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The Return of Lex Luthor 37/?


Author: Phoenixnz
Title: The Return of Lex Luthor
Genre: Drama

Characters: Clark, Lois, Lex, OC, Perry White, Justice League
Pairings: Clois, Lex/OC
Rating: Mostly PG but some chapters R
Disclaimer: The characters of Smallville and the DC comic universe belong to the producers, writers etc. The original character is mine but is not, I repeat, not a real person, although they are drawn from real life for the sake of realism. Any resemblance to anyone, living or dead, is coincidence.

Summary: Lex Luthor returns with a few surprises. And he seems to be a changed man. Can Clark trust him? Should he?


It all started here

Go back a step


 

 

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Lex was pissed as he left the elevator car and opened the door to the penthouse. Hope was in the living room when he entered.

“Where’s Julia?” he asked tersely.

“In bed. Having a nap, I think.”

“Good. Because I would rather she not be around for this.”

Hope’s expression suggested she knew what was coming.

“You let Tess Mercer get to her.”

“I didn’t have a choice. She was armed. Mrs Luthor ...”

“Julia doesn’t have the sense to know a bad situation when she sees one,” Lex said, raising his voice slightly. “You should have taken her out.”

Hope raised an eyebrow. “Taken her out? Killed Tess Mercer in front of your wife?”

“Your job is to protect my wife from harm. Not let someone like Tess Mercer get close to her.”

“I followed orders. And nothing happened. She was perfectly safe. Ms Mercer didn’t do anything to her.”

Lex glared at Hope, getting into her personal space. “I don’t think you’re understanding me,” he hissed.

But she clearly did understand. She stood resolute and silent, refusing to be intimidated by him. Her expression showing she understood his exact meaning. The last thing Lex needed was someone like Tess telling Julia the truth. Especially about what went on in Smallville. And given that she was one of the many subjects he’d had tested over the past few months, she had quite a bit of inside information. God only knew what Julia would think.

“You’re fired!” he told Hope.

“No, she isn’t.”

Julia stood in the doorway. Lex wondered how long she had been there and what she had heard.

“I heard shouting,” she said, limping into the room.

“Julia, you’re ...”

“My back was hurting so I was laying down. But I heard you yelling at Hope and I came to see what was going on. And you can’t fire her, Lex. She only did what I told her to do.”

“Sweetheart, I heard you were accosted.”

“That’s one way of putting it.” She sighed. “Lex, I don’t want to hear it, okay. I felt sorry for the poor woman. She was obviously disturbed, and desperate. She was spinning me some cock and bull story and I just listened to humour her. But she said she didn’t have any intentions of hurting me and I believed her. So just drop it. And don’t take it out on Hope because she did what I asked, which was to back off.”

“I was just worried that you might ...”

“As you can see, Lex, I’m fine. And no,” she said, obviously anticipating his next question. “I don’t know what happened to Tess. I gave her some money and she took off.”

“You gave her money?”

“A couple of hundred.” She shrugged. “Come on, Lex, it’s not like we can’t afford it. And the poor woman looked like she needed a decent meal.”

Lex sighed and shook his head. “Your compassion is going to get you into trouble one day.”

She snickered. “Already got that the day I married you.” But she said it with a grin and he knew she was joking.

“Very funny,” he said.

Julia nodded at Hope. “Go on home,” she said. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“I’m not done,” Lex said.

“Yes you are,” Julia told him firmly. Hope nodded in return and grabbed her jacket, going out.

Julia turned and went back to the bedroom. Lex followed. She picked up the medicated cream from the side table and handed it to him. It was supposed to help with the healing of the bruise on her back. She didn’t like using it unless it was especially painful. Lex told her to lie on her stomach and he gently applied the cream.

“I guess I was over-reacting again,” he said.

“You really want me to answer that?” she said, her head on the side on the pillow.

“You’re right. It’s just ...”

“I know,” she said.

Julia closed her eyes, not wanting him to see her reaction, hoping that he would take the tiny frisson of fear as just a reaction to the coolness of the cream. But she had heard everything. Hope had told him she was asleep, but she had been listening for when he got home, knowing he would not be happy about what had happened. She had heard him tell Hope to ‘take Tess out’ and while it was Hope who had suggested killing, Julia was not so naive to think taking the woman out meant anything less.

And she knew that if Lex really knew what Tess had told her, there was no telling what he would do to her.

She was pleased that she had managed to act normally around him, even making a feeble joke at his expense. But a huge part of her was worried, and she wasn’t sure she could keep up the act for very long. That same part of her didn’t want to be alone with him, but as she’d said to Hope, everything had to appear as normal, as if Tess had just spouted nonsense. Hope had heard everything Tess had said to her. Well, not heard, exactly, since she could lip-read. And Hope had suggested sticking around, but Julia had insisted she go home as soon as she was off-duty, which was when Lex got home. Hope had promised her that she would be there within minutes if things got hairy.

Julia managed to keep it up all night. Lex slept soundly beside her but she didn’t sleep very much at all, despite the sleeping pills he made her take. She was beginning to realise that she didn’t know her husband at all. And that frightened her.

Lex noticed she hadn’t slept much, but didn’t comment on the dark circles under her eyes, just told her to get some rest as he left for work. He didin’t kiss her goodbye, which made her think he was still angry about what had happened the day before.

Hope arrived shortly after Lex had left. Julia was sitting on the sofa with a pad in her hand, writing busily. Hope sat next to her.

“You look like shit,” she said.

Julia snickered. “I’ve always liked your forthrightness, Hope.”

“Well, you do. Did you get any sleep?”

“Not much.”

Hope was peering over her shoulder at the pad.

“What’re you doing?”

“Making a grocery list,” Julia told her with a quick glance up toward the security camera. Hope nodded imperceptibly, then looked properly at the note.

We’re going to Smallville. I want to find that key.

Hope raised her eyebrows, questioning. Are you sure?

“Anyway, I want to get out of the house,” Julia said. “Let’s go for a drive.”

Hope looked doubtful. “Well, okay, but I’m driving.”

“Not going to argue with that,” Julia told her.

“You need anything? Before we go?”

“Yeah, I should grab some stuff from the bedroom.” Julia got up and went to the bedroom to grab a jacket. It was fine outside but fairly cool. Hope grabbed the notebook and ripped the paper off, folding it as if it was just a grocery list and putting it in her pocket.

Julia came back out, grabbing her key, and they headed out the door. They took the elevator down to the building garage.

“Which car?” Hope asked.

“Take yours,” Julia said. The unspoken message was pretty clear. Hope’s car would not have any transmitters in it, so they could talk without fear of being overheard.

Hope felt a twinge of sympathy for the other woman, who was only a couple of years older than her. Julia was already thinking like Lex in that she was wary of surveillance equipment. She had already begun to pay the price for falling for a man like Luthor.

She drove out of the garage, aware of the sudden silence. Julia was clearly hurting by what she had already learned, but she’d spent all night, obviously, trying to make sense of what she’d been told. The trip to Smallville wasn’t a sudden thing.

Hope stopped at the local gas station to fill up, then went in to pay. She could have paid by card at the pump, but she wanted to make a phone call out of earshot. She didn’t think Julia was ready for knowing who she was really working for.

“It’s me. We’re going to Smallville.”

“Why?”

“Tess Mercer apparently planted a key in the mansion. To a safety deposit box. She’s determined to find it.”

“Let her. But stay with her.”

“I don’t think ...”

“Hope, you knew the plan. She has to find these things out for herself.”

“She’s already been hurt enough. She didn’t sleep a wink all night.”

“I know. That’s why I’m asking you to stay with her.”

“What’s in that box?”

“Tess isn’t saying. She doesn’t completely trust me, yet.”

Hope knew that Bruce had left for Gotham last night, taking Tess with him. She’d learned what had happened after Tess had run from the park. She knew the woman was safe.

“What do I do if Julia finds the key and gets the box?”

“I trust your judgment, Hope. Just protect her at all costs.”

Hope had a lot of faith in Bruce. He had found her on the streets three years ago. A drug addict, she had spent a lot of her time sleeping with men for drug money. By the time Bruce had found her, in his guise as Batman, she had been so strung out she would have died. He had taken her in, got her straightened out, and taught her everything he knew about martial arts.

She knew Bruce had two different images. The private one and the public one. But the playboy image was just a facade. Despite his gruff, almost cold manner, Bruce cared deeply and wanted to do everything he could to help those who he saw had potential. Those like herself. But he did it without fanfare. It was almost as if he was trying to hold on to his own humanity by helping others rediscover theirs. It was something his father had tried to do and now Bruce was trying to emulate him.

She could understand why he had taken such a liking to Julia. She was just as lost as Hope had once been. Bruce might lie and say this was all about him stopping Lex, but Hope knew differently.

Hope imagined she loved Bruce, just a little. But she knew that love would never be returned. Not in the way she wanted. Yes, Bruce had lovers. And once, she had offered herself to him. But he had gently rejected her, saying he didn’t want to confuse things. He could never give her the kind of love she deserved, he said, because the kind of life he led didn’t leave room for love.

When Lex had returned to Metropolis, with wife in tow, Bruce had initially been sceptical of Julia. But when he’d realised she knew nothing about Lex’s activities, he’d engineered so that when Lex was looking for a bodyguard, he’d made sure that Hope was given the job. It helped that he’d given her a whole new identity. The only thing that was the same was her first name.

As Hope returned to the car, she glanced at Julia. She just hoped that Julia was strong enough to handle the storm that was coming her way.

***

Lex was on the phone, yelling, as usual, at his security team.

“Just tell me how the fuck a woman like Tess can get away? Do I have complete incompetents working for me?”

“No sir. She was just ...”

“I don’t want to hear excuses. I want to hear that she’s been found. And why the hell wasn’t a transmitter planted on her?”

“We didn’t think it was necessary, sir. She seemed secure.”

“Seemed secure?” Lex spat. “Well, you were obviously erroneous in that assessment, weren’t you. Now tell me you have managed to track her.”

“We lost sight of her right after Superman grabbed her.”

“Fuck! Fucking boy scout!”

Lex realised the receiver he was clutching was just about cracking. Clark was going to pay for this, he told himself. He would make sure of it.

He hung up, after ordering his men to pull out all the stops to track Tess, only to get another phone call.

“Sir, there’s a problem. The tracking device you ordered for your wife ...”

“What about it?”

“Well, sir, it looks like she’s headed for the mansion in Smallville.”

“What? Stop her.”

God knew what she would find there. Even he was still looking for some of the secret files Tess kept on Luthorcorp’s activities.

“We can’t, sir.”

“Why the fuck not?”

“If we did, it would make her suspicious. Your orders were to watch her. We didn’t think ...”

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! He knew he was swearing too much, but he was pissed. He was going to have some heads for this!

Lex slammed the phone down and sat back in his chair, his hands together, fingers forming a steeple. Her visit to Smallville could be completely innocent, he thought. Maybe she had asked Hope to go for a drive with her just to get out of the penthouse. He knew she was going stir crazy. Maybe she thought a drive out in the country would help. But it was over two hours’ drive away.

Looking thoughtfully at the phone, Lex picked it up and dialled. It was answered after a few short rings.

“Lex?”

“Where are you?” As if he didn’t know. “I thought about playing hooky and we could spend the rest of the day together.”

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry, I guess I got cabin fever and asked Hope to take me for a drive.”

“Where? Maybe I could join you.”

“Actually, we’re on our way to Smallville. You know how I like the fresh country air. And I did like the town when we spent that week here.”

Hmm, she was actually telling the truth. Which begged the question. Why was she being so honest? Or maybe she was just twisting the truth somehow.

“It’s an awfully long drive, sweetheart. You sure you’re up to it?”

“I’m fine. And I can take a nap in the car if I need to. There’s something about a long drive that puts me right out.”

“You know you can stop at the mansion if you want a rest. I think the housekeeper’s still there.”

“I know, hon. We probably will. You know, we really should think about what to do with that place.”

“We can talk about that later. You sure you don’t want me to join you?”

“You’ve got work hon. I know you said you had a couple of important meetings today.”

Damn, he’d forgotten about those. “You’re right. Thanks for reminding me. Oh well, it was just a thought.”

“Maybe we can do something this weekend,” she suggested.

“Great idea.”

Lex hung up. He knew she was going to Smallville for some other reason, other than that she loved the town and needed to look at something other than the walls of the penthouse. And he was sure it had everything to do with Tess Mercer.




Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
ctbn60
May. 22nd, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
:( Poor Julia. I'm glad hope is working for Bruce. I can't believe Lex has his wife Lojacked Oh wait I can. Bad lex. More soon please I really look forward to this post!!
phoenixnz
May. 22nd, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
Lex is becoming more hateful, and more insane by the minute. Hope is rightly fearful for Julia.
jlvsclrk
May. 22nd, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
Love seeing Hope's back story - yay to Bruce for helping her, and double yay for her loyalty to Julia. Speaking of whom, have to really admire her handling of the situation - very smart to tell as much of the truth as possible to Lex.

Argh, I'm all caught up and have to wait for the next chapter. PPMS!
phoenixnz
May. 22nd, 2010 10:17 am (UTC)
Julia's taken a leaf out of Lex's book in a way, twisting the truth just enough to be believable. But for her it's nothing to do with evil and everything to do with survival.
I'll give you a hint at what's coming up in the next chapter. The truth is out there.
eternal_moonie
May. 22nd, 2010 11:07 am (UTC)
totally awesome!!!!
phoenixnz
May. 22nd, 2010 11:37 am (UTC)
Glad you like Jan. This is the turning point for the story.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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