Part 17

By the time Lex arrived at the manor, he was exhausted physically and emotionally. His mind was whirling with images of everything he could have had. After reliving the passion and the pain with Ch'ali, Lex knew that he would have given all he had to be with her again. What he had with her as Lexan was worth a kingdom. He understood why he had exchanged his people for a life with her. However, whatever bliss they had, it was not worth her life. He had settled in his heart, decided for both their souls. He would have to live knowing that he touched real love as Lexan.

His soul hoped so dearly, and would not let his rest with his decision. At the back of his eyelids he saw a bubbling golden-haired infant, laughing toothlessly. There was a toddler dressed in suit, standing straight as Chloe fixed his tie.

Lex groaned and shook his head. He closed the door of his bedroom.

"I hope you don't think it's that easy," he heard her say. Lex turned around and saw her standing before his fireplace. "I had the maids start one. I knew you would be freezing by the time you got here."

Lex had to force himself not to press against the door. It was no use showing her his weakness. She was already too stubborn and too determined without knowing how much power she had over him. "How did you even arrive before me?"

She smiled. Lex could hide so well from other people. He was able to mask his emotions from her every day until she rediscovered their past. From that moment on, she could read everything about Lex—his movements, his looks, his voice. "It pays to have connections."

Lex cleared his throat. "Leo?"

Chloe shook her head. "She's still recovering from Glory's attack. It was the demon."

His voice darkened at that. "Do you know that Belthazor could have killed you?" he demanded. Lex closed his eyes and shuddered. Violence was innate in him. There was no sense stoking the flames when she was within the same four walls as he was. "What's done is done," he said to calm himself. "You're safe." And then he met her gaze again. "I'd like for you to stay that way, so you should go home. I'll leave for Metropolis first thing in the morning."

Chloe took a step forward, and Lex automatically stepped back, hitting the small of his back on the doorknob. "Are you so bent on keeping us apart after everything we've been through?"

"It was one night."

"And a lifetime!" she argued. She strode forward, and watch Lex flinch with her every step. "Lex, you will not hurt me. Not this time."

"How do you figure that?" he whispered. She was so close to him that he felt her breath on his neck. "Tell me, Chloe. Do you remember everything?"

"Yes," she answered. "And I still want to be with you. Doesn't that tell you anything?"

"It does." He took her by her upper arms and moved her gently away from him, and then he walked away, this time leaving her by the door and going to the fireplace himself. Opposite ends of the room was safe. Opposite ends of the earth was even better. "It tells me that I need to stay away myself to keep you alive."

"That's crazy!" she burst. "I am not Ch'ali. You're not Lexan. Not anymore."

"I killed you!"

"You loved me." Chloe closed her eyes. "I would gladly trade whatever future I have for a chance to experience that kind of love again. I don't believe you killed me. How's that?"

"I did," he said forcefully. "I saw it with my own eyes. I looked at you on that bed, with my handprints on your pale neck." Like a magnetic attraction, and despite all his determination not to, Lex walked closer to Chloe. With trembling fingers he touched her pale neck. "I looked at you on the day of your viewing, as my kingdom paid respect to the queen who caused all its pain. I saw the relief in their eyes, and knew that they would pay. Antar was going to kill every last person in my land, and I would have gladly helped her salt my fields."

Chloe closed her hands around his. She kissed each palm and bathed them with her tears, if only to wash away the blood of his people. "You could not have hurt me, Lex, because of all of that."

"Loving you made me who I became, a king who cared for no one but the queen, a ruler who willingly fell under the hands of the enemy to punish his own people."

"It's all in the past," she said. "I'm sorry for everything that happened to them."

Lex met her eyes. "I'm not. But I would not have you hurt again. These hands are stained." He pulled them away.

"I am so tired of this!" she cried. "You say you love me but you want me out of your life. You don't want me hurt but you hurt me with every word. Lex, I can die tomorrow and it would all be in vain because I only had one night with you."

"You won't," he assured her. "I will make sure nothing happens to you. I will keep away from you so I will not have a chance to hurt you."

She was incensed. The man was stubborn and close-minded. "Then what kind of life is that? You know what, Lex, it's better that we end this now!" Chloe swung the door open and ran outside.

Lex knew he should not follow. He had to let her live her life. It was better now without him. However, her words woke fear inside him. Against all his better logic Lex stalked after her.

The sound of her footsteps led him where he knew he should not go. He pushed open the door and entered Lionel's favorite room. Chloe stood in the middle, her golden hair fanned around her face, making her appear like a virgin sacrifice in the stone room surrounded by ancient weapons of war and torture.

"What the hell are you trying to do, Chloe?" Lex demanded.

"Shut up, Lex. You believe so much you'll kill me. Let's prove one thing then."

They looked at each other for several seconds, neither moving. Lex's gaze never left Chloe's face. He dared not move. He was afraid that one action might trigger another and another that would ultimately lead him to do her harm. It was like that for several minutes.

"Here I am, Lex," she taunted. "All of these hanging from the walls can kill me within the span of seconds. If you're really going to hurt me, why am I still standing here?"

"This doesn't prove anything," he gritted out.

"It doesn't?" she whispered. Slowly, she drew out from behind her a silver dagger. She brushed her hair away from her neck and held the tip on her jugular.

Lex zeroed in on that point. His sharp eyesight took in every pulse, every movement that brought her skin closer to the metal. He dared not take a step closer. "Stop this, Chloe. Just accept the fact that there can be nothing between us this time."

Chloe pushed the tip closer. She felt the prick of the cold metal as it cut her skin. "Is this how you'll kill me, Lex? Will my blood run down the blade slowly until I'm cold, or will you make it quick?"

"I won't get near you in this room, Chloe," he warned her. "It's too dangerous."

"More dangerous than this? It's just you and I now, Lex. There are no angels, vampires, aliens and demons. No other kings or generals or princesses. If you believe you killed me then, let's see what you will do when it's only the two of us."

Lex stood his ground. Chloe gripped the dagger more tightly. Slowly, she sank to her knees. "I only want you," she whispered. "I think after everything that happened between us, I deserve to have you back. I waited lifetimes for you, Lexan. Don't do this when I finally found you."

When he did not move, Chloe closed her eyes, steady tears flowing. Then slowly, every so gently, firm hands were pulling the dagger out of her grip. Warm lips kissed the cut on her throat, then drank her tears away. Chloe's lips slackened and she turned her head to meet his kiss.

The dagger clattered on the stone floor, and her arms looped around his neck. She opened her eyes.

"I didn't kill you," he said in wonder, kneeling in front of her.

Chloe laughed in relief. "I told you you wouldn't."

He wiped her tears away. "That was by the far the stupidest, most insane, loveliest thing you have done."

Her voice was a bit hoarse when she replied, "Well you didn't push it in. That was the best part of it all."

"You believed in me."

Chloe pressed her lips on his cheeks. "You were my savior. I never believed you could have hurt Ch'ali."

"But I did."

The two turned at the now familiar sound of orbing. Leo materialized in front of the window, taking in the image of the couple on the floor in front of him. "Actually, Lex, you never did. It took such a long time to tell you. It was all your sister. I'm sorry for not having told you sooner."

Chloe and Lex both shook their heads. "No," Chloe said. "This was infinitely better. I'm glad we had to go through this first. We needed this. We've always been for dramatic revelations."

Leo smiled and nodded. "I understand." He noticed the blood on her neck and stepped forward. "Do you want me to heal that for you?"

Chloe covered the wound with her hand. "No. You can be the savior for a lot of other people out there. I have someone to treat this for me."

"Max Evans?"

Lex stood up and held out his hand to help Chloe up. "No. Alcohol and Lex Luthor," he told the whitelighter. "Thank you for everything."

Leo walked over to the two and kissed Chloe on the cheek. "I'm glad it worked out, and that you found each other again." He turned to Lex. Lex stiffened. "I'm not kissing you," Leo assured him. The whitelighter proceeded to embrace him. "It was great to meet you."

"You too," Lex said, then cleared his throat. When Leo was about to orb, Lex asked, "What about the prophecy? The powerful child of the daughter of the sun. What can we expect?"

Leo grinned. He winked at Chloe. "Well, life isn't fun if we don't have surprises. Besides, it won't be long until you find out what that is really all about." And then the figure melted into dancing blue lights.

Lex turned Chloe in his arms, the weapons around them forgotten. "Did he mean what I think he meant?" he rasped.

Chloe's eye widened. "I have no idea."