by Jayne Leitch
Rating: um...PG. Heh.
Spoilers: little ones for 'Hug'
Disclaimer: if I owned this show, I would've been more choosy about which Canadian broadcaster I sold it to.
psychodrama: n. Psychiatry. A form of group therapy in which individuals act out, before an audience, situations from their past. (Def. courtesy Collins English Dictionary, 1994)
PSYCHODRAMA by Jayne Leitch
"Lex Luthor. Not that I'm incapable of seeing the appeal--from a female perspective, anyway--but what do you, Clark Kent, find so fascinating about that guy that you choose to spend hours of your life at his gothic horror show of a castle?"
"Come on, Chloe, don't go journalist on me about this."
"But I wanna know! I'm curious. You know I'm curious. Is it the cars?"
"It is, isn't it? You just like to drool over Lex's garage full of sportscars."
"It's not about the cars! Okay, it's not just about the cars."
"I knew it! Under that aw-shucks, humble farmboy guise, Clark Kent is just like every other male of the species: obsessed with flashy cars and the flash of money."
"Come on, Chloe, the cars aren't--"
"Okay, yes, the cars are nice. The cars are fantastic, actually, but...look, Lex is a good person. We're friends. He's interesting, he's fun to be around, he doesn't treat me like some hick spaz..."
"Well honestly, Clark..."
"...he tried to give me a truck..."
"Because you saved his life!"
"...he wears the coolest clothes..."
"...and he's so--what? What did I say?"
"Oh, my God. Clark!"
"What did I say?"
"You have a crush on him, don't you!"
"What?! No, Chloe, come on--"
"You do! You totally have a crush on Lex Luthor."
"I do not! I mean, I like him, sure--"
"Fine. Fine! Just...don't put it in the paper, okay?"
The walls vibrate with an electric guitar hum, and Clark covets Lex's sound system. Tries to convey this with a wide grin and the movement of his fingers as they thrum against his knee, keeping pace with the easy rhythm of the song. He doesn't want to speak--especially not loud enough to be heard over the volume at which Lex has cranked the stereo--because it feels too good just to relax into the song and discover exactly why Lex likes it. Feels compelled to understand the pleasure he gets out of listening to it, and share the experience. With Lex.
Lex, who is totally unaware of the message Clark is trying to convey due to the fact that his eyes are closed and he is blissing out. His mouth is quirked up at the corners, his face relaxed, unguarded; his posture is still perfect in the regal leather chair beside Clark's, even with his head tilted back and resting on the crest of the cushion. His chest rises and falls to the same leisurely tempo Clark's fingers are following, and Clark feels warmly satisfied that, for the moment, they've achieved some kind of synchronicity. Turning his head so he can mimic Lex's boneless position, he stills his hand, relaxes into the leather of his own chair, closes his eyes, and listens.
The tempo remains steady for so long that when it finally increases, Clark's heart rate does the same, and he feels his face flush as he opens his eyes.
Lex is watching him. Not smiling, not angry, not emotionless. The look in his eyes makes Clark shiver, and it's not as surprising as it should be that Lex trembles at exactly the same moment.
Clark feels a grin spreading over his face as he watches one curve Lex's mouth, and his fingers resume tapping out the rhythm of the song. Lex watches for another moment, his expression warming into something open and exhilarated that Clark has rarely seen from him; then he nods once and relaxes again, his eyes drifting peacefully closed as he settles back into the music.
Clark understands why Lex is playing it for him. It's a great song.
Even with the memory of that first time, the hypnotism and the taunting and the bruises, Clark finds it unbelievably easy to see this: Lex with a gun. Scary how right it looks, to stare down the barrel levelled at his chest with a pale, steady hand. How right it feels, somehow, to look beyond the weapon and find Lex.
How awfully wrong it feels to look into Lex's face and recognize nothing.
"What's the matter, Clark? You never thought I could hurt someone? I'm a Luthor. It's what we do."
"No." Clark shakes his head, eyes wide. Still looking. "No, you're different. We both know you are."
Lex arches an eyebrow. "We do, do we? How?"
Easy. "You and me. Our--"
And Clark has to believe it's still there, even under all the suspicions and silences and secrets, because he might be young, but he knows--he knows the word doesn't even begin to describe-- "Our friendship."
"Our friendship?" Derisive chuckle. "Friendship's a fairytale, Clark, don't you remember?" Cold, hard sweep of eyes over his body, and Clark shudders. "I never wanted it from you."
He's back in Metropolis--finally--after far too many years. Lex's welcome home party the underground event of the year--possibly the decade--and it was every bit as lavish as he'd paid for.
And that was very lavish indeed. His father dead, his exile over--he owns LuthorCorp--and Lex is back in his element. He thought he deserved a celebration after everything it's taken to get here, one stocked with his favourite drinks, his favourite foods, his favourite music, and all of his favourite people.
Or as many of them as he could stand to see, "favourite" being a relative term, and one that loses its meaning in reference to people far easier than it does when applied to food or drinks or music.
Now, the party is over. Hours over--the sun actually on its way to setting again--and Lex can't sleep. He's too busy ignoring the sleek body lying next to him, half-under the remains of her dress and his tuxedo. Too busy refusing the brush of her hair, her heat, the feel of her breath sighing against his chest.
Too busy thinking of the body lying next to her. Tanned skin, dark hair, wide-eyed innocence and strength, beauty and youth.
Too busy imagining that he is the (still favourite) person Lex wants him to be.
"Lex, I wanted--"
Clark blurts it out without thinking, not angry but desperate, with too much...too much in his voice.
And Lex turns around, hands behind his back, shoulders relaxed, standing taller and calmer and prouder at the head of the Luthor empire than his father ever had. Emptier. Colder, when a ghost of the old smile plays at his mouth. "Wanted what, Clark?" Sounds nothing but indulgent, carefully not hiding the hint of mockery that goes with it.
Speaking as if Clark were below him, insignificant. Irrelevant. Something Clark has never heard from him before under the words, something twisted and black and taunting. Something that sees the hope he'd had in coming here and laughs while it slides a knife across its throat.
The pain of it makes him recoil, and Clark shakes his head, narrows his eyes. Watches Lex cock his head to the side, arch an eyebrow in quizzical condescension. Feels the hurt and confusion and horror clench in his gut and choke off all the eloquence he's learned via the higher education that's kept them apart for so long. Too long. The only answer he can give hard and half-lost as he turns abruptly and strides out of the office without looking back: "More than this."
"More than this." Lex echoes it once he's alone. Smiles.
Flattens his palm and scrapes their handshake into a test tube.
"Lex Luthor. Every reporter in the world wants a face-to-face with this man, and since you do come with credentials, I assume you're included in that sweeping generalization. But if you're going to work with me, Kent, you're going to have to sublimate that desire, because the only Daily Planet reporter who's going to interview Lex Luthor is me."
"Actually, Lois, I'm not included in that sweeping generalization."
"Really? What are you, nuts?"
"No. I just--"
"Come on, spill. I'm curious. People say it's endearing. And occasionally a character flaw."
"Promise you won't go journalist on me first."
"I'm hurt. Don't you trust me?"
"You have a reputation. I'll need time."
"Oh, all right, fine. I promise. Now spill it, Kent."
"I used to know Lex. He lived in Smallville when I was a teenager."
"...Get out. You're that Clark Kent? The one who saved Luthor's life, like, a hundred times while he was in exile from Metropolis?!"
"I don't believe this! I'm working with the Saviour of the Scion--"
"--and I didn't even recognize him! Oh, let me get my notebook, we're going to have a long talk--"
"Lois, no. You promised."
"And you believed me? I have a reputation, you know. Here, take a seat, get comfortable--"
"Lois. I'm not going to talk to you about Lex. There's not even anything to talk about, really. We were friends, that's all."
"Friends who pulled each other out of mortal danger almost every week."
"It wasn't anything like the media made it sound. Smallville was just a small town, and Lex and I ended up running in a few of the same circles, that's all."
"Well then, since you won't say anything about him, will you tell me about yourself?"
"Lois. No. I'm not a celebrity, I'm a reporter. I might have known Lex back before--when we were younger, but that doesn't make me special. And if we'd--if anything--"
"If you'd what, Kent?"
"What were you going to say? Clark?"
"...No. You know, Lois, all I can tell you is--I'm really not interested in getting an exclusive with Lex Luthor. Therefore, you should be thankful that, out of every reporter in the world, I'm the one they paired you with."
"You're a spoilsport, you know that?"
"If you like. I'm not going to talk to anybody about Lex or myself. I mean it. The past is the past."
"Fine. Fine! See, I'm putting the notebook back in my purse."
"So...what happened to make you two drift apart? No, don't glare, I'm not asking for specifics, and this is totally off the record. I just--I really am curious, okay? Everything I've read indicated that you and Luthor got to be fairly close while he was running the Smallville plant. Why aren't you still friends?"
"What makes you think we aren't?"
"I'm a trained reporter, Kent, not to mention the fact that I have working sets of eyes and ears. You want to protect your past with the guy, I can see that--but I can also see that you're not doing it because you have any kind of a present with him to jeopardize. What happened?"
"Just personal curiosity, I swear."
"There's really nothing to tell. We...changed. I was in highschool when we met, and by the time I went to college we were already losing touch. You know how you lose track of people--well, after Lex's father died he got wrapped up in the family business, and...we changed. That's pretty much it."
"And I'd better not see any of this in print, ever. Lex is always interested in my impressions of who the friendly members of the media are; we might not talk as often as we used to, but he'll still listen."
"Fine. Fine! I won't put it in the paper, okay?"
"Good. Thank you."
"Yeah, yeah. I can already tell you're going to be insufferable to work with."
"Funny, I was just thinking the same about you."
"Ha! Such wit. I swear, Kent, it's a good thing you're pretty."
There is an alternate title to this fic: "Six Entirely Inadequate Scenes Set to Six Incredible Songs (aka FanVidding in Dialogue and Prose)". In other words, this fic has a soundtrack. To enjoy the full sensory experience--and to play the fun home game of figuring out which song goes with which scene--you need to go download the following songs...now!
'So Gently We Go', by I Mother Earth
'All My Friends', by Our Lady Peace
'You Won't Be Mine', by Matchbox Twenty 'Push', by Moist
'Coming Back to You', by Leonard Cohen (try to find the cover by Martin Gore, if you can)
Also, why not join Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?