Whatever It Takes Author: DebC E-mail: debchilson@yahoo.com Rating: PG-13 Keywords: post-episode, post-Exodus Characters: Lex Pairing: Lex/Helen Series: none Spoilers: for Calling and Exodus, heavily. Summary: His wife was dead. That's what Lex Luthor told people when they asked...

"Whatever It Takes"

His wife was dead.

That's what Lex Luthor told people when they asked what happened to his beautiful new bride. "She died," he'd tell inquiring minds point blank, looking them straight in the eye, head held steady so they could see the now-yellowing bruises and cuts he'd sustained. Died in the plane crash that nearly took his life as well. It was enough for most people, all of whom took him as the silent sufferer he easily portrayed.

There was a memorial service after rescue workers abandoned all hope of finding the late Mrs. Luthor's body. The currents would have swept it far from the crash site before long, if predators didn't get it first. Either way, there would be no body. No formal viewing.

Instead, Lex stood in front of a huge poster-sized image of his beloved and spoke of her love. "She changed my life," he told the gathered crowd of family, friends, and the Associated Press. "She made me believe that through love, all things are possible." His voice wavered just a touch, and then he stepped away from the podium, uttering one final "I shall miss her."

Helen's mother took the news the hardest. At Lex's stoic show of emotion, she threw herself on him, screaming and beating his chest. "Didn't my daughter mean anything to you? How can you just go on as if nothing's happened?" she accused in sharp tones.

She proceeded to hound him until he handed over Helen's personal affects. Technically, as there had been no prenuptial agreement, they were now his by law, but Lex ha no need of them, or Helen's money. He saved out a few things, and told her they were keepsakes--to hold her memory in his heart-- but willingly handed over the rest in an attempt to smooth things over for yet another misunderstanding between them-- the black marble headstone which now bore her name and sat next to his mother's in the cemetery. "Mom would have loved Helen," was his sole excuse for not "burying her" in the Bryce family plot.

The media ate up this latest scandal, naturally, but Lex weathered it with silent aplomb. He refused to answer comments about their relationship or her death, instructing a press liaison to issue a brief statement of "Mr. Luthor has no comment" whenever someone asked. They backed down, leaving the young widower to mourn in his own way.

Days passed by into weeks and then months.

Outwardly, Lex Luthor had moved on. He threw himself into the business of running LexCorp, and even dated sporadically, mostly for social engagements that required a date. There women were often picked by his father or by a social secretary, and there were never any second dates.

Lionel admonished him for continuing to mourn for Helen. Lex should be dating again, he insisted, finding someone new... more suitable. Lex paid little heed to his father's acerbic advice. He was well past the stage where anything Daddy Dearest wanted of him would be the path of righteousness. And besides, his father's so-called concern for him was nothing more than a lie, meant to cover up his real feelings.

Lex knew the truth.

He'd had a private investigator looking into it even before the blood had a chance to dry on his wounds. He was determined to find out exactly what had happened on that plane. His father's plane--loaned to him for an ill- fated and incredibly scripted honeymoon.

The pilots had been bribed with special "wedding bonuses" and had been instructed to take the money and move far away. One of them strangely committed suicide just after his check cleared the bank, just weeks after Lex's return to civilization. The other one did disappear, just not willingly.

What rankled was that he couldn't really prove it. Nothing connected his father to the sabotage that sent his newlywed son and his bride crashing into the ocean. Nor had he learned exactly why his father would resort to such a course of action. At times, they'd been bitter enemies, but Lex had always thought his father did love him, in his own way. That, he now supposed, had been the last vestige of his mother's influence over his heart blinding him to the truth that his father didn't love. Lex intended to do whatever it took to place the blame where it truly belonged.

In the meantime, a year came and went. He marked the anniversary of Helen's death alone in the mansion in Smallville. His father was away on urgent LuthorCorp business, or so he said, so Lex dismissed the staff for the entire week. He didn't trust them anyway; his father probably had them all in his back pocket, too. Just like the pilots, and Lex had no intention of getting caught unawares again. Besides, the plan was to be completely alone tonight. Just as he had been the day of the crash.

Once he was certain he was alone, he made his way to his study. The room was chilly, like the rest of the drafty ancestral castle, but his excitement kept him warm. His fingers trembled as he fired up the computer and accessed his personal e-mail account.

One single message, heavily encrypted, waited in his in-box, and he led his breath while the encryption software decoded it.

"Dearest,

I saw you on the news yesterday. I nearly cried, as I have missed you so much, and you looked so tired and worn. You need to take better care of yourself, sweetheart, so you can be with us someday. Lily and Liam are growing so fast. I wish you could see them. I hate this as much as I love you, with all my heart.

Your beloved"

Lex hated this arrangement, too, but what else could they do? He feared for their safety even now, and this e-mail--their only correspondence in an entire year, as they'd agreed upon before he left her--was fated to be destroyed, with no replies.

He longed to answer it, yearned to tell Helen how much he loved her and miserable this year had been for him. His arms ached to hold the twins he'd last seen as black and white blurs on an ultrasound a few days after their rescue on foreign soil. Neither of them had known Helen had been pregnant, and it should have been a blessing rather than a cause for alarm.

Alarm, however, was the appropriate response, and if Lex had his way, no one else would ever know about his twin children. At least not until the threat their grandfather posed to them was neutralized.

To the world--and more importantly, to the man sure to want them as dead as he had wanted their parents--they did not exist.