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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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svwip: something like forgetting (WAS wip day fic #2 and camp woes)
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Who knew the most stressing part of my day would be choosing a camp for Child?

Dear God. There are so *many*. And I--and by that, I mean, Child--want to attend them all. I wish for adult camps now. I'd like a day of swimming, horseback riding, crafts, and antics galore.

Dammit. Someone should invent this. Though the fees are somewhat unreal in some cases. I'm curious if they feed the children off of platinum plates with lobster dinners or something. Or maybe it's the fact this is one of those ten billion things I know absolutely nothing about. The coolest camps so far are the ones sponsored by the Children's Museum, but damned if I can figure out a way to get him downtown still make it to work. God knows, mandatory overtime alone is going to cause some problems.

*sighs* Stupid interesting camps.

Child is collecting various icky wildlife and scaring me badly. There are *so many ways* that I can detail why a snail in the house creeps me out, especially one that unexpectedly sticks to surfaces my face is close to, and I didn't see until I was almost eye to eye with the little bastard.

Child has been mimicking my scream for about an hour now. And snails defecate while clinging to the top of their clear plastic habitats. I may never be able to eat again.

The Living Rock Hermit crabs don't scare me. Possibly because I spend a lot of time not wondering where the escaped one got to.

I'm absolutely charmed by WiP Amnesty Day, to the point of active joy. All the pretty snippets! Nothing pleases me more than watching Pru panic over AIM. And I love her very, very much. So this was twice as much fun.

One more guilt free bit of WiPness. I have no idea if anyone even remembers this one, it's so old. But here we go.

The first two parts are here and here. For the curious, this story is the shining, single reason I no longer allow myself to write linear. It always, always goes bad.



Lex looked down at the picture. Blinked once. Looked at it again.

It hadn't changed, and his first instinct should have said, manipulation. Easy thing to achieve, anyone with a home computer and a printer could do a credible one, and a professional could make a nearly perfect one.

Except--

Except this was hidden in top drawer of a dresser in a farmhouse in the middle of *Smallville*, and Lex hadn't even known this dresser was here, nor that he'd be rummaging through it.

Well, okay, he'd known he would be--he was that kind of person. But he doubted Clark's ability to read his mind.

Though, apparently, maybe he should be rethinking that. At very least, he should be just a little more suspicious of the man currently going about whatever he did during the day while Lex enjoyed his prowls through his past.

Clark *Kent*. One newspaper article from a small-town Kansas paper, lost in microfiche and Lex never would have looked for it if it hadn't been for that *fucking* bridge. Which that article explained in remarkably thorough detail.

Teen Saves Billionaire's Son

Yeah, that was something, Lex suspected, that most people didn't forget. And he knew now for fact that Clakr remembered.

--"Oh god. Oh--oh *fuck* what the hell kind of *joke* is this?"--

Apparently, the kind that Lex was only beginning to figure out.

Clark remembered. And he hadn't expected Lex to.

Huh.

Walking to the bed, Lex sat down, drawing a leg up and putting the box on the worn comforter. An average boy's room, average bed, all very rural Kansas. Very down-to-earth. Farming folks, he'd read. Organic farmers. Nice people. Adopted a three year old boy the year of the meteor crash when Lex had lost part of his humanity and all of his hair and the town of Smallville lost its reputation for corn.

Stared at the picture again.

A nice picture. Young Clark, breathtaking, perched on what appeared to be a Spider Ferrari, grinning. Taken definitely by surprise--too natural and Clark was anything and everything but natural in front of people or cameras as far as Lex could tell. Flannel shirt tied around his waist, hands pressed to the hood, looking utterly at ease and almost painfully young.

Lex himself, twenty-one and so--God, had he been that young?--leaning against the driver's side door, watching Clark. He recognized the expression on his face. Body memory, some things stayed the same and twenty years didn't take away the heat. He looked at Clark like that now, felt it in the bones of his face, and shit, did this retrofit his latest chat with Clark, giving it all kinds of new and frankly interesting layers.

And here he thought vacation would be boring.

That was something he wanted. He'd forgotten. There was no way in hell that he could have forgotten a car accident and a boy who was close enough to him to sit on a two hundred grande automobile without a trace of nervousness. A boy that looked like *that*, a boy that appeared in none of Lex's memories.

"What the hell happened?" Lex murmured, flipping through pictures. More of Clark, of a couple he didn't recognize but felt he *should*. Lana Lang, the woman who rode the gorgeous thoroughbred and looked at him with a mixture of shocked horror and something that bordered on pain.

She'd lied too--or maybe he just hadn't asked the right questions.

"What are you doing here?"

Lex didn't look up, fixing his gaze on the box for a moment in thought.

"You'd be an amazingly skilled liar if you could learn to control how you twitch." Lex turned on the bed, bracing a foot on the floor. Dark brown hair almost hid the hazel eyes, and the big hands shook a little as Clark clenched them at his sides. Tension vibrating off of him in waves.

"I don't know what you're talking about. Why are you in my house?"

Lex ignored the question, letting the box speak for itself.

"I dream about bridges and see pictures of boys on my cars. Trust me, anyone sits on my Ferrari, I better be allowed to fuck them. Price of privilege." Clark winced, and Lex stood up, tucking the box on the comforter. "What am I missing here?"

"Luthor--"

"You don't even sound natural saying it." He never had--it never felt quite right when Clark said Mr. Luthor or President Luthor. Never. Like Clark was adapted to something else entirely. "Tell me what I'm missing. No one loses memory this selectively."

"I don't know."

A perfectly bad lie. Lex could have slapped him. He didn't. Slowly, he moved forward, watching with a sort of clinical amusement as Clark retreated, hitting the wall with a soft thud that brought the hazel eyes directly up to his.

A thousand things were written in those eyes, behind those glasses. Lex paused briefly, staring at him.

"You--were outside the main offices of LuthorCorp." Familiarity. The rush. Silver-blue Porsches that matched one that drove off a bridge. One fucking weird obsession after another. "I've seen you there."

Clark paused, and then slowly nodded.

"I'm a reporter."

"Early mornings." Lex nodded. "Noticed that." Little pause. "I only go in early twice a week and I've seen you there. More than once."

Clark didn't answer, staring at him with expressionless query--Lex had mastered that look before his fifth birthday. Took another step forward and there was only inches between them, and he would almost think the man was trying to back through the wall.

This was Smallville, though, so maybe he could.

"You--you should go."

Lex tilted his head, picture in hand.

"You think that'll stop me?" Pause that seemed a little dramatic even for this moment, and Clark didn't look at him, fixing his gaze somewhere over his shoulder, and Lex stepped back. "I'll figure this out, Clark."

Turned and left, feeling Clark's gaze on his back all the way to the door.

It had been too damned long since he'd had a challenge like this.

*****



*****

He hadn't come here since he'd shaken Smallville's dust off of him for good---tombstones from years and even centuries past, grey and jagged and weather-darkened, the grass neatly mowed and so--well, park-like, in a creepy sort of way. Crouching, he dropped the flowers in front of the only grave he was sure he knew.

Well, mostly sure. Apparently, a lot of things in his mind needed rearranging, and really, Luthors didn't need psychiatrists, did they? He'd never believed in all that past-life hyponsis crap, but it was suddenly tempting to go seek one of the whackos out and sit them down, tell them his little problem.

I have a past life, and it's living parallel with mine. I thought I knew and I don't.

The softest sound behind him, and Lex was reaching for his gun by instinct, then paused. Craning his head, he watched Clark, standing only feet away.

It was still tempting to shoot him, but Lex let his hand fall away, the tips of his fingers brushing the cold dirt.

"Cassandra." Lex looked down at the stone. "How much do I remember correctly, I wonder?"

"You were there when she died, the nurse said." Clark paused, and Lex twisted back around, pushing himself to his feet.

How much of this was real? Smallville fucked with his mind, and this man, who refused to admit anything. He knew Clark--some things were beyond simple memory. Instinct. Turning around, he studied that long body again, wondering if he'd ever really known anyone.

"You could be lying to me."

He watched Clark shrug and turn on a heel, moving away. There was an almost unbearable desire to follow him, ask him--

--what, exactly?

He knew what he'd ask Cassandra.

You saw this and you died?

It wasn't that bad, was it? Lex dropped back down, ignoring Clark's presence, staring down at the grave. LexCorp had yet to figure out a way to bring back the dead. There was an almost indecent desire to start lighting a fire underneath a few of the more erratic scientists--and he might mean that literally--and start looking into the hows.

Old women had heart attacks all the time. All the damn time. He'd had nothing to do with it.

"Lex?"

Strange thing, that he responded, turning around. Clark was back, closer this time, that careful distance between them shortened some degrees.

"Yeah."

"You didn't kill her." Little smile, strangely bitter, not quite fitting the face that looked back at him. Something uncomfortably personal in that steady gaze, like a familiar argument was being tred and he almost knew his lines.

He'd fucked with less intimacy than this.

"You're always so sure." It came out of his mouth, just sitting there between them, and Lex bit into his tongue, looking back at the tombstone. "I'm going to figure this out."

"Wouldn't--" Clark stopped, and Lex pushed himself to his feet, turning to face the other man. There it was again--bitter edges of remembered pain. "What if it's better if you don't remember?"

Blinking, Lex thought about hte question.

"That--that's my decision to make." He'd never give that control to anyone--ever.

"What--what if it was? In a way?"

Lex tok a breath, letting it out slowly. In some weird way, this was exactly the ground it had to happen on. Like fate or the destiny he'd never believed in, or the--

--or the bridge he'd stood on, the pictures he'd seen, the headlines and the car and everything else that came together with a snap so hard it richocheted inside of him.

"You wanted to rule the world, Lex. You couldn't--you couldn't do it if--" Short stop, and Clark was breathing hard, staring at the ground. "I turned guilt into a way of life. I always thought--thought that there wasn't any such thing as destiny, until I was living it. It's--it's there, Lex. It's unstoppable. I ran for years, and it never let me go."

"You make your own destiny."

"So says the son of Lionel Luthor."

The ground seemed to tilt just a little.

"Everything I did was on my own terms," Lex said slowly, evenly, feeling that pulse of rage that always accompanied memories of his father. Hate was too soft a word to use--it was instinctive, unavoidable, genetic memory. Luthors and their sons were always a recipe for rewriting the book on rivalry. Not to mention a few good Greek plays.

"Yes, I know." Another pause. "Lex, why do you want to know?"

"Because I don't know now." Simple answer. Story of his life. If he didn't own it, he wanted it. If it was hidden, he'd find it. If he didn't know, he'd figure it out. That was what he *was*.

"You were a brilliant scientist," Clark said finally, one boot pushing into the ground. "You used to fall asleep in the lab across your notes and your secretary would wake you up for your meetings in the morning. You said you never felt any peace anywhere else." Another pause, longer and more thoughtful. "In the end, you chose power over it, because you had to prove to your father that you were better than he'd ever be. Lex, the past is the past. Pulling up this stuff will only hurt in the end."

The hazel eyes were serious when they met his.

"How well did I know you?" Lex whispered, feeling the ground tilt again. Clark's smile was pained.

"Your secretary wasn't always the one who woke you up."

Lex froze for a moment that splintered.

"I never would have let you go," he breathed, and another piece fell softly into place. He could hear it slide, and there was no denial on the face of the man before him. "Never, Clark."

"I know. And you never would have been president, and never had your daughter or your life. Tell me again--why the fuck do you want to know?"

"Because it's mine." Simple answer, automatic because he wasn't thinking anymore, just reacting, and the tombstone was cold beneath his hand. "How?"

"Lex--"

"At least you're using my name. I suppose that's something." Something like a small admission in that, but he wasn't sure. Torn between stalking up and just shaking the answers clear of Clark's stubborn head, and walking away, because somewhere in him, these things were making some sort of sense. "What happened?"

Clark looked away.

There was--the sound of a car. People, and Lex had his hand on his gun yet again, but--but something moved in him. Sudden and as irrevocable as this moment, when Clark turned around and Dominik appeared, looking at Clark as if he was seeing an apparition.

"Sir." Almost *stumbling* now, and Lex felt his fingers tighten on the trigger. "In--sir, you have to return to the city."

Lex didn't move, barely breathed--white face, hands shaking, he took it all in for a single endless moment, and it was there again. That *knowledge*, that something was moving more than just outside his control, but moving beyond it.

"What happened?" His voice was almost a whisper, and over Dominik's head, he saw Clark's head come up sharply, sucking in a soft breath.

"Alexa's missing."

*****

*****

Clark was waiting in his living room, cheap suit and shiny shoes, notebook in hand, but Lex already knew it wasn't an interview, didn't even bother to call for security.

"What the fuck are you doing here?"

Clark shrugged, shifting uncomfortably on the expensive rug, and Lex walked past him to the brandy, pouring a glass.

"You drink too much," he heard Clark say, and the glass shattered--his own fault for picking it up with his prosthetic, and he knew better than that. Grabbing another glass, he poured a double and turned around, leaning back against the small table.

Admitted nothing except everything, Alexa was missing, Lena was dead, and right now, taking this idiot reporter with his secrets out was actually turning into a highly attractive option. At least it would be something to do.

"What do I owe the pleasure of this visit, Mr. Kent? Hell will freeze before you do a piece on how I'm worrying about my daughter and begging the kidnappers to bring her home safe and sound."

Clark's head tilted.

"You'd be surprised what you'd do with the right incentive." A slight twist to his lips at the word, and Lex felt like they'd just ventured into another conversation entirely. "That's not why I'm here." Clark paused, chewing on his lip briefly. "I wanted to offer my help."

"Your help?" So much tension in the room that it was surprising either of them could breathe. "Kent. Reporter. You and Lois were playing with my weapons one night and I caught you." Lex clenched a hand into the table and thought about breaking it. Destruction of pretty things was never low on the priority list. "I don't just not remember you--I actively forget you, and maybe it would help *a lot* if I could figure out why."


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Something Like Forgetting, oh my good lord I love this story.

Also, my best best best memories are of camp, I went to four camps a year for ten years. So many good times.

I advise against horse camp, but maybe that's just me.

I love this story. It really needed more, and even these snippets are very very nice. Now if only there'd be more "Two Paths."

I love this. Thanks for letting it out into the air for a while!

Oh, so american summer camp isn't actually a camp? It sounds like a holiday program (ie. drop the kids off, and have them organised into group activities and fed all day.). I always thought it was literally camping.

Am too tired to make sense of the fic tonight. Will read tomorrow.

Ooh, yeah, that's the stuff. I love Lex when he's like a dog with a bone. Shades of post-Asylum Lex. *g* Very, very intriguing.

Summer camp nightmares (and I'm not joking)

I went to a summer camp that changed locations without telling the parents. It was a good thing that I was ten and able to tell my parents where the bus went. They also fed us rolls that had been on the floor, and one of the "counselors" (if you could call them that) gave my cousin one hell of a smack. If you can avoid that, I think you'll do okay.

It's still an interesting wip. Even if it dies unfinished.

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