Past Grief: The Wrong One
by Te
March 2002

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd run screaming.

Spoilers: Vague ones for a few episodes up through Leech.

Summary: There are always consequences.

Ratings Note: NC-17.

Author's Note: God *damn* you, Hannah. That bunny you sent
was fucking *vicious*. I think "Past Grief" should be read for this
to make sense. Consider this to be a companion piece -- or
possibly a prequel -- to "Past Grief: Renewal."

Acknowledgments: To the Spike for up-to-the-minute research and

Feedback makes it better.


Lex doesn't know himself as anything but Lex, despite everything.

The logic of this is flawed, but implacable. He remembers...
everything. He remembers the hot silk of Clark's mouth closing
around his cock for the first time, unasked, unguided.

The way his body, his *mind* had tried to retreat from the sensations.
He hadn't known, he hadn't been ready, but the decision had been
made and Clark... God, Clark.

Lex hadn't been able to stop himself from curling over those broad,
strong shoulders. Nails scrabbling at the boy's perfect back as he
sucked Lex down, hips pumping helplessly. Desire so powerful it
had gone straight to pain and beyond.

Lex remembers the madness of that moment, and knows it never
really faded.

If it had... well, he wouldn't exist, now would he?

The fencing accident that had left the scar on his lip never
happened to this body. The embarrassingly bright red hair had
never fallen from his scalp, never grown at all. And he knows this
because the neural patterning experiments were successful
beyond his wildest imagination.

The brain that had existed in this body during its relatively brief
imitation of life, half-life, suspended life... that brain had been
buffeted with a pure stream of memory. To the hippocampus
and from there throughout the rest of the neurocortical
complex until Lex had been written, rewritten, right up to the
moment of upload.

And so Lex has images -- vivid with horror -- of the *first* clone
stumbling out of the tube, beaming joy at their success to *him*.

The original.

Who had promptly shot him (it, them) in the head.

Images of the second remembering *that* as he awakened, and
the rage in the clone's eyes had been too vivid to ignore, even
with its cozening words.

Lex is the fifth clone, and the first to be... kept.

He's a scientist by training if not trade, even if this body had
never known a lab as anything but creche and cradle. There *had*
to be long-term studies taken, it was inevitable that some of the
clones would crawl directly from tube to cell.

The simplest logic imaginable.

The rage is something palpable, beyond his ability to ascribe to
himself as emotion, well beyond his ability to repress on any given

It's harder when *he* comes.

There are mirrors in here, carefully hung behind bulletproof glass.
The glass is cleaned every time his cell is, after Lex has been
tranqed like an animal. There is no question as to why -- the...
original wants to make sure Lex knows his place.

That, despite everything in his mind, in his *soul*, he knows that
he is not the one.

It's a lie.

Undoubtedly a comforting one for the original, but a lie just the

His raison d'etre is to be the one who comes after, to be the one
who *is*.

The one who continues, despite whatever happens outside the
walls of this lab. (And he knows everything. The codes, the
layout, the words that will switch Hope and Mercy on and off like
the well-programmed machines they are.)

Lex is the *future*...

But he's also the future's guarantee, isn't he?

And that's the nastiest point of it, really. Because so long as he
remains alive, healthy, and sane, the experiment is a success.
Nothing to fear in the future, because Lex will *always* be alive.

Always in power (he's the president, the fucking *president*, if
he could get in touch with the Secret Service...), always with...

The prize and the reason.

A friendship the stuff of legend, a lover for whatever version of
eternity they can claw out of the world.

And Lex's well-appointed cell is all the proof of that eternity he'll
ever need, isn't it?

Clark's greatest fear and greatest weakness, even after all this
time, is loneliness. Lex knows this the way he knows the results
of every test performed on him by the scientists the original has
bought and bullied into doing his dirty work for him.

They look at him with fear in their eyes.

They've clearly been instructed to be as non-responsive as possible.
A thin shield between himself and the madness complete isolation
would bring.

He finds himself missing people long dead.

But Clark...

It would be so much easier to hate him. To seize on the weakness
that gave the original the last needed excuse to start this little
project and turn this rage to loathing. If Clark truly loved him, he
wouldn't, *couldn't* leave him down here to rot.

If Clark wasn't so fucking *weak* --

But he can never finish the thought. At best, it's disingenuous.

He remembers that night, that long, awful night in the hospital.
Sitting at Clark's side while he stared sightlessly at his mother's
broken body. Sickeningly fresh scent of blood and disinfectant and
the realization that Clark was alone.

Absolutely alone.

There were his friends, but they were young. Untried.

They could've never stood up to him, his desires. And they didn't.
Lex had taken Clark home with him and proceeded to systematically
destroy everything that would've allowed Clark to leave. Funny how
so little of that destruction had anything to do with the world outside
the two of them.

He'd needed Clark so badly, loved him beyond all reason, and -- he
can admit this now, here, in a way he doesn't think the original ever
can -- played more than a passive role in breaking the man.

The boy. He'd only been a boy, then. Lonely and grieving and full of
the promise of their future together.

Lex would've protected him from everything but himself.

And now...

Presumably the original is taking care of that final loophole.

His memories include nothing about informing Clark of the
experiments. There's no reason to believe that Clark is even aware
of Lex's *existence*.

There will be no eleventh hour rescues for him.

One day (today?) another clone will wake up gasping at the
knowledge of his place as the chosen one. He'll stumble out of
the tube, feet clumsy with disuse, slick with amnion... and take
his place at Clark's side.

Sometime after that, the outer doors will open and the person
who walks in won't have any fear in their eyes whatsoever. It won't
be Mercy, though it may be Hope. Mercy is his creature -- no, the
original's. She'd never been allowed down here, and she would
never have asked.

Hope had attached herself more fully to Clark for reasons of her
own. While the both of them had standing instructions to care for
Clark as they would himself, it had only ever really sunk in with
Hope. He'd always meant to figure out why.

Perhaps the original has. He'll ask, should the man ever return

Lex has spent a good amount of time considering the circumstances
of his own inevitable murder. A part of him that he loathes wants it
to be painless, perhaps a little something extra added to his weekly

It will, of course, not be. Even if the original didn't hate him solely
for existing, if any sentiment about him were to arise...

Well, that sentiment would pretty much assure that Lex's death
will be simple. Two shots to the head, one to the chest. They are,
after all, the same.

Up to a very specific point in time.

There's simply no way to tell what changes have occurred, are
occurring within the original. He can assume health -- the original's
meteor rock mutation had been shockingly benign, and certain of
the more... rigorous tests performed on Lex have proven it to be
solidly within the DNA.

He can assume a continued devotion to Clark, as well. He would
not exist were it not for that. Sentiment, *all* sentiment, is for him
and only him. Even if Lex had other reasons to pass his identity on
to another clone, he knows himself well enough to know that the
original would accept nothing less than an *immediate* upload.

Everything that made himself what he was must be preserved.

As for the rest...

There simply wasn't enough data.

Lex receives no news, the scientists discuss no discoveries that
happened after the date of his birth. The few who are reasonably
literate are well-briefed on what books Lex has been allowed to

He *can* assume that he's better read (differently read?) than the
original, since he'd been kind enough to provide books they hadn't
already consumed.

Hope, and a gun, and, presumably, explicit instructions to ignore
every codeword Lex offered. He has no secrets from himself, knows
no more about her than the original did. No leverage.

A different man would be taking this time to prepare for his own

A different man might at least have been given a fucking *date* --


Those thoughts are... less than productive.

Not that there are many thoughts that *are* productive. He has
no spoon to dig his way out of the chamber, and, presumably, lacks
the fifteen or so years the enterprise would entail.

There are no windows, he has nothing with which to bribe his

What he *does* have is a chance.

The possibility of a chance.

One more time for the scientists to come in, shoot him up (ignoring
the tolerance he's built so carefully over the past two years to the
dose. The original should've known better than to leave such things
to subordinates.), and pull him out into the lab proper for tests.

No guarantee that his tolerance would be great enough.

No guarantee that the next time that door opens he'll be greeted by
anything but his own death.

But... there are never more than two scientists performing the tests.

Men and women who show no signs of the sort of martial training
Lex had punished his body with for years. His muscles remember, in
a ghostly, achy way that tells him all he needs to know. He will be
drugged, he will be weak, but...

He will *be*.

Lex smiles into a mirror.

And waits.