The last of the volunteers straggled out at some point after three in the morning, leaving mounds of confetti, plastic glasses, and spilled champagne from one end of the ballroom to the next.
Eric watched, amused, as Pete diverted Lana on her way to the trash can with a pile of garbage.
"Hey, I'm the manager, right?" Pete swept everything out of her arms into the nearest punch bowl, ignoring her squeak. "Come on. Lex saved some of the good stuff for us."
Eric followed them into the back room. Lex was filling glasses with abandon, and Clark stood next to him, ducking when the champagne sloshed his way. Pete and Lana stood to one side of Lex, and Chloe was trying to sneak an extra glass past Clark. The only empty space in the circle was right next to her. Eric hesitated. "I should get going."
"One more glass." Lex's careful "triumphant candidate" smile had been replaced by what could only be described as a goofy grin. "One more toast, Eric. With the people that made tonight possible."
Chloe passed over her extra glass, somehow managing to spill it *up* his arm, and Eric ignored her. "What shall we toast to?"
"To voter turnout," Chloe said.
Pete nodded. "To televised debates."
"To cleaning crews." Lana was still looking over at the ballroom.
Clark lifted his glass. "To Senator Al--"
"Senator-*elect,*" at least three people corrected.
"Shut up. To *Senator* Alexander Joseph Luthor!"
"And to his friends," Eric added. He could feel Chloe's eyes on him.
Lex smile, against all odds, grew even wider. "Exactly. And to his friends."
Chairs had been found and dragged into the room. Lana, with her caterer's instincts, had discovered a couple of hardly-touched appetizer trays. And Chloe slid a CD into her laptop. It played something soft and slightly melancholy that Eric would never have expected of Chloe.
"Do they do this often?" Eric asked, watching Clark and Lex dance.
"Hardly ever," Lana said. She tilted her head against her husband's shoulder. "Clark's a horrible dancer."
There was a muffled "ow!" from the makeshift dance floor, and Lex hopped to his other foot.
Eric buried his snicker in a mouthful of champagne.
"We've all tried to teach him," Lana said. "Even Lex tried, and he's a fantastic dancer."
"If I'd had just a little more to drink," Chloe said, "I might mention that Lex is a much better kisser, too."
Three pairs of incredulous eyes were focused on her immediately.
Chloe contemplated her empty glass. "I'm still too sober, though. Sadly."
Lana thrust her glass into Chloe's hand. "Drink up, Chlo. *I* want to hear this."
"B.C.?" Pete asked. When Chloe stared at him blankly, he said, "Before Clark?"
"Oh! Of course. Like I would--of course. After Clark for me, *before* Clark for Lex."
"I can't believe you didn't tell me," Lana said.
"And I'm not telling you now. Thanks for the champagne, though."
Lana gave her a look that suggested otherwise, but she didn't push it. She turned to Pete. "Dance with me? Let's see where you fall on the Clark-Kent-to-Lex-Luthor scale."
"Hey! I could dance circles around Lex."
"Well, let's see you prove it." She pulled them both to their feet. "Come on, the babysitter's on triple overtime by now. Let's get our money's worth."
Eric and Chloe both laughed as Pete boogied Lana away.
"I don't think that move fits this music," Chloe said as Lana was spun off her feet.
"I don't think that move fits Stars on Ice," Eric said. Behind the Rosses, he could see Clark watching them consideringly and Lex clearly telling him, *Don't even think about it.*
Pete and Lana settled into the traditional slow dance, and Chloe sighed next to him. "They look so good together."
"The perfect couple," Eric said.
"Well, yeah. Perfect marriage, perfect kids, perfect jobs. The American dream, right?"
Chloe snorted. "Perfect kids. I love it. Have you *met* the hellion who calls herself my goddaughter? Trust me on this. I've known Pete and Lana and Clark since junior high, and Lex nearly as long. There's nothing perfect about any of them. About any of us."
Eric knew he shouldn't push the point, but somehow he kept talking. "You act lke I'm insulting them."
"You are. Perfect is a copout. Ask Lana what she thinks of the concept, some time." Chloe stood and looked down at him. "It's our imperfections that make us--"
Chloe sighed. "Friends."
She walked off. Eric scowled down into his champagne. "This is one of those times when I'm having an entirely different conversation from the rest of the room."
His champagne had no comment.