The Red and the Black

by Te

Additional love to the Livbun, who suffered my evil *and* my whining, and then came back with great suggestions.

The Red and the Black
by Te
April 2002

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd torture Ryan until everybody knew everything, then give the kid to Lana for peaceful, soothing, blankness.

Spoilers: Vague ones for Leech.

Summary: Lex forgot that thing about trusting no one.

Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17, content some will find disturbing.

Author's Note: This was very much inspired by a story of Sarah T.'s that she'll probably never post. pokes her In any case, it's her fault. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. If she ever posts it, I suppose it could be considered sequelish.

Also another answer to Liv's XF-title, SV story challenge. Yeesh.

Acknowledgments: To my We for endless comfort in the boozum. To LaT and Jenn for audiencing and prodding.

Feedback keeps me honest.


He'd waited quite a while. At twenty-six, Lex had experience on his side when it came to this sort of thing. When the relationship fell apart, a certain amount of time was required. Time apart, preferably buried in those things that nourished one, strengthened one.

Those things that reminded you who you were supposed to be.

Lex feels his mouth trying to twist sourly and tamps it down.

It's easy.

That in itself is enough to make him sure.

He has waited long enough.

Lex brushes a hand over the placket of his shirt as he stands, despite knowing that his clothes rarely dare to fall wrong on him. His tailors are impeccable. His father's are even better. Today's suit is a dusky charcoal, the shirt an ashen lavender, the shoes butter-soft and nearly as worldly as he is.


There's a lazy smile behind his face that feels just fine.

The halls are filled with employees who've learned to scuttle and scurry just a bit faster at the sight of him, and Lex offers nods and greetings, the occasional sharp and idly penetrative stare.

It's all random, of course. This isn't even his division. Still, his passage would leave them whispering and wondering for hours.

It will make them that much more careful, that much more assiduous with the Luthor dollar.

Little things.

The door to his father's suite of offices is open, of course, the waiting room half-full of the terrified and despairing and desperate. The desperate ones are always worth a second look, but no one seems especially interesting today. One distinctly careworn individual is the only one who looks remotely at ease, rueful smile on unshaven face, trench coat open enough to reveal a gun.

Lex can't help but smile openly for a moment.

His father always could find a use for policemen.

Shakes his head and nods a greeting to this month's secretary, a severe-looking woman who Lex suspects would be happier in the sort of library where sound is a flogging offense.

As usual, he receives nothing in return but a basilisk stare. It makes Lex smile a little wider. His father has also always been able to find uses for people who aren't impressed by Lex.

Even now.

There's a comfort in predictability.

"Is he in a meeting, Else?"

"No." Flat, affectless. His father might actually keep this one.


The quality of the carpeting, already excellent, increases a noticeable degree in the short corridor that leads to Lionel's office. Lex can hear his own breaths, the beat of his heart.

He knows his father tests himself with these little details. The day someone's footfalls are actually soft enough to surprise the man, he'll undoubtedly garrote himself with ruthless efficiency.

Or not.

He wonders, briefly, why he can't stop smiling, but Lionel's smiling at him by the time he enters the main office so Lex files the thought away for later.

"Lex, what can I do for you?" Pure expansiveness, pride and triumph that makes Lex's heart seize, even now. Even now.

It has been months. Shouldn't he be accustomed to his father's love? Lex hides behind his smile and moves to sit before his father's desk. The leather chair is firm, cool welcome, and Lex allows himself to relax.

This is good. This is... he can enjoy this.

Chuckles softly when he and his father move to put their feet on the broad, mahogany desk at the same moment. An identical swivel, and something flares in Lionel's eyes. A greed for Lex he would've killed for as a child, that pins him in place as an adult.

"Taking a break, Lex? That doesn't seem like you." Even the chiding has faded, softened.

Does he realize? Lex shakes his head. "I wanted to talk to you about getting back into the theoretical side of things. I miss hands-on research."

Lionel raises an eyebrow. "Well, that can certainly be arranged, Lex, but you must realize that you're an incredibly valuable asset to the company where you are now."

Asset. It stings a bit, and there's a fear rushing in that Lex doesn't want to name. His father pulling back, offering rejection with compliments and Lex keeps his face level with an effort. "Thank you, Dad, but you know I've always been a scientist at heart. And... I wasn't thinking about deserting the business end of things entirely."

"No?" Lionel is... noticeably still. Another change between them, something to mark the difference between then and now. They no longer prowl around each other like restless animals. The pissing contests are more... subdued?

Lex's smile feels dreamy on his face. "No. I was thinking of splitting my time, actually. I know I'm not actually needed in the labs, after all." And that's a test of the sort he hasn't tried since he was young, so young.

Lionel exhales slowly, audibly. A gift. Stands with the same abrupt, liquid ease Lex has been trying to emulate since he could walk. Shuts the door to the corridor and Lex can feel him standing behind him.

It makes his heart thud painfully in his chest.

The hand on his shoulder is heavy and warm, the squeeze has that brand of concern that has become... familiar over the past several months.

Since the day he became, at last, his father's son. The night? Sometimes Lex wonders if there's that much of a difference. That day had dawned with Lionel hand-delivering papers, tests, evidence.

Irrefutable proof of something Lex had buried the day, long before, he'd watched Clark gasp in pain from obviously bruised ribs. Nothing he could deny, nothing he could laugh off -- though he'd tried, God, he'd tried so hard.

Because... because he'd tried.

He'd taken his lumps in Smallville, he'd made a conscious decision to be a good man on the way to becoming great, and he'd taken the Kents as his model. The sweet and wholesome Kents, the loving Kents and their loving, lying son.

He'd taken a risk with them, and nothing had ever been sweeter than the day Clark brought him to dinner and announced their relationship, broken crockery, tears, recriminations and all.

Because he'd learned. Nothing was ever final for the Kents, nothing unforgivable, nothing impossible.

So sweet to believe he'd never need his father again, or even his name. That everything he'd ever needed could be had, that everything he'd ever wanted could be ignored as the dreams of a lonely child.

Lies, all lies, and his father had been there to watch him discover that, satisfaction incongruously muted. He had, of course, known what Clark had meant to him. What the Kents and the whole sweet dream of Smallville had meant.

And when Lex had regained something resembling control, it had been a matter of moments between he and his father to decide that Cadmus was the perfect -- the only place for such a specimen as Clark. Such a find.

Easy enough to lure him there.

"There's something I want you to know, Clark," he'd said. "We've been getting so close. I don't want anything between us."

Easier when all Clark had done was smile, and thank Lex for trusting him.

That was the day, and Lex had felt... cored. Hollow and dry throughout. A seed pod waiting for one good, stiff wind. Perhaps his father had sensed it. Strong hand on his shoulder on the way out of Cadmus, strong hand helping him into the limo.

Strong hand holding him still, so still, until Lex was sodden enough with bourbon that the hollow feeling could be ignored. Until there was nothing but the flicker of shadows from the fire and the tap of crystal against his teeth whenever his aim was off.

And the night...

He'd woken in the night to the feel of a hand brushing his scalp, over and over. He'd been dreaming of his mother, and the way Lex used to fall asleep at her bedside toward the end because she didn't want to stop touching him and he couldn't bring himself to ask.

It was his father, staring down at him and stroking him ceaselessly, determinedly. Precisely the kind of soothing he'd expect the man to offer -- inexpert and moderately disturbing.

He remembers trying to laugh, and being so surprised when it came out a sob.

And his father is still behind him. Still touching.


Lex closes his eyes and lets his head fall to the side until his cheek rests on his father's knuckles.

Another exhale. "Lex. What do you really want?"

And that's... there are no good answers to that question. But there are true ones. "I want to see the alien." There. Not even a stumble. "And I want. I want to sleep in your bed tonight." Not as good. His father has never suffered euphemisms gladly.

A pause, and then his father is pushing his head upright again. Gently, gently. Back-handed caress to his cheek and Lex is shivering.

Lionel in Lex's bed that night had been so sure, so giving, so solid and real. There is nothing to Lionel but what he gives you. The rest is as easily erased within the man as chalk off a blackboard.

His father in his mouth was a promise he'd had to give to save his own life. He's sure of this, despite its essential intangibility. He had thrown everything he was into his relationship with Clark, he had trusted without hesitation and reserve in a way only the dead had earned before.

He'd had nothing left, and his father had known.

And given.

Lex tilts his head back and breathes. He can smell his father's cologne, feel the heat of him.

Sex is close, very close.

Lex opens his eyes. "I need this, Dad."

And his father moves in front of him, never quite losing contact with Lex's scalp. He knows this now, this particular sequence of move and counter-move. How long had you wanted this, Dad, he doesn't ask, he never asks.

Is this what you wanted? Lex shakes it off internally and shifts forward in the chair.

Callused thumb tracing the curve of his ear and Lex licks his lips, leans in to nuzzle at his father's groin.

Lionel pulls him in tight for a breathless, powerful moment that makes Lex shudder before releasing him just long enough to undo his fly. Hard, already, and Lex's eyelids flutter with the simultaneous need and terror of looking up into those eyes.

His father was never supposed to know him this well, see him this easily.

It's better, easier, when Lex finally goes down.

When his father surrenders control just enough to rape his mouth.


Cadmus has grown over the past several months, gaining new outbuildings and a parking lot that's still as black and smooth as when it was laid. The cars in the lot are expensive enough, but ill-cared for -- as befit the minds of theoretical scientists. Lex approves in a way that makes him smile at himself.

Certain brands of ivory tower snobbery never really fade.

There's a niggling disturbance over the fact that his father hadn't bothered to secret Clark away to some more discreet laboratory. While it was true that, as far as the rest of the world was concerned, Cadmus was just the company that the Hardwicks had gambled on and lost, there was still the... personal factor.

Had his father been so sure of Lex?

And if so... what did that mean?

What did it mean to have reached a point in his life where keeping his father on his toes had lost meaning?

It makes him pause inside the Spyder, one hand on the keys. His father's son. Is it really so bad?

His own laughter chases him out of the car.

Inside, the dust has been swept away and a new layer of paint slapped on the walls. The carpeting is still execrable, but the furniture in the lobby is new. The receptionist -- who on earth calls here? -- is young and eager-looking.

He undoubtedly doesn't get much opportunity to socialize.

"Mr. Luthor --"

"Project Delta Nine-Four." He doesn't trust himself for small talk at the moment. He doesn't trust himself not to turn around and never come back, and this is... this is necessary. He watches the boy's teeth click shut with sick fascination.

You're looking at his skull, some helpful part of his brain wants him to know.


"I... ah. That's classified --"

Lex bites back a snarl and leans in close enough to kiss. "Password: Autumn."

"Yes. Ah. Of course. I'll call Dr. Rennis down and have him escort --"

"Room A-four, yes?"

"No, we had to move the subject to twelve. Um. More space --"

"I know the way."

Lex walks quickly to the elevator. There's something skin-crawling about the receptionist's attitude, a fear that has nothing whatsoever with displeasing a Luthor. Just how much does that... drone know about the project?

Up one flight and Lex moves left, nose wrinkling before he realizes he's reacting to a bad smell.

Iron strangeness, disinfectant, and something sickeningly familiar and he remembers now.

A-twelve had been a converted operating theater.

By the looks of it, it still is.

Lex forces himself to take a deep breath, another. Another.

"It's all about acclimation, Lex," his father had said, and there were times when Lex was positive that his father visited his mother at the hospital every day of her final illness solely to prove that he could.

Good advice, just the same.

And Lex walks in on a vivisection.

"This is a sterile environment --!"

Pure relief to turn to the doctor behind the mask. "I think you've had enough time with the subject to discover that a bit of lint won't make that much of a difference."

The doctor sputters at him, clearly working up a good head of steam. Another joins him, this one lean and small. Possibly female.

The third is using... something to pin back neatly sliced layers of skin (still so golden) and muscle. Blood is pumping, but slowly. Have they drugged him? Is it even possible?

Meteor rocks have been ingeniously inserted behind the glass of the lights. Of course.

From this angle, Lex can't see Clark's face.

The other two doctors are edging closer, masks folding and releasing with speech Lex can't quite understand. Blood on their coats. Blood on their gloves, dripping to the floor. There are drains, scrubbed cleaner than they should be. This means... something.

Clark is breathing.

The blood inside his chest is black in the green light. There is something... off.

The doctors are almost flanking him now, eyes wide and serious and clear of anything Lex can connect with. They want him to leave. This is quite clear, though their words are.


Lex is his father's son, and that doesn't have to be so bad and Dad Dad Daddy's so proud, so proud --

Sound like a small saw, and he flicks a glance over and yes, that's precisely what it is.

The small doctor, the female -- her voice is high, quite musical really, is still holding a scalpel and Clark is breathing.

The scalpel is quite clean. She hasn't gotten her turn. Is that a frown line beneath her cap? Is she frustrated with Lex? Very soon now, she is going to reach out to touch him. Very soon.

He can see it happening, and it's fascinating. The flex of one arm, then the other. The flex of the hand that isn't holding the pristine scalpel. Clark's legs are tied down. What are they saying to him?

Lex feels his eyes moving a little wildly, but everything is quite clear. Quite clear. The female moves closer, the male shifting to block his view of Clark, who is breathing faster now.

Much faster and... sound.

Breaking through like the first satisfying yawn after a head cold, after the sinus infections of his childhood.

"Mr. Luthor are you --"

"... you really must --"

"Oh God please --"

And words are gone. The snap of two of his knuckles cracking as his fist slams into the male's face. Thud of flesh to floor, clank of metal instruments and the endless znnnn of the saw, higher pitched as it bites into bone. Dust rising and flying into the air and Lex is... hypnotized.

Clark is writhing. Breathing.

"Security!" The female.

Snaps him back to himself with a jolt and Lex can hear himself snarling as he grabs the back of the female's head and slams her head down onto his knee. The flash of pain is quick, meaningless, the buzz of the saw lowering in pitch and Lex.


Steps over the bodies of the other two doctors and snatches something cool and sharp off a tray.

The third doctor is still holding the saw, but Lex can see age around the man's green eyes. Can see the belly straining the buttons of his fouled white coat. He doesn't hesitate.

The first slash for the free arm and Lex forces himself to wait the seeming eternity it takes for the doctor to drop the saw and grab his bleeding bicep. The second slash is for the eyes, the third for the throat.

His father's son.

Pure necessity to follow the man down to the floor.

His father's son.

He doesn't stop slashing for a long time.


There's a hum to the lights that grabs Lex's attention and holds on tight, tight. It's the edge of a memory, an echo of time.

Crickets singing to the hot, sticky night and Clark had been feverish with it, raising Lex from languor again and again until sweat and come dried salt and tacky on their skin, until Lex was sure summer had a taste.

Until Lex was too sore, too enervated to do more than watch Clark sleep beside him, blameless and beautiful.

There's blood on Lex's mouth that isn't his own.

He blinks slowly, feeling the crack and stick of drying blood on his cheeks, eyelashes. Clark is breathing. This is something to hold on to.

It takes time to stand up, body aching with exertion. Behind him, the female is crumpled and still. The other male is starting to stir.

Lex walks over with slow care and kicks him in the head until he stops.

He has to think.

A decision has been made here, and there will be consequences.

Clark is breathing.


It was nearly five when he arrived, therefore almost everyone will be gone by now. None of the labs he passed on his way in were occupied. He hasn't heard the elevator in...

He's not sure. At least fifteen minutes.

Clark is...

Lex forces himself to look. Skin pale under the gold. Blood loss, yes. Extreme repeated trauma. There are... scars. He undoes the straps around Clark's ankles and wrists and throat. Clark's eyes are closed. The blood is moving beneath the skin, thick and visible. Veins swollen or skin too tight. Something.

There are neatly vicious scars around the left eye, and Lex can't stop himself from pushing the eyelid back (gently, gently, feel the brush of those lashes, remember how he liked to tickle you with them when you slept). The eye is red-rimmed, bloodshot.

Otherwise perfect.

Clark's mouth falls open.

"Please..." Hoarse, desperate whisper.

"Clark..." He can't recognize the sound of his own voice, but it makes Clark focus, sudden and sharp.

"Lex? You... Lex? You left me here... my parents... Lex, please..." Weakening fast but Clark is barely blinking, struggling to reach for him and eyes so full.

"I..." Swallows past something thick. "I'm going to get you out of here."

And Clark... smiles. "I knew you'd come for me." And passes out.

Just in time to avoid seeing Lex retch all over the mess on the floor. Lex wipes his mouth on his sleeve -- or tries to. There's knowledge just behind a fragile wall in his mind. Knowledge about why he's covered with the blood, about what he just vomited on.


If he remembers correctly... yes. Two doors down is a relatively new chemistry lab, complete with emergency shower. Lex takes a breath and pulls the tab, biting back a shout at the icy water and stripping off his fouled clothes as he scrubs. The back of his shirt isn't too bad, and makes a decent washcloth.

That done, he kills the water flow and walks naked and shivering back to the operating theater, feeling just a little unreal under the fluorescents.

It helps.

Clark is breathing.

Lex nods and strips the mostly unbloodied male, using a scalpel to punch a new hole for the belt. He wasn't aware he'd lost quite that much weight.

Martha used to heap nearly as much food on his plate as she did on Clark's, giving him a look if he so much as thought about protesting.

Martha. Jonathan.

He has a vague memory of his father naked in Lex's bed, stroking his cheek and whispering sympathy into the phone.

"... your son and mine were very close..."

Stroking, stroking.

"Lex seems to have had a breakdown, Mr. Kent..."

His father's son.

"I've hired my best investigators, of course..."

Lex doesn't realize he's sobbing until after Clark is on the gurney, and by then it doesn't matter. Out from under the lights, even still so close, Clark is healing. His sternum is knitting itself, reforming itself from God knew what. Lex swallows bile and tries to place the skin and muscle back where it belongs. Clark's heart is beating faster, his color improving as Lex watches.

Lex wheels him out of the operating theater blindly, away from the lights and oh, father, father... (are you thinking about me now? Do you miss me?)

Shuddering breath and Clark is coming out of it and he needs... he needs clothes. Scrubs?

Scrubs would...

Clark jolts upright, nearly falling off the gurney and then jumping down and Lex is against the wall before he can blink, Clark's hand at his throat and Clark's eyes are wild, so wild.

"You left me here!"

"I'm getting you out," he says, and the calm in his voice sickens him.

"Who says I need your help?" And Lex's feet leave the ground. Easily. "They learned how to keep me. How to keep me weak. But I'm strong again, Lex."

"So you're just going to batter your way out of here?"

"No. I'm going to batter my way out of here and then I'm going to burn this place to the ground." Clark turns to the side, brow knitting for just a few moments and...

Hallucinatory flash of red and the wall's burning, two small holes punched into the center of the blaze, just about the size of Clark's pupils. "Clark --"

"I knew you'd come for me, you know. I saw your father walk you out of here like an invalid while Hamilton dragged me away with those... those fucking meteor-tainted chains and I knew you'd come back." Clark's eyes are wet, but he's laughing now, high and shaky. "Is it getting hot yet? Can you feel it? Your nice new lab coat is starting to singe..."

"Clark, please --"

"Shut up! Do you know what they did to me? When the heat vision came up I burnt Hamilton. I think I killed him. I don't know. I should've slagged the lights -- no. No. Every night, when they'd all go home, I'd sit in my cell and I'd heal and I'd try so hard not to scratch at the wounds but you know what? Most of the time I'd fucking fail. I'd sit there and I'd say to myself: He didn't mean it. He'll come back."

"I didn't know --" Clark slams him against the wall hard enough to dent it, rattling Lex's teeth and things flash bright for a heartbeat.

"LIAR! What the fuck did you think they would do, hunh? What would anyone do with a real live alien that doesn't know enough to die when you cut it open and start... start playing around?"

And Lex is shaking his head and pulling his arm tight against his body, burning God, going to burn, just like then, fire in the sky, hears himself moaning and squeezes his eyes shut.

"He's not even human," his father had said, and Lex had heard something like a plea in that voice, something too new, too real to deny...

"Why did you do it, Lex? God, I fucking loved you and --" Clark is shaking, and it's making Lex shake, or maybe he's shaking, too.

World's biggest flaming ragdoll, now playing at Cadmus Labs and Torture Chambers and Lex can't classify the sounds coming out of his mouth.

"You said you loved me!"

Snaps his eyes open, and Clark, oh Clark. Still there under the scars that are vividly, terrifyingly refusing to fade. Hazel eyes gone green and wet and wide, so wide. "I do."

Clark chokes on a laugh. Another.

And throws Lex down the hall, following fast, so fucking fast. Lands on him before Lex hits the floor and pins him like a child.

"Say it again, Lex. Tell me you love me. Tell me you dreamed of me while they were taking out my eye. I really want to... no, I need to hear it.

"Tell me what you told my parents.

"Tell me it didn't feel good to be in Daddy's good graces at last."

Lex flinches, struggles, and Clark is there, right there. Leaning in close enough to kiss.

"I can smell him on you, Lex..." Broken little sob. "I thought you were him when you came in the room, that's why I didn't make a sound at first. I thought you were him, coming to supervise. Again."

Lex coughs on bile, starts choking, and Clark is turning his head to the side, stroking his throat until he subsides.


"I didn't dream."

Clark stills. Turns Lex's head back and studies him for long, silent moments. Blank-eyed and fixed in himself. "All this because I didn't tell you."

Lex tries to look away, but Clark won't let him.

"Because you decided my secrets were more important than anything else, isn't that right?"

Lex closes his eyes.

"Open your eyes and answer me or I swear to God I'll crush your throat."

Lex swallows against the skip of his heart and obeys. "Yes."

Clark nods slowly. The scars on his face shine under the fluorescents, his naked body moving flawlessly with each breath, each shift. Clark curls his free hand into a loose fist, and his eyes go dreamy when Lex flinches again. The caress to his cheek is as gentle as it ever was. "Because you felt... betrayed?"


Another nod. "You killed Dr. Krendler. For hurting me."


"You made it slow. You made it hurt."

"Yes." There's nothing else to say to that.

Clark looks back at the operating theater for long moments. "Dr. Rosen is dying. That last kick damaged something in his brain." He turns back to Lex. "Dr. Williams could live. Why did you spare her? Chivalry?" Clark's tone is acid.

"Because she stayed down."

Clark nods thoughtfully, still caressing Lex's cheek. "You hurt me."

"I..." Lex takes a breath, watching something build dangerously in Clark's eyes. "Yes." Clark smiles, and it's not a smile Lex ever thought he'd see on his face. You put that smile there, his mind offers helpfully.

"So, if people who hurt me deserve to be slaughtered... what do you deserve, Lex?"

Exhales in a rush because. Oh, it's so clear. Grins helplessly. "You know where the bone-saw is, Clark --"

In his face faster than a blink. "You think I won't do it? You think I'm still the stupid kid who believed in you?"

"Please." And he needs this. Not Clark's forgiveness -- he fucked that up. Not his father's love -- that was fucked before he was born. But... this.

"Please what, Lex?"

"Do it..."

And Clark's gone, just like that. Lex feels something big and vital inside him seize up and sink, but then he hears something hit the wall. Sits up to find Clark doing everything short of trying to claw his way through it and... the small fire is still burning cheerily just a few feet behind them.

Who the hell had installed the fire alarms in this place? Lex swallows back a laugh and starts to reach out.

"You'd do it, wouldn't you? You'd fucking... you'd let me kill you!"

Lex blinks. "Don't you want to?"

Too many expressions to count flit over Clark's face and he's hunched in on himself, hurting somewhere Lex can't reach and he has to.

Stands slowly, cautiously, stopping when Clark flinches.

"You don't... you left me here and I waited... God, I waited so long and I knew you'd be back and it hurt so bad and I knew my parents could never... I knew you were the only thing I could count on and you came and now you want me to --

"I don't have anything else, Lex!"

Oh, fuck. Gets as close as he can and reaches out. Grabs Clark's shoulders hard when he doesn't flinch. Tremors just beneath the skin and is Lionel waiting for him, yet? Is he in his bedroom, ready to pull Lex close and hold him down and make it all go away again? "Clark. Clark, you have to listen to me --"

"So long, Lex, I waited so long..."

"I'm going... we're going to get out of here, okay? And I'll take you home, and you can be with your family --"

"They'll find me, Lex! They told me the names and addresses of all my friends, all my family... cousins I didn't even know I had! It was... it was after Hamilton and they told me what they'd do to them and you're the only..." Clark's face twists horribly, somewhere between tears and loathing. "Oh God, I loved you so much and I still do and I don't know I don't..." And Clark's crying for real now, hoarse, gasping sobs like he doesn't know how to do it without hurting himself.

Nothing for Lex to do but pull him close, shivering at the feel of all that sleek skin under his hands, at the scars his fingers can't help but find. "I did this. I did it. It's okay, Clark, it's going to be... oh, fuck, Clark, I'm such a liar..."

It makes Clark laugh against him, wet barks against his throat between helpless keens that make Lex's knees want to buckle.

Make him want to vomit again, stab himself, something.

And when he starts crying, he isn't sure if he's going to be able to stop.


Outside in the night, and it's shockingly easy to forget everything he's seen on the way out. Endless rooms full of all the meteor rocks Lionel's people had been able to collect from Smallville. Mutants that had been similarly collected, staked out in various stages of autopsy...

No, forgetting's not the right word.

It's all about priorities.

And once Clark was in a pair of too-small scrubs, getting outside was the only thing that mattered.

The security guard didn't have time to raise his gun before Clark dropped him with one blow to the head, sickening crunch skating just over the surface of Lex's mind. Lex took the gun before they walked out. The taser, too.

And now Lex watches as Clark systematically stares fire at every part of the building and the surrounding fields. It's getting hotter, smoky enough to make his eyes water, but Lex waits patiently beside the Spyder until Clark jogs up to join him. It had been a matter of minutes to set up his laptop, to check on the offshore accounts he'd set up before... before.

Everything's in order, of course.

His father's son.

Lex wonders when it's going to hit. If it will.

(I smelled him on you.)

Lex shivers despite the heat, startles when Clark wraps his arms around him and squeezes. "Clark..."

"I think... I think I have to forgive you. Because if I don't I'll have to kill you, and I can't do that."

Lex doesn't mention the people who will die inside Cadmus tonight, but Clark's eyes gleam in the firelight.

"They didn't have a reason. Right, Lex?" And then Clark is slipping into the passenger seat, buckling up like the good, sweet boy Lex killed a few months ago.

They drive away from the sound of sirens.


The sun shines hot and beautiful on their little corner of the island, and Lex is diligently avoiding it in their cabin, sunblock or no sunblock. Clark is in view, wading deep in a tidal pool, occasionally snatching up fish who have no idea what hit them. He'd sent one letter to his parents that first night through a remailing service in Madrid.

Lex hasn't asked what it said.

They share a bed unevenly, awkwardly. Hungrily and angrily. Sometimes sweetly. Lex knows he'll never have enough, because enough was what he had before his father gave him everything he used to think he wanted.

A private plane purchased by a man with their descriptions, flown by same, crashed in the panhandle some weeks ago. Lex Luthor is officially dead. He doesn't fool himself that his father buys it.

Lex misses his father, the one who prized him and the one who made him think. The one who believed in him and the one who lived to protect him at all costs, human and otherwise.

He wonders how much Clark knows.

How much he has guessed.

His father's son.

He has made his choice.

Now it's only a matter of seeing it through.

He and Clark have planning to do, after all.

For the return.


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