by Wiccan Moonlight Faery

This is my first Smallville fic, so please be nice. Takes place during "Crush."

Lex hated hospitals.

They smelled of death. Of blood and rubbing alcohol in the painfully stale air. There were many ghosts of the past lingering in that place. And so many of them were associated with him. So many of the ghosts belonged to Lex Luthor.

And yet, he always ended up back there. Out of some strange twist of fate, he always ended up within those walls once again. He was drawn there each time, as if by some unknown force, manifested in Clack's panic stricken phone calls.

That was one good thing about when Lex had lived in Metropolis. He had no close friends, so he had had no close calls from distraught teenagers saying that their father was in the hospital. Or their friend. No phone calls that he felt the need to attend to.

But that had all changed once he had met Clark Kent. That had all been before that beautiful boy had walked into Lex's life, full of caring and compassion. Full of trust that Lex did not completely deserve. Always wanting to believe the best in people. So...

Innocent. Naive. Yet to be corrupted by this cruel world.

And immediately, Lex had wanted to trust the raven-haired youth. From the time when he had been brought back to life by the boy that had since saved so many others. Because there was something about that smile that he gave so freely. Something that was impossible not to like, even for someone as cold as Lex Luthor.

And so, every time Clark called about someone's hospital visit, Lex came running, ready to give any help that he could. Lex was always there, to offer the best doctors and the best medical treatment available. And all of this just so he could see Clark's beautiful smile once again.

It would have made his father sick. Luthors were not supposed to have weaknesses. It was one of the many mantras that had been beaten into Lex's head all of his life. Luthors did not have weaknesses. And yet, here his was, with a big weakness. A big, Clark-shaped weakness. And so, every time Clark called, Lex was there.

And every time, it forced him to remember.

Remember countless visits to the hospital when he was nine, after the meteor shower had claimed his hair. Remember what seemed like hundreds of faceless specialists, poking and probing him, putting him through dozens of tests and whirring machines, trying to find a way to restore his fiery red hair. It forced him to remember the disgusted look his father had given him after that, once he had realized that his son was a freak.

Lex had to remember when Julian had been rushed to the hospital, the day of his baptism. When the doctors had tried in vain to resuscitate the lost infant. The doctors trying to bring back the brother that Lex had never gotten to know, or love. And again, Lionel's disgusted expression as he realized that he had lost his second chance. That he was stuck with his freak of a son.

It made Lex remember being at the hospital with his ailing mother. Having to watch her, so pale. So completely helpless, as her body seemingly worked to spite her. Aching with a need to ease some of his mother's pain, while she continually pleaded with him to be strong. And then, watching her life slip away right before his eyes, hearing her breathing slow as the fatal illness finally took her. Seeing his last chance at being loved slip away, as he looked on powerlessly.

And, remembering the dozen times he had been admitted to the hospital after that, when he had made one of his stupid, reckless choices. After a bar fight or a drug overdose. Lex had seen the inside of a hospital room many times during his period of defiance. When Lex had stopped caring, because he no longer had anyone or anything to care for.

And looming there with the memories was again his father looking disgusted with him. Disgusted at what he had become. Disgusted that this was his son.

Maybe that was why Lex hated hospitals. Maybe it had nothing to do with all the losses that he had suffered in them. Maybe it was just that it reminded him of how much his father despised him. Not that Lionel didn't already remind him enough.

And Lex thought that when he had moved to Smallville, things would be different. He thought that he had seen his last hospital room. Lex agreed with his father for once. He agreed that since this was a small town, he would have less of a chance to make his usual reckless choices that ended up landing him in the hospital. But that didn't mean that he had agreed to come, even if the town had grown on him. He thought that he had seen his last hospital.

How horribly wrong he was.

But this time, surprisingly, his visit to the hospital had absolutely nothing to do with Clark. In fact, Clark knew nothing about this visit. Just another secret that Lex was keeping from his best friend. Because Lex had made the mistake of thinking that Clark was his only weakness. And that had been a fatal flaw.

Just when Lex thought he had gotten over her leaving. Just when Lex thought that she could no longer hurt him, that he had stopped caring, Pamela walked back into his life, asking only for forgiveness. Because she cared for him, and she could not die knowing that he hated her.

Pamela could not stand to die knowing that Lex had trusted his father's lies. Lex had been vulnerable after losing both his mother and Pamela, and Lionel had taken advantage of his weakness. Used it against him.

Because that was what Luthors did.

It made Lex sick. It made him sick to know that his father could still go on about family loyalty. That Lex was actually part of such a family. That he had been gullible enough to believe all the lies he had been fed.

No wonder Lionel was disgusted with him. No wonder he was ashamed to have Lex as a son. Empires could have no weaknesses, Lionel always said. For if they had weaknesses, enemy troops could use them to bring the empire down. And Lex was weak. Like his father said, he was ruled by his emotions.

But who could blame Lex for being weak? Everyone he had ever loved had been lost. And Pamela was going to be next. Lex was like a virus; an unspeakable cancer that killed anything that got too close. Being friends with Lex Luthor was dangerous. Everything around him withered and died.

Going to the hospital again was like sticking swords through Lex's soul. Like pouring salt on an open wound. It was an emotional hell each and every time.

But, of course, no one knew that, for Lex kept it hidden behind his perfectly crafted Luthor mask. He let no one see his emotions. Emotions were weaknesses. He hid his pain from everyone because he refused to be weak. Why?

Because that was what Luthors did.

God, Lex hated hospitals.

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