Part 7

The study was dark and cold. Lex was unused to its impersonality. Once upon a time he spend more than half his day inside it. It had been home more than his bedroom ever was, or his living room. Once upon a time, when he was still as cold and aloof as every piece of furniture in that room. Once upon a time when he had not yet experienced how warm sunlight playing across his face was, before one unwilling girl coaxed him out of the shell he unknowingly retreated into whenever threat to his walls faced him. It was the harbor of a different man. Inside Lex fought against having to return here.

There was a brisk knock on the door, and Lex straightened in his seat. The only person who had the right to see him so defenseless was not at the other side of that door. Lex called curtly admittance.

His brother stepped into the room and strode towards him. Lucas took a seat in front of the desk without being told to. He watched his brother carefully, scrutinizing the face for the slightest expression but finding none.

Finally, Lex spoke, "My life is ruled by women."

Lucas took it as a sign of levity. He smiled briefly and answered. "You're telling me. I've got three girls who run the house."

Gruffly, Lex asked, "What did she say?"

Lucas recognized the sudden turn and became somber himself. "She was very amenable to the arrangement, Lex. It suits well with appearances. That's the most she had really been concerned with since the beginning."

The older man nodded. "She understands that there will be no marriage."

"The fact that you were able to keep the affair out of the public eye, even with Christian's arrival, impressed her."

A crack in the mask that could be interpreted as a smile. Then it was gone like a ripple on the surface of water. "I didn't do it for her."

Lucas settled back in the chair. "She is willing to raise your son. It does go with appearances. This way, Christian will never be labeled illegitimate."

"She will never be Christian's mother. My son will never forget the woman who bore him."

"Lex, Chloe wanted your son to stay with you. Whatever it took, she said. And Helen will never divorce you. She was aware of that."

The mere mention of the name and Lex had to fight the wave of dizziness that assailed him. His senses were flooded by a scent, intangible and fleeting at once, but he continued to grasp for a whiff in the air. "She said that Helen is not a bad woman, merely a woman caught in a terrible situation."

"What wife would not have shown a dark side when threat to her happiness arrives?" Lucas reasoned. Lex remained silent. "She had one request. If you are in any way considering a transfer." Lex closed his eyes, because to open them would reveal to his brother too many things about him that he would allow no one to view. "Helen doesn't want Chloe in the family mausoleum."

Nausea was only in the mind, Lex convinced himself. He had spent too many nights cradling his son, coaching him in the ways of blocking images of his mother's body buried underground, open to. Lex shook his head to erase the thoughts. Chloe was vibrant and beautiful and ethereal, too much so to remain alive. There was no body. The body was no longer Chloe, because his wife (and he would forever deny Helen that name because his heart knew otherwise) had ascended where she would be untouched by elements that would wear the human body down. Chloe was fortunate in that regard. Voices in his head commented in his denial to no effect. If he thought one more moment of Chloe's beautiful skin marred by the inevitable marring that followed death, he would go insane.

"Legally, even if we wanted to, we can't. When father purchased the land, he made the clause that only Luthors may be interred there, possibly to ward off his bastards," Lucas continued bitterly.

"Tell her," Lex said calmly, "that she will not have a problem with that." From the side of his desk, Lex drew a bottle of brandy and poured his brother a glass of the amber liquid. He pushed it to Lucas and poured himself another.

Lucas took the glass and swirled the liquid slowly. He took one deep swallow and looked at his brother, weighing Lex's actions. "Where is she, Lex?" he posed. "You didn't even invite me. I was one of her few friends." He was not insulted. Lucas was aware that Lex invited no one. "Is she in Metropolis?"

"No," was the simple reply.

The two turned when the door opened and in walked the small boy in a crisp black suit. "Christian," Lucas said. The boy did not turn to his uncle. He walked straight to his father.

Lex stood and excused himself to Lucas. He took his son's hand and walked with him out of the study.

Lucas waited for the door to close behind father and son. He looked down at the brandy glass and allowed the amber liquid to hypnotize him. When he had drunk the contents of his glass, Lucas stood and walked over to the windows that Lex favored so much. He looked out into the garden where Lillian Luthor's roses grew all year round. It was a view that could be seen from the study and from Lex's bedroom.

That was when he noticed the new statue that stood there, a marble angel that shone under the sun. He watched as Lex and his son, formal in their suits, walked stiffly across the garden and stopped in front of the cherubim. Christian reached out and brushed his hand over the marble. From his perspective, Lucas could not see or hear the two talk. Lex merely held his son's hand while they stood silently there.

~~

Lena Luthor stood with her cousin in front of the marble angel, now dulled by time and isolated in the abandoned castle. Lex Luthor had chosen this place so that the one person he loved above everyone else would always be close to him. Yet here Chloe Sullivan lay, until this hour unknown by her only living relative, left by the two men who mattered the most to her. Lex and Christian lay resting in their expensive plots in the Luthor mausoleum. Chloe's only consolation was Helen's decision not to be interred beside the two. It was Lena's question answered, about why Helen would decide to be taken to her childhood home instead of resting forever beside her husband and son.

"I'm not even the heiress, Ted. My father was born to grandpa and his mistress."

Ted closed his hand over his cousin's shoulder. "Your father, and you, were products of a great love."

Lena moistened her lips. Everything about her was not an aberration. "So all the things round about me."

"Were wrong because grandma Helen taught you they were. These things about you that you could not find in any of the Luthors, or the Bryces, that she taught you to suppress, were what made grandfather love you and stay away from you at the same time." Ted glanced at his cousin, who did not see his movement. Lena was staring too intently on the words engraved in the stone. "You were Chloe Sullivan, living and breathing, a reminder of everything he loved. He adored you from afar, Lena. Grandpa was so afraid to really talk to you, because in the years that Uncle Christian grew up, he had thought that he had at least been able to relegate his heaven with Chloe to mere memory. You would have reminded him everyday of what he had lost."

"Did he really feel that way?" she asked softly, looking at the words. "Did he really believe that he buried his hope with her?"

"No." Ted shook his head. He knelt down and rubbed at the stone, revealing more words set in the stone. "In fact, this is testimony to the fact that Lex Luthor held an undying hope, Lena. He knew that if he lived well enough, he would see her again. You saw that fulfillment on his deathbed." Ted stood and nodded towards the epitaph. "Prospice," he told her.

Lena narrowed her eyes and read the inscription. "Soul of my soul," she whispered, and recognized the famous line at once, "I shall clasp thee again, and with God be the rest!"

When she turned her brimming eyes to her cousin, she saw that she was once again alone. Slowly, she faced the cherubim again.

"So," she said softly, "Chloe Sullivan. We never realized there was someone with us all along. And I thought grandpa was getting really old to be looking out here all the time." Lena swallowed. "I'm Lena, and I'm your granddaughter. But you were so young, and I don't feel right acting like you're my grandma. We're practically the same age."

The clouds above her treaded the sky from the west to the east. The sun that was high above sank closer to the earth, bringing shades of red and orange to the horizon. All this went unnoticed as Lena sat on the grass now, talking to someone who could or could not hear.

"Now I know how it is that I'm such an abnormality in this family. So many things about me were from you. I did get one trait from the Luthors. I misjudge people very often. That's why I was so angry with you when I saw granddad's obsession room." Lena grinned. "You must have been so amazing to turn Lex Luthor into that. Now I know why I'm such a knockout."

When the air turned cool and the sky was dotted with bright pinpricks of light, Ted came to bring her a basket of food for dinner. Lena thanked him for the blanket that she threw over her shoulders.

"I have so many things I want to know. I will have to spend days inside that museum."

Lena took a deep breath, and only then realized that it was night. The fresh fragrance of wet grass made her turn around to look at the castle as it stood beneath the moonlight. Her eyes wandered through each crevice and stone that made up the home she had left long ago.

Her lips parted at the soft glow that came from one of the windows. Two shadows drew together as they played on the curtains. As suddenly as they appeared, the shadows vanished and the light blinked out. High above, starlight winked at her.

Lena closed her eyes and whispered a silent prayer that long ago, when she was a child and her grandfather smiled in death, two souls met on a plane that existed beyond her own. It was no less than they deserved.

"Ted," she said, "I won't be selling the house."

"That's good, Lena. Very good."

fin