Does it look too--bare? I was thinking of adding a picture or something to the top, but on the other hand, it really loads slow enough, so not so sure.
The nice thing about this is that my war with LJ code has actually helped me figure out the hieroglyphs. Okay, not well, but at least now I can see what on earht I'm doing.
Still can't figure out why time is bolded, though.
Okay. Today I will write. I will write something interesting.
Also, will post this. For koimistress, who was asking me what happened in RedClark'verse after Clark took the pheremone treatment and Lex decided free will was highly overrated. tstar78 and schmevil for pre-reads, because they enable me horribly. HORRIBLY.
Earlier parts are here by me (fourth of the Quartered: Subversion in Four Movements story) and here by koimistress.
It's a Sunday, oddly enough.
Lionel's turning to the door when it slams open--lock breaking before his eyes, a rebound off the wall that leaves a quarter inch deep impression in the paneled wood. The figures that enter are eerily reminiscent of another place and time, two sons and a silent office, but the identity of the second's a surprise.
Not an unwelcome one, either, and Lionel thinks of files on his computer, of the men and labs racing Lex for the knowledge hiding under that child's skin. The ultimate game of cat and mouse. He wonders if his son knows he's already lost.
"Lex. What do I owe the pleasure?"
The boy--Clark--pushes the door shut with a casual flick of the wrist before leaning back against it, watching with an amused expression as Lex comes to a stop on the rug. There's a subtle tension that Lionel can't quite grasp, and he puts his glass down, glancing at the brandy decanter. "Can I get you a drink, son?"
"No." The pause doesn't fit. A curiously uncertain look, wrong on the face of the man that Lionel hasn't been able to read since his teens, no matter how he bluffs through the games he and Lex play. "Dad--"
Again, that pause. Interesting. Lex shifts, almost uncomfortably, and that's completely new.
"Right. Four, sixteen, eight, three. Left. Nine, eleven. Right. One, six, eight." Clark tilts his head when Lionel looks at him, and Lionel wonders what is showing on his face. "Combination to the safe in the wall." The kid's grinning now. "I did some research. Save us some time."
Lex is watching him still. Dark eyes and strangely pale face, and Lionel glimpses patches of raw red just beneath the pristine collar of his shirt. Clarified. Though not by much. "What are you doing here, son?"
"I like this office," Clark murmurs, and Lex stiffens, though he doesn't turn around. "Lots of places to hide things, like that floor safe that you moved the meteor rock to. Lead, I see. Smart. Lex and I were comparing notes, Lionel. Nice to see you again, of course."
He doesn't like it, doesn't know why. Instinct is stretching awake and flexing its claws down the sides of his brain. He doesn't like how still Lex is, hands loose at his sides like he's waiting for something. Doesn't like that he thinks Lex might be.
What, he doesn't know, and he doesn't want to find out.
"Lex, I think you should leave." And take that boy with you, whatever it may be. Lex doesn't move, God, doesn't seem to breathe, and something in the room falls like a pin in silence. It's not sound. It's instinct. It's knowing. "Lex, what did you come here for?"
He's smiling. That boy. Clark. And only now is he able to take him in, elegant cut of an expensive coat when he pushes off the door. This isn't Martha Kent's son padding across the room, no matter how he's fooled Lex, and Lionel feels something very like fear crawl up his spine, settling low in the back of his neck, cold and heavy. His hand's reaching for his gun, bottom of the drawer, a stack of folders beneath. His son has one here. So does Lucas. So does Clark.
"You probably shouldn't try that." Clark, close enough to breathe, and he feels his fingers break before he can withdraw his hand. Sound escapes his lips before he can stop himself, burning pain washing through him, unblunted even by the shock. "An hour ago, someone broke into LuthorCorp Towers, did you know that? I'll bet you didn't. It was a robbery; it'll look like industrial espionage at first. But you know all about that, don't you, Lionel?"
I don't know a damned thing, but his fingers bleed pain through his mind, and he can feel bone splinters piercing skin. Jesus Christ. Lex hasn't moved, and he understands. "Did you come here to kill me, Lex?"
It's unthinkable. Unbelievable. They're only words, but they aren't refuted.
"They came up here. You know how this goes." Clark's head turns, looking at the safe, but Lionel doesn't move, even as he hears the sound of sizzling metal and the rough fall of something heavy onto the floor. Evidence, his mind offers. Lex is as white as the snow outside. "Thank you for moving the meteor rock, Lionel. That was very kind of you. You shouldn't have tried to stop the robbery." The change is too fast; Lionel knows he should be doing something, speaking, but Clark's leaning close, and he's overwhelmed with scent--some designer cologne, but beneath it, he can smell his son. Sex. They fucked on the way here. Minutes ago, perhaps. He's hard like a kid and there's nothing to blame it on. That scent, Jesus, this creature masquerading as a pretty piece of trade. "He's so good, Lionel," Clark whispers into his ear. "I'll bet it kills you every time someone has him in a way you can't. I have him in every way you did and all the ways you never will. And I'll have this, too." Clark's tongue traces his cheek, slick and wet. "You know, in another time, we really would have gotten along well. But I've waited for this for a while."
He wants to--ask, question, draw this out, Lex wouldn't, Lex can't, Lex won't.
"He keeps files on me, Lex." The low velvet voice changes--younger, somehow, a boy's light tenor, and it's expert, the way it trembles. "He knows about me. Like Nixon. He knows, Lex."
"How much?" Lex's voice is sharper. Like he's more in the room now, like he hasn't been since he came in, and whatever was holding him still is now gone. Clark draws away with a smile only Lionel can see, circling the desk and coming close enough to Lex for them to share breath. The focus is brutal. "How long?"
The files are on the desk like magic, spread like a dealer's hand, and Lionel feels the trembling start somewhere below his chest, unbroken hand gripping the arm of the chair as if it can give him some kind of strength. He won't beg. There's no reason to.
"Months," Clark breathes, tongue flicking out to wet very red lips, and it's not a kiss, can't be, no one does that in the middle of premeditated murder, but then Lex turns to look at Lionel. "He has files and rock and labs. You know what he'll do with them."
You're my son, Lionel wants to say, but his son didn't enter this room. He's not sure who the man is who reaches into his coat and pulls out dark leather gloves, made to drive an expensive car, fitted to his hand. Slid gently over each knuckle and settled in place with precision.
"You've made your will, haven't you?" Clark's smile is all teeth, and he's close enough to Lex to touch. "I assume you screwed Lex out of majority shareholding but left him to fight it out with Lucas, right?"
Lionel breathes out. He has to take control of this. And himself. Jesus, himself. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"It's surprisingly easy to get information from an attorney with something to hide." Clark pulls out an envelope and crosses back to the desk, letting the contents slide out. There's blood on three of them, smeared and stained fresh, he can smell it. Rachel's son looks back at him through blank eyes washed of all color. Lionel doesn't reach for them. He doesn't trust himself enough. *Lucas*.
"Don't pretend to care too much," Clark says lightly, sitting on the edge of the desk. "An attorney who will tell truths for money will also write wills when asked. Lucas gave us what we needed, and I'm sure he'd feel that this is justice if he could watch. Don't you think?" Clark's smile is so bright it's hard to look away, but the click of a safety drags Lionel's attention back to his son.
His son, sighting him as coolly as an assassin in the some overblown Hollywood production, black gloves stretched tight over Lillian's elegant knuckles, watching him through Lillian's blue eyes. Like the last days, when the painkillers took over and her mind was leeched away on a cloud of euphoria, before she started to scream because nothing they gave her could stop her pain. He remembers holding a struggling Lex in the hall and telling his son it wasn't Luthor to do this and every bruise from tiny heels welcome, Jesus, so welcome, every one of Lex's enraged screams drowning out the sounds of a pain that Lionel couldn't ease. I can kill the children of these doctors before their eyes, Lionel had thought in wonder, and they still couldn't stop this.
That endless rage that lived under Lex's skin is shining from Lillian's eyes.
"When you tried to stop the robbery, you were shot. Very unprofessional, but it was a clean death. Lex will be informed in a few hours that his father was murdered. There are many suspects, but the police will find the man who hired the killer fairly quickly after Lex turns over the death threats that were sent to him, the ones that will be found in your desk as well. He's dead, of course, blew his own brains out in a motel only ten minutes from LuthorCorp Towers. The estranged son." Clark sighs, comedo-dramatic, face pulled into a sick semblance of grief. "Guilt, I guess."
"Shoot him," Lionel hears himself say, and Lex's eyes flicker, finding the creature like water in the desert. Air to breathe. Jesus Christ. "Shoot him, Lex. You'll never be free otherwise."
Lex smiles, slow and hard and helpless. "I don't want to be."
The gunshot lasts forever. And the pain from his hand vanishes when he feels the impact.