AU for the events in 'Phoenix'. Angst, baby. PG. Many, many thanks to nel, saf and bonnie. hugs
Feedback would rock.
His parents haven't mentioned it at all since he came back. He can see it when they look at him - mostly Mom, but sometimes even Dad - that after everything that's happened this Summer they're not sure how to ask.
Not sure if it's something that will drive him away again.
But his parents are smart. They have to say something, and soon, because if they don't someone else in town will mention it and then he'll know.
Clark has spent every minute of the last eight days knowing, when Mom finally creeps up the stairs of the barn to where he's staring out at a sunset that looks the same every time he sees it.
"Clark," she begins carefully, still able to be gentle even after he murdered the baby, "about...Lex." She pauses, touching his arm. If he looked at her now he'd see the concern, maybe even the faint hope that she was giving him news that he already knew. "Do you know about Lex?"
As Kal he could have wrapped a hand around her throat and held her against the wall of the barn. He would have shouted, and laughed, and refused the impossibility, because nothing happened that Kal didn't want to happen.
It's been two days since he wore the ring, and he still has to fight his first instinct to act like Kal. He wonders if he'll ever stop.
"I was at the funeral," he says instead, and thinks that the sun is beautiful when it's dying.
Something makes her hand tighten on his arm - surprise? Empathy? - but her voice is calm when she responds. "I'm glad you could be there."
Later that night he runs to the castle, wondering if he should do something he'd once have classed as "pathetic" and sleep in Lex's bed. When he gets to the bedroom he realises there's someone already there.
He never explains to anyone how a hole appeared in the wall.
He's in the barn again the next day when the lawyer arrives and runs over to find out what's going on only when he realises it's about Lex.
"Mr Luthor made it quite clear," the lawyer says, looking so much like a perfectly dressed character from TV that Clark wonders if he's even real, "Clark Kent and his family are to be at the reading of his will."
Dad looks surprised.
Clark looks at the moving van in the drive and wonders if they'll need it anymore.
Clark thinks that Helen is only really beautiful when she's angry.
"But I'm his wife!"
"Yes, Mrs Luthor, but as you can see, Mr Luthor's will is very specific. Now you can contest it, of course..."
She knows it's useless. Seated around a dining table with no food on it in the mansion, they all know it is. Lex would have left no loopholes, no possible way for someone to alter his intent.
"...but at the moment all of Mr Luthor's holdings - the business, private properties, cars and everything he bought with his own money - has been left to Clark Jerome Kent."
Up until that moment, Clark had always hated his middle name.
Mom's eyes are like saucers. Her son is an alien, but right now she's looking more surprised than he's ever seen her.
Dad looks confused, as if he can't decide whether to be shocked that a Luthor would do something like this, or to wonder just how Lex is trying to plot against them, even in the afterlife.
Lionel looks very, very pleased, smirking broadly as if this is the best possible result. Clark should probably find it worrying, but instead it's somehow reassuring when Helen stomps out of the room and the smirk almost becomes a grin.
"Well," Lionel says happily, "do you want to throw her out of the mansion or shall I?"
It's probably the only time the two of them will ever agree on anything.
Turning the letter over in his hand, Clark knows that he has no idea how to run a business. He certainly has no idea whatsoever how to run a business that hires 15,000 people. He should be more freaked out than he is.
He asked to be alone for this, so after retreating to Lex's office and shutting the door, he's standing by the pool table, looking down at the letter. Pausing, he walks over to the bar and pours himself a scotch because it's what Lex - Kal - would have done. Alcohol hasn't affected him yet but the movements are familiar - watching the decanter pour, the dark liquid splashing into the glass. He can almost imagine it's someone elses hands holding the crystal, pale fingers ghosting over the clear surface.
Swallowing the drink in one gulp, he thumps the glass down and rips open the letter.
I'm not sure if you're surprised or not. You're innocent in so many ways but far from naive. I'm getting married soon, but there have only been two people in my life that I've trusted completely and Helen isn't one of them. I do love her, don't mistake that. I simply trust you more.
I'm not expecting you to run LexCorp unless you've suddenly developed an interest in the business world. The people who work for me are good at their jobs, Clark. They know what to do. However, if you do want to make changes then feel free to do so. I wouldn't have left it to you if I didn't think you were capable. You have so much greatness inside you, and no one in Smallville ever seems to see your potential. It's angered me more than once.
Regardless of what you do with the company, I know I can at least trust you to be good to my employees, to see that they're treated fairly. That's all I ask from you.
No doubt my father will try to infiltrate himself into your life when he sees how much I've given you and for that I'm truly sorry. It couldn't be helped. Lionel Luthor is as much a fact of life as he is a force of nature and he can't be avoided even by the likes of us. The only advice I can give is not to trust him, ever, and that his only weakness seems to be your mother. I realise that's not something you particularly want to hear, but if it helps you in the future it's something you need to know. You'll need to play him at his own game, someday, but please don't let it change you.
I have several safes hidden in the castle, and have enclosed a list of their location and combinations as well as other useful information I'm almost positive my father doesn't have. My Warrior Angel collection is in my bedroom, but I suspect you already know that.
There are things I've always wanted to know about you, Clark, and sometimes I pushed too hard. Unfortunately I inherited my father's inquisitive nature, but despite how obsessed I seemed to get sometimes nothing was ever more important to me than our friendship. Nothing. I wasn't lying when I said you were the only real friend I've ever had. No amount of money, all the things I've given you, nothing can ever cover the value of that.
Clark keeps staring at the letter long after he finishes reading it. He knows - Kal knows - that he should memorise the information and burn all the papers for his own protection. To make sure that no one else ever reads them.
Placing the papers back in the envelope, Clark folds it in half and stuffs it into the pocket of his jeans.
School starts again. Clark's no longer some half-noticed unimportant student like most of the school; now he's the boy that Lex Luthor left everything to. He can't walk through any corridor, into any room, without conversation stopping or changing.
"Why did I never notice how hot he was before?"
"You think they were fucking?"
He knows now how Lex felt all the time.
The irony is unavoidable. Everything he thought he wanted, everything he was searching for in Metropolis - power, money, the ability to do whatever he wanted - all he had to do to get it was come home. To get the escape he thought he needed, all that had to happen was the death of his best friend.
He doesn't speak to Lana, Pete or Chloe much. He goes to school, speeds through his homework - Lex would expect him to get good grades - and reads every book on business he can find.
On his 21st birthday, Clark officially takes his position as the head of LexCorp. He and Lex's people have been working towards that goal for a long time. He knows that some of them aren't happy about it, that LexCorp has been doing perfectly well without him in charge, but he has his supporters and they've been helping him learn.
Lex had never finished college but Clark did, wanting to make absolutely sure that he wasn't going to screw everything up. He'd taken nothing but courses he thought would help him run the company, and in the process had an argument with his father so loud that he hasn't gone back to the farm for over a year. Mom comes to visit quite often and last time she even brought Dad with her. He'd mumbled through an apology to Clark and though Clark isn't quite ready to visit the farm again yet, he thinks he might like to next Christmas.
The business papers are cautiously optimistic, the newspapers say he's bound to be a good employer, and the tabloids are still implying that there was more going on between him and Lex than just friendship.
He doesn't sue, despite his lawyers' advice. It's closer to the truth than anyone realises.
He hasn't used his powers for over four months.
The penthouse is quiet at night. It's high enough that he's able to tune out the noise of the city and overcome his vertigo all in one go. Like on most nights, he comes home, showers, and makes something to eat. He reads over reports, scrolls down documents on his laptop, and leaves CNN playing in the background.
When the phone rings and the caller ID says LexCorp - that isn't unusual either - he picks it up with one hand, the other still tapping at the keyboard. "Clark Kent."
As he hears what the voice on the other end of the line has to say, the phone crushes in his hand. The moment he speeds out of the penthouse, the news breaks on CNN.
Clark discovers he can fly. It doesn't come as a surprise and he doesn't spend time thinking about it; he just flies, not caring that people will wonder how he got there so quickly.
He finds the hospital, then easily finds the room without stopping to ask anyone. And there...is Lex.
His skin is puckered, raw, and even under the blankets Clark can see how much weight he's lost. But Lex is alive, breathing, and it's the most beautiful thing Clark has ever seen.
Clark's waited nearly five years for a moment he wasn't sure was ever going to come. He wants to wake Lex up, wants to tell him that he's not alone. Instead he ignores everyone else in the room, sits in the chair next to the bed, and sleeps for the first time since Lex died.
Lex moves to Smallville for the remainder of his rehabilitation. Clark is still cautious, knowing Lex has been alone all this time and not wanting to overwhelm him. They've talked, but said nothing and it isn't at all how Clark thought it would be.
He goes back to the farm, surprising his parents, and lies in what is now the guest room. Not long after 2am he picks up the phone and dials the number that'll put him straight through to Lex.
"You left me everything," he says.
"You did so much with it," Lex croaks, still not used to talking again. "God, Clark. I can't tell you how proud I am."
Lex's voice. Lex's voice pleased with him is something he thought he'd never hear again. "I was just looking after it until you came back, Lex. Taking care of it for you." He doesn't know how much his voice reveals. He doesn't care, either.
"Clark...is this real? Can you please tell me this is real? You have no idea how many times I dreamt you were with me."
Except Clark isn't with him. For some stupid reason that now makes no sense whatsoever, they're in completely different buildings. So Clark hangs up, leaves the house; and this time when he runs to the castle in the middle of the night and finds someone in Lex's bed, he doesn't leave.