Ignotum per Ignotius

by Jayne Leitch

Rating: PG, with insinuations

Spoilers: 'Craving', 'Obscura'

Disclaimer: not mine. They're never mine. ::pout::

Notes: MaryKate gets the beta thanks. Whoever hired Joe Morton for All My Children gets inspiration thanks.

Summary: "An explanation that is obscurer than the thing to be explained." An 'Obscura' coda.

Copyright 2002

"He was a member of my Inorganic Biophysics seminar."

Lex looked up from his latest drink, a little bleary-eyed in the flickering light from the fire. "Who was?"

Doctor Hamilton slouched in his chair and stared at the hearth. His empty glass lay on its side on the carpet, etched crystal catching the light of the flames and making tiny white flares in the darkened room. "The reason I lost my tenure at Metropolis University," he said, and cleared his throat.

It took Lex a moment to pick up the thread of the new subject. Seconds earlier, they'd been discussing the possibilities inherent in the disk of--Lex rolled the word through his brain once more, still fascinated by the suddenly literal truth of it--alien technology currently lying on the small table between their chairs. They'd been talking for hours, two differently-disciplined scientific minds positing theory after theory over glass after glass of hard liquor--drinks that were refilled every time the implications of their discovery overwhelmed their excitement for it. Now it was late--early, actually--and they weren't drunk, but they were definitely going to feel like shit when they sobered up, and Lex was drifting while Hamilton tried to tell him something. He set his glass beside the disk on the table and turned to focus on his associate. "Inorganic Biophysics."

"It was an advanced class." Hamilton laced his fingers over his stomach and stared straight ahead. "Andy was still in high school, but he tested so well--they let him enroll in one university course per term. There were two prerequisites for my class; he finished them both in time to enroll in the summer course."

"He sounds like an intelligent boy."

"He was brilliant." A smile tugged at the corners of Hamilton's mouth, and for a moment he looked almost relaxed. "He loved learning. He used to visit me during office hours to go over the week's readings--he didn't need to. He understood everything right away: abstract concepts, empirical data, how they all went together...we would start discussing the crystal lattice of hematite and end up debating the ethics of mineralizing drinking water." Hamilton grinned, his teeth a flash of white in the shadows. "I could talk about anything, and Andy would be able to follow. He was...brilliant. Inquisitive, passionate..." The grin faded, and Lex could feel Hamilton watching him through the dark. "He was very much like you."

The fire snapped in the silence. Lex refocused his attention on his glass; he reached out, picked it up, and swallowed his last mouthful of brandy with precision, very aware of the doctor's eyes following his every movement. When he replaced his empty glass on the table, it clinked against the disk. "What happened?"

Hamilton's chuckle grated through the quiet room. "He told his father," he said dryly, one hand rising to rub across his eyes and down over his jaw. "They were close, and Andy thought he'd understand."

Lex gave a crooked smile. "Not exactly like me, then."

"No." Hamilton sounded meditative; Lex's hand twitched on the armrest. "But close enough."

Lex stared impassively into the shadows. Ancient leather creaking under his fingers, he very deliberately began, "Doctor Hamilton, I think you've--"

"Had enough to drink?" Hamilton interrupted. Lex glanced over to find him nodding. "Probably." His gaze fell to his glass; then, brows knitting low over his eyes, he said, "You already knew everything I just told you, didn't you."

Lex's jaw tightened. "Yes, I did."

"You wanted to be prepared when you blackmailed me into working for you." Hamilton spoke slowly, calmly, his voice tinged with something Lex chose to identify as humour. "Andy always did his homework, too."

Letting out a steady breath, Lex pushed himself to his feet. "Doctor Hamilton," he said carefully, turning to stand directly above him, "However much I might remind you of him, I am not Anderson Blair."

Hamilton started in his chair, then shot Lex a hard-eyed look. "You think I don't know that?"

The sudden vehemence made Lex pause; the bitterness made him force the remaining haze of alcohol from his mind and think. Finally, he asked, "Were you in love with him?"

Hamilton was silent. For a long moment it seemed as if he wasn't going to answer--but then, his mouth curving into a wry smile, he said, "No."

"I see."

"But he thought--" Breaking off, Hamilton shook his head. His eyes landed on the disk on the table; he stared at it, then huffed out a sardonic laugh. "I'm in love with my work, Lex. Always have been, but now..." Reaching out, he wrapped gentle fingers around the disk and held it out of the shadows, studying it with a fascination very far removed from clinical detachment. "Now, Lex. Can you blame me?"

Lex watched as firelight coruscated over the alien surface. There was a pattern to the light refraction unlike anything he'd seen before. "No I can't," he said quietly, and Hamilton stopped smiling.

Before Lex sat down, he poured them both another drink.


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