Now Mother, Now Father

by Basingstoke

Now Mother, Now Father.
by Basingstoke (


He stripped down slowly, already aching. By morning he'd probably be immobile. That was all right, though, since he'd told his secretary to cancel everything and give every at the plant the day off. They all needed a little vacation.

His head throbbed. But there was no concussion when the paramedic checked him out--hard head. His father had smiled, and his father had said "Takes after his old man," and then his father had left.

(father of lies. father made of lies.)

Lex couldn't decide if his father was pleased with him or not. Thinking about it made his head hurt, so he stopped.

He stripped down to his boxer-briefs, looked at his pajamas and decided they weren't worth the effort. Too many buttons. He climbed into bed.

Soft cotton almost made up for the sickening throb of pain that movement brought. Lex lay very still, eyes screwed shut, waiting for it to pass. He wanted codeine. He wanted Demerol. He wanted the tiny, glasslike pills that Suzy had given him on his very last night at Club Zero. But he'd already conquered that addiction--his mother's addiction; "very charming," his father had said--and he had no intention of returning to it.

(his mother's voice, so sweet and soft, and the way she'd stroke his head like a kitten when she was high)

He was working on good old-fashioned alcoholism instead. A Scotch and soda warmed his stomach, slowly dulling the pain.

The pain eased enough that he could wrap his blankets around himself. He settled on his side; his arms were going to be paralyzed tomorrow, but his shoulder blades and the back of his head hurt right now. He'd taken a blow to the back during that horrible swing over the railing.

(death taunting him, death beating him, clinging to death for survival)

He wasn't going to think about that. He wasn't going to think about staring down at the proof of his father's lies; he wasn't going to think about screaming for Clark. He wasn't going to think about Clark's too-strong arms or his too-obvious lies.

(strength, inhuman strength, and something about the rocks...)

He had control. He was not thinking about that and he was not crying.

He was not holding a pillow to his chest, either. Lex Luthor didn't do things like that.

He was, however, missing his mother. They'd gotten along famously once he picked up her vice; they'd had slow, affectionate, drugged conversations over the dinner table as Lionel read the business page and steadfastly ignored both mother and son. They'd both burned out the same year: Lex was kicked out of school after buying a paper and threatening the professor who discovered him; Mother mixed Scotch with a little too much Xanax and never woke up.

(the drugs made a soft blur of the room; it took him a while to figure out she wasn't breathing)

Lionel whipped him into shape that summer.

Not literally.

He had no doubt his father loved him. But he had to fight for every scrap of love and respect his father doled out, and even then it was mixed with lies.

Like this lie. This lie that had nearly killed him--

--Earl standing at his back. The absolute certainty that he was going to die. The sickening pain in his head, the half-second where he thought he'd been shot--

(good death. hero's death. un-Luthor death.)

--but Clark was there, Clark and his own set of marvelous lies. He was starting to get an idea of what the boy was hiding.

Did it make a difference whether lies were hidden poorly or well?

(death in a speeding car. his life bubbling away with the air from his lungs. life tearing through the roof and dragging him out...)

For a moment, Lex wanted Clark to be a vapid Club Zero beauty with a tight shirt and open thighs. Hiding nothing, nothing to hide. But Lex knew himself, and the image passed. He liked Clark's sly smile and developing wit. He only hated Clark's evasions and lies.

(strength, speed, what else? what wasn't he seeing?)

Clark let him in a little, but then held up the stop sign. No further than this. No one past this point without permission. It was the kind of thing he would have expected from someone like--well, himself, but from a high school student? Clark should have been open as a library book.

Lex tried to remember the last time anyone had let him so fully inside and thought again about his mother and long, drugged conversations. Maybe if he slipped Clark a pill, took one himself...

(talked about lies, talked about dying)

That wouldn't get him what he wanted. He wanted Clark's trust, and that was one thing he was never going to have from anyone--and he was not crying, he did not cry, and he had to stop this ridiculous leaking from the eyes. He pinched the bridge of his nose, pressing his fingers to the corners of his eyes, but that only made it worse. Made him sob.

He hugged the pillow to his face, biting down, shaking silently. His head throbbed with every motion.

He couldn't behave like this. He was a respected biochemist. He was a Luthor, president of a company.

He was a twenty-one year old boy. He was his mother's son.

He was his father's son, as well.

He clutched the pillow to his chest and shut his burning eyes. Sleep. Time to sleep. Time to--

--time to walk into an exploding building, time to die, time to die--

His eyes flew open and he caught his breath. His head throbbed.

(death chasing him. death would catch him. ignominious death in his bed.)

Lex waited for morning.


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