ooc: after Darla arranged for revenge on Lex Luthor because of Kara's suicide attempt, Lex became increasingly apathetic and lost bit for bit of his self under the spell, until
Harry noticed and colled Connor for help
All the way to Metropolis, Connor spent half of the time hoping he was wrong and half of the time hoping he wasn't. If he was wrong, it meant he wouldn't have to think further about just what his suspicion implied, but it also would mean that he had no idea what to do about the Lex Luthor situation, and would have to start from scratch. He thought about Kara taking pills and ending up in a hospital, and who was responsible for that; and then he thought about who was really
responsible, and who had spent a good deal of the last months dreaming about killing her, instead of getting his soul sucked out by a doll. What you did to me was unspeakable. Now the question is, what do you deserve?
By the time he arrived at the Luthor penthouse, he was back to hoping he was wrong. The penthouse itself struck him as an emotional freezer, not as off-putting as the Osborn penthouse had been the first time he had visited New York, just very cold with all the shades of blue. Lex' younger half-brother was arguing with a doctor about something and Harry was this side of frantic when he took Connor to see Lex. Who was indeed wearing fuzzy slippers and doodling flowers on paper. And humming "Mary had a little lamb
". Lex ignored both of them, being happily lost into the song.Well, well, well
, said the inner voice which always sounded like Angelus, because anything else would have been unbearable. You've got to admit it's elegant. And funny. You've got to admit it's funny. Come on, son. Lex Luthor as a little girl because he was the jackass that broke
our little girl.
He tried to focus on Lex helping to track down the dealers in Gotham. On the fact Lex wasn't, ultimately, the one to blame for Kara's miseries. On the knowledge of what it felt to be locked up, and that nobody, nobody deserved being locked away in their own body, a lesson Connor had learned too late.
Still, it could be something else, something else entirely. Could.
During the flight, he had gone through everything he remembered
about the doll maker and her dead daughter. Which wasn't much that could prove anything, but he had to try. The girl had drowned, he remembered that much, broken into the ice.
"Sarah," Connor said sharply to Lex, "Sarah, the ice is right ahead of you!"
At that, Lex stopped humming, and looked up, blind panic in his eyes. "No," he screamed, and his voice didn't sound anything like the self-assured young man Connor had met before. "No, not the ice!"
So much for reasonable doubt. Harry's entire face was a question. "It's a spell," Connor said, without going into details. "I have to find something. If I'm right, he'll snap out of it suddenly, so stay with him and keep an eye on him all the time."
As opposed to Kara, Lex Luthor didn't have a doll collection; any doll located anywhere in the open would stand out as alien and would have been discovered by the servants a long time ago. On the other hand, it had to be at a place someone who had only a short time available would have access to. Connor went from room to room, trying to figure out where he would hide it, and getting a lot of irritated and suspicious looks from Lucas, the doctor and the remaining staff while he turned over books and investigated artificial plants and their pots, until he finally came to a stand still and listened. Something was off, ever so slightly off, and you heard it only if you paid attention and drowned out all the other noises, including questions like "what the hell do you think you're doing?"
The air conditioning. As with virtually every house in America, the Luthor penthouse had air conditioning in every room. But it did not sound the same everywhere. In one of the rooms, the master bathroom, in fact, it sounded as if there was an obstacle blocking part of the air.
Half an hour later, he held it in his hand; not nearly as well-crafted as the last one, but unmistakable. This one had to be an early attempt, or an unfinished work, but it was definitely crafted by the late Paula Shea, and the look in the barely painted eyes wasn't a doll's look. Connor left the penthouse as fast as he could, before anyone could ask any more questions, and spent the next hour looking for weights and water. Metropolis wasn't a harbour town the way Boston had been, but it did have several decorative lakes in the town parks. Drowning a doll the second time felt no less bizarre than the first.
Afterwards, he didn't go back to the Luthor penthouse to check whether or not it had been of any use. Instead, he used his cell phone to call Darla on hers. Not the Hyperion; he didn't want to risk talking to Kara. But he had to be sure.
"Did you ask your friend Nofret to use a soul-sucking doll on Lex Luthor?" he asked when he heard his mother's voice, without greeting.
"Yes, I can use my arm again, Connor," Darla said wryly. "Thank you for asking. Your father is well, too. And Cordelia has that special secret-affair-with-great-sex-glow."
He refused to be distracted. He wasn't 18 any more. Besides, Harry already had left those tabloids featuring Cordelia and Lindsey MacDonald rather pointedly on the bed.
She sighed. "I'd ask you to be sensible and leave it where it was," she replied, "but I'm sure you already returned our Mr. Luthor to his senses before
calling me. Tell me at least you're not anywhere near where he can hear you."
Despite half a day of increasingly firm suspicions, hearing them confirmed in such a flippant and unrepentant manner felt like a punch in the gut. Before he could stop himself, he said:
"How could you?"
Immediately, he felt stupid for asking, so he did what he always did when either of his parents made him feel this way. He lashed out. "He was an absolute jerk towards Kara, I know that. But this -"
"Nobody fucks with my children," Darla said icily. "Unless, of course, my children fuck them back. You didn't see her in the hospital."
"No, because you made it very clear you didn't want me there. And leave Harry out of it. This has nothing - "
"Oh, but it has," she said in her deceptively soft voice. "And you know it has. But he is
family now. Lex Luthor, on the other hand, is nothing but a menace. Again, thanks to your efforts. Tell me, Connor, is there any good reason why he shouldn't
have spent the rest of his life making a lot of nurses and doctors rich and happy?"
Arguing abouut the individual's right to life without being lobotomized with her seemed incredibly pointless. Telling her Lex Luthor in that condition would have broken Harry's heart might have been something she understood, but she would have used it against him in that way she had, and besides, it would have negated that Lex had a right to his own mind whether Harry cared for him or not. Connor took a deep breath. Then he asked:
"Did Angel know?"
For the first time, his mother sounded hesitant.
"Yes," she said. "But I very much doubt he gave it another thought after I told him. He's focused on being there for Kara and making things better for her, not on..."
"Helping the helpless?" Connor finished. It had taken him until now to identify the bitter taste in his mouth. Darla, well, finding out what Darla had done had been a shock, but she had never claimed to be anything but a former mass murderer, or to care for anyone but a very limited circle of people. But Angel had been the one to tell him about being a champion. Daddy has not finished talking.
He had hated Angel then, hated and resented him, but he had believed him. Had believed what Angel had said about responsibilities, about the harshness of the world meaning that anyone with the power to affect and change needed to protect those who couldn't. It hadn't been that different from what his other father had taught, in this regard at last.
"Angel let you put a spell on someone, a spell that was meant take a man's soul away and lock him up inside a doll for the rest of his life. And because that someone had dumped his daughter, he didn't care," Connor said tonelessly. Unspeakable. What you did was -
He had always known Angelus was his idea of the worst of beings. He hadn't known how much he had come to see Angel as a hero until just now.
"Connor," his mother said, and for the first time since Justine, she sounded pleading, "it was my decision. Your father -"
"Didn't stop you. Or did anything about it. All those weeks. While Lex Luthor rotted from inside out."
"Neither did Cordelia," Darla said, irritation supplanting the pleading. "And I gave her at least a strong hint about my intention. She seemed to approve wholeheartedly. Connor, Lex really hurt Kara. If he were a demon or a vampire, you'd have killed him yourself. I don't believe in humanity as some kind of immunity from punishment."
And he had thought the feeling of shock and disappointment couldn't grow stronger. Cordelia? Angel and Cordelia both?
"No. You don't believe in humanity at all," Connor said, and hung up.
Afterwards, he slowly walked towards the Luthor residence. Other than wanting to know that the guy was, indeed, recovered and himself, he didn't want to see Lex Luthor again. Ever, if possible, which it probably wasn't because of Harry. And for one of the few times in his life, he didn't want to see Harry, either. They didn't lie to each other, but now he probably would have to. If he told Harry the truth about the doll, Harry would either insist on going to California to confront Darla, or at the very least would tell Lex. Which meant Lex Luthor with a cause for vengeance set on his parents. No. Just no. He was furious with both of them right now, and he didn't want to see them, either, but there was no way he'd let them be threatened by someone who had the power and the money to do serious harm in retaliation of what they had done to him.
Then there was Cordelia. Cordy, who knew, none better, what it felt like to be possessed, to have one's soul draining away. How could she stand by and... That's why there is us. Champions. You're not a part of that yet. Some day, I hope you will be. I love you, Connor. Now get out of my sight.
"Young man," said a voice, and Connor, looking up, noticed that there was a cop coming his way, "that hydrant is public property."
Somewhat bent public property right now. He hadn't even noticed striking and kicking at it. There were some scrapes on his knuckles, but they were already healing. Better to get away. He had a bad record with cops in this state.
Connor ran, and wished, right now, there was a way never to arrive anywhere at all.