Red Seven

by Hope

Happy birthday, LaT!

Sneaking into a bar turned out to be a lot more fun in concept than execution. Clark suspected- though couldn't prove- that Lex had picked the most boring, out-of-the-way bar possible on purpose. Instead of cage dancers and strobe lights, The Wharf Rat boasted a live band on a stage the size of a postage stamp, very little light, and the crunch of peanut shells every time Clark took a step. They hadn't asked for his ID at the door, and there was something just -wrong- about a bar where you could order mashed potatoes and boiled cabbage.

Also in the wrong category: Lex with a thick pint of brown beer, sprawled at a scratched table. He looked like he should be drinking martinis at some exclusive club, or maybe snapping at beat poetry in a coffee house. Clark couldn't remember him wearing the black turtleneck before, but that was the once decent thing about this walk on the non-wild side. Clark had no idea what it was made of, but it looked soft, and it wasn't really tight, but whenever Lex moved, Clark could make out the lean ripple of his muscle beneath it.

Temptation in a sort-of sweater, and Lex hadn't even had the decency to not-sneak him into a gay bar where he could actually smooth his hands across his back, or maybe slip his fingers beneath the hem to skim his waist. Clark leaned his chair back, trying not to think about what they could be doing in a gay bar right now, and fixed his attention on the band. The sign said they were the Young Dubliners, but from the looks of them, they were neither young, nor from the sound of them talking between songs, Dubliners.

Lex seemed to like them, though, and even knew some of the songs, occasionally mouthing lyrics over the lip of his glass. Lex wasn't exactly big on public displays of... well, anything, so Clark leaned over (all the better to accidentally brush his arm against the sweater, jeez, very soft, so very soft...) to talk below the music. "You actually like this?"

"Reminds me of England," Lex said, his features lighting with a wry half-smile that indicated he was either telling the truth, or outright lying, but in either case, a good time was being had by the Luthor.

"You said you hated England." Clark murmured the rest of the sentence into his glass. "I can see why."

The half-smile widened, and Lex rolled his head over to look at him. "I said I hated boarding school. Is there a problem, Clark?"

"No!" Clark answered too quickly, and being prompted by one raised eyebrow, he continued. "I just thought we were going to do something... exciting."

Taking another sip of his beer, Lex's tongue slipped over his lips to catch the sheen left behind. "Tell me something. How grounded would you be if your parents knew you were in a bar right now?"

Clark looked around at the other patrons. Mostly blue collar, mostly his parents' age, mostly doing nothing but sitting and drinking and eating weird things they'd ordered off a chalkboard menu. The really wild ones tapped their feet along to electric Irish pub songs. He'd be very grounded, and it wouldn't even be worth it. "They didn't even card me."

"You only ordered a Coke," Lex said. He had an infuriating habit of pointing out the obvious. Standing up, he gestured toward a narrow flight of steps hiding in the darkest corner yet. "Come on."

Hesitating didn't enter Clark's mind, he followed without question. Upstairs could be good, it could be a secret bastion of semi-public sex or secret hands of poker or just about anything. Upstairs seemed like endless possibility, and that was the whole idea, right? Ditch Smallville and do things they could never do there; behave badly and get drunk on inconsequential misdemeanors in a town where no one recognized them.

Squelching the desire to take a quick peek through the ceiling, he watched Lex's shoulders instead. Rolling with each step, immaculate black washed along his back, marking out the breadth of his body underneath. A quick glance confirmed no one was watching, so Clark let go of the rail to run his fingers down Lex's spine. Very soft, the fabric felt warm to the touch, radiating with Lex's heat. Better still, that Lex's skin lay beneath, and if Clark closed his eyes, he could see it- smooth and pale, dusted with fawn freckles that tasted like the rest of his skin, but were fascinating to sample anyway.

"I wouldn't suggest doing that here." Looking back over his shoulder, lips slightly parted, his eyes half-closed, Lex looked like sex. All in black, in partial darkness, smelling of citrus and wheaty beer, if he'd really meant that, he would have kept walking. Lex never had to say "I dare you" out loud. He managed it with a glance that lingered on Clark's mouth before meeting his eyes.

Suddenly, the stairwell seemed a lot smaller. Warmer. More electric, but with Lex one step above him, Clark could only catch the corner of his mouth. Just half a kiss, Clark could taste the part of his lips, but not slip past them. Shallow strokes of heat, Lex's breath on his skin, lured him toward a target he couldn't quite reach. To make it worse, Lex flicked the tip of his tongue against Clark's, exhaling hot against his mouth before continuing up the stairs like nothing had happened.

Not fair, definitely not fair, and now aching to push him against a wall and wrap his hands in that shirt to hold him still, Clark was certain Lex had planned this whole night on the town just to torture him. This was worse than the Ethiopian restaurant for lunch, where Clark had to suffer watching Lex flush and lick hot-spiced Awaze from his fingers, because at least in the restaurant, Clark -knewnothing could happen. With a groan, Clark tugged on the leg of his jeans to loosen them, and took the rest of the steps two at a time to catch up.

Upstairs wasn't any more exciting than downstairs, it turned out. The same dingy lighting, the same dingy people- the only difference was that rather than a dingy live band, this floor boasted several dingy pool tables. The felt stained with spilled drinks, and cue balls yellowed with age, Clark had a hard time imagining Lex wanting to touch the tables, let alone play on them. Yet, there he was, smoothing down a dollar bill to claim one.

Carelessly casual, Lex turned to pluck a cue off the wall rack, holding it out to peer down its length. "Coming, Clark?"

Joining him, Clark picked a cue at random and started chalking it. He didn't know why he chalked it, except that's what people in movies did, and he liked that the blue dust that filtered down from the cube smelled sweet and hot. Leaning against the wall, Clark tilted his head toward Lex. "We could have played pool at home."

Lex just shook his head, an almost imperceptible gesture. Narrowing his eyes, he watched the men circling around the table he'd claimed. Clark couldn't figure out what was so interesting- they just seemed like a couple of guys playing pool. The short... well, shorter than Clark anyway, strawberry blond leaned over the table, cutting a smug grin at his friend, then marked a pocket with the tip of his cue. One smooth stroke, and he sank a striped twelve, pushing back from the table with a wide-armed bow.

The friend glanced back at Clark and Lex, his goatee-framed smile gleaming against his creamed-coffee skin. "He likes to show off."

"When you're good, you're good," Lex said with half a smile, propping the pool cue against his thigh and holding it lightly between his fingers.

"And I am fan-fucking-tastic," the blond said, circling the table with sweeping waves of his cue. He didn't even stop to measure or consider, leaning over the rail again to nail the fourteen ball home to the side pocket. With a gleeful tap, he indicated the far corner pocket, and eased the black eight into it with casual grace. "Thank you, thank you. Don't applaud, just throw money."

Clark dipped his head, trying not to laugh out loud. Sure, it was a good couple of shots, but he'd seen Lex do better just fooling around. With the table clear, Clark pushed off the wall to start refilling the rack. He'd expected the other guys to back off, but they hovered instead, making introductions.

"Lewis," the friend said, extending his hand to shake Lex's. He nodded over his shoulder. "That's my boy, Mikey."

Snapping gum, Mike leaned across the corner of the table to shake Lex's hand, too. "Pleasure."

"All mine." Shifting off the wall, Lex offered them a faint smile. "Lex. This is my friend Clark."

Clark murmured a non-committal greeting, and set himself back to the task of arranging the balls. Meeting new people, yes, very nice and all that, but mostly he wanted them to go away so he could brush up against Lex while making wild shots that would require correction. Hands-on correction. Very close, close enough to breathe his scent- brush against the watery black texture of the turtleneck and feel his warmth through it... in an instant, Clark was glad the table was waist high. He managed to rein in his thoughts just in time to hear Lex agree to play partners against them.

Melting back to stand beside Clark, Lex glanced up at him with another mysterious half-smile. "Why don't you go ahead and break, Lewis?"

"What are you doing," Clark whispered, knitting his brows.

"You wanted excitement." Rolling the cue between his palms, Lex shared his most genuine snake-oil smile when Lewis cracked the break and claimed stripes for their team. What followed was perhaps the oddest game of pool Clark had ever seen Lex play. After all of his lectures about physics and geometry, Lex kept his shots simple and straight. Without any of his smooth banks and cuts, and Clark's own annoying tendency to scratch when he hit the ball too hard, the other guys beat them easily.

More remarkable than watching Lex lose was watching Lex lose gracefully. He smiled and laughed, batting their gentle trash-talk back at them with self-deprecating grins. After Mike showboated the eight ball into the side pocket, Lex bought a congratulatory round of beer, and alternated sips of it around a stick of gum he'd been offered and bizarrely accepted. All the posing seemed to amuse Lex, and Clark wondered if he was a little bit drunk.

Racking the balls again, Clark followed the subtle slide of a ten dollar bill all the way from Lex's pocket to smoothed out on the rail on top of the ten Lewis had laid there. Without a single, spoken agreement, they'd gone from playing for fun to playing for cash. The second game fared no better than the first, but if anything, Lex seemed looser than ever. He leaned against the pool table and twisted his arms with the pool cue as ballast as he listened to Lewis wind up to the punchline of a joke.

"So the bear says..." Lewis trailed off, tipping the brim of his hat back with his cue. "You didn't come here to hunt, didya?"

Mike leaned over Lex's shoulder, sounding nearly apologetic. "You gotta forgive my partner. That's the only joke he knows."

"It's a good one," Lex said, palming a twenty onto the table. He glanced back at Clark, bluesilver eyes darkening with amusement that had absolutely nothing to do with the joke. "The version I heard had a little more fucking in it, though."

Pointing across the table, Lewis shook his head. "Now see? That's what's wrong with the world. Everybody's jaded, everybody's got everything they ever wanted 'fore they were old enough to pronounce it. Little kids, ain't even big enough to be out of short pants, they're sitting up in their bedrooms playing Doom..."

"Nobody plays Doom anymore," Mike said, flashing a dimpled grin Clark's way.

Lewis ignored him and continued, plucking the rack off the table and tossing it on a nearby chair. "Watching NC-17 movies, drinking 40s on the front steps in front of God and everybody. No wonder we got to roll the corners." He turned quickly, his jacket flapping open to reveal a flash of badge on his belt as he lined up to make the break. "For example... for example..." He paused long enough to scatter the balls, then looked up at Clark as he rounded the table to sink the fourteen and nine in rapid succession. "How old are you?"

"Twenty one," Clark replied instantly, then did the math in his head to make sure he could tell him what year he was born in if he asked. Rubbing the chalk against his fingers, he swallowed hard and wondered if Lex had seen the badge.

Sending the cue ball into a spinning draw, Lewis shrugged when he failed to pocket anything. "You know what I was doing when I was your age?"

With a laugh, Mike stepped out of the way so Lex could survey the table. "Waiting for your pubic hair to come in?"

Lewis snorted. "Don't confuse me with you, Mikey. Nah, see, what I was doing was living in a world where a cell phone was a fantasy, a CD was something your daddy bought to retire on, and the only channels we had were the ones you could get on the rabbit ears."

"Sounds depressing," Lex said, his voice carried on an even breath. The cue smoothed through his fingers, and on his command, blue two banked lazily off the rail and slid into the opposite side pocket. Straightening up, he caught Clark's eye across the table. Brows dancing up once, all of his loose, jovial softness washed out of him, but the Cheshire cat smile remained. Marking the edge of the table with a feral gait, Lex scanned the table and picked his next shot.

"Yeah, uphill, both ways, in the snow." Mike was still smiling, but some of it faded when Lex made his next combination, clearing yellow one and orange five with one deft stroke.

Celluloid balls huddled together at one end of the table, and Lex gave the cue a light tap, leaving the mess for the other team to clean up. Graciously stepping aside, Lex claimed his glass and brushed behind Clark as he moved for a better vantage point. He murmured when he passed, his voice little more than a breath to tease the back of Clark's neck. "Excited yet?"

Chalking his cue endlessly, a light blue snow dusted Clark's fingers, collecting between, grainy and stick as glue. Clark inhaled the chalk's heat-scent again, leaning back just a little to rub his shoulder against Lex's. "Lex, they're cops."

"Really?" On the verge of laughing, Lex teased his thumb against the small of Clark's back. A simple touch, but Lex managed to spread it out, slipping under Clark's t-shirt to trace the blunt edge of his nails on his skin. Tattooing possession with lazy swirls, Lex watched the game and leaned in to murmur again when Mike cursed unlucky thirteen for bobbling on the edge of the pocket without falling. "Take four on the side."

Clark had to walk all the way around to make the shot. Bending over the table, his gaze ran along the pale maple length of the cue, and out across the green. Trying to focus on the balls, Clark made the mistake of glancing up at Lex before shooting. There he was, leaning against the wall, propping the stick between his legs and tipping his head back to watch with a soft, lazy part to his lips. Blue four caromed off the rail and helpfully sank striped fifteen for Lewis' turn.

"Now that's a damned shame," Lewis said, getting back into the spirit of things. Even with the cheerful note to his words, tension sharpened them and Clark tried not to wince when he fired thirteen into the corner pocket, then ten into the side. They were two shots ahead now, and three from winning. Lewis pursed his lips, stroked the cue against his thumb and sent eleven to bed with a bank shot. "A damned sorry shame."

Smug when Lewis failed to send twelve home, too, Lex didn't even wait for him to clear the table before leaning in to snap six into the far corner. Spreading a hand on the rail, he dipped to consider the positions, examining the constellation pattern of stripes and solids scattered on the felt before balancing the cue on his outstretched fingers. His gaze flickered up to Clark, the tip of his tongue caught between his teeth. Hesitation, then a hard drive, the four Clark had missed followed six down with a death rattle.

Swaggering past Mike, whose grin had banked to a glower, Lex tapped orange three and stepped back when it guttered into the pocket. Four balls left on the table, and Lex took his time wandering over to Clark to claim the cube of chalk. He rubbed it in slow, deliberate rolls over the tip of the cue, his eyes trailing up to meet Clark's, and he murmured, "What will you give me if I win?"

It took a moment for Clark to register the question. He'd been staring at Lex's hands this time, the agile strength of them manipulating the chalk, tendons wavering to his wrists, wrists disappearing under black, clasping cuffs. Anything. He'd give him anything if he'd hurry up and win, but that wasn't the answer Lex was looking for. Breaking into a brilliant smile, Clark raised a skeptical brow. "If?"

"When," Lex said, and tossed the chalk to him. He didn't wait to see if Clark caught it, staking out the short end of the table and calling, "Corner pocket." The white cue snapping, spinning red seven in a long, hooked path. It seemed to die just on the edge of the pocket, teetering with a half-hearted pirouette. Mike cursed it, and Lewis gave it the evil eye, but whatever magic they possessed had run out about the same time Lex had decided to actually play the game. With a little, bouncing hiccup, the ball collapsed into the pocket to a chorus of hissed curses.

Now it was just a matter of cleaning up the leftovers. The eightball had been hugging the rail next to the side pocket, and it slipped in without a protest. The game over, Lex flashed a quick smirk at Mike, and to repay him for all the backwards, cue-swinging, jig-dancing shots he'd made, Lex simply leaned over and pocketed the last striped ball with a casual flick.

Lex collected the cash on the rail, catching his lower lip on his teeth before looking up at the defeated. "Thank you, gentlemen."


"The money had nothing to do with it, Clark," Lex said, cutting down a tight alley. Steep brick walls rose up on either side of them, filtering out moonlight but capturing sound to magnify it. Gulls cried in the distance, and a tug whistle groaned out on a harbor they could smell, but couldn't see. Cool had crept in off the water, lingering in the double-shadows cast by the row houses surrounding them. No crickets or cicadas, no corn stalks whispering in the wind- night sounded foreign and exotic in Baltimore. "It was about winning."

Jumping over a cellar door, Clark shook his head. "Yeah, but you kept the money."

"Because I won it." Turning around, Lex didn't miss a step, walking backward just as easily as he did forward. "Speaking of winning, I believe you owe me something."

"I didn't call you on hustling pool, did I?" Clark grinned when they stopped. Practically on top of Lex, Clark gave in to temptation and caught the hem of Lex's sweater between his fingers. It slid like mercury under his touch, liquid, rich and warm.

Hands in his pockets, Lex looked up at him. "They were hustling us." Stepping closer, Lex's gaze fell to trace Clark's mouth, a slow, deliberate perusal. "They failed." He bumped Clark back with another step, turning his head to exhale a slow, hot breath against Clark's jaw. One more step, and he backed Clark against the brick, mapping his throat with lazy tastes, flickering his tongue against a pulse that beat hard and fast. Finally freeing a hand from his pocket, Lex dragged his palm from Clark's waist all the way to his throat, dipping and pressing his thumb with various shades of possessive pressure. Curving it to catch his jaw, Lex pulled to make Clark dip his head and meet his gaze. Deliberate, Lex curled his lips around words, his voice low and dark. "What will you give me, Clark?"

Anything. Anything in the shape of a whispered kiss, all of Lex's mouth open to him now, Clark took advantage. Skimming with a light touch, Clark teased- slicking his mouth and curling his tongue to sample the furrow of Lex's scar. A faint hint of beer and Juicy Fruit sweetened his mouth when he slipped in for a deeper taste, an absurd combination that whispered memories of a night not quite yet over. Half-kissing him in the dark stairwell, watching him idle lean and dangerous over the pool table, the torment of a hidden touch on the small of his back- not so much torture now, as agonizingly extended foreplay. Lips clinging and catching, Clark murmured a groan into Lex's mouth when he slipped his fingers into his hair to pul him down.

A slow tangle of tongues, hot and slick, coursing past teeth in measured glides, Lex leaned into Clark, knotting his fingers in his hair. Held in place, forced to meet each angled slide, Clark finally got to touch, knotting his hands in the front of Lex's shirt, delicate fabric protesting when he twisted against it. Slick, like Lex's longue, and so hot, Clark broke away from the kiss just so he could sink down into it again. Coaxing him closer, he pulled Lex's tongue into his mouth, sucking with slow, steady pulses Lex matched with the grind of his hips.

Brick dug into Clark's back, cool, rough contrast to Lex's heat, leverage for each stroke against him. Everything ached, muscles coiled tight with want, his jeans cutting a seam across his cock and when Lex bit his lip, it was all stars and night and distant harbor lights, all the world this narrow alley in a strange city; it felt good when Lex twisted his fingers in his hair again, gentle insistent pressure to break him from his mouth, to push him to his knees.

That was the whole idea, right? Bad behavior, like pressing his face against the arch of Lex's cock, breathing hot through black denim to make him shiver as he worked the zipper. Inconsequential misdemeanors, freeing Lex's dusky cock in some rain-damp back alley, burying his face against ginger curls and inhaling the scent of sex and sweat before dragging his lower lip along his length. Clark could taste him in the back of his throat, a remembered flavor that sharpened with reacquaintance. Tightening his lips, Clark smoothed over the head, and stopped, washing his tongue against the underside of it, and casting his gaze up to watch.

Incredible, hot, Lex dug his fingers against the brick, barely holding his head away from it. Mouth slack, the cool expanse of his brow had flattened, smooth over heavy-lidded eyes, he looked startled and drugged, half-cast in double shadows that danced when Clark swallowed more of him. Grasping the base of Lex' cock, he stroked it past his lips, into the hard vault of his mouth. Long, steady strokes, deliberately slow to watch Lex struggle between control and pleasure, Clark knew what he liked. Murmuring a low hum against the head of his cock, Clark caught his fingers in the shirt and pulled. He pulled again, rewarded when Lex opened his eyes- rewarding Lex for looking by tightening his lips again and sinking all the way down.

Grasping his narrow hips, Clark watched Lex, his own face hot, cheeks tingling with the pull of suction as he drew all the way back before taking him again. Finding a rhythm, rocking on his knees, Clark lavished Lex's cock with long, suckling pull, lightning running in his veins and getting off on watching Lex get off. Sometimes, bliss looked like pain, sounded like it too, the alley acoustics catching even the lowest groans. It was all good, his cock hot and hard, filling his mouth, hard to breathe in the brief intervals when he slid all the way in. All good, so good, Lex's war to stay upright and quiet, seeing him bite at the air and drag his teeth against the back of his own hands.

All that fight just made it better when Lex broke. Giving in, thrusting, fucking Clark's mouth, loose mortar collapsed under his grasp to filter down on dark hair. He became a wild thing, base instinct to stroke harder, faster, breath so shallow, he nearly didn't breathe at all. He seemed to glow, the hint of sweat on his pale face catching the dim light, illuminating the arch of his mouth, the column of his throat. Flashes of his gaze when his eyes widened, he muttered a hoarse curse and shuddered, rocking forward in a long, desperate jolt.

Clark didn't let him stop, digging his fingers into his hips and pulling him into his mouth, riding each quaking roll with deep swallows. His cum tasted like a bitter kiss, just as hot as his mouth, liquid and spreading on his tongue, only sharpening Clark's sense of being, just for a moment, perfect and powerful. He sucked him long after the shudders stopped, lapping gently now, washing his flagging erection with tender strokes until Lex brushed him away.

Lacing his fingers in his shirt again, Clark pulled him down to crouch in front of him, balancing him with steady hands. He greeted him with a kiss, smiling against his mouth. "Hey."

Amused, Lex opened sleepy eyes and nipped at Clark's mouth. "Hey."

Clark traced his fingers down Lex's cheek, taking advantage of post-fellatio lassitude to kiss him again, and once more, before Lex felt the need to make himself presentable. He didn't have to say it out loud. Lex knew what he meant when he pulled back to look into him, their lips meeting in a formless caress. Lex said it too, skimming his fingers against Clark's shoulder and kissing him with eyes wide open.

A truck rumbling by on the nearby street broke the moment, and Clark dipped his head and smiled when Lex pulled away. He heard him zip up, and an old, familiar blush crept to Clark's cheeks. Even with damp patches soaked into his knees, and the taste of him still fresh on the back of his tongue, there were some things that still struck Clark as lewd.

Taking Lex's hand to stand up, Clark fixed his gaze on the end of the alley. He managed to sound thoughtful when he said, "So, that's what I'll give you if you win."

"Good to know," Lex said. He only managed to keep the flat of his lips deadpan for a moment, breaking into a quick, rare smile.

As they started for the street again, Clark glanced down. "Hey, Lex? What's that shirt made out of, anyway?"

Lex glanced at his chest, then up at Clark. "No idea."

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