When it All Comes Down

by kHo

takes place I think some time in season 4, and it would be an au (o'course)

He doesn't bother to get dressed, he doesn't really see the point. He stands there, stark naked, a glass of Brandy in one hand, staring out of the window towards the sun, waiting for the feeling of panic to subside enough for him to think. Not that thinking could get them out of this, not that it would change anything.

"What did we do," she keeps saying, over and over, her voice soft and broken. She's staring at the sheets, like they have some kind of answer, looking at her hands like they've betrayed her. He supposes they have. Her hands, her legs, her lips, her body. They had betrayed her just as his had betrayed him. "What did we do," she whispers again and again, and he almost starts to laugh, but that's mostly because he hasn't cried in years.

"We fucked, Lana," he says, her shocked gasp ripping into him like glass. He supposes he could have said that nicer, that he could have been a little bit more gentle, but nothing last night had been. Nothing last night had been gentle at all, so why should today be any different. "Or do you not remember?"

"God," she says, and he really can't stand that tone in her voice. That shocked and betrayed tone. Like somehow, after everything that's happened, he can still surprise her with his ability to be an unflinching, unapologetic son of a bitch. She really should have learned by now. "Of course I remember, Lex. I'm not stupid."

"I don't believe I implied you were," he says, softer now, a little more like how she's used to him speaking to her. With kid gloves, like a fine young lady. Like someone he wants to protect, someone he thinks is fragile. He supposes he still kind of does, even if he does know what she sounds like when she comes. "It's entirely possible you don't remember, Lana. This is Smallville after all."

"Yeah, well," she says, and he can hear the rustling of his satin sheets as she shifts on his bed. He doesn't turn to watch her arrange them around herself to cover body parts he's already memorized. He doesn't need to look to know how wide her eyes are. "I remember."

The irony of it all isn't lost on him. Of how he's become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of how many years he's fought his image, how many times he's felt so betrayed, so misjudged. Of how many times he's tried above all else to just not become his father, and now. Well. This is just like Lionel, isn't it? Fucking your nearest and dearest in ways they'd never expect. He's his father's son, and he'd never wanted that, but he's always known the day would come when he would be.

"What are we going to do, Lex," she's asking, and the tears in her voice make him close his eyes. He can see her warped reflection in the window, face turned towards his back, still looking at him like he has some kind of ability to fix this. Like he's supposed to know what to do now. "Lex, Clark will never--"

He smiled despite the cold metal hand clenching around his heart and squeezing. "Clark. It's always about Clark. Everything is, even us."

"I love him, Lex," she says, and her voice is soft but resolute. He has to almost admire that even faced with this, there's an unwavering honesty to her. An innocence, an earnestness that even his cold hands can't break.

"As do we all," he asks, finally turning to face her. He can tell by the way her skin flushes and her eyes dart up to the ceiling that his nakedness is making her uncomfortable. He doesn't much care; comfortable is just about the last thing either of them should be right now. "But don't you think it's a little fucked up, after last night, that the only person on our minds is Clark?"

She meets his eyes finally and he feels like any minute now, he could break. Any second now, with the blinking of her eyes, he'll fall to the floor and never get back up. "Do you love me, Lex?"

He licks his lips, an ironic smile twisting his features into a mask of ugliness that he can't even help. "I'm not entirely sure I know what love is. I thought I did."

"Because I don't love you," she says, and she sounds sorry. She sounds like she almost wants to, like she almost wishes she did. "And I don't think you love me either."

He knows she's right, but he doesn't want her to be. He wants to think he can love, he wants to think he knows how still. He wants to think he has the ability to let himself love someone, even if he can't love himself. "You might be right. Perhaps I was just in love with the idea of you."

She shakes her head and she almost smiles. "I don't even know what that means," she says, looking down and wrapping the sheets around her tighter. "The idea of what?"

"The idea of being the kind of man that a woman like you could love," he says, and he can't even believe he has. He's glad he left off the most important part, the part that admitted his greatest hopes, his biggest aspirations. The part that said in his best, and most painful, dreams, he wished he were a man that was as good as Clark.

Her eyes are wide and staring straight through him and he can see the tears shining in her eyes. "Lex."

He raises a hand and laughs, shaking his head. "It doesn't matter, Lana. The questions remains: what do we do about this?"

Lana grimaces, closing her eyes. "We have to tell him, I think."

"Tell him what, exactly," Lex asks, raising his eyebrows in a challenge. "It was raining and we were lonely? That you're tired of waiting for him and I'm tired of being betrayed?"

"Betrayed," she asks, looking up at him. "When have I--"

"Him, Lana," he says, sighing and turning back around to stare once again out into his yard. "Betrayed by him. Because my sleeping with you, Lana? It's the worse kind of betrayal to him I could ever commit."

"That's what this was," she asks, sounding as close to angry as he's heard her in a long time. She'd become so despondent as of late he almost didn't recognize it in her. "You getting back at Clark?"

"Not consciously," he says, licking his lips and draining his glass of Brandy. "But the truth of the matter is, Lana, were it not for his lies, I wouldn't have done this."

"I thought you cared about me... I thought you--"

He sighs, turning to face him. "Let me ask you, Lana. Just this one question."

She looks at him, frowning. "What?"

"Does it matter how you feel about me? Does it matter, even one tiny bit, if you could ever feel anything for me? It doesn't, and do you know why," he asks, cocking an eyebrow up. "We've already established I'm nothing next to Clark."

She looks at him and he can't decide if he wants to scream or cry under her scrutiny. He feels like he wants to lash out, rip something to shreds, shatter the glass in his hand in shards. He also feels like he wants to curl up in bed just one last time and be held. Like maybe if he could just get that one more time, that would be enough to last him the rest of his miserable and lonely life.

"It really hurts you that he won't tell you, doesn't it," she asks softly, her head tilting slightly.

He feels his fists tightening, the glass beneath his fingers threatening to crack. "Yes."

He can hear her breathe out in recognition and he almost smiles. After all these years, he's been caught. He'd thought he would be terrified when that moment came. He'd thought he would deny it, laugh at whoever it was confronting him. All he does is close his eyes. "You love him, don't you?"

"More than anything."

She's crying now and he turns to see her laughing at the same time. "This is so--" she says, giggling and covering her mouth as the tears fall down her face. "This is just-- this is-- God."

He frowns. "I'm not really understanding where the funny part is--"

"No," she says, laughing again and then trying to look serious, waving her hands. "No, Lex, I'm not laughing at you. Honestly. It's just--" she says, shrugging and smiling perhaps the saddest smile he's ever seen. "Here we are, completely broken over him, all the lies he's told, all the secrets he's kept. Loving him and being hurt over and over again. We're the same person, Lex."

He finds himself smiling slightly, leaning back against the window. "I'm still not seeing the humorous side."

"Only Clark Kent can make us feel like we should apologize for being hurt by him," she says, drawing her knees up to her chest.

He bends over and scoops up his pants from the night before, laughing. "I've never actually thought of it like that," he says, putting them on, leaving the empty glass on the floor. "You're not wrong, though."

She's looking up at him as he straightens and she takes a deep breath. "I could have, you know."

"Could have what," he asks, thinking maybe he doesn't even want to know.

"Loved you," she says softly. "Sometimes I think if we had met first--"

"No," Lex says, shaking his head and sitting in the chair behind him, pulling his white button up shirt around him and slowly buttoning it. "The thing of it is, Clark is what made me the man I am today. You wouldn't have liked me very much before, Lana."

She frowns. "You don't know that."

Lex smiles slightly and props his chin in his hand. "I really do."

She frowns, lying back down on his bed, holding the sheets to her chest. "You know what, Lex?"

"What," he asks, sighing and closing his eyes, tilting his head back to rest against the plush cushions beneath his head.

"I think it's our turn to keep secrets," she says softly. "Our turn to tell lies."

Lex smiles. "Oh, what a tangled web we weave," he says, standing and looking at the way her hair spreads out on his pillows. "I'll leave you to dress. Stay for breakfast if you like."

She props herself up on her elbows, looking up at him. "Will you be here?"

"No. And I suspect you'll be gone when I get back."

She frowns at him. "Are we going to be okay?"

He smiles and looks up, shrugging. "The better question might be were we ever?"

"Are you going to tell Clark," she asks, real fear crossing through her eyes.

He shakes his head, his hand on the doorknob. "I'll leave that up to you. I am equally able to handle whatever decision you come to. I am, unfortunately, well practiced at deceit."

The last thing he hears as he shuts the door behind him is her whispered apology.

He falls asleep that night wondering if it was directed at him or Clark.

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