"Can I ask you something? About Victoria?"
"You said she was an old friend."
"In a manner of speaking."
"Was she always...I mean...like that?"
"Yes. And no. When we were younger, she was...different."
"I don't know. Less like her dad. Less likely to sleep with mine."
"How old were you? When you knew her?"
"Lex. Lex, you've got six fingers on your right hand."
Lex let his gaze drift down to his hands. They seemed very far away. "No, I have five. That's how many you're supposed to have, right? Five, like toes."
"Let me see your other hand."
Lex tried to lift his hand from its resting place on the pillow next to him.
"I...can't. It's too heavy."
"Oh." James shifted so his head was in Lex's lap.
Lex looked down at him. "Who did you get this stuff from?" he said, taking the joint from where it dangled between James' fingers, dangerously close to the dark blue bedspread.
"One of the stable boys." James yawned, pushing his dark curls out of his eyes. "Not the one you fucked last week. The other one."
"Oh." Lex took a drag, holding the smoke in his lungs for a minute before exhaling slowly. The smoke rose lazily in front of him, momentarily obscuring his view of the poster-covered wall opposite. "It's good. Makes everything..."
"It's laced with crack." James was waving his hands dreamily in front of his face, in time with the trip-hop playing quietly on Lex's stereo.
"I like it." They sat in silence for a while, passing the joint back and forth between them. Lex had retrieved his scotch from its hiding place in the wall earlier and they took occasional swallows, straight from the bottle.
"Did you ever get caught?"
James gave a start when the door, swung open. Lex glanced over and rolled two completely un-surprised eyes at the girl standing in the doorway.
"I told you to lock that," he said to James.
"Alexander Luthor." The girl made a tutting sound with her tongue. "I would have thought you'd know better than this. Haven't you already got about nine stripes against your name this term?"
"Victoria," said Lex, closing his eyes as he leant back against the heavy wooden headboard, "hasn't anybody explained the concept of 'The Boy's Dormitory' to you?"
"It's vastly more entertaining on your side of the courtyard." The door shut with a click as Victoria sashayed into the room. "If I have to listen to one more ridiculous girl squealing over David Harper-Pilkington's rugby shorts, I shall go mad."
"This is a boarding school, Victoria," Lex said. Victoria collapsed theatrically onto the bed. It made her breasts bounce, which he supposed was the point. "I think you'll find there's a fair amount of squealing going on over here, too."
James laughed and handed the joint to Victoria. She rolled onto her side, supporting her head with one hand as she drew the ashtray towards her with the other.
"Stable boy?" she asked. James nodded and Victoria blew a perfect smoke ring.
"It is so important to find the right staff, don't you think?"
"You liked her."
"I appreciated her. She made me laugh. And she was very beautiful."
"She still is."
"Yes. But that's not enough, anymore."
Lex looked up the ceiling through the haze of blue smoke that hung in the air. Victoria's hair, glossy like the rest of her, was spilling over his hand. He twirled a lock of it between his fingers absently. "You have pretty hair."
"I know." Victoria stretched, languidly, and her breasts pushed against Lex's thigh. He shifted, spreading his legs a little, and she looked up at him, a smile playing about her lips as she hooked one of her legs over his knee. Lex looked over at James. He was asleep, one arm flung out over the side of the bed and the other still draped over Lex's chest.
"James," he said, and had to clear his throat because Victoria chose that moment to straddle his leg, steadying herself with a hand low in his stomach, "is still here."
Victoria bit her lip and rocked her hips against his thigh. It made Lex's stomach flip. "Get rid of him, then. Unless you want him to watch."
"Was she your first?"
"No. But she was the first that I'd actually had to work for, which made having her all the more important."
"She played hard to get?"
"She was...unpredictable. She seemed to play by her own rules, nobody else's. And I was attracted to that. She never did things when or how I expected her to. Not like now."
"You've got freckles," Victoria murmured against Lex's stomach.
He looked down at her and exhaled sharply when she started mouthing the skin just inside his hip bone. "So do you." Her hair hung around her face in heavy waves as she slid up his body to kiss him. He traced the light dusting of marks on her collarbone with his thumb.
"Are you staying here for the Christmas holidays?" Victoria rose up on her knees. Lex reached out to cup her breasts in his hands. Her skin was flushed, stained pink from her cheeks right down to her belly.
"Yeah," he groaned as she lowered herself onto him, "I am."
"Good." Victoria arched her back and they both moaned. "Good."
"How long were you together for?"
"We weren't ever together, really. We were...involved."
"For a long time?"
"For about a year. I moved schools when I was seventeen."
"Is she the girl that Lana saw in your swimming pool?"
"No. Victoria never visited the house. My father didn't think she was suitable, for me at least, which, of course, only made her more attractive in my eyes."
"You know that's not why I like you, right? I mean, because my Dad doesn't approve?"
Lex was staring up at his ceiling again. The haze of smoke had dispersed, but the acrid scent still lingered. Victoria was nestled against his chest and he smoothed her hair down, fanning it out over her shoulders.
"Lex?" Victoria's voice was sleepy. She always sounded different after sex. Younger.
"Do you want me to make a lot of noise when I leave?"
"That's okay. I think everybody already heard you."
Victoria laughed quietly.
"She understood you."
"She had realistic expectations, yes."
"Is that why you liked her?"
"She was the best, and I had to have the best. Still do."
A shy smile worked its way onto Clark's face, and Lex reached up to touch it.
"Are you playing polo this weekend?"
"I am." Lex rolled onto his side and watched Victoria shimmy back into her school skirt. "Are you going to the match?"
"Of course. My father's visiting, so we'll be in the Headmaster's enclosure." She pulled on her white shirt and buttoned it up. Mostly. "He still doesn't like you."
"Well, now. Maybe I should come and say hello to good old Harry, try and repair some of the damage I caused during our last encounter."
"You were terrible," said Victoria fondly, pulling on a shoe. "You'll ride over to see me?"
"Want me to make some inappropriate comments?"
Victoria flashed a smile at him as she retrieved her tie, which was wrapped around Lex's lampshade. "If you wouldn't mind."
"I'd be delighted."
"So..." Clark bit lightly at the tips of Lex's fingers. "You don't see her as the best, anymore?"
"No," murmured Lex, "I don't. And I blame you entirely for the fact that I now expect my lovers to be free from an ulterior motive."
"Well." Clark leaned down and kissed both of Lex's eyes, then his nose, and finally his mouth. "It's lucky you met me then."
"Yes," Lex agreed, "it is."
"Otherwise you would have gone on thinking what you and Victoria were doing was normal. Like her."
"Yes." Lex pulled Clark down to him. "I would."
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