Summary: Companion Piece to Distance; Lex POV Disclaimer: Still not mine.
He comes here every day.
It's a short ride for me this morning, just outside the city, and I busy myself with the campaign contribution reports, mentally marking the names on the list who I know for a fact will want unsavory favors in return for their unwavering support. I think that I should just be using my own money and to hell with the others, but my advisors keep insisting it has to be done this way.
I want to ditch them all, and may do that quite soon. If I can't run on my own, I shouldn't even be running.
The sleek car stops at the hugely ornate cemetery gates, and as I put the window down and look out over the field of green and white, dotted everywhere with colorful blotches of tender offerings, I see him. He stands rigid, far away from the main gates on a small slope of grass, head bent toward the pink slab at his feet.
I almost can't get out of the limo.
I wave the chauffeur away and open the door myself, hating the toadying I am subjected to constantly throughout the day. I reach back in for the three white roses, wondering at the small count. I can certainly afford many more, but three seems just right. One for her, one for Clark, one for me.
I have been here several times, but never this early in the day, and I wonder also if I came at this hour on purpose. If I want to see what will happen. Will he reach out and try to choke the life out of me in retribution for Lois Lane's death? Somehow, I think not.
I walk toward him casually, unconcerned, bodyguards their usual discreet distance behind me. I hate them, too. I wanted to come alone this morning, but, of course, that wasn't allowed. Not after the warehouse. Not after the spectacular explosion that left her dead and me, inexplicably, rescued.
I have tried to understand. I know Superman has x-ray vision, know he would have scoped out the entire situation before he even got there, and still.
Here I was, breathing and walking. With the bodyguards, but all that would be changing soon.
From now on, if I want to leave my office and walk around the block for an espresso, I'm doing it. If I don't get killed here and now, that is.
The bodyguards stop a little distance from the red and blue clad hero, allowing me to get closer. I know they're watching him like a hawk, but really, how can they protect me from him? I refused to allow the guns with the Kryptonite bullets. Today, anyway, perversely wanting to test the tiny nagging theory growing in the back of my mind since that day.
I make sure my step doesn't falter as I move up beside him. I know that he has heard me coming, probably heard the limo before we even turned off the highway.
I reach past him and place the roses gently on the grass, nice contrast of the white on the lush green. He doesn't move; doesn't look at me.
"You come every morning. You miss her." I tell him unnecessarily. "I've been here a few times myself, but never this early in the day."
His gaze has not left the stone, the simple engraving announcing her name, birth and death to the world, and my own eyes follow, wondering when he might strike out, wondering how much effort he is putting into the control I can see plainly.
"I know," he says, still looking at her headstone, edging the tiniest bit away from me. I feel the distance growing reluctantly, surprised to find that I would have liked it more if he'd stepped closer in anger.
"I've seen the white roses," he adds. "I knew it was you. Why?"
The question catches me off guard. I haven't really been expecting civil conversation. "Why?" I repeat. "Why not?"
I almost hear a sigh escape. "I wouldn't think you'd take the time. Wouldn't bother to make the trip."
"Some days I'm closer." I explain. "Some days the trip is too long. I think about her every day."
(About the fact that she's dead and I'm not.)
"Don't feel the need to come here, Lex," he tells me, with an edge of bitterness I can feel, a tone that chills me in the morning sun. "It's long ago and far away since we were close enough that I expect you to pay respects to my dead fiance."
I turn my head to look at him then, the sight of his face in profile so much more satisfying than the cold stone at our feet. "But you come here every day," I say again. "You chose your enemy over the woman you loved."
He feels me looking at him then, turning to meet my eyes, and I barricade myself instantly. The last time I saw that look in his eyes......
(I can't do this anymore, Lex............Of course I love you, I've loved you since that first day, I think........ too many lies, too much manipulation and you won't stop......the future will take care of itself......I have enough to hide from the world without worrying about having to lie for you too.........please Lex, just let me go........I love you, but I just can't.......I'll always love you, Lex............Bye, Lex.........Bye, Lex)
was the last time I actually had the chance to look into his eyes, long ago and far away, like he said, and Smallville was further away than either of us ever knew it could be.
"I never loved her, not enough," he says resignedly.
Tiny ache unbidden in my cold heart, words out of me before I can stop them and I curse myself inwardly for my lack of control.
"You should have stayed, Clark," I somehow find myself saying. "She might still be alive."
Flash of something in his clear green eyes then, regret? "And you might really be dead." He muses. "Long ago and far away, Lex. Way too much dirty water has gone under that bridge where we met. Too many years and too much distance between us to ever go back."
He glances back to Lois's grave and I wonder briefly if he has ever told her. Somehow, I know he never did and the realization hurts me, brings my protective control back.
"Retreat is a weakness, Superman," I remark. "I won't go back. The real test of strength is in the forge ahead. There is no fate but what we make."
"I saw that movie, Lex. I didn't like the ending."
I feel the smile his statement tries to drag from me, and it surfaces before I can stop it; brought out by memories of cool evenings at the mansion, just us and closeness and I have never felt the same since then, never been able to share a game of pool, a movie, a joke, a piece of apple pie. Not with anyone, not even the wife I had for three years before she died, never shared anything with anyone without thinking of warm, strong hands on me, heated breath, crushing lips. I manage to stop the smile, just a second too late, peripherally catching sight of his hand moving toward me, and I don't mistake the determination in his eyes when that movement stops abruptly.
"As I recall," I reminded him, "you weren't happy with the whole time travel thing. Too many unanswered questions. If you could travel back in time right now, would you go back to the warehouse and save her first?"
It's a painful question; the answer isn't as painful to me as I expect. I see the shine of unshed tears and the hurt in his eyes, and to his credit, his voice betrays no evidence of the heartbreak his answer so obviously causes him.
"Some days when I come here," he says quietly, "I almost hate you. For a decision I made, I almost hate you. And I hate myself, because if I could go back in time, I'm not sure anything would end up differently."
A bitter admission on his part, and I search his face for something more, something I can almost see in his eyes, memory sense we both know we are sharing, unspoken, abandoned feelings, pushed aside that day so far away from here. I can see them rushing back between us, like the sudden smell of summer rain that you might have forgotten you really like until you open the front door and it's suddenly there, and I can't want it. I clear my throat and close the door.
"I have meetings today, Superman," I inform him dismissively, "schedules to maintain, evil plans to bring to fruition, I'm sure you're aware of all this. I'll leave you to your quiet thoughts."
He steps toward me, and the insane thought runs through my mind that he really is going to kill me, but he stops, and I can see him fumbling internally for words.
"Lex," he begins, and I let my gaze travel pointedly down the front of him, allowing the tiny jump in my pulse, the short hitch of my breath as memory sweeps in again. He doesn't go on, sees the bodyguards beginning to head our way at his step toward me, definitely catches the crawl of my eyes across his body.
"Was there something else?" I ask lightly, as if I already know there won't be, already know we have said everything we are going to be saying this early morning.
I see the change, both physical and mental, which comes over him more swiftly than I could have imagined. He is, once again, the Man of Steel. My enemy.
"No," he declares, not even the barest hint of emotion in his voice. "There's nothing else. Thank you for bringing the flowers, Luthor."
I nod in farewell and turn to go once more. But, I have to have the last word. I turn back, and he looks at me expectantly, wordlessly.
"By the way," I ponder aloud, "Which decision of yours is it that makes you hate both of us? The decision to leave me? Or the one to save me? Do you even know yourself?"
It's a deliberately hurtful question, and I can't bring myself to look back at him. I feel his eyes on me all the way back to the limo, down through the gates and out to the highway. But then, I always feel his eyes on me.