Title: Until The Day I Die
Disclaimer: If I owned it, I would be off playing with the cast right about now…
Authors Notes: This is a one shot that started out as a song fic (and that is were the title came from) but that grew into something more.
It started out slowly, as all great relationships did. They were really just kids then, Clark only fifteen, and Lex twenty-one. It didn't seem like they were old enough for the things they did, or saw. A different mutant every week, usually bent on either kidnapping or destroying. Running a factory full of workers that were usually twenty years older. Part of what drew the two to each other was the fact that they were complete opposites; the rest were the things that made them the same. They could often be found in Lex's castle, playing games, watching movies, or just talking about anything and everything under the sun. Clark found someone he could look up do, who understood what it was like to know that there was something different out there, just waiting to be discovered. Lex found the innocence he had lost, and a mind that could rival his own, once diverted from the plainness of Smallville.
Later on, when Clark had graduated, Lex would be there to help him cope with the changes of living in Metropolis every day, instead of merely visiting. He would introduce the younger man to the places he would need for college, as well as the people that it was always good to have connections with. They grew apart, slightly; It was harder in the city to find an excuse to visit the college dorms where Clark insisted on living, or the Penthouse that Lex was hardly ever in, thanks to the growing demands of his job. Still, they met up at least once a week just to chat, each longing for more, but unwilling to be seen as needy.
That would be their downfall.
The years passed. Once a week turned into once every two weeks, then to once a month. Slowly, Lex and Clark were growing apart, but they knew in their hearts that if the other would just pick up the phone and call, everything would be right between them. Clark began to use his powers to spy on Lex, making sure that he was safe. Lex increased the security he had around Clark. Both made abortive measures to pick up the phone, or to write an e-mail. Hundreds of thousands of words were written down to be thrown away, or spoken to blank walls. Without Clark, Lex grew harder, took more drastic measures to get the job done. He cut corners and costs, and increased the profit. He spent even more time at the office, trying to work hard enough to get his father off his back. He managed to convince himself that if it weren't for Lionel Luthor, Lex would have more time to spend either with Clark, or at his new favorite pastime of Clark Watching.
Meanwhile, Clark was discovering the full extent of his abilities, and had started his job as a savior. He moved at super speed, being careful not to let anyone get a look at his face. More than anything, he wanted to just sit Lex down and talk to him about these slightly frightening abilities of his, but he didn't want to interfere with the other man's life. He grew more alone, and realized that the only way he would ever be happy was if his super powers and his normal self were separated. He talked to his parents, and eventually chose an outfit that was similar to those worn by his parents. Every night, he still flew by Lex's window, watching the other man.
By the time that Clark had gotten a job at the Daily Planet, he was already in a bit of a conundrum. His alter-ego, who Lois had deemed Super Man, was already taking over his life. Then, with Lois going googly-eyed, and getting into even more trouble than usual, it became worse. He had upped his patrols from just Metropolis to America, than the North American Continent, to the Western Hemisphere. Eventually, it got to be he was flying around the world many times a night, preventing major catastrophes and large crime sprees. He still focused his attentions mainly in Metropolis, but by the time he finished his rounds, he was so exhausted that he just collapsed, only to get up in a few hours to become Clark Kent and go to his work at the Daily Planet.
The first time that Lex had seen Superman, he didn't want to believe that it was true. That this was what his friend had been hiding from him all along. Yes, it made a lot of the other clues fit, but Clark just wouldn't keep something this big from him. Eventually he couldn't help but admit that his good friend Clark Kent, home grown Kansas boy, the one who had looked at him with such wide, innocent, hurt eyes every time Lex had tried to ask what the big secret was, had really been hiding the fact that he could fly and was bulletproof and if the papers were to be believed, was from Krypton!!!
Lex wondered when he had lost contact with Clark, and when his friend had turned into this… this… alien. But then, he wasn't exactly the same as he was back then either. His father's influence, and then the expectations of those around him. The most efficient way to get things done was to act like a bastard, so that's exactly what he did. But lately he had been having trouble turning off the Bastard act when he was alone, or when he went out on dates. Granted, most of the dates were merely for social appearances sake, and that they were useful in their own way. The night that Lex finally admitted that the Bastard was ruling his life, he broke down and cried, tossing expensive liquor against the walls. If Clark -Clark - wanted to change, than Lex would oblige him, like he had every other time the boy had wanted something. Every Superhero needed a foil, and there was no one out there that Lex trusted to do the job without killing his friend in the process. So, he would just have to do it himself, and become someone that even he wouldn't recognize.
That same night, Clark was outside the building, or rather, Superman was. He still kept up the nightly surveillance, watching his old friend. He missed Lex, and missed their talks, and the time when it was just the two of them. He remembered how Lex had always made time for him, and how the two of them showed each other the things that they had never seen before. For Lex, the small town life and everything that it entailed, for Clark, the expensive vehicles, night life, and how the "upper crust" managed to survive. But that was Clark, and this was Superman. He didn't think that as Superman, he would be welcome in Lex's house, or his life any more. But, he couldn't just barge in as Clark anymore, either.
So the two questions they both shared were where did aspect start, and the other end; and if the other would still like them for the person they had become.
Soon it became official that Superman and Lex Luthor were enemies. At least once a month, there was some scheme that the Luthor heir had cooked up, only to be foiled by Superman's timely appearance. That was what the public knew, anyway. The things that were too large for Clark to keep quiet. However, a lot more plans of Lex's were foiled by little things the public had no knowledge of. A file misplaced here, a door that was somehow welded shut... It was Clark's way of still watching out for his friend, even if his friend didn't seem to want to do the same for him.
Some of the larger things Clark couldn't stop. The ones that he could make last minute changes too, he did, making a large explosion a natural disaster instead of a terrorist act.
To a lesser extent, Lex was still watching out for Clark. When things were changed in his building, plans missing, doors locked, he would gloss over it, or order it ignored. Pictures and reporters who thought they were getting close to Superman's identity were silenced and lost. Little things that he was sure the black-haired man would never notice.
Unfortunately for Lex, he was right.
Throughout all their battles, Luthor and Superman had somehow managed to shy away from physical confrontations. Sure, they had their yelling matches, and Superman had saved Luthor from dying as a victim of one of his own schemes many times over, but they had always had an audience then. They had their roles to play, and as such they had no chance to show how Lex and Clark really felt, just their public selves.
It was getting old, and trying to keep making up original plans every week was wearing on Lex's nerves. It was only a matter of time until it happened, until a small miscalculation on Lex's part lead to the first truly private meeting of Luthor and Superman. And naturally, Superman was not a happy camper at the time.
With little warning, Superman slammed Luthor against the wall of the old tunnel that the later had been making his escape in. Lex found himself staring at into Superman's angry gaze as his air supply was slowly being cut off, thanks to an arm of steel across his throat. Knowing what was expected of him, Lex merely sneered.
"Do you mind? You're wrinkling my suit." The response the bald billionaire received was something that he had never expected, or wanted.
"I hate you, Lex." The use of his first name, instead of the usual Luthor made it all the more personal. It was ok for Superman to hate Luthor because Luthor wasn't Lex just like Superman wasn't Clark. Shock showed on the pinned man's face, followed quickly by sadness.
"I… I suppose you would, Clark." No more hiding, no more pretending that they didn't know one another. And it really was no wonder that Clark would eventually hate his old friend. After all, how many times had Luthor tried to kill his alter-ego? It really was too much to hope that Clark wouldn't end up taking it personally.
"What?" Superman demanded. "No historic quote or attempts to distract me or charm your way out? I'm almost disappointed in you, Lex." Lex winced. The one thing that could still get through his carefully constructed walls, the one thing that he had never thought to guard against: Clark's disapproval.
"If you really want something, I'm sure I can drag something out of the recesses of my mind. However, I think that you're more in the mood to damage me before handing me over to someplace that I'll never get out of to cause you problems again." The voice was resigned, the face calm now, after all these years. Clark couldn't understand why this…person wasn't afraid of him. After everything that Lex had done, the populace would probably thank him for killing the hairless man.
"After everything, there's only one thing that I want to know, Lex." Clark's face was as hard as ever, but there were faint pleading undertones to the taller man's tone that tugged at Lex's supposedly non-existent heart strings.
"If I know the answer, you know I'll tell you Clark." A muscle in Clark's jaw tightened at this, before the strong man replied.
"All I want to know is why. Why did you do all those things? Those experiments? Why were you constantly trying to destroy me and those innocent people? Why did you change? Why, Lex?" Lex closed his eyes. He didn't want to explain this to his old friend. It had sounded so right in the beginning, but now… now, he wasn't so sure.
"The easy thing to say is that I wanted to." Clark's face fell, but Lex didn't notice. "The truth of the matter is that I felt I had to. When you became Superman, I knew that someone with your mind would never be completely satisfied with the brute effort required of all the jobs you did. You needed someone to keep you on your toes, and I didn't know of anyone who would actually do what you required, without really trying to destroy you."
"And you weren't trying to destroy me?"
"Well, I hate to be cliché Clark, but if I wanted to destroy you, you'd be dead." Clark narrowed his eyes suspiciously at this.
"What do you mean?"
"Exactly what I said. Did you really think that welded doors couldn't be cut through, or that missing files didn't have back-ups? Or that I couldn't keep everything quiet until the last minute when it was too late for you to do anything? You needed someone that had brains behind the attack, and I provided that." The unspoken, just like always, hung between them. Silently, Superman grabbed Lex and flew off to touchdown at Lex's apartment. The certified genius blinked in surprise.
"What are we doing here? I thought you were going to take me to the police, or Antarctica." Clark shot him a look at the second location, but Lex got his face clear of any acknowledgement that he knew of anything of importance in the icy region.
"We need to talk. This is a good as place as any, and better than some." The smaller man nodded and stepped out of the enclosure of the Man of Steel's arms.
"Give me a second." He went inside and deactivated the Kryptonite security system, a design that put let around the kryptonite rocks in his walls. After this was completed, Superman whirled and came inside as Clark Kent.
"It's not quite as large as I thought it would be." Lex nodded absently, making his way to the liquor cabinet.
"I'm not here very often, and part of it has been converted for a lab, and the girls I took in. Mercy, I'm sure you heard of her? And the others that helped me out. They're very loyal." The journalist nodded and looked slightly nervous, before he realized that he could see through their walls, and that they weren't there at the moment. "I expect that they're a few blocks away from where you caught me right about now. Do you mind if I gave them a call? It wouldn't do for them to be tearing up the city looking for me." The older man was surprisingly quiet and submissive. He waited for Clark's nod of acceptance before reaching for his cell phone. A quick call, and a very interesting conversation later ("Yes, Mercy, I'm fine. I caught a ride with someone, and no, you don't need to come over. I expect to be dealing with some things that you don't need to interfere with.") Lex Luthor sat down beside his former best friend with a tumble of scotch for the first time in years.
"Do you remember when I used to go to you, and you would be drinking your scotch absent mindedly, the rest of your attention on my prattlings about school, or Lana, or the farm…" The man some revered as a god sighed and slouched in his seat, looking more weary that Lex could remember seeing him. "It was all just so much easier then. Drool over Lana, be wary of Whitney, stay away from Kryptonite, do my chores, meet you for coffee at the Talon and avoid mention anything that if over heard could have me taken away. In some ways, I really miss those days." Lex smiled as he remembered the early stages of their friendships.
"In some ways, I prefer the way we were just after we moved to Metropolis. You were so new to the scene but we were able to talk for hours about the sites and people that I at least knew something about. You have no idea how many days you would walk in, and I would have to close my laptop down so you wouldn't see that I had been researching crop rotations and tractors, trying to find something that seemed to interest you. After you discovered the books in my library, as opposed to the school one, everything just became easier. I knew you had a mind, I just had to make you show me."
"My parents had always warned me against standing out, being unique. That included my classes… speed reading combined with a photographic memory made for easy recall on the tests. The only trouble I really had in school was trying to figure out how to get a wrong answer that wasn't obvious that I knew was wrong." Clark quickly swallowed his Scotch, not really feeling even the burn it usually had going down.
"As lovely as this is, I'm sure you didn't bring me back here to reminisce. I would prefer it if we could just get on with it…" Clark snorted.
"Same old Lex, always trying to cut to the chase. Would it surprise you to know that this is the reason why I brought you here? To remember the old times and hypothesize as to when and where we went wrong. God, we were supposed to be great together, you promised." Lex smiled sadly. Despite his increased age and special abilities, Clark still just didn't get it.
"We are great together, Clark. Think about it, with all the times I had you go in and destroy something, or reveal its presence to the police. Metropolis is now cleaner and better than ever. In fact, environmentally and economically, the world is a better place. People that would have done the same things I have are now too scared of Superman to do so. People that were without hope have now found it in the flying, primary color loving man who was raised with such clear ideas of right and wrong as to put us all to shame." The pale man closed his eyes and smiled dreamily. "I always wanted to rule the world, Clark. I wanted to show my Dad up and to prove that I was worthy of being considered his son. And now, we both rule it. Not as rulers, but as examples, and sometimes, like with role-models, examples are more important than titles." Clark couldn't help it, he threw back his head and laughed.
"Now that is something that I never thought I would hear you say! A Luthor saying that titles are not important!" Lex snickered at the thought.
"My Dad would have had a fit!" He gave in to laughter, something he hadn't truly indulged in since Clark, and ended up collapsing with his head on the other man's shoulder.
"Lex?" Clark asked quietly, after they had been sitting in a comfortable silence for several minutes.
"Why do you always do things for me?"
"I tried to buy you things because that was the only way that I knew to show someone I cared, or to make them care about me. I introduced you to important people I knew because you needed to know them, and I wanted to show you off, to show them what they could never have because you are something special that can't be found anywhere else. I pulled strings to make sure that people looked at your work because it deserved it. I was evil because you needed it."
"Just because I needed it, doesn't mean that you had to be it." Lex raised his head to glare at the green-eyed man.
"When are you going to get it through your thick skull that you never even needed to ask, only mention something in passing and I would move the world in an attempt to get it for you. God, Clark, I… you're my only real friend. But, you're not even really that any more. I'm sorry I made you hate me, but I wouldn't change anything if I could. You needed what I did to fully develop both your mind and your body. You would have become stunted, just working with brute strength all the time." Clark blinked at him, not have expected this when he changed into Superman today.
"I… Lex…" Lex pushed himself off the couch and walked angrily out of the room.
"Just forget it Clark. I'll get my things, set the alarm and we can be on our way to whatever lovely place you decide to put me in so I can wear," here he shuddered, "orange for the rest of my rather unnatural life." He stopped as a large, but gentle, hand closed over his wrist. He looked over his shoulder to see that the other man had stood and was now behind him.
"No, Lex…" The familiar pleading in the younger man's tone and facial expression melted his heart. "I just… it's sorta a shock, you know? Its not every day that your arch-rival turns out to be doing it all For Your Own Good." The capitals were clear in Clark's tone, and Lex found himself unable to deny Clark his forgiveness.
"I know, I've always thought of us as two people… Superman and Luthor who had no impact on Clark and Lex. I guess it never really occurred to me that you would see Luthor and Lex as one and the same." He mentally debated something as Clark struggled to align his words with everything that had occurred between them. "Here," he said, twisting his writs out of the others grasp, only to grab Clark's hand again. "Come with me."
Lex lead him down a narrow hallway and into a lead lined room. Clark was apprehensive - it wasn't up until very recently that they were actually able to speak civilly to each other, and he wasn't quite sure what the older man was up to, but lead lined rooms did not seem promising.
The business tycoon grinned as he threw open the door and dragged a semi-willing Clark into the new room. It was his bedroom, the one place where he was always Lex and never Luthor. The inner sanctum was allowed to be viewed by very few, not even Mercy was allowed in here.
"Lex? Is this…?"
"The one place in the world that is solely Lex's, and never Luthor's. The rest of the place is easier for me to slip into bastard mode, but in here it might be easier to talk, unless you really are waiting to turn me in. In that case, we might as well go back to the other room." Clark shook his head.
"For now, this is fine." He looked around what was obviously Lex's true home with curious eyes. His thoughts took a slightly different turn when they fell upon the rather large bed at the far end of the room. The bedspread was purple and there were pillows absolutely everywhere. The thoughts were familiar, new only because of the experience he now had to flavor them, which he hadn't had back in high school.
For his part, Lex was seriously contemplating moving back into the other room anyway. This was so close to what he had hoped for nearly since the first time they met, that he couldn't be sure that he could trust himself not to act like this was just another one of his dreams.
"Clark…" he stopped and made an abortive measure to move back to the other room. His masks were down in this room, and the dismay and terror in his _expression were enough to awaken the only slightly dulled with age protective instincts that Clark had hidden when it had grown clear that Luthor really was out to kill Superman. The taller man stepped closer, and hesitated only briefly before drawing the other man into his embrace for the second time this evening, only this one was a lot more personal that the quick flight.
"I know that you don't really mean to do what you do to me, but if you could just… just hold me for a while…" The one who had tried to be so strong and alone for so many years was nearly undone by the embrace. He lasted only until gentle hands began to rub his back before shuddering and attempting to bury his head against Clark's chest. His hands groped fabric and maybe skin tightly in an attempt to anchor himself against the storm of his emotions.
Clark held on to his old friend, his friend, who needed him right now. He listened with half an ear to the choked words he would bet that Lex didn't know he was saying right now, and focused mainly on rocking slightly back and forth and making soothing noises, knowing that the other man could hear the noises deep in his chest.
After the storm had past, Lex sniffled slightly, his head still on Clark's chest. He listened for a few moments to the soothing rhythm of his beloved's, he could say that now, if only in his mind, had to say it, because Lex did not believe in lying to himself when it came to this, before pulling away to blow his nose in the silk handkerchief that he carried in his pocket.
"Thanks." He said quietly.
"You're welcome," answered Clark. "Anything for a… friend." Lex shook his head,
"You hate me, and you're right to. It's all right Clark, I know that old habits are easy to fall into… but maybe we can't afford to. If we do, we might…"
"End up changing the world? Come on, you're a Luthor, there's nothing you can't afford!" Lex just looked at him sadly before turning his back on the superhero and beginning to walk towards an open door that seemed to lead to the bathroom, impatiently undoing his cuffs as he went.
"If you aren't going to arrest me, than please leave Superman. This isn't something that needs to be fix. Remember the old saying, 'If it isn't broken, don't fix it.'" Lex had finished with his cuffs and had moved on to the ones going down his chest.
"But we are broken, Lex! Our friendship, the stuff of legends, is in tatters and we have a chance to fix that!"
"The key word there is legends. After all, legends are generally a thing of the past. Perhaps we should keep it that way."
"Don't do this. You said that this was the place that you were never Luthor." Lex paused before turning to face Clark who stood where he had left him, eyes flashing green fire.
"You seem to bring out the qualities that I never knew I had. I suggest you leave before you discover a few more." Lex's shirt was completely undone by now, showing a hairless chest and smooth abs. Clark let his eyes follow the trail that should have been hair before jerking his eyes back to Lex's. The pale man had caught the last bit of that stare and was wondering what it was about. Surely Clark hadn't been staring where it looked like... Clark liked girls! Always had, and most probably, always would.
"But I also bring out some of your better qualities. What if I discover more of those?"
"Flukes, nothing more." Lex waved a hand dismissively.
"Lex…" Clark sighed again, like he always did when Lex was being so stubborn about something that was plainly obvious to the alien. Swift strides carried his larger frame across the room, and he gathered Lex back into his arms. Once he was assured that his friend wouldn't be hurt, but was still secure, Clark proceeded to explain everything that had happened since the last time they had really talked. All the trials, and the loneliness. The hard decisions that he had been forced to make on his own. Everything. In the end, they were both silent, before Lex did something that startled them both.
He pulled away slightly, and a resigned Clark let him, only to be completely surprised by the feeling of Lex's lips against his own. It was a chaste kiss, full of gentleness and the tenderness of Lex's feeling towards the taller man. Eagerly, Clark returned it. When they broke apart, they each smiled gentle smiles toward each other, worn out by the emotional and physical maelstroms that they had faced that day. Glancing to the side, Clark got sight of the clock and groaned. 3 am, Perry was going to kill him, if Lois didn't skin him alive first.
"I had better go. I have a job to do in a couple of hours, and so do you." Lex followed his look and nodded.
"Clark? Could you, stay here tonight? Just to sleep? I have the feeling that if I don't have some kind of prove, I'm just going to chalk this up to a weird dream when I wake up." Clark grinned.
"Well, if you're sure you don't mind… I've been dying to figure out exactly how soft that bed of yours is since we got here." Lex laughed, a light sound that he hadn't used for years, and then twice in the same evening.
"You know Clark, you could have any type of bed you want…"
"Ah, but I thought it was your job to take care of the things, while I took care of the people. Speaking of which… when do I get to drive the 'ghini?"
And so things were back the way they were originally supposed to be. Mistakes had been made, but they would be worked through, as long as they were both willing to try.
Eventually, as all people do, they grew old. They did not have any fancy titles of king or president, but they had each other. They wore heavy woolen overcoats in the winter, and sat on park benches to watch the sunset, even though Clark could easily take them higher in the air to see it from a different prospective.
And in the end, it was peaceful. They went to bed in Lex's large bed with the purple bedspread and just, never woke up.
Mercy had been the one to find them, and she was now old herself. She donated a lot of money to some charities that they had been fond of, and set up a small headstone for both of them...
Lex and Clark Luthor-Kent
They worked for no recognition
And loved the fact they did.
They truly were the thing of Legend.