nom (r1cepudding) wrote in selling_out,
nom
r1cepudding
selling_out

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Late. So very late.

Remember when tstar78 broke Clark and Lex up?

And then pearl_o played good fairy and got them back together, and then turned evil stepmother and broke our hearts again?

And then dammitcarl made it aaaaaaaall better?

Well, my job was to tell the story of what actually happened on that fateful night when Lex was out of town and Clark, well.

Clark was out with Ethan.

Many, many kisses to my beloved tstar78 who pulled this story up by its bootstraps and turned it into something readable. And then she betaed it too. *g*

So, now without further ado.

Title: Priority
Fandom: SV - The Spectacles AU
Author: Bexless



Ethan’s through the door and face down on Clark’s bed before he even says hello.

“Oh, God,” he moans into the covers. “I have to break up with Ben again. I’m serious, man, he’s like, a fucking machine or something. I’m supposed to see him again tonight, but last night was just, god, and I can’t even breathe properly, never mind walk, I swear to God.”

When Clark doesn’t say anything, Ethan looks up. “Clark?”

Clark looks at the floor and shifts from foot to foot.

“Clark.” Ethan bounces upright again and crosses the room “Clark, what happened?”

“Lex,” says Clark, but something stops whatever else he was going to say. He looks at the ceiling instead.

Ethan steps back, letting his hands drift down over Clark’s shoulders, rubbing his upper arms. “Something happen?”

Clark nods.

“Bad?”

“Pretty bad,” says Clark, and his voice cracks as he pulls away and goes to sit on the edge of his bed. His head isn’t even in his hands before Ethan’s on the bed next to him.

“You guys fight all the time, Clark,” Ethan whispers, hugging him with one arm. “Come on, how bad can it be?”

“We didn’t fight.” Clark toes one of the burn marks Thomas left on his rug when him and Ethan were getting high and Clark stopped paying attention for five seconds.

Ethan doesn’t say anything.

“He left,” Clark says finally, biting it out like it won’t hurt as much that way. “He left me.”

“Clark.” The bed creaks as Ethan slides down onto the floor, shifting onto his knees in front of Clark. “Clark, man, don’t be stupid. Where would he go?”

“Europe,” says Clark, like Lex goes there every time he breaks up with his boyfriend. “London, according to his secretary.”

“His-” Ethan sits back on his heels. “He didn’t tell you himself?”

Clark shakes his head.

“Motherfucker,” breathes Ethan. “Is – is this about that fight you guys had over that chick at the gig the other night?”

“Maybe?” Clark shrugs his shoulders high and wraps his arms around himself. “I haven’t spoken to him since. I – I was giving him time to cool off.”

“And he left the *country*? God!” Ethan rubs Clark’s knee. “And people say *I’m* dramatic.”

Clark has to smile at that. “He…sometimes he overreacts.”

“The man makes my tantrums look like amateur theatrics,” says Ethan, shaking his head. “Man. What an asshole.”

“He’s not-”

Ethan stops him with a finger on his lips. “Yes he is. He’s off playing spin-the-billionaire in London, and you’re sitting here like, I dunno, the goddam Clark of Shallot, or something, and you’re my fucking bass player, man, so until he gets his bald ass back here and proves otherwise, I, your friend and superior, am declaring him an asshole.”

Clark laughs. “You’re such a dork.”

Ethan tries to look affronted. “Hey, no insulting the cheer-up guy. Come on.” Ethan rises, slapping Clark’s thigh as he does so. “We’re going out.”

Clark groans, and falls back on the bed. “Ethan, I don’t think-”

“You don’t think it’s a good idea, you want to be alone, you’re not feeling up to it.” Ethan’s in front of Clark’s tiny closet, pulling out shirts and jeans, dropping the discarded ones on the floor. “Yadda, yadda. It’ll do you good. Besides, you don’t think Lex is sitting all alone in his hotel room, do you?”

Clark sighs. “I know there’s something wrong with the picture when I start thinking you’re right.”

***

They’re at Monterey’s and Clark is drunk, which is insane enough in itself because Clark *never* gets drunk. Ethan doesn’t know if it’s because he can sink more beer than a whole football team and still walk straight, or because of his weird little bass player-come-security guard thing, but there it is.

Tonight when Ethan ordered them shots of tequila, Clark just leant over, smiled at the barmaid until she was practically climbing over the padded bar to jump him, and asked if she’d let them have the bottle.

Of course she said yes. Who wouldn’t? Which is how Ethan ended up at one of the high tables in the corner, sipping his beer and watching Clark work his way steadily through his third bottle of hard liquor, getting slowly trashed out of his mind.

“What?” says Clark.

Ethan blinks. “Hmmm?”

“You were staring.”

“Well,” says Ethan, trying not to notice when Clark licks his lips, “I was just thinking about how you *can* get drunk, it just takes a little effort, is all.”

“Oh, yeah,” says Clark, taking another long swallow. He doesn’t even wince, like it’s water or something. “That.”

“Clark,” Ethan starts, but he doesn’t know what to say so he shuts his mouth again. What the fuck does he know, anyway? The closest thing he’s ever had to a long-term relationship is Ben, and he doesn’t think fucking each other’s brains out for umpteen nights in a row and then not speaking for months on end really counts. He tries again. “Clark, I have to make a call. I’ll be right back.”

Clark just nods, already raising the bottle back to his mouth.

Ethan steps out into the back alley and pulls his phone out. It doesn’t even ring twice before it’s picked up.

“I know last night must have been rough on you, but you’re not wimping out on me, are you?”

Ethan grins. “Hello to you too. And don’t flatter yourself, okay?”

Ben snorts. “What’s up? You can’t make it?”

Ethan sighs, leaning back against the wall and digging in his pockets for a smoke. “It’s Clark. Luthor left him.”

There’s a pause, and then Ben says, “For real?”

“He’s in Europe,” Ethan mumbles around the cigarette, finally getting it to light on the third try. “So I’m guessing pretty real.”

“Wow.” Ethan can hear Ben drinking something. “So you’re stuck picking up the pieces of the broken shell that once was Clark?”

“Something like that. He’s getting drunk.”

Ben makes a choking sound. Ethan has a feeling whatever Ben was drinking just ended up all over everything. “Clark’s getting *drunk*?”

“It’s all true.” Ethan takes another long drag, narrowing his eyes at the creepy guy giving him an appraising look from the end of the alley. “He’s pretty much a mess. I think I need to be here.”

“Where are you? Do you want me to come down?”

Ethan takes the phone away from his ear and looks at it. “Are you saying I’m incapable of lending emotional support when it’s needed?”

“I would never say that,” says Ben soothingly. “But I do think you’re pretty much incapable of not jumping Clark when he’s drunk, vulnerable and newly single.”

“Hey!” Ethan grinds his cigarette out under his shoe. “I am not some crazed nymphomaniac!”

“Really,” Ben drawls. “Doesn’t sound like the Ethan I knew in high school.”

Ethan rolls his eyes. “Please, that’s hardly a fair assessment. I was a seething bag of hormones, and you were my only sexual outlet outside of masturbation.”

“Mmm, I know.” Ben’s voice drops again, almost a purr now. “I seem to remember you letting me watch a couple of times.”

Ethan leans back against the wall. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what? Don’t tell you how incredible you look when you’re jerking yourself off for me?”

Ethan groans as his confused blood rushes in two directions at once. “Great. Send me back into Monterey’s hard and blushing. That’ll make everything so much easier.”

Ben laughs, and Ethan doesn’t now whether to be mad or glad that the sound can still make him shiver. “I thought you said you had it under control?”

“I do! I did.” Ethan opens one eye to make sure the creepy guy is gone, and reaches down to adjust himself. “Thanks. You were no help at all. I’ll call you later.”

Ben’s still laughing when Ethan hangs up the phone.

***

“Sorry, Clark, I just had to – Clark?” Ethan spins round next to their table, scanning the crowded bar until he finds – oh, shit.

“Yeah, that’s us,” Clark’s saying when Ethan reaches him. “So you like the band, huh?”

“Oh, yeah,” says the girl Clark’s talking to, snuggling in close to the nice convenient arm he’s laid along the bar behind her.

“We love you guys,” says her friend, staring at Ethan over Clark’s shoulder. “Right, Michelle?”

The girl next to Clark smiles prettily, tilting her face upwards. “Absolutely.”

“Sorry to interrupt, ladies,” says Ethan, cutting in between Clark and the Michelle chick. “But I need to borrow my bassist for a second.”

He steers Clark firmly away, ignoring his complaints about leaving the bottle on the bar.

“What are you doing?” says Clark, shaking off Ethan’s hands when they reach the doors.

Ethan pulls him into the red hallway, which leads to the bathroom. “What are *you* doing?”

“I’m having fun,” says Clark sullenly, folding his arms. “Isn’t that what you dragged me out for?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t mean you should hit on everything that moves. And while we’re on the subject – are you aware that your new best friends back there are seriously lacking in the dick department?”

Clark looks at him. “Your point being?”

“Well the last time I looked, you were pretty much gay.” Ethan digs in his pocket again, only to find the packet’s empty. “Fuck. Look, Clark, you really don’t want to do this.”

Clark rolls his eyes. “Oh, this should be good.”

“Look, I know I’m not Lex’s biggest fan, but it’s like I said before, you guys fight all the time.”

“But this is-”

“Different, I know.” Ethan finds a lone cigarette in his pocket and latches onto it like a dying man. It’s a little battered, but it’ll do. “But come on, you can do better than no-skirt back at the bar.”

Clark raises an eyebrow. “Jealous?”

Ethan gives him a look. “You. Lex. Forever and ever a-yadda yadda. Jealousy really not a new thing, here.”

“Right,” says Clark. He steps forward and plucks Ethan’s cigarette out from between his lips. “But see, that’s the thing. There’s nothing to be jealous of anymore.”

For a moment it doesn’t even register, and then Ethan’s too busy trying to process the fact that Clark kissing him to deal with the fact that Clark is, well, kissing him.

Ethan has been dreaming about this moment for months. And not just dreaming: he’s planned for it, counted on it, fucking *written* and *sung* about it, and now it’s here and suddenly Ethan can’t remember what he’s supposed to do next.

He didn’t think it would be like this.

Clark was supposed to leave *Luthor*, not the other way around. He was supposed to wise up, see Lex for the sanctimonious old bastard he really was and come running to Ethan, talking about how he’s been blind but he sees clearly now, and Ethan’s all he’s ever wanted but he just didn’t know it.

Or maybe he was supposed to be on stage one night and look over and see Ethan at his absolute best and just, bam, fall, like Ethan fell the first time he got his hands on a guitar. Or, or he could have caught Ethan unawares while he was practicing, or writing, or doing something involving and artistic, anyway, and Clark was supposed to watch for a while, arms folded and that little smile he gets when he’s happy but he doesn’t need to talk about why. He was supposed to see Ethan the way Ethan has always imagined he must look when he’s lost inside the music, because he doesn’t believe anything can feel that good and not show on the outside. Some things are more than just a feeling.

Ethan knows, he’s always been hopeless at keeping anything inside, it always leaks out onto his face and into his voice and people say, you’re too emotional Ethan, and he wants to scream at them of *course* I’m emotional, I’m a fucking artist, a musician, a poet. Which is why he’ll hit on Clark until the cows come home but he won’t say anything real, because all that stuff, well. He needs it for the songs.

He’s sung about Clark a thousand times, it feels like, hashed out every facet of his unrequited lust in front of people he doesn’t know who paid to come in and listen to them play. He’s told everyone in the crowd about what he’d do when Clark finally got himself a clue and decided he loved Ethan too, but that was a lot easier to do when Ethan had his guitar to hide behind, and Clark was anonymous, oblivious, and very much taken.

He never once during all those times thought he’d feel like this.

Contrary to what Ethan let Clark believe, he does remember that night in the cab – yet another night fueled by tequila, which Ethan is never going to drink, ever again – but it’s totally different being the one on the other side of the drunken haze.

Clark’s mouth is just as soft and wet as it was before, but Ethan doesn’t remember it being this wide or the way Clark’s big hands can pull him up close so they’re pressed so tightly up against each other. Clark’s hot, really hot in the temperature sense, and his tongue is obsessed with Ethan’s upper lip.

It’s that thought which makes its way through the noise and the heat to make Ethan pull away, stare at Clark, who’s flushed and breathing fast and say, “No.”

Clark smiles. “Yeah, right.”

“I mean it, Clark, no.” Ethan pushes against Clark’s chest but he’s like a fucking wall. “I’m not doing this. I wouldn’t do anything-”

Clark laughs, and lets go suddenly so Ethan has to put a hand out to steady himself. “You wouldn’t what? Do anything to come between me and Lex?”

Ethan has to smile at that. “Good call. But what I was going to say was that I wouldn’t – I won’t – do anything to jeopardize the band.”

Clark’s still grinning, and he’s still so close. “Including me?”

Ethan closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “Clark, you’re the one who’s always saying I’m a good person underneath all the bullshit, okay, so I’m gonna trust you on that and say no.” He looks up, meeting Clark’s eyes. “Not even you.”

Clark looks at him.

Ethan looks back.

Clark stops smiling. “I know you want me.”

“Not in dispute.” Ethan shakes his head. “But I want my band more. And this would be, like, the worst thing ever in the history of bad things, and tomorrow? When you wake up and remember how much you’re not in love with me? That’s really gonna suck.”

Clark doesn’t say anything.

“Come on, Clark.” Ethan touches his arm. “You know me. I can’t be second best to anybody.”

Clark looks at the floor for a minute, and then shoves his hands in his pockets. “Whatever. I’m going to get another drink.”

Ethan steps back to let him pass and wishes he’d brought backup.

***

Forty-five minutes later and he’s wishing he’d brought a fucking army.

“Clark, I really don’t think this is a good idea.”

Michelle laughs. “What are you, his babysitter?”

“Shut the fuck up, blondie,” snaps Ethan, turning on her.

“Hey!” Clark pushes Ethan back slightly, getting between him and Michelle. “Don’t talk to Michelle that way.”

“What?” Ethan almost laughs. “Clark, you don’t even know her!”

“That,” says Clark quietly, getting in Ethan’s face so no one else will hear, “is sort of the point, here, genius. Now are you going to get out of my way or do I have to make you?”

Ethan blinks. “Are you threatening me? Because you know, of all the reasons for morning-after embarrassment you’ve racked up tonight, I’ve gotta say that’s probably the biggest.”

Clark rolls his eyes. “Whatever.” He grabs Michelle’s arm and pushes past Ethan. “I’ll see you later.”

“Clark.” Ethan catches up to him and puts a hand on his shoulder. “This isn’t like you.”

Clark turns around and shoves Ethan off with enough force to send him staggering back into a table. “Well being like me didn’t get me very far in the past, now did it? Maybe I’ll try being like you for a change.”

By the time Ethan’s even had time to think about what that means, Clark’s heading for the door, girl in tow.

Ben comes in just as Clark leaves, and looks to Ethan for an explanation when the only response he gets to his ‘Hey Clark’ is an inarticulate grunt.

“Did I miss something?”

Ethan sighs. “Just Clark’s sudden transformation into the Incredible Drunk.”

Ben grins. “I sort of thought you’d be the one heading home with him.”

“Believe me, I could have been.”

Ben raises an eyebrow and offers Ethan a smoke. “You’re trying to tell me you turned him down?”

Ethan takes the cigarette and looks down at it. “Morals and everything. You would have been so proud.” He looks up, frowning. “What are you doing here, anyway?”

Ben shrugs, lighting his own cigarette and then Ethan’s. “Thought you might need some back up.”

“Your timing sucks,” says Ethan. “But thanks.”

“No problem,” says Ben, smiling. “So, are these moral things here to stay, or are you still up for a little debauchery back at my place?”

Ethan laughs, and grabs his jacket. “God, please. I feel so violated. Next thing I’ll be developing a work ethic.”

“Can’t have that,” says Ben.

And he holds the door for Ethan as they leave.
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