DISCLAIMER: Messrs Kent and Luthor are not mine. But you knew that already.
COMMENTS: For the PPO collective.
The betrayal earned him more than thirty pieces of silver, but Lex still sealed it with a kiss.
The evidence was damning. He knew that photographs could be manipulated, as could video footage; that conversations could be simulated; medical records tampered with; witnesses bought. Lex knew that he could refute each and every piece of proof if he tried hard enough, but the combined weight of data was too much; and he could not refute the simple certainty in his gut that Clark had lied to him from the start. Clark Kent had mocked his investigations and feigned wounded indignation in the full and certain knowledge that Lex was right. Clark wasn't simply lying - he was the lie.
Clark wasn't human.
There had been countless tiny, smothered epiphanies along the way: the Porsche; the convenient adrenal rush that saved both Lex and Earl Jenkins; the way that Clark Kent was always in precisely the right place at the right time, sweetly sheepish and trying to look smaller than he was. The fact that Lex could never mark him in bed, however hard he bit or scratched or squeezed. The way the bruises left by Clark's spread fingers had discoloured Lex's hip for weeks. In his heart of hearts Lex had never wholly ruled out the possibility that Clark was harbouring some strange Smallvillian secret. At first he had sought it assiduously, but when shame and hope combined to make him call off his investigations, Lex chose to ignore all his instincts and make a leap of faith.
If Clark would not trust him with any deep, dark secret, then Lex chose to believe that there was no deep, dark secret to discover.
He would not that mistake again.
A familiar footfall in the doorway alerted him to Clark's arrival, but Lex found himself suddenly unable to turn around. Instead he picked up a book and leafed blindly through the pages.
"Sorry I'm late. Pete rang - I think he's kinda upset with me. I haven't been seeing so much of him since - you know. Since we - well. I haven't seen so much of him or Chloe lately."
The voice tore at him, because it was Clark, it was his Clark, and if this were all hollow pretence then there was nothing left to cling to in the world. But it was all hollow pretence. Lex turned slowly and the smile hurt his face.
"Don't worry, Clark. No harm done." He studied the familiar features as if for the first time. He should have known. No fifteen-year-old boy ever looked like this. Oh, it could pass the Turing test with flying colours, and it was flesh and blood of a sort - but the thing before him was no more human than any of Lex's cars. It had all been a lie. The morality, the compassion, the essential goodness - all the qualities that made Lex want to remake the world to keep Clark safe - they were all illusions. This thing knew nothing about ethical dilemmas, about love or humanity or sacrifice; it was simply parroting the phrases and responses that Jonathan and Martha had drilled into it. The perfect Stepford Son. What could the Kents possibly have been thinking, to take this thing into their home? Clark Kent seemed too good to be true for the simple, devastating reason that he wasn't true at all.
"It can't be easy having to lie to your friends," said Lex. Right on cue came the coy downcast gaze, and Lex wondered when it had first learned to do this, and how finely calculated each sidelong glance through the sweep of dark lashes might be.
"I don't like lying," it said, in Clark's voice. Something like anger began to germinate at last - and this was so much cleaner than the pain and the emptiness that Lex clutched it almost gratefully.
"Afraid your nose might start growing?"
The hazel eyes blinked, hearing the wrathfulness beneath Lex's flippant tone. "I don't - you mean like Pinocchio?" It laughed uncertainly. "I guess that would give the game away."
"Wouldn't it? Just as well you're a real boy." Lex watched the thing squirming like a puppy about to be punished for something it hadn't known was naughty, shooting him wide-eyed glances of entreaty that would have been utterly irresistible only a day earlier. Oh, it was very good at this. At last it stepped towards him and reached out tentatively with one large hand, uncertain of whether it could invade his personal space.
They had not been lovers very long.
He watched the alien studying him, dark head angled in the perfect simulation of innocence. "Are you okay, Lex? You look kinda - tense. Or something. What are you reading?"
Ah, Christ - it sounded so like a man. Or a boy. Lex let his eyes focus on the page and laughed at what he found.
"Macbeth, appropriately enough."
It smiled, painfully eager to join in with the joke. "Scottish castles and stuff."
"That's right. Do you know the play, Clark?" The name scalded his tongue. There was no Clark. "A king places his faith in a friend and is murdered for his trouble. *'Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under't.'* Duncan was a fool to ever trust Macbeth."
"Something's wrong." Two short steps and it was touching him, this thing that he had been ready to build his life around; and when he felt its arms pulling him close the sense memory was overwhelming. Lex closed his eyes and tried to shut off his brain; and when Clark's lips brushed his and the warm tongue slipped into his mouth for the last time, Lex let himself pretend it was real. It felt real. Tasted real. So much better than reality that he really should have guessed. One long-fingered hand cupped the bare curve of his scalp with the tenderness that Lex had mistaken for love, when in fact it was simply caution. These hands had torn away the roof of his Porsche and ripped through a wall to reveal a hidden elevator. One tiny flex and his skull would smash like a soft-boiled egg. Lex almost wished it might happen, because this was truly unbearable.
"It's okay, Lex. I know you'll be able to handle it, whatever it is," said Clark, and the words made him bleed inside. Not Clark, though - he really must stop thinking of it as Clark. There was no Clark Kent. There was only this human-shaped creature with terrifying powers and unknown intentions. 'Warrior Angel' was just for kids. This was reality. Lex had done everything a person could possibly do to prove himself, had opened his heart as never before; but it had continued to lie and lie and lie. Love and trust meant nothing to this thing. It wasn't human. If it had come in peace, if it had honourable intentions, then it would have told Lex the truth long before now. He had been taken for a fool. Lex shuddered against the warm chest and wondered whether he would ever recover from this betrayal.
It wasn't expecting the meteor rock. Lex was satisfied, in the corner of his brain still capable of such abstract gratification, to see that his reasoning about the lead box had been sound.
"What are you - Lex, what - I don't feel - I ," it said, in that heartbreakingly familiar confused-farmboy voice.
"Don't worry." Lex lifted the collar up to the alien's broad throat in one swift motion and snapped it shut; and then it broke away from his embrace at last, staring at him with an expression of bafflement and pain that would have been excruciating if it were real. Lex bit his lip and reminded himself that it wasn't a person. It was just disguised as one.
"What are you doing?" It sank to its knees, faded denim hitting the floor with a suddenness that Lex found both pitiful and erotic. Mostly pitiful. But this was his enemy, however thoroughly it had convinced him of the possibility of love and trust and happily ever after. He stood over it, striving for scientific detachment, and noted the body's reactions to the ten green stones pressing into its flesh. It was trembling the way it had been when he found it in the cornfield. The way it had been the first time they fucked. And the second. And - but that hadn't been real.
Lex pressed a button on his desk and spoke into the new intercom, and he was pleased to hear that his voice was almost steady. "It's done. He's yours."
Not he, it, Lex reminded himself again. Eventually the pronoun would come naturally. He watched as Hamilton entered the room with his phalanx of hired muscle, more meteor extract woven into the fabric of their clothes and coating their weapons. Lex saw the proximity have its effect on the alien, supine now and shaking at his feet, and he wondered how much money would eventually be derived from their experiments on the creature. What medical breakthroughs he would be able to patent. A cure for cancer, perhaps? Or for the common cold? They dragged it to its feet and its head lolled pitifully on the stem of its neck. Sweat beaded the pale skin and Lex noted that it had taken on a slightly greenish hue. Interesting. He wondered what the aliens really looked like, and whether this one might revert to its natural shape under sufficient stimuli.
There was no knowing whether it would give up its secrets: where it came from, whether it was alone, how soon others would follow. But they had to try - and with the meteor rock, Lex knew they would be able to hurt it. Hopefully make it talk. Earth was completely unprepared for their attack, whatever they were - these aliens that had sent such a flawless Midwich Cuckoo; a living, breathing Trojan Horse to breach all his defences.
Something like hysteria bubbled up inside him at the sight of it so helpless and Clark-like before him. He nodded and a pair of Hamilton's flunkies bore it away to the labs, the beloved feet in their cheap sneakers dragging along the floor as it sagged between the two men. Lex couldn't be sure, but he thought he heard it call his name as it was carried away. Playing the role to the last.
Lex reminded himself that he had had no choice in the matter, and that there was no such person as Clark Kent. He knew it was the truth.
It still didn't help.
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