Okay, so my second attempt at a Smallville fic. I've read so many great TC stories that I wanted to try one myself. But once again, my muse got all twisted and the story insisted on being told from Lex's POV. (sigh) Sometimes I want to shoot that muse, I really do. Anyway, here's the result. I'm not really happy with it, but I feel like I've fiddled with it long enough and it's sure not gonna get any better, although I suppose it could get worse.

Title: Three Little Words

Author: kayladie

Genre: TC, Lex angst

Timeframe: Not really sure, but probably sometime mid-third season.

Warning: Very slightly Clex, just a little towards the end; couple of rough swear words.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Clark Kent, Lex Luthor, Lionel Luthor, or Lana Lang and no copyright infringement is intended with this story. No money changed hands, I swear!

Things had not gone as planned almost from the very beginning.

Lex stood helplessly staring at the debacle in front of him, the absolute disaster that the situation had somehow become, and felt lost. It was devastating, both to his pride and to his heart, how terribly he'd ruined everything.

Do I even have a heart? I did this. I caused this. I made it happen. Because I thought I didn't care.

A hitching breath that was almost a sob hiccupped from his chest, and he continued to gaze at the miasma of red and green that sprawled obscenely in front of him in the tiny room. The panic of the others only barely penetrated the haze surrounding him now. Their shouts and desperate last measures, futile as they were, seemed as if something in a dream.

Lex wished it was a dream, but it was all too real.

Three little words. That was all it had taken to utterly destroy everything that Lex Luthor thought he knew. Three little words, and oh, his father was going to kill him. All their plans, all the schemes they'd concocted...useless now.

Because Lex was weak. Lionel had been right all along, his son wasn't strong enough to do this. The elder Luthor hadn't wanted to let him in on the plans, had in fact been incensed when Lex had accidentally discovered them. But Lex had sworn to him that he was strong enough, that he could handle it.

Lionel had been right. Lex had crumbled, fallen like a house of cards, and all it had taken were three little words.

The day Lionel picked was sunny and bright, and Lex took a perverse pleasure in that, in knowing that the creature would forever remember this last glimpse of sunlight. Clark bounded down from the barn, cheeks flushed with excitement, telling Lex that he needed to discuss something with him, and it was important.

Lex hesitated an instant too long, staring at the human-looking thing, and Clark - it, he had to remember to say it - gave him an odd look. He gave himself a mental shake, recalled that his father was counting on him, smiled a cool smile and asked what was up.

All the while the creature was talking, images of the proof that Lionel had reluctantly shown him were playing like a slide show in Lex's mind: the inhuman strength; the speed; the damned spaceship! And the lies, oh all the lies that had spilled from that pretty mouth. At his side, Lex's hand curled into a fist and he had to consciously relax so the thing didn't notice, didn't suspect.

He smiled again, graciously, at the stammering and blushing of the alien who couldn't seem to string two words together coherently, and Lex marveled at the act. Thankfully, it truly was ignorant though, because it didn't think anything unusual was going on when Lex suggested taking a drive to relax. It didn't even think anything at Lex deciding to take the Mercedes sedan instead of one of the convertibles he normally preferred.

The car sped down the Kansas highway, and there was no conversation for a long while as the creature tipped its head back on the seat and looked as though it were enjoying the ride. Lex didn't want to push on the talking bit, as Lionel had told him to proceed with caution. 'Let it come to you, son' he'd said sagely and Lex repeated the admonition in his head a couple of times, just to remind himself.

"Lex, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today. Because I...I have something really important that I need to talk about."

"Sure, you know you can talk to me about anything, Clark," Lex replied with an encouraging smile. "What's on your mind?"

"Well, it's...there's this...I kinda...oh, man, I don't know how to say this without sounding like a complete and total dork!"

"It's all right, Clark. Just take a deep breath and say it."

It actually did take a deep breath and part of Lex was rather curious as to what the creature might have on its mind, but it wasn't likely that he was going to get the chance to find out, because they were rapidly approaching the target point. It looked over at him, slight bewilderment showing on its face as Lex suddenly pulled off to the side of the road on an isolated stretch of highway.

"Why are we stopping here?"

"Well, this is obviously going to be a very important discussion. I want to be able to give you my full attention. A bit hard to do driving down the road at 65 miles an hour." He unbuckled his seat belt and turned slightly so that he was facing it, and was pleased when the creature did the same.

"Yeah, I guess," it said, only a bit unsure.

Lex made certain to give another reassuring smile and the creature brightened considerably.

"It's probably better that you're able to concentrate on this anyway, cause it's really important."

Lex wondered what the hell the alien could consider so important that it'd stressed it three times now. Perhaps something to find out later, when things were more...settled.

"Lex, I'm in love!"

The younger Luthor blinked in surprise. This was what the alien considered 'important'? Honestly, if Lex didn't know the awful truth, that this was all an act, he never would have believed that any being could be so hopelessly innocent.

"That's not exactly news to me, Clark. I've known that you have strong feelings for the lovely Miss Lang for quite a while now."

"No, it's more than that, bigger, it's-" The creature broke off with a gasp, and it looked at Lex with an expression of pain mingled with confusion. The face paled and a shudder passed through its body as it asked, "What's happening?"

Lex didn't reply, because he knew what was happening. His father's team had quietly snuck out from their hidden positions on the sides of the road and approached the car, carefully staying out of sight of the target, the meteor rock as their secret weapon. His father truly had thought of everything.

Both front doors of the car burst open and men in black suits reached in, pulling both Lex and the alien out of the car by force. Of course, Lex was pulled out in this manner for his own protection, in case the creature decided to try and use him as a hostage in its desperation.

The men quickly pulled Lex to a safe point several yards away from the vehicle and then released their hold on him. Lex smiled as he saw the van that was to transport the alien come screeching to a halt behind the Mercedes. He turned back to see the other agents pulling the alien around the back of the car, one of them holding a piece of the green, glowing meteor rock tightly against its neck.

The creature was struggling weakly, and Lex was so flush with the elation of their success that it took him a moment to register the words coming from its mouth.

"...whatever you want to me, but please don't hurt Lex! Just don't hurt Lex."

A pang of something went through Lex's belly. He pushed the feeling down, steadfastly refusing to examine it any closer, knowing that he had to be strong, like his father wanted him, trusted him, to be. The surprised look on the alien's face when it saw Lex standing there, alone and unharmed, was near perfect, reminding Lex that their plan had indeed succeeded.

He watched as the surprise slowly gave way to the dawning realization of the real peril it was in. Its eyes flickered over to the white-coated men walking towards them from the van, and Lex knew it was making note of the LuthorCorp symbol on the breasts of their lab coats.

"Lex?" it questioned, and the way its voice broke in the middle of the word was an incredible touch.

"Welcome to earth," he said, and he was proud of how cold and calm his voice sounded. "LuthorCorp would like to offer you an extended visit...in our labs." He smiled carefully, letting just the barest hint of the cruelty that Clark - it, damn it - had given him over the last three years show.

The alien sagged to its knees, a wounded look on its face as it stared up at Lex. That made him angry. How dare he - it - pretend to be hurt when Lex was the one who'd been deceived, lied to repeatedly, from the very moment they'd met?

He strode forward, a strong urge to strike the creature swelling up in him. He ignored the muttered warnings from his bodyguards, and stopped right in front of the alien. Before he could gather his nerve to hit the lying thing, it looked up at him, seemingly real anguish in its eyes.

"Why?" it whispered.

"Why?" Lex asked in disbelief, his voice a mocking sneer. It had the nerve to actually ask him why? Unthinking, he grabbed the creature by the chin and forced it to tilt its head back even further. "Because I can, that's why!" he said harshly.

The creature didn't say anything in reply and in disgust, Lex pushed its chin to the side as he released his hold on it. It slowly turned its head to catch Lex's eyes once more. He was barely able to contain the shiver that ran up his spine as he watched the shine in Clark's...its...eyes dull into lifelessness.

It lowered its head and its body slumped towards the ground. Lex could practically see the fight leaving its body. He told himself it was because the meteor rock was finally overcoming it.

But somehow he knew that wasn't true.

Looking back on the beginning, almost six weeks ago now, Lex could pinpoint that moment as the one where things started to go wrong. He wasn't sure if it was fate or simply something within himself that caused the fatal flaw. In his darker times, which were becoming all too frequent these days, he tended to blame himself.

The weakness in him...

His father had seen it, but Lex had refused to acknowledge it, and now there was nothing to be done because it had all been a colossal waste of time.

The alien had not reacted to its incarceration as they'd thought it would. They had expected defiance, accusations, perhaps pleas for its freedom. Instead, they got absolutely no reactions at all. It let them do whatever they wanted without resistance, although there were whimpers and little moans of pain from time to time. They took samples, did tests, ran all sorts of diagnostics. But it refused to answer any questions.

In fact, it never spoke at all. Even under the most intense torture that Lionel's team could inflict, it never uttered a word. It did scream, though. Helpless screams, fraught with absolute pain and utter agony. Lex had forced himself to stay and listen to the first session, because Lionel was there, and at that point, he was still trying to control and deny that weakness within his soul. He'd had horrible nightmares all that night, still able to hear those screams even in his sleep.

For a couple of weeks after that, he arranged to be otherwise occupied during the 'question-and-non-answer' appointments, until his imagination of what must be happening made his nightmares even worse. It became a test of his own will then, whether or not he could bear to listen to Clark's screams...its screams...no, that was Clark in that room and what had he done!

In those brief spells of frailty, when he began to think of the alien as Clark, as his friend, that was when he forced himself to remember the lies, all the secrets kept. It was growing ever harder, but Lex dared not let his father know of his inner struggle. He scowled to himself more often as he brooded on thoughts of his father, and wondered why exactly he cared so much what the man felt - or didn't feel - for him. But there was no escaping that trap, it would seem.

Just as the alien would never escape from the trap the Luthors had skillfully caught it in. Lex's mouth twisted in a reluctant grimace as he fought his usual inner battle with a conscience that nipped feebly at his heels. The conscience always seemed to lose so perhaps he truly was a Luthor after all.

Lex frequently found himself, more often than he would like to admit actually, standing outside the two-way observation window of the creature's cell, watching it. They told him that the alien rarely slept, spending most of its time huddled into a corner of its bare room. Sometimes it gently rocked to some unknown inner rhythm, but mostly it just sat, knees pulled up to its chest, staring silently at a point on the wall.

After about three weeks, Lionel Luthor's scientists believed they had found the perfect way to keep the alien under control without risking its death from overexposure to the meteor rocks. Every day, twice a day, they injected a small amount of liquid meteor rock directly into its veins. It had taken a couple of dangerous near misses those first couple of times before they'd narrowed down the correct amount to use.

Lex remembered well the first time they had almost lost the creature. It had been given far too much liquid meteor and the reaction was instantaneous. Its body had arched sharply off the table, nearly ripping the restraining straps, and a terrifying scream had rent the air of the small operating room, every monitoring device attached to it spiking to dangerous levels.

Fortunately, they had been worried about just such an occurrence and had been prepared by having specialized blood-filtering equipment on hand. It had taken the intense combined effort of everyone on the small team, the filtering machine and desperate artificial respiration to save the alien's life.

When they had finally managed to stabilize it, the creature had fallen into unconsciousness so deeply, it had bordered on comatose. It had stayed that way for two full days, unmoving and barely breathing. Meanwhile, that was when Lex's doubts and fears had truly begun. It was the beginning of the battle that he now waged daily within his own soul.

When the creature had finally opened its eyes on the third day, it had cried. Lex hadn't been there when it happened, but he'd watched it many times on the video tapes ever since. The alien had taken a deep breath, and its eyes had fluttered open. It had seemed startled and its gaze had darted frantically about the sterile, empty room.

Lex wondered if it thought it had been dreaming and was now brutally faced with the devastating reality of its situation once again. Because then it rolled over to its side on the hard floor of the cell and curled into a fetal position. The sound of its sobs filled the room and Lex could see its shoulders shuddering with the force of its agony.

That was the closest that Lex's weak conscience came to winning the fight for his soul. A part of him wanted nothing more than to take Clark in his arms and comfort him, beg for his forgiveness, then take him far away from here and never let anything harm him ever again.

Thankfully, Lex hadn't been here on that day.

At least, he thought he was supposed to be thankful...

Sometimes, Lex wasn't sure what he wanted anymore.

It was the sole time the creature had allowed the fear and desperation it had to be feeling to overwhelm it. Watching the video, Lex was hard-pressed to keep his stony expression, and this blatant evidence of his weakness once again infuriated him. There had been a couple more close calls before they'd finally gotten the amount of the deadly green liquid regulated, but nothing as drastic as that first time.

And now today, Lex had realized that his vigils hadn't gone as unnoticed as he'd supposed. As he'd stood staring from his usual position at the window, one of his father's scientists had dared to speak to him of his voyeurism.

Lex had the feeling that the man's words would be forever burned into his psyche as terribly as the three tiny ones that would haunt him for eternity. For the LuthorCorp employee's careless comments had unintentionally been the catalyst to disaster.

"Amazing, isn't it?"

Years of games at one-upmanship with his father kept Lex from showing the surprise he felt. The man had managed to sneak up on him! He spared the young scientist one cool glance before returning his gaze to the alien.

"Beg your pardon?" he asked smoothly.

"It's amazing that it looks so human when we know that it's not."

"Yes, that is...amazing," Lex said wryly.

"You know, it's strange that we haven't gotten any further than we have in getting answers out of it. As close as you obviously are to it, I thought we'd know everything by now."

Lex swivelled his head around to stare hard at the young man. "What exactly do you mean by that?" he asked, his voice dangerously soft.

The scientist seemed not to notice that he was incurring the wrath of a Luthor, which was unusually foolish for any employee of LuthorCorp, who should be accustomed to a billionaire's moods and eccentricities. When he finally turned to look at Lex, he seemed startled by the fire in the younger Luthor's eyes.

"Uh, I just meant, since you are, ah, always watching it, you know...that you knew it before we brought it here. So you're, um, close to it..."

Lex let out a harsh little laugh. "Close to it," he repeated, the irony in his tone vivid. He turned back to glare at the still alien in the cage. A movement from the door on the side of the room caught his eye, and Lex watched as it opened and the orderly responsible for administering the dose of liquid meteor came into the room, needle in hand.

This, then, was his breaking point. Lionel's scientists might not have been able to find the alien's Achilles heel, but this young upstart had bluntly discovered Lex's.

He whirled on the young man with a deadly glare. "Close to it!" he shouted. "Of all the lies that he told, that is the worst one of all! I never knew him, not for an instant. From the very beginning, his every thought, his every emotion was hidden from me. All I ever wanted was the damned truth! But he couldn't give me that. He could give me my goddamned life back, but he couldn't tell me the truth."

The LuthorCorp scientist shrank back from the force of Lex's anger in fear. Lex gave him a disgusted look, and then wondered why he was bothering with this little insect to begin with. In that cell was where the real object of his wrath lay. Something snapped in him at that moment and he shoved past the startled scientist, heading straight for the door of the creature's cell.

He hadn't spoken to it personally in the entire six weeks they'd had it contained. Lex had told himself it was because he didn't want to interfere in his father's work, but he wondered now if it had simply been plain fear.

Fear of what he would say to the alien, what the alien might say to him…

No! He was a Luthor and Luthors didn't allow themselves to be ruled by fear, and he was going into that room and he was going to get some answers, damn it!

The orderly jumped as the door to the cell abruptly slammed open, but the creature didn't react at all. It didn't even look up at the noise. It was ignoring him, and that was no longer acceptable, not at all.

Waving the orderly aside with an imperious gesture, Lex came to a stop right in front of the alien. It still refused to make eye contact with him and that just drove Lex's anger even higher.

"So, Clark, long time no see, hmm? Have you missed me? Or have you been a little too busy to think these past few weeks? I suppose you have, haven't you. All the tests and experiments. Have you been uncomfortable?" he said, the sneer in his voice matching the one on his face.

He thought he saw a tiny twitch of reaction at his words and decided to dig the knife deeper.

"I've been by to see your parents, you know. Gave them my sympathies. Offered them my help in finding you. Your dad politely refused me, of course. But that's always been the Kent way, hasn't it? 'We do things on our own. Can't take any assistance from those nasty, rotten Luthors'. Oh, but wait! Silly me, I almost forgot," Lex said as he mockingly slapped himself on the forehead. "You'renot a Kent, are you? You're not even human!"

Oh, yes, that one had definitely gotten a response. Most people wouldn't have even heard that small whimper, but Lex had long been very tuned in to all things Clark. The hours he'd spent just studying the boy's face… No, best not to think on that now. He couldn't afford to get distracted.

"Chloe and Pete are still searching for you, naturally. I have to admire their faith. But even with all Chloe's renowned skills, there's no way they'll ever find you. Lionel was very careful and very thorough. I do hope you realize that you're never going to leave this place again," Lex said harshly. A minute shudder and Lex's smile was smugly satisfied.

He bent down, getting right in the creature's face, although its eyes were still cast down to the floor. Lex had saved his best poison dart for last, the one thing that had always been Clark's weakness. His voice dropped to a seductive whisper.

"And of course, Lana has missed you terribly. I've been doing my best to console her since you've been gone. As a matter of fact, I think I've gone above and beyond the call of duty for a best friend."

Finally, finally, those once-bright green eyes jerked upwards to meet his gaze. Lex could see the suspicion creeping into the alien's stare and he relished it.

"I fucked her, Clark," he whispered cruelly. "Held her in my arms and let her cry her useless tears over you, and then I screwed her senseless. I doubt she even remembered your name when we were done."

"No…" the word was barely audible, let out in a shaky breath from lips slackened in shock.

Lex ignored the shocked gasp of the orderly from somewhere behind him, feeling a sharp and bitter sense of delight at having broken the alien. Yes, he was his father's son.

"Oh, yes, Clark. And not just the one time. We've been together for almost two weeks now. Lana Lang sleeps in my bed every night, and not once since the first time has she mentioned your name. I think it's safe to say that she's forgotten all about you. I think she might even be in love with me," Lex said, his tone almost viciously gleeful. He imagined his words to be arrows, each one piercing the creature's now-vulnerable skin, hurting it just a little bit more.

"No, you couldn't have…you…I can't believe…" the alien stammered in a faint voice, tears beginning to fill its eyes.

"Yes, yes, yes, I did, Clark! Believe it. Lana is mine and you'll never get to go to her with your grand declaration of love-"

"NO!" the creature shouted suddenly, causing both Lex and the orderly to start in surprise at the vehemence of the word.

It began to cry softly, hanging its head again for a long moment before raising its gaze to pin Lex with its stare once more. Lex couldn't contain the slight frown of confusion that crossed his face. That hadn't quite been the reaction he'd been expecting. Even after all these weeks of the alien meekly accepting every bit of torture that had been inflicted on it, somehow Lex had still been anticipating a spark of anger, not this...hopelessness.

"You stupid, stupid man..." the alien choked out. "How can you be so smart and so damn blind at the same time?"

Lex's face tightened in anger at the insult. "What exactly am I supposedly blinded by, Clark?" he asked coldly.

"It was you."

Three little words, uttered in a stark cell in the hoarse tones of a being who had lost all hope for rescue or redemption. Lex couldn't hold back the stunned expression, his confusion battling with a creeping sense of uneasy realization at what exactly the creature meant by those three little words.

"What?" he asked, his mouth dry.

"My grand declaration of love, Lex. It was you. I've been in love with you since the day I pulled you out of the river. I was going to tell you everything that day, Lex," the alien said, its voice shaking through its tears. "I was ready to give you all that I had, and you...in return, you gave me this." The creature waved its hand vaguely at the room it was in, a slightly bitter smile twisting its lips briefly.

"I...I didn't..." For the first time in a very long time, Lex found himself completely at a loss for words.

The next thirty seconds would forever remain at once astonishingly vivid and achingly blurred in Lex's mind. He discovered abruptly that Clark still retained more of his super speed than any of his father's researchers might have suspected. Faster than his eye could follow, Clark reached out with one of those lanky arms and grabbed Lex by the front of his shirt.

A quick yank and Lex was unceremoniously pulled into Clark's lap, a hard mouth closing over his. There was no expectation of gentleness or romance in this kiss, and none was given. Clark's lips were harsh and unyielding against his own, and it was almost too brief to even be called a kiss.

Still, Lex knew the effects of it would linger for a long time to come.

The next thing he knew, Lex was sliding backwards across the room, courtesy of a brutal shove from Clark. He hit the opposite wall with a thud and a gasp, collapsing in a heap on the floor, his startled eyes immediately going back to Clark. Lex wanted to scream in disbelief at what he saw happening in front of him, but his throat seemed frozen and he was unable to utter a sound.

Clark, still lying half against the wall, held the hapless orderly by the neck with one hand, and as Lex watched, he grabbed the syringe full of liquid meteor rock from the man's grasp. The orderly then slid across the room towards the door much in the same manner that Lex just had himself and Clark turned a stony glare in Lex's direction.

"Clark-" Lex finally managed to croak, attempting to scramble to his feet.

"Good-bye, Lex. I loved you..."

"Clark! No, Clark!" Lex screamed, part of his mind hearing the past tense even as he fumbled to get closer to Clark, to stop what was about to happen.

But he was all too human and far too slow. Clark turned the syringe and jabbed it forcefully into his vulnerable skin, plunging a full day's dose of liquid meteor directly into his heart. Alarms began wailing all over the compound and out of the corner of his eye, Lex saw the orderly staring at the alien in shock, the man's hand still pressing the panic button at the cell's doorway.

Clark's screams of agony and Lex's cries of denial mixed and mingled in the room, until it was impossible to tell which ones were louder. The tiny cell was suddenly filled with a horde of his father's scientists, and the noise level increased as they added their own shouts of dismay, demands for explanations, and frantic instructions to the melee.

Lex's line of vision was cut off and he clambered to his feet, desperately trying to see Clark, to know if his worst nightmare was really happening right in front of his eyes.

Clark's eyes were rolled up into the back of his head and his body was convulsing wildly, so much so that the doctors couldn't even hold him still. The syringe was still stuck in his chest and it bobbed around obscenely with his jerking movements. A thin line of green leaked from the corners of his mouth, and then it began to froth and bubble as Clark's body struggled to keep breathing with the poison he'd just pumped into it.

The poison we've been pouring into him for almost a month, Lex thought to himself, abruptly horrified at what the outcome of his actions had wrought. He wished desperately to go back in time and somehow undo what he'd done, but it was too late. Even as he watched, Clark's body arched sharply, and with one last guttural groan, he fell completely limp, his eyes staring sightlessly at the ceiling.

Lex couldn't have said how long he stood there, looking at the mess he'd created, but eventually one thought began thrumming through his skull.

Clark is dead. Clark is dead. ClarkisdeadClarkisdeadClarkisDEAD!

And it was all Lex's fault.

Because of three little words.