DISCLAIMER - Not mine, I couldn't afford the motor and household insurance bills. I promise I'll scrub them down and give them back to DC comics, the WB and anyone else who does own a slice of them when I'm done with them. Story, such as it is, copyright Karen Colohan, January 2003.

Author's notes - Written for Alax's Shakespeare Title Challenge at: http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=alax&itemid=24884

The screencap used to make the title picture was also Alax's.

Another late night phone call and, once again, news of Lex's latest indictable exploits. Naturally, as always, Luthor money is enough to ensure that the Metropolis PD will look the other way and that there will be no unfortunate consequences. The tabloid press isn't so easy to buy off, but where bribes fail well-placed threats can be just as effective.

Lionel is used to the routine by now. Not that the familiarity of the situation makes him any less infuriated by Lex's behaviour. It's attention seeking at its very worst.

A couple of hours later the totally unrepentant Lex is delivered back to the penthouse. In the driver's less than flattering estimation the boy was so high when the police officers brought him out of the holding cell that they'd been keeping him in, that they probably had to scrape him off the ceiling first.

Lionel's lips thin into a tight, angry line on hearing that. Frankly, he's amazed that Lex's penchant for ever more exotic cocktails of drugs and alcohol haven't been the death of him yet. But Lionel has already lost one son, so he's not about to let Lex self-destruct.

When Lionel tracks Lex to the study he finds the boy pacing around the room like a caged animal. It seems that the driver's pithy analysis of Lex's condition was quite accurate. Unnoticed, Lionel watches as Lex continues to move restlessly. It's as if there's simply too much energy to be contained within the slender frame, so it finds release in the feverish wandering.

Lionel cannot help but notice that Lex has inherited his mother's grace in full measure. Even like this, while he is half out of his mind on God alone knows what combination of drink and drugs, it doesn't desert him. It's in every smooth line of his tensely poised body - from the sleek, hairless scalp to the slim hips, indecently clad in too tight leather, that sway in time to some tune that only Lex can hear.

Lex reaches the far wall and turns again, finally noticing his audience. When he looks up, his eyes are like bottomless pools, inky black, the blue-grey irises almost drowned by the wide, dark pupils. As the blank gaze focuses on Lionel, sharpening in recognition, a smile takes possession of Lex's lips. It's slow and lazy and just on the edge of insolent.

Lionel's fingers itch with the desire to slap the smug expression off of Lex's face.

Now that there is something to hold his attention, Lex has shed the air of directionless tension that surrounded him before. He tilts his head a little, contemplating his father for just a moment, and then he's in motion again. The way Lex moves across the room, it's an almost feline stalk.

Lionel knows it would be unwise to dismiss Lex's behaviour as merely kittenish play-acting. The boy has claws and he's been trying to sharpen them on his father for the past few years, the upstart cub testing his strength against the alpha male.

"Come to deliver another lecture, Dad?" Lex drawls.

His voice sounds rough and scratchy and Lex's tongue sweeps over his lips as if he's trying to moisten them. Grimacing, Lex diverts to the side table, which holds a small selection of bottles.

"Why waste my breath? You never listen to me, Lex." The tone is sharp with disapproval.

Lionel watches as Lex pours himself a large glass of a very expensive scotch then tosses it back in one go as if it were water. It's still all about display, though; the way Lex tips his head back, accentuating the long line of his throat as he swallows.

With a sharp click the empty glass is set back on the table and Lex turns toward his father, fixing him with a narrow-eyed stare. "Maybe I would... if you ever said anything worth listening to."

Lionel laughs humourlessly. "Believe me, Lex, it would pay you to take notice of everything I tell you. One day you'll realise that."

For a moment Lex appears to consider this, but then he shakes his head.

"Not today!" Lex flashes a sudden, bright grin, as if he's amused by his own cleverness.

His attitude merely angers Lionel.

"You're a fool, Lex!" he growls.

Pale lashes droop, veiling the hugely dilated pupils, and Lex adopts a carefully studied ennui. "If you'll excuse me, Dad, I think I'll go to bed now. I seem to have lost my taste for anything else tonight."

There's not even a trace of gratitude for the effort that's been expended, again, to keep Lex out of a police cell and off the front pages of the trashier newspapers. He seems to treat these timely, and expensive, interventions as his due now. Lionel suspects it's all part of the game they're playing.

Lex is pushing harder, behaving ever more recklessly of late. He seems to be testing them both; how far can he go and exactly how much is his father prepared to pay to have his exploits quietly swept under the carpet?

One of these days, Lionel thinks viciously, he'll leave Lex to deal with the consequences of his actions by himself, just to show him that there are limits, even for a Luthor. Maybe if Lex spent a night or two in jail he would finally learn.

Although, knowing Lex, he'd probably manage to turn even that to his advantage - just bend over and offer up that graceful ass to whoever wanted to use it. Lex has an unfortunate taste for rough trade and a tendency to flaunt the least salubrious of his lovers in front of Lionel, just to piss him off.

For now, Lex seems content to make a grand exit. He glides across the floor, pale skin and tight black leather in perfect harmony. As he goes to leave the room, Lex pointedly turns his head away from his father as he passes him.

Lionel watches him go and shakes his head in disgust. All that natural grace, wasted, Lex looks no better than a cheap slut. He could be so much more than this spoiled child, playing at teenage rebellion. In spite of all the excesses, Lionel can still see the promise of the man the boy could become, with the proper guidance.

Lillian had cosseted Lex, especially after the incident in Smallville. She had spent too much time indulging his whims and, in the process, made Lex weak, dependant on approval and love. It was no way to raise a worthy heir.

So, from now on there will be no more indulgence. Lex is a Luthor, and he will learn to behave in a manner befitting the name. Lionel is going to shape his son, erasing the remaining traces of his mother's influence and remaking him in his own image.

Lex has a destiny, and Lionel intends to make sure that he fulfils it.

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