The gun felt disturbingly too comfortable in his hand, almost like it had been made to fit his palm. Cold steel against his skin, urging him to pull the trigger. Lex could have done it, too. He'd killed before, and in front of Clark, too. It would have been nothing to do it again, because deep down, he knew Clark alone couldn't save him. Couldn't stop him from going further down the road his feet were now set upon.
Clark hadn't been able to, no, but something else had. In that single moment when the gun whispered its wicked encouragement, Lex had heard another voice and when his eyes closed, he'd seen another pair of eyes looking straight into his soul. Helen. When the moment of hesitation came, it had been her--all of her--which had restrained his eager trigger finger and not the farm boy close at hand, ready to be a witness to Lex's act of self- defense. Ready to back up his slightly skewed version of the truth with sad eyes. Ready to lie.
Helen wasn't a liar--she was very straight forward about what she could or could not tell him, mostly due to her professional convictions--nor did she like it when Lex lied to her. He'd found that out the hard way after she first moved into the mansion. If she couldn't live with one locked door, she'd never forgive him for killing even a jerk like Paul--not even in defense of her precious life.
She was precious to him. It was this simple fact--the revelation that he valued her enough to do anything to keep her--that stopped him, that saved him. He could have taken Paul's life easily and, just as easily, lose the woman he wanted the most to keep by his side.
And himself into the bargain.
Their love steadied his hand, changed his course of action.
Their love... the love he almost squandered by being too busy with work. He'd taken her for granted, assuming she'd always be there simply because she'd moved in with him. Cancelled dates and meetings that ran way too long--all those things flashed through his mind when he so much as thought about finding her lying there on that floor, covered in her own blood. He almost lost her that night.
He wouldn't lose her again, he vowed silently as he watched her sleeping--her exquisite body curled around one of the pillows from their bed. She'd given him a reason a fight back against the darkness within him, a reason to try and the man his mother had hoped he would be... a reason to rise above Luthor and simply be Lex.
She'd given him back himself, and he loved her. Nothing else in the world mattered.