Part 10

i "To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides."

David Viscott/i

With trembling hands, Chloe closed the thought projection disk. She glanced sideways at Lex whose fingers were clasped in front of him.

"He succeeded," Lex concluded. "I succeeded," he corrected himself.

She swallowed at the thought. Memories of one night she had tiptoed down the stairs as a five-year-old girl teased at her brain. It was the night her mother rolled out of her life with a trolley bag of clothes. Gabe Sullivan had demanded in that desperate voice he had only ever used with his wife, "So you're including Chloe in our fight? Are you going to abandon your daughter too?"

i"I will never ever abandon you," Lex-ar vowed. Her breath caught in her throat. "I would sooner die."/i

And her mother had turned rabid eyes at her father, then glanced towards the stairs. Chloe had run up and hid, but she was fairly certain that her mom knew she had been there. Still, she had claimed in disbelief, "But that's just it, isn't it, Gabe? She's not mine."

How oddly fitting it was that her mothers from both worlds cared so little about a helpless child.

"He reversed Caelie's animation," she continued, refusing to refer to this fantasy story lover as Lex, refusing to accept in front of him that she was undeniable Caelie Mag-el. "He changed the destination of her capsule."

"Boundless space. That's what the judgment was. But you and I adored one terra-formed planet, Chloe. I knew we were destined to meet here again."

"It doesn't make sense," she denied, leaving all her theories behind and on the moment when it was most important to suspend disbelief, searched for logic or a mathematical equation for Lex Luthor to be reborn.

"Krypton was hundreds of thousands of light years away. It's possible, Chloe." He placed a hand on her chest, invading her private space the way she had never known Lex Luthor to do. She looked down at where his palm connected with her skin. "Don't you feel it?"

"I don't see it. I don't feel it."

As if called, she turned towards the fireplace and stared at the golden glow. The blinding white light that burst in her house appeared again, completely drowning the meager glow of the fire. The man would appear again, she knew. Suddenly, Lex Luthor dropped out of her eyesight as if he had not been there in the first place.

When the light vanished, she saw instead of the handsome young man she had seen before, a sick graying man stumbled into the room. She raced towards him and caught him in her arms. "Caelie," he breathed out into her ear.

"Lex-ar," she gasped in recognition, as if there was no question, as if it was a given.

She helped him towards the door. Suddenly, there was another body supporting Lex-ar. Chloe flashed a grateful smile at Lex. "A bed," she suggested.

Lex nodded and helped them towards his room, which was closest. After placing the sick alien into bed, Chloe sat beside him and cupped his face. "Lex-ar, what's happened to you?"

"All my energy, all my strength, all that I am, I've devoted into searching for you, Caelie," the alien confessed. "And I've succeeded."

"You did this to yourself?" she sighed.

Lex watched the expressions flit across her face. Abruptly he stood up and excused himself. His exit went unnoticed.

Lex-ar gave her a small smile. "You made me promise never to forget, Caelie. I never did. I told you I would not rest. I would search for you through the farthest reaches of the universe."

"You're a crazy man," she claimed, laughing bitterly.

"But now I'm fading with Krypton and we can no longer be together." She grasped his hand and blinked at the fading form. He closed his eyes. "I wanted one more moment."

Chloe lifted his hand to her lips. "Thank you for keeping your promise," she told him. Her eyes drifted to the book on the nightstand. He had loved hearing her voice once upon a time. She did not doubt that he was drifting. It seemed such a small favor to give him what he enjoyed. She picked it up and flipped through the pages. "Carmina Burana," she read. "Omnia Sol Temperat."

It was then he said it, the way she had done him in the past, "Here we are at the end, my love," he rasped. The memories of those nights were so clear now that he was before her.

She continued, "Is it happy?"

And he opened those beautiful eyes, and she found them swimming in tears. He nodded. "A very happy ending."

Chloe sniffed and nodded her own response. Slowly, the glimmer in his eyes slid and vanished. The tears slid from her eyes despite her efforts to hold them in. She leaned down and placed a kiss on his slack lips. "Thank you for finding me." Chloe gripped his hand with one hand and returned to the book with the other. Finally finding the passage she had been looking for, Chloe continued reading. The door opened and Lex walked in. His gaze moved from Chloe to the linked hands to the image of his former self on the bed. Her voice hung in the air as she said, "With all my heart, and all my soul, I am with you though I am far away." It was then that she looked up and met Lex's eyes. He walked forward and took the book from her hand then laid it aside.

"He's gone," she said.

He nodded. Chloe squeezed the hand in hers one last time, then felt it squeeze back. Surprised, her eyes flew to the empty bed. When she looked down where her hand was linked, she saw herself holding on to Lex's hand.

Chloe extricated her hand carefully from his, then stood up. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and cleared her throat. "I have to go." He remained seated on the edge of the bed.

She pulled open the door.

"He's not, you know," Lex averred.

She turned to him in confusion. "What?"

"Gone. He's not gone, Chloe."

Her face softened and for a moment, he thought he saw in her eyes his young Caelie who trusted and believed every word. It was only for a brief moment. As quickly as she came, young Caelie vanished and was replaced by the uncertain, grief-stricken eyes of someone who had found and lost her soul within the period of a few hours.

"Not now," she whispered. "Not yet."

iLove is the emblem of eternity: it confounds all notion of time: effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end.

Germaine De Stael /i