Fic: La Parisienne

As you drove down the long, straight approach, the tension would build, though you couldn’t see anything yet. Then there was a sudden bend around a forbidding stand of cypress, and there on the rise beyond was the castle.

The mud struck with a slap inside the wheel wells of Lana’s car, and with a lurch she was off the service road and onto the drive proper – over the property line and onto Luthor land, where there was gravel on the verge that puttered and rattled in the wells instead.

Always there was that first stab of embarrassment, when she saw the glint of sun off the glass roof at the far west end of the building. Though she couldn’t even see the entranceway to the pool area (it was a faux-classical marble arch that she could never be sure was quite tasteful).

Lex and she were going to go over the figures this afternoon, perhaps for the last time. And perhaps it was the last time there would even be any figures, if he was going to follow through with selling the Talon. She was pretty sure he had just sent the real estate agent around to make his point (about her going to Paris – as if it were his point to make), but having made it, there was no saying he wouldn’t go ahead with the sale anyway. Sometimes that was the thing with Lex – it was like he needed you to know that there was nothing he couldn’t do.

It was late afternoon, the worst possible time of day to be driving out to the castle – the glare straight in her driver’s side window, and the haze frothing up hip-high off the road. The wide flat pan of the fields was a brilliant chartreuse.

Lex would be in the office. There used to be a time when the staff would show her through to somewhere else – like the den upstairs, where he would pretend to work: there would be a sheaf of paper in a manila wallet with creases too crisp to have been opened much, and no cords plugged in to his laptop.

Today she knew she would find him sitting behind his desk with the laptop shut, a snifter of brandy held up to the rather garish leadlighting. He would look up at her in surprise, as if he had been lost in idleness.

Sometimes when she was angry she stormed in on him too soon, and caught the hard-drive fan still whirring down, the brandy half-swished. Was it the residue of a too-clever adolescent’s embarrassment that made him hide his work – or worse, guilt? And how could you ask him? He was so slippery.

She bet he had gone over a lot of figures in that office.

She put it to herself almost as if Chloe were there. Chloe, who would first roll her eyes, but then speculate prissily, excruciatingly, uproariously, while Lana shrank and cringed. But there was an edge of humiliation in Lana having said it to herself without anyone else there. Like it was a concession rather than a joke.

She was the prettiest girl in school – this was a fact that had been delivered whole to her by the overwhelming consensus of her peers, and accordingly she took it as read, with feelings of mixed arrogance, impatience, resentment – but she was not a woman that Lex would… well, have. And oh god, these thoughts were embarrassing, but she was going to Paris so she could become a woman like that. A woman whom you looked at, and she was beautiful, but you knew that she did things; you knew that she was a person who caused things to happen. A woman you would never, ever dream had been a cheerleader.

 

There was a thing that had happened here at the castle, in the pool area, when she was ten, which was what always made her flinch as she drove up.

The pool was in the dog-leg of the west wing of the castle, mostly hidden from the road as you drove up, although you could often see that flash of sun off the glass roof. In the middle of the day it was unbearably bright in there – gaudy water under refracting, ivy-laced glass. She could not tell how the ivy was so well progressed across the roof, how there was that patina of graceful age smeared across the glass, when the fittings in the room seemed so new you could cut yourself. Maybe it was once a conservatory.

But you could wonder things like that all day about Lex’s house. How many staff did he have – the fact that you could never find dust along the seams of all those miles of wood panelling, those whole felled groves of mahogany. Did he like having to walk that far between his kitchen and his office?

Eventually you had to stop, or you might fall into asking yourself why he had so much money, when your life was like what it was like.

But when she was ten, Nell had brought her here. Nell, getting ready, with her narrowed eyes and her top lip hardening into a fan of creases, painting herself carefully, critically in the hall mirror – applying a little, then taking a little away with a cotton square that began pristine white and gradually became livid and gory. Lana learned her lessons faithfully from these scenes: “Too much in the daytime is whorish;” “Always put your face on in the light you’ll be seen in.” Which was why the bright light in the hallway was better for Nell than the bathroom. Better for practising the softer, sweeter smile that Lana never otherwise saw inside the house; for fluffing her hair up.

She had done Lana first. Lana had had to sit in her itchy white tights and silly buckling shoes (as if for a much littler kid, Lana thought, but would not have dared say, lest it turn out that she was at fault for not being that littler kid), and watch as Nell ironed the purple dress she had brought home for Lana to wear. It had a stiffened skirt of flaring partial pleats, and each panel needed to be ironed separately. “This thing,” Nell said, with a tone of reproach which Lana knew to be aimed at her, “is a pain in the ass.” Lana knew Nell would never say ass to Mr Luthor.

Nell tied the sash tight around Lana’s waist once the dress was on, arranging the ends just so. “Don’t you wrinkle that,” she said. But then the act of sitting down on the hard chair in the hall to watch Nell do her makeup had wrinkled it, and Nell had had to tie it again, hard.

The journey to the castle was tremendously long to Lana’s ten-year-old mind, and with every corner, she knew her seat belt was wrinkling her sash. The sun was bright and the fields rolled on – how could you tell you weren’t going in circles? She was sweating – her body had only just recently started to smell funny when she sweated – and her dress was getting damp under the arms. Her shoes were wrong, completely wrong, they were for a little girl and she was too big. Her dress was “too much”, the way Nell said with such utter contempt, and certainty, about other women, “Too much!”, but then Nell had made her wear it.

Then they pulled in to the circular, gravel drive. She did not get out by herself: this tended to anger Nell. Nell came briskly around and lifted her out, hands like hard claws in Lana’s underarms. Only Lana was too big and heavy now, and Nell could not really lift her, but the claws in the underarms still hurt, and half under Lana’s steam, half under Nell’s, Lana got out of the car. Then Nell had Lana by the hand and they were striding towards the door. It was a side door! Even then, Lana understood about this. They were not being invited in the front door. And a man who worked for Mr Luthor who wore a black suit and shiny black shoes and a hat, like a hotel doorman you saw in the movies, had come out to greet them – not Mr Luthor himself. And Lana knew, even at that age she knew, there was something shameful about the way Nell gushed to the man. “Oh, thank you, Stephen,” and “Mr Luthor is one of my greatest contributors!” Lana knew that Nell was exposing herself. Nell was exposing that she knew that even the man who worked for Mr Luthor was better than her.

The corridors inside were on the scale of a public building – impossible that someone should live here. They had to keep walking, and turning, and walking some more. At least she was big enough now that she did not dangle from Nell’s impatient hand any more – to be pulled along horizontally rather than vertically felt less as though your arm would pop out of its socket. Heaven forbid that Nell should inconvenience the superior man by not forcing Lana to keep up with him. At last, after a bewildering array of rooms and corridors, they came to a door, dark panelled wood like in a movie, and then the man unhooked Nell’s hand and replaced it with his own, and kept walking, until Lana was ejected outside.

She was outside a French door, beside a square green lawn linked to others by trellised arches and flanked with banks of roses. She was quite alone. She looked back at the castle. The nearby windows were blank. No one was looking at her.

It was like being let free to roam in the museum after dark, like you always wanted to be. Lana read a book once about kids who ran away and lived in the museum for weeks, hiding each night by standing on the toilet seats so the janitor couldn’t see their feet. And maybe after a while Lana would get found by someone, someone who wasn’t Nell. But it was better not to think about that.

Down the far side of the building, beyond the area of the small stepped lawns, an avenue of cypresses began to flank the wall. Lana entered the dark corridor between the trees and the wall, where no grass could grow. Definitely no one could see her down here.

Further down, the corridor opened up onto another lawn, sunnier, and more natural in shape. Around here, the walls of the building were made of glass. There was a tall columned arch that made a doorway.

Inside, she now remembered only a moment’s sense impression – the bright azure water, a sharp smell of chlorine. There was a boy on the shallow steps down into the water. He was an older boy, man-sized but with a kid’s podginess over the bones in his back. He was strangely – shockingly – bald. And there was an older girl, plump and adult in her swimsuit. Or not in her swimsuit. Behind her, emerging from between her legs, there was a long, inexplicable piece of fabric. The boy was pulling the fabric up and out. There was something terrible about this fabric.

Much later Lana would manage to explain to herself that the fabric had been the girl’s bikini bottoms, untied at the sides.

She became intensely, horrifically present in herself, assaulted by her own foolishness: herself in the silly shoes like a little girl’s party shoes; herself in the dress like a little girl’s party dress, in the middle of the day, when there was no party, only Nell gushing, shamefully gushing at the man – wrong, wrong! Lana was too big a girl, dressed like a little girl; any minute her ridiculousness would be found out, the too-big girl in the little girl’s clothes.

She ran away into the garden. When it was time to leave, two men came to find her in the bushes. Or maybe it had been time to leave for a while, because it was getting dark, and Nell was standing out on the lawn waiting when the men brought her back, and the men showed them back through the garden to the car, not through the house, and Nell was holding Lana’s hand in a way that hurt. Lana did not cry.

She had a horror of crying — she remembered the magazine cover after the meteor shower, her childish weeping face pulverised with emotion, opened up like a slashed side of meat. There was always a danger. She kept a tight enough reign that she could usually stop any tears, but still at her weakest moments, she knew her face was prone to wither hard in upon itself, and that was when some odious person would try to swoop.

At that age she already felt she was immeasurably old. She knew that your parents could die. It appeared that no other girls had any idea of this. These were girls who would put a too-familiar arm around her shoulder and say, of all things, “It’s going to be okay.” As if anyone, let alone them, could be in a position to say whether it was or wasn’t.

 

Even now she was still implacably embarrassed about walking into the pool area that time: it was ridiculous. It was like it had been some sort of primal scene.

She guessed she understood what she had seen now. She had studied a little child psychology – she knew that at age ten, children were “latent”, which was why her mind had refused to parse what she was seeing. She wasn’t latent anymore. She knew that maybe guys liked to take a girl’s panties off in different ways. Whitney used to play with the elastic on her panties and twist them around on her body, and kind of give her a wedgy but not in a gross way, and it was like she was ticklish and wanted to escape, but she didn’t want to escape, she wanted him to do it more.

Not that she and Whitney ever got past playing to actually, well… Not that she was ever there, with her panties all the way off, and he was there; not that they… well.

She had no parents, so what would she know about primal scenes anyway.

 

When she walked into Lex’s office, she found she was angry, lividly angry.

He was not at his desk, pretending to work. He was at the pool table, fiddling while Rome burned.

She threw her ledger books down on the cloth, knocking his balls askew. “You are being such as ass,” she said. “Firing all these people!”

He dropped his pool cue on the table. “I have been subsidising this business…”

“What is your damage?” she said. “You want to cripple the livelihood of these people to punish me?” She was aware she was gesturing.

“It looks like I’m not the only one with an ego problem around here,” he replied.

Abruptly, she was finished. “Look, never mind,” she said. “Let’s just go over the figures.”

She stepped forward to pick up the ledger books, but Lex didn’t withdraw. “I heard from Clark today,” Lex said in a low voice. “He really wants…”

“What Clark wants is not my concern,” Lana said.

Lex was standing far too close to her. For a minute she swore he was looking at her like a boyfriend.

And then, weirdly, he looked angry, and stepped back.

God, there was such a contempt in that, in the way a guy would look at you and then withdraw, not as though he didn’t like what he saw, but as though in making him like what he saw, you had irritated him.

She had been there, had run out on to the field in her cheerleader’s skirt past the line of passive blank players, faceless and hulking in their uniforms, and the cold air crawling up her bare leg, even up over the embarrassing, private plumpness of her inner thigh at the very top. And she had seen through the grilled visors their eyes flicking impassively, contemptuously-casually to the next girl. There was a thrill in it – that you were given this test you might pass, if only you could bear to offer yourself to be tested, to run by and give it to them, the flounce of the bright pleated skirt and the way you could feel your breasts shifting in your bra. But the shitty thing was that you couldn’t really pass: he had appraised you, was entitled to appraise you, and yes – casual, this conclusion – he’d passed you, you’d do, you were worth fucking, but being worth fucking was not worth much. Either way, pass or fail, you failed as a creature he might speak to, open-faced, like a friend – like the way Lex spoke to Clark. The way Lex spoke to Clark about her, no doubt – two equals plotting the disposition of livestock.

And okay, now she was angry again. “Lex,” she said, “if I wanted to know what Clark thought, I’d ask him. Just like if I wanted to date him, I would. Do you have any idea how insulting it is to pursue a woman on behalf of someone else?”

Lex didn’t say anything. He seemed to be standing oddly, on one foot, and staring at her.

Oh god, her face was heating up.

Lex asked, “You think I’m pursuing you on behalf of Clark?”

“You’re not?” Lana managed to ask.

Weirdly, he was coming towards her.

“I would hate for you to…” he began. His voice was strange, and the backs of his knuckles were running down her throat. His hand was in her hair and the nerves in her scalp were going crazy.

“We should resolve this confusion immediately,” he said.

They were making out. He had grabbed her and kissed her and they were making out.

He smelled like an adult man’s cologne and he was wearing a suit, and she was making out with him.

He was really good at it. He kissed her like catching the drips on an ice-cream cone, and he held her like he meant it, like he was holding the body under the clothes and – oh – cupping and stroking it, and wow, did he think he was going to take her clothes off and touch her like that? She should stop him.

He was taking her shirt off. It was too late, it was already around her underarms. He shucked off his own jacket onto the floor. That was his dick, his hard dick in his pants, up against her hip. Men have erections when they want to have sex. God, she really liked making out with him. She shouldn’t be letting him rub that against her: she would never let Whitney… Lex had just taken her bra off, without a single fumble. He was holding her really tight. He was lifting up her up by the ass.

Was she really lying bare-breasted on the leather desk blotter in Lex Luthor’s office? Oh god, her breasts were too pointy, it was embarrassing, no one had ever seen them in daylight, no one knew. He was looking her right in the eye as he palmed them luxuriously, one in each hand, and okay, they weren’t too pointy – he liked them, he really liked them. He was sucking her nipple, firmly and wetly and wow, Whitney had clearly had no idea what he was doing. And wow, and wow, she could barely admit to herself that Lex had his hand in her panties, he had just pushed her fly down and pushed his hand in there; he wasn’t messing around like some teenage boy, and he didn’t need her to tell him where to rub or how to pinch the lips together and then spread them back apart, and her vagina was so wet and he was spreading the wetness around; he could feel how wet she was and how much she liked it, and she was all hot and mortified and trembling, really trembling, and when he took her jeans and panties all the way off and pushed her knees up and stood between them so he could look down at what he was doing to her, it wasn’t even that much more weird.

God, the next bit went on for ages. Where he was putting his fingers in her vagina and her muscles would clench wildly, excruciatingly tight around him and it hurt and it wouldn’t fit, and he would be rubbing her and now it hurt but she liked it, and he would be moving in and out and twisting and crooking. And then he would put in another finger and they would have to start again.

And then he pulled away and went to his desk drawer, and now he had a condom. And he was getting her to sit up, and he was undoing his belt and opening his pants, and taking her hand.

It was so soft, like eyelids, and there was a little bead of liquid on the tip and she smeared it with her thumb, and the head was all pink and tender. And he was just breathing at her so terribly seriously, and they were looking at each other but they were too close to focus, and he said “I need you to put this on for me” – it was the condom that he had there, and she said “Okay, but tell me if I do it wrong, okay,” and both their voices were weird. And she was pinching the tip of the condom like she done that one time in Health when they had made them put one on a banana, and she was rolling it down, and he was breathing really loud through his nose.

And then he had laid her down again and he was trying to put it in her, and it wouldn’t, couldn’t go any further, but then he would ease out a bit and then push back in again and then it could, and then it hurt too much and then he rubbed her and it didn’t, and then he was really doing it to her. She was really lying naked on Lex Luthor’s desk with her legs apart, and Lex Luthor had a condom on his dick and he was putting it into her, and it was so weird, and also sore and wild and good, and oh god he still had his tie on, and he was rubbing her and then she had this huge spasm and her hips curled up off the desk, and it was excruciating, her muscles were so sore and stretched and they were clamping down so hard, and it took her a while to realise it was even an orgasm.

She lay still as the pulse roared in her head. Everything was unreal. Lex was still fucking her. It still felt nice.

He went rigid and thrust really hard. His face was distorted. He threw himself down on her and breathed damply on her throat.

A man had just come inside her.

Huh.

He was pulling out now. He kind of got off her and staggered back a few steps, fumbling with the condom.

She felt strange not having him inside. It was exhilarating and humiliating, lying there alone, naked on his desk, the air cold where she was wet between her legs. She struggled to her elbows.

The office door opened, and it was Lionel Luthor. He was wearing a characteristically exquisite, deep charcoal suit.

For the first second, he was inspecting his cufflink. Then he looked up.

“Oh, excuse me,” he said, quite neutrally. “I’ll come back.” There was perhaps the very faintest hint of humour.

The door closed.

Lex barked, once, with laughter. “You could have at least closed your knees.” He had done his pants up, though he was still breathing heavily.

“You think that was funny?”

Lex was pinching the bridge of his nose. “I’m sorry, but he’s really a master of doing that,” he said. “I don’t even bother to remark on it anymore.”

Lana got up and put on her panties.

“Fuck you,” she said, “figuratively. I’m going to Paris, and I’m never coming back.”

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  1. Eyebrow of Doom June 16th, 2009 3:22 am

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