Life, Death, and Lex; or, Games Are All We Have
Feedback: Yes, please. Writing all this Lex angst makes one hungry.
Lex had a relatively neutral attitude toward death. It was more than just the fact that death was a part of life. The outside world was dead to Lex. Lex, himself, was dead.
Lex had killed a few times, in self defense, of course, because even all his father's money couldn't get him acquitted. Because Lex was just too fucking proud not to leave his fingerprints on the murder weapon on the body on the lawn in front of the sheriff's office if he ever found the need to commit cold-blooded, premeditated murder. Lex was too smart for that, so he didn't kill anyone unless it was absolutely necessary.
Death was sort of the same as life to Lex. He didn't see life around him, hadn't since his mother's death, since Lionel had started grooming him for his destiny as the Luthor heir. Yes, Lionel had effectively sucked the life out of Lex's world. Lex didn't see people or friends or passers-by. He saw credit ratings and stock quotes, opportunities and competitors. He'd grown used to looking at the world this way, where every object and relationship, carbon-based or otherwise, could be summarized with an equation, a number, assigned a convenient label and filed away for further analysis or use when Lex needed an excuse or a fall-guy.
Lex looked at everything in black and white, pros and cons, caring only about how something would serve him. He made no business decision without first considering the possible consequences, and somewhere along the line every bit of life had become business. And while Lex viewed the world in black and white, his mind was an array of variegated grays and lavenders, for him to manipulate as he pleased, when it suited him and when justification was needed for whatever unforeseen consequences arose.
Lex was flexible. He wasn't so generous with the rest of the world.
Lex, himself, was dead. Death wasn't something he thought about much, even when he thought about life, which wasn't often. He'd been threatened, shot at, beaten so many times he knew he was a walking dead man, so he didn't waste time making such fine distinctions as that between life and death. Everything had a purpose, and if Lex could not find a purpose in something he didn't bother with it.
He wasn't sure why he still bothered getting high or, at least, trying to. It didn't have the same effect as it used to. Maybe it had started out as rebellion, or even living up to an expectation, and he had enough money and spare time on his hands and way too many brain cells anyway. Drugs were wasted money now, not worth the time or effort. Sex didn't do it for him either, which was disappointing, considering that used to be one of his favorite pastimes. Sure, he'd tried to get creative, even went the whole S&M route, but he felt nothing. But Lex was too lazy to give it up, even if it was just a waste of time.
For a long time he'd looked at the rest of the world as a numb, thoughtless entity with which to be dealt, but Lex was numb himself now too. The grays were mixing in with the lavenders and blacks and whites and even when he got his hands on every book he could, jetted off to Tanzania or Chile he still couldn't find his enthusiasm. He remembered when he'd get excited about developing and disproving scientific theories and thrilling at the chance to mess with chemicals in Excelsior's private labs, which he wasn't supposed be in anyway, and the thrill he'd get from hacking into the university's mainframe and changing all the settings. Sometimes little things that only he would notice because he'd known he'd done it, other times he'd infect it with a virus no one else understood (because, of course, Lex wrote it) and after the system crashed he'd hack back in and fix it, much to the utter confusion of the technologists who worked there.
There had been a time, Lex was certain, that he'd prided himself on being smarter than everyone else. Intellectually, he had no match, and eventually it became a chore to find adequate opponents. Everything, now, had a dull edge to it, and he tried, really tried to challenge that dull edge. But even going into fencing practice, refusing to wear the helmet or the protective suit, choosing the fiercest opponents and provoking them as best he knew how... even when they drew blood, even when he drew blood, it wasn't satisfying.
Lex liked being in charge, making change, destroying things. Lately, though, all he liked was destroying things, and more of the abstract version, that is, people's lives and not power plants or cornfields. He felt a vague stirring of his old enthusiasm after he found out Lionel had been spying on him, cameras everywhere in his home (if you could call a secluded castle a home). He enjoyed researching, finding the right people to get his revenge on his father, spy on him too. Apparently, he'd missed something because the next thing he knew his professional installers were on every news channel, even channels that weren't news, holding his father and Martha Kent hostage, and if he'd had a clue he would never have hired them. Not that he wouldn't be glad to see Lionel get shot in the process, maybe even killed, although maimed so that he lived the rest of his life as a vegetable or in great pain would be beautiful, but he had to take the fall for this, since he'd hired them, and nothing he could say would stop the Kents from being suspicious of him from now on. And despite what he might say to the contrary, Lex did care what the Kents thought of him, especially Clark, though he tried to convince himself it was for strategic reasons only.
Life and death had merged a long time ago for Lex, no less clearly than when he'd been exiled to Smallville. His first day there he nearly killed someone. If that someone hadn't been Clark, that someone would be dead, no matter how much Clark insisted that Lex was wrong about that, because Lex saw the dent in his car, saw the way the roof had come off and he knew it was no accident. He wasn't so much bothered by the fact that Clark was so obviously lying to him as by the fact that Clark had saved his life. It wasn't a life worth saving, but more importantly, it wasn't a life that wanted to be saved. Lex was tired of living, tired of constantly battling for power with Lionel, of being forced to fight this battle that was more trouble than it was worth.
Lionel kept coming back to him, and instead of being flattered that he was still a threat to his father even holed up in Smallville, he was annoyed. For the first time, Lionel had been out of his life, completely out, and Lex thought he was starting to come back to life. He didn't feel smothered or numb anymore, he starting enjoying corporate battles with Lionel when Lionel couldn't see his face. Lex could have a conference call and tell his partners in no uncertain terms to not file that tax report, to not sell that stock, in a firm voice but since they couldn't see him he'd be laughing. Playing chess against the computer instead of sitting at a stuffy board meeting table while he dictated instructions, drinking all the scotch he could hold and more. Hell, he could make obscene gestures at the phone. That was the most fun. They had no fucking idea what he was doing, they just heard his voice. And Lex was free to laugh at them or do whatever he wanted. He felt like a kid again. Until Lionel came back.
One time, Lionel lost. Only once, but that was once too many for a Luthor. He denied it, of course. He denied losing the only way a loser can and still get away without appearing to be at fault. He not only denied losing, because that alone would show him to have actually lost, but he denied participation in, knowledge of, even the very existence of the game he himself had created. Lex knew it, felt himself cackle inside with glee when Lionel denied it, because Lionel only denied something when there was something to be denied, and finally achieving victory over him was, well, beautiful.
"Must we play games, Lex?"
So exasperated, so harsh, so ignorant. Lex smiled. He savored this moment, the moment Lionel would deny the game he had just lost. Because Lex had fucking won and he would never, ever let Lionel forget it.
"But dad," he replied, all innocence and absurdity, "games are all we've got."
And Lex was, unarguably, unquestionably, undeniably, irrevocably, fully, once more, alive.