Strategic Planning

Pairing - Lex/Bruce
Rating - PG-13
Disclaimer - Not mine, I couldn't afford the motor and household insurance bills. I promise I'll scrub them down and give them back to DC comics, the WB and anyone else who does own a slice of them when I'm done with them.
Summary - Moving on.
Author's notes - The prompt came from Digitalwave and was - Lex/Bruce: A fiction built around their trying having a relationship again when they are both older. Meeting as equals. I'm not sure this is quite what she had in mind, but it's what the Muses wanted. With thanks to Astrea9562 for beta duties.

"Are you done with the business section yet?"

Lex looked up, seeing a pair of dark eyes watching him with faint annoyance. A smirk tugged at the corners of his mouth as he turned his attention back to the copy of the Daily Planet spread on the breakfast table in front of him. He flipped ostentatiously through the remaining pages before replying.

"Hm, there's no mention in here of a sudden downturn in Wayne Industries stock," he observed thoughtfully.

"What are you talking about?" The irritated look on Bruce's face had become a full on glare. "My company is doing as well as it ever has."

Lex allowed the smile he'd been repressing to curve his lips as he leaned back in his chair and regarded the man sitting opposite him. "What else am I supposed to think when the CEO is unable to afford his own copy of the morning paper?"

Bruce snorted in disgust. "I have my own copy, Lex. I regret that I didn't have the foresight to request that it be delivered to your apartment rather than my own. Clearly I was at fault."

Shaking his head, Lex sighed. "You really are no fun to tease, Bruce."

He folded the newspaper shut, straightening the pages until they were all level, before sliding it across the table to Bruce.

Bruce took it with a nod of thanks, immediately opening it to the business section. He read in silence for a little while before raising his head to look at Lex again. It was apparent from his expression that there was something he wanted to say, but he hesitated.

Lex merely watched him expectantly, taking a sip from his cup of coffee.

Finally, Bruce spoke. "If your primary concern was having fun, perhaps you should have reconsidered before ending your relationship with Clark Kent. Think of all the frat parties at Met U that you're missing out on as a result."

It wasn't precisely malicious, but there was an edge to Bruce's voice all the same. It was enough to make Lex sit up a little straighter as he considered his response. His eyes narrowed as he met Bruce's gaze.

"That was a low blow," he said tightly.

"My apologies, but I felt that it needed to be said." Bruce didn't sound at all apologetic. "Forgive me for pointing this out, Lex, but sometimes it feels as if there are three people in this relationship--you, me and Clark Kent."

Lex ducked his head, staring at his hands. "I'm sorry you feel that way, Bruce."

Bruce made an exasperated sound. "I realise you've known the boy for a long time and I'm not unsympathetic to your feelings, Lex. I am not prepared to be your rebound relationship, though."

"Is that what you think this is?" Lex asked, looking up at Bruce through his lashes.

"At the moment that's what it feels like," Bruce said bluntly.

"I see." Lex paused. "Would it be unreasonable of me to point out that it was you who brought Clark into this?"

"Not at all, but I mentioned him merely because this seemed like an opportune time to have this discussion," Bruce replied. "Do you realise how many times the name Clark Kent came up in conversation last night?"

"As far as I recall I didn't forget myself and say it in the heat of the moment," Lex said coldly. "But, to be honest, I wasn't keeping count."

"Neither was I, but I can assure you it was a lot." Bruce sighed. "Lex, I want to make a go of this relationship, but you're really not making it easy. It's hard to compete with this idealised memory you have. If the boy was such a paragon I have to wonder why you broke things off with him."

"Was I really that bad?" Lex asked, suddenly looking contrite.

His obsession with Clark had caused enough problems in his life and Lex had sworn to finally put it behind him. He hadn't realised he'd been doing such a poor job of it, though, and he didn't want it to interfere with what he was trying to build with Bruce.

"I hesitate to say it, but yes." A faint smile touched Bruce's lips.

Lex gave a helpless shrug of his shoulders. "Clark--if you'll forgive me the use of his name--was my best friend and then my lover for almost six years, Bruce. That's a lot of history."

"I understand that." Bruce reached across the table and covered Lex's hand with his own. "That's why we're talking about this now, rather than me simply packing my bags and heading straight back to Gotham. I just need you to realise how it makes me feel, hearing Clark Kent this and Clark Kent that when we're out having dinner together or at home sharing a quiet drink."

"So, basically what you're trying to tell me is that I've been an insensitive ass," Lex said ruefully.

"Perhaps I would have put it a little more tactfully, but, in essence, yes," Bruce agreed.

"However, despite me being an ass, you're willing to give me another chance." It wasn't quite a question.

Carefully, Bruce turned Lex's hand over so that they now rested palm to palm. Then he laced their fingers together.

"Lex," he said, his deep voice unusually soft. "You talked about the history you have with Clark, but what about our history? We've been friends since we met at Excelsior, sometimes more than friends. I'll be honest and say that I didn't really expect to have this chance, but now that I do I'm not prepared to give up on it without a fight."

Lex squeezed Bruce's hand, smiling as he looked across at the other man. "And, our long acquaintance notwithstanding, it seems that Bruce Wayne has hidden depths. I never took you for a romantic, Bruce."

He was rewarded with a bark of self-deprecating laughter.

"You had better not tell that to anyone else or you'll ruin my reputation," Bruce replied.

"Don't worry, your secret is safe with me," Lex smirked. He cocked his head to one side, regarding Bruce thoughtfully. "Now, tell me, in this new spirit of romance are you going to give me back my newspaper so that I can finish reading it?"

Bruce gave a deep chuckle. "Do you mean to tell me that a CEO of your standing can't afford to have more than one paper delivered in the morning? What does that say about the financial state of your company, Lex? Perhaps I should consider making a bid for it."

Lex raised his eyebrows in mock horror. "A hostile takeover, Bruce?"

There was a glint in Bruce's eyes as he shook his head. "No, a mutually beneficial merger was more what I had in mind."

"Really? Tell me more," Lex said, leaning forward, interest clear on his face.

"Better still, let me show you," Bruce insisted.

Quickly, Bruce got to his feet, using his grip on Lex's hand to pull him up as well. Not that Lex was putting up any serious resistance.

"Shouldn't a matter of this importance be dealt with in the boardroom?" Lex asked breathlessly.

Bruce paused just long enough to glance over his shoulder at Lex. "No, I think these negotiations can best be handled in the bedroom."

Lex grinned. "Mr. Wayne, I think you have yourself a deal."

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