Disclaimer: So very not mine.
Spoilers: Crush, Stray
A/N: Many thanks to Meret for extreme patience and beta. Thanks, as always, to N. and Grail for thoughts and comments.
Feedback: Comments and curses always greatly appreciated.
She's been standing just inside the door for five minutes, silently watching Lex. The nursery is dark, but the faint glow of the night light is more than enough to illuminate the pale face, creating shadows that make Lex look far older than his eleven years.
The spring rain taps a soothing rhythm on the windows; a soft counterbalance to the rigid tick-tock of the grandfather clock that really has no business in a nursery.
Unconsciously, Pam holds her breath as his hand reaches in through the slats of the crib. Lex hesitates, drawing his fingers back into a fist, and for a moment she thinks he will turn and leave. Instead he faces her, arm still outstretched, hand hovering just over Julian's skull.
"Can I touch him?" he whispers.
Stepping out of the shadows, she crosses the room, her footsteps muffled by the thick carpet. Kneeling down next to Lex, she can't help but wonder if he will ever grow taller; he's not gained an inch between nine and eleven. She's already come to accept that the hair will never grow back.
She tugs Lex's arm back through the bars and lowers the railing. She cringes at the low creak of antique wood, grateful that the baby doesn't stir.
Next to her Lex is staring in what might be wonder. In the eight days of Julian's life, Lex has never been this close to his brother. It wasn't, *isn't*, permitted. There's simply too much that is still unknown about Lex's 'condition', as Lionel so compassionately refers to it, and Julian is far too precious for such risks. She's sure the intent isn't malicious, but she's the one who has to watch Lex, his eyes wide and hurt, while everyone else fawns over the new Luthor baby.
She reaches down to his side, putting her hand over his. Together they reach out.
She can feel the small fingers quake under hers when they touch the soft hair on the infant's head. Lex's movements are a little clumsy, but tender and delicate.
"Good. Just like that."
She watches him stroking the chestnut hair and wonders what kind of brothers they will grow up to be; she wonders if they'll grow up to be friends at all.
She wraps her arms around Lex's waist, gently pulling him back. "We should let him sleep now; he has a big day tomorrow."
Lex lets his fingers linger for a moment more before allowing himself to be moved away. She's surprised when he leans back into her embrace, coming to rest on her folded legs. He's never been one for contact, not since the accident at least. It's rare that he'll even let her dress a wound, anymore.
She shifts under his weight, moving her feet out from under her until she manages to sit with outstretched legs, her back to the wall. Drawing the slight figure into her lap she watches Lex still watching Julian.
"Are they going to send me away?" He still speaks in a whisper, but she can hear the fear in those few words.
"No." She presses her lips lightly to his smooth temple. "No, they're not."
She can feel the body in her arms relax almost completely, and she wonders how long Lex has been carrying this particular hurt around. She guesses around nine months. Silently she curses Lionel for being so obvious.
It was only discussed once, behind closed doors. Lex was old enough to go away to school, Lionel argued, no need to keep him here, especially with the new baby on the way. She remembers watching as Lillian grew quietly furious, explaining in no uncertain terms that Lex would not ever be sent away to be raised by strangers. Lionel relented, as he always did, to his wife's wishes.
"So, what are you doing in here so late? I'm pretty sure you have homework for catechism tomorrow," she chides gently.
"I was tired of reading. Besides, I wanted to see him."
"And now that you've seen him, what do you think?"
"He doesn't look like me."
"He's just a baby."
"Did I look like that when I was born?"
"A little bit," she answers, because most babies look the same, those first few days. It wasn't until months later when the auburn hair had started coming in, and the blue-gray eyes had refused to darken.
"How far along are you in the reading?"
"Jacob has just stolen Esau's blessing." His small body stiffens, his eyes carefully avoiding the crib, as he continues in nothing more than a whisper. "They were brothers."
She wonders for a moment if Lex understands the irony there, comparing himself to a man named for his copious amounts of hair. It wouldn't surprise her if he did.
She's always hated Genesis: Eve and Sarah and Rebekah and the establishment of the double XX as deceitful and treacherous.
"Why couldn't Isaac bless them both?"
And there's no good answer for that, she knows.
Hugging him closer to her body she can feel the ache of her own muscles as he goes rigid. Sliding out of her grasp he stands, turning to look her in the face. Searching, always searching, with his eyes. He looks so serious, so very grown up for one so small.
She inhales sharply as he lays one hand on her shoulder, the other touching her hair just lightly. Red, like his used to be. Like his mother's. And she knows he's not asking the question he wants an answer for.
"Alexander." She reaches out, gently gripping his chin, forcing his eyes to meet hers. "Your mother loves you."
He pulls his hand back from her hair as if burned, retreating to escape the caged circle of her legs. She holds his face tightly, not letting him look away.
"She has a big heart," she says, tapping her free hand against his chest. "Big enough for your father, you and Julian, all."
He nods slowly, visibly pulling in on himself, and she knows she's chosen the wrong words to be comforting. A big heart, yes, but also a failing one. No one has ever said as much in front of Lex, but he already knows. He's smarter, maybe, than he should be at times.
The low chime of the grandfather clock echoes in the room as it strikes once for half past the hour. It startles her and provides Lex the opportunity to back away, out of her reach. They both turn to watch the crib intently, waiting for the faint cry that doesn't come.
"I should go."
"It's a big day tomorrow," he parrots her words back at her, smiling that practiced smile he reserves for other people.
"Would you like me to help you with the rest of your reading?" She asks, but he's already at the door.
"No. Thank you. I'll be fine on my own." He slips out the door quickly, shutting it behind him so the click is barely audible over the thrumming of the rain.
She stares at the door for several long minutes before picking herself up off the floor. Moving to put the railing of Julian's crib back up, she's startled by his soft murmur. It still amazes her, how much he looks like his father through the eyes: dark brown, so unusual for a baby. She wonders if he will take after Lionel as much as Lex does Lillian.
Brothers definitely, and maybe, one day, friends. And she hopes, for both their sakes, they at least grow up to be allies - in league, and not alone.
She smoothes a hand over the tiny back, letting a finger trail over one pudgy arm, the skin still so baby soft under her touch. She smiles quietly when tiny fingers wrap around hers, compulsively opening and closing to some vague beat.
The rain has died to nothing more than scattered droplets thrown against the window panes, leaving the room quiet save for the rhythmic ticking of the clock. Bending lithely over the railing, she drops a kiss on Julian's forehead, disentangling her fingers from his before turning to leave.
She slips out the door and down the hall towards her room. The light is still on in Lex's room, spilling out from underneath the door as she passes, but does not stop. The only thing she has to offer Lex is one truth that he'll discover on his own in the readings. Esau and Jacob were not enemies their whole lives. And maybe that's the best she can hope for: a war built between them, not by them, and, in the end, an equitable peace.
"Esau pleaded, 'Not one blessing left for me? O my father, bless me, too!'" - Genesis 28:38.
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