The Beast Below

by HYPERFocused

Disclaimer:I don't own Lionel Luthor. If I did, I'd make him wash his hair. I probably ought to make him be nicer, but then he wouldn't live up to the Magnificent Bastard moniker.

My last official entry for The Tower of Drabble-On. The W100 entry is section 2. Also a Highlander Title Challenge entry.

Lionel loves the youth of this town, even if their parents hate him. There are testimonial dinners to say how much he cares. LuthorCorp scholarships and school donations. He can certainly afford it all, and their gratitude is so delicious.

He loves their fresh faces and hard bodies. He loves their innocence, and he loves their experience. More specifically, he loves to be their experience. It's a small town, full of small minds, but he can always find a willing young man on the way up, or an awe-struck young lady with a dream.

Lionel thinks the city is all about steel and industry, the strength of one, leading millions of minions. He passes on these lessons in the cold light of day, and shares his lies in the colder false light of night.

He does not need the sun, nor does he seem to need his sons. He has not needed anyone since his wife was taken from him, but he can take anyone he wants. He won't admit to wanting anything but power.

He owns Metropolis, but it's a hollow purchase. Brick by concrete brick, his words and deeds close him in.

Lex was weak and sickly from the moment he was born. It took great effort to get him to breathe. When the nurses slapped him to get him to cry, Lionel knew raising him was going to be a battle.

At the same time, he felt protective of the boy. He tried to teach him to buck up. Lex had too many fears, and they all manifested in his wheezing breath; an asthmatic child was a sign of weakness. Lionel was sick to death of that damned inhaler. He was tired of the pills on his wife's beside table, too.

The inhaler was long gone in a flash of fire and destruction. Along with Lex's red curls, so like his mother's.

Lionel was often amazed at his son's resiliency, though he'd never tell that to him. He did his best to keep Lex on his toes, to strengthen him even more.

Julian was dead. Any promise the infant had shown with what seemed a healthy birth was gone in the face of his inexplicable demise. Lillian could not be consoled.

Lucas took after his mother, as well, though he would never meet her.

Lex was his last, best hope. Damn.

There was no woman good enough for his son, and no diversion worthy of distracting him from his goals. Lionel wouldn't be around forever. He needed an heir worthy of the Luthor name.

Lex's interest in the Kent boy was not helping him work towards his potential. Scientific curiosity was one thing-Lionel would love to compare notes on that front. But Lex's obvious affection was far more dangerous.

Cultivating the Sullivan girl was the obvious solution to both problems. Unrequited love for Clark, plus her unstoppable yen for "the truth" would keep Clark busy, and out of the way.

It was a foregone conclusion that Lex and Helen would not have a happy marriage. They both brought secrets and subterfuge to the table; greater loves to the marriage bed.

Lionel couldn't see that Lex loved Helen at all. He put on a good show, followed the rules of engagement (so to speak), but there was no spark there. Helen could have been any suitable girl.

For her part, Helen was passionate about Lex. Passionate about figuring out what made him tick, about his Clark-centric research room. A shrine and a laboratory, and Helen wanted the answers science could bring.

Lionel looks at his watch. In a very little while, he'll get that phone call from Helen, or whatever she's calling herself now. It's a damn shame about the plane crash, but it's a necessary diversion. Lex heals fast. It'll be an unpleasant road for him, but with the support of his loving father, he'll be all right.

Pain and loss make his son strong.

In the meantime, there's a young girl waiting in the parlor. Like clockwork, Chloe has appeared, ready to take him up on his offer. She's here to eviscerate Clark, and Lionel is happy to help.

Chloe Sullivan. She's a pretty girl, well bloomed into womanhood, though she probably doesn't know it yet. In need of adult guidance: her mother long run off to the wilds of Metropolis, husband and child too much responsibility.

He looks down at her breasts, lush under an ugly blouse, too revealing for a girl her age. She's ripe for corruption, and he's just the one to open her. He's already started; calling in the favor at The Daily Planet was nothing. In a very little while, she's going to owe him everything. Lionel is damn well going to enjoy collecting.

Lionel is a little surprised how easy it was to find Clark. He hadn't needed Chloe's help at all. He feigns sympathy while Lana whines, but he's already mentally following her leads out of town. He leaves her watery coffee untasted.

Clark does an awful job of running away. Lex disappeared better at thirteen.

When Lionel appears at the no star motel he's sleeping in, a disheveled Clark makes no protest, and follows him out to the limo.

Lionel laughs when Clark tells him "I can destroy you." Whatever Clark is, anyone can see the kid's the one who's broken.

Lionel wonders why Clark hasn't asked about Lex. He hasn't called his parents, or his school friends.

He eats what the servants put in front of him and answers Lionel's questions without protest, but without giving him any real information.

When he offers Clark to Chloe, she says, "I want him, but not like this. What the hell did you do to him?"

"Nothing, Chloe," Clark says, tiredly. "I'm the one who fucks everything up."

Lionel leaves them to it. He needs to order flowers for Martha. After all, he understands what it's like when the wrong child survives.

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