Lex could have killed him right then and there, enjoyed it even.
"I don't believe this." But he did, of course, because, well, it was true. And he was good enough with lies to know a genuine truth when it crawled out from under a green meteorite rock, shaking and pale and he was just so close to letting him die.
Right here, right now, except of course, that would leave him with enough questions to fill a few novels and Lex couldn't kill Clark Kent, and wasn't that the kicker? He could kill Superman, maybe, but not while he was wearing an old flannel shirt and jeans, looking as if he was ready to be embalmed.
"Why the fuck didn't you wear the uniform, Clark? This would have been a hell of a lot easier."
Clark just closed his eyes and Lex kicked the rock aside, dropping on his knees by the slim body and reaching down--God knew what he was going to do--but his hands stopped at the edges of the flannel, holding the soft material between his gloved fingers and staring into hazel eyes.
"You are marvelous. Who taught you to lie so well?"
"My father. You." Clark coughed softly and Lex clenched his fingers. "Don't look like that. Wet dream fulfilled. You kill me, it's all good. What did your scientists say would be the maximum I'd survive with that green shit?"
"A few hours," Lex said numbly. "Six on the inside, ten on the outside, but there's not a lot of your species wandering around to test on." Lex sat back on his heels, breathing hard. "I should let you die here."
Clark didn't answer.
"Secret identity and all. How the hell did I miss it?"
Clark smiled a little, shrugging.
"Same way I lost my memory?"
"Sort of a touch telepathic phenomenon. Trust me, not nearly as cool as you think it should be. It's easier to work with crowds. I had some--trouble with you." Clark grinned a little self-deprecatingly and it should be indecent to be so amused--and proud? Well, yes, in an entirely selfish way. "You don't like losing control and you saw me too much. I didn't know that would be a catalyst."
Lex found himself nodding, and freed Clark's collar, sitting back. He was going to hyperventilate or he was going to laugh or he was going to kill Clark, and all of the options were pretty much bad, because right now, right this second, there was a murderer on the run and he had to die. Lex couldn't' kill him, Clark wouldn't, and it left him sitting here on this fucking concrete Smallville floor without a single damn option.
"You're not reacting like I thought you would," Clark murmured.
"That's because I'm in shock. Wait a few minutes so I can assimilate and I'll crow that I finally got rid of Superman for good. Pity of it is, I'd have to get rid of Clark Kent too."
Clark's head turned, the hazel eyes sharp and strangely sad. He deserved to die. If anyone on earth did, he did, because betrayal this personal wasn't' something Lex had ever been able to accept, not ever.
"You don't know me, Lex. Just do it."
And those were words that Lex was going to spend quality time examining at another time and place, but right now, he had things to do. Getting to his feet, he studied the rock carefully, then picked it up.
"These have taken a lot from me," he said softly.
"Shouldn't have worn it as a ring."
Lex bared his teeth in a smile, then walked to the door, pushing it open. Not a lot of options, they were at least six floors underground, but Lex knew where the lead was from memory and left the rock there. When he returned, Clark was slowly sitting up, and Lex let himself slide down the wall.
"Don't look so excited. We're still trapped. What you don't' know is that we're at Foundry Eight, where I was running those experiments you referred to on the meteor. If you died first, I wouldn't have any company when I died. Of starvation most likely." At Clark's uncomprehending look, Lex grinned. "God, you're clueless sometimes--you caught me about ninety percent of the time, but the other ten percent is the stuff you should have been worrying about. Six sublevels, we're on the bottom, and every floor is leadlined and stuffed with this crap. You break through one floor, you'll be pretty much soaked with the stuff. This room is lead-lined. I like the irony, don't' you?"
Clark breathed out.
"There has to be a way."
"I built this with the idea I didn't want you in it, Clark. Think about that."
Clark hesitated, then stared down at the floor.
"We're not going to die like this." And Lex couldn't help it--he smiled.
"Best friends, hmm?"
The hazel eyes went down, staring at the floor.
"More than that?"
"You want me to draw you a picture?" Clark murmured, standing up unsteadily--there was enough of the Kryptonite soaked into the place to make him pretty jittery, but at least he no longer looked close to death. Lex couldn't help smiling, just watching him.
"Yes, I would. I don't remember, you do, and apparently, we have time. My daughter's dead and there's a very good chance that if we get out of here, I'm going to be spending the remainder of my life making every single person who has ever breathed air on this planet very sorry for that." Seeing Clark's sharp gaze, Lex let his smile widen. "I'll watch this world burn and enjoy it. That's what Cassandra saw and you believed, right?"
Clark didn't answer and Lex leaned back into the wall and shut his eyes as Clark passed him.
Three hours later, Lex dragged him back to the lead lined room and watched him recover. And yes, this was insane, but it was in a sort of good way. The sort of good way that only came when there was nothing else good going on. The kind of good that people got placed in nicely padded rooms afterward to recover or not.
"You blame me for not believing you?"
Lex tossed off his coat and unbuttoned his sleeves, shaking his head.
"Not really. I've always liked to say 'I told you so'."
Clark didn't answer, raising himself slowly on his arms and breathing out carefully. Direct exposure at twelve hours, but hell, what about a few weeks down here? Probably kill just as thoroughly, come to think of it. Not that he'd live to see it, but still. It would solve some academic questions Lex had been pondering for coming on twelve years.
Twelve very interesting years, and Lex watched Clark as he settled onto the floor, staring at the walls with a blank expression.
Clark's head twisted around to look at him, and Lex raised both hands, palms out.
"Come on--you know what I'm asking, and it's not like I can do much with the information now. And why, if a miracle occurs and we get out, you can wipe my memory again." That was a suddenly comforting thought--wiped of his memory of Alexa, and if Clark could remove himself so thoroughly from Lex's mind, surely he could do the same with Alexa. Lex stared at the man before him, taking in a single burning fact--that the Lex Luthor who had walked into this building would die, whether or not he ever walked out again.
Slowly, Clark turned to face him, ten feet and God knew much time was sitting between them.
"I was your lover."
And he'd expected that, but the words--Lex leaned into the wall, closing his eyes.
"How did it start?" Water, bridge, superboy. That was how it went, how it began.
"I saved your life on the bridge. You saved mine in the cornfield. You were curious about me. I thought you were a nice guy. You found out what I was. We fucked. I left you. The end."
Huh. Lex opened his eyes and watched Clark's fingers draw lines on the concrete.
"I have to admit, it's a good thing that you never wanted to write romance novels."
Clark's smile was brittle.
"It wasn't romantic. It wasn't anything out of a novel or anything--" Clark stopped, tilting his head. "Or maybe it was, but with all the dirty parts still in, the parts they don't cover. The part where you're fifteen the first time you're seduced. The part where you're too young to know what you're doing. The part where you're taken advantage of and the part where you're lied to and the part where everything falls apart because the person you thought you cared about never gave a shit about anything but himself."
Lex let out a breath and nodded thoughtfully.
"That's what you told yourself?" Lex whispered. Clark looked away and Lex shook his head. "How long? Was it, with us?"
Amazing--around the time he'd taken over LuthorCorp. He was going to guess that it had been a point of contention. Lex drew his knees up to his chest, studying the concrete idly.
"You stayed around eight years while I made your life a living hell?" Lex whistled appreciatively. "I had no idea you were that weak."
Clark's gaze burned and Lex laughed softly.
"Don't retrofit it--you wouldn't have stayed that long if it had been that bad. I do know you well enough for that."
Clark moved--almost too fast to see, on his feet and staring down at Lex.
"You were in love with me. We hid it, and I lied to everyone and you hid my past and convinced me I could have a normal life. You tried to die for me, that's how you found out what I was. You were pissed. We didn't talk for awhile and then we did, and then we fucked. You said you wouldn't be your father, and I believed you until I couldn't anymore. And I left. Not a romance, Lex, it never was. Just a mistake."
Lex took a breath, letting it out slowly, evenly.
"A mistake." There it was again, the joke he was finally getting now. He shook his head, feeling the spasms across his broken ribs and couldn't' help it even now. Laughed until the pain brought tears to his eyes, and he lowered himself to the floor and choked a little, staring up at the ceiling. "You fucking bastard. Did you even tell me why you were leaving? What I'd have to give up?"
"It wouldn't' have mattered."
"Glad you asked then." Irony. And destiny. And Cassandra. And this--man. Clark. Clark. Beautiful, bright, brilliant Clark. "You've tried to kill me for over a decade, and you were *fucking* me before that? God, it's worth a book or two. Make history."
Clark stopped pacing, turning to look at him.
"You're concussed, aren't you?"
Lex grinned a little.
"For several hours now, but you've been a little busy. Don't look like that--it's a matter of hours if my ribs cut into my lungs. It'll all be over and you can rewrite history all over again. But I will tell you this, Clark--I wouldn't have let you go. Not ever. So you were right."
Closing his eyes, he felt Clark kneel beside him.
"What did he do to you?"
Lex shook his head slowly, smiling a little in thought.
"She was everything. You understand that? It was enough, she made it calmer and she gave me peace and she was mine. He didn't take her for the money--he didn't even take her because he hated me enough to hurt her. He took her so it would be over. You think I'm evil, Clark? You haven't seen the real thing in action. I saw it and felt it, and he almost pisses me off just for getting to that place where nothing else matters. I wanted to rule the world, but I never really wanted to destroy it. Not until now. He knew that, and he couldn't do it himself, so he took her." Lex looked up at Clark. "I can give him what he wants most--an end to everything."
Clark was staring down at him with wide eyes, taking it in, and Lex waited.
"I didn't leave because of you," Clark whispered, and a hand touched his ribs, making Lex wince. "It wasn't about you, in the end. It was about me."
"Try another cliche."
A hand slid into his, and Lex couldn't' help grinning.
"The one where I say we're getting out of here?"
"And I'll reform into a good guy and chase criminals every weekend. Let's cut the crap, Clark." Alexa. Jesus God. Alexa. "You don't have many options, Clark. You couldn't kill me before--think you can do it before I get out of here?" Lex held the fingers in his, clenching at the soft wave of pain, mercifully numbed. "You'd better."
Clark didn't answer, which actually was a pretty good answer in itself.
"I won't kill you."
Or fucking *not*.
"Go to hell."
Clark laughed a little, shifting, staring at the wall.
"I can hear her," Lex said softly. He felt Clark's gaze, looked up into it without even meaning to. No pity, though, thank you God. What he'd see when he left, along with the triumph and the hate and the love and the sympathy and everything else. The world knew by now. "Every day. Every second. I can do anything, everything, except the one thing she needed."
"I hear her, too." Clark slid into the wall, staring into the air before him. "Lois. Every day." Lex shut his eyes. Strangely appropriate; both their ghosts hung around asking for answers. "At first--I thought she wanted to know why I wasn't there, that day. When I could save everyone else but her. But--" Clark let out his breath in a hiss.
"But what?" Couldn't help it.
"She only asked why I was there at all."
Four people in this room, not two. Beautiful, perfect Alexa, all the potential he'd felt in her that he'd never really given a shit about. Because she was Alexa, nothing else mattered but that she was *there*. Lex drew in a breath and let it out, slow and careful.
"I saw you that day, you know," Clark said, and Lex turned against the stone. Handsome in profile, clean lines of bone and skin and dark eyes. Like the mud in the river, too clouded, and there were--God--these memories that couldn't be his, felt wrong, the man he was never would have had them.
The kid he'd been had had them all. Faint, dream-traces of that face and that body.
"At the hospital?" Lex asked, and it wasn't--right, to know that. To feel where Clark was going, like everything he knew was true now actually *was* true. Long white hallway and the crowds downstairs--Alexa had just been signed out and a carefully chosen pediatrician was on his heels, Dominik had been his own kind of annoying but less so than usual, the car had been outside waiting, his people ready--
All those people downstairs and he'd walked by and there'd been--
"I remember," Lex said softly, and he *did*. Never before, but this was Smallville and nothing ever happened the way it was supposed to anyway. Hunched in the corner, all those reporters torn between two huge stories, and--
"Yes," Clark answered a little dreamily. "They--were still working on her, and I--heard the noise, the security coming in--"
"--I saw you."
Stopped in the middle of the waiting room, Dominic's hand on his arm and asking him--something. Lex turned his gaze up and Clark was looking down at him.
Stopped dead at the sight of hazel eyes and the sudden rush, the knowledge that--
"You were there."
It's kind of odd to read this over and think, huh. I remember some bits, but some were entirely new when I started going over it to see how much was done.
God, I miss Smallville.