Of Miserable Breed
Of Miserable Breed
Summary: It is an inescapable truth that misery loves company.
Disclaimer: WB and DC retain all the property rights, but if you want to get all existential and transcendental, possessions are fleeting :)
Pairings: Clark/Lex, Clark/Bruce, Bruce/Lex, Bruce/Dick
Inspiration and Reference: Music; "Back 2 Good" by Matchbox 20 (personally, what I feel to be my ultimate Clark/Lex/Bruce song).
Lex was in subdued shock.
He had suspected this much, but some part of him had not truly believed it until now. However, the hideous truth confronted him in this moment, and he could no longer deny the possibility away from the forefront of his mind. Of course, his companion had been forthcoming in his regret, so that made the disclosure of the infidelity that much more difficult to bare.
He had known they were suffering a distance between them, one that Lex had, in fact, facilitated himself. He purposely kept his live-in lover at arm's length in a vain attempt to prevent himself from getting too close, too vulnerable, too capable of being hurt, since it seemed by his extensive and ominous relationship history that he was prone to falling passion's doomed victim. As if to turn the tables on his logic and strategy, his detached treatment of his old friend had been received as neglect, and yielded painful betrayal nonetheless; thus his method backfired, and he felt frighteningly wounded, just as much as he would have had he not sheltered his own love hidden inside while locking his beloved's open heart out in the cold.
"Who was it?" Composed anger and jealousy lay therein, playing his tone like a bitter symphony.
Silence fell born of hesitation and shame.
Lex's glare pressed into his conscience, drilled through his psyche, lending him guilt to spare.
"It was Bruce." The quietest part of the confession yet, exposed under hanging head and dewy lashes.
A heavy weight sunk in his chest, as icy fire lit his eyes. "Bruce?" He could hardly believe this sordid revelation, yet it made an absurd amount of sense. The last time they had stayed at Wayne Manor, something seemed askew when they left, and it would dually serve to explain Bruce's highly unusual visit to the mansion in Smallville this past summer. This information also raised issues of duration and frequency. Awash with unforeseen distress, Lex realized he had not been sufficiently prepared for the answers he had sought when he broached this subject this evening. "Exactly how long was this affair going on, Clark? How often did you and he see each other behind my back!"
"It wasn't an affair. We didn't see each other. It wasn't anything like that." He sounded as though he was deflecting undue blame, defending whatever remained of his credibility and virtue. "It only happened once. We started to... but he stopped it before we went too far," he stated, like that insight was supposed to be of some consolation to Lex.
Meanwhile, Lex found that detail exceedingly unsettling, and of absolutely no comfort.
They started to what? And then Bruce stopped it?
Lex did not even know where to begin to dissect the implications of that admission.
"Lex, please listen to me. I..."
"What? You were thinking of me when the two of you were about to fuck?"
Clark took a difficult breath, swallowing the ache that welled up in his throat. "I never meant to hurt you."
Though he knew it to be the sincerest sentiment, Lex could not dismiss how successful the unintended blow had been. "It doesn't matter. You did." Lex made his way to the door, driven by the urge to address the third party, for Clark was not alone in the sin that had been cast against Lex.
"Where are you going?" He could not mask his concern at Lex abruptly departing in the middle of a problem detrimental to them as a couple.
"I'm going to talk to you about this later. Right now, I have business out of town."
Personal business in Gotham, Lex thought, unclear as to his own objective or even what he hoped to achieve in pursuing this impulse.
When Lex came upon him, he was sitting on the plush sofa in front of the enormous fireplace with his arms stretched across the back of the couch as he soaked in the flickering glow of the flames. Were it not for the broodingly hard expression he wore like a badge of all that was hollow in him, Bruce might have appeared to be relaxing lazily, but Lex knew better; there was nothing casual about Bruce mired in his deliberate and pensive silence.
This was the Bruce with which Lex was all too familiar; one who would rather drown in the darkness of a room than turn on a light. Though, there was another side to Bruce--not the one the public saw at his benefits, because that was just an elaborate and meticulous act--and it was that hidden side that guarded his passion, passion he only ever spent on that which mattered to him. In their youth, when they had been very contrasted teenagers, Bruce had let Lex in to glimpse that sacred part of him on occasion, but as years went on, that door had slowly been closed to him. That never stopped Lex from coming around, of course, but it inspired a dual envy that Bruce had opened that door for Clark, even for the most fleeting moment, when it no longer even cracked for him. It made Lex infinitely curious as to Bruce's motives, and resentful to both his current lover and his technically former one.
All this sent Lex's brain spiraling through the duplicity, and it left him lost to good sense itself. His behavior painted quite the obsessive and possessive picture, bringing him a bit of a distance on an irrational whim, but such crazed obsession had never been mutually exclusive with Clark, and Lex had made briefer journeys farther away from home than this for less important reasons, so he could justify taking the jet and going through all the trouble of traveling here just to see Bruce under veiled agenda for a matter of minutes.
Lex did not even sit, as he did not plan on being here long enough to warrant making himself comfortable, and anyway, the very notion of comfort in this moment was absurd, and inaccessible, not unlike Bruce himself in his perpetual unease. He maintained the illusion of patience well as Bruce ignored his presence, oblivious to anything he chose to discount, and Lex seemed an obvious choice.
Quite suddenly, a voice preceded a stranger into the room. "Bruce, I'm not waiting anymore!" The kid who stormed into the room with obnoxious attitude at full blast could not have been more than eighteen or nineteen. His voice had a rough edge to its rumble, tantalizingly deep, but not yet manly. His hair was short and dark, his eyes light, their color obscured by the orange of the fire, and his face had a permanent scowl written upon its features, like he was born to look attractive in tormented youth, and he tossed that rebellious and angsty mood at people like any teenager. "If you're not coming with me, I'll go by myself!"
This was an unexpected, albeit ironically fitting, development.
Bruce looked up at the tempestuous adolescent, and his stare argued an unspoken point, but the lack of response frustrated this kid, and his attention diverted to Lex for a moment. "Who the hell are you?"
Lex chortled in sour amusement at the accusatory cynicism that was shot at him.
Both their eyes settled back upon Bruce reflexively.
"I'm serious. If I'm going to be living here, this is the way it's going to be or I'm out!"
All the calculated practice in his life could not have kept Lex's incredulous wonder from tightly glaring at Bruce.
Without the tiniest acknowledgment of Lex's disposition, Bruce addressed his new company. "Go downstairs, Dick. I'll meet you there shortly."
Downstairs? Lex knew what that meant. Lex couldn't believe what that meant. He could scarcely fathom the implications of all that had just transpired as the third of them departed as hastily as he had come. Seething was not the word to describe Lex's inner workings, but it was a viable start.
"You're being awfully hospitable." Lex's ability to contain his rancor from leaking into his voice impressed even himself, but his malevolence had more clever outlets, and his caustic wit was one of them. "Dick. That's an interesting name." He regarded Bruce under increasing scrutiny, and pushed more forcefully when no hint of a reaction surfaced. "Another spoke in your quest for more stable companionship?"
Bruce sighed internally, conceding that this taunting would only worsen until Lex had engaged him vocally as he wanted. "He reminds me of myself." Bruce wrought that reply in its own biting form, almost making a mockery of how Lex had likened himself to Bruce so many times in the past.
"Bullshit! He's nothing like you." Lex immediately caught the insult, and then he caught the inference. "But you love that, don't you."
Simply chasing his initiated vein of conversation, Bruce continued. "The boy is confused and angry at the world." Therein Bruce divulged the implied correlation of similarity, and Lex found that explanation to be utterly plausible knowing Bruce as personally in depth as he did, but the logic was still severely convenient nonetheless. "He needs guidance." Bruce said it as if he was telling himself instead of his uninvited guest.
"Oh, I'll bet he does." Lex's agitation was rising. "If there's one thing beautiful young men like him need, it's guidance. That's brilliant, Bruce."
"You're right." For the first time since his arrival, in thick somber intensity, Bruce met Lex's eyes. "Pretty boys, like... Clark, don't really need our brand of guidance. Do they, Lex."
Bruce had infused that entire statement with innuendo, and Lex had caught every drift of that turbulent and cold blue sea.
Lex marveled at the insinuations that littered Bruce's words. He discovered larger method to this little madness. He fancied this Bruce's sly manner of calling him a hypocrite. Lex mused that this Dick was practically Bruce's Clark by proxy, only more relevant psychologically, and more morally acceptable as unclaimed territory. Primarily, though, Lex felt the injury added to the insult in Bruce's underlying confirmation of his indecent tryst with Clark.
Almost instinctively, Lex followed the segue of his thoughts. "I don't like other people touching my property."
Not at all thrown or surprised by the abrupt turn of the corner to blatant reference, Bruce countered. "Are we talking about furniture here, Lex?"
Lex made no visual sign of response, and an ocean of mute dialogue passed between them in the dead meeting of their eyes. Then, Lex broke the nonverbal contact, ready to exit as swiftly as he had descended upon the place. "I'll leave you to play with your new ward." Having come all this way, Lex could not think of reason to stay a single second longer, and was secretly growing anxious to flee this awkward situation--the fact that he had come this far just to ask the question of why suddenly irrelevant; but despite the abandonment of this desire, Lex imagined he had gotten what he had come for somehow.
Bruce made no motion to further acknowledge Lex as he began to walk past, and that only incited Lex's irate spirit.
Lex rounded the sofa, and leaning down close to Bruce's ear, he whispered almost obscenely. "I saw it in his eyes, Bruce. He will never be yours. The more you try to control him and hold on, the more he'll fight to break free of your grasp." Lex's footfalls carried behind the couch, leading away from Bruce while indifference squelched anything Lex had stirred in him. The echoing steps halted in the grand arch of the doorway as Lex paused to add one last punctuation mark to his visit that he hoped would stick in Bruce's mind like a thorn. "Incidentally, stay away from Clark."
Bruce continued to stare straight ahead into the dancing flames and without passion or conviction, he remarked, "Why? You don't stay away from me."
Lex simmered in the distasteful reality of that comment, then decidedly turned his back on it, abandoning each of them to dwell separately in their select breed of misery, prisoners of their own damnable creation and hopeless keep of company.