EPILOGUE: And The Lived ... Ever After
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Spoilers: mild Crush. post-Exodus.
Summary: He with the last word bears all. Future fic and final chapter to Synergy.
Disclaimer: Until the day I own DC comics and the WB, I am but a poor fanatic drunk on too much time.
The Challenge: Kat writes fluff and some real Lex/Lana. Shall she succeed? Does she want to?
Author's Note: Be patient and read onwards, for all shall be revealed by the end. This unofficial final chapter of Synergy is for Masikka, the midwife of my labors. Ughh, fluff! Get it off! Get it off!
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What you are, more than anything else, is alive.
- 'The Hours' by Michael Cunningham
The snow had fallen all day. Not a blizzard, but a steady fall through the morning and early afternoon of exquisite crystalline stars, draping the city with a coat of cleansing whiteness. It was almost disappointing to have to step on the crisp and yet unmarred snow to get to the great marble and granite monument erected before her. She sighed and turned her gaze to the left, squinting up at the Metropolis skyline with it's grand buildings and hulking black towers. She spotted her husband's corporate building easily, the tallest of them all and crowned with a gigantic 'L,' reaching up at a staggering height to grasp the first snowfall and, so it seemed, the gates of heaven itself. Unbidden, a chill ran down her spine. The soft crunching of snow made her aware of another pair of footsteps approaching behind her. A squeal of delight and a resounding, "Ow!" brought a smile to her face as she turned around to greet her company. She watched as her husband leaned away suddenly from a set of small, pudgy hands and reached up with his own to catch the offending red-gloved things. The toddler propped up in his arm squealed again with delight and began shaking his caught arms up and down. Her husband frowned and raised a bemused brow in her direction.
"Oh, sweetheart," she laughed as she went over and scooped the precocious child from his arms, "you mustn't pull on your father's poor ears."
The little boy pouted and reached back out to her husband, opening and closing his tiny red fists. "Da-di," he whined. "Pik!"
She took a step back towards the father and bent her head to the side so that her cheek was flush against that of the warm bundle in her arms. "Ahh," she said in a low, husky voice and turned to look at her son. Large gray eyes peeked out at her under a mop of unruly hair and she smiled, "you're right. Daddy's ears are very pink."
"And Daddy's ears," her husband sighed deeply, a thick white cloud escaping his lips as he brushed by them to take the lead up the path. "Will break off if he tries to pull on it again."
They climbed the marble steps out of the snow and onto the partially covered space of the monument where two black marble tombs lay. The toddler in her arms fell silent when he saw the large granite statue of the angel holding out a flame of fire in one hand and a fountain of warm water in the other. Her husband kneeled before one of them and traced the 'L' of the engraved name with his leather-gloved index finger. She stood one pace behind him and waited quietly, their son also remarkably silent and waiting in her arms. They stared at the hunched figure before them and heard three words come from him in another puff of frosty air. "Happy anniversary, mom."
Lex pivoted slightly on his knee and glanced back at his wife and son. She stepped forward and crouched down beside him, standing their toddler on the snow-free granite floor in front of them and holding both his hands for support. "You remember Lana," Lex spoke to the black marble and took one of his son's hands from his wife as the little one took a precarious step forward on short and uneasy legs.
"Hello Mrs. Luthor," Lana greeted and gave Lex an encouraging nod. It had been her idea that they commemorate his parents' wedding anniversary by introducing them to their almost year-old grandson.
"Please, Lana," Lex said as he slowly returned the smile to his wife. "She wants me to tell you to call her mom."
Their son took another wobbly step forward and Lana gasped when he slipped his hands from both her and her husband's to teeter one...two...three steps on his own and put both of his red-gloved hands on the smooth black marble for support. A sound of awe gurgled from his tiny lips as he stared at the engraved name before him.
"And this little monster," chuckled Lex as he put one steadying hand on the boy's back. "Is our son and your grandson. Clark," he called softly and a cherub face with perfectly round rosy cheeks and wild black hair turned back to look at him. "Clark, this is Grandma Lil-lee-an," introduced Lex, pronouncing his mother's name slowly and clearly to the toddler.
Clark turned back to the name engraved in the black marble just above his tiny hands and reached up with his right arm. He patted the name with a satisfying SPLAT! of his glove. "Lee-lin," he experimented with his mouth and his glove fell with a more satisfying SPLAT! again on the engraving. "Lee-lin!" Suddenly discovering the wonder that was his knees, Clark began bobbing up and down happily. He tried to turn and show his mother his new trick, but when Clark let go of the marble, he fell unceremoniously on his cushioned bottom with a consummate SQUISH. The smile disappeared instantly from his face and he looked up at his mother in despair. His eyes went wide and his perfectly pink lips began to tremble.
"Oh, it's all right dear," Lana cooed as she scooped him back up into her arms and stood up. "No need to cry! Mommy's got you and she's very proud. Three steps all by yourself!" She hugged her baby boy and kissed him once on either cheek. His little button nose crinkled when she did it and Clark popped his left thumb in his mouth, securely forming a little fist in front of his face.
Still kneeling on the ground, Lex looked up at his wife and his heart caught momentarily in his throat. With snow in the backdrop and their son sitting up in one of her arms, Lana looked positively radiant. Gorgeous, with an equally rosy blush on her cheeks as their son. Perfect. He was overwhelmed once more by a rush of feeling that once again confirmed for him, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she was and had always been 'the one.' It seemed a lifetime ago when they argued over the belief that every person had exactly one perfect match in all the world. How strange that neither of them had even remotely considered the possibility that perhaps they would find their match in each other; not once! They went their separate ways after Smallville, only to meet again by chance after some time to discover that their relationship had always been so much more than just business partners and good friends. He couldn't help but grin inwardly at the cliché. No matter how many times they used its definition in their jesting, when it came down to it, they had failed to recognize synergy staring them right in the face. We had it all along.
As if reading his thoughts, Clark rested the side of his head on his mother's shoulder and wrapped his free arm around her neck protectively. Lex stood up and placed his hand on the boy's back. "Hey," he whispered in his son's ear. "She's mine too, you know." He raised his gloved hand and began to mess his son's hair even further. "Rascal." The little boy screamed and placed both of his tiny arms over his head. Lana laughed and, as an offer of apology, Lex held out both his hands and smirked. Small pudgy arms immediately reached for him once more.
"Daddy's boy," Lana mumbled as she reluctantly passed her son to her husband. No sooner had he been seated on his father's larger and stronger arm, then Clark made another grab for Lex's ear. Lana laughed again as Lex winced and painfully removed his son's stubby fingers from their firm grip on the top auricle.
Clark pouted as both his hands were enclosed securely in just one of his father's. Lex shook his head and said to Lana, "he's a fast boy." Clark attempted to pull his hands free and cried in surprise when all he managed to do was move his father's fist towards him. "Strong, too," Lex added as he carried their captive son back to the marble tomb. Lana watched as he whispered something in the toddler's ears that received an enthusiastic nod as he slowly released his son's hands. She watched as Lex directed their son's gaze up to the angel statue and began explaining it to him. A smile crept across her face as her husband's comments reminded her of their son's namesake and godfather. Like the original Clark, their son had come into their lives suddenly and changed it forever. Things had been dangerously rocky in their relationship at the time and just when it seemed to be reaching its breaking point, he came into the picture and not only saved their marriage, but brought new life to it with his own. Lana owed so much already to a boy who was barely a year old.
Sometimes she missed Clark Kent. Missed having someone to talk to, confide to. But they, too, had drifted apart after Smallville. Though she regretted how watered down their friendship had become, Lana did not regret for a second sealing any hope of reviving what had once been a strong connection with Clark Kent when she chose to be with the equally ambiguous Lex Luthor. Maybe she'd always been doomed to fall for tall, dark and almost-ridiculously mysterious men. She tried to remember when exactly things had become more than just friends between her and Lex. Had it been the day they crossed paths in Metropolis months after they parted ways in Smallville? Or was it the horseback riding and first synergy-related conversation they had shortly after his 'resurrection' from a watery death? Lana frowned. Could it be that maybe, just maybe, things had never been just friends between them? Thousands of flirtatious encounters - some undeniable, many more not so much - flashed across her mind. Lana watched as Lex lead Clark - whom he had put down to walk again - with two hands towards the second marble tomb.
He's a wonderful father a voice said in her head and she agreed. Though Lana had her increasing doubts and suspicions about his business affairs, there was no denying his devotion as a husband and father. Besides, it was the enigma of Lex Luthor that had attracted her and held countless others under his sway: powerful yet unbalanced (she wasn't the only one who had noticed a difference in him after the plane crash all those years ago), much like the way artists were said to be - full of vision, full of rage, and committed above all things to become...what? Lana wasn't sure she was ready to unravel the dark chaos he kept hidden deep within.
There were just so many emotional scars! Some had been permanently etched onto his psyche long before the meteor shower, but the ones that left the worst marks were in that traumatizing time frame that had also taken away her parents. Lana remembered Lex's recount of the day he left the hospital, how he was instantly blinded by a multitude of camera flashes and how dark figures rose from their cameras to gossip and eye him coldly. 'Freak,' said their accusing stares. Lex had wanted to run back into his hospital room and hide, but his father held a firm grip on his arm and yanked him forward roughly. "Ignore them," Lionel had hissed in his ear. "It's judgment that defeats us."
Lana blinked as she stepped out of her reverie and saw Lex crouched beside Clark, who stood against the black marble of the second tomb for support, patting his grandfather's name in the same manner as the late Mrs. Luthor. Lex turned back to her then and held one leather gloved hand out to her. "Lana," he breathed. She walked over and accepted his hand, entwining her gloved fingers with his.
Lex took his son with his free arm and stood up, squeezing Lana's hand as he rose. "Clark, why don't you tell mommy who this is?" he grinned and squeezed her hand again.
"LOONY!" Clark cried happily and opened and closed both red-gloved palms in the direction of the second tomb. "Loo-ny. Bye! Bye!'"
Lana bowed her head for a moment and smiled. When she raised her head again, she looked at her husband as if for the first time. "What's wrong?" he frowned.
"Nothing," she replied and leaned forward to brush a kiss onto his cheek. His frown deepened with concern as she placed a gloved hand to the side of his face and narrowed her eyes momentarily to study him. "You're a good man," she stated simply, their eyes meeting at last. "And I love you."
Lex opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again as he reconsidered his words. The frown disappeared and he didn't seem to mind that Clark was playing lightly with his ear. He squeezed her hand harder than the last and said, "you look beautiful."
Lana winced at the extra pressure he exerted and looked away to hide her disappointment. For days now she'd caught herself desperately needing to hear another set of three words come from his lips. Not that she couldn't see nor feel it every time he cast his eyes in her direction. It's just... She stole a glance at the second tomb behind Lex and tried to remember what it was that Lionel had said. It's judgment that defeats us. Finding composure in that thought, Lana managed a small smile and squeezed his hand back in return. "Thank you." She hooked her arm underneath his and sighed as she laid her head to rest on his shoulder. Together, the family walked back onto the snow and out of the cemetery.
On the base of the second tomb facing the granite angel, two simple words they would never come to know was carved in small letters into the black marble just above a mound of snow swept in by the wind. A single strand of red hair lay partially covered in the snow. How it got there no one would be able to logically explain, but with every breeze that blew into the monument, the single strand rose up and - if people had seen, they would have sworn - traced the letters of the two words before resigning once more to the snow.
Two words. That was all that was needed to sum up the life of the great Lionel Luthor, revealing so much yet so little with the image of an eternally sad, perpetually bitter smile on his once handsome face watching the prime figure of all his efforts walk away with his still young, still happy and innocent family.