Game

by Shropshire



Disclaimer: I don't belong to the following characters

Notes: Something I wrote, more or less by accident, after rewatching Hourglass.

Warnings: pretty dark


Somewhere, there is a quiet sound. Superman turns his head, feels his ears trying vainly to swivel as they search for the source. He's very nearly got it when silence descends again. Absolute silence.

There. A tiny aural speck. He moves towards it in an instant, moves as fast as he can, which is something that he rarely does. He knows what it is long before he sees. He knows who it is.

Lex is crying in a huddle, curled in on himself and sobbing fiercely but silently. Superman had picked up only the faint splash of tears hitting the ground. His nemesis looks about twelve and utterly fragile. Superman surprises himself by the depth of his response. His empathy for a flawed human.

Landing a respectful distance away in the field, he runs his hand lightly over the flowers. He had always loved sunflowers, turned, as he was, always to the source of light. The sun gave him strength like it did many other gods. In their myths, humans showed an understanding that was otherwise hidden.

Superman watched Lex and thought back on the vision Cassandra had showed him; or rather had shown Clark. His larval stage. Clark had been so upset by the endless encircling graves, sweet boy. The hero grinned. He had an indulgent affection for the caterpillar skin that he had for so long wrapped his wings in. No need any longer. Lex had always seen the lurking butterfly.

"Dragonfly."

Lex hadn't uncurled or moved at all, but he spoke clearly.

"Excuse me?" Superman used his mildest, confused Clark Kent voice. Damn, he had spoken aloud. When he finally split with his old self, he had hoped these habits would pass.

"Just as beautiful, in its own way. Much more harmful. You're a dragonfly, Clark." Lex's voice remained steady, as if he had not been crying mere seconds before. He lifted his head, touched in patches by a light dusting of pollen. His clothes, impeccably tailored, were stained with more pollen and grass. In the soft sunlight his pale skin almost glowed.

Superman reached out and ran his finger down one sharp boned cheek. It tasted sweetly of pollen and salt when he licked it.

"I had to win, Lex." Superman spoke gently and so kindly. "You were wrong and you were getting too powerful. You had to be stopped."

"When did it happen, Clark? When did the myth take over the person?"

Superman sat down, cross-legged, and gazed at the unclouded blue skies. He had known that Lex would take this hard.

But an eternal draw... there was no point to a battle like that. And when he had finally realised it, well, there was no way that he was going to be the loser, no way that he was going to wait for Lex to make the same realisation and prepare his own killer blow. By the time Lex realised that the rules had changed, it had been too late.

"I always lo...admired you, you know, right to the end. Admired the part that helped, even though the motives changed. I saw the motives change. Should have realised..."

Lex smiled scornfully, his bitterness directed at himself. His failed task as one end of a scale. As protector of mankind. He really wished someone had mentioned that to him. Had let him know when the playing field had expanded and the entire popluation became pawns.

But he had seen the dragonfly. Maybe he'd chosen to ignore it.

He didn't move as Superman leaned in to kiss him, didn't respond.

"I stopped you. I win." The man seemed anxious to affirm this fact. "Game over."

He claimed another kiss, a prize for victory. Lex shook him off, finally. Superman looked hurt and amused at the same time. He shrugged.

"Sore loser."

Lex stared at Clark. He really didn't understand.

"This wasn't a game, Clark. Naman and Segeth, they were just stories, they weren't you and me. It wasn't a manual."

Superman sighed. Lex was really going to sulk about this. Maybe he'd let him beat him at chess, later, when he'd calmed down.

"How come I didn't die?" Lex looked around at the empty landscape. He was crying again, but he probably hadn't noticed.

"You're Segeth, Lex. The meteor shower? We live forever." His Lex was smart, really, he knew all this. It was just the shock of it all.

"Right. And now I can't 'rule' with my evil ways, you've pretty much taken care of that" Lex laughed sharply, he'd taken care of that all right "so, you've won."

Superman nodded. He got it. Good boy.

Lex stood slowly and closed his eyes. Then he walked out through the flowers, Superman following, prepared to be magnanimous. They walked a long way without speaking.

"So, what happens now?"

Superman shrugged.

"Probably we should find some new clothes. Have a rest." He smiled and slung his arm around Lex, grinning like a puppy. "Have a long rest. Then we start again. I can build a ship..."

"Start again?"

"That's what we're here for, Lex. Forever and ever."

Forever and ever.
Maybe. And maybe not. If there was a way to stop there being a next time, Lex would find it. Now that he knew what the stakes were, he wasn't going to fail his new world. He wouldn't lose again.

Lost in their own separate thoughts, they walked into the sunset.



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