XIII. Stranger

His father would never control his brother the way he controlled Lex. That was the promise that Lex made to himself. He owed Lucas more than his life. Lucas had taken care of the most important person in the world to him. He knew that even with Chloe dead, Lucas had done everything in his power to fulfill his duty to Lex.

He would find her and tell her what Lionel did. He would set Lucas free from the restrictions of living knowing that you were doing so at the expense of your brother.

Lex pulled up the resources on his computer and searched for Lucas. It had been easy to figure out that he was outside Kansas. Lex would have left too had he been in Lucas' shoes. The less reminders of the greatest failure of his life, the better he would have functioned. Finally, after a few minutes of searching, he found a link to a newspaper article on his brother. Eagerly, Lex drank the news of Lucas' recovery from a local Portland newspaper.

Lex felt the unexplainable joy of knowing that his brother had settled in a wonderful family place. Perhaps Lucas can find happiness there away from his past. He was clearly well-loved in the city, as evidenced by the wording of the article.

Lex clicked on the image banner of the online newspaper. The story was old, and he was desperate for more. It was a long-shot, given that Lucas had never been as conspicuous as Lex had been. It was Lionel's greatest frustration, and their father did everything in his father to mold Lucas into Lex's image. He wanted two sons who had chances for the highest positions in the land. His frustration must not have had bounds when Lex fell into a coma and he was left with the son he was dissatisfied with.

The heading was simple. "An Interview with a Blessed Man. Lucas Luthor Finds Happiness." Lex felt a huge thorn removed from his chest. Lex had wondered if Lucas would ever recover from the tragedies he thought happened. And here he was, about to be married, perhaps the most fulfilled Luthor in the family's long history.

Lex would not let Lucas start a brand new chapter of his life believing lies. He stepped out of his room for the first time in years and demanded to see his father.

"Master Lex," the maid sputtered, as if she had seen an apparition. "Your father is in Oregon on business."

"Oh no, you don't," Lex muttered. He turned to the maid and said, "Tell the butler to get me a helicopter right now."

~~

Having not used his muscles for so long, Lex was panting by the time he arrived at the beautiful beach setting of his brother's wedding. He had been focused on the task from the moment he left the house. The mission set in his mind had before then blocked out any coherent thought about what he should expect. When Lex saw the venue itself, he stopped and took everything in.

It was the very same wedding that Chloe had wanted long ago. It was the wedding she fought for when every other person in their lives planned for the biggest and most elegant one, in the tallest cathedral with no less than a thousand witnesses. It was the wedding he apologized to Chloe because he knew that at his stature he would not be able to give her.

He had never voiced it out to his brother before, but at the time when the two Luthors were spending every day together, Lex had been unspeakably jealous of Lucas. Lucas grew up without money and privilege, but at the same time Lucas also grew up without the proverbial eye of Lionel Luthor. Lucas had been able to move about as he wanted, and not have to continuously watch his back for any attacks. Lucas was able to live the kind of life that Lex often wanted, just for the fact that there were days when Lex knew Chloe deserved the break. For all of those things, Lex was jealous of his brother. Yet overwhelming all these small things was his fulfillment to be with Chloe.

Now she was gone and Lucas had everything. Lex took in the sight of the couple in front. The ceremony was over and the minister had given them the permission to kiss in celebration. The small audience burst into a round of applause. The groom playfully bent the bride in a captivating kiss.

And then the couple faced the crowd. Lucas had his arms wrapped around his bride. Holding hands, they ran down the red carpet on the sand, almost tripping. Lex watched dispassionately, frozen in place, as Lucas laughingly ran with everything Lex knew was supposed to be his.

The couple did not have to run long since the dinner setting was just a few yards away. Lex took a deep breath. Just as he had expected the moment he saw her face, Lucas' wedding would have a sunset reception. He allowed the people to move around him as they left their chairs to get some food.

The entire affair was sluggish in his brain. People whom he did not know clinked their glasses to speak. Finally, a familiar voice was heard. His father took the microphone and stood at the center, toasting to Lucas and Chloe.

"Well, isn't this nice? My son finally marries the woman of his dreams. And I have sand inside my pants to testify to that." His father. Ever the jokester. "I always wondered why two young men who had mostly the same blood can be so different," he continued. "I racked my brains to make Lucas more like his brother. The world proved that patience would pay off. Lucas has finally lived up to his potential. Congratulations."

Lionel nodded to the resounding appreciation that he received. Lex's skin crawled when Lionel approached the bride and pressed a kiss on her cheek. Lex stepped forward to take Lionel's hands off her. Instead he found himself awed when Lionel gave Chloe the microphone and she took it to speak.

Chloe pulled at Lucas' hand so that the two of them stood out. "Who you are now is the complete amalgamation of everything I need, Lucas," she said sincerely, looking into her husband's eyes. "And you know how I feel about you. I suppose in some respect I have to thank your father for that." Chloe glanced briefly at Lionel, then looked back at Lucas. "You brought back the dream that I thought died with your brother. I've been dead so long, Lucas. And even though I know you're completely willing to take me on like that, I love you too much to do that." Lex's bile rose in his throat as he watched her bring his brother's hand to her lips. "From this day on I'm completely yours, without reservations, without ghosts."

Lex wanted to crawl back to his dark bedroom in Smallville and hide from the living world.

And then it was his brother's turn to kill him. "We've been skirting around one name and I'm no longer afraid to say it," he began. "A few years ago, Lex asked me to stay with Chloe, to protect her the way he would because he needed to leave the country. That was the first night Chloe and I stayed under the same roof together for more than six hours. And she slept for more than half of it." A soft laughter that Lex did not join in. "I would like to think that Lex is here today, and that now he's just extending his request. Either way, Lex, thank you for lending her to me. And thank you, Chloe, for giving me our daughter Alice."

Chloe pulled him down for another kiss. Lionel stood and spoke to the crowd, "Soon hopefully I'll get a grandson from these two." Lucas laid his forehead on Chloe's.

Lex staggered backwards into the shadowed area where the wedding ceremony had been held. He sat down heavily on one of the beach chairs. He covered his face with his hands.

"I've got a new daddy. Are you jealous?"

Lex looked up and saw the blonde girl standing in front her, wearing a pale yellow dress and flowers in her hair. He was stunned by the blue of her eyes. At that precise moment he recognized her. He wanted to reach for her and cradle her close. He knew that was no longer possible. "I'm very jealous," he admitted. "But I'm happy for you. Are you very very very very happy, Alice?" The girl nodded. "Okay. That's good. If one very is taken away, I can find away to give it back to you."

Alice frowned. "Mommy said you gotta be sad sometimes so you can be happy. Mommy had to be sad so she can be happy now."

"I love you, Alice."

The girl smiled. "I love you too."

"Go back your parents, Alice. They'll worry about you."

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going home. I'm not from around here," he told her.

Lex watched as the girl ran back to the party.

Letting go is just another way to say

I'll always love you so.