This Year's Love: A Heap of Broken Images

by zahra

Thanks to Ali and Wendi.


One day none of it will matter, but Lex can't see that day for all the cows he's passed by on the highway. It's the little things that tend to annoy Lex: acorns stuck in the windshield, traffic jams when he has no place to be, and being banished after he's finally turned over a new leaf.

If he had known that this was coming he never would've kicked his Percocet habit, and at least Toby delivers. Lex hopes a lot of people deliver - it might be his only chance to import a little diversion into this backwater that doesn't even have a Starbucks.

The sacrifices he has to make because of his father. His mother never would have allowed this. Of course if his mother was alive things would probably be very different - but she's not alive, so it really doesn't matter.

It doesn't do to dwell on a past such as that because Lex has plenty of other demons to dwell on. Today, he's not going to think about how much he misses her, and instead he'll think about how he has no business in Smallville, Kansas. Lex has no desire to be in Smallville, but that's why it's called a banishment, and what Lex desires is to turn the car around, go back to Luthor Corp and show his father how his left hook is coming along.

What Lex wants is to go back home.

Smallville is not Lex's home.

Smallville is the home of meteors and bad memories and a castle at the ends of the earth. Lex is rather sure that going past the edge of Smallville will, in fact, cast him off the edge of the earth and prove that the world is actually flat and everyone has been wrong.

Lex doesn't remember hearing that the edge of the world was marked off with chicken wire. He doesn't remember hearing about it being inhabited by dark-haired teenage boys either.

Lex thought Smallville was going to be dull.



Lex has seen fairs on television. He's been to Mardi Gras and Rio, and to the Penn Relays and Carnival at Carnegie-Mellon. All of those involved alcohol and debauchery and Lex doesn't remember anything about Ferris wheels and bonfires. He has never seen a corn doll in his life, and he associates quilts with picnics and other foreign concepts.

The only reasons for Lex to be outside are drug deals and polo. Not that the two are mutually exclusive as Lex used to buy some top notch stuff off of his Number 3. All the same, Lex thought the 4-H was an urban myth. He's been accosted by enough Girl Scouts to know how real they are, and sadly, this ode to nature seems to be real too. Clicking his loafers is not landing Lex back at the penthouse.

They don't have fairs in the city.

Apparently it's the sort of thing that friends attend together, but Lex isn't that familiar with the concept of 'friends' either. What Lex is familiar with is curiosity and lust, and Clark Kent is bringing those emotions out in spades where Lex is concerned.

Clark may just be a small town boy, but anyone who saves Lex Luthor's life - when not under contractual obligation - solicits some kind of respect. At least Lex thinks that's what that warm feeling is. It's also possible that the warm sensation is due to the cider that Mrs. Kent seems to keep on tap in her home, but Lex can be optimistic sometimes, apparently.

He certainly seems able to be everything else - pariah, leech, interloper, wolf leading lambs to the slaughter - why not a friend to the most amusingly endearing boy in town as well? Lex isn't planning on staying that long, so what could possibly be the harm in humoring Clark Kent? If nothing else he'll get a rare glimpse into Clark's Rockwellian family, and god knows Lex has never met people like them before.

Perhaps in a few years they'll be on display in the museum.



All Lex needs are mittens and a knit hat with a ball on the top and his regression will be complete. Lex is far too old to drink anything called hot chocolate, and he thinks that must be why caf mochas were invented. A way for the older generation to have hot chocolate and still retain some semblance of dignity amongst the youngsters.

Not that Lex is that old, but he's always felt that way, and being around Clark and his friends doesn't tend to change that. Being around Chloe and Pete doesn't make Lex feel any more at home because Lex can't remember ever being that young, or ever even feeling that young. Older than his skin and wiser than his years, Pam used to say he was such an old soul that even Christmas must seem pedestrian to him.

She was right.

Lex has always been jaded, even when he was small. He doesn't think he even remembers what it's like to believe in someone or something, except that every time Clark is around he's not so sure. Maybe Lex does believe in someone after all, but he's never been that big on Christmas, even when his mother was alive. Lex knows that he put up with a lot for her sake: tuxedos and shined shoes, little sailor suits and carols that he would have sooner abandoned for his bedroom or the kitchen table. Since her death the need for the pretense has faded and coatrooms have become welcome.

This year he'll only be in Metropolis for the party, there's no need to pretend his home is there either; and since Lex can buy his own presents at any time his wealth tends to negate their specialness. Or at least that's what he thinks until Clark comes by with sugar cookies and hot chocolate and an oddly wrapped box that contains hand made coupons, one of which requires Lex to go ice skating.

His mother used to say it was the sentiment that counted.

Lex is finally beginning to understand that concept.



It's wet and gray, and Victoria is the coldest thing in the entire castle - practically reptilian - she says the weather doesn't bother her. At night she slithers in Lex's bed like an anaconda, and Lex thinks of icicles and zoos. Lex has always known that blue blood ran colder than any other color, and he wonders if Clark bleeds yellow like the sun. It would explain the warmth he seems to radiate.

When Lex is alone he hears scratching in the walls and thinks he might need to call an exterminator or an exorcist. If he's to live in this godforsaken place it should at least be rodent free, although he's not sure when he'll be able to get rid of Victoria. She seems to be the biggest pest of all, almost mutant, and perhaps that's what's scaring Clark off from visiting, or maybe it's something more.

Maybe Clark knows about Lex's less than honorable thoughts and just can't accept them. Maybe he's lusting after Victoria and doesn't want Lex to know. Maybe Lana Lang has finally come to her senses and dumped the quarterback, nothing would surprise Lex at this point.

Smallville is far too strange for that.

All the same, Lex misses living alone, and he misses Clark's regular visits. For some reason Clark made the castle feel more like a home.



Lex has never been in love before, and everything he's read doesn't bode well in the advice department. His Trojan horse never even got in the barn, and burning down Kent Farms and demanding they release Clark will not endear him to Jonathan Kent.

The sad thing is that Lex has no idea what to do on Valentine's Day. He knows what the conventional wisdom is but chocolates and Hallmark aren't his specialty. By some miracle of Alexander he's never had to deal with any sort of serious expectations on this date, but perhaps that's a bad thing. If Lex had prior practice then maybe he would be able to cope a bit better. Maybe if he had actually had a proper girlfriend or boyfriend beforehand this wouldn't seem so foreign, but what does one get for the teenager that needs everything and nothing? What does one get for the boy who scuffs Lex's floor with his sneakers and constricts Lex's heart with his smile?

Lex has always thought he had some of the best coping mechanisms around, but he's already tried to give Clark a truck, and somehow Clark doesn't strike Lex as the diamonds type.

Victoria may have been a conniving whore, but at least she was easy to buy for.

Maybe Lex will just order pizza and invite Clark over for a movie.



He's too old to still feel aloof about his baldness, but Lex had forgotten about that raw honesty that children have. He felt less exposed at his last physical. Lex generally isn't troubled by much, but there is something very off about Ryan. There's something peculiar, but there's also something peculiar about Clark so maybe that's just due to association and proximity.

It would certainly explain a lot of *Lex's* behavior when he's around Clark.

It strikes Lex that Ryan and Julian would probably have been around the same age, and Lex can't remember the last time he was around a proper kid. Clark is a kid, but he's not, and Lex can't keep thinking of Clark as a kid if he's going to keep having less than clean thoughts about him. It just won't work out, even Lex has some standards. He's more than willing to admit he's a bit lax in the moral department, but he's no pedophile.

Clark is sixteen, and if that's old enough to drive, then fuck it, it's old enough for Lex. It's not as though Lex has to be wheeled around with an oxygen chamber. He can still get it up at least three times a night, and that's when he's been drinking.

Besides, Ryan can't be that strange if he likes Warrior Angel, and if Julian had lived Lex would have given him his stash of comics. But Julian is dead, even if March 12 is his birthday, so instead Lex spends the day sitting on the floor of his bedroom surrounded by comics and wondering if Clark will end up with the little brother Lex never had.

It's still not too late though, Lionel still has it in him. If Lex moves back to Metropolis, he may end up with a brother before he winds up a father.

It's a rather disturbing thought.



If she wasn't sick and dying, she never would have come back - that seems to be the gist of the situation. Not that Lex is surprised. Of course she would be sick and dying, those are the prerequisites for people to admit that they love Lex, and perhaps that's the only way he can accept that anyone could possibly love him anyway.

It takes a lot to love a Luthor.

Only delusional, drugged up, dying people can love Lex; and Clark Kent is always as sober and straight as they come, he'll never love Lex. Lex also suspects that Clark will never die, and that Lex's less-than-sober phase might be the only time in his life that he's ever loved himself. Or at least loved himself enough to not care about everything else he might have been missing out on.

He finds it interesting that no matter what else he has in his life, he's always keenly aware of what he's missing out on: Clark, his mother, a proper home.

Even on the day of the a Fordman funeral, Lex is aware of certain kind of honest loss - the loss of one's father - that he's sure he will never be able to emulate properly.

It's hard to miss what he never had.



It's muggy out and the night sky smells of disturbed earth and uneasiness. Lex has no intention of falling off the balcony, but he's standing on the ledge because his shirt is damp and he thinks he'd like to fly again. Lex wants to do everything over, and considering that he'll never sleep again there would be nothing lost if he did indeed die this time. He would miss certain things: Fruity Pebbles, Monty Python sketches, cashmere socks, his new Ferrari Enzo, Clark - but it's not as though they would miss him. He's done enough damage that even the tornado seemed like a fall breeze by comparison.

He can't remember the last time he slept.

Every time he closes his eyes he sees Clark resplendent in his tuxedo branding him a liar before he waltzes down the aisle with Chloe Sullivan. His father's cries echo in his ears when a non-existent wind dies down and the clock strikes four. There's all this weight around Lex's ankles that is keeping him from taking flight, and when he thinks about his father trapped under the column, his sight gets blurred and he hears his mother's voice calling him Oedipus.

Even when Lex leaves, his destiny seems to follow him. His father will never see again and there's a broken photograph on the floor that he doesn't have to hide anymore, but he suspects that it doesn't matter anyway. A handshake isn't going to bring anybody back from the dead, and map of cellular frequency capabilities isn't going to repair his relationship with Clark, even the blind could see that.

Maybe it would be for the best if he left home.



It's all still new enough to be intimidating, but Lex doesn't get intimidated - not anymore. Not when his father can't even see his face. And somehow Lex had always thought his return to Metropolis would be more triumphant, less chaotic. He had assumed that there were going to be flashing lights, but they would be from the police motorcade, not the one ambulance tearing along ahead of his car. Of course Lex had never banked on Lionel losing his sight, and it's always the unexpected that can be expected to occur.

He's barely been gone from Smallville three hours and it feels like three years. Lex always knew he would miss Clark, but even he never thought it would be this much. Maybe Clark isn't missing him the same, and maybe Clark *won't* come to visit when he visits Chloe at the Daily Planet.

Clark may never trust him again, but Lex will never know for certain if he doesn't go back and try. Lionel is expecting him to stay, but Lex knows he'll have to leave. He has obligations to his father and to his legacy, but Metropolis isn't his home anymore.

Lex has never needed anything in his life, but sometimes things change.



If time makes the heart grow fonder, then Lex could be considered borderline obsessed. He's been away an entire summer and its felt like a lifetime. He's not expecting things to be the same; he's not expecting them to have improved.

Lex doesn't expect to be forgiven.

Things were bad when he left and only tentative over the summer. If nothing else he'll have the plant to keep him busy, but he's not foolish enough to believe that that will ever be enough. Still, he has time, and he'll do everything possible to make things work out in his favor.

Lex isn't expecting Clark to have missed him.

He's not even expecting Clark to want to acknowledge him, but it's amazing how some things never change. It's amazing how the coffee at the Talon is just as bad ever, and the way that Clark flops onto the arm of Lex's chair as though he never left, like they've never had any problems. Clark acts like Lex is where he's always been - where he belongs.

It's... surprising, but in a good way. In the same good way that he and Clark magically fall instep together when they're walking, and the way that they notice the same things at the same time.

It's comforting and it's right; and it's been a long year, but at least Lex is finally home.


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