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Title: Where You Should Be All the Time
Author: D.L.SchizoAuthoress
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: general ones for "Earth 2" and "Earth 2: World's End"
Warnings: rampant speculation, cameos from old-canon characters and characters from completely different canons, Alan/Sam pairing
Word Count: 2446
Summary: How Alan Scott met Samuel Zhao.

Note: I know Robinson said that Alan was "about 27" in an interview, but Robinson said a lot of things that never made it to the page, so whatever. Present-day Alan is 29. He'd be about 24 during scenes shown in "Earth 2: World's End" #1. This particular story takes place two years before that.
Note 2: Alan Scott and Todd Rice (and Jennifer Lynn) are still related. I did what I could with the apparent small age gap presented in canon between the boys.
Note 3: Low-key racebending going on with Selina Kyle. Just know that I'm picturing her as Selita Ebanks.

Word of the Day: spruce, adjective: Trim in dress or appearance; neat; smart; dapper.

Where You Should Be All the Time

"No, you're not going to go to the Millers' Halloween party," Alan said sternly, into the wireless hands-free headset connected to his cell phone. He turned in place in reaction to the seamstress's silent prodding, and then she continued to mark out alternations. "Because you're not even out of high school. ...Because I don't want Jen anywhere near Danny Miller when he gets drunk. ...Oh, please, you two go everywhere together." Alan snorted. "Like she'd let you. ...Todd, the only way you're coming to this party tonight is if Irene escorts you. And she won't."

He listened to a bout of complaining from the other end of the line. He would have rubbed his temples, but the tailor was measuring his sleeves. Alan didn't feel like listening to two fits being pitched at him.

"Didn't you have plans to go to the local haunted house with that Al boy and his friends? ...Cancelled, huh? ...There's always the party that Charles and Ramia throw. ...Yes, well, maybe you should listen to Jen this time." Alan chuckled. There was a note of gentle teasing in his voice that softened his words. "Who says I don't like her better? ...Same to you, brat. Keep each other out of trouble."

As the call disconnected, Alan sent up a silent prayer of thanks for his mother -- Martina Scott was much better at handling teenagers than he'd ever be, a fact that was readily apparent the more that he interacted with his half-siblings.

It had taken them a while to even get up to good-natured ribbing. In all honesty, it had taken Alan a while to see past his own closely-held hurts about their father. But, despite how the Rice twins could sometimes annoy him and get his back up, Alan was glad that he had.

"You're sure you want the cape collar this large, Mr. Scott?" the tailor asked. "It will probably obscure your--"

"That's the size it is in all the drawings I gave you, Gabe," Alan said, in a voice edged with impatience. Gabe picked up on that and nodded rapidly.

"Yes, sir. Of course, I apologize."

"We're sorry it took so long to get the fabrics in, and the pieces done," the seamstress spoke up.

Alan waved the apology off. "It's fine, Regine, really. You said these last alterations won't take long?"

"They'll be ready for you by tomorrow morning," Regine affirmed. "In plenty of time for your party, I think."

"Perfect," Alan said, as Gabe helped him out of the jacket, and then the waistcoat. He smiled warmly at the seamstress. "All those glowing recommendations were right about you, Ms. Cesaire. Thank you."

She laughed. "Keep those glowing recommendations going, Mr. Scott, and I'll be happy."


Irene Miller actually screamed when she caught sight of him in the lobby -- but she did that whenever she got excited -- and somehow ran over to him while in six-inch heels. She was beaming as he worriedly caught hold of her wrist.

"Alan! You look fantastic!" Irene laughed. "I knew I could count on you to go all out."

"You're only this happy because you love the Castlevania video games," Alan teased. He let go once he was sure that she wouldn't topple over. Somehow, her tall beehive hairdo didn't wobble a bit.

"I do, but you also make a wonderful Dracula."

"And you are a very convincing Elvira, dear hostess," Alan said. He offered her his arm, and she took it with another bright smile. "Did your brother send you out here to greet guests while he gets started on the bar?"

"Oh, Alan, don't be catty," Irene said with a little sigh.

"You're only calling me that because I'm right."

Irene gave him a little sideways glance and wrinkled her nose at him briefly. It was the same face she always made when he was right and she didn't want to admit it. But he also knew that when she made that face, he shouldn't push. She led the way to the hotel ballroom where the party was being held -- the place was full of high society folks in elaborate and expensive costumes, and the first group they passed was chattering about business. The second group was discussing politics in bored tones, and the third, though smaller, was louder as they exclaimed over this popular entertainer or that one. Just like any party that he'd ended up at since starting his own business, except with a wilder dress code.

"Selina! Bruce!" Irene trilled, "Look who's here!"

Bruce Wayne looked a little uncomfortable in his Roman legionnaire costume, but Alan honestly couldn't remember a time that Bruce ever looked happy to be at a social function. (He could fake it with the best of them, but the lines of strain that fanned out from the corner of his eyes were a dead giveaway.) His wife Selina looked much more relaxed, though that might have been an effect of how comfortable she looked with a martini glass in one hand -- another bit of misdirection, common with the Waynes. She was dressed in a Cleopatra costume; the white of her dress and shimmering gold of the collar and crown brought out the light brown of her skin beautifully, and her makeup had been artfully done in bright, rich colors.

"Well, well," Selina practically purred, "I guess I owe Brucie ten dollars."

"You bet that I wouldn't show up?" Alan asked, raising an eyebrow.

Bruce chuckled. "You have a reputation, Alan. For getting called away by your work?"

"He knows I would have never forgiven him if he bowed out of this, that's all." Irene insisted, giving the side of Alan's face a fond little pat. "Now, excuse me, dears; I have to see if there are any more stragglers in the lobby!"

"I'd like to point out that I took your side and bet against Sel," Bruce said, once their Mistress of the Night hostess had click-clacked her way across the ballroom floor toward the door.

"Honestly, though, Alan," Selina said, "I wouldn't blame you if you had skipped out. You never seem to have any fun at these things anyway."

Alan laughed. "Not everyone's idea of fun is sneaking into alcoves to make out."

Bruce blushed, but Selina just laughed. "It was only the once!" she exclaimed.

"That we were caught," Bruce muttered. His wife playfully elbowed him lightly in the side.

"Oh, you love it, Brucie. Don't act stuffy."

"If I'm going to deal with you two all night," Alan declared, turning and giving his cape a dramatic sweep, "I'm going to need a drink. Anything for you, Bruce?"

Bruce declined, but Alan had been expecting that. Although he provided plenty of alcohol whenever he threw charity benefits attended by Gotham's wealthy, Bruce himself was dry. At most, he'd nurse a single alcoholic drink the entire night, or end up discarding it halfway through the event anyway. Alan generally took a different tack -- requiring at least a drink or two to put up with vapid chatter from the folks that would inevitably seek him out at these things.

Alan dodged around a group that was mostly young ladies his age. Practically everyone knew that he wasn't interested in that sort, but they still flocked to him -- possibly out of some desire to make him their 'gay best friend', as if he wanted to be someone's accessory.

And then he tripped.

It was easy to catch himself, and he was careful to step off of the thick, ruffled fabric that had impeded him before straightening up his jacket. It looked vaguely like feathers -- the train of someone's dress or something.

"Oh, sorry," a mid-range, definitely male voice said. Alan's head snapped up in the direction of the costume's wearer's face. The East Asian man smiled apologetically at Alan, "did this thing trip you? It's such a hazard, but I didn't have time to get it hemmed up."

The first thought that popped into Alan's head was that such things didn't matter, because this guy was gorgeous. His face was sort of heart-shaped, thanks to how his bangs fell across his forehead, with dark, intelligent eyes over high cheekbones; he had a distinguished nose over a small mouth, which was curved slightly into a perfectly balanced little smile. Quite a bit of his skin was showing, thanks to the fact that his costume was mostly the long train and a sleeveless leotard like a strapless swimsuit, and everything that Alan could see was pale gold, smooth, and flawless. The leotard itself was a shimmery spandex fabric in pale greens and blues, in a batik-like print that mimicked peacock feathers. A fan of peacock feathers was at the top of the train, so that from the front, they framed the man's hips; the train itself was turquoise, velvety-looking, and adorned with embellishments in the same fabric, leaf-shaped but clearly meant to evoke feathers. His feet were covered by lace-less black ankle boots with a pointed toe.

This was not the sort of thing that one usually saw at a Gotham City costume party where, so far as Alan could tell, most of the people were straight or at least hiding behind heteronormativity. The only thing he could think to say... ask really, was: "....why are you wearing a ladies' peacock costume?"

"I'll have you know that I'm one hundred percent more accurate than any of them, because the pretty peafowl are male," the man replied in an amused tone.

"Well, you are pretty," Alan replied. He nearly bit his tongue when he realized that he'd just said that out loud, but the man only laughed and said,

"Thank you!" He took in Alan's own immaculately detailed Dracula costume with an obvious down-and-up sweep of the gaze, and the half-lidded look that he regarded Alan's face with just made Alan think bedroom thoughts. "You're not so bad yourself."

Alan bit his lower lip briefly and then offered his hand. "Alan Scott," he introduced himself.

"Samuel Zhao," the man replied in kind. His handshake was firm, but not overbearing, and he lingered in the touch for just a moment too long. "...thoroughly charmed, Mr. Scott."

"Alan," he corrected, as they dropped hands. "You can call me Alan."

"Then you," Samuel Zhao said, in a low, resonant voice, as if he were imparting some important secret, "can call me Sam."

He hadn't wanted somebody this instantly, and this badly since he was fifteen years old. But Alan Scott was nothing if not self-controlled. He chuckled and pointed out, "Well, Sam, you never really answered my question."

Sam grinned. "I lost a bet." He paused, and gave an elegant little shrug. "Well. 'Lost'... because it's not like I mind being in something eye-catching."

"Consider my eye caught," Alan replied. "I was just heading to the bar for a drink. Can I get you something?"

"I'd love it if you did, but I don't have any idea what they're stocked with tonight."

Alan immediately offered Sam his arm. "Then let's go. You can take your time deciding."

Sam linked arms with him, still looking amused. Before they set off, he went onto his tiptoes so that he could whisper in Alan's ear, "And if I sit on one of the barstools, you can admire my legs all you want while I think about it."

Alan shivered a little at the promise in Sam's tone. "It's a plan, gorgeous."


"What kind of hotel doesn't even stock Drambuie? Honestly," Sam sighed as he sat down at the small table between the dance floor and the bar, with a little pout that just made Alan want to kiss him even more. He swirled his cocktail glass, making the maraschino cherry at the bottom spin lazily, before taking a sip of the Rob Roy that he'd settled for.

"I think the Hyperion's fallen on some hard times lately," Alan said neutrally, sipping at his own whiskey sour.

"Mm... You can't tell at first look," Sam conceded. He drummed his fingers on the tabletop in a jaunty little rhythm. "So... what do you do with your time, Alan?"

"Have you ever heard of Global Broadcasting Company?"

Sam raised an eyebrow. "Can't say that I have."

Alan was expecting that. He smiled slyly in response to that look. "Well, you will..."

He explained his ambitions for his company -- something he envisioned as a multimedia empire in the coming years. And Sam, unlike so many of his audiences at these shindigs, seemed genuinely interested in his plans. They started discussing online viewing options and the limitations of streaming sites, and Alan was pleasantly surprised to realize that Sam knew even more than he did about the subject. They passed hours in deep discussion -- which ranged from mass media to theater, musical and otherwise; from the miniaturization of cameras to net neutrality and privacy concerns.

It was only when Sam started giggling uncontrollably while trying to explain a plot twist in a musical being written by one of his American friends -- something set in the Fifties, but a queer romantic comedy, apparently -- that Alan realized that the wait staff had been quietly supplying them with refills, because Alan had forgotten to specify not to. He reached out and touched one of Sam's hands.

"I think..." he stopped when Sam looked up at him, licked his lips, and continued, "I think we maybe had a little too much."

Sam blinked at him, then glanced down to the table. Several empty glasses were arrayed between them. "Oh." Sam laughed again, sounding a little sheepish. "Oops."

He turned his hand beneath Alan's, rubbed his thumb over Alan's knuckles. Alan couldn't resist giving Sam's hand a little squeeze.

"I have a room upstairs..." Alan murmured softly. "If you want to... stay the night."

"I thought you'd never ask." Sam whispered. He leaned closer, brushed his lips soft and teasing over Alan's, and breathed, "Let's go."


Bruce chuckled as he watched Alan leaving the ballroom, practically glued to the side of the smaller, slimmer man in the peacock costume. He glanced at his wife -- currently deep in conversation with Minerva Matthews about ensuring that upscale boutiques in Gotham stopped stocking real fur -- and tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention.

"You owe me fifty dollars, sweetheart," Bruce murmured into her ear, indicating his old friend's rather hasty and accompanied exit.

"Well, I'll be damned," Selina said softly. "I thought our third wheel would never pair off." She smiled, bright and warm. "Good for him."

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