Chapter 2

Lex looked up as his secretary showed in his one-time-friend, Clark Kent. He noticed that, while Clark looked older, he still had that innocent quality which had always defined him. Clark was saddened by the diamond hard quality of the eyes that met his.

"Please, have a seat. It's been a long time."

"A lifetime," replied Clark as he sat. "I was surprised when your secretary called and said you wanted to see me. What's the occasion?"

"I have a. . .proposition. We should become partners. Work together."

Clark tried, unsuccessfully, to hide his confusion. "I'm not sure I understand."

"Do you remember the last time we talked?"

"Hard to forget the day you lost the friend you considered a brother."

For an instant warmth flickered in Lex's eyes. Then it was gone. "I said that together we could do anything. Even rule the world. I know you're Superman, recognized the powers you use. If we combined our power we'd be unstoppable."

Clark shook his head in negation. "I don't want to rule the world, Lex. I want to protect it."

"What better way to protect it than to control it?"

"Lex. . . "

"Hear me out. With my money and connections and your powers no one could stop us. No dictator, no war lord, no "mob boss". If you want to protect the innocent what better way than to eliminate them?"

"Eliminate them by becoming them? By becoming worse than them? Not going to happen, Lex. I won't do it. And if you try I *will* stop you."

Lex looked slightly disappointed. "You have always been naive, Clark. I'd hoped getting out of Smallville would cure that."

"I prefer to believe in people, Lex. If that's naive, then yes I am."

"Clark, don't oppose me in this. I won't let anyone stop me. Not even you. I'm going to do this whether you're with me or not, but I want to have you with me in this."

"That can never happen, and you know it."

"Yes. I suppose I did know that. But I had to try. To ask. I still miss our friendship, Clark," admitted Lex with a, now rare, honesty.

Clark smiled sadly. "So do I, Lex. So do I. Please don't make me fight against you. I don't want that. I never have."

"That's my point, Clark. We shouldn't be fighting each other. We should be working together. We are quite possibly the only people who could destroy each other. No one but you would have a chance against me. I'm the only person with the resources to even think of going against you. We could end up in a war of mutual annihilation. How many innocents do you think will get caught in the crossfire? Fighting me is not the way to protect this world."

"Neither is letting you control it. You're already one of the most powerful men in the world. Let that be enough. Please."

"I can't. It isn't my nature to be second best."

"You used to fight against that nature and your fathers influence," Clark reminded him.

"It was the one battle I never had a chance of winning."

"Good-bye, Lex," Clark said as he stood up.

"Until next time. I'm sure we will see each other again."

Giving his one-time-friend a last look, Clark left.

As he rode down the elevator Clark heard a long forgotten voice in his head. Kyla.

Kyla: It's Ziget. He's like a brother to Numan. Legend has it, one day he'll turn against Numan, and together they'll be the balance between good and evil.

Clark knew what had brought the memory back. "One day" was today. Everything else about that legend had been true. Now that part of the legend was being fulfilled.

Lex went to his window. As he stood looking out a long forgotten memory surfaced; the talks he'd had with the young Ryan. His mind filled in different names than the comic book characters they had been discussing.

Lex: You know who the heroes and villains were. When you grow up, you learn that not everything is black and white.

Ryan: So now all you see is shades of gray?

Lex: Real life is not a comic book. Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty, make compromises.

Ryan: That's the rarest issue there is.

Lex: That's because it's the one where (Lex) turned against (Clark/Superman).

Ryan: Weren't they best friends?

Lex: Once upon a time.

Ryan: What happened to them?

Lex: They ruled (Metropolis) together until (Lex) told (Clark/Superman) that they should join forces and conquer humanity. Together, no one would be able to stop them.

Ryan: What did (Clark/Superman) say?

Lex: He refused. He believed it was a hero's sacred duty to protect those weaker the himself. (Lex) thought he was naive and vowed to destroy him and everything he stood for.

Ryan: Why do you think (Lex) went bad?

Lex: I'm not sure. He probably wasn't aware of it. You see, in life, the road to darkness is a journey, not a light switch.

Ryan: You should remember that, Lex.

For a moment wondered if things could have been different if he'd listened to Ryan's warning. If he'd remembered. Then the moment passed. Far below he saw Clark walk away, and with him the last traces of Alexander, son of Lillian. When he turned away from the window all that remained was Lex Luthor, heir to Lionel Luthor; the student who now far surpassed his teacher.

He remembered his promise that he would keep Clark's secret. A promise he decided he would still keep. But not because the promise itself meant anything to him now. No he would keep it because knowledge was power. He could use the knowledge to destroy Superman, without taking it public. He could go after everything that had ever mattered to Clark Kent. He could also hold the knowledge of his identity over Clark's head. Threaten to tell the world, even though he never would. He would be the one to destroy Clark. He walked to his desk and began to plan his first attempt to kill Superman.

THE END

A/N:

Keebler elmo: Thanks for the review. Hope you liked this chapter.

Bluie Twilight Star: Sorry the "good terms" couldn't last. But we all know how the story ends. Thank you.