A Dream of Angels
How did real life translate into a dream? If it were possible that Lex exhausted all his resources to screen the years, then it must be the explanation. After the years he spent outside the Metropolis high life, acting as a father and a husband in a small town, Lex returned to the spotlight a grander man--untouchable, inaccessible, more solvent than he had ever been. The years he was gone seemed almost like a nightmare he had woken up from. No reference had been made to the family he had created. There was no appearance of the wife's name in any paper; no pictures of the daughter he was said to have had graced the screens.
It seemed that Lex Luthor had forgotten the life he left behind.
Yet deep into the night, Lex Luthor would stumble into the cold place in which he stayed--not a home, but a place to rest. In those small hours of the darkness he would slide out a worn photograph of a young redhead with a toothy grin, standing in front of the giant globe. Lex settled in a cushioned armchair.
There was his princess, the traveler. At times he could fool himself that Lena and her mother were off on a tour of the world.
Yet even in his depression, Lex questioned the duration of five years that they had been gone from his life.
"Lena, princess," he sighed, "happy birthday."
Lex grasped the handle of his desk drawer. He took his keys and closed his hand around it, relishing the biting metal. He had not seen nor heard from Chloe for so long. He had not stepped foot on the Smallville property for the same amount of time. He had thought that forgetting would be as easy as building distance between them.
Just before the explosion of sunlight, Lex dragged himself out into the parking lot and hauled his car out, tearing through the empty roads on his way back home.
In the early morning he rolled into the Luthor land. He stopped outside the yard. Lex rubbed his eyes. Sleeplessness and alcohol had taken their toll on Lex. At the sight of the fountain that held so many memories, his throat closed. He had never thought that this would still be difficult. Five years from the day Lena left, on his daughter's tenth birthday, Lex returned to the home that held it all.
Shouldn't time have taken away the sting of remembrance?
He stepped out of the car and slipped on his sunglasses. Lex headed directly for the fountain. Then, he stopped and beheld the sight.
A young girl sat on the edge of the fountain, her bare feet submerged in the water. A flower basket was placed beside her as she made flower crowns float on the water. The fountain was littered with pinks and yellows, white and reds and oranges.
"Lena," came Lex's firm voice.
The girl looked up and frowned. She plucked the bonnet from her head and revealed light blonde hair to his eyes. It had not been Lena.
The girl jumped off the fountain and dropped on her knees and hands on the grass. The reaction was immediate and Lex rushed to help the girl up. She shrugged off Lex's hands and glared at him. "Mommy says no strangers allowed," she snapped, then ran towards her house.
Lex held his breath. Minutes later, Chloe came running out of the house with the girl in her arms.
"Lex," she breathed.
He opened his hands and held his arms out, in indication that he had nothing.
"I'd love to talk," Chloe began, "but my daughter has an appointment in Metropolis that we can't miss."
He seemed taken aback, as if he half expected her to burst into tears and explain the screaming lie that was now glaring at him from her arms.
Chloe walked towards her parked car. She smiled at Lex. "But thanks for finally thinking of Lena again."
She opened the door and ushered Lena into the car. Chloe climbed into the driver's seat of the car. Her jaw dropped when Lex climbed into the passenger seat.
She looked at Lex and said, "Could you please excuse us?"
"What the hell did you mean by that?" he whispered furiously. "I've thought of Lena every moment since she left us!"
The little girl watched the two of them quietly. Lex glanced at the girl. The child still had that stubborn set of her jaw that softened his heart. This was Chloe's daughter, and his.
"You have a fine way of showing that, Lex. You never visited Lena. You never spoke with me for five years!" she argued. Chloe shook her head and stepped out of the car. She opened her daughter's door and said, "Claire, come on."
The girl shook her head. "We're going to Metropolis!"
Lex shook his head and stepped out of the car as well. He reached for a protesting Claire and lifted her into his arms. She did not struggle, but she didn't relax either.
The sight of Lex holding Claire stopped her. Chloe bit her lip. "Give me back my daughter," she commanded.
"You never told me about her," he said calmly. If having this conversation out of the child's earshot was impossible, then he would seek to protect Claire as much as he could.
"Lex, give me back my baby," Chloe pleaded.
In all the courts all over the land, he would easily have won if he contested that requested and took the girl with him to his apartment. The sight of Chloe in tears had never been a picture he could ignore. It flooded him with memories that he would rather not remember. Lex released Claire and said, "Go back to the fountain, Claire. Your mom and I have something to discuss."
To his surprise, the girl who had glared at him followed his request. He faced Chloe, who was now drying her tears.
"She was sick. After you left and I found out I was going to have her, the doctor ran an amniotic test, the same one he ran on Lena's blood." Lex froze. Of all her possible reasons--bitterness at his departure, selfishness because of his actions when Lena was sick, anger at their divorce--this was the least he expected and the last thing he wanted to hear.
"What?" he whispered.
Chloe swallowed and watched her little girl climb onto the fountain again. "I couldn't bear your going through losing another baby because of me. I'm screwed up inside," she said.
Then the Chloe of the time of Lena's illness was suddenly revealed to Lex. She felt responsible for Lena's illness. All the pills and treatment she went through to get Lena, in her mind, backfired to take away her daughter. In the deepest recesses of his mind, he had thought of this possibility over and over again, never voicing it out for fear that he would push his wife away. In trying to deny he had those thoughts, he may have ended up doing the same thing. Chloe knew, whenever he looked at her or touched her, that part of Lex blamed her.
His even bigger secret though lay so deep inside himself that he punished himself by staying in a self-enforced exile. As a child, his white blood cell count was off the charts. His children had inherited from him a disease that threatened one's life and took away the other's.
For the first time in all the long years of his guilt, he had to admit it to save his soul and sanity.
"I could have as easily been to blame, Chloe."
She shook her head. "Not possible."
"I've had the same illness as a kid, Chlo. I never spoke a word."
For the first time she saw beyond her own pain and saw her husband's--her ex-husband's. "Lex, you..."
He closed his hands and glanced towards Claire, the daughter he barely knew but whom he had also cursed with his blood. "She's angry at me. She doesn't know I'm her father."
"She knows," Chloe revealed. "Claire loves you beyond belief."
"She's seen all of Lena's videos. I was trying to get the courage to ask you to come, but I'm a coward, Lex. I promised her you'd come when she got well, because I know inside me I can only gather enough courage to introduce you to Lena when there's no possibility that you'll lose her." Chloe waved her daughter over, and Claire started running towards them. "I guess I've made another mistake. She probably feels bad that you came on Lena's birthday but never on hers." Chloe sighed. "God, I screwed things up again!"
Lex shook his head. He pulled her into his arms and kissed the top of her head. "We'll make up for it. I won't be relegated to a trite breakup just because we didn't communicate."
"She's sick, Lex," she whispered. "I don't want you to have to go through losing another daughter."
Lex smiled at Claire and knelt. "Hey baby girl," he said. The guarded look dropped from her eyes and she smiled. "Sorry I'm late."
Claire wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly. "It's okay, daddy. You're here."
"Let's go to Metropolis," Lex said. Claire nodded happily.
He lifted her into the car. Then, he took Chloe's hand and led her to the passenger seat. "I'll drive," he told her. As he strapped on her seatbelt, Lex closed his hand over hers and said, "Don't be afraid of whatever the doctor tells us. And don't be concerned about my losing another daughter." He kissed her hand. "I'm terrified. But I would have been more terrified of never having known the two beautiful girls you gave me."
She bit her lip. Tears flooded in her eyes.
"Tell me you blamed me."
Lex looked up from his uncomfortable seat in the waiting room. Chloe stood in front of the window looking at him. The results of their daughter's blood test would soon be revealed. Traces of the illness had been found in Claire and today was the final answer. Whether or not she had the exact disease that Lena had was still in question. The bigger demand hung between Chloe and Lex then.
"Tell me you blamed me as much as I blamed myself," she repeated.
Lex rose from his seat and cupped Chloe's cheek. There was no spite nor anger in her eyes.
"I need to hear it."
Lex nodded. He understood her. If they were to move forward and face another bout of tragedy, they had to learn to trust each other. She needed to learn his feelings.
"I denied that I had anything to do with Lena's sickness," he admitted. "And in that lie I did."
"I blame you for making Lena sick."
Chloe took a deep breath and shuddered, as if whipped. Lex stood behind her and wrapped his arms around Chloe.
"I'm so sorry."
Chloe smiled. "Thank you."
The door opened and in walked the doctor that had treated Lena so long ago, in that other life before they were honest to each other.
"Mr Luthor," the doctor said. "Mrs Luthor."
Lex took Chloe's hand and helped her on a chair. He sat beside her, never letting go of his grip.
The doctor sat in front of them. It was the first time he had seen Lex Luthor with the woman. With the results he had, he was grateful at least that Chloe was not alone.
"We have Claire's test results." Chloe nodded, waiting for the doctor to continue. "I will not make it long. We did expect that Claire will have a disease like Lena's. Before now we had been unable to detect the exact strain and type." Chloe gripped Lex's hand like a vise. "Mrs. Luthor, we were right. Claire will need to go through the therapy."
"Oh God." She had not allowed herself to hope and this was the answer. She never wanted Lena to suffer. How could she then justify this need she had for Claire to go through the treatment she stopped for her other daughter? She glanced at Lex.
"Fortunately the funds that LuthorCorp pumped into the research for children's diseases will allow us to introduce the drugs your daughter will need without the same level of pain that children went through five years ago."
She looked back at the doctor. "There'll be no pain then?" she clarified.
"There'll be pain, Mrs. Luthor. I assure you though. It's a fraction of the pain that Lena had to go through, which I deeply regret."
She nodded, and held her hands to her face. "It'll save Claire. That's what matters now."
Lex took Chloe into his arms, because the tense shuddering was not doing her much good. He excused himself from the doctor and murmured soothing words of reassurance. Chloe held back the tears until she could not hold back anymore and she sniffled in Lex's arms. Then, he led her to the Claire's room and was surprised when Chloe started pulling away.
She rose on the tips of her toes to place a chaste kiss on his cheek, then smiled at him. "You need time with her," she told Lex. "Give her some of the attention that I kept her from enjoying all these years. Show her her father, Lex."
He smiled briefly and nodded. Claire had to him, until the doctor assured them would be fine, a second Lena. She was ill and she needed his care. Yet even from the beginning his second daughter had proven that she was so different from her sister. She had called him stranger when she knew she was her father. Claire had glared at him in displeasure and forgave so easily. In the same way she pulled off her bonnet when he had called her Lena and showed him the burst of sunlight hair so different from her sister's fiery Luthor locks, Claire had with every look and every word proved she was someone else.
He opened the door, excitement pumping his blood. Did she want to travel around the world, he wondered. Did his daughter take after Chloe's ambition the way that she seemed to physically be every bit Chloe's daughter?
He saw Claire sitting on the bed looking down at the bruises that littered her arm. Lex knocked and was welcomed with a smile. He entered the room and sat beside her on the bed.
"Did it hurt?"
"When they used a needle to get the blood. I didn't cry!" she announced. Yes, every bit his Chloe Sullivan.
Lex took the small arm and looked at the line of bruises. He kissed each one and patted the skin.
"They didn't go away," she observed.
"Imagine that," Lex said. "I'll tell you what, Claire. I'll do that every day until all the bruises go away. Sooner or later, daddy's kisses are gonna work, you know."
Claire gave him another toothy grin. "Sounds okay." She moved over to the side and patted the side of her bed. Claire yawned. "I saw you and Lena in the videos. Tell me about Lena, daddy. Mom always cries. She's a crybaby so I don't ask her to tell me about Lena. Why does mommy keep crying when Lena's playing with angels?"
Lex lay down beside her and took her in his arms. "Maybe soon she will." He looked up at the sound and saw Chloe peeking in. He waved her inside and indicated for her to sit on a comfortable chair. "Let me tell you about a little princess who wanted to be everywhere in the world, all at once..."