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The Return of Lex Luthor 77/95

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
Art: ctbn60 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 Seventy-Seven

Waking up in Bruce’s arms was almost like coming home. Or waking up from a dream. But as soon as Julia looked into his eyes, seeing his face so impassive, she knew this would be no homecoming. They might have made love all night, but nothing had changed. With a sigh she got up to go shower.

“Where are you going?” he asked gruffly.

“To shower. Where do you think?”

“Alone?”

“No, I was thinking of calling up Lex and inviting him for an orgy.” She rolled her eyes. “Yes, alone.”

“I just meant ...” he began scrambling out of the bed.

“I know what you meant,” she said, slamming the door closed. Then she opened it and glared at him. “Why don’t you leave? It’s what you’re best at, isn’t it?”

Bruce stared at the closed door for a moment. He’d come here because he was worried about her. Whatever she might think, he still loved her. Had never stopped loving her. The fact that they couldn’t really be together because of their ... no, his vocation, was irrelevant.

He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her in the months since they’d split up. She reminded him so much of Rachel. She had Rachel’s quiet strength, her passion for her work. The fact that they had both become lawyers was just coincidence. He’d let Rachel go, and look where that had got him. Part of him just couldn’t let Julia go. And she loved him. She told him, with her words, with the way she looked at him, the way she made love.

Seeing her with Lex in the Watchtower the other night had almost ripped his heart out. The body language between them suggested they were intimate. But last night had proved otherwise, he decided. She had been tight when he’d entered her – a sure sign that she hadn’t had sex in months. If she’d gone back to Lex ...

The thought, too, that someone was gunning for her, terrified him. He’d seen the missed calls on his cellphone at the charity dinner, but at the time, he’d thought it was nothing. The dinner had been too important, and as reluctant as he was to keep up the public persona of Bruce Wayne, he knew he had to maintain some sort of profile.

Commissioner Gordon had remarked on his lack of a date.

“I don’t see your lovely companion with you,” he said. “Julia, wasn’t it?”

“Julia’s gone back to Metropolis.”

“Not to her ex-husband, I hope?”

“No. With her law practice, she felt she was better off in Metropolis. It provides her with a better base to work from.”

“Is it true she’s counsel for the Justice League?”

“It would seem so,” he said with a tired sigh. Much as he liked Jim Gordon, he really didn’t want to discuss Julia with him. He was relieved when one of the waiting staff approached him.

“Mr Wayne, there is a telephone call for you. From Mr Pennyworth. He says it’s extremely urgent.”

“It always is,” Bruce murmured, but glad of the interruption, he got out of his seat and followed the man, taking the phone. “Alfred?”

“Master Wayne, so sorry to be calling you at this time.”

“What is it Alfred?”

“It’s Miss Julia, sir. She’s been trying to reach you. It appears that she was attacked.”

Bruce almost dropped the phone. “What?”

As soon as Bruce learned the details, he made his excuses and left the dinner, calling his pilot and arranging an immediate flight to Metropolis.

As Bruce stood, hesitating, he heard the shower running. And something else. She was crying. Forgetting everything, he opened the door and walked in, getting into the shower with her and holding her as she sobbed in his arms.

They made love once more in the shower, but it didn’t seem to make any difference to her mood. She was angry at him, smacking the utensils down as she made breakfast. He got tired of hearing the slapping and banging and finally took the spoon off her.

“Hey, stop it,” he said. “What’s wrong with you?”

She glared up at him. “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you? There’s a reason why we split, Bruce. And you come here and you act like everything’s just hunky dory. Well it isn’t. You can’t just take up where we left off. It doesn’t work like that.”

“Then how does it work?” he said, lashing out at her the same way she was lashing out at him. “What do you want from me?”

“You know what I want. But you won’t give it to me.”

“Because it puts you in danger,” he said.

“I think I can manage that fairly well on my own.”

It was a weak joke and he didn’t laugh. “Julia, I have my reasons.”

“I know you do, and your reasons suck.”

Bruce stared at her. “They ... suck?”

She pushed him away. “Damn it, Bruce, I can’t keep doing this. I can’t keep having my heart broken like this. It hurts too much, don’t you see that?”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I only came here because I was concerned. I heard what had happened and I ... I never thought you’d have bodyguards.”

“Lex insisted,” she said.

“And of course, you refused him,” he said sarcastically.

“Of course I did.”

“How can you trust him? How can you let him back in your life after everything he’s done?”

Julia looked up at him, blue eyes shining. “How? Do you really want to know, Bruce?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Because he’s not afraid to say that he needs me. Because he’s willing to do whatever it takes to earn my trust.”

“And I don’t?”

“No, Bruce. You say you need me, but I don’t believe you. Because you have never seen love as anything but a weakness. A distraction. And you refuse to deal with your issues.”

“I deal with them just fine,” he hissed.

“Oh right. You go after the man who pulled the trigger on your parents with a gun, planning to shoot him. That’s how you deal with it? By revenge? And let’s not forget what you did to the man you thought was behind it. Or how about Ra’s Al Ghul? How did you deal with him? Oh, that’s right, you left him to die in a runaway train. Yeah, that’s dealing with your issues.”

She whirled away from him and grabbed the juice from the refrigerator. Bruce winced as she practically slammed the jug down.

“And then you dress up as a bat and go after criminals. That’s not justice. That’s a man with a death wish,” she told him.

“At least I don’t go and try to kill myself when I can’t deal with my problems.”

“Don’t turn this around on me. I put that stuff behind me a long time ago.”

“Did you?”

“Damn it, Bruce. Yes. You’re the one who wants to make an issue out of it.”

Bruce relented. She was right. He was nitpicking. The truth was, she had a point in what she was saying. No matter how much he tried to deny it, he blamed his parents’ deaths on the fact that he couldn’t have a personal relationship. Because it was that that had been the catalyst for him becoming Batman. And he’d always known that he could never be Batman if he had a family.

The argument could have escalated, if Lex and Clark hadn’t arrived, along with Lois.

“What are you doing here?” Bruce snapped at Lex.

“I came to see how Julia was doing,” he said. “But it’s fairly obvious how she’s doing.”

He went to Julia, who was visibly upset and began speaking soothingly to her, shooting vicious glares Bruce’s way.

“You okay, sweetie?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“I’m guessing you saw some of that. Or heard it.”

Lex rubbed her arms and kissed her forehead. “You don’t have to apologise for saying how you feel. He had no right to come here and try and start things.”

“The thing is, I wanted it, just as much as he did. It’s just, it’s not enough Lex. I want more than he’s prepared to give.”

“I know, I know,” he said, pulling her closer and pressing his lips to her hair. He knew exactly how she felt. It was how he felt every time he looked at her.

He wanted her to be happy. But Bruce was making her miserable. And he had no idea how to fix this.

Hoping to distract her, he helped her make pancakes for breakfast. He’d started learning to cook himself, since he was by himself in the penthouse. And Julia had helped him with that.

Lois and Clark, meanwhile, were talking quietly to Bruce, trying to calm him down. Lex just continued working in the kitchen, leaving it up to them to handle. Given that the two men were both in love with the same woman, he figured it was better being sorted out by the couple.

They all sat down to breakfast a short while later. Julia still looked pale, but she focused on the problem at hand.

“Did you get anything out of Tess last night?”

Lex shook his head. “My doctors are working on it, but Tess is in a catatonic state.”

Julia looked thoughtful. “Hmm. My impression was she’d been programmed.”

“Like brainwashing?” Lois asked.

“Something like that. I’ve seen it before. They often use a trigger. A word or a signal to make them carry out their orders.”

It was Clark’s turn to look thoughtful. “Do you remember Kyle Tippett, Lex? Or Bob Rickman?”

“Who?” Lois turned to her husband.

“Bob Rickman. He owned ...” Lex said.

“Rickman Industries,” Julia finished. “I was researching them for one of my law papers. Didn’t the company go bankrupt after Rickman ...”

“Killed himself,” Lex told her. “Kyle and Bob were friends before the meteor shower. The first one. They were salesmen.”

“According to Kyle, not very good ones.”

“After the meteor shower, they could sell anyone anything. Only Rickman got greedy. And Kyle ...”

“Got scared. He went into hiding. In the woods in Smallville.”

“Are you saying they both had a meteor power?” Lois asked.

“Call it the power of persuasion. Kyle said it was more like giving someone a suggestion, putting them under a sort of spell until they carry out the task they’re meant to do.”

Lex looked at Clark. “Is that what you think has happened to Tess?”

“Tess didn’t complete the task. Kyle said the person could be snapped out of it.”

“So what if they’re not?” Bruce asked finally.

“You know, the Chinese created a technique of brainwashing in the Korean War,” Lex began.

“This is hardly time for a history lesson,” Bruce complained.

“Let him finish,” Lois snapped, earning a small smile from Lex.

“American prisoners of war were placed under conditions of physical and social deprivation. Then they would be offered comfort like better sleeping quarters, better food, warmer clothes or blankets, in return for anti-American statements. But the end result wasn’t always successful and the brainwashing was unstable.”

“Okay, so here’s a thought,” Julia said. “What if Godfrey, or whoever’s backing him, is using someone like Kyle Tippett to control people like Tess. Turning them into foot soldiers.”

“Makes sense,” Lex said, with a look at Bruce, daring him to contradict it. But Bruce had his own idea about that.

“It actually sounds logical. They revive Tess, program her, and use her as their inside informant on all matters Justice League.”

“Yes, but Tess isn’t in the League,” Lex pointed out.

“No, but she knew almost everything about Clark before then,” Lois told him.

“So they’re gathering information,” Julia said.

“I think you should warn the others. Those whose identities Tess knew about anyway.”

“There’s only Oliver,” Clark said. “She found out about that after Checkmate.”

Their discussion was interrupted by Hope.

“You guys need to see this,” she said, directing them to the television. Since Mercy and Hope had not been needed while the rest were with Julia, they had been watching the local news channel.

“I have evidence that the Justice League are nothing more than terrorists,” Godfrey was saying. “Five years ago they blew up a Luthorcorp facility. It was covered up as a gas leak, but I know the truth. I have spoken with an employee who was there and witnessed the entire thing.”

Lex and Clark looked at each other. Lois’ mouth dropped open. Clark and Oliver had told her a long time ago about the raid on the Luthorcorp Ridge facility. It was where Lex had held Bart prisoner, trying to uncover the secret to his power, and who he was working for.

“Oh crap!” she said.

Clark’s cellphone rang and he looked at it. He answered it.

“Oliver? Yeah, I’m watching it now. We’re over at Julia’s.”

As they watched, Godfrey began to talk about some of the other facilities Oliver’s team had been responsible for shutting down. He told his audience how Luthorcorp had been doing nothing but trying to keep the world safe from mutants.

“These people should be locked up,” Godfrey told them. “They are a danger to everything that is right and decent about American society.”

Lex immediately got on the phone, talking rapidly.

“No, you listen to me. What the fuck do I pay you for? You get that slime off the air, now. Do whatever you have to do, but pull the plug on this bastard.”

Julia shook her head as Lex hung up. “Lex, it’s already too late. The damage is done.”

“It can’t be,” he said.

***

Lois and Clark reported to the Daily Planet and immediately began writing up what they knew. But as soon as Perry saw the story he looked as if he was going to have an apoplectic fit.

“What the hell is this? You two are supposed to be my best reporters yet you present me with this fairy tale?”

“It’s not a fairy tale, Perry. Godfrey is waging a war against the Justice League.”

“Listen, kids, I know you two are sympathetic to the League but you need evidence to be able to print this. And tell me the truth, is there not one grain of truth in what Godfrey has been saying?”

“That’s not how it happened Chief,” Clark protested. “Superman told us. Luthor was experimenting on people affected by the meteors. Without their consent.”

“And that justifies the League how? Their actions were just as illegal.”

Clark gulped. He had thought that at the time as well, but Oliver had justified it to him. The biggest problem they were facing was that everything that Godfrey said had happened, exactly as he’d said. They had blown up the facility. And Godfrey hadn’t said anyone had been hurt or killed. He was just using the truth to manipulate the facts.

“Is it true that the former Mrs Luthor was attacked by the Planet’s former publisher or did you two make that up as well?”

“No. Tess Mercer did attack her. Superman was there. As was Luthor.”

“Oh, I see, so Luthor and Superman are now bosom buddies are they?”

“Not exactly,” Clark said, looking down.

Perry sighed, relenting. “Look, kids, I sympathise. I really do. You think this Godfrey character is slime and let’s face it, he ain’t exactly cover boy material. But that doesn’t make him a bad guy. I’m sorry, kids, but I can’t print this. Not without hard facts. And you don’t have any. We’ll print the attack on Ms Luthor, sorry, Ms Walker, but that’s it. Now I want you two on the reaction to Godfrey’s speech this morning.”

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
ctbn60
Sep. 10th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
Nice chapter honey! Hm, I'm concerned about perrys reaction to their story, while what he said was basically true if they don't find a way to attack Godfrey things are going to get bad pretty quickly.

I'm all for a lex julia get together in the end. Bruce is a poopie head!
phoenixnz
Sep. 11th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC)
Bruce is a poopie head!
OMG I love that! You're right, he is a poopie head.
I still haven't decided where this will end up, but there is a twist coming up, and it's a doozy. I just hope I've made it believable!
Perry's reaction is honest, I think. They don't have the hard evidence, but they're working on it. And Lex plays a key role in that.
ctbn60
Sep. 11th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
That icon comes from the penultimate Clex scene in my mind. (g)

eternal_moonie
Sep. 11th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
Very nice chapter!
phoenixnz
Sep. 11th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
It's only going to get tougher from here on in.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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