Troy—or—Paris Changes His Mind
Thank you so much to my betas velvetglove and jacynrebekah. All remaining mistakes are my own.
It's not the first ethically questionable decision Lex has made for the sake of LexCorp, but it's the hardest. Blackmailing Lionel's assistant, for example, had been great fun. Agreeing to use the labor of Chinese prison inmates was considerably less enjoyable. But Lex really needed to underbid LuthorCorp for the Pommador contract. This would ensure that he could.
Lex knows as he's doing it that it's the sort of thing Clark would disapprove of, but the article under the Kent and Lane byline two weeks later still comes as a shock. Lex doesn't need to guess who tipped them off.
Dinner that night is a silent affair. They had long since agreed not to bring the office home. This wasn't the first time the Planet had printed unfavorable news about Lex just the first time it had been written by Clark. That stung a bit.
Finally, Lex could stand Clark's accusing eyes no longer, "It's not illegal, you know."
"Legality and morality are two entirely different issues."
"Using someone's own words against him is not a very honorable tactic."
"You're lecturing me about honor?" Clark returns Lex's angry glare, then sighs heavily, "Can we just leave it at the office?"
Lex wants to let it lie, but three days of near-silence between them is enough to break him. "You know that Lionel wanted the contract as a springboard for a hostile takeover? Hundreds of people would have lost their jobs."
"I do know that. I can see your reasoning; I just hate it that you have to make those kinds of choices."
Clark's expression is tender, and Lex is ready to repent and throw himself on Clark's mercy until he adds, "Besides, how much of it was concern for people's livelihood and how much was about beating your father?"
Clark announces he's been offered the post as the Planet's Paris correspondent, the opportunity of a lifetime. He's glowing with joy and pride. His shining eyes look right through Lex into a brighter future.
Lex knows he should suggest they go out to celebrate, but he's certain he'll vomit at the sight of food.
Two months since the article and things still aren't the same between them. Maybe this is the escape opportunity Clark's been waiting for.
Lex suggests as much, and Clark just shakes his head sadly. "That's not what I want. I want you to come with me."
The anticipated explosion comes three days later. It's almost a relief.
"Damn it, Lex. Can't you see that you're rotting here?" Clark shouts.
"Where else would I go? Metropolis is my domain. I will either conquer it or it will conquer me," Lex responds calmly.
Clark's teeth are clenched, but he manages to lower his voice. He hates to be the only one shouting. "Maybe you could go someplace where conquering isn't an issue at all."
"Now where's the fun in that?" It's okay to be cruel because Clark has hurt him too. If he really loved Lex, he'd stay.
The relationship continues to deteriorate in the weeks leading up to Clark's departure. Clark is fixated on the absurd idea that Lex can abandon his life's work and run away to France.
Nine days before Clark is supposed to leave he calls to tell Lex he'll be sleeping at Lois' for his remaining time in the United States. On the couch, he has the mercy to add.
Lex learns that Clark's absence hurts even more than his angry, reproachful stares. Part of him wonders why he ever thought he'd be allowed to keep something that made him so happy anyway.
Lex isn't sure what to feel when Clark arrives at his office four hours before the plane is scheduled to leave. He doesn't want to hope, but Clark has always been able to bring out that last shred of optimism Lionel didn't beat out of him.
Clark's eyes look haunted, and he appears to have lost weight. "I've come to say goodbye," he explains.
Lex had thought Clark's absence was painful, but it doesn't compare to the gut-wrenching agony of seeing him this close and knowing he's lost him.
The initial polite inquiries inevitably give way to pleading and shouting.
"Please, Lex," Clark sounds desperate. "You can still come with me."
"And you could still choose to stay."
"But I'm doing this for us."
"You're leaving me for us?"
Clark covers his eyes with his hand then lets it drop, exclaiming, "You know, you used to claim to be fighting your destiny, but you certainly didn't fight very hard." Clark storms out, the door slamming behind him.
Lex is a certified genius, but it takes him two full weeks of pondering. When he finally figures it out, it's like a prisoner discovering the cell door has been open all along.
Another month and Lex has finished slicing up and selling off the company he worked so hard to build.
Surprisingly, it doesn't feel like cutting out his heart. His heart is whole and well waiting for him across the ocean.
Four hours after signing the final papers Lex is on the plane, watching out the window as the city he was born to rule shrinks to no more than a toy, bought to teach a child a lesson in strategy.
Trojan horses weren't always used to invade. Sometimes, in the form of Kansas boys, they could be used to escape.
Lex loved teaching undergrad. They weren't sophisticated, but their enthusiasm was charming.
"An Oracle predicts that Paris will bring about the ruin of his kingdom. Like Oedipus, the path Paris takes to avoid his destiny only leads him right back into the hands of fate, causing Troy's destruction. These stories are the Greeks' warning to mere mortals. Don't fuck with fate. Your destiny will always find you in the end. But was Paris forced to wage war over Helen or was it a choice?" Lex turns and writes the question on the board for emphasis.
"Did Paris have free will?"
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