*squints* It seemed like a fun idea at the time. And you know, my playlist IS QaF, so really, it seemed right.
Anyway. *hugs* to everyone who participated in sv_undercover as reader or guesser or writer. There were some great stories there. If you haven't yet, go check it out.
When Clark comes back, the gym is empty.
Someone started a half-hearted clean-up but abandoned it early, leaving a trash bag listing by the table, spilling silver and red streamers, a broom stretched out on the floor beside it. Paper cups litter the ground like snow. Overhead, though, the crepe still sways to invisible breezes, and no one has touched the snack table, covered with half-eaten sandwiches and empty punch bowls.
It was hours ago, though it doesn't feel like it, and he remembers the dim lights overhead, the silly silver ball someone had pried out of their attic and set up in the middle of the room. The way the gym had been filled, music flowing over him like water, the way Lana felt in his arms. A magic room, a magic moment, turned into this, cheap decorations and overturned chairs.
It's not like he expected her to stay. Because it's been hours, and he didn't even have an excuse. He'd left her alone in the middle of the floor with a whispered apology, barely making it outside before he began to run, and God, it isn't fair at all.
"Doing clean-up all alone?" Almost-mocking, but not quite, almost-curious, but not really, but then, that's Lex in a nutshell, never one thing or another, and Clark doesn't even turn around to look. Lex shouldn't be here, but Lex is rarely where he should be. Clark doesn't bother asking anymore.
Though once, he might have.
"What do you want?"
It's not hostile, though he tries--God, does he try, gaze fixed on a loose streamer that lost its tape, dangling mid-air, almost close enough to touch. Clark thinks of Lana, alone in the middle of the floor, watching him with quiet disappointment and no surprise at all, like she knew all along that some things just aren't meant to be.
A normal night, a normal boyfriend, a normal prom, a normal life. It isn't so much to ask, Clark thinks, not really. Not for just one night.
Lex doesn't answer, which isn't a surprise either, but the footsteps are--slow and careful, like thousand dollar shoes can't quite reconcile themselves to touching something as prosaic as an old gym floor. Stopping beside him, Lex looks around, maybe comparing and contrasting senior proms in expensive hotels, maybe smirking at the thought of Clark coming back, actually believing that just this once, something would go right. Lana would be here after everyone left, and it's the stupidest romantic fantasy in history, the idea of her waiting here alone, wearing the corsage he gave her, and maybe the only music would have been the cheesy stuff in his head, but he'd have danced with her.
So very afterschool special, and one day, this might be a great story to tell, the night he missed the prom for the last time, but that's not today and that's not now.
"Bad night?" Lex asks, like Clark hadn't asked him a question. Clark sees a shiny black shoe carelessly nudge a cup out of the way. "Let me guess. Something came up and you had to leave the lovely Miss Lang alone." Beside him, Clark can almost feel Lex's amusement, like sandpaper against his skin, and he thinks he'd do anything just to get the fuck away.
"Any reason you're slumming? Or is stalking me become your new hobby?" The bitterness surprises even him--after all this time, all the things gone wrong, it still hits him all anew. Lex isn't his friend anymore. He isn't anything at all.
A ghost of memory traces his throat, reminding him of a loft and an untied tie, a smile like the sun rising, gone in the time it takes for Clark to open his eyes again. He's years away from the kid who smiled at Lex and said 'I do'.
"It's not the end of the world." And God, Lex sounds so fucking *adult*, like he's talking to a stupid high school kid, and he is, Clark thinks. It's just not the what he used to be to Lex.
"No," Clark answers softly, staring at the shiny black shoe, at the dusty floor, at this one last chance to be like everyone else. One normal night, one normal prom, and one normal life, even if it's all just pretend. "But I wanted to have it anyway."
He braces himself for the response--something cutting, sharp words said with curved lips and cool eyes, and Clark thinks that of all the ways Lex has learned to hurt him, this hurts the most. The way that Lex can say things that remind Clark that it's been years and lies ago that they were anything but what they are now.
Clark shies from the thought--there are some labels that he's not yet ready to use.
Clark looks up, too startled to stop himself. Lex's eyes are fixed on something Clark can't see, some space between the snack table and someone's forgotten purse. He can't quite make himself just walk away.
"I suppose you leave for school soon," Lex says, slowly, like he's not entirely sure why he's standing here either. "MetU?"
"Yeah. First summer session." He wants out of Smallville so badly he can taste it, and a week seems too long. He'll go by Lana's tomorrow and apologize, and she'll accept, because she always does, but those half-hoped plans to ask her to stay in touch, write to him, visit him, are as impossible as normal has ever been. He can't ask her that--he doesn't want to hear her say no. "You know, I can't even--I mean, I don't dance."
Lex turns curious eyes on him--no hostility, no veiled questions, no leftover accusations from times gone past--just this. Lex blinks in surprise, a little smile curling up the corner of his mouth. "You're kidding."
Clark shrugs, feeling himself blush. "I just--I mean, I practiced a little. With Mom." And God, that's embarrassing to admit. "I just--you know. But--well--" Four proms in four years, and he'd never made it as far as the dance floor. If he'd been here--ah, if he had, he'd probably have fallen over his own feet, or broke her toes, or something equally humiliating in front of the entire school, which is where his biggest embarrassments tended to happen anyway. "Stupid, huh?"
Both eyebrows arch, the pull of a smile that Clark can't quite help matching. Maybe it's the bad night, or the silent dark around them, or the fact that really, this is kind of funny, and one day, it'll make a *great* story to tell, even if it's not today, even if it's not now.
"We can't have you wandering off to Metropolis without knowing how to dance," Lex says, like this is the biggest problem in Clark's life, and Clark bites his lip to keep from laughing at the serious expression on Lex's face. "Turn around."
He does, because it's automatic, because it's been a long time, but not long enough to say no, not to this. Lex's hand rests on his waist, warm even through the dusty suit jacket and his dirty shirt. Lex is in immaculate business best, like he just stepped out of his own closet. "Lex--" But he stops himself, even when his other hand is lifted. and firm, strong fingers clasp his. Lex looks up at him with wide, clear blue eyes, like a boy beside a river he'd known once upon a time, the look that was always for Clark alone.
"It's easy," Lex says, and he sounds a little breathless. Dark lashes sweep down, covering his eyes for a moment, hiding the expression. "Just follow my lead. Step back with your right foot."
Dancing is rhythm and music, two things that Clark doesn't have, but Lex is better than both, teaching with pressure on Clark's hip, fingers tight in his hand. It's slow, careful, and Lex gives him his space, murmuring instructions that Clark barely needs to hear, because Lex makes it easy, it's just stepping, slow and careful, following Lex's body with his.
"See?" Lex shakes his head when Clark glances down, almost stumbling. "No. Not at your feet. Just look at me."
Look at Lex, the thing he doesn't do, not anymore, not for longer than Clark wants to think. Nothing's changed--blue eyes and pale skin and a scarred pink mouth--and Clark wonders if he thought something would.
"Don't worry," Lex grins when he lets go, turning Clark in a sharp, dizzy circle, somehow catching him without a break in rhythm. Clark grabs one grey-covered shoulder, fingers brushing the silky skin of Lex's throat, holding his balance. Lex's arm tightens around his waist, like he could actually keep them upright all on his own if he just tried hard enough. "I won't let you fall."
Like will alone is all they ever needed.
They're so close that Clark can smell the night-scents on him, smoke, brandy, a car driven down dusty country roads. Clark watches the grin fade while they stand there, and it's kind of silly, two guys in a deserted gym dancing to music that isn't there, the kind of silly of a high school prom or a hopeless wish for normal or a tilt of his head that he shouldn't mean at all. He's years from being the kid that Lex first met, the kid who's lost a friend and lost a girl and never really had a chance to find out what normal even was.
He's not that kid, years and time and a fantasy of normal long past, who wondered what it would be like to kiss him.
He's the guy who finds out.