~ Illumination ~


Rating: PG

Spoilers: General for Supes/Lex future

Thanks to dana for previewing and goss for creating the lovely inspiration for this fic.

A dim shadow of light fell on the Italian fabric of the sofa, lightening the rich maroon to a dark pink and highlighting a single golden strand of hair that had been left behind by some aide or secretary or head of state. DNA, right there, and years ago Lex would have collected it, but president Luthor brushed it to the floor, staring into the rays that filtered through a three inch gap in the heavy curtains that blanketed the floor-to-ceiling windows of the oval office.

Pure white and smooth, the walls curved and impossibly decorated with straight, rigid paintings of rigid men in statuesque positions that could not have been held for the length of the artists' renderings. The rich, deep pigments of former presidents stared back at him, or at some distant future. Maybe they saw this one. Maybe that's why they all had that slightly upturned lips, those teasing smirks, those blue-white brushstroke glints in their eyes.

He turned away from them, tucked clammy hands into the silk-lined pockets of his starkly white suit and stepped across the deeply napped carpet, brushing the upholstery-weight fabric aside and peering out the window.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a boy on a bike riding parallel to the wrought iron fence that lined the lawn, apparently oblivious to the importance of his surroundings. The boy's golden-red curls caught the sun and reflected it back at him, the remembrance of identical locks bringing Lex's hand to his smooth scalp before he could stop it. There hadn't been anything there for years. His entire life, almost. He let his hand brush from forehead to neck, then looked at his palm absently before closing it into a fist and leaning to unlatch the large window.

He glanced over his shoulder, half expecting a small army to burst through the three access doors at some silent alarm, but when a ten-count left him in silence, he turned back and breathed in the fresh-cut grass scent mixing with the city air that swept in as he opened the window.

The lawn was a trim green, the trees were full and his people, his people, were busy with their lives. Some working, some fucking, some wasting away, some seizing the day, some dying.

On Pennsylvania avenue, tourist peeked through the guardsmen, under their arms and over their shoulders. for a glimpse of the most powerful man on earth. Nearly.

He wouldn't give it to them, wouldn't appease their need for a good cocktail party story. Public appearances were scheduled now, carefully planned and plotted so to milk them for the most effectiveness.

He looked to the sky, hoping against hope that he'd see something other than patrolling helicopters and the gray-tinted clouds that hung over D.C. even on the brightest of days.

The last time he'd seen Clark was nearly two years ago. They'd parted well, all lies and smiles and shaking hands that tightened around each other's grasp. One flexing arm yanked him into a bear hug he'd almost not survived and he'd held on, fingers sliding on soft flannel for the last time.

Aching ribs had kept him up for nights on end, or so he told concerned members of his staff. In truth, he'd laid awake thinking as he'd done years before when he'd not been so sure of himself. The pain was sharp with every breath he took and he'd taken them deeply, filling his lungs and reveling in his private penance.

Now, there were no consequences. All debts had been paid.

Clark was for the world, and so was he.

The presidency excused many indiscretions that he might otherwise have been condemned for. It was a convenience, a means to an end that he'd been groomed for his entire life.

Lionel Luthor was a madman, but he'd taught his son well. On his deathbed, he'd choked and sputtered his final advice to Lex.

"You cannot regain what you have lost in this life, son, but you can avenge the losses until they no longer rule your emotions."

Lex had pried his hand loose from Lionel's clutch, then turned away as the last exhalation sickened the very air of the room. One long, thorough glance over his shoulder locked the image of his defeated father onto his mind. He'd waited too many years for that picture for it to be such a disappointment, but it was. Lionel was shriveled, wraithlike without the muscle tone, ancient, deeply wrinkled face surrounded by his wild tangle of gray and white hair, wan beneath the mint green hospital sheets.

Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath of a breeze that snuck in through the window and fed his remembering mind.

The image of Lillian lying there in her oversized, overstuffed bed filled his mind, the perfect, welcome contrast of Lionel.

His mother, wisp of a body strange and beautifully outlined in the deep red velvet of a duvet she'd dragged all over the manor with him through the years. They'd huddled on couches and Persian rugs underneath its plush softness.

The dim glow of candles, flickering shadows in all the right places made his mother's face look healthy, her skin pinkish orange instead of starkly pale. He'd inhaled the fresh scent of the melting wax and curled into her, his head on her chest, one cheek pressing gently against collarbone and a few strands of her long, loose hair. A curling end tickled along his chin and he'd lowered his lips to it, wrapping an arm around her waist.

A week before he lay there with her in their final moments, he'd lashed out against her, against death and sickness but her, because she embodied them both. He'd fought dirty, with truths she couldn't deny, slicing accusations of allowing Lionel to destroy him, bit by bit. She'd nodded and taken it, chin lowered just a little from her usual proud posture. In the end, he'd walked away, tears of fury streaming as he clashed his way through the fencing studio, foils littering the floor in his wake like pick-up sticks.

She'd died with a slowly cooling arm wrapped around his shoulder, her long fingers trailing along his hairless skin as they fell to the velvet, life gently humming out of her in a quiet, private swirl of breath. He'd wanted to kiss her, to look into her eyes and see the sparkle drain from them, witness the ghastly pain and precious moment of her disappearance, but he couldn't bring himself to lift his head from her unmoving breast. He'd held his breath and listened for the faint thumping of her heart until it ceased completely and he was collected and removed, taken away from her too soon.

Lex shook his head slowly and opened his eyes, the day and his existence infinitely more clear.

He'd always had something in his life. Something worth risking, worth fighting for; something he could never lose, even if he'd wanted to. Without that clarity of purpose, he was lost.

And he was lost, now.

Leader of a lost country, victim of lost love, mourner of lost lives and entertainer of lost hopes.

He turned from the window and reached for the blue phone on the president's desk. He didn't have to dial; the country relied on two men, and though they didn't speak, they remained undeniably dependant on one another. A series of clicks lengthened the wait while the line was connected and then...

"Lex? Is that you?"


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