Red Wine

Author: Clannadlvr
Summary: Futurefic, AU. Lex and Martha both deal with the tragedy that befalls Clark Kent and try to find solace.
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: Well...it's complicated, but you should get the sense from the author's note.
Spoilers: Hmmm...let's just say general spoilers...nothing specific to this season.
Disclaimer: I do not own Smallville or the characters therein. This is strictly for entertainment purposes.
A/N: For Dolimir and the Smallville Flash Ficathon challenge! The prompt: Lex/Martha - Sorry. I just have a thing for this pairing. It doesn't have to be sexual (although it can be). Future fic is preferrable. I included a bit of the prompt for Clex as well. You definitely drove me out of my writing comfort zone for this one, so thanks! Also, many thanks to Jinni and Rinabeana for the beta!


It had happened again.

She’d thought he’d gotten rid of it all, every single piece.

Way back when, he and the League had thought up a plan to mine it all out of the earth and throw back it into the stars.

Back toward the very planet her baby boy had come from.

But then, just a few months ago, she’d realized that Clark’s plan hadn’t been so perfect after all. Kyle’s green pickaxe hadn’t dug out every piece of the vile stuff. Diana’s invisible ship hadn’t carted it all off into space. Even J’onn’s meticulous calculations about which asteroid would be the most obscure dumping ground hadn’t stopped someone from getting their hands on the one thing that could steal her pride and joy from her.

In the end, it hadn’t been green Kryptonite that had taken him away, making his skin crawl until the pain got too great to bear.

It was the rebirth of Kal that had robbed her of Clark Kent.

Once upon a time, Martha would have blamed Lex Luthor for everything that had happened to her son. True, she’d always tried to see the good in Lex, while Jonathan doubted every move the Luthor heir had made. For a while, she’d wanted to be a positive force in his life…maybe she was trying to be the mother he never really had. Motivations were so easy to confuse now, six months on. But when Lex had declared his war on Superman, well, then taking sides became a very easy thing to do.

No one messed with Martha Kent’s son.

Her resolve was so firm, so unyielding, that Jonathan’s dying wish, that she protect Clark from Lex whatever the cost, seemed so easy to fulfill.

So she’d watched Superman be deified by The Daily Planet in one moment and vilified by LexCorp in the next. She’d cheered every time her son destroyed a hidden missile silo that was drenched in Luthor funding. She’d cried every time Clark came back to the farm to visit, dirty and tired after a long day of beating Lex at his own game.

And she’d fainted when she’d walked in on Lex Luthor and her son in Clark’s Metropolis apartment in the most compromising of positions.

In that one moment, she’d realized that her husband’s dying wish would have to go unfulfilled. Because while she loved her husband, she’d realized that her son’s happiness was the most important thing in the world. More vital than revenge…or protection…or some misguided sense of need to wrench parental control from the ghost of a father her son never knew.

Because when Clark told her he was in love with Superman’s archenemy, how could she deny him happiness?

So, try as she might, she couldn’t blame Lex for what had happened. Even though it was the very wedding ring he’d given her son that had taken him away from her.

But Lex didn’t know that the rubies in the ring had been replaced by red Kryptonite. He didn’t understand why Clark began to laugh and rave before their vows had been completed. He couldn’t comprehend why the man he loved more than any scheme of conquering the world had flown away without a second thought.

But Martha understood.

So now she was left with knowledge and guilt and not much else. And guilt, oh, there was a ton of that. Guilt that she hadn’t been able to reach Clark through the red haze. Guilt that she hadn’t been able to stop the League from taking him down permanently when removing the ring had proved impossible. Guilt that she’d preferred his death over a lifetime of watching his twisted double rule the earth. Oh yes, there was guilt.

Maybe that was why she kept on visiting Lex, knocking on his door as he scoured the galaxy for some way to bring back Clark Kent. But six months of searching had yielded nothing more than a litany of tragedies that could have been averted and lives that could have been saved. Lex was spinning fast out of control…

…and so was she.

Birds of a feather, wasn’t that the phrase?


Now

Martha Kent knocked on the door of Lex Luthor’s penthouse for the fourth time that month. The plate of cookies felt like dead weight in her hand, but home baked goods were as good of an excuse as any.

She wasn’t surprised when Lex himself opened the door. Ever since Clark’s…fall, he’d sent away all his servants, save Hope and Mercy as a security presence. But even they didn’t get to enter the set of private rooms. Only Martha had that privilege.

For the umpteenth time since she’d stared into his cold blue eyes at the memorial service, she wondered why she’d been singled out. And once again she came to the same conclusion.

Having a little bit of Clark Kent in his home was better than having none at all.

And if a little bit of irrational anger welled up in Martha, she didn’t let it show. Instead, she smiled up at Lex and said, “Mind if I come in? I come bearing cookies.”

His eyes seemed to thaw a bit as he looked at her offering. “Of course, Martha. But I hope you’ll stay to enjoy some of them with me. I’ve just opened up a bottle of Chateau Petreus ’82…lovely vintage, but the bouquet is more fragrant when shared.”

A year ago, Martha would have rolled her eyes and done the mental equivalent of patting Lex on the head indulgently. But now, something dead and solid settled low in her gut at the invitation. Still, she answered, “Of course.”

As she let herself be led into the sumptuous suite, she couldn’t help but shudder at what she saw every time she visited. Clark’s mug still on the counter…his shirt carelessly thrown over the couch…a muddy boot print by the sliding glass door. It was as if he’d just flown away for a patrol.

Lex’s home had become a museum to a dead lover. It was sick…and twisted…and desperate…and she couldn’t help but come back for more, paying her admission at the door, wandering around, taking in the artifacts of a suspended memory.

Martha shuddered as her hand lingered over the coffee stained work shirt she could remember Clark wearing during his days at The Planet.

“Your wine,” came Lex’s voice, stilling her fingers a scant few millimeters above the shirt. His eyes seemed to burn into her outstretched hand, chastising her not to touch what was never really hers. But it was hers. He was hers. She had found him in the fields…she had kept his secrets…she had…

Her hands trembled with barely concealed anger as she accepted the glass. “Thank you.”

Lex led her over to the couch and politely began a conversation about Smallville…the farm…the latest LexCorp acquisitions…the new treatment of “l’Incoronazione di Poppea” that was premiering at the Metropolis Opera House…

Anything they could speak of without mentioning the name of the man who seemed to lurk in the shadows of the penthouse. As the wine flowed, glass after glass, Martha could almost see him, darting through the edges of her periphery vision, like when he was a little boy using superspeed to play hide and seek.

But it was only a glimpse. Never enough. No matter how quickly she turned her head, she could never capture his face. Every furtive glance only brought her sight in line with a coffee mug…a boot print…a discarded shirt.

“Why do you keep all his things out?” she demanded, interrupting Lex’s discussion of the merits of TiVo. “Do you think he’ll come back? Do you think he’ll wear that shirt again, drink day old sludge he called coffee from that cup…” Her words were muddled as she tried to force back the anger.

From the looks of Lex’s face, she hadn’t done a very good job at reining it in at all.

For a moment, his expression was completely open, guileless and wounded, but then the mask was back.

“No. Of course not,” he whispered, a deadly sort of quiet. “Have you burned the skateboard you got him when he was 12, over Jonathan’s objections, or the football jersey he wore his senior year?”

“Prepared to buy them off me, Lex?” she asked, the bitterness unrestrained.

“Would you sell them to me?”

“I wouldn’t have to,” she retorted, “You’d take them just like you do everything else.”

“Don’t you mean everyone else?” Lex asked, his eyes way too knowing for her comfort. And then, in that moment, they lost their steel. He moved closer to her and it took all her willpower not to wedge herself back into the couch cushions.

“I didn’t take him from you, Martha,” he said sadly. “In fact, I never truly had him. You at least got a good twenty of his years.”

Martha looked at him uncomprehendingly. “Lex, I know I’m not being exactly fair, but you have to admit that I rarely ever saw him once the two of you got together.”

Lex raised an eyebrow. “And do you think I saw him more? Do you think that there weren’t weeks on end when my bed grew cold? When the only times I saw Clark were on a newscast?”

Martha wrapped her arms about herself. She couldn’t listen to his silver tongue, believe the things he was telling her. And yet…

…when Lex spoke, she could almost understand it as a kind of truth.

“We both lost him the day he became Superman. He’s owned by the world now, even in memory, and we’re left fighting for the scraps of the boy we had back in Smallville,” he said.

“I know you’re angry,” he continued when she didn’t reply, “but the question is, who exactly are you angry at? Is it me? And if so, why do you keep coming back here? I know that I’m certainly not your favorite person after everything that’s happened.”

Martha took a fortifying sip of wine, not bothering to hide how her body was shaking. “Who am I angry with?” She snorted bitterly. “I’m angry at Jor-El for setting him on this path, Jonathan for leaving me to pick up the pieces, the world for making him their savior, no matter how much I believed in his mission. You,” she said, turning her gaze squarely on Lex, “for taking precious moments with my son away from me.” Her breath shuddered out as she said that last part. “But most of all…I’m angry at myself, for not being able to let go. For blaming anyone other than the psycho that switched those stones. For letting everything bad that’s happened take away all the good that Clark’s left in my heart.”

Her voice broke and she was only dimly aware that Lex had taken her hand. If her head hadn’t been swimming with wine, she would have been surprised at the gesture. “Every day I feel like another piece of him is slipping away, and no matter how hard I try, he just slips through my fingers.”

Lex was silent for minutes, seemingly unaware that he had tightened the grip on her hand. Then he spoke. “That’s why you come here…why you visit me, isn’t it? To get back some part of Clark?”

She nodded…and then, realization dawned. “And that’s why you keep on letting me walk through that door, isn’t it?”

His nod was almost imperceptible. “You’re not the only one trying to get back something you’ve lost.”

The sat in silence for a long while, hands clasped, wine nearly forgotten. Slowly, but surely, the anger seemed to ebb…and all Martha was left with was an empty space where Clark used to be.

Her gaze moved around the room, lingering on the coffee cup, the shirt that was within arms reach…and then she felt the fingers around hers tighten once more.

Lex’s eyes caught her own and for the first time, she acknowledged their intensity and sorrow. “Go ahead,” he said, and it took her more than a few moments to understand what he meant.

Letting go of his hand, she reached over and grasped the shirt, loosely at first, then desperately, clutching it to her breast. She could smell Clark in its simple plaid. The Clark who went to work and rolled his eyes at Lois, then came home to icy blue eyes and long tapered fingers. A Clark she never really knew. A Clark who lived in this apartment.

There was a second smell that followed the first. Lex.

Her eyes brimmed with unshed tears. And suddenly all she wanted to do was understand that part of her son’s life. Not through an exhibit to a man who simply flew away one day and didn’t come back. But through flesh, blood, anger, and passion, all the things that had made up that other part of Clark Kent.

And when her eyes came back to Lex’s, it seemed that he understood that need and shared it.

Thinking back, it didn’t seem odd to her that her lips were parted by those that had kissed her son’s. It didn’t seem wrong that her hands ran over the same muscles, her fingernails scraping the same erect nipples that her son had tantalized numerous times. In fact, as she and Lex scavenged each other’s bodies, she didn’t think of Clark at all. And he was all she thought about.

She tasted red wine mixed with a faint hint of scotch.

She tasted ice cream sundaes shared after a long day of corporate intrigue and disaster prevention.

She smelled expensive cologne expertly applied.

She smelled a botched attempt in the kitchen by a man who had always had servants, but wanted to prove his devotion.

She heard a deep moan as her hands moved lower.

She heard laughter brought about by an impromptu flight through the clouds wrapped in a protective cloak.

She felt the shudders brought on by a quickening pace.

She felt the simple linking of hands, love expressed while lounging on the couch on a Sunday afternoon.

She saw the blissful expression of release.

She saw completion when two bodies shared secrets that had been hidden for years.

She saw Clark. All of him.

When it was done, Martha dressed quickly; not from embarrassment, but because there was nothing more to be done.

As Lex walked her to the door of his penthouse, she turned to him and said, “Thank you.”

He reached out, tracing the line from her ear to her lips. Then he pulled away, all business. “Take care of yourself, Martha.”

So she walked out the door, looking back only for a moment at the closing door. And moved on.

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