On his eighteenth birthday, Lex's father gives him a set of keys to the penthouse. His younger brother Lian gives him a wooden sculpture, Lian's own rendition of Lex's favorite car. His baby brother Luc gives him a hand-drawn card, a blue sun in a yellow sky. His mother hugs him, and Lex knows the keys are from her as well.
Later that night she takes him into her office and gives him something entirely different and unexpected.
"I wanted to give you the world," she says, turning on her computer monitor and clicking the mouse a few times. An image of Lian appears on the screen, asleep in bed. Lex tilts his head, confused. "There he is, Lex."
"You have cameras hidden in Lian's room? Are there ones in my room, too?"
"Your father doesn't want to tell you yet, but I do."
"Mom…" Lillian can slip in and out of lucidity, and Lex reaches over to clasp her fingers, hoping to draw her back.
"He's the messiah."
Lex glances out the open door, wondering if he should call for his father.
"He came down to earth on the day of the meteor shower, fell flaming into the world, riding the wings of destruction. We kept the ship." She reaches over and presses a button, and another image fills the screen. Strange, grey and curved shapes, people bustling around it, measuring… Lex stares and a cold wave passes over him, too dull to be horror.
Lian appears on the monitor again. He tosses his head slightly, dark hair falling over his cheeks, the sheets sliding off his neck in the dim light of his bedroom. Lex could believe this was all some delusion of his mother's, but it's not. It's not. It's the only explanation for Lian's abilities, the speed and strength and imperviousness. Lex's little brother, the sweetly innocent twelve-year-old boy sucking his own knuckles in sleep, isn't human, and he doesn't even know it himself.
Lillian's hand on his cheek brings Lex back to the room, her fingernails pressing into his skin as she strokes, as she pulls his head around. Her hair is dark as Lian's, the light from the monitor glinting blue among the red highlights, blue as her eyes, strange and surreal. She slaps Lex lightly across the face. He shakes his head.
"It was all as it was meant to be. We found him that day, the people who would have the means to take him in and deal with him. Who else could do it? It was all so perfectly placed. The Reids, both of them LuthorCorp employees, and neither with any family. Their child the right age, the right looks, the right kind of name, a perfect blueprint to be absorbed. Those matching tombstones glinting under the flowers."
"You killed them." The cold feeling has settled down somewhere in the base of his stomach, and doesn't seem to be moving.
Smiling brightly, she nods. "It took a while to find them, but they were just what we needed." She turns, leaning in close to the screen, pressing a hand against the image of sleeping Lian. "They're blessed to have given their lives for the savior."
"And what do you expect me to do?"
"Whatever you want." Her breath fogs against the screen, she's leaned in so close.
"What if I don't want… Mom…"
She whips around, and she's clutching his face again, hands cupping his chin, looking up at him. "The grass grows on the graves, Lex, and it whispers. He's come to silence the tongues of the dead, kiss their complaints away. There will be no more sorrow, no more war, no poverty or disease or death."
Lex wraps his arms around her, pulls her against his chest. "I'm sure it will be wonderful. Should I get Dad? Or call the nurse?"
Hands slide down his neck, over his shoulders. "It's the grass. I hear it sighing, hear it babbling. He'll burn away the sighs, melt the sun, rain the world clean. It will rain on the bones and no on else will join them." Lillian looks up, shaking her hair back. "It's still locked away, though. We haven't been able to open anything. He needs to be free to fulfill his destiny. And you'll be there to guide him, to make sure it all goes correctly. Everything will be yours."
"Of course, Mom. Now, why don't you go to bed and we'll discuss this tomorrow? Saving the world can wait one more day, right?" Lex needs time to consider his options. He hopes that she's not always like this about the subject, that she can still think clearly if he waits and placates enough.
Her voice turns hard and commanding, her eyes fierce as she digs her fingers into his arm. "I didn't murder over a dozen people and spend all these years raising an alien as my son just to let you throw it away." Her words sweep over him like a chill wind and Lex bows to her will.