Disclaimers: If they belonged to me, I'd probably just be a part of the problem, cuss it all.
Summary: Lex puts himself back together.
Ratings Note: PG. Only hints of C/Lx.
Author's Note: Pretty much my immediate thoughts post-ep.
Acknowledgments: For my We in hiding.
Feedback favors the bold. Or something. firstname.lastname@example.org
There's a passion in horror.
Not the sweaty kind. At least... not the sort of sweat a man welcomes. This is the passion the Catholics speak of, an almost incomprehensible brand of pure emotional power.
The sort that knocks a man to his knees under whatever weight he chooses to bear. Lex has prided himself in shaking loose every weight he could find, and yet... and yet.
There is always more.
Heike had not been pleased to drive all the way out from Metropolis only to find her pupil with hands too raw for the sword. He'd been suitably punished with enough flexibility and agility exercises to leave him limp as a damp rag. Heike is, perhaps, his favorite employee.
Utterly ruthless, loyal only so long as Lex understands that she's being paid to teach him, and that he will learn. If it kills them both.
He should've been able to sleep that night.
He stayed up washing his hands instead.
The old woman's powder dry hands, and he knows, he knows they couldn't have already been stiffening, couldn't have already been moldering to any noticeable degree. And yet.
Death is not a lesson he's had to learn, not to any noticeable degree. There's a surprise to that. It seems something Lionel would've wanted the heir to be inured to, along with every other ugly, undeniable fact of human existence.
But then... he hadn't been aware that his mother had been buried until he'd finally asked when the funeral would be. So long ago, but he'll never forget the way his father had looked. As though he'd just told an awful secret to a room full of reporters. As though he'd brought ruin upon everything good and pure.
As though Lex was, quite simply, the most loathsome creature ever born.
And that... well, he is a Luthor, isn't he? A scion of the American ruling class, if ever there was one. His life wouldn't be worth shit if certain grand themes didn't repeat themselves at appropriate moments.
The woman had told Clark of the death of people close to him.
He should be able to view this logically, it is, after all, what he's shaped his mind to do. The woman, the dead woman, had been a gore crow, nothing more. A lonely bag of bones looking for a little attention, with just enough observation left to her to work up a decent patter. All innuendo and vague promises.
And yet he never would've gone without doing a little more research. Bubbly stories of births foretold, unlikely marriages working out beautifully, even a minor crime or two solved with her help.
And Clark had wanted him to go, of course. Wanted him to go for no other reason beyond sharing something wondrous with his good and close -- very close -- friend, Lex Luthor.
A hint of wonder in the day, and not coincidentally a handy deflection. He'd lied. Clark had lied about the car, about the accident, about something, and there'd been something like desperation within Lex, too.
He can admit that now.
He'd needed to know... something. Something good about himself, more than any amount of pop psychology and dishonest friendship could give. Because if even a boy like Clark could lie to him, lie without even thinking about it, then...
Then he was entirely under the shadow of his father, name blackened and trust refused long before he'd ever even been banished here.
Desperate, yes, if he'd needed a dried up old hag for a little validation.
But he had needed it, and gotten...
Well, she was old. Blind and old and half-crippled with arthritis by the way she moved. A stiff wind could've blown her right into her impatient grave. She hadn't needed Lex to...
It didn't have to be Lex that.
And the passion is a scourge, meant to be. Meant to leave nothing behind but a battered will. An empty vessel, ready to be filled by whatever deity happened to be looking for that sort of thing at the time. Ecstasy and exultation, halleluia. Lex is not empty. Lex is full of dreams and plans, so many plans, and the hope he only admits to himself when he's alone and one of the littler plans have come to fruition.
He's not his father. He's better than that. Greater than that. Smarter and, ultimately, stronger. He knows this.
This place, this fucked up little town is only his first step to... whatever it is that woman had seen?
He won't have it.
Lex has had the horror. The passion and the scourge. There's a reason to things, an order to the universe simply waiting to be found and leashed. If there was anything to the woman's visions...
No, even if it was all just a set of coincidences and gullible farm folk desperately in search of something to believe in; death has had its charmingly anthropomorphic finger on Lex three times now.
His future biographers will no doubt find that significant -- why shouldn't he?
Death and, perhaps, the chance for better things, greater things after each? Why not? There had been chance to learn everything the old man could throw at him without a mother's softening influence -- and everything he'll wish one day he hadn't.
The chance to live again, eyes open and fully aware, in a town full of wonders both mysterious and banal.
And now, the chance to re-examine himself.
Perhaps he'd been thinking too small, before. No, no perhaps about it. Great men run multinational corporations.
But the greatest men?
The greatest men are never so... limited.
Lex breathes. Forces himself to turn the water off and listens to the unquiet silence of the castle for long moments.
Until he's calm.
And allows himself to remember the earliest fantasy he can remember, the most shameful and the most important. The memory of being an essentially powerless child.
A child who had dreamed of having the power to... make it right.
All of it, everywhere.
To be a man trusted, looked to. Never lied to, and yes, God, please, loved.
A great man.
Lex smiles at his reflection through the familiar flush the fantasy always brings. This time, for the first time, the smile is neither rueful nor ashamed.
After all, the best fantasy is only a plan in its earliest stages.