Square One

by zahra

Thanks to Kassie and Serial Karma for beta duty.

He knows there's something he can't remember.

He doesn't know why. He can't figure out why he can't remember it. He can't figure this elusive 'it' out, and he can't scratch his head, and his nose is running, and this thing he knows is buried deep. It's so deep he can feel it in his stomach, eating away at his insides like acid or a woman he trusts when he shouldn't. He needs to use the bathroom. He needs to move. Get away. Get free. Just get out and be untied.

If they would let him out he wouldn't keep wetting himself.

His arms hurt. His shoulder throbs. The more he rolls around the more uncertain the ground becomes, and his lips are raw from where he's bitten through them. Blood tastes like life, and he's not living just killing time lalalala. La.

Ancient doctors would have applied leeches and tied him to beds to cast out his demons. Maybe they would've drilled holes in his head to stop the madness. Let it all out. Stop the madness. It's just madness. Just existing. Just nothingness in the void, and his brain hurts. He hurts.

He knows pain. He knows he hurts.

The skin around his eye itches. He can't breathe.

He'll suffocate if he doesn't stop smothering himself on the floor. Maybe that's not such a bad thing because at least then he'll get away. There are too many people in the room. Anyone besides him is just way too many, and he's doing it again. He. Him. Louis.

Lex doesn't know Louis, but Louis says he knows Lex, and he's always there. Louis is always around, mocking Lex. Whether it's rocking back and forth in the cell across from him or telling him things that aren't true. Louis won't go away, and nobody understands that he's there. He's always there, he's not dead at all, and King Louis wouldn't make him eat the cake that his harlot wife was so fond of.

Nobody ever understands Lex; they won't even listen. They come, they all come - and then they leave.

They always leave.

But then they come back.

There's no place to hide when the men in the white coats come, and his body automatically goes slack when the orderly's hand slips under his arm.

The last time he fought back, he wound up here.

He remembers this.

Cogito ergo sum.

i. *a final scene unfolds inside/ deep in the rain of sparks behind his brow*

He's always on his back when he wakes up. He's always staring at the ceiling, which could be the floor, and he knows this because he's done practical jokes like this to people before. Nails and bolts and the floors and walls are the same, and the drugs inside him are like speed, and he rolls over and over like Jack and Jill tumbling down the hill. His brain in sloshing in his skull, and he's thinking but nothing is happening. All sparks and no fires, and he was never a boy scout because that's for the hoi polloi, and Luthors are leaders not followers.

His father said no. His father always said no.

Nonononono. No, Alexander. No, Lex. No, Julian. Named for conquerors and Caesar, not a derivative, and in ancient Rome B-i-n-g-o was his name-o. Oh. Yes. No. Good. Bad. Right. Wrong. Concepts. Meaningless.

Nothing means anything, and he is all alone.

Always alone.

His fingers are scrabbling at strong burlap/rough/white/binding. This jacket is holding him and nobody ever holds him. He is always alone and will always be alone. Except for Louis, because Louis is always there, and Lex is not crazy.


He's never crazy.

He's just as sane as they come, and why won't anybody listen to him?

He's not crazy.

Crazy people drool on themselves and wander around in a daze. Lex does laps of circles in his little cell and wipes his mouth on his jacket. He's smart. He's not stupid enough to be insane.

He knows everything.

He can conjugate verbs in Latin and recite six different alphabets backwards. He speaks French, Japanese, German and Italian fluently, and can recite the periodic table in reverse. He's brilliant. He won the Metropolis Science Fair when he was eight. He was in MENSA at 16 and didn't care.

No. He never cares.

Caring is bad.

Caring is insanity.

ii. *all the clocks give in/ and the traffic fades/ and the insects like a neon choir*

Noises noises noises.

There are noises in his head. His breathing is too loud. Too harsh. The creaking of his arms. The snapping of his shoulder. His healed bones make unpleasant noises when they're held together too long. Mutant perfection shouldn't be so noisy, and when he gets out, he's going to fix this. Fix it.

Fix everything.

Millions and billions and all his money. It's all Lex's. The entire world is his and then he'll be out of there, because he's the heir. The heir that has no hair. Not like the tortoise and the hare, and Lex has always liked turtles. The perfect pets for kids with allergies, but Lex doesn't have allergies anymore and maybe his mom will let him have a turtle. Maybe she'll let him hold the baby.

Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow.

There are hours and days and minutes are years, and Lex exists in every second of the day. He is there and grounded, and he is him and yes, yes, yes, he exists. He's not dead. The drugs will not erase him. His life. How he is. Except that his memories are butterflies evading his grasp, and his hands are tied, and he can't get free.

His ass hurts.

He is numb and raw, and he can't go anywhere when he's wrapped up in the wrong century. The wrong year. Yes, definitely the wrong year, he's not a pharaoh yet, and there's no sarcophagus and his priests didn't even bury him with any gold.

They wrapped him up and didn't even give him a proper burial.

When he comes back he's going to be very angry indeed.

He's very angry already, and it takes him forever to get to his feet when he can't use his hands.

Over and over he rolls until he gets to the wall, and he pushes himself up with his knees and his forehead. He is strong. He can do this.

He can do anything because that is what he's always been told.

His mother is dead. His brother is gone.

He is alone. Always alone, and when his father said he was going to punish him for his wayward youth, this is not what Lex thought he meant.

They've already done this.

This asylum is different from the last one.

Different is not good.

Different is bad.

iii. *ran to ground for a while there/ but I came off pretty well*

He needs his section eight; Yossarian would understand. Milo was crazy and nobody could ever eat chocolate-covered cotton. That's just crazy talk. No, not crazy. Not crazy at all. Nately had his whore, and Lex has had plenty of whores himself. He was married to one. No. Yes. No, he wasn't married. Yes, he was.

They're all memories. No, they're dreams. No, they're nightmares of things that could be. Things that might be, but Lex is young. He's only twenty, and he hasn't gotten married yet. Has he? He can't remember, and maybe that's the thing that he can't remember that he should, but no, why would he marry a whore?

It's not right. It's all wrong.

But nothing is right or wrong, and they're all just concepts when really everything is just gray and Lex knows.

Oh, Lex knows.

He knows he knows, but what he knows won't come to him.

It's locked in a block of ice in the center of his heart that won't melt. He can't get it free. He can't even get himself free -- but give him time.

Right now he can't look at his fingers and tell who was this married man, but he'll be free soon and he'll know what's wrong. He's just a little wrapped up right now, a little tied up in a fucking straight jacket, and where did this other person come from? Who did he marry, and who is this man? Who is Lex and who is Louis, and what does anyone want with him? Why doesn't anybody want him, and does it matter since everybody goes away in the end?

Lex is going to be alone forever because he can't commit and he's useless. No, he can commit and nobody else can. Why won't anybody commit to him when they're willing to commit him? He even commits to his drugs, which is probably what got him committed in the first place, and what's so wrong about him that nobody loves him? That nobody is willing to stick around? There's no 666 on his hairless forehead, but maybe he's been marked and just can't be loved.

His father knows. He's been told. He's good for nothing. Good at nothing, but the drugs. He's good at the drugs. He's good with the drugs.

He needs drugs.

He needs them now.

Where are the people with the drugs when he needs them?

His dealer would be appalled by all the bad customer service; Andre always made sure that Lex's orders arrived on time. His drugs were more timely than his whores, and this is just a bad trip. No, no trips. Lex hasn't gone anywhere recently.

If he had hair he would pull it out. If he had hands they would flail. Why won't somebody give him any drugs? He has to focus; he has to remember what he took. Why won't the doctor leave him alone? He'll buy her new shoes tomorrow. He'll buy her the whole fucking Jimmy Choo fall line. Her distaste is palpable, but he can't feel anything because they've put him in a fucking diaper and he's too old for this.

He's too old for nursery tales and rhymes and nobody ever bought him a mockingbird or a boat or a goat and there was never any Dr. Seuss in Lex's life until he got to college. College is the root of all evil, and Lex went to three schools for evil and the devil knows how well Lex learned.

Lex knows the devil.

The devil isn't human.

iv. you, the only sense the world has ever made

He has never loved.

He has always loved.

He had his first crush at eight on the gardener's daughter who was eleven. His mother gave him a sprig of gardenias to present to the girl. His father had the gardener sacked.

He loved his brother.

His brother died.

He loved his mother.

His mother died.

Everybody dies.

At fourteen he lost his virginity to a girl without a name.

At fifteen he lost his other virginity to a boy without a name.

No one broke his heart. No one will break Lex, ever. It's not too late. He's not crazy. He won't break, can't break, not like the bough that broke when the baby and cradle fell out the tree, and when Lex falls there's nothing but padding that smells like stale piss underneath him. It's not soft. It's not comforting.

Comfort is cold and Lex is bound, and Lex has never liked the whole bondage thing. Loss of control is bad and when the men in the white jackets come, Lex loses control.

He hates them.

He hates them all.

He hates the jackets and the drugs and the fluorescent lights that hurt his eyes and every time he closes his eyes there are men with parachutes and women with guns, or maybe the women have parachutes and the men have guns. Everybody is out to get him, and he must protect himself from those who would persecute him,and his Jesus complex is perfectly well-founded. He still remembers the kidnapping when he was fourteen. He remembers the other kidnapping when he was sixteen. There was another one recently. He knows that. He remembers that, but Clark came and saved him because that's what Clark does.

Yes, Clark. Always Clark.

He hates Clark.

He loves Clark.

Clark lies.

Clark is precious.

Clark is the one ring and Lex is so excited that the <U>Lord of the Rings</u> is coming out in the movies. Tolkein knew. Everybody knew. Everybody knows. He doesn't know what they know but there's something they know that they're not telling him.

There's something that he's already figured out that he can't remember and nobody will tell him, but he'll tell himself.

He will know.

v. *this I need to save/ a simple trinket locked away*

He remembers summers in Montana and "twinkle, twinkle little star."

He remembers long hair and soft female voices saying they love him.

He remembers Julian/Lucas/his father/his mother/Victoria/Chloe/Lana/Sir Harry/Adam/Kendall/Mrs. Kent/Mr. Kent/ Clark/ Pete/ Tommy/ Johnny/ Bruce/ Alfred/ Sara/ Nicole/ whore #1/ whore #2/ whores #3-#15/ his first drug dealer/ his second drug dealer who was also his roommate freshman year. Desiree. Toby. Jude. Amanda. Clark.



He remembers Met U, Princeton and Yale.

He remembers how to make nitroglycerine.

He remembers that he used to have hope.

And he knows it's all for shit in the end.

The buckles of his jacket shake as he struggles to get free, and his shoulder slips and slides in its socket. He could hurt himself more. He's almost chewed through his lip at this point. He's run into all the walls except the one where Louis stares at him with a smirk on his face. He won't go near there anymore, and the louder Louis talks the more Lex hums to drown him out. Louis talks about women that Lex doesn't know and in one breath he says that Clark loves him, in the next he calls him a filthy stinking alien liar.

Clark doesn't love Lex; he loves Lana. Lex doesn't know anybody named Helen, and his father would never try and kill him because that's just absurd.

Clark isn't an alien. He's just a liar.

Lex knows this like he knows he's not insane.

He tells Louis to leave him alone, and from one heartbeat to the next he's wishing for a machete when he's never held one in his life. He doesn't understand Louis' babble about an island in paradise, and can't believe that Dr. Foster keeps someone as crazy as Louis this close to the rest of the world. It doesn't seem very safe to Lex. It's clear to him that Louis is crazy, and Lex wants out.

He's sane enough to know a crazy person when he sees one, and he's not protesting too much.

It doesn't matter that crazy people always think they're sane; Lex knows he's okay.

Clearly it's everybody else that's insane.

iv. Epilogue

It's raining the day he leaves.

A gray, steady drizzle that blows through his sweater and pants. His sweater is soft and clingy without being restrictive; it's nothing like the itchy material of his straight jacket, and his arms hang limply at his sides as though strangers to the rest of his body.

He's flanked by an orderly, a man in a dark suit holding an umbrella, and Dr. Foster. The man holding the umbrella introduces himself as Darius, and he says he works for Lex. Lex doesn't remember hiring him, but that's neither here nor there anymore. He'll have to start again, he has to start over again is what Dr. Foster keeps saying anyway, so obviously Darius will be fired.

There's a car waiting for him at the gates of Belle Reve with darkened windows, and Lex hesitates for split second when Darius opens the door for him to slide inside the car.

He prefers to drive himself, but apparently that's not an option.

He glances at Dr. Foster and steps forward at her encouraging nod. She'll be out to see him first thing in the morning, she says, and in his pocket he has several packets of sedatives to see him through the night. He thinks Toby probably has better stuff though, and when he gets back to Metropolis, he'll be the first person Lex calls.

He slides into the rear of the limousine and flinches slightly when the door slams shut behind him. There weren't a lot of loud noises in the asylum.

It's dark in the back, and he can hear the murmuring of voices outside his window. He can't quite make out what they're saying with the sound of the pattering rain echoing in his brain, and he's trying to put together phrases when there's the sound of leather creaking somewhere near him.

It's hard for him not to panic when two jean-clad knees emerge from the darkness.

The knees are attached to a body, and the body is wearing a bright red jacket that makes Lex's eyes hurt in ways that the fluorescent lights never did. By the torso it's plain to Lex that this is a man, or a boy, and Lex and instinctively puts his hand on the door handle to get away.

He only pauses when he sees the face. Dark hair, big eyes, the most sinful mouth Lex has ever seen outside a backroom. Lex freezes when a large hand reaches out in the muted grayness for him. He should tell Dr Foster. He should call an orderly. He's seeing things again.

This is bad.

He's not crazy though; he's just hallucinating.

He has no idea why this hallucination is apologizing to him. He has no idea why this figment of his imagination is sorry. It's only when this man, this boy, tries to touch him that Lex's reflexes spring into action.

"I'm so sorry I left you alone," the boy apologizes. "I didn't know this was going to happen."

Lex releases his hold on the door handle and runs his hand over his head.

"Do I know you?" he asks.



+Cogito ergo sum = I think, therefore I am.

+Yossarian, Milo and Nately borrowed from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

+"I'm not living; I'm just killing time." -Radiohead 'True Love Waits'

+Section lyrics from 'Switching' Off by Elbow

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