Taste of Pride

by Sepheis

Title: Taste of Pride
By: Sepheis

Disclaimer: No sir, they ain't mine.

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Stray

Author's Note: Thanks to Elina for reading it over, and to Phil for bringing me to SV in the first place. Feedback? Yes please.

Lex had been such a weak boy. So small and pale. Just like a little fish.

He should not be here following his son, but he has been plagued the past few days by the desire to know, and Lionel is not one to make false excuses.

Familiar prick of irritation tempered with admiration that Lex can bring him here to Smallville. Debates whether Lex chose to stay simply to see if he could needle Lionel or whether Lex could possibly have found something here worth staying for.

In the space of a couple months his son has become a stranger to him. And his affection for Alexander had mutated into this fierce regard.

Leans against the doorway and watches Lex sleep. Lex looks vulnerable in sleep in a way he almost never does awake. Mouth soft and relaxed, eyelids closed. Moonlight touches upon the sharp planes of bone and jaw, softening their lines. Familiar mixture of emotion and bile rising in his throat.

Lionel had been pleasantly surprised when the body stripped of hair hadn't seemed so awkward anymore. Had come to this realization only recently noticing the way Lex now seemed to...lounge during board meetings. As if he was finally comfortable in his skin.

The baldness hadn't been attractive on him as a child. As an adult, Lionel is impressed how calmly Lex wears it.

He is proud of Lex.

Always fighting within himself the impulse to crush. Impulse to destroy warring with desire to protect and to hold. Mine, he wants to tell Lex. You are mine. My first son, my blood, my legacy.

Never has though. Saying something so...blatant would serve no purpose, and could hardly benefit either of them.

Instead he has always told Lex that he is a Luthor. And now he thinks that he shouldn't have told Lex anything at all because that seems to have backfired too.

Lex is restless in sleep and Lionel wonders briefly what his son dreams about. Wants to reach over and pull the covers over Lex but Lex turns, pulling the sheets up as he moves. And he pauses, his hand half stretched out.

Whims and passions and loves have always and should always give way to the demand for results. He hopes that Lex has understood that much at least.

Considers his current hold over Lex and weighs the influence of a lifetime.

Strokes slowly along the curve of Lex's skull with his fingertip. In sleep at least, Lex doesn't draw back. Skin almost powdery soft, like the skin of a baby.

Memory of curls and smiles and very sweet baby smell. He sometimes speculates what would have happened had Julian managed to live. If he would have been a Luthor.

Wonders. The Luthors have never been given to large families, something in the blood.

What kind of son has he created? How much or how little would it take to draw him back in?

Fingers curling slowly into a fist and Lex shifts under the touch.

Smile appearing unbidden even as he bites his lips, feeling the skin crack and give way beneath his teeth. Licks away the blood still smiling.

He highly doubts that if he loses this funny game that Lex would be moved to spare him. Lex is a Luthor in his own way, and mercy is not a trait Lionel had ever been inclined to teach. Relaxes the fist, and draws a slow finger over Lex's forehead to the temple. Takes a moment to decide how he's going to play this game.

Head so pale and fragile in the moonlight. Like the thinnest eggshell, so easy to crack and shatter. This is his son. His only son.

The end is flickering on the horizon and there is a tiny prickle of regret that he ignores. Luthors never lose. Not even to each other. Withdraws his hand and makes his way to the door. He has several reports to look over before morning.

Closes the door silently and makes his way down the stairs. His feet click softly and echo in his mind.

Wheels turn, little ball of ivory clinking slowly toward both their futures, tumbling toward zero before falling into place.

And he leaves, not much changed, but a tinge of something new around the lines of his face. The taste of pride and blood in his mouth.

A good, if slightly bitter flavor.

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