And Having Perhaps the Better Claim

Author: Princess Nat

Disclaimers: Unfortunately, the none of the characters from Smallville or Highlander belong to me. :-(

Lex walked into his darkened study, frowning. The light he'd left on his desk must have blown out. He made a note to mention it to the housekeeper in the morning. A strange feeling, sort of like a buzzing in his ears, was setting his teeth on edge, and he wondered if there'd been some sort of electrical surge. He was almost to his desk when something sharp and cold pressed itself against his throat.

"Lex Luthor," a deep, baritone voice purred.

Lex suppressed a groan. Did his security keep no one out? It seemed that intruders just waltzed into his mansion any time they pleased. Remaining perfectly still, he waited for the intruder to speak again. In his experience, attackers almost always wanted to talk to him first--complain about his father, rail against him for his evil Luthor ways, that sort of thing.

Instead, the intruder chuckled and the blade was removed. The light clicked on and and Lex squinted against the sudden brightness. Leaning against his desk as if he owned it, was a tall man of medium build, dark hair and a smirk faintly reminiscent of the one Lex often saw in the mirror. Hazel eyes glinted mischievously and the stranger cocked an eyebrow.

"Who are you?" Lex finally asked, as the stranger seemed content to simply stare at him.

"Ah, and I was hoping for something a bit more original," the intruder complained. Then he shrugged. "Of course, you're young yet. I'm sure you'll improve with age. Most of us do."

Lex furrowed his brow. This was the strangest intruder he'd had since his exile to Smallville. And what had happened to the blade he'd felt at his throat? It was nowhere in evidence now.

"Tell me," the intruder continued, as if they were having a normal conversation, "when exactly did you die? I have my own theory, of course, but I always like to get confirmation when possible."

This time, Lex gaped at him in astonishment. "What?! Die? What do you mean..." and then he remembered flying over Smallville, the peace he had felt, how free he had been as he soared through the sky.

"It was when your car drove off the bridge, wasn't it? From all accounts, it was a miracle you survived. Although, since then, you seem to have had quite a few brushes with death, haven't you?"

"Who are you?" Lex asked again, this time with an emphasis at the question's middle.

The intruder shrugged. "Does it really matter? I could give you my name, but it won't tell you much. You've never heard of me."

"All right, then what are you doing here?" Lex asked, narrowing his eyes.

"I wanted to meet you. Needed to confirm my suspicions about you. You're at a crossroads, you know. Having been there myself, on more than one occasion, I thought to give you the benefit of my experience. Quite unlike me, really, but you remind me of myself. Besides, if the Boy Scout found out about you, you'd most likely end up dead. Or he would. And that would be a waste."

Lex was growing irritated. The man's calm was grating on his nerves and his answers were no answers at all. He opened his mouth to demand the man leave or speak plainly, he wasn't sure which, but before he could say anything, the stranger had walked up to him and touched his ear.

"Did you know that your ears turn red when you're angry?" the intruder asked, idly stroking one ear with a slender finger.

Lex gasped and then his gaze was caught by fathomless hazel eyes. The mischief was gone, but what had replaced it was terrifying. "Who are you," he whispered.

"A friend... and, possibly, a teacher," the intruder replied.

Lex was about to make a scathing comment about people who claimed to be his "friends" when the stranger held up a deadly looking dagger. Was that what had been pressed against his neck? And just where did it come from? It almost seemed to have appeared from thin air. He swallowed and started to step back.

"Wait. Just watch." The intruder took the dagger and cut deeply across his palm, hissing at the pain as bright red blood surged obediently to the surface.

Lex stared, mesmerized, and wondered if he could make it to the door before the crazy man in front of him decided he would be nice to carve on, too. All that hairless skin just might be too much of a temptation. And then all thoughts of bolting left his head as the stranger calmly wiped the blood away with a handkerchief. There was no wound, no scratch, not even a scar. "What... what are you?"

The intruder chuckled wryly. "I'm just a guy. Same as you. Or, I suppose, I should say you're the same as me."

Bemused blue eyes just stared at the unmarred hand. "May I...?" Lex motioned toward the still held out appendage.


Carefully, reverently, Lex touched the unblemished skin. It felt normal--warm and strong under his fingers. "How is this possible?"

"That, I can't tell you. No one's figured it out. As a friend of mine's kinsman would say: 'It's a kind of magic,'" the intruder quipped. "OK, now its your turn."

Lex blinked at him uncomprehendingly. "My turn to what?"

Cocking an eyebrow, the intruder just looked at him. "I know you're not that dense, Lex. Since you've been to Smallville, how many times have you been injured? And just how quickly have those injuries simply disappeared?"

"But... it was the meteors," Lex protested. "Were you in Smallville when the meteors struck, too?"

"Nope. I was safely ensconced in Paris at the time. Heard about it, though--it made the international news circuit."

Deftly reversing the dagger so that the hilt was now toward Lex, the intruder nodded. "Here, you don't need to cut as deep, just a scratch will do. I was making a point. You simply need to see this for yourself."

Hesitantly, Lex reached for the dagger. He had the weapon now, so he was, theoretically, in the position of strength... A quick glance at the stranger, however, made him question that assessment. Sighing softly, he pressed the knife's edge to his palm, drawing a much shallower cut along his skin. A thin line of red seeped upward and then he felt a faint tingling. Taking the handkerchief being held out to him, he wiped off the blood--nothing. Just as the stranger's hand had healed, so had his. He needed a drink desperately.

"I realize this comes as somewhat of a shock to you, Lex. But really, after all you've seen in this town, is this so much harder to believe?" the intruder asked.

"No... it's not that. It's just... Since the meteor shower, I haven't been sick, not once. But I've been hurt." A hand came up to touch the scar on his lip without conscious thought.

"Ah. Well, that's because you hadn't died yet. You see, after an Immortal experiences first death, that is when the Quickening begins to heal things. Before that, you get hurt, you get sick, well, normally, anyway, and you age just as the mortals do." the intruder explained.

"Immortal? Are you trying to tell me that I'm Immortal?" Lex said, disbelief coloring his tone.

"Not trying. You are Immortal, although the name is something of a misnomer. You can die--it's just very, very difficult. In fact, there's only one way to kill an Immortal."

"And that is?" Lex asked, walking briskly over to the bar next to his desk. From all indications, the strange man, no, Immortal, had no plans to stab him in the back.

"Hey, you wouldn't happen to have any beer, would you?" the intruder asked wistfully.

Reaching into the back of the mini fridge, Lex brought out the one imported micro-brew that had been left after one of the parties held at the mansion. He'd kept it just on the off chance that some business associate might have a taste for something a bit more mundane than fine wine or liquor. He set it on the bar as he poured his own drink, scotch neat. When he turned around to grab it, however, it was already gone. Somehow, he wasn't surprised to discover that the stranger was already consuming it. Shaking his head, he collapsed wearily onto the sofa. "You were saying?"

The intuder took another long pull on the beer and then let out a contented sigh. "Oh, this little tidbit will interest you, I'm sure. The Luthors aren't your biological parents. Can't be. All Immortals are foundlings--our parentage is a mystery."

At that little announcement, Lex dropped his head onto the back of the sofa and closed his eyes. "OK, now I know this is a hallucination. I had my suspicions before, but that seals it," he muttered.

Snorting at that little piece of denial, the intruder sauntered over to sprawl on the sofa next to Lex. "You're not hallucinating, though I can understand why you might think so."

Opening one eye, Lex verified that the stranger was still there and then shut it again with a groan. "Why are you here?" he asked again.

"I already told you. I'm to teach you--provided you can refrain from continuing down the path you've begun to travel. Do you really want to emulate Lionel Luthor? Are power and money really what you want? There's only one thing that's truly important--and that's-"

Lex interrupted him. "Survival," he stated firmly.

"Exactly." The intruder gave him a pleased smile. "I knew you would be a good student. Of course, you're going to have to learn a few things. There are rules, unfortunately, although I prefer to think of them as guidelines. Oh, and it would probably be best if you could learn how to blend a bit more. No sense standing out like a beacon to attract nasty Immortals intent upon devouring your no doubt tasty Quickening."

This time, it was Lex who snorted. "Oh yeah, I blend really well," he said sarcastically, rubbing over his bald head with one slender hand.

"What? You're hardly the only bald man in the world. Mostly, it's how you dress and carry yourself. Plus, getting rid of the 'Luthor' tag will help tremendously," the intruder said.

Frowning, Lex sat up and looked over at the stranger. "What are you suggesting?"

"I'm suggesting you come with me and let Lionel and all his schemes for you simply fade away with time. He can't use and abuse you if you're not around, now can he? Besides, before too long, people are going to start noticing that you're not aging. And, the amount of trouble you seem to find, some ambitious doctor is going to get curious and want to, oh I don't know, perhaps cut you open to see just why it is you don't die?"

"Just like that? You want me to just leave everything and come with you? I don't even know who you are. Why should I trust you?" Lex exclaimed.

"Why shouldn't you? I haven't lied to you yet. Of course, I probably will at some point--everybody lies. It's a fact of life. It's how important the lies are that really matters. For instance, I could tell you that the only way to kill an Immortal is to stake him in the heart. That would be an important lie, as it would get you killed when the first Immortal you attempted to kill that way revived unexpectedly. The truth is that decapitation is the only way we can die. Once you lose your head, it's all over," the intruder said, and then took another swallow of his beer.

Lex's eyes widened and he grimaced. Decapitation didn't sound like much fun... but it did explain the blade to his throat.

"On the other hand, if I told you that Lord Byron kept pet sheep in his room, that would be a harmless lie. He kept goats. But it doesn't matter, does it?"

"And, being Immortal comes with its own risks, but it's not like we get a choice." The intruder shrugged. "There's this stupid thing called the Game, which basically means that nasty Immortals show up from time to time and challenge you. This is a challenge to the death... with swords. There are rules, of course, but the most important one is no fighting on holy ground, any holy ground."

"Wait, what do you mean random Immortals challenge each other to the death? That's crazy," Lex protested.

"No arguments here. It's just the way it goes. Personally, I think it's all a crock of shit, but that's just me. There are more rules, but we can get into them later. Right now, you have a choice to make. Are you going to come with me or not?"

Lex turned away from the all too knowing eyes watching him and stared at the ceiling. The whole thing was insane, but his whole life had been insane--and even more so since he came to Smallville. Did he really have a reason to stay? Of course, the money and power were tempting--very tempting--but were they going to make him happy? There was no guarantee that going with the stranger, who had yet to give him a name, would make him happy, but at least it was something he hadn't yet tried. And if what he had been told was true... he was in as much danger, if not more, than Clark of being captured and dissected by Lionel. He was sure his father would have no qualms about experimenting on his heir if he thought he could find the secret to eternal life. And Clark... well.... from all accounts it seemed that the friendship he had been so sure would be legendary was dead. Clark trusted him not one bit and, truthfully, he probably trusted the teen even less. On more than one occasion, Clark had sold him out to Lionel or chosen Lionel over Lex. That kind of friendship he didn't need. He took a deep breath and sat up, then looked over at the man patiently awaiting an answer. "I'll go with you."

The intruder smiled. "Good. First things first, we'll move your assets into accounts you can access easily from out of the country and under a new name. Then, we'll give you a good death to keep anyone from searching for you. And, finally, we'll head to Tibet."


"Of course. You need to learn how to blend, and you'll fit right in with the Buddhist monks. They're all bald, you know," the intruder said with a wink. "Besides, enlightenment is good for the soul."

'Enlightenment?' Lex echoed silently, but Tibet did sound like the last place he would have to worry about anyone recognizing him. "How long do you think we'll be gone?" he asked.

"Oh, a few decades. But don't worry, we won't spend all of our time at the monastery. There are plenty of interesting places to visit," Methos reassured him.

"And what do I call you, oh mysterious one?" Lex asked.

"Right now, you can call me Adam. Later... we'll see," Adam said, standing up. Lex followed suit.

"And don't worry, if that alien friend of yours becomes a menace, we'll kick him off the planet. It's not as if we haven't done it before," Adam said, smirking.

Stunned speechless, Lex followed him out the door.

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


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