the basketcase (dammitcarl) wrote in selling_out,
the basketcase
dammitcarl
selling_out

the road home

i really just wrote this to cheer myself up. i hope it doesn't suck.

the title comes from queen's "somebody to love". i'm listening to far too much queen than is probably healthy.

this was going to be a story about the egghead in the czech class until ethan opened his mouth. at the end of this post, i've included the egghead scenes i had to cut, but still found cute.

you guys will point out a tense issue, right?

Somebody Find Me Somebody

Thomas asked, at the Sunday practice, to add an item to the agenda.

"To the what?" Clark asked.

"There's a kid who wants us to play his birthday. Next Saturday," he explained.

"A kid?" Ethan looked skeptical.

"This egghead in my Czech class. He's turning seventeen and he wants desperately to be cool."

Everyone waited for Ethan to roll his eyes, sigh, curse, something.

"And how much does he want to pay us to do that for him?" he asked instead.

*

Clark offered to drop Ethan at the dorm on the way home.

"I mean," Ethan continued, "even if the kid doesn't have any friends, I'm sure he can buy some. We'll have an audience, right?"

"You've already written the set list," Clark grinned, but Ethan just turned away.

"Shut up," Ethan told the window.

It was raining outside. Ethan turned off the radio, but he didn't reach for the CDs under the seat. He settled back into his seat, staring out the window, the perfect cliche of forlorn young lad. It was sickening how well Ethan played it.

"I should probably tell you," he said, turning to Clark. "I broke up with Benedict last night."

"Oh my God, you guys are so fucked up." Lex would have been proud of the words that blurted out of his mouth.

Ethan snorted. "Yeah, thanks for that."

He was out the door before Clark could get a hand on his arm. "I'm saying this as your friend, man."

"You guys are wrong."

"No, *you* guys are wrong. I don't know what you have together that makes it worth it."

"We have great sex, Clark, and I'm only twenty, so what's wrong with that?"

"I'm nineteen, and I'm in love, and I don't want you to think that sex is all you get."

The rain was getting inside, soaking the seat, and Ethan, too. Clark held fast to his arm.

"Let me go," Ethan demanded, but he didn't try to get away.

"I can stay, you know."

"No, no, you can't. Lex doesn't need any more reasons to hate me."

Clark reached for his seatbelt. "I'm coming upstairs."

"Don't. I can get a whole album out of this if you don't."

*

Lex was in the living room when Clark got home. The TV was muted on CNN. Lex's eyes were closed. Clark fell into his lap and kissed him.

"I'd never do anything to hurt you," Clark whispered.

"Jesus," Lex groaned. "What the hell did Ethan drag you into now?"

*

There was music behind the door when Clark knocked. It was only noon -- Clark had two classes already -- but he suspected Ethan hasn't left his room.

"What's the good word, good buddy?"

"Clark?"

He listened to the bed squeak, then Ethan jumping across the room to the fling door open.

"Of course, it's you. What was I thinking?"

"Nice boxers, dude." Clark ruffled Ethan's hair, then wiped his greasy hand regretfully on his jeans.

"Hey, hey. I'm not allowed to touch and neither are you."

It was dark and stuffy, but Ethan got right back under the covers.

"Did you get a whole album?" Clark passed him his guitar from the floor.

"I didn't even get a fucking song." He strummed an E, G, D, and cursed when Clark flipped on the lights. "Well, can't waste the whole day, can I? I've already missed my classes. C'mon, blow off Writing. You have the truck, right?"

Clark nodded. Whether Ethan noticed in his frantic dressing, he wasn't sure.

"Let's go to Smallville."

Sniffing a t-shirt off the floor, Ethan pulled it over a purple button down, and grabbed his shoes.

"C'mon, Clark. Aren't you sick of the city? I need to get away from all this concrete and glass, and back to Kansas."

"We don't have to go to all this work, you know." Clark pushed up off the bed. "I could just tell my mom to send you some pie."

*

Ethan wouldn't let him call Lex, or tell Thomas or Astrid where they were going. He commandeered Clark's cellphone and wouldn't even let him warn his parents of what was coming their way.

Then, not even an hour into the trip, Ethan demanded the truck be pulled over. He jumped out of the truck and into the field, leaving the phone on the seat beside Clark. A quick text to Astrid later, Ethan was still looking for a place to pee, and Clark was waiting for Lex to pick up. He got past the switchboard with just his name, and Ralph promised that Lex would "only be a moment."

The passenger door opened with an ominous squeak.

"Who are we talking to, Mr. Kent?"

"Oh, jeez." Clark waved an impatient hand in Ethan's face. "I'm supposed to meet Lex for dinner."

Ethan rolled his eyes, and Clark rolled them back.

"You don't want to give him any more reasons to hate you, remember?"

"I hope you aren't cancelling on me," Lex said on his end.

"Lex, I--"

"I made reservations, Clark. Les Halles. How do you think it looks when I just call up to cancel?"

"God, I'm so sorry. Why didn't you tell me this was a thing? I thought it was just dinner."

Snickering came from the passenger seat.

"Clark, settle down. I'm kidding. I'm looking at takeout menus. Where are you?"

"About two hours outside of Smallville."

"Really." Lex let out a breath. Whatever he was doing, he wasn't now. Meetings and appointments would be cancelled, and Clark thought, if he listened hard enough, he could hear Lex motioning for his car. "What are you doing out there?"

"Ethan felt the sudden need to reclaim his farmer heritage."

"Ethan grew up in a townhouse."

"Tell Lex to fuck off," Ethan cut in.

Clark held his hand over the phone, and glared at Ethan.

"You don't even know what he said."

"I can guess."

"I'm an hour behind you," Lex said in his other ear. There was the sound of the elevator opening, and Lex's shoes clicking on the concrete of the parking garage. "Do I need to inform the rest of your posse?"

"No, no, I sent a text to Astrid." Clark lowered his voice. "You don't have to come, Lex."

"I would eat university cafeteria food if it meant I could spend time with you. But I am not missing a chance at a Martha Kent meal."

*

Caroline ran out to the porch when they pulled into the Kent Farms driveway. She waved frantically at Clark, her hand dropping when she saw the wrong boy in the passenger seat. Clark met her at the door, picking her up and squeezing her tight.

"Don't worry. Lex is on his way, Care. Do you remember my friend Ethan?"

She nodded, but hid against Clark's shoulder when Ethan waved.

"That's OK. We don't need to talk to him." Caroline laughed. "C'mon, let's go see what Mom's up to."

She put them to work as soon as they stepped through the door. Clark told his mom about Ethan's desire to get "back to the soil", and she put him to work on a pile of potatoes. He was still at the sink, ignoring the Kents' laughter, when Lex arrived.

"Don't feel bad," he said, clapping a hand on Ethan's shoulder. "She gets everyone eventually."

*

Clark stood out on the porch after dinner, and after he had finished the washing. He was waiting for Lex to finish the drying.

"He's hiding up in the loft?" Lex asked. Clark turned around, gathering him up in his arms. "Let me guess. This little road trip-slash-tantrum had something to do with Benedict."

"Of course." Clark rubbed Lex's back, an unconscious action to keep him warm. "But it's something more than that. I'm not sure what, though."

"Well, go find out. I'll give Caroline a kiss goodnight for you." He slipped out of Clark's arms, and opened the screen door. "You'll have to come upstairs to collect your own, though."

*

At the bottom of the loft stairs, Clark waited. He'd never actually been in this position; he was always the one waiting at the top for comfort and advice. How had his dad done it? Should he be quiet, or make noise coming up so Ethan could make himself ready? Clark took the stairs like any normal person, and hoped Ethan was expecting him.

He was, of course. Practicing for a spot in regional summerstock, perhaps, Ethan had taken the role of "forlorn young lad in car" and interpreted it perfectly for the barn. Ethan may have been raised in the suburbs, but he knew, instinctively, that the open window was for staring at the sky and forgetting your problems.

"Is this the part where you tell me that I'm gonna be fine, and offer me another piece of pie?"

Clark held up his empty hands. "No pie."

Ethan turned around to smile at him. One last glance and one last sigh, he left the window and took a seat on Clark's couch. God. No wonder the audience loved him.

"I dumped him, you know. Not the other way 'round. It was my choice this time."

'This time,' Clark wanted to say, but he kept to the script. He didn't really have that much experience with "snarky best friend", anyway.

"Clark. I have to stop doing this with boys who don't love me back." Ethan slumped against him on the couch, and Clark's arm went around his shoulders, even before Clark knew it was the right thing to do. Lex found them there the next morning, carrying a breakfast tray of eggs and toast and coffee for three.

END.

outtakes

They were hired for the night - two hundred dollars and all the chocolate cake they could eat. They received invitations, too, colourful little cards that Matt handed out when he came to their Wednesday practice.

"And, hey, feel free to bring some girls." He actually winked, and Astrid giggled.

"What about boys?" Ethan asked too loudly.

Clark smacked his arm.

*

An hour and four songs later, Matt insisted on shaking each of their hands on the deal. Then his phone rang, and he had to leave.

"The kid drives a fucking Porsche," Charlie blurted when the garage door came down.

Franny laughed. "I think we just met Lex at seventeen. But he wouldn't have had a problem with the boys."

"And he would have paid us more," Ethan griped.

Clark's phone rang in his bag, and they all wondered how Lex managed to do that every single time.
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