He remembers, vaguely, a time when he could actually tell that Lionel loved him. A time when he was still all hard lines and cold words, but there was also warmth in his eyes. Sorrow. Pity. Something that said even though the words coming out of his mouth were ripping Lex to shreds, which is something he's always known how to do better than anyone else, that he wanted to help him. That he wished he knew how. Back when a hand on the shoulder was the only way Lionel knew how to say I love you, instead of a cold reminder of how close they're not. When it felt like a hug instead of a slap.
He remembers that there was a time when Lionel wasn't a /good/ father, but he wasn't a bad one either. When he was too demanding, too unaccepting of Lex's faults, but it had come from a good place. A place that wanted the best for his son. A place that held pride for his offspring, love that can only be shared between father and son, even if Lex wasn't what Lionel had always wanted. There was a time that 'this is for your own good' had actually meant something.
He remembers that changing, abruptly shifting and catapulting out into the abyss. He remembers thinking that Julian was his saving grace, thinking that with Julian maybe Lionel would put less pressure on him. He remembers the moment, the nanosecond, when that changed. That flash of bluish-grey light on his father's face when he changed from father who didn't know how to father who didn't /care/ to know how. He remembers that being the worst moment of his life.
Except now it's different. Now it's different, and he doesn't want it to be. There's a whole new light on it. Because he didn't do it. All these years, all those cold glares, those moments where he'd actually considered killing himself, they were all changed. Forever. Because he didn't do it. He didn't kill his brother, not intentionally, not even accidentally. Suddenly every time his father had said 'you musn't blame yourself' rang true. It didn't matter that he'd said it out of obligation, for show. It suddenly rang true. Because Lex /hadn't/ killed Julian. His mother had.
He'd always put Lillian on such a pedestal. The World's Best Mother. Mother to all. Kindness personified. The one person in all of his life to never care what he wasn't. The one person he's loved without any conditions, without any doubt. His mother, the saint. Lillian Luthor, the only good thing Lionel had ever done. Always ready with a smile, a hug, a kiss. Always welcoming him with open arms, soothing his wounds, kissing his cuts. Always loving him. Always.
But then it all shattered, it all broke, in that moment he remembered. That moment when it all floods back to him, those nights when she was /off/. Those days when her eyes were so vacant. The hours she spent crying, for no reason at all. Suddenly Lex doesn't remember the mother that did no wrong, he remembers the mother that wasn't sane. He remembers that mother that went crazy for a while there, and suddenly the worst moment of his life has changed.
Because in that moment, in that second, where realization hit Lionel, Lex hated his mother.
Things could have been so different. He could have loved him. Lionel could have loved Lex. He could have, Lex is sure of it. He wouldn't have spent all of his life trying to regain his father's love. He wouldn't have spent all of his life trying to get past the fact that everything he touched fell apart. He wouldn't have spent all of his life trying to forget the feel of his brother's body, cold and lifeless, under his touch. He would have known that that memory was fabricated, had never actually happened. He would have known that his mother wasn't what he's always thought, he would have known that she was sick, wasn't sane.
Lionel would have loved him. Things could have been so different between them.
But when Lionel's hand reaches out this time to grasp his son, he can't. He just can't. He can't let go of that pedestal. He can't get over the pain his father has caused him. He can't get past the fact that his father never loved him. Can't get past the nights he'd spent crying silently in his bedroom, the way he'd swallowed past the pain and regret every time his father had looked at him like the murderer he'd thought he was. Can't get past any of it.
And he swallows once again past the tears in his throat and he can see the words on Lionel's tongue. The words he's waited all of his life to hear. The I love you's, and the I'm sorry's, and the I never should have believed you could do that's. He sees Lionel's mouth opening on those words and he just can't. He just fucking /can't/.
So he says no. He says no to the one thing he's wanted more than anything in the world.
In one night, he's lost his mother and his father all over again.
The worst moment of his life is right now, this very second, as he walks away from his father.
This time, he doesn't cry.
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