I suppose I missed the first indicator that something was wrong with my son. I suppose I should have realized that he would never, in his right mind, tell me he was proud of me. In my defense, I did believe he was attempting to divert attention away from whatever ulterior motive he had in hosting my charity event. However, this is Smallville and, while I have not actually lived here as long as Lex has, I do know that things happen here. Things that are, and I use Ms. Sullivan's word here because nothing else encompasses the entirety of it all, weird. Lex telling me he is proud of me falls into this category, so I should have suspected some Kentish-Meteor-Lexian sort of hi-jinx. At least two of those three factors seem to be involved with every strange occurrence in this town.
Lex and young Mr. Kent are, of course, Smallville's two non-homicidal meteor mutants. Though, in truth, I have my doubts that Clark is just a mutant. But then, Lex has at least three changes himself, so it is not impossible. Lex has been granted baldness, immunity, and accelerated healing. I hesitate to label his penchant for attracting near-death experiences a mutation. That could very well just be Lex being Lex. That he continues to survive despite all odds to the contrary may be indicative of a mutation toward immortality, but I refuse to label it as such until he reaches at least thirty. He has been far too close to that line far too many times for me to have any faith in the possibility.
Alternatively, Clark has strength, speed, and invulnerability. As my son's father, I feel that Lex was cheated somehow. In my darker days, I would have said my son could not even mutate properly. No, I lie; I would have thought it. I would not have admitted aloud that my son is anything less than human. He is still a Luthor.
It was chance that brought me into this wing where Lex's bedroom is. I don't recall what whim or question brought me here. When I heard the unmistakable sounds of sex issuing from behind his door, my initial quest was entirely forgotten. An impulse came to me then, born, no doubt, in the darkness that I try to not to acknowledge these days. Unlike most of my darker notions recently, this one was impossible to dismiss.
I approached the door instead of retreating. Turning my back on greed and manipulation, the restraint to not order hits on people's lives, and ceasing my less than ethical experiments and research are all relatively simple moral decisions that followed the miracle of having my liver cured. After all, I am no longer running LuthorCorp. There is little in the way of temptation without it. Preventing myself from wresting my company away from Lex has proven more difficult. I created that charity simply to keep myself from unintentionally attempting a takeover. Idle hands and all that.
These parental urges toward Lex, however, are the hardest to stop. Impossible at times. Like now. I suspect the problem is because my intentions are good. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I know this. I paved it myself. I love my son. I doubt I have ever said as much, even when he was small, but I do. I want what is best for him. Of course, with Lex being the willful child that he is, very often what is best for him is something for which he has little tolerance.
My wife once commented that a Luthor's love is often very trying on the recipient. I hope that she died before she realized that it could also be poison, but I fear she knew. It is, I think, what killed her; her illness was merely the manifestation. I try not to inflict it on Lex as much these days, but sometimes I regress. This was one of my regressions.
That mutant farmboy is not what is best for my son. Martha is good stock, but I will not allow Lex to be involved with anyone related (even by adoption) to an ignorant dirt farmer like Jonathan Kent. That is why I swung open his bedroom door with enough force to make it crash against the wall. That is what gave me the fury to enter his room wearing the wrathful scowl of parental disapproval that I haven’t needed since his teenaged years. It was Luthor pride, however, that had me praying to a God I've only recently begun to believe in that I'd misheard, that my ears had misinterpreted the sounds which came through the door. I prayed as I haven’t ever prayed before that it had not been Lex's voice telling Kent to go harder. I swore to God himself that if Kent had his dick up my son's ass, invulnerable or no, I'd kill them both.
Pushing that door open, I fully believed I would find Lex and Kent going at it. I fully expected to find my son beneath the mutant farmer, his legs spread and body penetrated. I was wrong. Standing here, just inside the door to my son's bedroom, I see that all too clearly.
Lex is indeed laid out on his bed, legs spread with someone's dick up his ass, but it isn't Kent's. It belongs to . . . Lex. There are two Lexes. They are both completely naked, which, to the functional brain, makes sense, because they are currently engaged in carnal activities. But I am Lex's father, and suddenly having two Lexes is something of a shock to the system. Especially since they are naked. And fucking. Each other.
This isn’t an isolated incident; I've walked in on Lex before. I've seen dozens, possibly hundreds, of photographs of him in all manner of compromising positions. None of that has ever shocked me. Not even a little. Disappointed me or infuriated me, yes, but never has it shocked me. Disappointment or infuriation are not the emotions foremost in my thoughts now. Neither is revulsion, though I wonder idly if it should be classified as incest or masturbation to fuck yourself like that. I suspect incest because there are two bodies involved, and therefore it is much like a pair of identical twins going at it.
In short, it is not Lex as a sexual being that bothers me. It is Lex as two sexual beings that my mind has difficulty wrapping itself around. It is not everyday that a human, even a mutant human though there is precedent, finds a way to perform mitosis. "Lex?" I ask, shamefully revealing my shock, though, to mitigate that, neither Lex appears to notice.
I watch with aesthetic appreciation as the Lex on top pulls almost completely out then presses down and deep one final time, arches, and comes into the body of the Lex on the bottom, taking his time to milk every possible drop out of himself. I admit to a brief flash of worry regarding my earlier comparison of the situation to asexual reproduction. They are not using condoms and this is Smallville. I push the thought away and refocus on my son(s).
The Lex on the bottom has his eyes tightly closed, his erection entirely wilted, and he looks completely mortified. The Lex on top is as unconcerned by my arrival as he had been the two times I'd walked in on him when he was a teenager. He pulls out of the bottom Lex and turns toward me without the least concern for his modesty. Of course, this is Lex, so he hasn’t any modesty left to be concerned about. He gets off the bed and positions himself between me and the other Lex, then crosses his arms and scowls at me. The Lex on the bed curls into a fetal position and covers himself with a sheet, looking like he wishes to disappear off the face of the Earth.
I sneer at the one on the bed. Since my liver was cured, I have tried to be a sympathetic and caring person, but long ingrained habit in the face of such pathetic weakness is too difficult to overcome in my shock at having two Lexes. “Leave him alone,” the standing Lex orders, scowling deeper.
I focus on him, looking into his eyes. Even so soon after having had sex, his eyes are cold, angry. I recognize in him the darkness that was in me, the darkness that I have seen growing in my son these last months. In this Lex, the darkness has completely consumed him. I back away a step, but I refuse to be cowed by him. Still, deep inside, I am afraid of this Lex. In this moment, this Lex hates me and I know he is completely capable of taking my life.
There is something else in the darkness of this Lex, however, and I don’t know whether that should give me hope for his redemption or if I should fear it as only a father can fear the greatest threat to his son. Because in his stance, in the way he tells me to back off, I know he loves the Lex on the bed. But it is not a healthy love. It is a Luthor’s love. It is the love that killed Lillian.
I must tread carefully if I hope to save either Lex from himself.
I hold up both hands placatingly. “I’ll go,” I promise, “But first, satisfy my curiosity. How are there two of you?”
He doesn’t appear inclined to answer my question. I expected as much; it lets me off the hook for my promise to leave. I slip past him and kneel down beside the bed to get a closer look at the other Lex. I reached out to push the sheet aside to see his face, but before I can, I am lifted to my feet and shoved back against the wall. “Don’t touch him, Dad,” he snarls, “he’s mine. You screwed him over enough.”
The Lex on the bed sits up then, the sheet falling and pooling around his waist, obviously nervous about his predicament, but he speaks out, possibly in response the level of venom and impending violence in the aggressive Lex’s voice. “Don’t kill him, you promised you wouldn’t kill anyone.”
The threatening Lex turns away a moment to give a look toward the other one, and the weak Lex flinches beneath it. “You did,” he insists stubbornly, not backing down despite his obvious fear. The bruising hold loosens and the first Lex steps away, moving instead to threaten the second Lex.
While we were planning the Hardwick affair, Lex accused me of whoring him out. I told him he was being ridiculous, that it was nothing worse than a mutually satisfying arrangement. I thought at the time that I was pulling Lex away from the Kent boy and he was being obstinate in revenge. After the fact, I understand that Lex called Victoria a whore to her face. I suspect now he may have meant his complaint to me. I still do not think the affair with Victoria qualified, but it is clear my son is a whore now.
As the first Lex’s anger visibly heightened, the one on the bed shoves the sheet away and spreads his legs, and runs a hand along the inside of his thigh enticingly. “Alexander,” the second Lex wheedled, “we made a deal. You don’t kill anyone, and I ...” he flounders, then finds a way to articulate his bargain without needing to go into unpleasant details, “do what we agreed.”
“Shut up, Lex,” Alexander – I will use this name to refer to the one consumed by darkness hereafter since that appears to be how they differentiate between themselves – snaps, though his physical reaction to Lex’s disgrace is both appalling and apparent. “I’d have thought you would be glad to be rid of this bastard. You can’t be naïve enough to actually think he’s changed.”
Whether or not Lex actually thinks this, he presses his advantage. He puts a hand on Alexander’s waist, and moves close enough that he must be breathing on Alexander’s arousal. Lex is a slut. I knew that already. I’ve seen enough pictures. I just never thought I’d be in the room while he plys those skills. Everything about him invites Alexander to fuck him right that instant. Photographs do not do the boy’s talent for seduction justice. Had I not turned a new leaf and made the conscious decision not to be affected, I might have seriously considered both homosexuality and incest to be excellent additions to include in my lifestyle.
Lex has always lacked my self-control. Alexander proves no different. I discretely leave the room as Alexander roughly pushes Lex onto his stomach as he climbs once more onto the bed, then shoves his dick inside my son again. I need to think. I need to figure out what is going on.
I need to shower.
The guilt of knowing Lex whored himself to save my life makes me feel far dirtier than I have in a very long time.
I spent a long time in the shower. My mind is a dirty, dirty place. I had to switch the water to cold to distract myself from some of my thoughts, to keep focused on the important issue of what to do next. Fantasizing about what I knew was going on within the castle would do nothing for my strategy. Besides which, Lex is my son, and no father should have these sorts of thoughts about his own flesh and blood. I know I am a bad parent, but I take comfort in that there are some lows I have not sunk to. I need to find new lows now.
When I step out, I do little more than pull on a warm robe before moving to the phone beside my bed. Though it has been some time since Martha has worked for me, I remember the number with no difficulty. Clark answers on the third ring.
“Clark Kent,” I say, using his full name as a sign of respect. Calling him ‘Mr. Kent’ at this juncture would result in him thinking I want to speak to Jonathan. I do not. “This is Lionel Luthor.” I pause a moment, to see if he would hang up on me or demand to know what the hell I think I want. He does neither. I assume he is too surprised by my call to consider these options, but that is merely conjecture on my part.
I continue, moving right to the heart of the matter. “I was curious to know if you were aware that my son has split into twins.”
There is a long pause on the other end, then follows the articulate response, “I, what?”
I sigh, bemoaning to myself once more the abysmal taste my son has in companionship. Unfortunately, given the town’s record, the Kent boy is truly my son’s best chance of returning to normal. “Lex,” I repeat, speaking slowly and in small words so that he could understand, “has two bodies.” My God, Smallville is terrifying; what kind of place is this that I can say those words and be both perfectly serious and of sound mind?
“Got that,” he says, sounding annoyed, though what right he has to be annoyed I have no idea. “Where is he now?” He realizes the problem with answering that question before I can point it out, and quickly adds, “Either one of him?”
I hesitate, uncertain whether I want to admit to my son’s somewhat disturbing fascination with himself. “Both are here. Lillian's son is distracting mine while I contact you. He -” I stop talking as I realize I am no longer alone. Strange, how I can already tell them apart at a single glance.
“Alexander. Where’s Lex?” I am fairly certain that my voice revealed no fear - at least, not for my own well being. In truth, I am rather proud of myself. Most of my fear was for Lex. I understand that is how good fathers feel when their son is threatened at the same time they are. This is the first time I have experienced the phenomenon.
"Resting," Alexander answers. He brushes by me and pours himself a drink at my bar. "While he's sleeping, I've taken the liberty of canceling your little fund-raiser." He looks up and sneers a bit. "We both know you're only doing that to mess with his head. 'Because helping those who refuse to help themselves is a waste of time and money, son!' Isn’t that what the old Lionel Luthor used to say? Don't think I've forgotten. Your tricks and games might work on him, but they never fooled me."
Yes, the distinctions I made to Kent have proven apt. I can see easily that this is the son I created. Not Lex. Lex was never mine. This one, Alexander, is the man I am responsible for molding. I thank God that he rarely took the upper hand when they both shared the same body. Ironic, really, that I spent so much money and effort manufacturing his psychotic break when he genuinely suffered multiple personalities all this time. Both of them existed well before the accident or whatever it was that caused this physical split. Lex was the original, but I met Alexander as early as when my son was twelve. Shortly after Julian's death, come to think of it.
I consider insisting that I really have changed, but Alexander is too cynical to believe it possible. Lex has been burned too many times for Alexander, the guardian personality, to hold any faith in human nature. It is a wonder that Lex still does, and I fear the day that Lex loses the last of it. On that day, Lex will cease to exist and leave only Alexander to carry on.
Instead, I say only, "You didn't do anything to assist his loss of consciousness, did you?" I, too, can be cynical. Alexander, after all, learned it from a master. I would not put anything past this creature.
Alexander smirks at me. "I didn't have to, Dad. You taught us to never do anything half-way. He exhausted himself."
I admit to culpability in this, too. I did impress, time and again, upon my son that anything worth doing, should be done with flair and passion and not to hold anything back. Though, in my defense, I did expect the boy to understand that 'within reasonable limits' was implied. Unfortunately, Lex has never fully grasped the concept of self-preservation or that it should take precedence over almost all other goals. Alexander, unfortunately, appears not to share this flaw. But then, martyrs are almost never conscienceless, so that should not surprise me.
It is then that I realize I am still holding the phone and that Clark should have arrived by now. Not a lot of time has passed since Alexander's arrival, but it was more than enough for Clark to reach the castle. I can only hope that he has figured out enough of the situation to realize that he has to get Lex away from here and did so.
I casually return the phone to its cradle, hoping not to draw attention to the action. Frowning in response to his words to further mask what I am doing, I abruptly change the subject, which causes him to focus on my expression rather than my hands. "Why cancel the fund-raiser, Alexander?"
He takes the bait as I expected him to and scowls at me with reviving fury. "Because either you are using it to manipulate him, or you've gone soft." He stills abruptly, then narrows his eyes at me. He has had an idea, and I do not think it bodes well for me. "All right, Dad. I’ll let you have your little blue plate charity soirée. I’ll even make a generous contribution," he says next.
I do not trust the offer. There must be a hidden catch to it. "And what would I have to do in exchange for this contribution, hmm?"
Alexander selects two fencing swords from the collection I keep in my room and tosses one of them to me. I catch it on instinct. "I want to prove that you’re still the father I know you are," he said coldly.
I am beginning to get an inkling of his plan, and I do not care for it. "Are you insane?" I demand to know, because as obvious as it appears to me, I fear he is operating under the assumption that he's not.
"No, just curious," he says, confirming my belief.
Knowing there is no possible way for me to win this, I try to refuse the challenge, "I am not going to fight -" But my words are cut off because Alexander lunges at me and I raise my own sword to defend myself. Whatever happens here, at least I am buying Clark time to get Lex out of the castle. I parry and retreat as Alexander continues to attack. After one particularly vicious riposte, I cry out, "Stop it! Lex, stop it!" I use the familiar form of address out of habit.
Surprisingly, Alexander does pause, if only to taunt me. "Is the miraculous transformation into the man in the white suit genuine, or is it all just an act?" He doesn't believe it, and he clearly wants me to trip up and do something the darkness inspires. He attacks again, even more forcefully than before, and I block once more.
"Stop this! Stop it now!" I try once again, but it doesn't phase him at all. Our swords clash above our heads and Alexander pulls me close to his face. I can see the madness in his eyes. I can see that he will kill me given half the chance.
"Do you even know the answer to that question or have you been too afraid to ask? What’s inside you, Dad? Is it really just puppies and hugs now or is something else twisting in your gut, squirming to be free again?"
Something is. The darkness inside me stirs, answering to its mirror in Alexander's eyes. It twists, it squirms, and Alexander tenses his muscles, telegraphing an imminent attack. Instinct, training, and self-preservation rise in me, aiding and abetting the darkness which says I must attack first, and I do. And because I have learned myself what I have taught to Lex, I do so with rage and do not hold back anything. The next thing I know, my sword's point is against Alexander's chest and he is on the floor.
Alexander smiles, which makes my blood run cold. "I knew you were in there somewhere, Father."
I look down at him uneasily, horrified by what I have just done. Alexander stands, all but ignoring the sword still held against his chest. Once upright, he swats it away with his own blade, and I let it go, the grip of my own sword falling from my numb fingers.
Alexander leans in close and whispers into my ear. "You should’ve stayed in prison. You were safer there." I barely feel the sting of his blade as he strikes my face, but I gasp anyway and I touch the blood on my cheek to assure myself that I bleed. Odd, that that comforts me. Normal men, men who are truly good, do not need this proof that they are still human. But I believe it has been well established that I am neither normal nor truly good. I do need this evidence.
Alexander throws his sword back at me, and again I catch it on instinct. It is disrespectful to let a sword hit the floor, and this has been ingrained in me through decades of fencing training. Alexander knows this, though he surely also knows the reason I conformed to the now habitual practice was that I would not waste an opportunity to have a weapon in my hand. He smiles in smug triumph, and for a minute fury wells in me that I let myself be trapped into this and I glare after him as he leaves. Once he is out of sight, however, my anger crumbles and I feel myself begin to shake in reaction. I need a drink, and so I pour one. I wonder if it says something about my family that about seventy-five percent of the occupied rooms in this castle are stocked with alcohol, and both bedrooms and both offices are fully equipped with wet bars. Strangely, this is the first time I consider the possibility that we might both be alcoholics. I blame the thought on excess adrenaline.
I console my unhappy conscience (or what passes for one inside me) with the reminder that at least Clark had plenty of time to get Lex to safety. As long as Lillian's son is safe, I still have a chance at redemption.
As if to prove the point, Alexander returns only minutes later, eyes dark and vengeful. He moves directly to me, grabs me by my robe and shoves me against a wall. "Where is he?" he more growls than speaks, "Who did you have steal him? I won't let you have him!" If anything, he only grows more angry with each word and at the end, he repeats the slamming maneuver for emphasis.
Lex really is safe, then. Despite my own predicament, I feel relief. "I don't have him," I say, and it is the truth. I may have called Clark in, but Lex is as much free of my influence right now as he is free of Alexander. That is perhaps the most infuriating thing about the Kents. They cannot be bought and they are next to impossible to predict. Clark could have taken him anywhere. The barn loft, the hospital, the school paper office, the caves, even Metropolis or somewhere possibly further. "I have no idea where he is," I add, because that is equally true.
For a moment, Alexander fights the natural urge to disbelieve me simply because the words fell from my tongue. He does not shake it entirely. "Who did you call?"
"Clark Kent," I answer, because Alexander will more fully understand that Lex is lost to him with that information. I do wish, however, that I could be present to hear how Lex tries to explain his condition to his young lover. I wonder, too, how obvious Alexander had left the scene for Clark to find. Had he cleaned Lex up and pulled a blanket over him, or had he left the boy naked and dripping come in an unconscious sprawl atop the spread? I know which I should want to have happened, but I have never approved of Clark and I can't help but hope that some blatant evidence of sick debauchery might make the farmboy reconsider his inappropriate affections.
Oddly, Alexander releases me, steps away, and laughs. "You are a bastard, Dad." He laughs again, shakes his head, then looks once more at me. "But you did do me a favour." I am not sure I want to know, but knowledge is power and I make an interrogatory sound. "We never fucked him, you know. Lex just pines for him." He frowns then, narrows his eyes, then refocuses on me with a sharp glare, as if this is somehow my fault, but that may be the one thing I am truly innocent of. Unless, of course, if Lex's pining is a result of my disapproval which is not completely impossible. "It's disgusting and degrading," Alexander griped with a scowl meant entirely for Lex. "At least, after this, he'll know it's impossible."
If he's being honest about Lex/Alexander's relationship with Clark, I can't help but think he's woefully underestimating Lex's ability to hold onto a lost cause. Three and a half years. If the fruitless nature of his infatuation hasn't discouraged him yet, a minor issue like getting caught committing incest isn't going to dash his dreams. Alexander might have shared a body and a mind with him, but he clearly doesn't understand Lex.
Or Clark, for that matter. I don't pretend to understand the odd family of farmers my son has been so taken with, either, but without the filter of jealousy and betrayal, Lex's actions could only be viewed as a victim's. I know enough of the Kent boy to know he fancies himself a hero. Heroes are suckers for victims and damsels in distress. And if he's missed all of Lex's come ons in the past through blind naivety; after this, he'll be vividly aware my son spreads his legs for men.
"What did Kent walk in on?" I can't help but ask, morbidly curious.
Alexander chuckles again, smirking as he imagines the scene as it must have appeared to the virgin high schooler (assuming he hasn't slept with Lex, the corollary that he hasn't slept with anyone is indisputable) and missing entirely the possibility that between us, we might have accomplished what three and a half years of watching and flirting and gifting had failed to gain. "Wouldn't you like to know?" he returned, still smirking. He probably imagines not knowing will be torturous for me, but I am actually almost glad he declines to answer. I had enough trouble in the shower with what I did see. I do not need more fodder.
Alexander moves to the bar again, possibly to toast himself for a job well done on the Clark front (I suspect the scene was quite graphic, based entirely on his malicious glee) and I make a decision. I move toward my dresser. I am damned to the darkness within me, but there is a chance yet that I might save Lex from his. Alexander has his back to me as he pours his drink, either an insult or an oversight, but it will be his last mistake. I silently slide open my sock drawer and pull out my glock. I do not know if this will kill Lex as well, whether they retain any link between them, but I do not think he would mind losing this part of himself. I saw in his eyes how terrified he was of it, how much it would kill him for it to take control once they were joined again. In the last few months, I have seen Lex less and less. Alexander more and more. I have to do this. For Lex.
If what Lex recently told me about how Julian died is true, she would have supported me in this. I raise the gun and fire. My aim is spot on. Alexander falls. Glass shatters. I shoot again to be sure. My ears ring. I kneel beside him and press two fingers against his neck, seeking a pulse.
My son is dead.
My son is dead.
Dead, by my hand.
I do not cry, but I think I should. I do not know how long I knelt there, but the blood from his wounds has begun to congeal and his body is not as warm to the touch as it would have been alive. I believe I am in shock. I wonder where the staff is, then decide that Alexander must have sent them all home. Even in Smallville, having two Lexes about would be hard to explain. I realize the ringing in my head is not the echoes of the gunshots, either literally or metaphorically, but the telephone. The mansion's private house line. I realize it has been ringing for a long time. It stops and the house is quiet for another minute before it begins to ring again.
I get up and pick up my extension. "Luthor," I answer, and I am pleased that my voice is crisp and business-like.
"What the hell just happened?" Clark Kent. Upset. I believe it is the first time I have heard him curse.
I do not answer. I have a more pressing question. "Is Lex alive?"
"Alive?" Kent questions, angry. "Of course he's alive. He's screaming bloody murder, but he's alive. What did you do?!" I wonder if Lex is actually screaming the words bloody murder or if Kent is simply using the colloquialism. It is an appropriate one under the circumstances.
I look down at my dead murdered son. The body will be difficult to explain. "I fixed the problem. There is only one Lex now. You should probably keep him away while I tie up some loose ends. Lex has always been delicate and he does not have Alexander to protect him now."
"Protect him?!" Kent repeats, outraged. "That bastard raped him!"
Kent would never understand the dynamics between Lex and Alexander. Only now do I begin to grasp them and I have known them both since they were children. "I assure you, that is not the case. Alexander loved Lex. Alexander would have done anything for Lex. He would not have hurt him in that way. Lex was aware of this and bargained his body in exchange for Alexander to keep his hands clean of blood. There was consent, Mr. Kent." I do not know my own motives in this disclosure. Perhaps to spare Lex the pity or the need to explain it himself. Perhaps so that the youngest Kent knows that Lex was depraved enough to have sex willingly with his own evil twin and thereby discourage him from requiting Lex's interest. "And yes. Protect him. You do not think these personalities that emerged were random, do you? Lex has apparently been hiding that he suffered from multiple personalities for years. Haven't you noticed how mercurial his moods could be under extreme pressure? Alexander was the guardian personality. He was the one who took over when a situation was too much for Lex to handle."
Kent is silent for a long moment. "What happened to Alexander?"
I debate a moment over what I should tell him. I am inclined to lie, but that is the darkness, too close to the surface now that I have killed my own son. If I hope to keep Lex, if I hope to not break him now that he is without Alexander's protection, I need to beat it back down into complete submission. It is against the darkness that I must wield my most Luthor traits. "I shot him. He's dead." There is no triumph in my voice. Only sorrow. I think that is what is supposed to be there. I may be wrong. I have been wrong about this sort of thing before. Perhaps I should feel grief or regret, but these escape me. "I need to bury him before the staff return, before Lex returns."
I hang up and trust that he will keep Lex away until I tell him it is safe to return. My gaze moves to Alexander. As I told Clark, it is my duty to bury him. I owe him that, at least. I lift my son in my arms, staggering slightly under his weight, but I carry him outside, cradled in my arms one last time.
I dig his grave with a shovel I find in the gardener's shed. It is just inside the forest that borders the edge of the property, away from where anyone might stumble upon it. My back is sore and my hands bleed before the job is done, but I finish eventually and I stand over the packed earth. I think I ought to say something, but I do not know what so I just leave. I call a man I know who will not speak of this to anyone and order a gravestone. It is not as grand as the one I had made for Lex after I thought Helen had killed him, but it is good marble and not embarrassingly small. Alexander would not have wanted one that was too small. I do not believe he would have faulted the inscription either. Or perhaps he would have. I honestly don't know. He was made in my image, but he hated me, so what he would make of my accolades, I cannot guess for certain. It has his full name, Alexander Joseph Luthor. I chose the day of Julian's death for his birthday. His date of death is, of course, today. Beneath that will read: A True Luthor. A Conqueror of Men. A Devoted Guardian. My Perfect Son.
For he was the perfect son. I only realized too late that a person who had learned all of the lessons I taught him was the last person anybody would want alive.
Another call to a woman I have a great deal of blackmail material on gets the ball rolling on cleaning up the blood beside my bar. That is probably less than ethical, but I can't bring myself to care yet. Alexander's existence and his death cannot become public knowledge. It is as much a public service as it is a private one. After all, how would the police go about solving the murder of a man who was alive for all to see? It would be ridiculous to see them try to explain that before a judge and jury. In all honesty, though, the reason I do not want it investigated, beyond the strangeness of it all, is that I know what the verdict would be if all the facts became known. I would not be found guilty. Alexander was not 'real' and he posed a clear and present danger, if not to me at the time I shot him, then because he was simply homocidal. And that would be an injustice to Alexander. Because he was murdered. By me, his father. I created him and I killed him for being exactly who I told him to be.
After the cleaning woman came and went, I sit in the study for a long time. I have showered again and dressed in a suit that is no better and no worse than the majority in my closet. Black, though, because it is appropriate today. Today, I have buried my son. I could call the Kents to tell them it is all right for Lex to return home, but I think he is better with them for a little while longer. I need to decide how I will deal with him. In many ways, he is broken now. A part of his mind has been literally torn away. The strongest part, in truth. He is a better man without Alexander, but a lesser one. I always warned Lillian that she was making him too soft. I wonder if he still has what he needs to lead LuthorCorp and I seriously doubt it.
I will make no move yet. I will watch him and see if he can handle it. If it proves too much, only then will I make my bid. For his own good and the good of the company. Mostly for the good of the company. That is as much my child as Lex is.
Eventually, I decide I am ready to face Lex. I call the Kents and speak to Clark. He tells me that Lex is sleeping and that he's spending the night there. I don't argue the point and hang up. Martha and Jonathan, I am certain, will not allow them to sleep in the same bed. It is only 8:30, but I am exhausted and I decide to follow Lex's example.
It is another four days before Lex comes home. He has called in sick to work and had his personal assistant reschedule all his meetings for the next week. I spoke to all three Kents on the phone over those days, each with varying degrees of helpfulness. Clark is curt and to the point but without being rude. Jonathan does not attempt to be even remotely polite. It is Martha who provides me with some insight on why Lex is staying there so long.
Apparently there was some kind of connection still between them because Lex felt it when Alexander died. When he stopped screaming (and, I assume, crying though Martha did not admit to this in so many words as she was careful to use words that would not seriously wound Lex's pride should they get back to him), he just collapsed. Since then, he had periods of lucidity, each growing progressively longer and more coherent. Martha described him as being in shock. I suppose having a large portion of your identity and personality torn away permanently would cause extensive emotional and mental trauma. I considered signing him up for therapy, but decided that after his stint in Belle Reeve, I ought to let that be his choice.
Seeing him again for the first time now, I watch how he hangs onto Clark. How Clark supports and holds onto him. He is still not fully recovered. There is still a haunted look about him, like, well, like a part of him had died. When our eyes met, there is no recrimination in his. I do not know what is in mine. Not regret, not guilt. I did what had to be done. Sorrow is likely. Pity is possible. Grateful relief is not beyond the realm of probability. "Lex," I say. Only that and nothing more. Like at Alexander's grave, I do not have any words for the moment.
"Yes," he confirms, though my intent was acknowledgment, not identification. An awkward silence falls between us.
It is Clark who breaks it. "Lex should rest."
"Of course," I agree and accompany them up to Lex's room. The maid has been by and the room shows no trace of the activities Lex and Alexander did together, though that does not stop Lex from flinching when he looks inside.
"A different room," he requests.
I show them to a guest room several doors down that is of equal size with a decent bathroom and comparable closet space. If the avoidance of his old room is permanent, this one has everything Lex will need. Clark leads him to the bed, and Lex sits at its foot. I realize just how pale he is. Except, of course, for the dark shadows under his eyes. Lex has always been thin, too, but I do not believe he was this thin. I have not seen him look this shattered since the ECT fried away several months of his memory.
My fault, both times. But this time, it really was necessary. Wasn't it?
There is no Alexander now to help him pull out of it either. My gaze shifts from Lex to Clark. I watch as Clark smiles reassuringly at him and I see the shadows retreat from behind his eyes as he smiles back. There is no Alexander, but Lex still has a guardian to help pull him out. I sigh and accept the inevitable. I want my son to be happy. That's what real fathers strive for, right?
"Mr. Kent, you may stay with him for as long as you need," I say, meaning more than just today's visit, and close the guest room door to give them their privacy. As I do, I see Lex's eyes go wide with surprise, catching the undertone that spells out my capitulation on the Clark relationship issue. I'm surprised at myself that I feel a bit smug with that response instead of upset that he wasn't able to hide the reaction or angry that I was forced to give in.
Maybe I really am making progress.
Except, I'm already making plans about how to take back LuthorCorp.