How To Shoot Somebody Who Outdrew You
Lex can smile and smile and be a villain as well.
During the day, he thanks Clark, who visits too much bearing gifts: food, guilt and sun-warm skin. "I'm glad you're okay," Clark says.
"I am," Lex promises.
During the day, Lex nods, the dutiful son, and lets Lionel say with a knife-sharp smile, "Don't push yourself, Lex. Luthorcorp will always be there."
At night, Lex sits in front of grainy images and faulty sound. Onscreen, his hands against Clark's face are tender, desperate, obvious as a kiss. Lex remembers what he says if not why.
"I know your secret."
Ten steps into the barn and Clark. Chloe stops. She can't.
"What did you want to see me about?" Clark asks. He's standing right below his loft.
She had an apology rehearsed--I want too much. I got mad. I'm not a good enough person. Instead, she says, "I need to get him." She doesn't have to explain who she's talking about.
The afternoon sun edges Clark's profile in fire. "There have to be other people who know what Lionel Luthor did to his parents," he says. "You can't cover up something that wrong forever."
She walks into the barn.
These are just some of the ways he can take his father down: artfully arranged indiscretions, a steady stream of leaks to the press, unforeseen bouts of incompetence, sowing the seeds of discontent (Reynolds, who had his father's ear six months ago, is no longer in favor), a questionable experiment brought to light (surely Level Three was not an anomaly), irregularities in Luthorcorp's accounting suddenly and shockingly unveiled, a virtually undetectable change in Lionel's prescription, a mysterious illness, an agreement with some shadowy figure in Lionel's past.
Lex reins in his thoughts. He wants this to be a bloodless coup.
The house is too quiet tonight, and Jonathan asleep is too still for her comfort, so Martha watches Clark sleep and thinks about the eight year old who used to wake up confused but cranky enough to say, "I'm not a baby. You don't have to check up on me." She can find traces of that boy in the almost-man in front of her, but the hard line of Clark's jaw and the way he frowns with his eyes closed transform him, like alchemy, into an adult.
Change is in the air, sharp as frost. Martha hopes she'll be ready.
Clark couldn't say it before since friends don't let friends drive like that, but he knows why Pete races. Late at night, the world is flat fields and a low hum. He can go so fast he's weightless. Clark can leave it all behind: the nursery that's just an empty room now, the flutter in Dad's heartbeat, Mom's soft sobs when she thinks everyone's asleep, the way Chloe doesn't look him in the eye anymore, Lex in the barn tonight trying for understanding but sounding like he's defeated. Clark runs. When he stops, the world settles hard on him again.
This is what you will remember about Lex, this moment, this second. Salt-thick taste on your tongue, the rustle of sheets, hard bone, hard muscle, smooth skin. Those halfbreaths he takes, dirty and right, just like those Latin poems he recites but never translates. You store it all up because this won't last. Everyday, you lose something else you can talk about: cars, electricity, the stars. You have to be ready when the time comes. Because in the end, Lex will leave and you'll be gutted, torn apart, just like the Porsche Lex was driving the first time you met.
Lex tries not to traffic in metaphors and similes when Clark is spread out under him. Endless blazons spring to mind--Clark flushed is like dew and roses, his chest is broad and golden like the Kansas plains, his mouth is hot like the sun's fiery furnace, his hands can span worlds-- but such comparisons are dangerous. They point out just how singular Clark is. How unique.
Lex can feel it more everyday, memories and knowledge muscling their way back so that his mind's detritus makes sense again. A shard of glass. Poisonous green beads.
("I know your secret.")
Lionel watches Adam Knight respond to the serum. Adam's jaundiced skin shades back into flesh tones. His eyes dart back and forth under his closed lids like he's dreaming.
Every king rules on borrowed time. Power accrued always becomes power dispersed. A folder sits in Lionel's office with a doctor's final decree, "Cancer of the liver. Terminal." But, Lionel refuses to accept his fate.
His time has not yet come. He will raze his body's renegade cells. Adam Knight's limbs shudder with new life, and Lionel finds his solace. He will rage and rage against the dying of the light.
It hurts like hell to breathe, but Jonathan fights for one more breath. Clark hovers over him, eyes huge, hands careful. "Dad," he says. "We--,"
Clark could get them to a hospital like that, but Jonathan knows it's too late. He shakes his head.
"But Dad--," Clark says. He's crying now, tears falling onto the yard's hard dirt.
Far off, Jonathan can smell spring rain, the season's first. "Proud of you, son," Jonathan says. He can't feel his hands anymore.
"Don't, Dad. Please," Clark says.
"You'll do good," Jonathan says. "I know. Because you are."
His eyes close.
"Keeping late hours, aren't we, Miss Sullivan? " Lionel Luthor asks as he steps into the Torch office.
"Wait," Choe says. "Aren't your entrances usually accompanied by the smell of sulfur and brimstone?" She's always been more fight than flight.
Lionel laughs, almost affectionate. "I've been hearing some disturbing reports about you. You're bothering my old friends." He picks up a picture, one of her and her dad. "I find the past is best left where it is. Buried. Good night, Miss Sullivan."
She doesn't have any other choice. Her hands shake as she dials. "Lex? I need your help."
--one moment Edge is bearing down on you, and the next Clark is there, displacing air, displacing steel as he half-turns towards the hurtling car and makes the car bend around him like nothing you've ever seen and everything you've ever hoped. "I knew it all along. You're not even human," you say, your way of praying--
--the taste of leather in your mouth as your father tells you this is for your own good. You know it'll happen because his will is always done, and the world explodes in light and pain
You open your eyes. You remember.
They're meeting with Calvin Edge because of a tip-off from one of Chloe's anonymous sources. Calvin Edge looks like a nervous, defeated version of his brother.
"They were dead before the shop blew up," Calvin Edge says, eyes on Chloe. "Lionel Luthor told me to shoot them, and I did.
Clark asks the next question. "Would you testify to that in court?" Edge staring at Chloe makes him nervous. Chloe shines too bright and talks too much here in Suicide Slums.
Edge nods, hate in his eyes. "He killed my brother. I want to see the bastard pay."
Under Clark's hands, Lionel Luthor is just breakable bones.
Even though he's dangling three feet above the ground, Lionel Luthor stays calm. "Impressive," he says. "But then again, you have many gifts, don't you, Clark?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Clark says. He sounds scared, guilty.
Lionel Luthor smiles. "Ah, but Helen Bryce did. As does Lex. The things he said at Belle Reve."
"What do you want?" Clark asks, but he already knows.
The vial of blood gleams in the barn. "A meeting tomorrow at my office. We're going to do great things together," Lionel Luthor says.
Later, Lex will tell himself fairy tales about friendship and sacrifice. He'll cast himself as the hero who protects the people he loves. In the minutes after he gets off the phone with his father though, Lex knows better.
"Get rid of Edge," his father ordered. "Call off this witch-hunt, and I'll leave the boy alone."
Lex isn't afraid for Clark (harsh lights and scalpels and screams.) Lex is afraid of Clark. Clark is a vulnerability. He's blood in the water that any predator can scent, and Lionel knows that.
Lex has to neutralize the threat. Containment isn't enough anymore.
Clark catches the first bullet, but he hesitates and misses the second. It finds its way home, and Lionel Luthor slumps over his gleaming executive desk. A smile snakes across his face as blood trickles from his mouth. Clark takes a step back.
"Tell, Lex--," Lionel Luthor gasps. "Tell him, well done."
The first phone call came in five minutes ago. Calvin Edge is dead. Lex reads a report, waiting for his second call. Pandemonium erupts outside, screams, sobs and running, just as the phone rings. "It's done, sir."
"Thank you," Lex says.
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