For every person there are certain facts, realities, states of being, that will, no matter where or when, apply to them. For Clark Jerome Kent there are two of these.
The first of these is this: Clark Kent always tells the truth. This is not out of a moral obligation or a societal responsibility. It is a biological imperative, the legacy of an otherwise extinct race. Clark never says anything that is less than completely accurate because there is something in him – and whether it’s in his brain or his tongue or somewhere in between, he doesn’t know – that won’t let the falsehood pass his lips.
The other of these is this: Clark Kent is a liar.
The blame for this can perhaps be laid at the feet of his parents, though Martha and Jonathan are hardly at fault. Faced with trying to protect an alien son who couldn’t say anything untrue, they had to teach him how to lie with the truth. There was no way they could have known just how precocious their child was.
Lies are an art form and Clark is an artist. He twists truths around on themselves and each other until they are hardly recognizable. A tone of voice, a shift in posture, he makes full use of a body that can speak falsehoods when his words can’t. Such shaping fantasies he builds, that people can’t help but follow him down the garden path. Can’t help it, even when they know he has tricked them before.
Clark is universally liked, this he makes sure of. Charisma is another tool of his trade, people more likely to believe someone they liked. He doesn’t, however, have any friends. Clark convinces himself that this is because he doesn’t let others close, doesn’t want to be friends with people who are so easily fooled. He never tries to say these words out loud though.
Who wants to be friends with a liar?
It was a question that could only be answered with a bridge, a roll of bailing wire and a speeding Porsche.
“I could’ve sworn I hit you.”
An expression of affected confusion. “No normal person could survive that.”
A sharp look. “No, no normal person could.” The stress on the word normal was so slight it might not have existed.
Clark is hooked.
It becomes their game. For every lie Clark tells, Lex breaks it down into its component truths, for every thrust, a parry, for every step back, a lunge forward. Lex never starts his research on Clark; that would be cheating just as surely as it would if Clark started speaking in untruths. Besides, why research when the truth is hanging before him like a ripe fruit, if Lex can only manage to reach out and pluck it?
It’s a contest. One where there is no winning for Clark, only delaying of the inevitable end when Lex finally uncovers all.
Clark can’t wait.