Thanks to Livia and the Spike for betaing, and LaT for audiencing.

They sleep together in a room as grand as an emperor's tomb, in a bed that's so soft it could swallow Helen whole. She lies awake many nights, wondering if she's really going to do this, and Lex makes small talk to her in a drowsy murmur, careful not to refer to what's on both their minds. Maybe that's too bad--ethics courses always used to put her right to sleep. Sometimes, though, usually on the days when he comes back to the house with the mud of the Kent farm clinging to the edges of his shoes, Lex crawls into bed with the sour tang of alcohol in his mouth and doesn't want to talk. Those times, Helen usually wakes up with a pang of jealousy to find the moonlight blue on the empty pillow next to hers.

One of those nights, she goes down to the room.

Lex is there, in his pajamas, barefoot and heavy-lidded. He's staring at the simple frame-graphics reenactment of the accident, blue red blue flashing over and over on his face. Hypnotized, like a student who's up so late studying that the words are just arbitrary squiggles on a page. She remembers that look from med school. Just for a minute, she wishes it was some computer-game console he was rapt in front of, like her last boyfriend used to be.

When she puts her hand on his shoulder, it takes him a long time to look up. He kisses her eagerly, though, like she's proof of something. The excitement in the kiss warms her; she doesn't ask him to come back to bed.

He likes to bite her, now that she's seen. He's doing it now, as they have sex up against the wall that holds Clark Kent's image. He bangs into her forcefully enough that both the stone and his gripping hands will be leaving bruises. He doesn't close his eyes. She likes it. The roughness seems so much more real to her than the odd denatured gentleness that would sometimes come over him during their earlier dates. Not to mention that she enjoys being able to push back.

Helen has been in the room by herself now. Lex encourages it. She's studied everything there, learned the names that go with the images and artifacts. Sam Phelan, gunned down by police after his bizarre infiltration of the Luthor Wing of the Met (security tape on infinite loop: a blur crosses the gallery just before the shot). Stephen Hamilton, mysteriously disappeared (a reconstruction of an octagon suspended in air, turning over and over as if held in fingers that can't rest). Roger Nixon, shot by Lex himself (the body drops again and again from the bridge in the animation, the way she thinks it must in Lex's dreams). All lives the room has absorbed.

If she closes her eyes, she can imagine the 3D image of Clark's DNA, floating jewel-like among the other icons in the dim light of the room. Lex has explained everything he's collected in the room to her, watching her with the anxiety of a child who doesn't know what the diagnosis will be, but she hasn't told him anything yet. Nothing about the blood, or Jonathan Kent's panic that day, or Martha Kent's deeper fears later on about the baby inside her. Her knowledge could help resolve the chaos. Organize all the data into a pattern that could give it life, and so much more.

She's been holding back; she doesn't want Lex commandeering her existence. But she can see now that it's together that they could do something extraordinary. She doesn't want a roommate. She wants a partner--even if she hadn't known what that meant til that night.

The thought stirs something warm and strange deep in her belly. She grinds down on Lex, digging her own fingernails into his back. He gasps and comes. He rests his sweaty forehead against her throat, still holding her up.

"I love you," he whispers.

She knows he doesn't. He's overcome by the force of what's in the room. The promise of being able to understand why he is alive, the same thing that led her to study cells until her own eyes grew dazed. One working from the outside, one from within, they can join here, in the promise of Clark Kent and his "interesting family." It's close enough: it's more consuming than love could ever hope to be, and it could last forever.

"We just have to know," she says, and she can feel his startled intake of breath against her.

"Yes," he agrees.

She takes Lex's hand and rests it on her pelvis. As he circles her clitoris with his thumb and she throws her own head back, she gives way.

"Lex," she groans, "I can tell you--"

But he hushes her, a beatific smile on his lips. "Later."

She nods, bites down on his thumb, and thrusts slowly against his hand. They've got all the time in the world.

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