Even Honesty is Financial Speculation

by zahra

For Wendi and Lyra. Thanks to A and Serial Karma.

There are strains of Beethoven wafting from the music room.

Lex pauses outside the door for several seconds, not to gather his thoughts, but to enjoy the last remnants of a very short era. He hasn't been exposed to such a steady stream of enjoyable music since his mother died and his father stopped taking him to the opera. The ear-shattering noise of college boom boxes doesn't count the way that Tchaikovsky and Mozart, or even David Bowie and The Rolling Stones, do.

Of course, Lex prefers not to indulge in nostalgia, but sometimes, he can't help himself. When he knows that something is coming to an end, he finds it's best to savor what he can of the good and the bad. There's something to be learned from every lesson: and while the music and around-the-clock sex will leave with Adam, the questions will finally be answered, so there is that.

Straightening his cuffs and brushing away invisible lint from burgundy knit, Lex steps forward and pushes the door open. The door swings noiselessly on well-oiled hinges, and Lex leans against the doorway to watch.

Adam's brow is a deep-knit v of concentration as he focuses on the sheet music in front of him instead of the rapid movements of his fingers. His bottom lip is swollen from being caught between his teeth, and he's wearing a gray zip-up sweater over the red tee shirt that Lex tossed in the corner earlier.

Adam looks good in red, like Clark, but he looks better naked.

Lex will never see that again.

He clears his throat, not so much for attention, but make sure his voice doesn't catch at an inopportune time. He's always known this was never going to last, and he refuses to admit ever hoping otherwise. Hope is for fools, and Lex has to focus on the lies. Except that all the sex clearly made him slower than usual, but that's to be expected.

Inevitably, just the potential for sex makes everyone incredibly stupid.

Adam glances up, blue eyes cutting between Lex and the sheet music. He doesn't smile. He smirks. How could Lex have ever thought that this was a beautiful thing to see? How could he ever have seriously contemplated keeping Adam in his bed, let alone his house?

"You didn't bring my stuff from the Talon?" Adam focuses on Lex's empty hands as the last bars of the concerto peter out.

"The books weren't where you said they would be."

Adam pushes away from the piano and swings one leg over the bench, straddling it sideways. "What about my jeans and my shirt? I said they were on the kitchen table, Lex. It's not as though I asked you to wash them yourself."

Lex slips his hands into his pockets as he crosses to the piano. "Domesticity has never been my strong suit."

"I asked you to grab my clothes because you were going into town anyway; I'm not trying to move in. Christ, what do you think this is Queer as Smallville?"

The irritated noise Adam makes only serves to annoy Lex. His momentary lapse into melancholy is quickly wearing off. He shrugs and leans against the side of the piano. "Is that what you want: to move in here with me?"

Shock flickers across Adam's face at an alarming rate. As do hope and confusion and something that's most likely suspicion.

"What makes - I mean, why - are you asking me to move in?" Adam bangs his elbow on the piano keys as he slides forward on the bench.

Lex's smile is all predator. "I understand it might all be a bit fast for you, but surely it'll be more convenient for sex -- and cheaper in the long run. And since I'm so close to Kent Farms, it'll be much easier for you to keep tabs on Clark."

Adam's face goes blank quickly, and if Lex weren't out for blood, he might be impressed.

Pushing away from the piano, he positions himself right next to the bench. He looms over Adam's sitting form like an executioner at the guillotine. "Lana and Clark get a journal, but I don't. I feel strangely left out."

Adam sharply pivots on the bench so that Lex is actually standing between his legs and Adam's back is to the piano keys. "I don't know what you're talking about," he says, his voice sure and unwavering.

Adam's elbows on the keys make plunking noises as he attempts to lean away from Lex's shadow, and the discordant notes are wholly fitting. Adam's created some beautiful music on Lex's piano, but it's only appropriate for Lex to change the tune mid-tempo. He's the conductor; this is his performance.

Lex's eyes narrow as he stares downward. "I haven't seen the journal, of course, but I have it on good authority that it exists."

"I have it on good authority that UFOs and aliens exist too, but you don't see me talking about them, do you?"

"So this is what you've been doing the entire time you've been here. Spying on me."

"I thought I was spying on Lana and Clark." Adam's tone is all callous disregard.

Lex is not amused.

"Who put you up to this, my father?"

"That would imply that I know your father, which I don't."

"I know he put you up to this. How much did he pay you?"

"I don't have any money," Adam says. "We've already had this conversation about thirty times, you know. Your chronic paranoia is getting boring, Lex. Call me when it wears off."

When Adam attempts to push himself up, Lex is already blocking his way. When Adam attempts to move around him, Lex refuses to cede any sort of room.

Adam's third attempt to get away results in him falling back onto the piano with the crashing of keys, and his eyes flare under Lex's cool regard. "Any time you want to stop fucking around, let me know," he snaps.

"You've been 'fucking around' with me since day one, as you so eloquently put it." Lex steps forward and leans down, using his body to crowd Adam against the piano.

He kicks Adam's legs apart to step between them and forces Adam further back with a hand to his chest. The angle looks rather awkward and painful, and all Lex can do is smile. He's not being emotional. No glass has been shattered. Nobody's died yet.

The piano bench squeaks as the pressure from their legs pushes it underneath the piano.

Adam's breath is rapid and warm against Lex's face, and his eyes are huge under Lex's unflinching stare. Lex can sense his fear mingling with something else, and he can't help but smirk when Adam thrusts against him instinctively.

"Give me one good reason why you shouldn't have a very unfortunate accident, right now." Lex pulls his hips back slightly.

Adam scowls. "Because you know I would never give you up to anyone."

"What I know is that you were keeping tabs on people important to me," Lex says.

"People who judge you and question you and think you're not good enough."

Adam grunts when Lex's hand leaves his chest and grabs a fist full of his hair; the defiance in his eyes is very clear. Lex isn't sure whether to be amused or furious. It's a close tie.

"You may not want to admit it," Adam grits out as Lex tightens his hold, "but you know I'm right. What's so great about Clark anyway? All he does is lie to you. I may not tell you the truth, but I don't lie."

Lex aborts another of Adam's thrusts. "And there's a difference?"

Adam's gaze is steady under Lex's appraisal. "I want you. I want to play the piano for you, and I want to argue with you. I want you to talk to me. I want you to fuck me. I've never hid any of that," Adam says pointedly.

He attempts to shift into a more comfortable position against the piano, but not once does he complain. Not once does he tell Lex to let him go. This is important to note.

"You just failed to tell me all the other things," Lex points out.

"You didn't give me any time."

"Time's run out," Lex says, attempting to untangle his fingers from Adam's hair and step away. He's stopped by Adam's leg wrapping around the back of his thigh.

"Not yet," Adam says, shifting forward and letting his leg slide down the outside of Lex's thigh. "Even condemned men get a final wish."

Under Lex's amused gaze, Adam strips off his sweater and shirt and begins unbuttoning his jeans. Lex takes a step back as Adam empties his pockets of a nearly-empty tube and the kind of condoms Lex prefers.

"You try and fuck me over, and now you want me to fuck you," Lex says as Adam kicks off his sneakers and his jeans. "Doesn't this seem a little dysfunctional to you?"

Instead of answering, Adam grabs a handful of Lex's sweater and kisses him hard. Dry lips, wet tongue and sharp teeth answer all sorts of questions that Adam never will, and Lex's hands tangle in licorice-colored hair as Adam yanks at the fastening of Lex's trousers.

Lex's kisses are harsh and mean. He bites and nips and leaves rose-colored marks along Adam's jaw and down the column of his neck. When Adam hisses at the sharpness of his teeth, Lex just smiles against smooth skin.

"Isn't this what you wanted?" he whispers into the shell of Adam's ear.

Another savage kiss leaves Adam panting against his mouth. "Shut up and fuck me," he says, hooking his fingers into the waistband of Lex's boxers and pulling downward with marginal success.

It's only when Adam's damp hand wraps around his cock that Lex decides that he's actually interested in doing this. The symbolism is just too good not to.

There's a flurry of movement as Lex spins Adam around and shoves him forward. He grabs at the foil packet still resting on the lid of the piano with sure fingers and doesn't bother to take off his sweater. He doesn't kick off his pants, either.

There's very little lubricant left in the bottle, and Lex uses even less than that. It's not really about pain though; it's about remembering who's in charge and why.

If Lex were in love, he suspects he would be seriously fucked up about what's going on right now. Instead his thrusts are long and smooth, and he grips Adam's hips hard enough to leave large bruises. When he pulls Adam back against his chest to get a better angle, he leaves long red scratches down his torso to remind him of Lex's benevolence.

Lex ignores Adam's pleas to jerk him off and instead concentrates on his own pleasure. Adam could be Clark. Adam could be just another body. Lex could pretend that he's not angry. He could pretend a lot of things. He whispers all these things in Adam's ears as he thrusts inside him, because it's the ultimate mind-fuck: by making Adam believe he's thinking about other people, it negates every time they were together and Lex wasn't thinking about someone else.

Lex comes quietly several minutes after Adam, and as he's pulling out he notices the beads of sweat in the small of Adam's back. He collects them with the pad of his thumb.

"Get out. Now," he says as Adam pants against the piano. "If my security team finds you, I'll have you committed to one of my labs, where you'll wish you were dead."

"I," Adam begins, but Lex cuts him off.

"If you apologize, I'll kill you myself," he says, pulling up his pants and fastening them smoothly.

"I'm not sorry, Lex," Adam says.

When he turns around his face is deeply flushed and his hair is damply plastered to his forehead. He makes no pretense of being uncomfortable under Lex's glare, despite his exposure. "If I hadn't come to Smallville I never would've met you."



The quiet welcomes Lex home in the evening like a wayward lover. There's no Duke Ellington or Bach echoing in the hallway. No crashing notes of Mahler or Tony Bennett or Leonard Cohen with Adam's gravelly tenor quietly cursing underneath it all.

After discarding his overcoat and briefcase, Lex picks up the mail from the credenza and heads for his office to make himself a drink. In a sea of invitations, glossy magazines, stiff cardboard envelopes containing comic books, and junk mail, the manila envelope sticks out like a young man from the city in a small town.

Lex's name and address are scrawled in a horrible chicken scratch that Lex has never seen before but could recognize anywhere. And as Lex nears the music room he stops, because he keeps passing the room by as though it might disappear if he ignores it long enough and that will never be the case.

Before Adam arrived, Lex spent very little time in the music room and now that Adam's gone there's no real other purpose for the room, but Lex can't waste emotions on ghosts.

Regret never got him anywhere.

He switches on the light and tucks the envelope under his arm before dropping the rest of the mail on a side table. He crosses to the piano and the bench squeals in protest as Lex pulls it out from under the piano.

He rips open the envelope as he sits down, haphazardly letting the cheap paper fall away from his fingers and onto the floor and ignoring the tiny slice the paper takes out of his thumb.

The journal inside is a cheap composition book from the store with no one's name on it and nothing written on the first several pages. There are a few pencil still-lifes here and there of various objects in the castle and some schematics in HTML. It's only towards the middle of the journal that the blue ink begins to show up in heavier intervals.

//Day 1: Met L today. Played Rachmaninoff on his piano. Not as sexual as it sounds. Unfortunately.

Day 23: Played Brahms for L today. He keeps stalking around me like something on the Discovery Channel. There's only so much restraint anybody can have. I'm 18, not 81. Also, had another fight. Didn't apologize, don't plan to. //

Lex smiles despite himself as he flips through the ragged journal, reading random entries here and there.

//Day 35: Played 'Space Oddity' for L and recited a small piece of the Iliad. I think he's got a secret thing for David Bowie. Also, we had sex. Finally. Thank God.

Day 58: I think I actually like L. This is not how it was supposed to go. It's like Calvin said, "Reality continues to ruin my life."//

Lex stares at the entry for Day 58 for a long time, before shaking his head and smirking to himself. Adam is long gone, now, he shouldn't be able to mess with Lex's head anymore, and yet, he's doing a pretty good job.

The last entry is four pages from the end of the journal.

//Day 62: Left today. Will not miss anything, except maybe L. The end.//

Lex studies the last entry, carefully; it's in black ink unlike the rest, which are all in blue ink or pencil. It's just like Adam -- short and to the point, and perhaps not completely honest.


+ Title courtesy of Baudelaire and Serial Karma. "For the merchant, even honesty is financial speculation."

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