"Clark, I told you, I don't want a bachelor party."
"It's not really a bachelor party. Just you, me, and Pete."
"Let me see if I can explain this. Pete can barely tolerate me. He nearly punched me when he found out Chloe and I were engaged. You have your own issues with our marriage. And you want me to spend the night out with the two of you?"
"I promise, it'll be fun. Pete's getting better. Besides, this might give you two a chance to patch things up."
"Ever heard the expression 'bury the hatchet'?"
"I somehow think the only way Pete would agree to that would be if the hatchet was buried in me."
"I think you're not giving him enough credit, Lex."
"The man hates me."
"Well--he doesn't like you much, yeah, but--he loves Chloe, and for her sake I think he'll try to be nicer."
"And what happens when she's not there?"
"I'll be there. I won't let him hit you."
"Come on, Lex. It's tradition. I'll pick you up at eight."
"Can't get out of it, hmm?" Chloe asked from behind him, sounding highly amused.
"Go ahead and laugh, but if your fiance winds up dead, you'll know why." He turned around to face her; she just grinned at him and draped her arms around his neck.
"I have faith in your ability to protect yourself," she said, kissing his jaw.
"Besides. Pete won't kill you. He knows I'd rip him apart."
"Would you, now?" He drew her closer, tucking her against his shoulder.
"Uh huh." Chloe kissed his jaw again. "Mine."
"I'm being protected by a 6'3" farmboy and a 5'4" blonde succubus," Lex said dryly.
"I'm a succubus now?" Chloe sounded intrigued by the idea.
"After the other night, when I could barely walk in the morning? Yes."
"I'll have to nail you through the mattress more often."
"I believe it's my turn to do the nailing." Lex let one hand skim down her back, squeezing her bottom lightly. She grinned and ran her nails over his scalp, making him shiver.
"What time's Clark picking you up?"
Chloe glanced at the clock. "It's six. We've got plenty of time." She grinned and began pulling him toward the bedroom.
Pete was already in the car when Lex got in; he nodded briefly but didn't speak. Lex sighed inwardly, thinking wistfully of the slender warm body he'd had to leave curled up in bed for this. Clark was going to pay.
To his relief, if not exactly his surprise, they went to a local bar instead of a strip club. While he knew Chloe would just find the whole idea hilarious, he really didn't want to spend his night being reminded of the way she looked, skin glowing with sweat, arched up under him, her skin fair against his dark sheets...
"Lex. We're here," Clark said patiently and Lex realized he'd gotten lost in his own thoughts. He unbuckled his seat belt and slid out of the car, taking a moment to compose himself before turning to Clark and Pete.
The bar was busy but not too crowded; they found a table in the back room, by the foozeball table. "I used to love this game," Lex mused, tapping the side of the table. "We had one of these in my dorm at prep school--number four, I believe it was." He shrugged and sat down.
"How many prep schools did you go to?" Clark asked.
"Seven, all told." Lex smiled a little. "I was...not a good student."
Pete rolled his eyes at that. "Aren't you lucky, then," he said cynically. "Most of us get one school and are stuck with it."
"Oh, I was lucky, all right. My mother died when I was thirteen, my father didn't want me anywhere near him, and I was short and bald among kids who were crueler than anything you'd find at the local high school." Lex's mouth twisted briefly. "So drop the hostility, Ross. I don't need it."
"Am I supposed to feel sorry for you now?" Pete retorted.
"Guys, come on," Clark interrupted. "Ease up, both of you."
The waitress came by then; smiling at the three men. "What'll it be, guys?" she asked.
"Scotch," Lex said briefly.
"Make that two," Pete said, sounding annoyed at ordering the same thing.
Lex glanced at him before turning back to the waitress. "I think we're going to need the bottle," he said dryly.
She grinned. "Sure thing, cutie. What about you?" That was aimed at Clark.
"I'm driving," he said ruefully. "I'll just have a Heineken."
"Be right back."
"So, um--how're the wedding plans going?" Clark asked.
Lex winced. "Would you believe me if I told you I didn't know?"
"No," Pete said.
Clark looked at his friend with a pained expression on his face. "Pete, Lana's planning it."
Pete's eyes widened briefly. "And Chloe hasn't killed her yet?"
"If she kills Lana, we have to elope," Lex explained. "And Chloe will not let that happen, if only to prove me wrong."
"Prove you wrong?"
"Lex has been saying they should elope all along," Clark explained. The waitress came back with their drinks and he smiled at her; she nearly fumbled his beer before setting the bottles down and sauntering off.
"It's not too late," Lex said under his breath. He opened the bottle of Scotch and poured himself a drink, pouring one for Pete as well. Not bad, really--it wasn't wonderful, but it wasn't rotgut either.
"I'm surprised she didn't want to elope," Pete said, looking at his drink. "The whole lace and flowers thing is so not her."
"How did she put it?" Lex thought back for a moment. "As I recall, it was something along the lines of 'I'm not ashamed of you, and I'm not ashamed of us, and eloping gives the impression that either I am or you are. If you're going to marry me, you're damned well going to do it publicly.'"
"Now that I can see," Clark said, laughing.
"So why'd you want to elope?" Pete demanded. "Ashamed of marrying a backwater reporter?"
"If I was ashamed, I wouldn't have asked her to marry me in the first place," Lex said coolly. "I just wanted to avoid the publicity. In case you haven't noticed, anything of importance in my life generally ends up in the papers." He downed half his drink in one swallow. "And for the record--there's nothing backwater about Chloe."
"No, she's always been a city girl, even in Smallville," Clark agreed.
Pete shrugged and tossed his drink back.
Clark looked from him to Lex as if mentally flipping a coin, then sighed and took a drink of his beer. "Lex, wanna play foozeball?" he asked.
"Prepare to lose." Lex downed the rest of his drink and stood.
"I'll play the winner," Pete said, pouring himself more Scotch.
"Be seeing you across the table," Clark told him.
"I think not." Lex chose a side and flipped one of the racks of players experimentally.
Clark just grinned and stood opposite him.
It was a fun, fast game, but Lex triumphed in the end. He smiled and shook Clark's hand before pouring himself another drink. "Ready, Pete?"
Pete shrugged and stood, setting his drink down on the table. "Bring it on, man," he challenged.
Three drinks and four games later, they declared a truce. "All right," Pete said, breathing hard. "Best out of five?"
"You beat me twice, which is twice more than most people get. Take it and leave it." Lex tossed back the rest of his drink and dropped into his seat. Okay. Room moving. He'd obviously drunk a little more than he'd expected.
Pete grumbled, but sat as well. "Hey, we're getting awfully low on the Scotch here," he noted, hiding a hiccup.
"We need another bottle then." Lex hadn't gotten seriously drunk in years; however, at the moment, it sounded pretty good. He was already halfway there--and Pete was more so.
"Uh, guys, I think you should switch to beer," Clark interjected.
"Why?" Pete blinked. "We're not--drunk."
"Yet," Lex muttered.
"I don't want to have to carry you home."
"Aww." Lex raised his glass in Clark's direction. "Poor Clark."
"I do not need to be carried," Pete said, blinking. "I am perf--perfec'ly cap'ble of walking."
"And you're going to stay that way, which is why you're switching to beer," Clark told him, sounding amused.
"That's Clark," Lex said solemnly. "Always the--sensible one."
"'Cept where girls are concerned. There he's just a dork."
Lex looked at his friend, who had an expression of exasperated tolerance on his face, and hid a laugh. "We should get him a date," he told Pete.
"No, thank you," Clark said hastily. "I can find my own dates."
"Uh huh." Pete drained the last of his Scotch and tried to give Clark a serious look. "You didn't get with Lana in high school because you were too nervous, an' you didn't get with Chloe for the same reasons. And now Lana's taken and Chloe--" Pete turned to glare at Lex. "Chloe's making a mistake," he grumbled.
"I'd like to see you tell her that," Lex retorted. "I'll even be nice and have an ice pack handy for when she breaks your nose."
Pete blinked owlishly at him. "She wouldn't hit me."
"I think she might," Clark admitted.
"Hmph." Pete grumbled into his empty glass. "Where's the waitress? We need more Scotch."
"You need water," Clark told him.
"I do not." Pete signaled at the waitress, who came over, carrying a tray under one arm. "Can we get more Scotch?" he asked.
"Make it a round of beer instead," Clark told her.
Pete glared at him.
"From the looks of this bottle, I'd go with the beer too," the waitress said. "Draft, bottle?"
"Whatever's on tap," Clark said.
She nodded and smiled. "Be right back."
"Clark thinks he knows what's best for people," Lex confided to Pete.
"So how come he's okay with Chloe marrying you?" Pete demanded.
"Who said he was?"
Pete blinked in surprise. "Clark?"
"Uh--I'm staying out of this," Clark said.
"Uh uh. Spill, man."
Clark sighed. "So maybe I reacted a bit badly at first. But--Chloe's an adult, Pete. She has a right to make her own decisions."
The waitress came back and set their glasses down; Pete drank down about half of his before responding. "She deserves better," he grumbled.
"Probably," Lex admitted, taking a drink of his beer.
Pete glared at him. "You don't deserve her."
"Nope." One-word responses were probably safest; any more than that and God knew what he'd say. Lex knew from painful past experience that he didn't watch his words when he got drunk.
"As long as you know that."
Pete stared into his beer. "If you hurt her, I'll kill you," he warned Lex. "I don't care how rich you are."
"Get in line."
"Who's ahead of me?" Pete demanded.
"She is." Lex took a long swallow of beer and looked over at Pete. "And believe me, Pete--I've had Chloe angry at me once. That was enough."
Clark winced. "She left you in one piece?"
"Physically," Lex said wryly.
"Ow." Clark shuddered. "What'd you do?"
"You don't want to know." Lex smiled a little, remembering. She was beautiful when she was furious--cliched, but true. And the make-up sex was worth the fighting. Bending her over the piano in the drawing room, his hands linked with hers, clothes strewn everywhere...Lex shifted a little in his seat and drank more beer.
Pete sighed. "I really don't need to think about you and Chloe doin' the horizontal mambo," he complained.
"Easier said than done," Pete grumbled.
Lex shrugged. "Not my problem."
"Look, guys, could the two of you at least try to get along?" Clark asked. "For Chloe's sake?"
Both of them turned to glare at him. Clark raised his hands defensively. "It was only a suggestion."
Lex sighed, turning back to Pete. "I'm only doing this for Chloe," he said grudgingly, holding out his hand.
Pete stared at his hand in suspicion before taking it. "Okay."
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