Lex first saw Paris when he was six.
He didn't remember being impressed by it then. It was just different from what he was used to up to that point in his young life. The long plane ride, the strange old buildings, the way the sunlight tilted differently in the late afternoon -- this was all he noticed.
His mother didn't feel well after they arrived so he'd been given over to the care of a nanny. A dour Spanish woman who tugged him through the city, day after day, filled with enough resentment for even a six-year-old to understand.
Enough resentment to make him afraid.
The disaster of the trip happened on the railway tracks through Paris' great underground, with its endless tracks and trains winding their way like a basket of snakes through the ancient city.
It was late in the afternoon and Lex brought his sole piece of childish security with him that day. A tiny brown stuffed bear sat hiding in his jacket, keeping him safe from an uncertain world. His father had a habit of throwing away any toy that seemed to be getting too close to Lex's heart, but this was one he'd missed ... somehow.
That made it all the more valuable.
Lex was never sure how the bear got away from him that day. All he could recall was its doleful eyes staring up at him from the rail tracks, its face set with what looked like betrayal.
It was all his fault. He'd let it fall and the train was coming. There was nothing he could do. Nothing.
The nanny shrugged as he stood over the tracks and cried.
"Sus dolores comienzan," she said. She dragged him out of the station, jerking him hard every time he screamed.
Later in life, Lex remembered the words but didn't know what they meant.
Until the days after the tornado came.
The only sound in Lionel Luthor's hospital room was that of his respirator.
The falling beam had broken his back clear in half, crushing his pelvis as well. Slow swelling of his spinal cord and massive internal organ damage had complicated matters considerably. He'd lost consciousness six hours after his arrival at Smallville General and three weeks later there had been no change.
Except for one.
Lex sat down at his father's bed side, hands folded neatly on his lap. It was his first visit.
"The buyout is complete," he said to the inert figure, who lay grey-pale against white sheets. "And you should know that I'm starting my own company."
*Whish-click* went the breathing apparatus that stuck out of Lionel's mouth like a plastic serpent.
Tape covered his lips and eyes. His hair was scattered over the pillow in thin strands of gray and brown. His beard hadn't been trimmed either and his nails were lacking their usual manicured look, outgrowing for the first time ever the pads of his pale fingertips.
"I'm calling it LexCorp. It'll be in direct competition with LuthorCorp. I'm already looking into ways to delve into the pesticide market share, obliterating your stranglehold. Cadmus Laboratories is now wholly owned by me, by the way. You've been bought out."
"My eventual plan is to take over LuthorCorp. I'm sure you've guessed this already but it'll make my victory more complete if you and I are clear on this point from the beginning. Once that's accomplished, you'll be marginalized. Not completely, because then you won't know the sting of humiliation as I have it planned for you, the same humiliation you've put me through all too often. No ... some low-level functionary position is waiting for you, somewhere where you'll have to answer to me on a regular basis. If you want to hold onto all those things you've spent your entire miserable life accumulating, that is."
"I think I'll make you manager of Plant Three in Smallville. Yes, that's what I think I'll do. Would you like that ... Dad?"
"Dad? Come on, surely you're not at a loss for words now."
But he was. No words were forthcoming, nor would they ever.
Because Lionel Luthor was dead. Dead for the past hour and a half.
It seems the doctors hadn't lied to Lex about the brain death. No lies about the respirator being just for show so his son could say his last good-bye. Because Lionel Luthor, his father, his enemy --- his life -- was dead.
It must be so, Lex thought vaguely.
He wouldn't have stood for that sort of talk otherwise.
Lex rose slowly, then stepped into the bathroom. Washed his hands thoroughly and avoided the mirror successfully until the very last second, catching a glimpse of himself as he turned to leave.
There was nothing doleful about his expression. It was an unchanging as the night, as closed off as death itself. If there was any betrayal at all, it was only in the sound of his old nanny's voice, murmuring to him in Spanish, her voice filled with weary hatred. What was it she'd said again?
Those three little words it had taken a lifetime to understand?
Sus dolores comienzan.
Ah, yes. That's what the old bitch told him as he stood weeping for all he couldn't keep, no matter how hard he tried. For all he loved, despised and ultimately lost ... that being the first. But not, no never, the last.
Sus dolores comienzan.
Your sorrows begin.
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