Clark, like the Playstation, is living at the penthouse now and there hasn't been a day this week that Lex has come home to an empty house. It's what he asked for when they first moved to Metropolis, but he also wanted Clark to make friends and that's easier done on campus. Clark made his friends in that first week, then started leaving his stuff in Lex's bedroom. Clark's never been subtle. Lex gets to see him a lot more these days, but Clark's friends come with the package.
It's late, almost nine. Clark made him promise to be home early and Lex cancelled two meetings just to get home three hours late. Clark's truck wasn't in the garage, and Lex guesses that Charlie, and probably Ethan, have already left with the equipment. Lex stops outside door next to the bedroom, listening for Clark and trying to place the other voices. It's mostly laughter underneath The Beatles and the digital background music of Grand Theft Auto. They don't have a name for the room, but it's where Lex finds the band every time.
It used to be storage, filled with LuthorCorp boxes and documents, but Lex trashed all of that when he moved in permanently. Then Clark moved in - a television for the Playstation, stereo, and amp - turning it into the dorm room his dorm room wasn't.
There are records stacked up on the floor, even after Ethan tried to educate him about caring for vinyl. Clark doesn't listen to them, anyway; not until he finds the perfect record player to replace the one he had to leave behind. Clark's put his claim on the Kents' record player and collection, but Martha still listens to Jesus Christ Superstar while doing her vacuuming.
The song ends and Lex takes it as his cue to enter. There's Franny shouting, "Put the CD down, Clark," followed closely by the sound of her tackling him to the ground just as Lex steps inside.
Clark's on the floor between Franny's legs, waving his arms and playing to victim. Astrid's also on the floor, laughing. Lex sniffs the air, just in case.
"Save me, Lex," Clark drawls, throwing himself into a role he doesn't often get to play.
Lex pulls Franny up first. "The Strokes again?" he asks her. "I have to tackle him three times a week for that." Clark pouts on the floor, waiting for Lex's hand. "What are you inflicting on these poor girls?"
Back on his feet, Clark moves his hips a little, grabbing Lex and moving them to the music in his head. He's singing, too, and Lex just catches the last bit of lyric - make pretend we were best friends - as Clark leans forward to kiss his cheek.
"Clark. Nine o'clock," Astrid says, lifting herself off the floor.
"Right." He nods back to her, his body still pressed against Lex's. "We need to get dressed," Clark says in Lex's ear, before biting the skin below and making him shiver. He takes Lex's hand and pulls him out the door.
"Don't dawdle, boys," Franny shouts after them.
"We went shopping," Clark is saying as they step into their bedroom. Two bags are sitting on the bed - white plastic, no label, but Lex knows where they're from.
Clark's favourite store was Franny's favourite first. Plaid and Paisley was one of the first stops on the 'Clark discovers Metropolis' tour. It's a tiny entrance, but the stairs lead down to a sprawling basement where clothes are sorted by size, colour, and year. Hidden like every one of Lex's favourite restaurants, Plaid and Paisley is still the main attraction on downtown stretch of Granville street.
Lex's own leg of the tour was only one block away. Robson is better known for its galleries and imports, for being the only place in Kansas where Lex can buy his custom Paul Smith suits. He knows Clark appreciates the food more than the designer stores; it's in the way Clark complains about the tourists every time they meet for lunch. Sometimes they keep walking, just to stand at the intersection where Robson and Granville meet.
"So, what am I wearing tonight?" Lex asks. Clark dumps the bags out onto the bed, a jumble of fabric and colour.
"Is that fear I sense in your voice, Lex?" He kicks off his shoes and unzips his jeans.
Lex has seen that look in his eye as Clark endures a tailor's tape measure - the look that means retribution. But he actually likes Clark dressing him up for these nights. In plaid pants and an argyle sweater, Lex gets to shed himself, if only for a night, like Clark does underneath the bright stage lights.
Charlie calls argyle a uniform. Like the number 17 he wears for the Tigers, the argyle sweater says he's with Astrid. Lex prefers it to saying those words, "I'm with the band." He can use it as camouflage at the Monterey, except when it doesn't work and he gets snapped for the Lifestyles section. Clark tells him he should wear a hat, and when he holds up the rumpled fedora, Lex knows this is it.
"Actually, this is mine."
Clark puts on the hat and waits for the opinion. Lex wonders if maybe he's missing something. Maybe it's Clark's lack of pants, and that strikes Lex as something of an irony.
"I think I need to see it in context," he tells Clark.
"OK, but I don't look like a complete dork, right?"
Lex laughs, whisks the hat off, and kisses Clark, all in the same motion. "I thought that was the point. Isn't that what your groupies like?"
"Well, it's certainly not my playing."
"No, it's everything," Lex says, and kisses him again.
Right before a show is almost Lex's favourite time to fuck (the top of the list is the middle of the day, especially when they both have other places to be). It probably has something to do with the fact that they've never been able to do it right before a show.
"When I'm rich and famous," Clark will say when Lex is kissing him and distracting them both from the guitar squished between their bodies. "When I get a dressing room instead of a mirror."
They do it after most shows, but it's really not the same. The climax has already been and gone. It happens onstage and Lex can only watch. He watches, gripping his beer bottle a little tighter, and he knows that even if Ethan weren't Ethan, he would still be jealous.
They can't fuck backstage before a show, but that doesn't mean the pre-show sex doesn't happen. By afternoon, Clark has spent most of the day stressed and Lex only has to kiss him and lead him towards the nearest horizontal (or vertical) surface. They land on the bed, cushioned by the pile of clothes. The hat bounces to the floor and Clark goes after it, before Lex can stop him.
When he climbs back onto the bed, Clark reaches for a t-shirt under the pile instead of Lex. It's purple, he sees, when Clark holds it up and Lex knows that the t-shirt is his. Purple is his thing. Astrid has he car; Ethan has his shoe fetish; Franny has her ever-present sketchbook. The glasses were supposed to be Clark's thing, but Franny picked those out. Which could explain the hat Clark's placing back on his head.
He doesn't say the t-shirt is for Lex. There's no dramatic gesture or ceremony, not like the kind Lex always undermines with a grope in the changing room when they go shopping. Clark unbuttons Lex's shirt, just as if it were his own and he were undressing at the two end of the day. Lex sits up when Clark moves to straddle his hips. He lifts his arms and slips the t-shirt on.
It's tight and rubs soft against his nipples. Clark ducks his head to suck at Lex's shoulder, bared by the t-shirt's stretched collar. He pushes Lex back on the bed, tumbling them both on the wrinkled second-hand clothes. 'Don't dawdle, boys,' says the voice in Lex's head, but Clark's tongue takes care of that.
Maddeningly slow licks and bites on his stomach, and Clark's careful fingers at his zipper. It's not exactly the Rock Star/Groupie sex Lex wants. Of course, the Groupie should be the one down on his knees.
There's a knock on the door. It's not going to happen tonight.
"We're going to be late."
Clark looks up. The hat doesn't make him look like a dork, but added to the glasses, it doesn't do much to make him cool. Lex has learned to change his ideas of cool.
He's settling into the lazy circles Clark is drawing on his stomach at the second knock on the door.
Clark rolls off the bed, picking a pair of checked pants from the messy pile on the bed and pulling them on. He disappears into the closet for a moment and returns wearing a black t-shirt and tossing Lex a pair of black jeans. He disappears again, mumbling something about shoes. Once his pants are on, Lex opens the door to let the girls in.
"I don't know how you run your own company, Lex," Franny says, walking in and taking a seat on the bed. "You guys never stop."
Clark wonders back in with a pair of sneakers for Lex. "We have to stop to breathe," he tells Franny.
"I wonder sometimes."
She sorts through the clothes on the bed, giving Clark's half-completed outfit a look. Dangling a blue striped shirt from her finger, Franny makes Clark's decision for him.
"OK," he says, slipping the shirt on. "But I get to pick the tie."
"OK," she says, standing up next to him. "But I get to go with you."
Astrid takes her seat next to Lex on the bed and they try not to listen to Clark and Franny arguing in the closet.
"You're driving?" he asks, polite small talk he's been practicing for years. He doesn't spend a lot of time with Astrid. He usually misses her when she's over; he usually finds them studying. She's a much better influence on Clark than Ethan and the rest.
"No, Franny is."
Lex nods. "Pinto, right? 1971?"
"It's orange," she says, grinning. "It might be small, but I've got it up to a hundred on the highway."
"I drive a Ferrari," Lex laughs.
Astrid opens her mouth to say something in her car's defense, but they're interrupted by the closet door. Lex was only pretending not to listen, and then he wasn't. He missed the last moments of Clark and Franny in the closet. Franny won; Clark's tie matches too well.
Franny has a sweater for Lex. It's black and white and argyle. 'The groupie uniform,' Charlie would say.
"You like the shirt?" asks Franny.
"Clark picked it out."
Sitting in a chair tying his shoes, Clark catches his eye and smiles.
"I love it," Lex says.
"You're still gonna freeze." Clark's standing in front of him. His sneakers are blue, a perfect match to the stripes on his shirt. Clark's getting better at that. "Put that sweater on."
When they're dressed, Lex leads them out of the bedroom. There's a moment for Lex to make sure he has his wallet and keys, and Franny checks that she has hers while they're taking the time.
"Ethan's going to kill us," Astrid mutters under her breath.
Lex stands shivering in the back alley as Astrid tries to convince the bouncer to let them in. He can just hear, over the chattering of his teeth, her shouting through the door for Ethan. Clark hugs him tighter as Franny stomps up the stairs and bangs on the door.
"Ethan, get your ass out here!"
Astrid may be able to pound the drums, but you go to Franny when you want someone's attention.
"Sorry," Clark murmurs, warm on Lex's neck, a sudden contrast to the shouting and the cold. "I should have grabbed you a jacket."
"Clark, I'm the idiot who can't take care of himself. We'll be inside any minute."
"The sweater thing," Clark starts. "It wasn't a groupie thing, you know. I wasn't teasing."
He almost warm now, his front against Clark's front and Clark's hand rubbing his back. Lex is sure Clark is eyeing the alley, looking for a barrel to start a fire.
The door flings open, as much as steel can fling, and Ethan bursts out.
"My wandering Spectacles! My friends, you must be weary. Come, share with us a song and a flagon of mead."
Clark takes his hand and leads Lex up the stairs. "This is gonna be fun."