Chapter 1: I
Five seconds ago, he stared up at the ceiling of a crystal fortress as the shards of the roof fell like leaden snow. Clark lay in his arms, writhing as the end came; the memory of his warm body still lingering upon Lex’s skin. But that’s five seconds ago, in a time before he stares into a face that is very much like the one he sees every day.
“This moment has already happened more times than you can imagine. I hoping I’m not too late.” He says.
“For what?” Lex asks the copy of himself.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result…I’ve intervened countless times, but I don’t think I have the energy to try to change things again.” The older man looked at Lex, his blue-grey eyes sad, pain filled their sturdy depths. “I’ll be cryptic as a consequence of nature, but you have to understand. You have to save him—Clark, Kal-el, the alien, in order to save yourself.”
Lex pauses before asking, “Why?”
“Because your future and the rest of the world is depending on it. Your son is depending on it.”
It’s too much like a play on the Heroes tagline; the one about saving the cheerleader. “I don’t have a son.”
The other Lex smiles. “You will. You did.” It turns bitter with the switching of the tenses. “We've always had a mind for invention. However, he was by far the best thing we ever created.”
There’s a moment where his mind reels through all the babies that have come through his life and how none of them have been permanent. Even his own.
“It doesn’t matter how far from now or why, the fact remains that you have to save Clark, in order to save your child.”
“Why is he important?” Lex challenges.
It’s disconcerting to watch one’s self wear a way too familiar expression of exhausted patience. The other Lex walks through the rubble and moves to kneel beside Clark. For a second, there's only silence as the doppelganger stares down at Clark’s faux sleeping countenance. Lex knows most of what this older version of himself is thinking, especially when it comes to the sight of Clark and his slack beauty.
There’s hate and anger in his heart, but he still loves him. Still cares about the self-righteous bastard. Awed by his beauty.
“When there’s no one left, one takes entertainment wherever you can get it. Mostly, I’ve watched. Observed countless timelines, when the slightest things changed everything. If I’ve calculated correctly, my timeline is alpha and yours is omega. The events of ours rattle and ripple throughout the rest. “
There’s that ‘don’t ask’ expression again.
“I’ve seen you both happy, living wonderful lives with families or in abject solitude and misery. Some of his spouses and partners have been questionable and downright enemies of ours, but they made him happy. But--”
“The timelines are bleeding together, because of ours. In theory, if I can help you fix yours, then mine will be fine. Imagine it this way, if you will. Multiple universes—parallel worlds all based upon the same starting material and events but minute differences have made them completely separate from ours. They’re fanned out around or they were. Now, they’re stacking up and the ripples from our world are merging some and destroying others. And the primary causality is always our son.”
Lex watches his double with a neutral expression, but the calculating glint is in his eyes. His double knows it, wouldn’t expect any less. Half his thoughts examine his double’s claims about the nature of time and space. The other set revolves around the idea of him having a son and why Clark would play such a significant role in his survival. Just looking around at the fortress answers some of his questions.
Lex’s body stiffens almost imperceptibly, but the shift is enough to know that he’s ready. “What do I need to do?”
The double approaches Lex with a slight smirk to his lips. “Here.” He hands Lex a thin silver bracelet, which Lex takes and looks at curiously. “With all that free time I had, I designed this with the fortress. It has neuro-sensitivity transmitters that interact with quantum mechanics algorithms.”
The bracelet feels no different than any other piece of jewelry. His eyes survey it in hopes of being able to visually dissect it and see how such revolutionary science can be crammed into such a tiny surface area.
“Essentially, this is like Quantum Leap. I think, and I end up in a different point in time.” The double nodded.
“Three chances, Lex. Three moments when you could have earned his trust and failed.” Instinctively, Lex recoils and wants to debate who abused whose trust. His double knows him too well. “The debate over who is to blame for the fall of the friendship of legend would rival that of the fall of Rome.”
“So, I just think, leap, and change things. How do you know I won’t change things for the worse?” Now, Lex can see it again. The indescribable tiredness and strain that his double exist under; an invisible line of extreme tension runs through him and Lex knows that he’s his double’s only hope and the universe’s, too. He can’t fail.
The double puts a far too calm and sagacious stare on Lex. “I know it may be easier to just succumb to your anger and the insurmountable hurt, but when you’re back there, just think of the good times. Of the times when you were actually happy. There are bigger things at stake, Lex. There always are.”
“Will I come back here after the last one?” Lex asks immediately after his double’s rousing speech.
“After the last jump, you'll be returned to your present as it stands with all the changes. Hopefully, this will not prove me to be insane.”
Lex looks at Clark frozen on the floor. It’s curiosity and the desire to not fail that galvanize him into action. Or at least he tells himself that. “Ready.”
His double slips the bracelet on his wrist and takes a step back. The metal is even lighter than he imagined. “Just remember, Lex. That’s the easy part.”
Suddenly, he goes from cold to hot. Almost every inch of skin burning beneath the sun’s rays, rather than tingling and shivering in the cold. He looks up and immediately has to shield his eyes from the too bright sun and endless stretches of blue sky. When he looks around, he finds the sunny yellow farmhouse and a moving truck.
Then he knows exactly when this is.
Lex can see Martha and Jonathan moving around in the house, packing and gathering boxes, while Clark loads them. Head bent low and eyes trained on the ground; he'd never realized how tense Clark had been that day.
As Clark slides the box into the truck, Lex finds himself walking. Heart pounding faster than he'd like, but it’s what he’s come to recognize as an automatic reaction when it came to Clark back then. There are three prominent thoughts in his mind as he waits for Clark to turn around: the fact that he’s just survived a plane crash, the knowledge that he has to kill his father and Helen sooner thanor later, and that he has to keep Clark.
His younger self wanted that more than anything. His older self, between all the anger and feelings of betrayal, still does.
When Clark finally turns around and says “Lex”, he feels like he’s capable of doing anything this time to keep him around. Clark all but runs to him and embraces him in a huge hug. His arms are so full of Clark, hot and heavy, the soft scratchy friction of flannel actually feels
soothing against his burns.
“Lex.” Clark says his name gently, as if it’s precious. “You’re here.”
Lex’s hands slide up from Clark’s shoulders to his face, cupping his cheeks almost intimately. He doesn’t care how it looks. For so long, he’s wanted to caress Clark’s cheeks, skirt his fingers over the chiseled line of his jaw, tangle his fingers through that downy hair, and be the one true recipient of Clark’s attention.
Clark doesn’t even blink as Lex’s thumbs caress his face. His eyes, far more green in the summer light, sparkle and soften. “Clark…” He’s at a loss for words, because looking at Clark who gazes at him so innocently and with such adoration in his eyes makes him breathless. “You can’t get rid of me that easily.”
In the same breath, Clark is smiling, laughing, and crying. And Lex knows that it isn’t one-sided, this thing between them, not even years ago. If he could have changed things, like now, then maybe the future would have been better. It’s not the promise his alternate self makes him that spurs him to want to change things. It’s the second Clark pulls him into a chest to chest press that expresses assurance and genuine happiness that Lex is alive.
He smiles back at Clark, thinking he wants to save himself and Clark from an angry future and most importantly, his son. He can save them. All of them.
Lex initiates the next hug. He subtly breathes in Clark’s scent and presses his lips against Clark’s ear. “You and I, Clark…Always… We are the phoenix.” Clark squeezes him harder.
It feels like the moment lasts forever, but it doesn’t. Soon he’s greeted again by Martha Kent, who is not a senator or having a relationship with his father, and Jonathan Kent, who is very much alive and genuinely glad to see that Lex is safe and sound.
Lex feels the weight of the deed in his pocket before he shakes Jonathan Kent’s hand. He tries not to shiver, but this is so very strange. He turns on that last bit of little boy innocence that he can only employ with Martha Kent. His voice sounds fragile even to his own ears.
“—The authorities wanted to keep my rescue a secret until they could pick up Helen. I wanted my secretary to let Clark know I was okay, but she informed me of your own troubles.”
He reaches into his pocket. “This belongs to you, Mr. Kent…”He hands the deed over and continues before the older man has time to recover from his shock. “I realized that I don’t have family…” Martha Kent’s face is a true mask of sympathy. He will not be weakened by it. He has a mission. “But there are people that I do care about and have come to trust. I figured I need to keep them close, especially considering we live in Smallville.”
The feel of Jonathan Kent’s gaze upon him is a startling one. The man not only regards him with soft eyes, but open affection. “Thank you…Thank you, Lex.” Then, Lex is enveloped in a hug that is the true summation of paternal affection. Though he’s tries to be detached, Lex finds that he’s doing a piss poor job of it.
That night, he’s invited to a celebratory meal; one that is dedicated to the start of new beginnings. Martha Kent all but ties him to a chair to get him to stay the night, but Lex finangles his way out of that request by promising her he’ll show up for breakfast. She has a lot of work to do in order to help him gain all the weight he’s lost.
Mr. Kent gives his permission for Clark to stay over without being prompted. He has that gleam of pride in his eyes and that’s more than Lex ever imagined being cast his way. So now they sit in the lounge, not really watching the movie they put on or the fire flickering in the hearth.
Mostly, they watch each other. Lex soaks up seeing Clark this young again and so innocent. When Clark looks at him and smiles, Lex can’t fault himself for ever being stupidly in love.
“Did you mean it, Lex?”
“When you said it was me and you always.”
“Considering I was stranded on a desert island and you took a long trip to the city in my absence, I’d say we’re obviously connected.” At the mention of Clark’s flight from Smallville, the younger man tenses up. He moves closer to the younger man and holds his gaze. “I didn’t lie to your parents today. You're the only person on this planet that I care about.”
“Clark.” He watches Clark’s eyes widen in surprise. Can almost imagine the pounding of Clark’s heart in his ears. “On the island, I had a lot of time to think. My thoughts came back to what we have and what we can do. We’re destined for great things and nothing’s going to stop us.” Lex extends his palm to Clark, who takes it and doesn’t let go. The warmth and weight is comforting on Lex’s scorched and cracked flesh. So soft.
Clark doesn’t pull away.
Now he readies to drop the A-bomb; the one that practically destroyed everything between them the first time around. “I have secrets and so do you.” Seeing Clark flinch, he plows ahead. “I can control my secrets and I don’t want there to be anything that keeps us apart.”
“Lex, you don’t have to.” He still hasn’t let go of Lex’s hand.
“I do. I kept my promise. I didn’t investigate you further. This is all about you and me. Us and this town. I don’t want to lose you, so my secrets have to be yours.”
This time Lex shows Clark the room and the entire time, Clark explores silently, he doesn’t release Lex’s hand once.
“Some of it is true.” One simple phrase that makes Lex’s entire world shift and unadulterated happiness bubble within him.
“It’s okay, Clark. We don’t have to discuss it now.”
Getting to this point was like pulling teeth. Lex allows himself to be drawn into Clark’s arms and hugs back. “You’ll see, Clark.” Everything will be better this time around. When their lips meet, Lex allows himself to be drawn into the moment and relaxes against the warm, wet feel of Clark’s pillowy lips.
It’s too perfect.
Then he closes his eyes.
He stands in front of his father when it happens. Suddenly, the wide open spaces of the field are abandoned for the confining never-ending blackness of elsewhere. He waits in silence, adrenaline pumping in his veins, his breath comes out in spurts. Madness is creeping its way inside his head.
Five seconds feel like forever. In the moments before, Lex comes extremely close to finally telling his father to butt out, to leave him alone and to stop impeding him from finding answers. He almost wishes the old man to be where he is right now, just so that they can finish their conversation. Then, he stops himself, tries to rein in control of his chaotic feelings and resolves to figure out his situation. By instinct, he wishes Clark is here.
His instincts are never wrong. Clark can save him from the void.
Then he knows where he is even before he crash-lands back to earth and nearly kills his father again.
Back on the ground, he can feel the power course through his veins and the world feels infinitely smaller. When he finds a moment of serenity, he feels electricity surging through every cell of his being. It hurts like nothing he’s ever experienced, but he still feels strong. He feels invigorated. Superior.
At the castle when Lana confronts him, he hears her heart beating before he sees her. Then his eyes land on her. He can see right through her and she’s so fragile. They all are.
Bones and flesh.
Intricately and delicately assembled. He admires the design for a minute before remembering that he was once the same fragile thing. He’s sickened and becomes thankful for his transformation. They’re all so easily broken and Lex finds himself revolted. A thousand heartbeats fill his ears, tiny drumbeats. He pretends to be afraid of hurting her.
She wants to call Clark. She wants to get him help. There’s that old spark of jealousy in his stomach and he can’t allow her near Clark. He gets a head rush as his memories are reshuffled and augmented. They tell him that he has nothing to worry about; nothing to fear from her most of all. He has Clark.
She’s just a friend. One that has been out of the loop of weird for too long. Paris has helped to make her even more naïve. Lana embraces him, tries to calm him—soothe him. Clark does this. That’s why he hesitates in holding her. He can’t show his true revulsion.
He realizes as he zips away from Lana that he has to stop Fine and Zod now. His memory tells him that some things have stayed the same. Others haven’t. Lana stayed in Paris. Jonathan Kent is still dead. He and Clark are together. At the moment, memories shift like grains of sand, eventually stacking up to amount to something important.
They have been played again. Fine is using them to bring Zod, but this time Lex will stop the destruction. Either he uses the weapons of his own making or he uses Fine’s weapons against him –it.
The next thing he knows, he’s flying through the air. The world filters through his ears and he concentrates on finding Clark’s voice. He’s with Chloe and they’re working on the problem. This new timeline tells him that he and Clark made a new start with his return. They weathered Lionel’s attempt to poison Lex and the trial.
His memories shift again and Lex learns Fine is the reason for their current separation. Their relationship as it stands has lasted nearly four years. Mostly moments of bliss, but there are times such as these when both are too stubborn to relent. Fine has come between them and Clark’s still too naïve to see that before it’s too late.
But now, Lex knows better.
It dawns on him that he’s not ending a living, breathing being, but the ultimate evolutionary step in artificial tech. As Fine continues to speak to him about goading Clark into a confrontation, Lex wonders how Fine may handle an organic compound overload.
In his ears, he can hear Clark telling Chloe that he has to find Lex. Of course, Lex will make it easy for Clark. First, he gathers what he needs and finds it gratifying to not get frostbite when handling the frozen element without gloves. It tickles his skin. He encapsulates it and heads to the empty Kent farm.
Lex waits in the barn and finds that nothing there has changed, save for a picture of them together rather than Clark and Lana on the old desk upstairs. He knows that Clark’s real name is Kal-el and that he is a survivor of a now dead planet. Clark tells him shortly before Lionel poisons Lex and despite the ETC and drugs, Lex never says a word. Clark also has a weakness that neither one of them speak about either.
When Clark comes into the barn, Lex’s heart speeds up and Clark’s entry is accompanied by blessed silence. A beautiful void of sound that is accompanied by Clark coming into view. Clark has always been preternaturally beautiful, now he is simply breathtaking with a sense of maturity about him. If possible, Lex’s newly enhanced senses makes Clark appear as if constructed by some divine force.
“Lex.” Clark runs to him and stops short a stair or two away. They stare at each other and Lex breaks the gulf by reverting back to his habit of caressing Clark’s cheek. Clark automatically leans into the touch.
“It’s Fine. He’s trying to release Zod.”
Lex doesn’t pull his hand away, but holds Clark’s face in his hands. “I know.”
Clark shows him the dagger. “ I can’t kill you.” Clark says firmly. It’s the type of conviction that comes from love. Clark does love him and Lex feels the same. It’s more than desire to possess. It’s love and need.
“You won’t have to, because I have a plan.” He cuts Clark off before he can ask. He brings their lips together, because he has countless memories and only one early example. Clark’s mouth is lush and skilled and ever eager. It’s the type of kiss that can only be described as hungry.
It’s so easy to become distracted. To allow himself to be caught off guard and forget why this is so important. They’ll be one step closer to saving his son. His child is first and then the fate of the world. But he catches the sound before their guest is upon them. Why hasn’t Clark ever listened? The whirling and whining sounds of mechanical tissues working together to mimic organic systems creates a beautiful symphony in its cold inhumanity.
Clark never bothered to look.
He’ll have to save them—kill for them like he always does.
“Ready to relent before the power of Zod?.”
“No,” Clark says, standing at Lex’s side.
Fine issues them a small content grin. “Be proud, Lex Luthor. You will be the vessel that Zod uses to elevate this dirt rock. Earth will know the glory of Krypton. The two most prominent houses on Krypton will be united and a new age will begin. Krypton will live with or without your assistance.”
Having had enough of the sanctimonious speech, Lex readies his plan. He rushes Fine, zips behind him and forces his fist full of liquid nitrogen into Fine’s throat. Clark’s voice calls, but Lex’s own surging power dampens the sound of Clark’s call. One step closer.
Clark stabs Fine through his freezing core and the reaction is almost instantaneously. Lex grabs him and brings Clark down to the floor as a tunnel of darkness shoots forth from Fine’s gut. Noise and lightning fill the room. Lex resists looking up until Fine drops to his knees.
Lex turns to see a portal hovering in the air. It appears as a black hole with one point of light drawing near. Faster than he imagines, he hoists Fine’s frozen form and tosses it into the gateway. There’s a moment of deafening silence before the void is filled with a bright white light and the barn shakes from the boom of its collapse.
When it all disappears, Lex is left standing in the quiet. Clark looks up at him expectantly. There’s adrenaline, or whatever alien substance is the equivalent, pumping through his veins. He kneels just as Clark begins to stand. They meet in the middle of the floor with the floor boards creaking beneath them. If he gets a second chance at everything, then he might as well take what he can get in this moment. Make a memory that doesn’t exist, one that he’s dreamed about in this timeline and his own.
His hands tangle in Clark’s hair, dig in and indulge in the feel of those silky tresses. Clark’s eyes are so green in the nighttime light, leaving Lex all the more transfixed and in need.
“You did it, Lex.” Clark is giving him a look that's a mixture of adoration and disbelief at Lex’s sudden crazy stunt. He touches Lex as if Lex would somehow leave him. Not this time.
“We did it…” He brings their foreheads together. “You and me. Remember? The two of us always.”
“How did you…?”Clark still gazes at him in disbelief. Lex simply pulls Clark to his feet. He’s still strong but he can feel his strength fading just minutely.
“Let’s go.” There won’t be a Black Friday now. No millions of dollars of damage. Hopefully, this keeps the monsters at bay. They can spare some time to just be two satisfied lovers.
A smile spreads across Lex’s face. “Catch me if you can.”He takes off and zips out of the barn and back to the mansion. He waits for Clark in the office. Five seconds later, Clark walks through the double doors. Hair curling from the run, a gentle smile of his face, he’s staring at Lex with curiosity, mostly due to Lex’s playful mood.
“Are you feeling okay?” Clark asks.
Lex can only reply with another smile. “Is it impossible to believe that I simply want to celebrate with you and milk these abilities for all their worth?” Lex launches himself off the corner of the desk and approaches Clark. “You and I have been dancing around one thing in our relationship. I believe now is the time to actually try.”
It’s almost comical the way Clark’s eyes stretch when he realizes what Lex means. “Yeah, okay.” He agrees. As soon as the words leave his mouth, Lex has all six feet plus inches of farm boy thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and makes his way up to his private rooms.
Lex dumps Clark unceremoniously on the bed. Clark laughs and looks all too comfortable. He looks perfect in Lex’s bed. Then, they’re on each. Hands shredding clothes, because there’s no need to be careful. Hands skim flesh as they kiss. Their kisses surpass the need for breathing. Lex actually notices that neither of them is gasping for breath until Clark pulls away from his mouth and goes to work on Lex’s pants. Four years and they’ve never had sex. This is proof of how much Lex loves Clark. How much he cares for him and is capable of dealing with Clark’s worries of being too strong.
He kisses every inch of golden skin that he can place his mouth on, inhales Clark’s scent, and relishes in the natural sweet flavor of his skin. He works Clark up to the point where there is no going back. Clark calls his name and begs him to continue. He wants more of what Lex has to offer and will be damned if he doesn’t give it to him.
When he finally gets inside Clark, Lex is given further credence for a belief in destiny, because Clark is made for him. They fit so perfectly. The event runs far smoother than any deflowering in history. Clark is so wanton and free, his open display of passion makes Lex want more and desire to have him just a bit longer like this, open and wanting. Each second is committed to memory and savored.
As he surges his hips again, he wonders if it only gets worse from here. Well before this time in his own timeline, he and Clark were no longer friends, no longer anything. Clark’s big hands rest on his shoulders and hold on with each thrust. Normally, bruises flourish on Lex’s skin in the wake of Clark’s hands and clenching hips. Now, Lex enjoys the feeling of diving into perfection.
Other lovers have come and gone, but none of them could measure up to this experience. This is destiny. The way Clark’s body yields and demands more. Clark is his equal. His mate.
Clark tosses his head back against the sheets, mouth open in a silent scream as his muscles contract around Lex one last time. When the first jet of his come begins to fill Clark, Lex regrets that he’ll have to leave, because he knows he does.
He has the sound of his blood pounding in his head and the almost fragile whisper of Clark’s voice. “I love you, Lex.”
It’s so hard to think beyond this moment.
Lex can’t fathom which point in time his subconscious will take him. If anything, he places his money on the day in the cave where he’s kidnapped and held hostage and his father sends Clark down for him. He opens his eyes and finds he is absolutely wrong.
People mill about the ballroom, dressed in all sorts of costumes. The theme is still famous couples as evidenced by the sight of Chloe Sullivan and Jimmy Olsen in similar garb—spies, he guesses, and Oliver Queen and Lois Lane as Robin Hood and Maid Marian.
Even in this timeline, he hates Oliver Queen. Though it feels like it may be more this time around, because of experiences that have yet to happen or hopefully will not happen.
Queen approaches with Lois in tow. They look like a poster couple for young and blonde. “Great party, Lex.” Oliver makes a show of checking out Lex’s costume and then some. “I’m assuming you’re Ceasar, which means your Cleopatra must be quite a sight.” He says which gets a rise out of Lois.
“Actually, I travelled a little farther back into antiquity. I’m Alexander the Great--”
“And your Hephestian has just arrived.” Lois adds.
Lex looks across the room and sees Clark scanning for him. This Clark before him seems younger than the one he left behind, more youthful and carefree. Still beautiful enough to make a saint cry. They’re practically wearing the same costume: same pleated tunic with breastplates and studded battle armaments and sandals with straps going around the calves. Clark’s cape is red while Lex’s is white. They complement each other.
“Sorry, I’m late. Mom called--” Memories shuffle again. Martha Kent is on a much needed vacation. She dealt with Jonathan’s death and successfully pulled the farm out of the red. He provided her the services of his travel manager, because he owes her much for her unwavering support of their relationship.
“—She actually wanted me to tell you good luck.” Clark says with questions dancing in his eyes.
His memories aren’t refilling themselves fast enough, because he knows this is important. “This is by far the best welcoming that I’ve received since coming to Metropolis.” Lex smiles politely at Oliver, though he’d like nothing more than for the man to take a flying leap back to Star City or better yet hightail it to Gotham. Lex has no doubts that Bruce can deal with Oliver in very creative ways.
“Well, I should say that it took coming to Smallville to actually learn the meaning of hospitality.” He can feel Clark smiling beside him. He wants to break away from this conversation, but Oliver wants to push it.
“I guess we could all use some of that, especially you. ‘Clash of the Titans’ is what they’re calling it, right? The thing between you and your father.”Like the first time, his father doesn’t go down quietly. He continues to fight and kick up all kinds of problems for Lex and LexCorp, but Lex counters the problems easily enough.
At this point, it’s just tiresome. But then, he remembers his research facilities. Sights dedicated to studying cancer and reversing heart disease are being targeted as well. There's nothing sordid to fight over, just titles and arbitrary stakes for power.
Lex levels a pointed look at Oliver. “This struggle with my father is what it is and it's appropriately named. I just fear for the people that will get hurt for stepping out of line."
Oliver’s smile is handsome and sharp at the corners. “If I were you, Clark, I’d watch out.” Queen expression softens when it lands on Clark as if some unspoken conversation is passing between them, though Clark genuinely looks confused.
It’s tempting to ask Oliver what he means by that, allow himself to willingly walk into a trap, but this is n't the place. Too many mind games have made Lex weary and quarrelsome—his father’s doing. “Excuse us.” He grabs Clark’s hand and practically hauls him off.
Between his father simply existing and Oliver Queen being in the same room as him, Lex is ready to start breaking things. “Why did you let him get to you?”Clark asks. “You knew he was going to bait you.” Clark tries to soothe as they make their way over to the bar. “He’s messing with your head.”
Lex has it on good authority and his own hunch that there is something more between Clark and Oliver, even in this time. Clark attracts men. More importantly, Clark attracts men with money. “Mind games bore me and I’d prefer if he left you out of any attempts to make me react.”
Clark shifts closer to him at the bar. “He’s taking a page out of Lionel’s book of veiled threat and vague meanings. Don’t worry, Lex.” The smile that follows is light and persuasive. “Let’s enjoy the party for now. You don’t want anyone to say you sat out your own party to scheme evil things while I looked trapped and unhappy.”
He laughs a pure belly shaking chuckle. This is the side of Clark that's still his friend. He’s lucky to have so many things in one person. He gazes at Clark until the younger man grows suspicious and asks coyly, “Is there something on my face?”
Lex doesn’t fight the desire to kiss Clark’s cheek or stroke it. “No, nothing at all.” He looks across the room to see Chloe talking to Jimmy. “I promise not to plan anything remotely evil if you go over and tell Chloe how amazing she looks in her dress. I think she might be a Bond girl. Either way, she’s one hot spy.”
Clark looks from Chloe’s tight very flattering low cut dress to Jimmy’s nearly starved expression. “If she’s not?”
“Then tell her she should be.” Lex replies.
Clark grins. “If I didn’t know you loved me, I'd be worried.”
Lex watches Clark cross the room, looking for all the world like an ancient god. He notices more than a few heads turning in admiration. “Just yours.” He says to himself.
“Mr. Luthor.” His assistant stands beside him. She smiles softly. “You requested this at ten, sir.” He takes the silver tube and knows exactly what lies inside.
The rest of the night passes and Lex makes polite conversation as his guests mingle on such a ghoulishly and garish occasion. He watches Clark dance with Chloe, Lois, and even Oliver Queen. Lex isn’t a fan of public displays of affection, so Clark’s requests to dance go unfulfilled.
It’s easy to be lulled into thinking that everything is fine, except his father is riding his ass and he has a vigilante group terrorizing his very legitimate projects. He’s so close to wiping his father out; he just needs more time. There are too many convenient coincidences in his life. His father’s threats in regards to Clark aren’t helping him to sleep at night either.
So he waits for the night to end patiently. It is a true virtue, one that Lex seems to have in abundance. The first time around, he and Lana had laid in front of the fireplace and whispered sweet nothings and romantic proclamations to each other until they'd slaked their physical hunger through writhing and caressing. As his memory catches up to speed, he knows that he and Clark have had sex nearly in every room in the castle, which is quite a feat, and that tonight will be no exception.
After the guests are gone, they’re left alone in the lounge. The fire roars and Lex watches the shadows as Clark enters with a lollipop firmly ensconced between his lips. Lex has a true fixation with Clark’s mouth, with Clark’s everything. Clark sits on the arm of the chair even though Lex has asked him a thousand times not to do it. He should know by now which battles are winnable and which are simply futile against the stubbornness of Clark Kent.
Lex nods.“More than expected.” Why this time, he wonders. Nothing happens at this moment. It’s just him and Clark. Then Lex thinks maybe that’s the point. “Did you have fun?”
Clark tips his head slightly to the right and slides the red sucker to the opposite side of his mouth. Lex watches its slow movement like it’s the most exciting display on earth, watches the bulge that forms against the interior of Clark’s cheek, and he recalls a great deal of memories of past times, amusingly dirty things, that Clark and his luscious mouth have gotten up to and the reaction that comes as a result is quite satisfying. “Yeah, it would have been better if we’d danced, but I’m not a good dancer anyway…”Clark trails off, his explanation a means to placate himself.
Rolling his eyes, Lex indulges Clark in his attempt to goad Lex into dancing in private. The idea is just a tad too saccharine for Lex. Instead, Lex opts to execute his previous plan. The plan that keeps them just a bit safer from Lionel’s machinations.
“Are you up for a trip?” Lex asks as he dumps the contents of the cylinder in his palm.
“Yeah.” Clark gets rid of the lollipop and returns to the chair to find Lex standing there waiting for him. “Where are we going?”
“Your question should be, why are we going?” Lex can feel the weight of the ring against his palm. This feels more right than before. Now it feels permanent.
Clark crosses his arms over his chest and still manages to look tough in heavily armored skirt. “Okay, why are we going?”
“I want to make our relationship as legal as it can possibly be at this time.” Lex lowers to one knee and presents the ring to Clark. “Will you marry me?”
Clark stares at him and the ring silently. Shocked. His voice comes out as a whisper. Stolen by surprise. “Yeah…yes.” Lex has no level 33.1. He helps people. He and Clark help people. Clark says ‘yes, not only to Lex, but to a future together. Everything that he can control is perfect.
They kiss in front of the fire and Lex readies himself to have everything.
Their lips touch and he closes his eyes.
He comes back to himself with the full knowledge that he has Clark. That Clark lies beside him in his bed and Lex will do anything to keep him there. Clark, who is half asleep, is saying something that is far too coherent for Lex to contemplate, “I need to get up, Lex.” He says in a groggy voice.
“Not yet.” He replies at the sight of naked Clark flesh. Completely available to his perusal.
Clark shifts under him bringing their chests in full contact. He can feel Clark’s heart beating beneath his. “—Chloe needs me.”
Clark’s hair is sleep tossed and screaming for Lex’s fingers to bury themselves to the root. His lips beg to be kissed. “I need you.” At that, Clark’s eyes open and he regards Lex with a small knowing smile, which is beyond sexy to Lex.
“I’m still mad.”
Lex levels him with a look that beckons him to explain. Clark sighs dramatically and lays into Lex. “Working for LexCorp is a conflict of interest.”
“For whom?” Lex remembers this is one of those things that has been leading to an argument for some time. Clark’s torn between working for the Planet and LexCorp. One puts him too close to danger and out of Lex’s protective sphere; the other keeps Clark nice and close, but not expressly with Clark under him. This conversation needs to take place some other time when Lex is not straining against Clark’s thigh.
Somehow, his beloved fails to see the difference and luckily doesn’t notice Lex’s aim. “I’ll put an argument on my calendar for later.” He says with maximum seriousness. “Now can we move on to other things?”
Lex grinds deeper against Clark’s thigh and relishes the pressure that Clark returns. He’s only had the experience of doing this once before, but the feeling of Clark’s body—all well muscled and covered in smooth soft skin, makes him hungry for more. There’s no time to waste as Lex’s hands skirt Clark’s sides up to his arms and over his shoulders. His lips attack Clark’s mouth with a wild fervor and Clark meets him with every kiss, moaning and begging for another touch.
He shifts down and the sheets slip off him. Normally, he would be cool, chilled by the air, but Clark’s heat and the sudden rush of his blood thrumming through his veins stoked his inner fire. His hands hold Clark in place, possessing more strength than remembered as his mouth samples Clark’s tawny flesh. His neck. A shoulder. His dusky nipples. The rippling valley of his belly.
Clark shifts against him and spreads his legs in invitation. Lex has only had Clark like this once; in his dreams a thousand times, practically no one else in his fantasies. The thought that he’s the only one to have Clark like this forever makes him impossibly harder. A hand runs over Clark’s straining erection and down his balls until Lex’s fingers sink deeper and tickle his entrance. Clark moans appreciatively and Lex notes he’s still wet. There’s no hesitation as he lines up and slides inside Clark. They fit together perfectly like a lock and a key. They shift and slide against each other in a rhythm as old as time, steady and turbulent, like the seas before a storm.
Lex’s senses are narrowed to seeing and feeling and it’s all Clark. He feels Clark below him and around him, and sees his face. Watches as he writhes in pleasure and seizes when Lex brings him to the height of physical ecstasy. Lex tries to draw their lovemaking out as long as possible, wanting to do nothing more than make sure Clark is left with a reminder that Lex is the only one who can make him feel this way. From the look on Clark’s face, he won’t forget anytime soon.
He convinces Clark to shower together, which takes entirely too long, but Lex doesn’t care. He likes having this type of early morning distraction available to him. He watches Clark from the moment he exits the shower until he's dressed, feeling a bit of let down the moment Clark is covered by clothes—even as nice as they are.
Clark slips his arms around Lex’s waist. “I need to head over to the farm. Lunch today?”
“I might be late. Lana just dropped in for a visit. I’ll probably pop in over at Ms. Potter’s to see her.”
Even with things changed, Lex can’t believe that Clark still dotes on Lana. Despite her years spent living in Paris having inflated her already gigantic sense of self and her somewhat less than quiet disapproval of their relationship, Clark still likes her, even considers her a friend.
There it is though. The memory that uproots itself. One that can easily have happened before he changes everything, but no, this one is real. His mind and his hands clearly remember the feel of Lana’s body. As do his lips remember the soft sticky feel of her lips.
This is the moment where Lex begins to curse himself for his inability to stay and remain happy. Of course, he’s fucked everything up and all his changes are for naught. Right?
This is the part where Lana gives him a son and Clark leaves him.
He walks into the office and picks up the phone to dial Mercy. He tells himself that this is the part where he remembers that he’s Lex fucking Luthor and he’s already changed time. No one will stand in his way, not Lana, and certainly not his own mistakes.
When he sees Lana again in real time in this world, he logically comprehends how he could stray from Clark. In this world, Lana’s been in Paris for years, soaking up the centuries of French passion and adjusting to the ebb and flow of European culture. She's come into her own now. Like any work of art she may have studied, Lana knows the meaning behind the imagery, intention, and results. She’s crafted herself into a veritable work of art.
She's no longer a small town girl. She's a worldly woman with earthly green eyes, hair cascading into naturally tamed spirals, and a body that demands surrender. Lex doesn’t move or flinch as she approaches. Just manages to maintain a thoroughly bored expression as she approaches his desk.
“You just missed Clark.” He preempts.
Lana’s eyes darken and they bore into him with a smoldering intensity. The quirk of her summer pink lips is predatory. His encouragement has led to her becoming this—his perfect monster.
Her hands drop to his desk, bringing the cut of her cleavage to his eyelevel. “That’s a shame. Though I’d wager he wouldn’t want to be here right now.” She lowers her face to slightly above his eyelevel. “Not for this.”
Lex leans back in his chair, to escape the oncoming kiss, and replies, “If it’s something unsavory, then I wouldn’t want him to be here anyway.”
“Isn’t it too late for that?” She moves around the desk to sit on a corner. “If you’d been thinking about him, you wouldn’t have allowed any of this to start.”
“What do you want, Lana?” He finally asks. Annoyance is building inside him. With each additional memory filling his brain, every lurid second pushes him closer to disgusted rather than excited. She has to go.
“Would you believe me if I said I missed you?” He has to give her an A for effort. Her skills as a seductress are some of the best he’s seen.
He pulls a card from his father’s book. His face is a mask of disinterest. “I find that hard to believe. I suggest you get to the point.”
She flips her hair in a way that exposes her neck just so and would leave most men weak and pliable. “Very well, Lex. I meant what I said. I do miss you. You truly are one of a kind, and I’ve had a realization of sorts.” She slides closer, keeping her eyes on his. “It’s time for you to stop playing games. I love Clark; I truly do, however the point needs to be made that your relationship is over. Clark can’t give you the same things that I can and it’s obvious that your infatuation with him is weakening. You never would have slept with me, if you cared about the consequences of Clark knowing.”
Lana pauses and brings herself within kissing distance. “I’m tired of playing games, Lex.” She whispers against his cheek. “Just let go.” The request is a smooth purr.
Lex has been hypnotized before and, in the past, he's been mercilessly manipulated. He hates both. Instead of placing space between them, Lex moves closer to Lana. He can smell the mint on her breath and the sensual spice of her perfume. “You’ve made a lot of assumptions.”
“More like observations.” She adds, calling his spatial bluff by running the tip of her nose over his cheek.
He tips his chin up, mouth closer as if he’s going to kiss her. “You’re taking a significant gamble.” Closer, he moves. “And you are very …very mistaken. There is nothing in this world that would cause me to leave Clark. Nothing. My faults and stupidity are all my own and I’d never give up Clark or allow him to leave. So if you’re tired of playing games, then so am I.” He draws back so suddenly, the wind in his wake leaves her cold. “There is no future in my philandering; therefore you should begin to look elsewhere for comfort.”
She reels back, as if stung by a physical blow. Her face clouds in anger. Her eyes burn with rage. “You son of a bitch.” She hisses, pacing about his desk.
Steepling his fingers, he watches her like an exhibit of human emotion. “Did you have any other leverage or were you simply wagering on batting your eyelashes and pouting your lips to get me to do your bidding?”
Lana’s teeth clench and her voice is a snarl. “You don’t love him. You can’t love him.”
“I don’t love you that’s for sure. You were something convenient.” Lana will always be needy, no matter what circumstances she's surrounded in. The best strategy is to attack her sense of love. "Now, you have outlasted your usefulness. Is there anything else that you'd like to discuss before Mercy and Hope see you out?”
The anger in her face cools at Lex’s question. “I could give you what you've always wanted. I can give you a child.”
Lex rises from his desk and plants himself in the middle of his desk, just watching her, gauging her expressions. “If you’re telling me that you’re pregnant, then we can make an arrangement, but not before I’ve had a paternity test run.” There’s a part of him that wants her to say yes. He’ll come up with a secondary plan to keep Clark. But she fails him again, by saying nothing.
“You bastard.” Lana grits with cold vehemence in her voice.
“Nothing but old territory. Have a good day, Lana.”
She storms through his office doors like a tornado clad in designer fabric. It’s the last time he'll see her.
In this world, he has much better security. His employees are competent, dutiful, and above all discrete. His people execute a routine shadow and flank maneuver for the remainder of Lana’s stay stateside. He places Hope and Mercy on her tail, knowing that they’ll be more than capable of curtailing her woman scorned act.
He does his best to feign surprise a week later when there's unfortunate news about her shop and an explosive gas leak. Lex consoles Clark properly. Hugs, kisses, and holds him while telling him that there's nothing he could've done to prevent this tragedy. A few days before the incident, Mercy confirms that Lana is indeed not pregnant. His conscience is relatively clear.
There’s something highly addictive about comforting Clark. In the days that follow the news of Lana’s death and her memorial service, Lex finds himself the sole occupant of Clark’s universe and he greedily soaks up Clark’s attention and in turn gives Clark as much as he can.
A week after burying Lana, Lex has the unfortunate responsibility of returning to the office. LexCorp has soundly conquered LuthorCorp and Lionel is for all intents and purposes retired. The man still possesses entirely too much power and arrogance to think he can just summon his son on a whim.
When Lionel invades his office in his grandiose fashion, Lex feels his heart clinch at the sight of his father. The last time they stood in his office, his father plummeted to the ground. Lionel looks slightly older, but still radiates that untiring magnificent brashness that has made him one of the most feared men alive.
“Dad, to what do I owe this pleasure? ” Finding his father’s motives has always been difficult. Baiting him, however, offers needed intel and fun on Lex’s part.
“I was almost proud of you son, but then I heard about Ms. Lang’s demise. Surely, you know what you’ve done?”
“No, Dad, enlighten me.”
“I warned you about your obsession with Kent. Now, you’ve gone and ruined a perfectly good source of an heir. Did she get too close to Kent and all those old jealousies arose? Being overly emotional squanders opportunities and makes you weak. I’ve always told you that.” Lionel rants from Lex’s bar.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but Lana had no place in my relationship and neither do you.” Lex studies his father cautiously and finds his ire rising exponentially. “Why so interested in my heir, Dad? Making plans already to have me dethroned?” Lex questions coolly.
Lionel takes one long swallow of three finger s of Scotch. “I only look out for your best interests. Clark is special, as pretty as any girl, but I hope you’re aware that he can’t give you an heir. This family needs to continue the legacy. A discrete affair would have accomplished that so easily.” He punctuates with a stern jut of his chin.
“I think that Scotch is allowing your tongue to become too loose.” Lex approaches his father and takes the glass quickly and forcefully. “Thank you for the concern. As you know business doesn’t stop for idyll chitchat. Come back when you have something substantial to say.”
His father shakes his head in blatant disapproval. Lionel has always felt like Lex was too blind to Clark. Instead of capitalizing on what Clark represents, Lex allows himself to be used and weakened. In time, his son will see what he’s been trying to protect him from. “I hope your weakness doesn’t catch you unawares. Mistakes like that can be fatal.” Lionel says before departing the office.
The meeting with his father is the first ominous event. The second is having Oliver Queen stop by for a little conversation. Clark and Oliver are acquaintances in this timeline too. Lex dislikes it even more now than he did then. Somehow, there’s still some sort of camaraderie between Oliver and Clark that Lex despises. Oliver is too suspicious for his own good and excessively concerned when it comes to Clark.
Clark automatically engenders such loyalty from the people around him. Today, Oliver is accusing him of some unscrupulous business dealing, such as contract stealing. With Lionel’s visit behind him and knowing that Clark is already home waiting for him, Lex doesn’t really allow himself to be baited by Queen. He makes snide comments where appropriate and allows his feathers to appear ruffled at the mention of Clark. He lets Oliver feel momentarily satisfied.
There’s someone better deserving of Lex’s attention.
When Lex returns to the castle that night, he takes the time to see the incidental changes that have come by way of him and Clark living together. He still feels like he’s stuck in a dream. Most nights out of the week during those first few years of knowing each other, he dreams about the future. Of what full trust feels like with the one person you care about most in the world.
The castle is still drafty, but it’s missing the fundamental coldness that pierces his soul rather than his skin. There are more little things. A picture here. Some miscellaneous bag or book there. The kitchen, even more so than the office, shows that there is life circulating through the halls. Not just ghosts floating but actually lives. There’s a stack of cups; four mugs all with a designated drinker. He knows before the memory hits him that the red one belongs to Clark, while the black one is his. The other two are Hope and Mercy’s. Clark shares this room with the cook and that he is truly Martha Kent’s son.
In the fridge, a half eaten apple pie sits on the top self and he knows that it actually tastes better than Martha’s . Not that he will ever voice such a thing to either Clark or Martha. He files the knowledge away in a space that holds his happiness. It’s a small compartment, but now it’s starting to reach its maximum capacity. He’s not sure how he feels about that.
Even though he knows that this is real and definite unlike the times before, the thought of being happy scares him like no other. To be up so high is hard place to fall from; he’s not sure if he can survive another fall. Another disappointment.
He climbs the stairs to their suite. It’s theirs. Not his alone with Clark sleeping somewhere else.
In the time before with Lana, she had her own room, as did he. They rarely share. Even though he loves her, it still feels cold and distant. Lex wagers that he sowed the first seeds to make their relationship fail.
The bathroom door is open. Steam from the shower pours out and Lex loosens his tie in hopes that he’s not too late to join Clark.
“Clark.” He calls.
He notices a towel on a nearby chair and accompanied by the quiet in both rooms, Lex crosses their room to reach the bathroom. Obvious signs that Clark was once here recently, but not here now. There are trances of wet footsteps on the tile and then they sink into the carpet. “Clark.” He tries again.
Slowly, he follows the path that leads to the partially ajar walk-in closet. The crack in the door provides him with enough room to survey the undisturbed racks of clothes. When his eyes travel south, they land upon an upturned foot, which is enough to send Lex into action, throwing open the doors and sliding down to his knees beside Clark’s prone and pale form.
Lex shakes Clark fast and furiously. “Clark!” Simple physics tells him that Clark fell hard, fast, and suddenly. Clark’s pants are half zipped, the shirt he was reaching for lays in a heap where it has fallen off the hanger.
Too many times, something like this has happened in the castle. Someone with a grudge finds their way inside with intent to harm. Clark’s skin is pale, but he’s still furnace hot. “Wake up.”
He keeps a hand on Clark as he clutches his head with the other. Memories surge through his head and knows—just knows that the only thing that can harm Clark is meteor rock. Scrambling around the room , he searches for the green rock. Hands falling everywhere, shelves, clothes, boxes –all come tumbling down as Lex searches frantically.
Lex drops to his knees again and lifts Clark’s head into his lap. The second he thinks to call Hope and Mercy Clark shifts, moans piteously, and begins to blink up at him. “Lex.”
“Are you all right? What happened?” Clark squirms in his arms, but Lex holds him tight.
Clark’s green eyes gradually fill with comprehension.“I…I don’t know.” He shifts again, in order to sit up, but slips back and grabs his stomach. “I was grabbing a shirt and--”He trails off.
“Let’s get you up.” Lex steadies Clark and gets him to the bed, where he sinks down on the mattress and lies there taking steady breaths. It’s unnerving to see Clark vulnerable and weak, especially when Lex has no idea what's causing it.
Lex checks the closet again and finds nothing. “How do you feel?” He watches Clark carefully, seeing the furrow of his brow, he knows Clark’s tempted to say fine. “Don’t say fine.”
Clark rolls his eyes at Lex’s admonishment. “I guess I feel tired. Really tired.”
That stops Lex short. “You don’t get tired.” A thousand scenarios run through his head. The absence of meteor rock brings him to one conclusion and it seems that he’s failed again. His father. It has to be his father. “Are you sure you don’t remember anything?”
“Not a thing.” What startles him is the fact that Clark isn’t lying when he says it. “Maybe, it’s just my powers. Even though, it’s the fall, I think there are some solar flares or something. It’s nothing.”
Finding Clark passed out in their closet is not something that Lex would call nothing. If his father has had something to do with this, then he'll more than have Lex’s attention. He’ll have his wrath too.
Chapter 2: II
They don’t talk about Clark’s episode. Instead, Lex watches Clark more closely. Checks on him throughout the day, even visits the Planet much to Lois’ chagrin. Every time, he sees Clark, he’s fine. Skin once again tawny, lips rosy, eyes gleaming.
Clark tries to distract him with kisses and lingering touches. As a lover, Clark has taken a few pages out of Lex’s book. He doesn’t forget it. Revels in the closeness, but reminds himself to remain vigilant. If he has to, then he’ll kill his father a second time. What has been done cannot be undone. Lex will not allow anyone to ruin this.
Mercy and Hope keep close tabs on Lionel.
Lex stays close to Clark and he doesn’t think about Lana beyond that day.
Waking before Clark is a true pleasure. Despite years of conditioning, Lex still manages to wake before Clark. Just barely though. In those few minutes when he’s the sole viewer of Clark, he manages to assimilate and compare memories. That hellfire anger and disappointment that fuels him before this thing started has melted. It’s gone after the first morning where Clark says his name in an early morning whisper, the first time he touches his cheek in a slow lingering slide, the smile that lights up Clark’s face just seeing Lex beside him.
He readies himself for it now. The slow countdown as Clark’s breathing changes and the grip on his pillow tightens has Lex waiting patiently until those changeable blue-grey eyes land on him. When it comes, Clark’s eyes open, then a smile follows.
“Hey. Up long?”
Lex presses closer.“No, just enjoying the view.”
“Of course.” Clark presses closer, dropping his hands over Lex’s shoulder. “Stalker.”
Lex leans down to kiss him, not in the least caring about morning breath. “Your's always.”
So simple and idyllic. Clark’s mouth opens beneath his and he feels the velvet wet slide of Clark’s tongue over his. Clark’s mouth is made for kissing. It’s only fitting that Clark is also a naturally good kisser. He'd needed very few tips from Lex.
Lex’s fingers travel over the rippling valleys of Clark’s muscle flanks before coming to rest on Clark’s hips. A moan rises from Clark’s lips, only to be cut off by Lex’s kiss. As Lex shifts his hand lower and Clark opens his legs wider to cradle Lex in between, the doors bursts open and Mercy sweeps into the room. Hope hangs back with her gun drawn watching the hall.
“Sir, there’s an intruder in the castle.” He knows this moment. It’s the moment that crazed man from Level 33.1 escaped and came looking for revenge. Mercy steps in front of Lex, bringing him out of his thoughts. “We need to get you to the room, sir.”
“Wait—what?” Clark’s asking. He’s pulled on long pajama pants and Mercy grabs them and sends them out the door. “Lex.”
“Keep going, Clark.” Lex pulls Clark along. Of course, this is one of the times when Clark is stubborn and too inquisitive for his own good, and pulling him along is like pulling a Mack truck. He pulls Clark faster. They’re almost to the panic room when two guards behind them go down. Mercy and Hope turn around and essentially fire at nothing. Clark stops and Lex pulls him harder—yelling, “Let’s go.”
Too late, because Clark’s trembling and fading out. Bronson materializes in front of him with a crazed grin. “We’ll be in touch.”
And it begins all over again.
Lex has Mercy waiting outside the office with the rest of his security; not that the rest are actually needed. Mercy is more than capable of taking down the entirety of Belle Reve by herself. She was a true find, but coupled with Hope, she was extraordinary.
Leaning against his desk, he waited for Bronson to make the first move. His eyes drifted from the library to the fireplace and then around to all the arbitrary points in the room. The longer Bronson stalled, the more he put Clark at risk for unnecessary harm.
Sifting through his newly acquired memories put him at a real disadvantage. There’s nothing for him to genuinely offer. Before Bronson wanted information. Stubbornness won out and kept Lex from opening his mouth. Doing so had proved to be very beneficial. Now he’s bluffing without anything to truly hold back as his emergency trump card.
“Bronson.” He says into the quiet air. “Bronson, please.” Remembering the void, it was green and ugly, a listless space, where he was aware of everything but incapable of responding. It’s the truest form of death he’s ever had.
“I can help you. Just let Clark go.” Lex’s gaze sweeps over the room, landing and staying on the stained glass windows. The sun was considerably lower than when this ordeal started.
“Never trust a Luthor…any of them.” Snapping his head around, Lex sees the source of the voice. Stepping from the shadows, Bronson appears through a void encrusted in pulsing green.
“I can help you.” Lex says immediately.
As Bronson comes forward, Lex memorizes his face. This man is the picture of true disturbia, a man haunted and harried. “I wish we could have talked sooner,” he rejoins with an exhausted burst of laughter. His skin was pale and clammy, the muddy hue of his eyes was manically charged. “This was the only way, I guess to show you what it’s like to have something you love taken away from you.”
It’s better to be a parrot than to say what Lex truly wants. “I wish we had met earlier, too.” That slow burning indignant part of him wanted to demand to know where Clark is, demand to see him before he does anything for Bronson.
He leads off with a placating gesture, though he remains where he is and tries to draw Bronson in with his words. Placate, not antagonize, like any good hostage negotiator would. “I’ll do whatever I can.” Lex offers in his most sincere tone.
“I know you will, because your boyfriend isn’t handling shifting very well…Never seen that before.” Bronson remarks thoughtfully, almost as an afterthought. “It doesn’t need to be stated that we have to hurry.”
Lex holds his gaze, wanting nothing more than to extinguish the crazy light in Bronson’s eyes. That’s where he’ll find his satisfaction. He will kill him. Until then, he will follow the rules. Make Bronson feel like he’s in control, empathize, join his cause even, then go in for the kill the moment he has the chance.
“I’ll do whatever I can.” Lex promises.
“Good.” Bronson stops short of where Lex sits cater-corner on the desk. “I want to find out why?” Lex needs to know, because there’s little Lex can do without the root cause of the situation.
Stupid question. “Why what?” Naiveté is a true weakness, one that will ultimately get one killed or worse.
Bronson coiled up, arms wrapped around his body, as tension built up, evidenced by the flared vein in his neck. “He promised me help. Your father promised me a way to deal with my powers.” He enunciated precisely.
Big mistake. Lex knows better than anyone, in two time streams rather than one, that his father cannot be trusted. Throw in a willing subject and unlimited access to meteor-induced powers and Bronson easily becomes a walking human rights violation waiting for his father’s plunder and exploitation.
“I was locked in that place for three years.” Bronson says in a low tight voice. “Do you have any idea what they did to me?” He hisses angrily and Lex’s eyes are drawn to the sudden lime green halo that pulses about Bronson’s forearms.
A more practical man will find himself scared with knowing the full extent of what Bronson is capable of, having been eyewitness to Clark’s disappearance.
“Bronson, I know better than most of what my father is capable of doing.” Lex spreads his arms in an expansive sweeping gesture. “I’m his oldest son and my father had no qualms in drugging me into submission and allowing me to undergo unnecessary electroshock treatments. I empathize you but taking hostages isn’t going to help you gain an audience with my father or you revenge.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” The smile that spreads across Bronson’s face is almost as brilliant as it is psychotic. “You and I were supposed to have a conversation. If things got messy then a little time in seclusion should have been enough to change your mind.”
“Your argument sounds convincing.”
“Yes, it does. Your boyfriend has simply become unexpected collateral, but you could change that.”
Lex has delivered his case, though the fact that he can’t rightly help Bronson has not penetrated.“So you want answers? Am I correct?” So he stalls the inevitable standoff.
“Partly, I want to find Level 33.1 and I want to expose your father. You know, there are a lot people in there that hate him. Most want nothing more than to show him what their abilities can to when they’re really motivated.”He laughs. “You want to hear something ironic? There seem to be quite a few people in Belle Reve that loath your boyfriend almost as much as your father.”
Basically, what Bronson is asking for is to have Lex show him where Level. 33.1 is. The problem with finding the simple answer Bronson is seeking is that Lex doesn’t know the location of Level 33.1. Lex remembers the location of 33.1 in the first stream, but nothing exists there in the altered timeline.
“What is my role?” Lex wants clarification, even though that ultimately leads to stalling. “Do you expect me to take you to Level 33.1? I hope you’re not naïve enough to think that either you or I could simply walk through the front door.” Lex smirks. “Or haven’t you heard that my family is a bit dysfunctional?”
“No, I expect you to help bring your father down. Plus, I should get some of my friends out. There’s nothing like the bond between men and women when falsely imprisoned.”
“I wouldn’t be a responsible citizen or son if I let you unleash a band of psychotic mutants on the world.” Lex approaches Bronson like a scared animal with slow, cautious steps. “We can expose my father, but we have to do things the right way.”
Gain his trust, Lex. He cautions himself.
“Give your dad up and you get your boyfriend back.” This is clearly Bronson’s final offer. “These are your only options.” Bronson takes a step backward. “You have an hour, Lex. I suggest you use it wisely. Otherwise, I’ll have to have some permanent fun with your boyfriend.”
Then he’s gone. Vanished into nothing save for the trail of green dust motes in the air.
In the time stream before, Bronson simply vanishes due to a power overload. In this stream, Lex and LexCorp are more autonomous, and of course, it went without saying that he still had a plethora of connections.
Earl Jenkins is his last active memory of Level 33.1 before it all fades away into a fleeting thought. He never follows up on it. Why? The obvious answer is Clark. Having Clark’s attention diverts much his curiosity. Lex has an hour to save Clark and his future.
He can do it.
Toby is still a reliable resource and Lex is glad he’s been able to hold onto him.
Mercy, with all her wisdom, hardwires a frequency jammer after collecting as much intel on Bronson as possible. It’s simple physics really; waves cancel each other out all the time. It’s just a matter of finding the right one.
Maybe it’s because he has no hand in Level 33.1 this time that he actually feels bad for the poor bastard. The gift of Bronson’s abilities is a very cruel one indeed. Bronson goes to work to do his job, repair a few wires atop a telephone pole as per usual, and instead he gets flaming chucks of radioactive rock falling on him. Bronson just wants to do his job and be normal, so he goes to all the wrong places looking for help, runs a foot of Lionel Luthor somehow and ends up bouncing between Belle Reve and Level 33.1 for the better part of a year.
Sympathy for the devil, truly Lex has it.
Clark hasn’t said much since they got him back. Despite being in visible pain, he attempts to assess Lex first when it’s clearly him who needs attention. Some things about Clark will never change.
Though Toby looks like he’d fit in just as well on MASH or at a Grateful Dead concert, he’s a damn good doctor. Like House, except less acerbic and deeply interested in some quasi-legal forms of horticulture. Toby doesn’t fight Lex about staying in the room while he checks over Clark, who is teetering on the brink of sleep and semi-consciousness.
“Golden Boy, needs some serious sleep.” Toby slips his thin wire frames off his nose and wipes them with the bottom of his shirt. “I can’t say I completely understand what happened here...” Lex issues him a warning look.”—But, Lexie Boy, this weird almost radioactive jaundice thing going with your boyfriend is worrying me.”
“I can assure you that there’s nothing to worry about.” Lex supplies, breaking away from Toby’s side to walk around the bed. He sits and takes Clark hand, stroking it lightly to offer comfort. The events of the day feel like his fault even if he knows otherwise. “Besides there’s nothing for you to do about it now.”
A sound like poorly veiled snort comes from Toby. “Sure, if you say so. I’m up to date on all the B-movie goings on around here and my mouth is like Fort Knox. I feel it’s going AMA to not look deeper; taking blood is the least I could do.”
Not the least, not to Clark. Not to his father either.
Clark lies against soft black sheets, making the receding green pallor of his skin seem all the brighter. The memories of betrayal and burning rage which transition into simmering disappointment seem so ephermal now like flurries in late winter, they fall and blend into the icy milieu, ultimately of no real consequence. The past is like that now.
After having had Clark, having heard him say ‘I love you’---words Lex has coveted for so long, he knows with absolute certainty that he’ll do anything to keep Clark with him. To keep him safe, even from himself. The future is so tenuous and fragile.
Lex looks up to see Toby watching him, a curious expression on his face. He debates the option of saying nothing and finally decides against it as Clark’s eyes press fully shut. “Taking blood is…not an option.”
It’s better to offer a small sliver of the truth rather than to lie to Toby outright.“The needle wouldn’t penetrate his skin.” Lex says, as he turns Clark’s hand over and over between his own.
Toby’s brows climb steadily and he shoots a disbelieving look Lex’s way. He regards Lex in the same way he used to when Lex used to tell him some of the rather inventive ways that he became injured over the course of his reckless youth.
Toby snorts in disbelief. “Sure.” Toby removes a factory sealed syringe from his medical bag. He opens it and slips it between his fingers as he searches for a vein. Lex watches, waiting to say the ‘I told you so’ as Toby lines the needle against a protruding vein in the crook of Clark’s arm. “And in my previous life I was Captain Kirk,” he says as the needle slides into Clark’s arm.
How is that possible? Lex rights himself. “Well, Captain Kirk, you can analyze the blood here in my lab. It goes without saying that the sample and any notes are to be disposed of before we even speak.”
“Lex, I’m down with all the cloak and dagger stuff. Don’t worry, what’s important is getting Golden Boy back to his old self and looking a lot less like the Jolly Green Giant.”
“I’m glad we understand each other.”
Mercy opens the door for Toby and follows him like a shadow to the lab, leaving Lex and Clark completely alone. Lex simply stares at Clark, unabashedly taking in his features which are so strong, yet delicately beautiful in the same breath. He knows Clark can easily fend for himself, but against his father, Lex feels, even Clark, is outmatched. Throw in an asylum full of meteor-infected crazies who have all seen Clark’s face, and Lex starts thinking about the best ways to saliently sabotage Clark’s pursuits into formal journalism. If LexCorp remains his only viable option within the city, then Clark would be forced to stay with Lex at all costs.
His fingers caress Clark’s hair, noting to the eye it seems glossier and fuller, slightly longer even. “I promise you,” he whispers in Clark’s ear, causing Clark to stir. “To take care of you and to keep you safe.”
“Love you.” Clark mutters sleepily.
Lex leans down to kiss Clark’s forehead and lips. “I love you, Clark. Never forget that.”
He goes back to his list and tries to cross-reference meteor freaks and his father’s machinations. Big difference between then and now is marrying Clark instead of Lana. Plus Lana’s pregnancy.
The idea seems to resound inside his head. Parallel events, parallel time. The thought is followed up by Clark’s an alien. Yes, Clark is an alien and he is a mutant.
Could he be? The thought constructs itself without Lex’s volition.
The fainting, the weakness, general malaise…
Suddenly, he’s very interested in hearing what Toby has to say.
When Lex finds him, the words that come out of Toby’s mouth are, “Do I have something to tell you.”
Clark is awake for Toby’s pronouncement with Lex sitting by his side. Toby waves the results in his hand like a celebratory flag with flair and gusto. “I really wish I had some heavy duty equipment here. Couldn’t you have sprung for an ultrasound machine like Tom Cruise when you were easy baking your home lab?”
“What did you want to see?” Lex asks. Clark tenses beside him and Lex moves closer to reassure him that everything will be fine.
The stare Toby levels at Lex is a hair short of incredulous. “If I could, I’d love to see inside little boy blue’s stomach to prove that I’m not as much of quack as I appear.”
Clark turns to Lex, their eyes conferring over Toby’s request. Toby watches them, fascinated by the silent conversation that he can almost track second by second. “Are you sure?” Clark presses, because his secret can’t be shared so indiscreetly.
Lex nods. He rolls up the hem of Clark’s shirt, revealing the golden expanse of his toned stomach, and leans back to give Clark room to search for himself. He and Toby watch as Clark’s eyes narrow, eyes shrinking to near slits as his gaze penetrates layers of skin and muscle.
The sudden inhalation of breath is answer enough of what Clark finds.
“And he comes with x-ray specs too?” Toby shakes his head, completely flabbergasted. “Where can I get one like him?”
This is it.
They’ll have a son.
Overcome by the sentimentality of the moment, he reaches out and pulls Clark into a fierce kiss. He cares little that Toby is making small gagging noises in the background, only the feel of Clark’s mouth moving against his in hard passionate strokes. They kiss until Lex is breathless and Clark is equally red cheeked and thoroughly embarrassed.
“ A baby?” Clark questions. Like belief has escaped him, he stares down at his stomach again for confirmation.
Lex wants to touch, reach his hand over and rub Clark’s non-existent belly, and finally bond with the child that he’s changed time and space to have. Clark leans against him, his head on Lex’s shoulder. Now Lex takes license to touch and his hand glides over the smooth skin that is significantly warmer than normal.
“Our baby,” he whispers and smiles. “We’re having a baby.” Lex repeats, his voice already brimming with paternal pride.
He looks into Clark’s eyes and what Lex sees there is transfixing. There’s a swirl of emotion inside those green depths, pinging between discernable feelings of scared, excited, confused in a cycle of seconds. “How?” Clark wants to know. “I’m a man.” Which is evidently true.
“Maybe there’s something in the water.” Toby replies sardonically. “All I can say for sure is I’d consider Cee’s impending bundle of joy to be a high risk pregnancy. “ He holds up two fingers to explain. “One, he’s male and unless this is common wherever he’s from then, he have to play it by ear and very close to the vest, since traditional means of prenatal testing mostly likely won’t work. Two, he’s with you, Lex, and as we saw today, being with you should require having extra insurance.”
“Hey…” Clark warns. “That’s not fair.”
Lex rubs Clark’s shoulder to assuage his anger, knowing that Clark is raring to go with his Lex defense mechanism. “It’s okay. Toby is right, even if he grossly mangles the situation. We have to be careful.”
“We always are.” Pulling away, Clark rises from the bed, ignoring Toby’s instructions to remain in bed. “I need some answers, Lex. This isn’t the type of thing that just happens.”
“You need to rest.” Lex argues. He’s worried and normally, that triggers a response that may lead him into trouble. Having Clark away from him after all that has happened isn’t something he’s ready to do at this point and starting an argument with Clark will not help to put him back where Lex wants him.
“We can get answers later. Together.” He adds. Lex crosses the room to halt Clark’s progress with his clothes. “Rest. If not for yourself, then do it for the baby.”
Clarks sighs in defeat, his lush lips flattening into a pout. “Okay.” He surrenders. “But we’ll talk about this…”
“As soon as I get Toby squared away.”
At that, Clark returns to bed and Lex signals for Toby to meet him in the hallway. He feels better about leaving Clark alone, because Mercy is just outside the door in what looks like a loose stance. She’s ready for action, still pumped from the morning, and absolutely prepared for more if danger should come their way.
The conversation is short and explicit. Lex all but moves Toby into the castle himself. For the next, however many months, Toby will be on-site. For show, Toby squawks and pretends to be pissed that Lex is interrupting his life, but he gives in too easily and sets about finding a room for himself as soon as Toby promises to make a list of all the equipment that he’ll require to give Clark and the baby proper care.
Clark is an alien in the literal sense. The simple fact that he has defied so many natural conventions, just by his mere existence. Their lives aren’t a science fiction show or a novel taking place in the outer regions of some mythical lush solar system. This is his life, Clark’s life, where men can make themselves invisible, girls can wield electricity, his lover the equivalent of a walking god; a time of the human and superhuman.
His lover is pregnant with the son that he’s changed time and space for.
Lex discloses all the details of the earlier stand-off with Bronson. Though when he moves onto his own suspicions and inserts facts from an alternate past, his descriptions and assumptions are still entirely barebones. Mostly, he mentions his father’s secret labs and probability of human experimentation, which can discern as fact by now.
Clark, of course, is full of righteous fury and ready to right the wrongs his father has perpetrated against others. “We have to do something.” How easily Clark forgets his condition.
“What do you suggest we do?” He’s open to ideas, but he won’t allow Clark to do anything that puts him or the baby at risk.
“Something,” Clark presses. “We can’t let innocent people suffer.”
“You don’t think I don’t know that? There are other circumstances we have to think about.”
“There always are, Lex.” Clark pauses. “There will always be something that you have to trade off. You only have to decide if it’s worth it or not.”
Lex knows Clark is right. “I’ll come up with a plan.” It’s better to rely on strategy than be goaded by emotion.
Clark places a restraining hand on his elbow, stopping Lex from departing from the conversation both mentally and physically. “We’ll come up with a plan.” He corrects. Again, Lex is reminded that this is a new world of his own crafting, with new rules and obstacles that blur the lines between correlation and causation, though direct manipulation does produce less uncertain results.
He makes Clark comfortable and tries to steers all further conversation to safer topics, mostly anything and everything that is related to their baby. Their son. He doesn’t share that bit of information, rather satisfied to savor this one little secret for as long as he can.
The relationship Lex has with secrets is almost as tenuous as his relationship with his father. It seems the harder he works to keep some buried, the easier they are discovered. In a lifetime before, he remembers pushing his father out of a window and watching him plummet to his death, later he regrets it, and like Lady Macbeth, blood stains his hands though it has long since dried and disappeared.
Killing his father now is justifiable given what is at stake. He is so close and has no room for failure. Mercy may be the missing link between then and now, the last little ingredient that will spare him the pain of Clark’s suspicion and fury. He still worries even though he knows he shouldn’t, because Lana will not return to somehow become the wedge that always stood between him and Clark. But if his secret does escape, this time without fail, Clark will leave him, take their son, and Lex will have nothing.
His options at present:
Do nothing—lose Clark.
Kill his father—lose Clark.
What he lacks are viable plans and time. Truthfully, he is grasping for straws. Maybe Clark’s desire to talk about it will prove to be something in itself.
He goes down to his office and picks up the phone of his desk, presses five and waits for an answer. “Hello Dad.”
Talking to his father sets up a face to face meeting, where he can finally see the man for himself.
When he tells Clark, the expectant outburst is less dramatic than Lex thought it would be.“You’re having lunch with your father?” The danger in Lex’s proposed strategy manifests on Clark’s face in the form of a severe frown.
“Yes, and I’m already cautious. I’m sure he’ll try to poison me in any case.” Lex says dryly. “I’m joking.” His attempt at humor falls very flat.
“Knowing your father, I wouldn’t joke like that if I were you. Lionel’s sense of humor is sicker than most.”
Lex muses to himself. “Hmmm...”
To sit down to talk with his father will be nothing short of an easy way for them to lob insults and threats at each other directly. What Lex needs is leverage. Lionel doesn’t cower to threats unless he knows there is potential for him to face scrutiny or have to own up to his actions. Even then, whatever Lex finds must be airtight. He can’t afford to be poisoned again or driven insane.
Several days later, he returns to Metropolis to wait for his father’s arrival at a restaurant known for its exclusivity and its ability to cater to those in need of discretion. It’s inimitable neo-American cuisine.
His first glance at his father’s face ignites his desire to flash a broad and unswayable smile. Lex goes straight for the jugular after they order their respective dishes.
He can see it so clearly, how the whites of his father’s eyes are a tainted saffron and his skin bruised beneath the surface, the color leeched from his features save for the faintest jaundice glow.
“I had a recent visit that had the smell of your manipulation all over it.” The situation with Bronson is one that only makes more sense once he realizes that his father is responsible for Bronson’s escape. The unfortunate man is just another pawn. “As always, the most important question is why? Obviously, you feel it’s important to screw with me; I just need a more substantial reason behind it.”
“Oh, Lex,” Lionel feigns innocence. “I think your imagination is running away with you, once again. I thought we were here to discuss my illness. I’ve taken a turn for the worst and I was sure that you already knew, given how vigilante you are.” Lionel likes pointing out that Lex’s attention is often fragmented between business and Clark. The latter Lionel has always viewed as a weakness in Lex’s life.
“Why are you doing all this if you’re dying? Surely, you don’t think you can engender empathy from me by terrorizing my family.”
Lionel rolls his head back, scoffing arrogantly at Lex’s statement. “I’m your family, Lex.” His glance belies his physical fragility. “Lessons can be learned at any time, son. What you take from them is up to interpretation. However, seeing logic is an expected outcome of any well taught lesson.”
“Let us not speak in riddles, dad. Just give me a reason for all this.”
Jellyfish? He can’t bring himself to mimic his father’s response. Instead, he waits silently for a more substantial answer to his father’s take on twisted logic.
“You always liked riddles, Lex, but failed to see what was in front of you, just as many unsuspecting people find themselves entranced by the translucent majesty of the jellyfish.”
Lex shakes his head. Lex has learned about jellyfish in the literal sense many years ago, always at his father’s hand. “I don’t need to be close to something in order to learn that it will sting.”
“I think you do. In fact, you’re sleeping with it on a nightly basis.” The ‘it’ in reference is obviously Clark. His ire rockets. His agitation shows by the small ticks of jaw, which caused his father to smirk in kind. “An untapped resource is a terrible waste and Belle Reve has proven itself to be invaluable. The government is very aware that mutations occurring in Smallville are not an isolated event, but part of a global phenomenon.”
Lionel waves his hand about garrulously like a indulgent royal holding court. “There’s no use in denying that Clark is special. I know, though you’ve done a commendable job at hiding the evidence and your boy has gotten better at being discreet, but there’s still the matter of several floors of meteor-infected psychopaths that have had extensive encounters with Clark Kent.”
“There are few certainties in life, Lex, and at the risk of being cliché,” he holds up his palm and ticks off his fingers. “They are taxes, death, and war. War pays. Governments will always pay for defense. The ability to build a better soldier will always be a source of profit and we can give it to them. They fund their endeavors with the money of the wealthy and poor, and everyone dies at in obscurity or in glory eventually.”
“At what expense?” Lex inquires.
Lionel sighs dramatically and dabs at his mouth in such aristocratic display of his self-inflated importance. “That’s of little expense to us now that I have done all the hard work.” He sips his wine, savoring the luscious dark taste while Lex’s face fails to conceal his thoughts of patricide. “I am of the belief that current projects could be far more expedient if there was a certain level of cooperation involved.”
Clark’s. Which in no way will Lex allow.
“I’m surprised we’re having this conversation so publicly.”
“Oh Lex, we’re not discussing the sordid details of the matter, just logistical circumstances.” He hates when his father weaves vague tapestries with predilection for semantics. “We’re merely a father and son enjoying a succulent meal while discussing business. Where’s the harm in that?”
Lex leans forward, crossing the intimate space with the resolution to throw himself headlong into the shark infested waters of his father’s making. “You are not long for this world, father, yet I’m sure that you know that I won’t be picking up the mantle of these projects.” He goes for the first card in his arsenal. “If it’s not me, then who are you going to trust, Lucas or Grant Gabriel?”
To Lionel’s look of surprise, he resists the urge to smile and circles the kill like his father always instructed. “I’m privy to all sorts of information these days, and if you think that I’m a disappointment--” A malicious grin brings light to his grey eyes. “I have it on good authority that I’m the heir you always wanted, despite your inability to recognize it. I can’t stop you in this and truthfully, I won’t.”
Surprise looks strange on his father’s face. It’s an emotion that is rarely seen and even less frequently experienced by someone, such as his father, who prides himself on his ability to control and manipulate. “I’ll explain.” Lex offers. “Project Ares, I presume.” He’s absolutely correct, confirmed again by Lionel’s facial tick.
A next sip of wine takes a hard trip down the gullet. “You presume correctly.”
Lex too samples the wine and finds it to be worth savoring. He’ll have to add some bottles by this maker to the collection at the penthouse. “Project Ares will purpose that will be more valuable than increased profit margins. The government will be appreciative, but the world will be most thankful. There are loose ends that will hinder the project that I can resolve rather quickly.” Those problems are in the form of Wes and Jodi Keenan.
“May I ask what has brought on this change of heart?”
“I’m looking for a compromise if you will.” He passed the leather-bound portfolio across the table. “I have these.” Thanks to backtracking Chloe’s old research and Mercy’s stealth, no one has been forced to undergo the witness protection program or faking their deaths in order to acquire the information in the folder.
As Lionel opens the folder, his neutral mask remains in place, yet the simple turn of a page causes it to slip and fracture into worn jaundiced face of a man trapped by his own machinations. The glossy photographs slipped beneath condensed reports by an arson specialist and the unearthed case file behind the circumstances that led to his father’s fortune show a surprisingly good image of a supposedly dead man in the form of Morgan Edge.
“You and I are going to come to an understanding. I’ll feign ignorance for the time being and discretely put to rest any outstanding issues. When you are no longer capable of running the project, I shall step in then and see to its maintenance. However, all of this falls under the stipulation of discontinuing your threats and any inquires you have towards Clark.” He smirks. “It is unseemly to arbor such unnecessarily strong feelings against your future son-in-law.”
That last bit of information shows the comedy in their situation. His father has always asserted that Lex is easily given over to flights of fantasy and regreatble dalliances. Clark is no dalliance. He is the alpha and omega of all of Lex’s relationships.
Lionel’s face comports itself into a haughty mask.“If I refuse to accept the spectacle that you intend to make of your future and continue as planned?”
“Then I know of several reparable sources that will receive this information in a matter of minutes. The choice is yours if they are to learn of your past indiscretions.”
“Good, just remember you will know that I have fulfilled my end of the deal by the continued clandestine nature of the project.”
The folder closes quietly and his father quickly shakes off the trance that their negotiations have left him in. Newly recovered, Lionel stands and collects himself to make his exit and also leave Lex to foot the bill. “As scintillating as this has been, I have a business to run. Tell Clark, I shall be in attendance at whatever ceremony you decide to hold.”
Lex toasts his father with a raised glass. “I’ll let him know.”
Lex returns home and is greeted by the pleasant sight of Clark in their bed. It’s nice to have something sweet waiting for him in the wake of such sour business.
Clark sits up in bed. “How did it go?”
As Lex steadily undresses, he recounts the deal he made with his father and the certainty that he will never reveal what he has done to Clark. Ever. “We came to an agreement.”
“An agreement?” Clark asked unconvinced.
“Yes, we came to a deal of sorts.” A deal with the devil more like it. Though who the devil may be in this situation may prove harder to decipher. “My father has already RSPV’d for whatever ceremony we decide to have.”
“Finally showing support for us? I don’t know whether to be confused or frightened.”
Lex crawls into bed and lays beside Clark. “I feel the same way.”
“You didn’t tell him about…”
“No, of course not.”
He lies with Clark in his arms that night with one hand resting firmly above the flat plain of Clark’s abdomen. Lex imagines he feels his son move beneath his hand, excited to know his father is waiting for him. Clark sleeps peacefully as he should.
Lex marvels at this life. At the future that is yet to come. Not for the first time he goes to sleep that night with a smile at his lips. He dreams of Clark’s belly large and convex with skin stretched so very taut and their son that sleeps peaceably and protected. His son shall inherit his empire on earth and a legacy of the stars.
His dreams progress forward, shifting and flickering like the shadows of flame against a wall. It feels like a memory, lacking in the scratchy film quality of the traditional subconscious dreamscape. One day, he shall walk with his son, holding his hand through a field of green grass neat and trimmed beneath the clearest of blue skies and Clark will be there flying overhead, his destiny written across his chest as he hovers protectively.
There will be good days and bad, more that are far more acceptable than not, and children many years from now. It will be the life that he always wanted. It is the life he changed time and space for. A life he has always deserved.