Disclaimer: Other people's. Not mine. Will return later.
A/N: For the 5 Things That Aren't True Challenge.
Acknowledgements: Beth, Celli, and Jenn for the pre-read. Bexless and Shelley for a kick-ass beta. Jessica for final approval.
Feedback: doted on and hung up on the refrigerator with goofy magnets
"It'd be different if my mom were still around."
Lana ignores the words and concentrates instead on the bare skin being revealed to her. Slightly damp, slick with sweat, and the scent of spray paint still clings to them both. It makes her even wetter.
"He doesn't understand me, you know," Chelle's saying now. Lana leans forward and kisses her, if only to shut her up. Chelle's paying attention now, wrapping her arms around Lana's neck and kissing her back. Lana takes advantage of the moment to push Chelle's shirt up, and slide her hand to the hooks on the back of her bra, undoing them.
Chelle squirms against her and there isn't nearly enough room for either of them in the backseat of Chelle's car. Lana has a moment of triumph, thinking about her mother. God, wouldn't it kill her to know where Lana was at the moment, what she was doing, who she was with.
Laura Lang's daughter doesn't do stuff like this. Or at least that's what her mother tried to impress upon her.
The Langs are something of an institution in Smallville. "People expect better from us," she can hear her mother saying even now, can picture the disapproving frown as she takes in Lana's clothes, her grades, her lack of interest in any of the things that had made Laura Potter a legend at Smallville High.
Lana's never going to live up to the fairy tale. She doesn't want to. She chooses to waste her time at the coffee shop instead of cheerlead. Hang out with the wrong sort of people. Date the wrong sort of people. Lana takes particular satisfaction in the last one as her mouth closes around Chelle's nipple.
"Lana," Chelle moans and arches against her. "We shouldn't-- we shouldn't be out here. Security might still be prowling around."
Lana's mom had been Spring Queen once. She'd worn a pretty tiara and ridden on a float at the parade. Lana had been surprised when she herself had been nominated, had been pretty sure it had been a joke. Sure, she was pretty, even her mother agreed on that.
"Lana, you'd be so pretty if you just took a moment to consider your looks, consider what kind of message you're sending by your appearance."
"Relax," Lana whispers against Chelle's skin. She slips a hand between Chelle's thighs, stroking her through silk panties. "They don't even know anything yet. No one will till tomorrow."
Laura Potter Lang was always about appearance and from the outside, it was always perfect. Married to her high school sweetheart, still running the flower shop in town, she was the fairy tale princess that everyone was supposed to want to be like.
"She still thinks she's in high school," Lana's aunt Nell would say, when she'd breeze in on one of those impromptu visits from whichever corner of the world she called home at the moment. "There's more to the world that this town, Lana bean. Don't worry if you're not the star here."
Mom would purse her lips and tell her not to fill Lana's head with inappropriate stories. It was no secret that her mother didn't approve of Nell's lifestyle.
Nell would just laugh, flick out her cigarette and say, "You'd know about inappropriate, wouldn't you, Laura?"
It always used to scare Lana that they'd look right at her when she said that, until she got older and she thought maybe she understood.
Lana's actions have always been inappropriate. She's the daughter who's never going to win the popularity contests, the one that won't get into the right schools, and won't marry the right husband. The one who gets rumors spread about her and word 'dyke' scrawled on the ballot for a contest she didn't even want to participate in but had gone along with, just this once, for her mother. The one who gets laughed at when rumors about the votes get spread around the school after the elections are over. The one who breaks into high school gyms and commits acts of vandalism when her mother thinks she's fast asleep in bed.
"They'll be stunned." Chelle half-giggles, half-whimpers as Lana's fingers tease her. "It'll ruin the entire parade."
Lana doesn't answer. Instead, she gets on her knees in the cramped backseat and moves her mouth to where her fingers have just been. She doesn't bother to remove Chelle's underwear, just mouths her through the fabric. Chelle must be close because she's already whimpering. She's been vibrating with nervous energy since they broke into the school and spray painted the float. Sex might even be incidental at this point.
Chelle throws her head back, moans Lana's name as she comes, and the sound just adds to that wave of adrenaline Lana's been riding.
Lana's the girl that other people worry about letting their children hang out with. The girl who makes fathers think that maybe it'd be better if his only daughter were away at boarding school instead. Watching Chelle in the aftermath of orgasm, Lana probably can't say she blames Mr. Small at all.
Definitely not, when moments later, security does find them still parked outside Smallville High, spray cans still in their trunk. They are escorted to the office where numbers are dialed and parents are awakened late at night. Chelle looks nervous but Lana just smiles.
"It'd be different if my mother were still around," Chelle says, reaching out to squeeze Lana's hand.
Lana rolls her eyes. Mrs. Small died in the meteor shower fourteen years ago, when Chelle had just been a baby and Chelle's never quite gotten over it. Lana listens to the security guard on the phone with her mother and she can picture the look on her mother's face. She wants to turn to Chelle and tell her how lucky she is. How sometimes she envies her. How sometimes she fantasizes that her mother had died in the shower.
But she doesn't say a word. Just waits for her mother to pick her up and wonders who she would have been if Laura Lang hadn't raised her.
"I can't do this anymore," he hears her say. He sighs, sits up on the bed and pulls on his shirt. He'd been expecting this.
"Okay what?" Her voice is tinny. She's standing by the window, arms crossed, a wary look on her face.
"You're right, you deserve better than this." He stands up, finds his keys and walks to the door. "It'd probably be best if we don't see each other anymore."
"Jonathan!" she exclaims. "You can't mean this." He watches a multitude of emotions flicker across her face and feels sorry for her. For all her faults, Nell does honestly love him. "Even after all this time, after everything...Why Jonathan?"
"She's my wife," he whispers. And walks out the door.
All things considered, St. Anne's is a nice place. The sisters that run the place are genuinely affectionate with the residents and so far, he hasn't ever had to complain about the way Martha's been treated. Not that he's been around enough to really say anything. He stamps down on his guilt and follows the nurse down to the garden.
"She's been doing rather well," the nurse informs him. "Most days, she's very calm and lucid. It's only when it comes to...well, you know."
He nods. He does know.
She's by the violets. Her hair's pulled back in a ponytail and she's digging around in the dirt, weeding. For a minute, he almost forgets where he is. It could be him coming home to her working in the garden. She would look up at him and smile and he'd swoop down and pick her up for a kiss. She'd always made coming home the best part of the day.
She looks up at him now and smiles. "Jonathan. You're here."
He leans down and presses a kiss to her lips. "Hi, Martha, how are you feeling today?"
"Wonderful. Did you see the flowers? Aren't the blooms lovely this year?"
"Yes, they are."
"I can't wait to work on the gardens at home." She rises to her feet, putting aside the gardening tools. "Tell me, Jonathan, are the gardens still as lovely as ever?"
He swallows around the lump in his throat. "They've missed your touch."
"I can't wait to come home." She beams at him. "When do I get to come home?"
He wraps his arms around her, unable to look her in the face as he says it. The doctor doesn't recommend indulging her fantasies but he's not sure what else to do. It seems less cruel this way. "I don't know, honey, I have to talk to the doctors."
"All right." She nods. "But make it soon, Jonathan, I need to get home to Clark. A boy needs his mother."
Jonathan blinks around the stinging tears in his eyes. "He does."
He's in the lobby when Jonathan leaves her. Jonathan doesn't ask him why he's here. He knows why. Men like Lionel Luthor always like to see the results of their actions personally. He's always here when Jonathan visits.
"Jonathan." He greets him as though they're old friends.
"What are you doing here, Luthor?"
"Jonathan, is that any way to treat a friend?"
"We've never been friends."
Luthor just grins. "I was worried about Martha. Has there been any improvement in her condition?"
Jonathan grabs him by the lapels and pushes him against the wall. "Don't say her name. You have no right to say her name, you bastard."
"Temper, temper. Be careful, Jonathan, assault is a felony. What would happen to poor Martha if you were busy serving time in prison?"
He's right and Jonathan hates that he allows himself to be baited so easily. Lionel's always known his one weakness, and that's Martha. He knew it when he'd dangled the adoption papers in front of Jonathan five years ago. One signature and his soul had been signed over to the Devil, and it had been worth it for the look of sheer joy on Martha's face as she wrapped her arms around Clark. He'd have betrayed the town a thousand times over if it meant that Martha would be happy.
Except he'd forgotten that the Devil's promises were never to be trusted. One glorious year with Clark. It was happiness like Jonathan had never known it and it allowed him to a turn a blind eye as Luthorcorp took over the town. Friends and neighbors left, but he had Martha and Clark.
He'd forgotten that everything he had was Lionel's to take away. And Lionel did just that.
He still remembers the look on Martha's face when the men came. When they took Clark away and Jonathan had been powerless to stop them.
Martha doesn't. Her mind splintered that day and it's never been the same. Everything lost in a second. Clark. Martha. Their home.
There was nothing to go back to. Lionel made sure of that. It hadn't even hurt to sell the farm to him after that. There was nothing there but poisoned memories. And Martha's hospitalization cost money.
He lets go of Lionel now, takes a deep breath, and turns, walking away. Killing Lionel would be easy. But then there'd be no one left for Martha.
He'd failed her once. He won't again.
"Why are we here?" she asks, glancing around the mud-drenched land. It had been raining steadily for three days, and the ground was now soaked and soft. He guesses the few remaining farmers are happy for the rain, but there aren't many working farms left.
There isn't anything much of value left in the town. It's a ghost town. If you squint your eyes, you can still see what it should have been like. The land where the plant should have been spread out before them, looking like a graveyard in the dreary day.
Of course, there have been deaths here.
The whole town was a graveyard.
"You said you wanted to know," he says. And she had. She'd been the one to come to him, filled to the brim with questions and curiosity.
*"Where did you come from, Lex Luthor?"*
Apparently, he comes from here.
"What did you find out?" Her eyes are burning now, with the fervor of possibly uncovering the story of the century. She's never like this, not even when he's fucking her. But mention the possibility of mysteries and secrets to her, and she lights up. He wonders if all reporters are like that.
"My father never sold the land."
"Hmm. But he never built on it." She glances up at him. "Not that I'd exactly blame him. Considering everything that happened here. The town's still scarred from the meteor shower."
"Your father would have worked here. If the plant had opened," he says quietly.
"Yeah." She tucks a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. "So, again. Why are we here?"
He ignores her. "I always wondered, you know, why my father married my mother. They never seemed like they were in love. Not even when I was little. Well, she loved him. Obsessively so. I'd watch her with embarrassment."
"My parents divorced when I was five. I don't remember my mom much."
"Everyone told me I should be grateful that a man like Lionel Luthor took us in. Gave me his name."
"It was a big story. The marriage and adoption. A new start for Luthorcorp after the tragedy."
"You're too young to really remember it."
"You don't remember it, either," she counters. It makes him smile.
She's speaking the truth, of course. She'd known more than he had about the adoption and the wedding. About the meteor shower that had stolen Lionel's first family. He doesn't remember the years before he lived at the Luthor manor. When he would ask his mother about it, she'd just get upset and have an episode. After a while, the episodes became more frequent.
All he knows is that one day his mother moved him into the manor and told him Lionel was his father.
He'd been told to be a good son and forget what happened before. So he did.
Except in his nightmares.
"I used to dream that there was a bogeyman. And he'd come out at night and tell me that I didn't belong in my home. And that soon everyone would know."
"Every adopted kid has those fears," she states. He can tell she's starting to get a little bored. She'd come to him for the story, and doesn't really care about the trip down memory lane.
He doesn't really give a rat's ass what she cares about. She'd started this. He'd been content not knowing.
She'd been the one to push. To ask him questions until he couldn't stop thinking about it, even when he was sleeping. He wakes up now, every night, sweat dripping down his chest, his brain pushing at the memories he'd been taught to forget. Until he'd gone searching for secrets, and found out things that he never wanted to know.
His father says knowledge is power.
Knowledge is also the chill down your spine when someone calls you by your name.
"My mother was a nurse, did you know that?" he asks, cryptically.
"She was his first wife's nurse." Oh yes. He'd forgotten. She's the expert researcher on the Luthors. Everyone else bought the story that the Luthorcorp PR put out. His mother, the woman who'd healed Lionel's broken heart. Brought him a new family after the meteors took away his first.
He'd always wondered why no one ever spoke about the first family. He hadn't even known his brother's name. Everything had been hidden so carefully.
"She worked in Smallville briefly."
"I didn't know that."
"She was here when they brought him in. After the shower."
"He was hurt pretty badly." But he would have recovered. He would have recovered and then Lex would never have been adopted and he would have never lived in the Luthor manor, or been the heir or anything. If not for his mother.
"He must have been. It was awful. So many people died that day."
Some people were born that day, he wants to say. Some people were recreated and renamed from the remains of that day.
"So, your father, is that when he met your mother again?" He can see her already working out the timeline. The details. Just how much time had passed since the shower, Lionel's first wife's death, and the second marriage and adoption.
"Yes. Rachel was the nurse in charge of his care."
"How did you find this out? I checked. His public records disappeared when the city hall burned down. And everything at Luthorcorp is locked up tight."
"I asked my mother."
She blinks. "Wow. I didn't think she was..."
"Well, there are rumors. How is she doing?"
"St. Anne's is a good place." And Lionel's money works well there. Not that he doubts his mother's need to be in there, but he now knows she's just a part of the secrets Lionel is looking to bury.
His father has always been about goals. Lex knew that that growing up and he assumed that's why he'd been adopted. Lionel had lost one son. He'd needed a new heir. Though why he hadn't just had another child had always been a puzzle to Lex.
Of course, he hadn't needed to. Lex had been there. A ready-made replacement.
The world might not know that he's a Luthor by birth, but Lionel does. That's enough for him.
Lionel probably belongs at St. Anne's as much as his mother does. Lionel killed his first son as much as Rachel did. He'd covered it all up. Taken away names and records. Made it so that the son had never existed. Made a new one.
Even given the new son his first son's name.
"Who were you named after?"
She watches him. "Are you okay?"
"I asked a question."
She looks at him warily and shifts in the car. "An aunt, I think. On my mom's side. Why are you asking?"
"You wanted to know where I came from."
"I did. So did you. We both agreed that there was a story there. But I don't understand what traipsing around here will do. I mean, there's nothing here, Lex."
"You're wrong. I have a lot to show you."
"Okay, then let's get going. I really don't feel like sitting in a field all day."
He takes a deep breath and starts the car again. He looks back at her but she's already engrossed, writing things down in her little notebook. "What made you start digging into my past, Chloe?" he asks, quietly.
She grins up at him. "I don't know. Just curious I guess. No one else seemed to care."
"Were you always this curious?"
"Always." She laughs.
He nods, and puts the car in drive. "You know they say curiosity killed the cat," he says, as they pull onto the road.
His mother is asleep when he comes to visit her this time. The nurses tell him that her condition's gotten much worse since the last time he visited. One of them tries to make him feel guilty about not visiting more often. He ignores her.
He strokes his mother's forehead till she wakes up. She blinks and looks up at him.
He stops stroking her forehead. "She's gone."
"You took care of it?"
"I'm your son."
"That you are, Lex. Don't forget that. Everything I did, I did for you."
He nods. He's going to go home after this and drink a lot. Then he's going to call someone to get rid of the body. But before that he needs one thing.
"Mom, call me by name once?" he asks. "Just once."
She swallows. "I did it for you."
"I know, mom." His voice is tender. "Just once. And I'll leave."
"All right." She leans forward and kisses him. "Lucas, I love you."
"I love you, too," he says. And then walks out.
He never needs to hear that name again.
She exhales a lung full of smoke and throws the cigarette on the ground, grinding it out beneath her black pump. The sun's beating down on the parking lot and any minute now, she knows he'll drive up.
Her lawyer's been pacing a hole in the carpet, anxious to get these final papers signed. She should have known better than to hire someone so wet behind the ears. Then again, maybe she should have known better than to get married in the first place.
It hasn't always been like this. There was a time they'd loved each other. She still remembers how nervous he was when he proposed. Night after college graduation, fancy dinner at the Metropolis Towers. The diamond on the ring had been so small, she could barely see it. And he'd actually had tears in his eyes as he'd asked.
She'd said yes before he even finished.
It should have been perfect. It shouldn't have come to this anyway. They'd had such plans. He was working for a prestigious chemical plant. She'd gotten a job as a reader at a top publishing firm, and worked on her novel at nights. They'd gotten married by the end of the summer.
Chloe had been born a year later.
Surprise hadn't been quite the word for it. Shock, maybe, was more accurate. Suddenly, everything was changing. She barely had time to sleep, much less write. Their apartment was too small for a baby, but their salaries couldn't afford them much better. Lack of sleep, lack of money, all of it led to a lack of peace in the house. They were constantly griping at each other.
Which is why when the Luthorcorp position came along, it had seemed like a godsend. Lionel Luthor had taken a personal interest in recruiting Gabe. A salary that was unheard of, fringe benefits, an apartment at Luthorcorp Towers. All it had cost her was her marriage.
She looks up. She hadn't seen him pull in.
He looks pointedly at the cigarette on the ground. "I thought you quit."
"Quitting isn't my forte," she retorts, and immediately regrets it. It makes her sound petty, and she really doesn't want him to know how much this is taking out of her. In all the plans she'd made in her life, leaving Gabe hadn't been one of them.
Then again, Gabe's been gone for a while. Whatever this masquerade of a relationship they had left was, it wasn't a marriage.
"Sheila, let's not do this. You know I never meant to hurt you." Never meant to stop loving you.
"You're right," she says. "Let's not do this."
He nods and walks into the building. His lawyer is right behind him. She knows she should go up, but she's not quite ready to yet. Upstairs, the dissolution on her marriage only awaits her signature.
She lights another cigarette instead.
It all went so easily, she muses. More business trips. Less time for the family. Secret projects he was waiting on. Nights he'd come home from a meeting smelling of alcohol and smoke. Lipstick stains she'd pretend not to see. The more successful he got at his job, the less of a husband he was.
The thing she regrets most is the fact that she'd actually been the one to push him to accept the job. They'd both known the time commitments. They'd just never suspected that their marriage couldn't withstand it, that Lionel Luthor would demand loyalty to the job first and the family second.
"Mrs. Sullivan?" Another voice. Concerned. Her lawyer. Yes, he wants this over with. It's probably the best idea.
"Ms. Lane," she corrects him. "I'm going back to Lane."
"Okay." He looks perplexed. "Are you ready, Ms. Lane?"
She raises her eyes, straightens her shoulders, takes a deep breath, and nods. She can do this. She's going to walk upstairs, sign a piece of paper, and then leave the only man she's ever loved.
And tonight, she'll go home, pick up her daughter from daycare, and try to explain to Chloe why her father has left them both. Then, she'll go to sleep alone, and wake up alone, and raise their daughter alone.
This isn't the way any of it was supposed to go.
Pamela is in the office when the doctor tells Lillian that she's pregnant with Lex. He suggests an immediate abortion; the strain of a full-term pregnancy on Lillian's heart might be more than she could bear. Lillian listens to his arguments silently, thanks him for his advice, and then, leaves. They get in the car, drive home, and Lillian calls Lionel to tell him he's going to be a father.
That same week, the bank forecloses on the doctor's practice.
When Pamela asks why, Lillian looks at her and says, "I won't let anyone threaten my children."
Years later, Pamela will remember this moment as she watches Lillian shoot her husband.
"Pammie, are you with me?" Lillian asks, pressing something cool into her hand. Pamela brings it to her lips and tastes brandy.
She shakes, feels her knees give out as she collapses down on to the armchair behind her. "Lily, what are we going to do?" she asks, her voice bordering on hysterical.
"We'll do what we must. We always have."
Pamela stares down at the body in front of her. The pool of blood on the Persian gets bigger. It'll be a bitch to clean.
She wonders if she's gone insane.
"Is he really dead?" she asks. She knows he is.
"I emptied the barrel into him." Lillian's voice is calm, but Pamela can hear the fear laced underneath. Not regret, though. Lillian doesn't regret this.
Pamela closes her eyes and swallows more of the brandy. She feels Lillian kneel down next to her, her hand on Pamela's knee.
"Don't hate me, Pammie," she implores. Pamela bites back the urge to laugh. As if she could ever hate Lily. No matter what. "You're the only person in the world who I can count on. I couldn't let him...you promised me you'd always be there for me." The last words are almost accusing, and Pamela can hear the hurt beneath them. It's the Luthor in her that says those words, that recalls past promises and holds them against Pamela. But that doesn't matter. Because Pamela would never go back on her word to Lily. She had promised.
Lily's her best friend. Lily is more than the sister that God didn't give her. And for Lily, she'd do anything.
"He's my son, I couldn't let him."
Pamela nods. A voice inside her head tells her that she'd always known it would come down to this. That she'd foreseen this that day in the field, when she'd bent down to pick up Julian because Lillian's arms were too full of Lex. She remembers the car ride to the hospital, Lillian cradling both Lex and Julian in her arms while Pamela sped, trying to get there, knowing that if Lex died, she would lose Lily right along with him.
But Lex hadn't died, and neither had Lillian. They'd both held on, one to the other, and in the middle of it all, was Julian.
Pamela had known it was a mistake the moment she heard Lillian name him.
Two miscarriages before. Two would-be Julians who'd never survived. And here was a third. One that had saved Lex in that field by shielding him with his own body. And for that, Lillian would do anything to protect him.
Pamela wonders where the children are at this very moment. Julian hears exceptionally well. She worries that he heard the gunshots. He's probably afraid. She should go to him. But she makes no move to do so. She hopes Lex is with him.
No one could calm Julian down like Lex could.
"I couldn't let him hurt Julian," Lillian is saying now. Her nails are digging into Pamela's thigh.
"Was there no other way, Lily?" Pamela asks, knowing even as she does that there wasn't. Lionel wasn't a man who could be thwarted easily. As much as he loved his family, he loved power more. And once he started digging into Julian's secrets, there'd been no stopping him.
Except this way.
"What do we do now?"
Lillian breathes, relief coloring her face. "The police will have to come. I can make up a story. Tell them he was cheating on me, and we had a fight." She looks at Pamela thoughtfully. "You have to leave, Pammie. Take Julian and Lex."
"What about you?"
Lillian shakes her head. "I can't, Pammie. They'll be looking for me, and if I'm with you, they'll look for you, too. I have to stay behind." Pamela is about to protest but Lillian presses a finger to her lips. "You know I'm right. It would be too much, with my heart, for me to go with you. I'd only make things harder. And I can't risk them finding the children. Who knows who Lionel told, who's looking for Julian!"
Pamela blinks back tears. "But Lily, the children need their mother."
Lillian squeezes her hand. "They'll have a mother in you. There's no one else I trust them with."
And that's all there is to it. Pamela must do as Lillian asks because there is no one else to do it.
She nods and stands up. "I won't fail you, Lily."
Pamela drops the cup with a clatter, and spills tea on the table. The boys look up from the living room, where they are playing. She meets Lex's gaze and swallows.
He silently walks over and starts to clean up the table. Julian follows him, never more than arm's length away from his brother. When they're done, Lex turns to him and suggests that they go play outside for a bit and leave mommy alone.
Julian tugs on his shirt. "Can we catch bufferflies, Wex?"
Lex nods. "Go get your net."
When Julian runs to do just that, Lex turns to her. "It's mom, isn't it?"
The tears that she's been holding back, spill over. Her fingers tighten around the newspaper she's clutching.
"She's gone," Lex guesses.
"The trial, it was too much for her heart," she replies. She knows she should be comforting him, but all she can think is that Lily has left her.
Lex reaches forward and squeezes her hand. "It's all right, Pamela. We'll be okay."
She wants to tell him that it's wrong, that he shouldn't be the one comforting her. He's already borne much too much, much too young. She thinks she might have broken a thousand times over in his place. "How?" she asks, not sure what exactly she means.
"We do what we must," Lex replies, before running out to meet Julian.
She goes to the window to watch him play with his little brother and thinks that maybe Lily isn't completely gone after all.
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