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

i was mad not to see the change in you

not sure how much longer my internet connection will hold out, so here it is. unbeta'd, so look out for tense issues.

the story of clark's tie collection started back when i was first drooling over the idea of indie!clark. i just wrapped it up in some plot.

Do Your Own Thing

Martha will tell you the story about getting Clark into a suit and tie. He was seven and the Kents were piling into the truck for a trip into the city. She had a coupon - $9.99 for two glossy 8x10s, and 30 wallet sized pictures. It would be their first family portrait.

It was just a clip-on thing, a burgundy hand-me-down from Jonathan that happened to match Clark's navy suit. He pulled it off before they were out of the driveway, snapping the clips over and over until Jonathan took it away.

Clark laughed along when his father pulled his own tie off in solidarity.

But he got older and they were just another thing he got used to. He'd always liked them on Lex, he found he liked them on his rock stars, and they became an important part of his uniform ("They match the glasses, don't you think?" "I think I'm drawing the line at suspenders.")

Clark amassed his tie collection with twenty bucks and a trip to the Salvation Army. At fifty cents a piece, the only choice was which to leave behind.

It still didn't stop him from stealing an orange striped number from the back of Lex's side of the closet for the concert that night.

"Armani. Fall '06?" was Lex's guess.

Glancing down at the outfit he'd thrown together, Clark shrugged. "Hell if I know."

"Trust me." He held out his arm, pulling Clark into a hug. "Have fun tonight," Lex said and kissed his cheek.

"What do you mean?"

"I just thought I'd stay home tonight. Big day tomorrow; I need to get some sleep."

"You're not gonna be there?"

He curved his hand around Clark's hip. "And I probably won't be going on tour with you guys either."

Clark laughed. "So what's the point of having a rich boyfriend?"

"Hey--"

"I know, I know." He kissed Lex, and hoped that said how much he would miss him. "It's just..." Clark let his lips fall on Lex's again. "I'm so much better when you're there watching me," he murmured.

"You'll be great."

Clark nodded.

"And if you *do* suck, and Ethan tries to kick your ass?" Lex wrapped him up in a hug. "Just come home and wake me up."

*

Clark decided to walk to Bellevue that night. His tiny amp fit in his bag, and he took the bass Lex bought him for Christmas, the one with a handle. The streets were busy, a number of people turning to watch him go. He thought about stopping; he wouldn't be late. Just stop on a street corner and strum a few bars of something. But it didn't work without Ethan singing, and it was never as good as when Lex was watching.

He asked Ethan about it once, if he thought maybe he was better when Benedict was around. When he was around and they were together, Clark hastened to add.

Ethan thought for a minute, ran his fingers through his hard, and took another drag.

"I'm better when I'm with the Spectacles. Who you fuck has nothing to do with the stage.

Clark had to disagree, and didn't feel ashamed at all. Lex worked better when Clark was around, too. Faster, at least. Clark called it "motivation." Lex preferred "temptation."

*

"My God, you're on time!"

Franny was sitting on the steps outside, grabbing a quick cigarette.

"This is still a rock club, right? You're not allowed to..." Clark mimed her smoking.

"Oh." She looked down at the half-smoked thing in his hand. "Her Highness is bit more than paranoid today."

"Hiding in the bathroom?"

"I didn't want to tempt the beast." She shook her head. "I told Thomas to leave it up to you. He's in there yelling at Ethan right now."

That's where Clark found him when he went inside. Thomas was leaning against the door, banging half-heartedly.

"You need to get out here and talk to this guy, Ethan. This isn't my thing."

"How long?"

"Clark!" His eyes lit up. Thomas put a hand on Clark's shoulder and ushered him towards the door. "Talk to your boy, please."

He knocked. No answer.

"Where's Lex?" Thomas searched the room behind Clark. "He needs to talk business with this club guy."

"Oh, he's sitting this one out." Clark knocked again.

"I'm sorry, man. You guys have a fight?"

"What? No, no. Just defining his boundaries."

"No more shows? Charlie's gonna be bummed."

"Just, you know, not every show."

"Don't worry." Thomas nodded. "He'll miss us soon enough."

"He won't miss this part. Ethan! Get your ass out here!"

The door cracked open, just enough for Clark to get a foot in. Then a hand shot out and pulled him through. Franny had nothing to worry about. A scratchy throat wasn't the source of Ethan's paranoia.

"A black eye? Jeez. I thought you had classes all day. When did this happen?"

"What does it matter? Look at me." He pushes himself up on the counter to get a closer look in the mirror. "Thomas called me a freak."

"You are a freak."

Ethan growled.

"But that's not the point, right. It gives you mystique, doesn't it?" Ethan eats up compliments from Clark, despite the question marks in his voice. "Rock star cred?"

"See? That's what I was saying. It's, like,..."

"A badge. Of... something," Clark added, helpfully.

"That's exactly what I was going to say." Ethan hopped off the counter, but not before one last look. He touched the purpling bruise with careful fingers and Clark watching over his shoulder. "You want one, too? We could match."

"That might be taking the lead singer/bass player relationship too far."

"No, you're right." Ethan slung an arm across Clark's shoulder. "Jealous boyfriends, and all that."

Clark didn't say a word.

They took Franny's car home after their set. Ethan gushed excitedly from the backseat about a radio guy he overheard claiming he liked the Spectacles' sound. Clark got to escape first, the only one not headed back to the dorms.

Lex was asleep. And he looked tired, too. He had made it to bed, but not under the covers, and he'd only managed to strip to the waist. Clark helped him the rest of the way and got them both under the covers. Lex barely stirred.

It was a good show, and Clark was going to have to get used to that.
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