Deserted

by Sarah T.


Thanks to Livia for betaing, and LaT and Spike for assuring me it was not insane.


The first three days were about survival. The sun was unforgiving in the blue blue sky, like the eye of God on him, as Lex frantically explored the island. He felt every single moment that slipped by before he found the tiny spring on the island (lifespan extended past three days), the chunks of the plane that finally washed up on the beach with their offerings of honey-roasted peanuts and champagne (lifespan extended several weeks, especially once he was able to shove and yank one of the chunks to an angle where it offered some shelter from the heat of the midday sun), and the bushes with their berries (even longer, with no death from scurvy).

On the fourth day, he realized that now that he had food, water, and shelter, he could live on the island for a very long time. Congratulations. He would be the best-dressed castaway in the history of the world. He stripped off his tattered, stiff morning suit and spread it out on his shelter, hoping the rain would get it clean eventually.

He spent the next four days and seven hours (his watch had survived the crash, and he hung it in his shelter) figuring out how to use strips of bark, branches, and friction to make a fire. That night, the ninth night, he built the largest fire he could make with driftwood and fallen branches and the LuthorCorp linens from the jet, and prayed for passing planes. It would be all right if they were on a recovery rather than a rescue mission at that point. He would be perfectly happy to get out of there as an alleged corpse. But no one came.

He spent the next day using probability theory and what geography he could remember to calculate the odds that someone would fly over an island that seemed to be less than one mile in length. At the end of the day, he looked at the numbers he had scratched in the sand with a stick and kicked at them furiously until they were nothing but arbitrary, blurred grooves in the beach. Damn his father. Damn Helen. Damn the Kents and their useless compass, their useless boy who offered relentless salvation, not caring if you'd be better off lost.

That night, he cracked open the champagne and drank and drank until the stars were nothing but blurs, too, and then blackness. He slept in the shade of his shelter for he didn't know how long, until his dry, cracked mouth and furiously rumbling stomach drove him to crawl to his cache of supplies. He shoved peanuts in his mouth until he was choking, then chased them with a Coke bottle's full of water that he'd buried in the sand to keep cool. When he looked around at the dim light that could be early evening or early morning, he realized that he had no idea what day it was anymore.

He also realized that he was filthy, from his drool-tracked face to the extremely brief briefs he'd been wearing in anticipation of some truly excellent honeymoon private-island sex. He stumbled into the waters and threw himself down. Reflexes took over, and soon he was swimming hard, enjoying the coolness all over, the dirt being washed away, the slight sting of the salt in some of his half-healed cuts. When he finally paused, treading water, he looked back and saw the island as a curve against the horizon. His new home. Possibly until he died there. Smallville had really been a very mild punishment, hadn't it? He dove down into the glassy green and let himself settle, waiting, waiting, but he couldn't do it. The cry of life demands its rights. Who had said that? He didn't know. He only knew that he came back out of the sea, shaking like a newborn, and slept again.

We bring nothing into this world, and certain it is we can take nothing out of it.

When Lex awoke the next morning, a bird was hopping along the beach towards the water, only a few feet away from his head. No respect for privacy. Even in detox they let you have more personal space.

"Hey," he said, and coughed. "Hey! Don't you know who I am?"

The bird kept hopping along without even turning its head, of course. That was when it struck him: he was in the one place in all the world where no one cared that he was a Luthor. That made him laugh all over. Wasn't this the kind of vacation he'd been wanting since he was nine? The LuthorCorp travel agency, at your service and your family's.

With a light heart, he got up to tend to the neglected tasks of survival. Collect water, gather berries, bananas, and sugar-apples, find wood, get the fire going again. Check for anything else that might have washed up. So simple, really.

It took time, but not the whole day, and he found himself lying in the sand, staring up at the sky with nothing at all to do. It was blank blue, as usual, and he felt just as blank. It was strange and new, to be ripped from the web of obligation that surrounded a Luthor and then dropped there, where he had no greater responsibility than ensuring he didn't starve, and no one to mind except his stomach if he didn't take care of that. He found himself telling himself stories, the way he'd done as a child in boarding school. Faramir must have had many adventures in Ithilien, unloved son struggling to preserve the civilization he would never inherit, under the shadow of the towers of death. It was astonishing how easy it was to fall back into that sort of dream, forgotten when he'd realized at fifteen that he could get drugs to do the dreaming for him.

Some hours or days later, as he was spreading berries and the soft fruit of one of the strange trees over a makeshift grill to try to dry them before the insects could spoil them, it came to him that he didn't even have to be a Luthor here. There were no records, and no one to say, and no memory except his, and he could believe what he chose. Bounded in a nutshell, you could count yourself anything you wanted. He certainly couldn't see any reason to save Lex, fool for a woman, his father, and a pretty, lying boy.

He could even be no one whatsoever, but that thought made his stomach lurch with fright. That way lay madness, maybe even words slipping away. Some name then. With no weight of history, no special meanings to God or his father. After a little thought, he settled on Frank. He toasted the choice with the last of the champagne. He thought about smashing the bottle into his thigh for a proper christening, but stopped himself in time. He wasn't, after all, a ship of fools.

Frank lived with perpetual sweetness in his mouth, berries and the tiny sea creatures he caught in the island's bay. He slept a great deal, but he dreamed only when he was awake. After a while, even the vivid tales from the books of his youth began to fade, and he kept rehearsing the fantasies only for comfort, like fingering a stone you had rubbed smooth. He knew the supplies from the plane were dwindling, but it didn't bother him much. He would live or he wouldn't. When you were no one, you didn't have to care.

So he didn't, and he would have called himself content, if he stopped to give names to his feelings anymore. Until the day he returned from a visit to the berry-bushes to find a footprint in the sand.

Well, less a footprint than a skidmark, but he couldn't think of the word. He just circled it frantically, staring, trying to understand the meaning of the mark. Finally, he kicked at the sand around it, trying to erase it, obliterate it, before--

"Lex!" called a voice, husky with some kind of feeling. "Lex!"

Too late. He turned and looked. Another human face, and it had been so long that it took him a moment to resolve it, to say that forehead-eyes-nose-mouth-ears meant another man, meant...Clark.

But he didn't want to say it, didn't want to respond to the name Clark had given him. Not until Clark's arms were around him in a tight hug, and Clark was muttering, "Oh, thank God, thank God, Lex, I found you, I saved you..."

"Yes," Lex said, hoarsely, as he shut his eyes tightly so that he couldn't weep. "Yes...you did."



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