Title: Smoke and Mirrors
Summary: Five months after Lana's proclaimed officially dead a journey of discovery begins for Lex.
A/N: The seed which led to my writing this fic was planted long ago; soon after the beginning of Season 6, to be exact.
As most of you already know, Chlex is my ship and Lex is the one and only character that I'm invested in. I've never been a die-hard fan of Lana's but once upon a time, when I began writing fanfic, the first pairing I wrote was Lexana.
It isn't a mystery either that I hated what they did with their arc starting with Season 6 and the whole fake!baby debacle. It made me hate a character that I just used to find irritating at times because of her emotional fickleness and her insecurities. Yes, all that it took was for TPTB to mess with Lex by butchering Lana and I went into extermination mode, although I've never had the heart to resort to full-time bashing.
Here's the first instalment of a fic intended to make sense out of the inexplicable mess that was most of Season 6 and whatever Lana and Lexana became next. The story starts at the beginning of Season 7 (Kara) and will make reference to past events as well as some occurrences featured in Season 7. Needless to say I will put my own spin on things, twist the timeline a little bit (but not too much) and blatantly ignore a few events, such as the accidental death of Dr Langston in Promise.
I'm not given to writing outlines, they usually get in the way of preserving the mystery that is always present in my fics. However, I decided to do it this once to make sure the fic won't get out of my hands or end up an eternal WIP, considering I'm too busy with RL and the writing of a complex multi-chaptered Chlex fic. Hopefully, there'll be updates every twenty days or so. I'm not planning on making this a long one.
Sorry for my long rambling. Enjoy!
CHAPTER 1: Void
XUJIAHU, XUHUIDISTRICT, SHANGHAI-CHINA
It's been five months since she was proclaimed officially dead and, yet, she's been dead longer than that. Waking up, just breathing, has become an ordeal she's finding more difficult to face each passing day. Crossing the oceans and seeking refuge in the anonymity provided by the buzzing cosmopolitan life of Shanghai hasn't numbed the pain she's been carrying inside; it has simply enhanced the bottomless void that is her life now and made her loneliness more evident and painful. She's looking for ways to purge her soul after what she's done and knows deep down it's a dead battle because it's her forgiveness the one she needs and she can't find it in herself. And, what makes it even more difficult is the fact that she's certain she would do it again- sacrifice one life for another.
Three months ago her rebelliousness pushed her to defy the devil in an attempt to undo all the damage that had been done, to re-conquer everything he had seized, only to have her arm twisted once again. Never had she felt so tempted to burn in the pits of hell as that day when he heartlessly asked her to choose again; if only she had had a gun close at hand. She stood her ground in a futile attempt to prove to him he hadn't broken her spirit and he lashed out in the worst possible way; she lost the prerogative she had gained and condemned more than just her soul in the process.
Now, she snaps the mobile phone shut and, with an anguished scream, hurls the apparatus across the room and sees it crash against the wall and then fall to the plank floor in pieces. She's made a new pact with the devil and wishes with all her might God will deliver the prisoners His Nemesis took in His clutches the night she decided not to hide any longer. She slides to the ground like a broken doll and, lying in foetal position, cries until there are no tears left in her.
A WEEK BEFORE- LUTHORCORP PLAZA- METROPOLIS
A warrant has been issued for his arrest and he sits at the mahogany desk of his private office on the top floor of Metropolis' tallest building with glazed eyes and a faraway look. He can hear hurried people and muffled voices coming from the reception area, but they grow dim until they vanish to be replaced by other sounds. He turns his left hand and looks at his palm, fingering the wedding band which she slid on his finger seven months ago- the only living proof they were one once. Fresh tears well up in his eyes as he recalls the devastation of losing the child they conceived the night after the charity costume ball and how that tragedy deepened the chasm between them.
"Mr. Luthor, the helicopter's waiting. We should have you out of U.S. jurisdiction in two hours," says his personal assistant Gina, her voice only a distant echo.
It's the first time I've ever felt this... satisfied.
I was half-expecting the word "happy" to come out of your mouth.
Happiness is just a feeling of euphoria. It's your brain chemistry going into overdrive. That's why so many relationships fail when the honeymoon ends and reality sets in.
"Lock down the perimeter. Secure the stairwell. The only thing getting in or out of here is that chopper," Gina orders two security men."Sir, you're wanted for your wife's murder. We need you to hurry," she entreats her boss, trying to catch his attention while he hears once again the words that Lana's voice whispered next to his ear as he took her for the second time the night she finally came to him.
I will always love you.
"Her soft skin... and her hair... that half-awake smile when she saw me come in like... she didn't know if she was still in a dream. She was the only thing I was living for," he murmurs, biting his bottom lip to stop its trembling, recalling the morning after when he stood at the bathroom door just showered and with a towel around the middle looking at her lying naked in his bed.
"I'm sorry for your loss, sir. But right now we need to get you airborne. Police will be here any minute," replies his assistant sympathetically.
"I'm well aware of that. I'm turning myself in," he states, meeting her eyes for the first time.
He didn't have Lana's car blown up, but God knows he has many debts to settle after the dubious moral decisions he's taken of late. He didn't murder his wife with his hands and yet, he feels it's the blood that courses through his veins that has doomed their marriage and sentenced him to a life without love.
ST. IGNATIUS CATHEDRAL OF SHANGHAI
Sunlight filters through the new stained glass windows of the Gothic temple and illuminates the central aisle shy of the pew where she's kneeling in prayer as if it deemed her unworthy of its warmth, forever doomed to the shadows. She's entered this place looking for comfort and the strength to survive what's yet to come. She can't remember when the last time was she confessed and feels the burden of guilt oppress her chest.
"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned," she murmurs, after closing the door of the confessional.
And words pour out of her mouth in a torrent seeking absolution, knowing that she'll come back soon for her torment is far from over. And, yet, she needs to confess to be able to breathe till the moment she's been yearning and dreading arrives.
KANSAS STATE PENITENTIARY
I wasn't miraculously saved to run away from my demons, Keating. I was brought back to face them.
The words he told his lawyer still resonate in his mind as he sits in this jail cell, which has been his house for a week now; the physical embodiment of the prison he's been living in for months, if not years. He traces her mouth in the photo he used to carry with him in his wallet- the only possession he's been allowed to keep- and feels the ghost of her soft lips on his skin.
"Mr Luthor?" asks the warder, unlocking the cell. "You have a visitor."
"Any news on the status of model 503?" Lex asks his attorney, coming out of his trance.
"We're still looking for it. But I've got very good news. You've been cleared of all charges. You're a free man, Mr. Luthor," smiles Keating, seeing the look of distrust in his employer's eyes.
The expensive counsellor proceeds to explain the grounds for his release and Lex can't help but feel he's been mocked once again. Could it be? Dare he hope? He swallows the lump in his throat and interrupts Keating with a statement that leaves the lawyer speechless.
"He didn't do it. I don't care what kind of evidence there is. The man did not murder my wife."
The young billionaire doesn't understand what has driven him to state such a thing with so much confidence; a sixth sense and the persistent presence of Lana's essence around him gives him the certitude she's still alive.
LUTHOR MANSION- EARLY AFTERNOON
Although coming to an empty house used to be an everyday fixture in his life before Lana moved in, the quiet and the loneliness he experiences as he explores the rooms is like none he's ever felt in his life in Smallville. He now wishes his Lana, or even the stranger she turned into later, were here. Having a physically and emotionally distant Lana -like the one she became after Alden and Geoffrey's murders and the attempt on his life which ended up with her in the hospital- would be painful, but not nearly as unbearable as waking up without her in his bed.
The sight of the four poster in the master bedroom and the perfume of her delicate shampoo still persisting on the pillow he's holding in his hands bring him back to the night of the charity ball, the night she accepted to stop pretending they were just roommates, the night he thought there might exist a state called happiness.
"What?" she asked with a shy smile.
"Nothing. I just want to remember you like this," he replied in a husky voice, seeing her blush when he openly admired her naked curves.
"You're talking as if you expected this to be the last time," she told him, holding the gaze of his intense blue-grey eyes.
"I've learnt never to take things for granted in my life," he said, brushing a couple of hairs off her face. "Lana, are you sure this is what you want? " he asked while he mentally added 'Are you sure I am what you want?'
"I wouldn't be here if I weren't taking this seriously," she said gravely.
"I didn't mean..." he started to explain.
"I know what you meant, Lex," she interrupted him with a small smile, snaking her arms around his neck and making more room to accommodate him."I want to be here. For the first time in my life I finally know what I want."
"I'm glad," he responded, grazing the underside of one milky breast and feeling her tremble in his arms,"because I don't think I'd be able to let you go now that you're mine."
"Well, I feel the same about you, Mr Luthor," she sighed as he angled her body and sheathed himself in one swift stroke.
"Are you OK?" he murmured, holding still in the quivering glove and hoping he didn't embarrass himself like an inexperienced adolescent.
"I'm fine. And you?" she responded, arching her delicate hips to pull him deeper.
"Lana," he croaked, closing his eyes tightly and turning away from her.
"Lex, look at me," she told him, cupping his face in both hands.
"I... can't," he replied in a strained voice.
"I'm not made of china," she said, stroking his back.
"I know it's been... too long for you," he told her, knowing by Clark's own confession they were both virgins the one time they laid together.
"You're a sweet man..." she smiled.
"Don't let that secret leave this bedroom," he chuckled, instantly regretting the quip as he felt its effect on his lower anatomy.
"But I'm more than ready after all that foreplay in front of the fire of your study," she continued, proving her point by starting a tentative rocking.
"God, Lana," he moaned, relinquishing part of the control and following her lead.
"Open your eyes, Lex," she insisted a few moments later, placing a hand on top of the one that was gripping her hip to guide her motion.
Her warm entreats, the feel of her pebbled peaks grazing his chest and the sweet clenching and unclenching brought him faster to the brink than any of those inconsequential one-night stands ever had.
"Lana, can you...?" he asked her breathless, his mouth brushing her parted lips. God, he was going to embarrass himself!
"Yes," she panted, feeling her chocolate eyes glaze as he finally opened his and looked at her with so much hope and love and... yes... desperation reflected in them. "Let go, Lex," she murmured before clutching him tighter as their lips fused in a feverish kiss and with one last powerful stroke they both came undone.
"I'm sorry," he said tensely a minute later, lying on his back and looking fixedly at the ceiling in an uncharacteristic show of vulnerability to avoid meeting her eyes.
"Why?" she asked, rolling on her side and propping herself up on one elbow.
"I wanted our first time to be perfect," he confessed, swallowing hard.
"And it was, Lex," she replied, stroking his arm and leaning forward to press a kiss on his chest.
"Yes, so much for trying to dazzle you with my prowess," he laughed ironically.
"Were we in the same room just a minute ago, Lex?" she smiled smugly, sliding her left leg over the billionaire to lie on top of him.
"It could have been better," he said with the ghost of a smile, tucking a couple of stray hairs behind her ear and relishing the feel of her soft curves pressed against him.
"I like it the way it was. It was sweet," she told him, resting her head on his chest and listening to the now steadier beat of his heart.
"That's the second time you used the word 'sweet'. It's a term that nobody would think to associate with a Luthor," he responded, threading his fingers through her long hair.
"I would never link it with a man like your father, but then you aren't him. You'll never be," she murmured holding his gaze and feeling a sudden warmth wash over her when she saw the way her words had affected him reflected in his eyes. They had been the right words to dispel the sudden awkwardness which had seized him after losing his trademark control during their lovemaking.
If Lex were another man, she would have expected him to utter then the words every woman dreams to hear on the lips of the one she loves, but the feeling he put in the kiss that followed and the way he handled her body as if it were made of the brittlest china more than made up for it.
"So, Mr Luthor," she said with a mischievous smile when he let her lips go reluctantly," are you ready to show me that legendary prowess you were boasting about?"
"I knew after the incident with the Nicodemus flower that you could be a little minx," he replied in a velvety tone as he rolled them both over.
"You know, you never told me what I did to you when I was under the influence," she furrowed her brow.
"Maybe we should re-enact the scene one of these days," he whispered in her ear as he proceeded to love her the way he'd dreamt of.
"Mr Luthor, " says a muffled voice in the corridor after knocking discreetly on the door of his master's bedroom.
Disoriented and slightly aroused, Lex buries his nose in the soft pillow and inhales the sweet fragrance once again before clearing his throat and answering the call.
"I'll meet you in the study in twenty minutes," he tells his security man behind the door.
Refreshed after a quick shower and a change of clothes he opens the double doors of his inner sanctum and strides purposefully to his desk.
"What do you have for me?" he asks his minion as he leans back on his swivel chair.
"We applied voice-recognition software and, using our satellites, cast a net over every landline and cellphone on the globe," explains his assistant under his grave look.
"I don't care how wide your net is. If you don't find Lana, it's not worth the string it's made of," the billionaire spits at him.
"We have a match sir. She's in Asia," replies the man, and Lex feels his heart skip a beat.
"Where?" he queries, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice.
"China. Our GPS puts her just a few miles from central Shanghai."
Shanghai. He hasn't been to the city in three years and the memories of his last stay in the Chinese town while looking for one of the elements aren't precisely nice. Still, it's a symbol of the time when his feelings for Lana started to change and he realised she meant more to him than a mere business partner.
"Prepare the jet for takeoff," he orders his assistant, unlocking the bottom drawer of his desk to retrieve his passport.
"Yes, sir," nods the older man, leaving the study just as Lex presses a hidden button to reveal the concealed vault where he keeps a stock of foreign currency, bonds, one of his trustworthy semi-automatics and the recording of the last conversation he's ever had with Lana.
Clark means more to me than you ever will.
The words keep coming back to his mind to torture him. Was he so blind that he'd deceived himself into believing she loved him? Is the woman who gave herself so passionately to him a consummate actress?
I will always love you.
He needs to see her face again, to look into her chocolate doe eyes and find in them the answers he's been seeking for months. He needs to know why.
A/N 2: Several lines of dialogue have been taken verbatim or nearly verbatim from "Wither", "Phantom", "Bizarro", "Kara" and "Fracture".