Fever Breaking

by George H.

Always interested to hear from readers. Special thanks to Rageprufrock for the beta! And a nod to Faulkner for the shadows.

Fever Breaking
a Smallville fanfiction
by George H.
19 February 2003

Note: This story was written in reponse to the general outcry of the episode that was "Fever." The following explains Lex's actions and reactions for me in the episode. To really enjoy this story, we must remember Lex is a little fucked up. Story is PG, features some Lex/Helen, and no CLex (sorry!).

I follow my shadow. It glides along before me, like a ghost testing the asphalt before I arrive after it. Watching it contort and twist, darkening everything it touches as I make my way over the gravel terrain, brings me a whole new appreciation to the term "foreshadowing." It seems telling that my shadow precedes me, blackening all it touches.

Somewhere in the distant world, there are families waking up to brewing coffee, giggling children, and mother's packing sacks for school lunches. I haven't slept. There is an illegally obtained medical file tucked into my crocodile skin briefcase, held securely under my arm. Its contents are my insomnia. Its contents are my addiction. It's not enough to know about Martha Kent's "miraculous" recovery; she is only the reaction, not the cause.

Her recovery from the spores went, more or less, exactly as I had expected.

After all, I engineered them, and had them planted in the Kent's storm cellar.

Country folk are quaint, and despite the mysteriousness surrounding the Kent's, they're no exception. Hiding a strange, ship-like craft in an unlocked storm cellar, and trusting no one to poke their nose around to find it defines the meaning of Quaint. The Kent's could probably write the book on Quaint.

Which is beneficial to me -- perhaps not so much to them.

But last night's events cleared up two major points of concern: the octagonal disc is a key to the craft, and it seemingly has unprecedented healing properties. The latter of which I am rather grateful for: I hadn't actually intended for Martha to get sick from the spores, just impenetrable Clark. In fact, I hadn't thought the spores could infect normal humans. It seems Martha Kent is just special.

My shadow crunches, and I stop walking, and glance down: the paved road has ended, and now I stand at the rocky bed that surrounds my mansion. I adjust the briefcase in my arms, and smile slightly, because I'm not tired at all, and there is a familiar doctor's car in the driveway.

You've got to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

I go in to see her.

"Good morning, Helen," Lex said as he sauntered into the opened door of the mansion. "Glad to see you let yourself in." His smile is pleasant; the sort one gives to a toddler who has drawn the most horrendous stick-figure man imaginable, and then you're informed the drawing is of you. "You're here early. Couldn't keep away, hmm? Can I interest you in some coffee?"

Lex moved liquidly, and one could never tell he hadn't slept the night before. Helen follows him down the corridor, towards the kitchen, where a pot of coffee already sat, piping hot. He set his briefcase down on the counter, paying it no mind.

"I thought you'd still be asleep," Helen answered, her eyes looking him over. There was a flickered motion to the briefcase, but Lex didn't seem concerned with her interest of it. He poured the coffee into a frost-glass mug for Helen, and proffered it.

"Early bird catches the worm, as they say," Lex answered, his smile tightening. "Have you come to stay then?"

Helen sipped her coffee black, and sauntered to the glass breakfast table present. She was dressed in casual clothing: a short black chemise dress, long chestnut hair pinned up in back, with spiralling curls framing her face. Lex found himself looking at her hands, which were wrapped around the mug. "I appreciate the offer, Lex," she answered after a moment of thought, and then opened her purse and pulled out the ribboned box Lex had presented her with the day before. "But, going to research is what my life's ambition is all about. If this had been a ring, I might have stayed, but," she shrugged slightly, "as you can see, one doesn't exactly need a key to get into this fortress."

She set the box on top of the glass table, where it's shadow cast a black smudge on her thigh. Lex pressed his lips together tightly, smiling. If he was upset about being turned down, he wasn't about to let it show. "I've been in a bad marriage before, Helen," he answered coolly, "I didn't want a repeat of that. Asking you to stay with me doesn't mean you can't continue your research. It just means you can do it closer to home."

Helen smiled, but just the corner of her lips curved up, like she was privy to some secret Lex wasn't. The smile made his blood run hotter than her rejection had - she knew something he wanted to know, and she was going to milk it for what it was worth. "I don't need you to fund my research, Lex," Helen stated bluntly.

"That much is obvious," Lex tactically answered. "I never said you did. But I can offer you as much prestige as any research school," his tone softened, "and not risk the chance of loosing you for three years." He moved closer to her now, looking at her acutely, until their eyes met.

She still wore her smile, a badge of secret triumph, and Lex raised his hand to cup her cheek. His tone, when he spoke, sounded sincere. "I've lost too many people I've cared about in my life. I don't intend to lose you." His thumb ran over her chin, and across her lips, effectively wiping the smile away as she reflexively kissed the trailing digit. "Stay with me Helen. We complement each other."

Helen's eye's fluttered slightly, looking from his hand to his eyes, and he knew he had her. She pulled back a little, reaching to take the box off the table, but Lex's other hand came and stayed her motion. He breathed at last, "I love you," all the while meaning, `You're not leaving until I've drawn the Kent's secrets out of you.' And the words she mistook for real sealed her to him with the ease of melted wax. He leaned into her gasp of shock at his revelation, and silenced her protest with his lips.

It was only one-fifteen in the afternoon, but after a night of sleeplessness, a drawn-out morning seduction of Helen -- complete with edible foreplay and fuzzy handcuffs -- Lex felt exhausted. The good news was a naked Helen still curled up next to him in his black silk sheets, her hair pooled like spilled coffee along his arms, looking wonderfully at home. She might still take a little training, and a bit more manipulation to get her to trust him, but she was as good as a permanent fixture in the house.

He gently shifted, planning to get up and fix some more coffee -- or a cognac -- but his stirring brought her back from her sleep. "Leaving so soon?" she asked in a voice so devoid of weariness Lex had to wonder if she'd actually slept at all.

"I was going to make some more coffee," he answered, truthfully. She nodded slightly and rolled over, stretching luxuriously.

"Too much coffee is really bad for you," she answered, looking at him sharply through spidery eyelashes.

Lex smiled placidly at her, and nodded. Living with a real bona fide doctor might not be the most thrilling decision he had ever made. Lex Luthor wasn't exactly the modern staple of American healthiness. "I suppose you'll tell me alcohol will send me to an early grave as well?"

She purred into a smile, and sat up. A glance at her watch confirmed the time to her, and she yawned despite herself. "It will. But it's after noon. Alcohol is all right. Coffee is out of the question, at least until ten."

Lex reached out to toy with her hair, wrapping lassos about his fingers with it. "I never told you I'm narcoleptic, did I?"

She `Mmmed' at him, and her lips followed the sound with a smile. "Coffee wouldn't help that, Lex," she answered smoothly. "Why are you so tired?"

"I was up all night."

"Doing what?" she inquired, sliding up against him, fitting her lanky body into the crook of his arms somehow.

"Thinking about things. You and I, for example." She fixed him with an unimpressed gaze. He relinquished. "I was thinking about the Kent's as well, I admit."

She straightened, tossing her hair back over her shoulders. "Martha Kent is a very lucky lady."

"Yes," Lex answered, smoothly. "It seems like the entire Kent-clan is very lucky."

"What's your real interest in her, Lex?" Helen suddenly demanded, her voice dropping its buttermilk sweetness. Lex looked at her, the surprise on his face looking visibly genuine.

"Helen," he started, looking away.

"There's no easy way around this, Lex. Tell me."

Lex wondered if he didn't hear a hint of jealousy in her voice, as if Lex was romantically interested in Martha Kent. He fought down the trigger of a smile that thought rose, and bowed his head to conceal any mirth he might radiate. "It's just speculation," he murmured.

"About what?"

He took a deep breath, and looked up at her, piercing grey eyes not betraying a flicker of deceit. "I think she might be pregnant with my father's child."

Helen blinked, obviously out of all the excuses she had plotted out, she had not expected one, and sat back. "What?"

"My father has an obvious interest in Martha Kent. A lot of that interest surfaced when Ethan shot my father, and framed Jonathan for it. I trust Martha to be an upstanding, law-abiding citizen, but where my father is concerned, laws don't apply. If she and Jonathan Kent could never conceive before, then maybe it wasn't her inability; maybe it was that Jonathan couldn't, and my father could." He looked away from her, eyes focusing hard on the wall.

Helen was shaking her head, shocked by the news. "Even so. Even if so, you saw how happy they were. Let them have their dreams come true. Don't ruin them for this."

Lex sneered a little, shaking his head. "If I have a half brother, who has the chance to be raised by the Kent's, I'd never try to make him a Luthor. But I want to know." He finally looked at her, and he could taste the sorrow in her eyes.

"Lex," she cooed, touching his smooth cheek affectionately. "I think far more than just your father's virility caused this pregnancy. You know I can't tell you anything, but there is something strange about the Kent's. Out-of-this-world strange."

Lex shook his head. "I'll ask her about the pregnancy. My father can lie to me. I don't know if Martha can. But I'm not letting this alone."

"Lex," Helen started, and then shook her head, defeated. "I'll see what I can find out for you," she murmured softly. "But just about this."

Lex smiled gratefully, and pulled her close, murmuring `thank you's' into her ear, as his smile widened.

He had his foot in the door. Now it was just a matter of getting in the rest of the way.

If you thought I was a manipulative bastard second only to my father, you'd be wrong. I'm actually much worse than he is.

There's something that happens to a man when he stands on the fifth floor of Smallville General Hospital, views a seed-shaped craft as it is enveloped in light, watches it rise a few yards into the air, and cures a hospital full of dead and dying people. Some might call it awe. I like to say its affirmation.

Some would believe it was a miracle of God. I know it's a miracle of Clark Kent. I would have known anyway, even if he hadn't been standing next to the pod in the parking lot, beside his father. He looked remarkably healthy too, which was really no surprise. The Kent's are simple people; if you let them go, unarmed, unmasked, reckless and sick into a high tech DCA facility, and let them find, in the whole of the warehouse, the one little item they were searching for, and then conveniently let them escape, they really think they've outsmarted the police, and FBI.

It seems they're too nave to realise they were allowed to escape. I let them find the disc, and I let them get away from the DCA. Martha and Clark's illnesses never concerned me; I'm not so malicious as to have engineered and administered a deadly spore without first securing the antidote. There was never a moment I didn't control.

The sun is setting now, and the birds have all quieted. The dust kicked up from Helen's departing car still lingers in the air, casting tan motes of light through my vision. She's off to get her "things," because starting tomorrow she's moving in. My father would tell me I've gotten weak, because I've fallen in love. He would be wrong. I don't love Helen, and I think she may know that. But she likes the thrill, and the power over me she can have. She has the means to Clark's truth, and I have the means to fund her into the career of a lifetime. It doesn't hurt to be used when it's a willing dance of disbelief.

My father would tell me I've gotten weak, because I've lost my perspective. He would be wrong. He knows. And I know he knows, and I'm determined to find out what it is he knows before he figures out what to do with the knowledge he has. The secrets of the Kent's are leaking out bit by bit, and I'm determined to cap that flood, and filter it into my own private reservoir.

My shadow trails me. It slinks behind, like a lost memory hoping to be noticed from its forgotten gravel grave, as I turn from the emptied driveway, heading back toward my mansion. It creeps timidly after me, floating roughly over the ground, brushing apprehensively at my heels. It fears me, for I precede darkness. And darkness seems loath to follow.


"The world is a Dark place. Darkness will always triumph in the end." -- JRR Tolkien on Beowulf

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