Disclaimer: Smallville and all related elements, characters and indicia © Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television, 2002. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situationssave those created by the authors for use solely on this websiteare copyright Tollin-Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster.
Author's note: Companion piece to A Child Believes: All I Want.
I Get Along Without You Very Well: Because
He'll never know that this moment has significance to me. He'll never know the depth of the poignancy that makes my mind stutter feebly in an attempt to grasp my own comprehension of the situation.
Even now, as I hold him near it's still too far. The cold, the distance that the years of neglect have forged into his brain... The fact that at every glance I pound in his triviality to me... It all contributes to the fact that even as I hold him in my arms, he's not there, not feeling it.
And, truthfully? What is there to feel? My heart is long gone, and the messiah of the netherworld gambles with my soul. I have nothing to give him, so there is nothing to receive.
But I can still feel.
He thinks this embrace is merely a ploy, and yes, to a certain degree my son knows me and my ambitions. I want the press to spin on his words of the Luthor Corp's "family values", and what better way to ensure so than to push them away with fatherly words and a countenance of concern and love for my scion? What better way than to hold my heir where all the world can see?
But I can still feel, and the part of me that my son is wrong about, the part that I hide from him so well that even I don't see it... That part has wanted him in these unskilled arms for years now.
The day my wife became ill was the day I started pushing and would not let the reality of my suddenly altered life sink in, for it had taken a wrong turn and nothing about the Luthors was ever a 'wrong turn'.
My child needed me, but what for? Nothing was the matter. Everything was normal and fine and, oh, what's that? What's wrong with Mom, son? Nothing. She's just a little sick. Now go back to your room.
The day she died came too soon for us and too long in the waiting for her. That was the day that I succeeded in pushing it all away: the pain, the grief, the vacant bed. None of that hit me, as I was decaying along side her, and the moment she breathed her last breath, I breathed mine. It was then that I became as barren as her blank stare, but I had already begun traveling on that road.
Lex had to brave the fear of being alone in the most horrendous fashion possible: his was a solitary confinement of the soul. There was no parental guidance for him, no hand to hold when he needed comfort and love. A deaf ear to his screams at night when the fears became an intense reality, no matter how temporary. His nightmares had been frequent and still to this day I hear they haunt him. My staff at the manor tell me of the screams they sometimes endure, the pain and agony that the young boy must be in. Yet I share no moments with him, do not ask how he is or if he needs to talk. He lost both of his parents the day that Lauren died. Truth be told though, I was far from a parent when my angel left this world.
There was nothing brave about what I did, I know that. My eyes were wide open when leaving my child to face his mother's death unaccompanied, utterly desolate. He bore the merciless weight of our loss solely on his callow but adept little shoulders.
My cold comment about mock heroics comes back to me now, feeling like a knife in the void where my heart should hold residence. How dare I accuse him of false bravado? I'm not one to speak. The things I have done to him, the fear I have repressed so that his eyes would not behold; the curves and turns I have taken to avoid being there for himů
I, more than anyone, have learned today that my son holds noble marvels beneath the Luthor label. I was so proud of him, risking his life for those of several school children. The most prominent memory of this day though, will always be when I grabbed his arm, my words commanding obedience and him defying them without a moment's hesitancy or misdoubt. He looked back at me in disdain, telling me to never grab him again, cool contempt staining his eyes, usually the sapphire of his mother's own unique hue, and fire in his breath.
I smiled in humor and overwhelming love, the former of which I've no doubt he missed. He reminded me of myself so very long ago, standing up to my own father's odius oppressions. The man I swore that I'd never be: the whole reason I had Alexander was to prove to myself that I wouldn't become my old man, and to show Lex what a father really was and that we could fight the surname together.
Yet, I failed the same test that every Luthor since the beginning of our bloodline has failed. I am now the man I once despised more than anyone else on Earth. But now my personality has become more than just emulation of my father's. It is a state of being. I am Leonard Luthor personified once again in the flesh, though I am not. I am whoever he was, most probably his own father. I know we have all failed to remain ourselves, fallen short of the individuals we so wanted to be: men prevailing through the ebbing of life's lessons and persevering. I know this and wonder who we have become, who the first Luthor was to get all of the answers wrong, thereby dooming his lineage.
I run my hands up and down my son's back, trying to ignore the smooth scalp pressing so close. Another failure of mine. I treated him with such cruelty, like the dearth of his gorgeous crimson locks- another heart-wrenching similarity to his mother- made him an aberration, an abnormality of the highest accord.
As I stand here with him, my eyes are where they have no right to be. In our hug we have turned awkwardly, and I watch the Kent family from the farthest corner of my vision, the image before me embossing itself into my memory. The new emotions of rancor and sorrow find their way to meld with my deep regret and depression.
Jonathan Kent was once my friend, a single loyal confidant in an existence otherwise solitary. He was the sun to my dawn, saving me from so many lonely nights, and introducing me to his best friend, Lauren. Sweet times, so ruefully evanescent but still brilliant and distinct in my memory.
His father never excepted me for the same reasons that Jonathan clearly does not except Lex. Because he knows the truth, as I do. Despite Clark Kent's fondness and devotion as a companion to my son, Alexander will only turn out like me and I have not the strength to try and save him. Though I can still feel, I cannot bear hope for him, not because I have none left, but because I know we are more than extensions of our fathers: we are reincarnations of them.
Richard Kent had once been friends with Leonard Luthor.
I was... I was once friends with Jonathan.
And now, my son is friends with Clark Kent, and their bond seems as deep, if not deeper, than any in the Kent/Luthor archives.
Alexander thinks I know nothing of his life, thinks what he does is inconsequential to me unless it deals with my money, and that's what I want him to believe. But that's not how it is. I pay more attention than he knows, even if it's not through my own eyes with which I see things. Things like the attachment he feels for the fifteen year old boy that saved his life and the fact that he and Clark have a bond that seems as strong as any. But I know it will not last.
I hate that he cannot break free and preserve what he has now. I know how very much it will hurt in reminiscence, how empty and sunken he will find himself, the internal cries for what 'once was' resonating deafeningly within until he hears nothing but.
I am the reason that Jonathan cannot see the good in my son, the good that I try so hard to ignore, because if I ignore it now I will not be crushed when it is no longer there. I will not be completely devastated when he gives up on himself and turns into me, as I did with my father.
Now, with Lex's transformation so evident before me, I fully understand why my father killed himself. More accurately though, I understand what I did to kill him, how I caused his death.
I killed him by giving up. I don't know what I'll do when Lex takes that deep-end dive, but I know it won't be pretty. Despite what I tell myself daily, there's still a tiny part that hopes he'll wise up to the Luthor history, that he'll survive what I didn't. A tiny part that, without heart or soul, still feels. That's the part that's hugging him now, but I can't even tell him, because telling him would be admitting to the existence of hope.
If I thought it would save Lex, I would fall to my knees now, in front of Jonathan and the world, repenting everything I'd ever done to my son- my beloved little boy- that was hurtful, or despicable, or- and this maybe the worst of all- indifferent.
But I see the way that he too looks at the Kent family, with all of their saintly faultlessness, their innocent bliss. That unobstructed hate pouring from his face isn't just a junior version of mine that could be dissolved with words love and repentance; it's instead a mirror image of the one that graces my own older but no more cynical face. I'm so far gone that no one on Earth could save me now, and the face that my son wears is the same mask of contempt that I on occasion don. With him though, it seems more natural, as if it is his constant companion...
He's too far gone. I know now that I can no longer undo what I have done. I could curse my father, but I know that it's my own damn fault. I have raised another Lionel, another Leonard, another Luthor. A demon from the womb of a seraph that will some day join his father and grandfather in the pits of hell, awaiting his own child's induction, but until then will try to make this world his kingdom. Yet, tragically, part of me still hopes that my son is more my wife's child and not my own.
And that's the part that holds him, moving my hand up and down his back, pushing me to tell him that I love him, because I do. But he'll never know, because I fear too greatly for his future and my own failure, my reincarnation and the Luthor immortality residing within.
So I let him go, my arms falling away from the boy I never truly held in the first place. I cannot look into those eyes because, as empty as I am, I can still feel, and cannot bear to see the mirrored vacancy within him, the emptiness which I have caused.
He'll never know how truly sorry I am for all that I have done; bringing him into a world, into an existence with promises of nothing but desolation, all encompassing greed, and an envy of those with things he'll never acquire nor receive, such as love and tenderness. He'll never know how proud I am of him for making it this far with his humanity still intact. He'll never know that I would give up all for his salvage, his deliverance from a future holding no wonders, no joy, no bliss. He'll never know that when his change is complete, I will die from grief.
Grief over the loss of a son I never had the courage to know.