Spoilers: Pre-Smallville. Spoilers for Lineage and Crush, kind of. Description: The Luthor boys have their first dinner after Lillian's death. So far, so bad. Notes: Again, one of my early fics. But, someone might like it. Disclaimer: Not mine. Not mine.
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They ate in silence. There was only one thing they could think about, only one thing they should talk about, and a myriad of reasons why they wouldn't.
So, they ate in silence.
Almost as if she had anticipated such a scenario, Margaret compensated for the lack of auditory stimulation by preparing a meal teeming with sounds, tastes and textures.
For starters, they were presented with a hearty crab bisque. Despite the fact that there was only two of them, the room was filled with the percussion of soup spoons clanking against the sides of bowls, and spoons tapping teeth in mouths hesitant to sample the hot liquid. These same spoons clattered as they occasionally rested on the plates beneath the bowls. Lex tried not to add to the cacophony by slurping, but even his father did a little.
In the middle of the table was a medley of unleavened cakes of various grains. Like his mother, Lex preferred the rye ones. Lionel usually took the pumpernickel, although Lex didn't see him have any. The crackers crumbled with loud snaps, and were only silenced when they were dropped into the soup.
Very soon, Tracey arrived to take up the plates. They sat in silence a moment, as there was an unusually long interim between the starters and the entree. Lionel turned to the door with a repressed impatience. Lex's eye caught the empty chair to the right of his father. It had often been empty since Julian's death, but - it was too startling to think about.
A moment later two handheld pans of fajitas came crackling, spitting and hissing their way to the table. They were fragrant and piping hot. They were also difficult to eat, and thus a suitable distraction. Lionel looked at his plate with bewilderment. It was if he had been presented barbecued squid. Lex was also surprised. He had never had fajitas at home, and he didn't think they matched the bisque, but he really didn't care. He navigated his way around the plate of sliced chicken breast, peppers, onions and cilantro. He loaded his flour tortillas, gently wrapping each one before bringing them to his mouth. He also noticed, in the middle of the table, some fried corn tortillas that were wrapped in cloth in a basket. He broke one, and took a bite, before realizing he was already full. That was delicious. He gave a long sigh and sat, staring determinedly at his plate.
He wanted to cry.
He thought back to the frigid winters he spent in school in New England. Many mornings, despite having left his toasty warm dorm room heated by a crackling fire, upon stepping outside, he would be instantly frozen by a brisk wind. He would blow on his hands for comforting heat, but relief would be so fleeting, he sometimes wondered if he had ever been warm at all.
He's only remembered feeling this way once before, and it wasn't that long ago.
"Dad," he called, still staring awkwardly at his plate. He didn't get any response. He looked up to notice for the first time that his father wasn't eating at all. Lionel's fork was clenched in his left hand, poised to eat, and his right hand was folded and still, next to his plate. He was gazing straight ahead, and his eyes were slightly squinted - fixated on something too far in the distance to be contained in this room. Lex turned to see what his father was looking at, but didn't see anything that hadn't been there as long as he could remember. He tried again, a little louder this time.
Lionel turned his head slowly, almost trance-like.
"Yes?" he finally asked. Lex noticed that his father was breathing hard.
"Can I have a glass of cordial?" Lex knew it was a bold request, but he had drank a cherry cordial once before, and knew that he wanted some right now. He could have snuck some later, but the cellar was usually locked. Besides, he had a feeling his father would say yes. "Just a little?"
Lionel gave him a sideways glance before looking behind him.
"Tracey," Lionel called. Seconds later, he appeared.
"Would you please bring me a bottle of cordial from the cellar?" Tracey's brow wrinkled.
"Sir, I don't believe you have any cordials. If I recall, only Mrs. Luthor drank the stuff," he said.
Lionel turned from Tracey slightly, and flashed a look of both consternation and amusement. He cleared his throat.
"Then, bring me one of Lillian's," he answered finally. Tracey started to go, then paused.
"Which one would you like?" Lionel gave Lex a quick glare before answering.
"Cointreau," he replied, "and some orange juice," he added. Tracey left.
As soon as he did, Lionel resumed his trance as if it had never been interrupted. Lex began one of his own. The object of his attention, however, was his father.
Lionel abhorred idle prattle, but he was someone who possessed the gift of gab. Awkward silences were foreign to him, and almost every casual moment he spent with Lex was devoted to lessons, stories, and parables that would groom him for his inevitable destiny. Lex was used to seeing his father either exuding an unflappable confidence, or a simmering, even terrifying, rage. He found both intimidating. But, seeing his father sad was...crushing. Lex was unsettled to the point of paralysis, and was visibly startled when his father suddenly stood.
"Excuse me, Lex," he said, and left the room.
Lex's agitation was broken by Tracey's return from the far side of the house. His face registered confusion.
"He said he would be right back," Lex said. With that, Tracey placed the bottle on the table, along with a carafe of orange juice, and exited.
Lex grabbed the bottle, shoved it up his shirt, and raced to his room.
By the end of the month, it was all gone.
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