Title: DINNER DANCE (Nourishment 7)
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
Feedback to: jfc@freeshell.org
Archive: Mailing list archives only--others please ask permission!
Category: Vignette, Chloe's POV - sequel to "Cotton Candy"
Spoilers: Takes place before "Kinetic", but after everything else
Rating: PG-13 for implied m/m interaction
Pairing: Clark/Lex
Summary: A mystery in the mansion...

DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me. Smallville is the property of Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Tollin-Robbins Productions, and Warner Bros. Television, and based upon characters originally created by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster. This story is just for the entertainment of my online friends and myself, not for any profit.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The rest of "The Nourishment Series" can be found elsewhere on my webpage - You don't have to read them all first, but it might help.

DEDICATION: For Tiff and some other very pretty people...

COPYRIGHT: (C) March 6, 2002, Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, jfc@freeshell.org

Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.


Clark Kent is missing.

Given that this is a pretty big castle, and that this is his birthday party, this is a bad thing.

I take a second to see if anyone else has noticed, then let my reporter's instincts take over.

Let's see: he seemed fine earlier, when I sat at his left over the single most elaborate feast I have ever seen. The soup alone tasted like someone had slaved over it for two days. You'd think that you could get all the produce you needed around here, but from the just-picked taste of most of those out-of-season fruits and vegetables, they'd probably been shipped to Kansas at great expense from the other side of the world this morning. And I swear, if those steaks had been any larger or any rarer, they would have mooed when we stuck our forks into them.

Clark was so happy there at the head of the table, cutting off huge bites of pink meat, laughing, chatting away--it was more than excitement at it being his birthday. I've seen him having fun before, many times. This was something else. It was like he belonged at the center of attention, like he was everybody's hero.

Now that I think of it, that was nice to see. He's usually so quiet, sort of hiding his light under a bushel, so to speak. I tried not to stare... really I did. I mean, of all the guys at the table--Whitney to my left, Pete across from me, and Lex down at the far end--Clark was the star who outshone them all. True, Lana and I were dressed to the nines in last year's prom dresses and this week's eye shadow, but he was beyond a doubt the fairest of us all.

Wait--I'm not writing this for the society column, as if the Torch even had a society column. This is front-page news. Extra: Farmer's son disappears from birthday celebration... Well, the pictures would look like the society column, though, especially all of us posed around that cake, which had so many sparklers on it I was half expecting it to explode.

The boys are talking spring training and completely ignoring the string quartet playing over in the corner, which does not surprise me. I would ask them if they had heard Clark heading for the bathroom, but I'm pretty sure guys don't announce it like girls do.

Maybe he forgot something upstairs. I've been to sleepovers before, but nothing like this! We've all been assigned suites for the night so we don't have to drive home late (well, those of us who can drive!), so we all brought luggage. I stayed at the Metropolis Hilton with my dad once, and I thought that was posh. They don't have satin sheets and stained-glass windows and curtains around the beds, that's for sure. They don't have unbelievably rich bald guys as chaperones, either.

Eventually I stroll over to where Lana is perusing the small heap of gifts we brought. There's a nice pile of CDs, some gift certificates, a pocket star-chart, a book of collected articles from the Weekly World News from me, and something that looks like a jeweler's loupe in a padded box, but which I've been assured is a new eyepiece for his telescope from Lex.

"Hey, Lana," I say, as casually as possible, "where did Clark get off to?"

She puts down the CD whose label she's been reading. "I sure don't know," she answers. "He sort of wandered off after dinner. Maybe all this fuss has gotten to him."

I look over the inscription I'd made as a joke in the book ("For Clark's Sweet 16! 2 Nice 2 Be 4 Gotten") and wonder if he's even had a chance to see it yet.

"Y'know," Lana adds, "Lex said something to me at my party... Have you tried the coat closet?"

Before I can snicker at her suggestion, I realize something. "Now that you mention him, have you seen Lex since dinner?"

Her eyes open so wide I'm sure we'll see mascara smudges on her forehead later. "Oooooooh," she purrs, "maybe they've been murdered!" Even if she didn't dissolve into helpless giggles after her assertion, I would be able to tell that she is just teasing. "How's this?" she finally offers. "I'll go check upstairs, and you hunt around down here, okay?"

"Sounds like a plan," I agree.

"Of course, if you do find dead bodies, you are required to let out the obligatory blood-curdling scream..."

"Gotcha," I answer to her departing back.

Pete and Whitney's fascinating discussion has switched to basketball, so I roll my eyes and ignore them, heading off to dig up some clues, if there are any to be found.

The library is dark and empty of everything but leather upholstery and old books. A few of the kitchen staff are finishing up the dishes, and ask me if I want something else to eat, which I refuse politely. I knock on the bathroom door, and even check the coat closet, but no Clark can be found.

As I'm coming around the outside edge of the ballroom where we've been partying hearty, I catch a strange reflection through what I thought was a window, but turns out to be a door. Quietly, I creep to the corner of the glass so that the light from within illuminates whatever is outside, and I do not cast very much of a shadow.

It takes me a moment to adjust to the dark, but I can soon make out that I'm seeing a balcony to the outdoors right off of this room. There's that reflection again, and I realize that what I'd thought might be a yard lamp is actually Lex's head.

I can't quite tell what he's doing, and the music inside makes it impossible to hear what's going on outside. Suddenly, he turns, and I see Clark just beyond him on the balcony. They're smiling broadly, but before I can get a good look, they are moving again, and it dawns on me: they're dancing.

Lex leads, clutching Clark gently in his arms and stepping in a slow rhythm that matches the romantic tune being played by the quartet. He extends his arm as if to fling Clark away, then curls it in gradually to pull him back into his embrace. There's that happy look again, the face that shows how much Clark feels like he belongs here, and I can't take my eyes off of him yet again. I would be lying if I said I don't feel a little bittersweet pang when Lex draws him even closer and finishes their dance with a beautifully tender kiss.

What I thought might be front-page news is just that, but of an entirely different kind. Extra: Farmer's son finds happiness with area gazillionaire. This one's not even for the Torch gossip column, though. I can keep a secret...

Lana may come looking for me soon, but for now I think I'll just hide here and watch my friend and his lover take another spin on the balcony. If she finds me, I'll steer her back to the remnants of the cake and away from their private little party.

When she asks, I'll vaguely reassure her of what I've found without spelling out the particulars.

Clark and Lex aren't missing anymore.

In fact, I think they've found each other.



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