Sunrise. It breaks open suddenly in a trillion rays of slickly pearlescent red. No subtlety for this last morning, and in triumphant pathetic fallacy, the sun bleeds out its last and most brilliant jewels. Fitting that their end should be so beautiful and so terrible as they are.
He feels nothing - this final shock is pervasive and lives even in the space between their lips, whether framing wry stoicism or reassurance so visceral it cannot be real.
Shock. It burns too quickly, and each second that flares and dies is a chance for this rushed reconciliation that insists on writing itself in their skin. It is another duty, compensatory and necessary, he understands. Glory requires sacrifice. Communion and confession- despite appearances, he has always been a good Catholic boy and knows all the loopholes well. He knows Him better than he does the man that holds his hand.
The difference became irreconcilable finally, as the contest unfolded, conspiracy nested within formal heroism. Passion and truth shored up with ritual - they worshipped together, in their testing.
Lex knows Clark very well. But, at the last, in the silence after every moment they've shared, he cannot be certain of him. Doubt twined with curiosity - more a mistress than any woman has ever been - will always seep between them. Lois once thought that intimacy would bring communion. Silence, only silence, between species is inevitable. Human upbringing went far to combat biology, but Lex hears the disparity in pauses falling differently among words and moments before muscles work. Lex knows there are things that Clark has never been able to understand. It isn't, as Lois might have suggested, endearingly provincial. Alien. Lex knows Clark better than any mortal being can.
They cannot breach the shells of their relative destinies, any more than they can escape their blood. We are all alone, but that we are with Him. Except when...
Lex wonders if God talks to them in the same voice, knowing that it isn't so, but unable to purge the weakness that breeds the thought. Of certainties, Lex has had two, and he has had enough faith for God alone.
The sky is lit and burning. He counts the seconds smoothly in Latin
Clark's hand tightens on his and the bones shift, then groan in protest. Lex gentles the absent concern with a brush of lips against skin.
Just this once it doesn't matter.
One last breath and they spend it together.
The world breaks open so beautifully. It took them this long to get their offering right.
Sunrise. Long before dawn became a precious and fearsome commodity, Lex stood at the nexus. His toes curled over the steel edge, gripping the rooftop fiercely, an automatic response to the wind. His arms spread wide, he savored the sting of grit against what skin he left bare.
"Luthor!" The cry was caught and torn away by the wind, but Lex marked its passage. The electric crackle traveled up the alien's body, and it shivered. He wonders if it understands.
"You won't stop me, Alien." A murmur only, superior - not super, never that - hearing caught even the cadence of the shallowest breath.
"You don't think I can?" He was unsure. Another would not have known how to hear it, but Lex did and smiled.
"You don't want to." The body speaks more clearly than do words, Lex thought. It fingered its cape and shot off into the dawn, knowing it wasn't yet its turn. The triggers were set bone-deep, like switches clicking in an ancient genetic computer; the mask didn't fade, so much as transmute to a delicate crystalline, as piece-by-piece everything came together for it.
Clark. Biology, destiny and love conspired to make Clark instinct's favourite marionette. Lex knew.
Destiny and desire.
And Clark was always so lonely. It was so alone.
A memory teased him, brought to the fore by the streak of pure red against mingled orange and purple - "Do you want to know how the world ends?"
"There will be four to bring the message and two for whom it is their birthright - their purpose. Just like in Revelations. Do you remember?"
"Open the book. Together."
Sunrise. Further back still, Lex was spread out and open on his elegant hardwood tiles. Mercy would have been the finely stained glass of the house in Smallville, but mercy would have been jarringly ill fitting. Neither offered, nor taken by such as he, mercy was for lesser beings. The tall clear panes of diamond cut synthetic, framed his empire and gave back so much light - it flickered, sharp and incisive, across the room. All that was his shined.
Lois had made a valiant attempt but Lex knew it was in vain. Even as his blood crept outwards, seeping into the soft rug, he couldn't suppress a grin. Tendons mended, bones knit and skin grew, beginning deep enough below the surface that it went unnoticed by the enraged reporter. She stood over him, still holding the gun. "I'm going to watch you die, Luthor."
"Sorry Lois," he choked out, his mouth full of blood. "I'm afraid that you won't have that pleasure." Her sharp gaze flickered over his broken form - nothing should yet be showing but her instinct, honed through years of life in the shadow of the great, told her something impossible. "Ask."
Lois cut men open with her eyes. Sharp, always so sharp. She only softened in its arms. Lex, though, was no longer vulnerable to her. He was mercury to her steel. Her brow furrowed in a confusion bred by her anger; she was usually quicker. "How...?"
"He's not here." Speech became easier with each moment. The clock, sleek, black and finely tuned, ticked softly in the background. If closer to the ground, they'd soon hear the bells ringing in a day of rest.
"He," she smirked. So smug. So sure that she knew his desires.
"Ah... a slip of the tongue from a dying man can be forgiven, can it not?" She was weak, he thought. And blind not to see.
"You said you weren't dying, Luthor."
"No. I said you wouldn't get to watch it." Lois was a smart woman, but some of the smartest people are fools. His fingers twitched over the gun she hadn't bothered to kick away from him, so sure she had finished him. The legacy of the meteor strike was born out in the swing of his arm - he leveled the pistol and pulled the trigger before she noticed that he'd moved. "We're all dying." Sometime later, Mercy ran in, Hope fast behind her. They panted in unison.
"Sir," said Mercy, dropping to her knees beside him, while Hope checked over Lois' body. "She-"
"Poisoned you. Yes, I know." Mercy didn't ask - it was enough for her that Lex knew. Behind them, Hope ordered a cleanup crew. "Help me up."
No one will pray for her. I will make sure of it, Lex thought.
Sunrise. Mere moments before she broke in upon him, Lex stood just below the nexus. The vibrations thrummed through the LexCorp building, regular as his heartbeat. Always tickling the back of his mind, they were strongest here, just meters below it - it wasn't time yet, for him to ascend the narrow black stairs that led out to the roof. Not quite yet. And so he contented himself with this closeness.
Around him, time and space billowed and flowed, sometimes snarling and cracking. A bubble, forming in his pristine synthetic window caught his eye. It swelled and shrunk erratically, absorbing and reflecting light in turns. Fine cracks spread through the paper-thin synthetic, like snowflakes observed under high resolution, or a crystal culture left unattended.
The bubble burst. Shards of refraction fell down into the city below a shower of light and change.
"She is coming," was the whisper at his ear.
Lois didn't know that Lex had already won. Had always won.
He and it, they were born to each other - to the world. Destiny and desire.
None stood in their wake.
She was the last of them, all others having long ago fallen to the sword of his mouth. She was the last, and finished save her eyes.
Sunrise. Before he knew it, the desert was blinding. Lex repressed the flutter of panic and continued forward. Step. Step. By such measures was the world won. The plan allowed for only one kind of failure and Lex would not allow that from himself.
He marked the passing time still, unable to cease his mind's incessant cataloguing, though it all ran together - backwards and forwards, sleepless time had no beginning or end. He marked it still, some remote part of his mind recording it for later perusal.
"Blessed..." Lex coughed. He spoke to himself, when he had breath, just to fill the void with something but the wind. "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."
Atop the highest dune for miles and miles, the desert spread before him in its crystalline beauty, the whisper came to him, clear for the first time. He fell to his knees - the light was everywhere.
"I've got you," that authoritative voice purring unconsciously against his skin. "You never had me." Lex tried not to infuse that with the bitterness that shocked him with its sudden reappearance. As if it meant something to him. Like it once did.
"Lex." Its voice was soft and hurt - Lex could hear the boy in that reproach. There is a power to names that it has never been able to grasp - it changes swiftly enough to Luthor, though and the familiar lecture begins again.
Lex allowed the words to fly past him. Sometimes it seems as though they are nothing but this pattern. Did they make it, he wonders, or did we - where is the line between fortune and will? Attack and retreat, murder and rescue.
Clark had long been too weak with doubt to play the game to its end.
The will was there, and everything else required, ready to uncoil.
As Superman settled them on the slick black rooftop of LexCorp - they always seemed to return to this place, it and a very few others made up their refrain - Lex turned to it. He knew this body in violence and in pleasure, knew this face in all things and in all times. "Do you even care anymore?" It paused, lecture forgotten for the moment. No answer sprang readily to its lips. "You don't, do you?"
"Words have no meaning that cannot be corrupted. We have no need of them."
"Yes." The answer came triple. There was Clark. There was the alien. And there was something else. Not new, but never before acknowledged. Lex shivered with the realization.
The sun stutters in its path. It burns hotter and hotter still. Clark burns with it, is lit up with its power and as he turns in Lex's arms, seeking the cool of his lover's hands, he screams.
Lex laughs. It has always been so.
His lungs rip shred themselves in the vacuum.
Sunrise. Much further back this time, when things looked so very differently. They were apart too long - young men were not built to carry such a separation. Eyes captured across a busy airport had their muscles shivering silently beneath black and blue wool.
Clark started at the sound of his voice and Lex stopped, was burned by Clark's eyes. They were young and foolish and their minds composed verse for their fingers to deliver. Their mouths were always too shy.
At the penthouse, Clark pushed Lex back up against the just closed door. He didn't care that Mercy and Hope were right outside. Made that clear with his hands, strong and long fingered, ran them down Lex's face, searing symmetrical trails of ash. Lex knew then. They would always have this. Clark tore away two layers of ephemeral fabric and pushed himself against Lex. He buried his face against Lex's neck and breathed him in.
He could give this to Clark. He could have this, all of it. Always.
Lex snaked his arms around his lover and pulled him closer. His hands met behind Clark's neck and he threaded fingers together tightly, with stray locks of hair between. He pulled back and down on his makeshift leash, forcing Clark to bare his throat. Clark was always too weak to resist.
Teeth to unbreakable skin. Lex could bite and bite and only break himself, but Clark's knees buckled anyway, and they fell to the polished ebony with a crack. Lex ignored his protesting spine and kept moving. Pulling Clark further down by his too long hair and pushing against him, hot skin to cool, Lex forced his back down to the floor. Slid back against him and had Clark's legs unfolding and spreading wide. Had Clark's hands, clutch his hips roughly and deposit Lex between his thighs. Lex fell gladly between them, the shock running through his knees all the way to the base of his skull.
Clark's hands slid back to curve around his ass and jerked him forward. Lex braced his hands beside Clark's hips, dipped his head and licked a stripe along the back of Clark's cock. Lex hissed as those long fingers tightened on him and fingernails broke through his skin, tilted his head and let him slip past his lips. Salt burst across the back of his tongue, making him grin savagely. He pulled back, dragging his teeth along the length, to finally nip at the head. It didn't matter. Lex couldn't break Clark. He mouthed the crease where thigh met groin, then bit down. Harder. Until he tasted blood.
Always his own.
Then, faster than Lex could even think, Clark had him on his back. The floor was ice to his sweat covered back and he arched away from it, only to be pressed back down by one broad hand. The other slid around the back of his knee and pressed Lex's thigh back against his chest. Clark held him loosely, leaned in and kissed a sloppy trail down his thigh. His tongue slid down then, and Lex pushed against it. Clark circled him, just once, then pushed inside. Clark moved his hand from Lex's chest, bracing himself against the floor and Lex moved. Fucked himself back against Clark's tongue.
Then, staring down at Lex, Clark wet a finger and pushed it inside him. Then, a blur. Not because Lex blacked out or couldn't process it all, but because Clark was so fast. And there would be blood. But it didn't matter because Clark couldn't break Lex.
Then, Clark was inside him, and Lex wrapped his legs around him, settling his heels against Clark's back. Clark thrust into him, fast, short strokes that hit his prostrate less then half of the time, until Lex pressed his back hard against the floor and pushed his hips up into Clark's thrusts. Took his cock in one hand, wrapped the other around Clark's neck and pulled him down.
"God, oh god."
Clark shuddered at the sound of his voice. He slid them both wetly across the floor - Clark was never strong enough to restrain himself- then buried a hand into the ebony with a crack, sending a cloud of dust into the air, to stop them.
Clark came then, grunting and biting at Lex's neck until he followed him. Neither slept. There was light everywhere.
Sunrise. Long before he began to suspect what it meant. In another life he might've gone running from Smallville, frustrated by Clark's refusal to give up his secrets. Hurt by his refusal to give them to Lex.
But Lex had long ago reconciled himself to Clark being unable to give himself - Lex could make it so easy for him, if Clark would let him. Clark never spoke of want.
"Just let me-"
"Lex, I... I can't-"
"Now. Close your eyes."
Clark responded to the order. Closed his eyes.
Red. Red light everywhere.
"Good," Lex says, but it wasn't him. "Good boy."
For Lex, the room strobed brightly - a Christmas parody, with one man painted incarnadine and the other chilled, as fresh snow falling onto abused flesh. Like some enlightened miracle, Clark cracked open neatly under Lex's practiced hands and from his mouth bled all the lies, leaving only-
"In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
It was a dream. It was incontrovertible.
It was the most real thing each had yet felt.
They crowned their trees with light, pure and white, never flashing, but steady, as flickering men are not. And through the living green they threaded rows of crackling silver and bows of red to tip each branch.
The grind of drills and the growl of saws caused shudders, right through to the ends of their fingers - a Pavlovian hallucination. It never happened.
"Build it. Build it high. Sink it deeply into their sin. Paint it thickly, with pride and coin. Anoint your empire with flesh and char and screams." It happened.
Lex dreams of being unable to awake. He kicks at the sheets but they won't move. He can't breath, needs out. Someone comes into the room and he knows it is his mother. She comes closer and he tries to call out to her, scratches uselessly at the sheets, while they twine around him, tie him down. He is half asleep though, and can't open his eyes the world is a series of vague flashes against his eyelids. Then she... changes. And someone else sits on the bed, he feels it dip and hears the springs squeak. Freezes. He knows a hand is reaching for him. Then-
Sunrise. So close to the beginning, things were less clear. Time ran quicker and Lex's mother and father made up the limits of his world. A hand each, for each, he made up the middle of all their interactions Lex stood between and held everything together.
They walked to the cathedral, proper Catholics in a Protestant land and observed each ritual with infinite care. There was a power in gestures, his mother said. His father was more circumspect in his observations.
"Every soldier prays and every army has God on their side - don't count on Him to grant your desires breath."
They knelt to pray, all three of them and the rest of the congregation at once. The censors spat out thick, warm incense that delighted Lex's senses despite his asthma. He never sneezed in church - no matter the effort that took. Lex whispered the familiar words but privately makes his own communion, without bread or wine or words, encouraged by the voice that tickles the back of his mind.
He would later learn that neither drugs, nor words, nor sex, nor speed could dull it. The light would always be with him.
After the service, Lex and his parents stood outside the cathedral, near the Jesuit school that some long dead Luthor had endowed. Lex watched the young scholars at their studies and his mother explained what each worked at. One caught his eye and instead of a wick or a friendly smile, what Lex was accustomed to, the young man treated him to a solemn nod. He burned.
Lex's father watched him watch the young priests and stole his attention with a hand on his shoulder. His hand was so big, so strong. Lex looked up at him.
"Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it."
"But why does it fall?"
"You are no sparrow Lex, and in your destiny are far greater things. God will weep when you are done."
Sunrise. Then. Lillian smiled down at her son in the pale morning light, the dawn, broken by panes of stained glass, made jewels of her son's eyes.
"Alexander," she proclaimed.
"Come to conquer," her husband agreed.
Sunrise. Lex doubts as this deepest black falls around him, but he can see Clark, even in the dark.
It is no longer a whisper.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam.
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." Revelations 001:003
"In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God." Aeschylus
"Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it." Mathew 010.009
"Ad majorem Dei gloriam."
Latin: For the greater glory of God.
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