his juvenile record was now sealed and this was his second chance. He was going to Princeton in the spring to finish his degree, and then he was going to Yale for his master's degree, and they could negotiate if he wanted a PhD, but in the end he was going to join LuthorCorp. Did Lex have any problem with that?
Of course he had a problem with that--those were the plans he had rebelled against by enrolling early in lowly Metropolis U.--but his own plans had backfired spectacularly when he was arrested and *charged* and *convicted* and thrown out of school, and his father's hand was resting on his collarbone near his throat, and his father's eyes were dark and furious, so Lex smiled and said No, Father. Thank you, Father.
"Did you get any good presents?" Bruce asked.
Lex considered telling Bruce about his juvenile record, but settled instead on "My father bought me another car. My old one was stolen." From Club Zero's lot, in fact, adding insult to injury in his father's mind.
"That's awful." Bruce looked tragic. Lex had long suspected that he liked cars better than people, and only palled around with Lex for his business connections and fine automobiles.
"The new one is a Jaguar. It's nice."
Bruce nodded, looking aimlessly at the coats across from him. "I got a plane."
"No, a light plane. I fly it. It's faster than a car and more private than a jet. No pilot to spy on you."
"Really." Lex was intrigued. He made a mental note to take flying lessons at Princeton.
"Are we related?" Bruce asked abruptly. "I can't remember."
Bruce slumped in his seat. "I'm related to nearly everyone. Even Horace Greenely."
Lex slid closer. "Luthors are new money," Lex whispered. "Very tacky. Nobody's related to us."
Bruce looked up and smiled.
"My great-grandfather was a pig farmer. He spent his entire life shoveling shit. And now I'm studying to be a biochemist and do the same thing, only in labs." Lex shut his eyes, feeling depression wash over him. Or was this despair? "And my father will find me a rich society wife so that I can produce a proper little Luthor heir..."
He could see his whole petty life laid out for him by his father. He thought he'd gotten away from that when he lost his hair. He thought a dozen times that this time his father would write him off and have another son to be the official Luthor instead. But every time his defied his father, his father turned it back on him, and he just wasn't a good enough chess player yet to make this work.
"I'm supposed to do the same thing," Bruce said. "Aunt Minerva isn't looking for a wife for me yet, but, anyway. I'm the last Wayne. Your father really wants you to marry this young?"
Lex nodded. "He says at this rate I'll kill myself before I finish college and he wants a kid out of me first." The last car accident, the one that had killed his Corvette, had left him with a scar over his heart that would take plastic surgery to repair.
"That's awful. Move to Gotham. You'd like Gotham."
"Father would cut me off."
"Didn't you get your mother's trust fund when you turned eighteen?"
Lex shook his head. "Twenty-one." He slid off the bench and landed in his knees in front of Bruce. He clasped his hands over Bruce's lap, begging. Teasing. "Save me, Bruce! Elope with me! Take me away!"
Bruce clasped his hands around Lex's, looking stunned. "I don't know...er..."
"Or just kiss me quick." Lex slid his clasped hands up Bruce's thighs, inching his face closer.
Bruce went rigid. He let go and grabbed the seat. "No!"
"No?" Lex backed off.
"I *can't* kiss you, Lex. I *like* you." And Bruce jumped to his feet--still pressed, still un-mussed and perfect, only his wild eyes showing his panic--and he ran out of the coatroom, leaving Lex still on his knees on the floor.
The floor is no place for a Luthor, Lex's father's voice whispered in the back of his brain.
Lex stood up and dusted himself off. He picked up the Gameboy, sat back down on the bench, and started another game. In the main hall, a group of extremely drunk, extremely rich men sang "Joy To the World" off-key.