You always come around at Christmas, like you come around for birthdays and on a few other occasions through the year that have meaning only to us. Trying to keep something alive that died long ago.
Sometimes, on the appropriate days, you bring me presents as bad excuses for dropping by. Simple farmboy gifts for the man who has everything. Last Christmas it was a box of your mother's home-made cookies which stood unopened on my desk for months before I told the maid to throw it away. I was afraid the taste would remind me of your mouth.
Sometimes you bring me your mouth.
Sweet, desperate kisses, a love-making all the more passionate for the distance it doesn't know how to conquer. Afterwards, we part as the strangers we've been now for more years than I like to count. And yet you keep coming back. As though somewhere you believe that you could drag the past gasping and coughing into a new existence, the way you breathed new life in me, aeons ago, on the bank of a river I'd prefer to forget, although you'd never let me.
And so the mighty Lex Luthor spends his Christmas Eve alone in this penthouse that is larger than most villas, watching a city lit up with holiday lights stretch out beneath him. Tomorrow will come the parties, the flocking of glitterati that will have tabloid photographers lined up outside the entrance, the dazzling gifts to concubines of both genders and the champagne toasts that confirm alliances of power.
Tonight I wait for you.
I clear the space inside which will always be yours and listen to the distant noises of a life that was never really mine. The murmur of that river, wind through the corn, your laughter at some childish joke. A world without agendas, purer than I think you ever understood. Because you opened the door and invited me in, offered it to me as it lay unspoilt in your heart. So young then, so trusting, wanting to see the good in your new friend. Your first lover. I guess that's what you still want, why you will be here tonight in spite of everything.
You always go away disappointed.
There was a time when part of me thought you might be right. That I could remake myself in your image, fit myself into the mould of society's morals without diminishing the full power of what I am. That was the part of me that loved you.
But there were always other voices, speaking the words of reason in my head. Voices that knew you were my weakness, not my strength. They reminded me that for the Alexanders of this world, there are no rules except the ones we write ourselves, that in the larger perspective, morality doesn't even begin to touch on greatness. You were too shackled by your smalltown concepts of right and wrong to grasp this, and when I moved forward towards my destiny, you chose to stay behind. The foolish part of me which looked to you for guidance suggested that no victories would be the same without you, but of course I knew better. And all the other voices said that love was of no consequence.
Standing here all these years later with the world at my feet, I can honestly say they were right. I could never have been the person you wanted me to be, closed in by laws and emotions like an eagle in a cage. This is where I belong, far above such petty considerations as good and evil. In the final analysis, it has no bearing whether you approve or not.
And yet tonight I've instructed security to let you in and left the door to the apartment open, because I know you will come, and it matters that you know you're expected. As if this silent understanding could make up for the words we'll never speak again. It remains a mystery to me why one of us hasn't put an end to this long ago, but then mysteries were always our playing field. I shouldn't be surprised.
Though perhaps you wonder too, because it's almost midnight before I hear you coming down the hall. Your footsteps are clear and strong on the marble floor and I doubt there are many others who could tell how hesitant you are. Then silence falls again, and I can feel your presence behind me, standing in the doorway. There is a second before I turn when the lights outside the window grow brighter, and then I'm facing you across the distance of the room.
You hold a package in your hands, wrapped in red with golden ribbons, but in your eyes I read that what you've really brought me this time is yourself.
Tomorrow you will go back to digging the dirt on me for The Daily Planet, exposing projects meant to stay in the dark. Passing the information on to Superman or the police, whichever you think will do a better job of stopping me.
Tomorrow I will return to circumventing your assaults, devising plans that would revolt you if you ever managed to find them out.
But deep inside, the ghost of a man I once tried to become whispers your name.
For tonight, I tell the other voices to shut up.