The door to his office burst open with the violent flair only Lionel Luthor could bring to an entrance. Lex sighed, closed his laptop to keep the data shown on the screen confidential, and looked up at his father. Lionel slammed the door shut with as much force as he had swung it open. Only expert craftmanship kept it from being too much force to latch properly. "Hello, Dad," Lex said, deciding to feign casual levity just for the contrast that it made to his father's obvious fury.
Lionel's eyes flashed. "Don't push it, Lex. After last night, I am seriously tempted to make it so you won't ever call me that again."
Ah. So he'd heard about Clark's proposal. Lex glanced down at the ring he'd worn for only twelve hours so far and couldn't stop the warm feeling in his gut or the smile on his face. It was a masculine enough band of gold, but the rectangular diamond that it sported prominently proved what it was. An engagement ring. Lex was engaged. Strange, how when he and Clark had discussed publically announcing their 'intent to become life partners' months ago, the words proposal, engagement, and marriage had never come up. Lex ran a thumb over the diamond. This was so much better.
"You're happy about this," Lionel realized in disgust.
Lex looked up at him, still sitting behind his desk as his father loomed in front of it. "'Happy,'" Lex disagreed, "doesn't even come close." Fortunately, he was able to stop his tongue before it said something stupid by expanding on that, or worse, asking for his dad to be estatic with him.
Lionel clearly wasn't the least bit pleased by his firstborn's chosen mate. He pressed his lips together in an angry line. "Convince me why I should not make either your brother or sister my heir in your place."
He shouldn't have been surprised by the question, but he was. Not so much by the threat to replace him with Lucas, which happened almost regularly, but by the inclusion of Laura as an alternate option this time. Lucas, he had plenty of arguments against. Laura had only been held against him once before and that had been a threat of an entirely different nature.
"Lucas lacks vision and a sense of acceptable risk," Lex answered the first part easily enough. "If he inherited the company, it would be bankrupt within five years." Lionel knew that as well as Lex did. Lucas would probably already be Lionel's heir were it not true. Either that, or there would be a LucasCorp fighting for a spot in the Fortune 500, too, and the heirship would keep bouncing back and forth between them depending on who had most recently irritated their father.
As for Laura, there were obvious reasons she couldn't inherit, or at least run the business immediately, but he didn't want her to be a part of this conversation at all. "As for my sister, I thought you were old fashioned enough to believe only in male heirs."
"My sons leave much to be desired," Lionel snapped. "At three, my daughter shows far more sense than either you or Lucas ever have." Lex felt any lingering euphoria from his engagement drain away at the implication that Lionel had been watching the Kent twins. It was replaced with a feeling of cold dread that made him want to call Martha that instant to make sure they were safe.
He wanted to argue. Point out that nobody but them and the Kents knew about Laura's true parentage, and even the Kents weren't aware of who the girl's father was. Remind him that her birth certificate had two names on it and neither was a followed by the Luthor surname.
One court ordered blood test could prove she was more a Luthor than anybody else on the planet, though, and Lex dared not prod his father into doing that. However badly the public would react to another bastard coming out of the woodwork, the worst of the fallout would land firmly on Laura's shoulders. Lex might have given up all his parental rights to the girl, but he was still her mother biologically.
"You can't prove paternity without proving incest," Lex countered instead.
Lionel snorted. "Don't be ridiculous, Lex. People would assume I'd had an affair with Martha. Nobody runs maternity tests."
Adrenaline surged through him, inciting him to fight or flight, but he had to keep calm if he hoped to win this. "If you even try to claim Laura, I'll denounce you myself."
"Even if anybody believed you, you'd hurt yourself more than you would me."
It didn't matter. He loved Laura like a favoured neice if not as a daughter. He wouldn't let any harm come to her. And being Lionel's child hurt. He knew that better than anyone. He kept his voice cold. "They'd believe me, Dad. The world's about to find out I can bear children anyway."
Lionel stilled, eyes widening in horrified realization. "He got you pregnant."
Lex nodded, slow and deliberate, unwilling to hint that it was by anything but choice.
"You let him get you pregnant," Lionel repeated, rephrasing it slightly, making it less true, but Lex repeated his action, clutching to every shard of dignity a man admitting he was pregnant was permitted to have.
Lionel did not move for long while, during which time Lex found it increasingly difficult to refrain from fidgeting. From the glazed look in his father's eyes, Lex almost doubted he would even notice, but it was best not to assume that. Faking blindness was an established trick of his father's. After what felt like hours but was closer to a minute and a half, Lionel blinked away the stunned horror and focused on Lex. "How long?"
"I'm in my fifteenth week," Lex answered, forcing his voice to remain calm and reasonable. For effect, he leaned back in his desk chair and clasped his hands behind his head so his father could get a good look at his still flat stomach, "Not quite showing, yet, but soon."
His eyes locked on Lex's abdomen. "And your farce of a wedding?"
"It's not a farce," Lex denied immediately. "We haven't set an exact date yet. A couple of months. I'll be showing then."
"You are both men," Lionel reminded. "It won't be legal and is, therefore, by definition, a farce."
Lex sat up straight in his chair, an old idea that he had dismissed out of hand every other time it reared its ugly head suddenly looking fantastic to him. His father had a way of doing that to ideas sometimes. Upon consideration of his father's reaction, even some of the worst ideas could become perfect solutions after one sneering comment. "I'm pregnant, Dad. Any judge in the world would have reasonable doubt about my gender."
"If you legally change your gender I'll-"
"You'll what, dad? Disown me and put a three year old female product of incest in my place? How is that better? Besides, women marry men all the time. Wouldn't that reduce the scandal?"
"You will never be a woman."
"Thank God," Lex couldn't help but say, because sometimes it seemed like everyone else was forgetting that. It was nice that at least one person still recognized he was indisputably male, even if it was his father and the truth was against Lex's current position. It was a stupid claim anyway. There was no possible way to make his involvement with Clark less scandalous. If anything, people finding out he was pregnant would just make it more scandalous.
A fact Lionel wasn't the least bit reluctant to point out. "You're still well before your third trimester. Abort this thing. You needn't admit you're a freak as well as a homosexual. You can't hide your curse a second time, not with all the media attention on you right now."
Lex had known that. He'd realized it weeks ago, when the public interest in his relationship was only growing instead of fading. After last night, after Clark's dramatic proposal, it was already surging up to even greater heights. The wedding would probably get national coverage, if not worldwide. Just this morning, his secretary had told him Time wanted to interview him for an issue about homosexuality in America.
People would notice when his shape started to change into something indisputably pregnant-looking. Worse, some of those people were reporters and they'd ask questions, not just from Lex, but from his doctors, his employees, and if they got really lucky, they'd find the two scientists who knew everything about Lex's pregancy. Not that he thought Vogel or Johanssen would say anything voluntarily, but reporters could be tricky and those two were not trained to deal with them. Even if they didn't find Vogel or Johanssen, the speculation would be enough, especially when Clark and Lex 'adopted' a kid right when the weight suddenly disappeared.
Knowing it didn't make it any less terrifying to finally admit aloud. "That's why I'm not going to try to hide it." He gestured toward the Daily Planet that lay on the corner of his desk, society section on top, with the large headline 'Wedding Bells Ahead for Lex Luthor and Mysterious Suitor' clearly visible. They really probably ought to admit to Clark's name soon, but lately the reporters were only putting token efforts into finding out. Solving the mystery might make people lose interest in the story and then people might stop buying newspapers.
For all he knew, some of them had already figured it out and Clark just wasn't interesting enough to compare to The Mysterious Suitor. By now he must have slipped at least once and called him "Clark" instead of "Myst" in public, but even the first name hadn't yet made it into print despite the gag order on it expiring two weeks ago. He was also now allowing partial facial features to be printed, though as yet he hadn't lifted the ban on full face photographs. Clark was still taking summer courses at Met U and as yet none of his classmates had a clue.
As his father's eyes followed the gesture to the newspaper, Lex made his point, "With public opinion about me and Clark where it currently is, Dad, I'm already popularized as a a bride-to-be. That's what you came storming in here about in the first place, isn't it? The fact that I'm not asserting my masculinity?" He tapped the desk beside the paper, "It's the best way to prime them for what's coming."
Lionel's eyes narrowed in sudden suspicion. "You've planned this from the start. How much are you paying Grant?"
Lex shook his head. "I'm doing no such thing. I'm just making the most of the hand I was dealt."
Lionel's lips pressed together. "I don't approve."
"I never thought you would."
For a moment, Lionel hesitated, then his expression turned hard. "Consider this your notice of disinheritance. I'll be making a statement this afternoon."
Lex tried not react. But fear for Laura made him ask, "Who . . . ?"
Lionel looked at him for a long moment, likely trying to judge whether or not Lex was bluffing about going public about both of Laura's parents. "Your bastard child."
Lex considered that, then shook his head. Being Lex's bastard child was no better than being Lionel's in Smallville. It was why they falsified the birth certificate in the first place. Plus, he didn't want Martha to have to deal with the rumours. "Keep Laura out of this."
For a moment, Lionel considered his options. Go for Laura anyway, risk Lucas, or find another option entirely. "I'll set up a fund for your firstborn. Implication will be the child you're pregnant with now, but I mean my daughter. I trust you'll see she gets it when she is of age?"
Lex took a deep breath, then nodded. "Are you going to steal my thunder about this child," he ran his fingers over his stomach, "or will you keep it vague?"
"I have no intention of clouding the annoucement of your disinheritance. I intend to have a much greater distance from you before that can of worms breaks out. I expect you'll be taking Kent's name?" The question was spoken in derision, but also with a tone that said, 'Well, at least that solves one problem.'
Lex hadn't really thought about it. He was male, after all. He'd always assumed when he got married his significant other would take his name. But Clark was male, too. He'd probably had the same assumptions. And Jonathan would go through the roof if his son ever called himself a Luthor. And now Lionel didn't even want Lex to have the name. Lex himself had always hated it anyway, so it shouldn't be so difficult to give up. Still, that was his name. Lex Luthor. He didn't know how to be anybody else. Lex Kent sounded so . . . Kentish. It might not put Jonathan through the same roof that Clark Luthor would, but surely it wouldn't be good for the man's heart.
Hell, it wasn't good for Lex's heart. The very idea terrified him. He couldn't be a Kent. There was too much pressure there. He didn't belong. He didn't - hell, why did he even think he could marry Clark? He couldn't do this. He wanted this too much. It scared him.
His eye caught on his engagement ring. Clark had put it there on his finger so lovingly only twelve hours ago. It had felt so right, so perfect then. The inside of the band was engraved with the word 'Destiny' and that had always been the word Lex used for their relationship, even before they realized it went deeper than friendship. It was right. It was perfect. He would marry Clark and take his name.
Lionel nodded back, face impassive. "Very well, Kent."
Lex swallowed, trying to mirror the lack of expression, trying to pass off his last question as a mockery, "I take it you won't be a part of the bridal party at the wedding?"
A twitch of an emotion, but it was gone too fast for Lex to read it. "Good bye, Mr. Kent."
He'd expected that. He had. He nodded again and used the one name he had never before called his father, "Good bye, Mr. Luthor."