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, November 2002.

WARNING - implied incest

Author's notes - This is my interpretation of that scene in Duplicity. All hail the Luthorcest! As always, thanks to my stalwart beta, Barbara, and it's really not her fault that I insisted on clinging to my Brit spellings here! :-) Spoilers for Vortex and Duplicity.

"There's nothing here, Dad." We're surrounded by an empty space that silently gives the lie to my father's certainty that Hamilton ever possessed anything of value.

I know how desperate Hamilton was when I last saw him, sick and shaking like a junkie, addicted to both the meteor rocks and the large cheques I regularly supplied him with. Deprived of at least one of these things, that he should try and take advantage of my father ought not to be a surprise, but somehow it is. At any rate, the fact that he seems to have succeeded in fooling him is unexpected. Although Dad seems determined not to believe it, resisting my efforts to get him to leave and return to Metropolis.

Blindness notwithstanding, I'd never have categorised Dad as gullible. What else can I think, though? There's nothing here, no great discovery, just dust and shadows, my father and I.

The emptiness settles around me like an accusation - my fault, all of it. My initial hesitation compounded by a subsequent lack of caution that only made things worse and, as a result, my father is at the mercy of unscrupulous sharks like Hamilton. All my fault, and now the guilt tethers me to him more surely than any of his past commands and threats.

Breaking into my reverie of self-recrimination, I'm suddenly very aware of my father's proximity. A little unnerved, I swallow and tell him, "I hope you're not staying because of a sudden interest in alien spacecraft."

He's mocking me now. "Of course not, I'm staying because I want to spend more quality time with my only son."

I see his arm move and tense, automatically expecting his displeasure. It's not forthcoming; instead his touch is gentle, long fingers curving around my face. I close my eyes, leaning into the warmth of his hand minutely.

Hardly able to comprehend my own weakness, I thank every God I know the name of that my father cannot see my expression right now. For a moment I can almost believe he's telling me the truth as his unexpectedly tender touch undoes me in a manner I don't even want to contemplate. The caress, and my reaction to it, are wrong in so many ways I have no idea where to start enumerating them. Consequently, I'm well aware of what my face must be showing.

This is why I never used to let him close to me, shrinking from his rough attempts at fatherly affection. I didn't want my father to see what a single touch from him could do to me, how easily he could tear me apart. I couldn't let him know my weakness. If he'd learned how simply he could control me, I'd never have been able to refuse him anything. And now that my guilt gives him a new hold over me - one he's well aware of and won't hesitate to use - he doesn't need to know about this as well.

At its simplest, all I ever really wanted from my father was love. After all, isn't that what every child craves from their parents? But nothing was ever that easy where my father was concerned. Repeatedly denied the paternal approval I hungered for, I discovered that I was willing to accept his attentions, whatever form they took. The one-sided expressions of physical intimacy were better than his indifference when I was a child and didn't know any better.

Later, when I was old enough to understand the wrongness of that means of expression between us, I still found myself wanting it; though my father no longer sought it from me. It remained a guilty secret I kept to myself, hiding the truth by steadfastly refusing his touch.

It's different now. As a consequence of my mistakes, my father can no longer see me, except indirectly through his fingertips. How, then, could I deny him those touches? It's a convenient justification. As a result, I can finally let him near me, safe in the knowledge that he will never see, clearly written across my face, the emotions his closeness and his touches inspire.

Guilt upon guilt...

How can I ever make amends for my error of judgement? I held back from helping my father when he was trapped, momentarily seduced by the notion of being free of him and his demands at last. I know that I hesitated, and why... so does he. It only makes it worse that he called my change of heart a weakness, told me that I should have let him die. Nothing I do for him will ever be enough and that knowledge stings, burning like acid inside me. Balanced against that shameful failure, what is one more sin?

My father has to touch me to anchor himself in a world he can no longer see. In turn, I desire his touch like a drug I've too long been denied. Our needs intersect and we both win... for once.

Once again I'm drawn out of my thoughts as my father's hand strokes my cheek. In a purely visceral response, I tremble on the edge of a moan, biting my lip hard to hold the sound in. A careful touch, his fingers brush upward, finding my closed lids and sweeping over them. My lashes flutter against his fingertips and he stills, a thoughtful silence. I hold my breath, suddenly afraid.

My eyes open slowly, watching the expression on my father's face. If I didn't know better I'd say he was looking right at me, piercing through all the lies and half truths that hang in the air between us. His hand tightens on my cheek, thumb lightly tracing the outline of my lips in a startlingly sensual gesture. Unconsciously, my tongue darts out, moistening the skin in the wake of his touch.

All at once, his mouth curves in a self-satisfied smirk. It's not a pleasant expression and I shiver despite my heavy coat. He moves to pat my cheek condescendingly.

Flushed and unsure I reach up, covering his hand with my own as I pull it away from my face before I can reveal myself any more. Needing to cover the desperation behind my withdrawal I grab his arm to steady him as I direct his steps towards the door.

I try to recall the thread of our conversation, anything to dispel the awkward intensity of my feelings.

"Good," I say distractedly, "because this could all be a hoax."

Just like my father's apparent new-found desire to bond with me...

"Hoax or not, I'm not the only one who's suddenly interested in it," he says blandly.

My father's head is turned in my direction again, though the sense I had before that he was actually seeing me is gone. He's still looking smug, though, and I realise that, unwittingly, I've given myself away. He knows... and this is one more piece of information that he won't hesitate to use against me.

Just when I thought our relationship couldn't get more complicated... What did I know?

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