Regret and False Pretense pt02

CHAPTER 2

Lex looked around their new location. The Manhattan penthouse looked out over Central Park west and was two floors of towering glass, with a rooftop garden, pool and hot tub. Multiple bedrooms an office, and small in house gym made it one of Lex’s more accommodating dwellings. There was no balcony here though there were floor to ceiling glass windows in some rooms.

Clark having still been sedated had gone through the transport with the least amount of difficulty. His bedroom in this penthouse was almost a mirror duplicate of the one in Metropolis.

“Sir, he is awake,” Mercy said entering the living room.

“And?” Lex asked looking down at the city refusing to be afraid.

“He’s asking for you. He’s disoriented; he wants to make sure you’re alright.”

“Me?”

“Yes sir.”
“Did he know who you were?”

“Yes sir. His exact words were; Mercy is Lex ok? Can I talk to him?”

Lex frowned but made his way into the other room and watched as Clark caught sight of him and visibly relaxed.

“Lex!” Clark exclaimed with grin attempting to sit up and crying out when he jarred his broken arm. Lex approached the bed quickly.

“I’m fine Clark. You on the other hand…”

“Yeah not one of my better plans,” Clark said with a soft grin.

“Why did you do that?” Lex asked.

“What do you mean? I couldn’t let you get hit by a car. I just should have moved faster.”

“What did you do Clark?” Lex asked sitting and looking Clark directly into his green and sometimes blue eyes.

“I pushed you? You think I should have done something that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg? Really?”

“Both legs actually.”

“Well I guess best friends are more expensive.”
“Best friends?” Lex asked coldness seeping back into his voice after falling into easy banter with Clark.

“Okay, we’ve been distant, but it’s not like we hate each other. We’ve just been busy, you with LexCorp and me with Lois. God I still can’t figure that one out. Lois? Of all the people in the world. Why not Chloe?”

“Ms. Sullivlan is currently in Paris correct?”

“Yeah covering that mob scandal, she works for herself, papers fall over themselves to buy her articles. I couldn’t remember that before.”

“Before?” Lex asked his interest perked.

“Yeah, when I was sitting with Lois, I knew she was my partner, had been for the last two years. But I couldn’t figure out why Chloe wasn’t it was weird. Like I can see the big picture but details are missing.”

“What’s missing about me?” Lex asked.

“You…we…oh my god.”

“So you remember now?” Lex asked coldly stepping away from the bed.

“I’m sorry; I don’t care how busy I was. I can’t believe the last time we talked was over a year ago and it was about work. I could have picked up a phone. Lex I…I don’t know what to say.”

Lex remained turned away from Clark and the bed. The last thing Clark remembered was their last encounter as Lex Luthor and Clark Kent. It had actually been relatively civil, Clark being the only reporter present as Ms. Lane had had a pressing engagement. They had been almost like strangers, and Lex can remember Clark looking at him very strangely but politely completing the interview and moving on to write a completely unbiased piece. Though, even Clark would have been hard pressed to find and ulterior motive to Lex donating a million dollars to fund public school children’s exposure to the arts and music.

Turning back to the bed he had a smile on his face. “It’s alright Clark we both dropped the ball on this one. I could have done the same. And remember I was out of the country for quite a few months.”

“Oh, I don’t remember that. Is this part of the accident?” Clark asked and Lex shook his head.

“You have a slight concussion but nothing major. Besides didn’t you just say you were confused before this happened?”

“Yeah, you’re right. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Clark you just had a very traumatic experience. It’s to be expected that you are confused. Are you hungry? Thirsty?”

“A little but,” Clark blushed.

“Ah, I have a nurse to help with those needs. She will be here within the hour. Would you like my help this once?”

“I think I can wait,” Clark said blushing more.

“Alright Clark, I will go get something for you to eat. Do you want some more pain medication?”

“Actually, yeah my arm is throbbing,” Clark admitted and grimaced. Lex lifted the pills from the bedside table and after a moments consideration decided against the sedative. He had some theories but he would have to wait and talk more to Clark to see what was going on in that strange head. He would also have to get a nurse to take care of Clark’s basic needs.

Stepping out into the hall Mercy handed him a list.

“Who can we expect to keep quiet with the minimum amount of fuss?”

“Carla Henry,” she doesn’t care for bribes, she just gets the job done and is discreet. She just charges enough that only the best can afford her.”

“How long?”

“She is actually in 3F so as long as it takes her to come up here.”

“Good,” Lex said sweeping into the kitchen and opening cabinets. Mercy watched with increased fascination until she finally had to ask when he took out a bottle of red wine and a bottle of ketchup.

“Sir what are you doing?”

“Making Clark Beef Bourguignon its one of his favorites,” Lex replied absently.

“And you know this how?” Mercy asked.

“He was my closest friend for five years. I know what you like to eat as well,” Lex said smoothly.

“Five years?” Mercy gaped as Lex ignored her and continued to work.

“Carla, Mercy.”

“Yes sir,” she said snapping out of her shock and pulling out her phone as Lex began to cook. That was a surprise in itself. She was glad when Carla did not have any cases it would make things less complicated.

Five minutes later Mercy escorted Carla into the kitchen as Lex chopped carrots. He wiped his hands on a dishrag and extended them to the shorter woman. She was at maximum 5′ 5″ and she was in a pair of heels.

She was dressed in a no nonsense navy suit that accented her chest and hid the fact that she was slightly over weight for her height. She took her hand and could feel the strength in the shake even as he caught sight of the natural nails that were longer then he would have thought healthy for someone working in the health care profession. The power was in her arms. He could see that the blazer was stretched tight across her arms. Her hair was in an elaborate updo, with the front in curls framing her face. Burgundy lipstick was the perfect accent to the sparse burgundy highlights in her hair.

“Didn’t Mercy explain? I want you to start now.”

“That’s nice,” she said eyeing Lex and looking at counter. “I am no one’s dog Mr. Luthor. I will begin the case in two hours. It is my daughter’s wedding anniversary and I have a dinner to go to.”

“Your daughter?” Lex asked trying to gauge her age again.

“Sweetie you could be my son. However old you think I am, add 20 years.”

“55?” Lex said automatically.

“54 actually,” Lex stared looking for wrinkles and saw a few smile lines, though there was not a single gray hair or she had a fabulous dye job.

“I need you to start now, first of all Clark needs to relieve himself.”

“You are telling me you don’t have a bowl you could sacrifice? I am not getting urine on my suit. Help him go. I will start in the morning. If not I will send you the bill for my consulting fee.”

“Consulting? You didn’t even see him.”

Carla simply smiled and waved. “I will be here at seven,” She said and left.

“That is what you call the best?” Lex snarled once Carla was out of earshot.

“She comes highly recommended, sir.”

Hope entered the penthouse then. “The building and parking levels are secure sir. I also had some cars sent here via a re route then to the villa. Duplicates will be waiting at the villa if you decide to head there later.”

“Thank you Hope,” Lex said returning to the kitchen.

“Is he cooking? He’s cooking?” Hope hissed standing next to Mercy poking her in the arm. “Who’s he cooking for?”

“The boy scout,” Mercy hissed.

“Beef Bourguignon, what did he do to rate that?”

“I can hear you you know,” Lex said calmly as he opened the bottle of wine.

“Good, I don’t see any rat poison out, what gives boss man?” Hope asked taking a seat at the opposite side of the kitchen island and stealing a handful of chopped vegetables for herself.

“Why did I hire you?”

“You said the fact that she wasn’t blindly obedient gave her potential. And she has four different black belts and can outshoot anything. That and Lady Shiva doesn’t do bodyguard work.”

Lex mad a non committal noise of agreement as he placed things into the pot to boil. “Watch this.” He instructed and headed back into his bedroom.

“I told you! He wants into blue boy’s pants,” Hope stated once Lex was out of earshot.

“Why because he’s cooking for him?”

“Why is he playing nurse maid to Superman of all people?”

“I wouldn’t call him that to his face,” Mercy warned. “And I think the Boy Scout is here to stay. The suits are gone Hope.”

“Maybe he just got better at hiding them.”

“Not with what we have in that apartment, he’s amazingly naive to think Lex isn’t watching him all the time.”

“Well who ever said he was smart? He’s all about smash smash, hell if he wasn’t superstrong any of us could wipe the floor with him. He wouldn’t know a martial art move to save his life,” Hope sneered.

“I still don’t get how he got hurt.”

Lex returned then and went to the sink to wash his hands yet again before returning to the stove as if nothing happened. Hope glanced at Lex and at Mercy then grinned.

“So boss, is the suit padded?” Hope asked and Lex stiffened his back still turned away from the women. Feeling the change in mood like a shift in the wind Hope stood. “Look at the time, I’ll just be checking the building again,” she said before fleeing ignoring Mercy’s smirk.

“That big sir?” Mercy said easily catching the knife and placing it on the counter before leaving Lex in the kitchen alone. There was only so much teasing Lex would allow before he truly lost his temper. And it had only been since Hope joined them in the last few months that he even allowed this much.

Under the pretense of searching the penthouse yet again, Mercy found her way back into Lex’s room and looked at the bed. The bedside lamp was on and seeing that the hero was asleep she moved to turn it off when Clark turned to look at her.

“Hey,” he rasped with a smile.

“Hello superhero.”

Clark grinned, “If I was a superhero I would have gotten us both out of the way of the car.”

“Very true,” Mercy said carefully.

“Lex shouldn’t be doing this he has a company to run.”

“I’ll give you a twenty if you actually tell him that to his face.”

“Do I look stupid?” Clark asked and at Mercy’s askance look gaped. “Hey! Just because I’m not some super genius like Lex doesn’t make me dumb.”

“I didn’t say anything,” Mercy said failing to hide her grin. This was why se tended to avoid the alien, he made you want to be nice to him, with those bright eyes and happy grin, it was easier to shoot him from a distance. Or when he was looking at you as if he were better than you were, as if he was some judge of what made you more human.
“But protecting Lex is my job, and I do it much better,” Mercy said standing.

“Not going to argue. But you weren’t there. I’ll be your substitute whenever.” Clark said no anger or malice in his voice. “What is Lex doing?”

“Cooking,”

“Oh,” Clark said with a soft smile. “Make sure he doesn’t burn the kitchen down,” He added settling down into his pillow.

*****

“Bats, come on pick up, pick up,” Wally whined into the phone despite the fact that it was still on its first ring. Being the flash meant that he could get to the Batcave before the call connected but he did not want to think about what Batman would actually do to him if he did. He shuddered as the gruff voice came over the line.

“Yes?”

“Did you see the morning paper?”

“Which one?” Bruce grumbled.

“Daily Planet, page six.”

Wally could hear the click of keys and wondered if Bruce ever left the cave and if he would have even known it was morning if Wally hadn’t called.
“So he’s back, and injured,” Bruce replied calmly. His mind already having worked out possible reasons for this even before the mention of Luthor and then the list nearly quadrupled.

“It doesn’t make sense, a car couldn’t hurt him,” Wally pointed out.

“I know that West, but Luthor is involved who knows what he is doing under this pretense of medical care.”

“You think Supes is really hurt?” Flash asked. “First he disappears now this. What if he’s like being tortured? I mean Lex knows about the Kryptonite.”

“I’ll deal with Luthor,” Batman snapped and Wally nodded until he realized there was no way for Bruce to see him.

“Yeah ok. I knew you would. Thanks.”

Batman looked about the cave and began gathering the things he would need to find Superman and Lex Luthor. No one in the league knew where or why Superman had vanished for the last month. While he did know where, having discovered the Artic hideaway quite some months ago he had no idea why the hero had vanished for nearly a month then returned as Clark Kent without so much of a word to the League.

If it had been himself who had vanished and returned without a word, it would not have caused the league to bat an eye. He wasn’t known to give the league his schedule. But Clark was the ultimate Boy Scout. If he went for a weekend on the farm he let the league know. And brought back pie.

Starting with the police report and Lois’ article he noticed immediately things were not adding up. Luthor couldn’t possibly believe that he could take Superman without the league stepping in and taking back one of their own.

He was in the bat jet heading to Metropolis before the hour was out. Landing cloaked on the rooftop of Clark’s apartment building he climbed into the one bedroom apartment quickly looking around.
Clark had dishes in the sink that had to be at least a day old. The apartment was its usual controlled chaos that he rarely lived in. Heading to the bedroom he noticed that his underwear drawers had been cleaned out. Going to the closet he saw that more parts of Clark’s wardrobe had gone, as if he had packed for a trip.

All going through the apartment did was raise more questions. Heading back to his jet he planned out his next move which would include Bruce Wayne making an appearance in Metropolis to check in on a business rival.

*****

“He’s been through the apartment sir,” Mercy said without preamble as Lex emerged from the shower taking the offered towel.

“How long ago?”

“Twenty minutes.”

“Well look for the ‘bumbling billionaire’ to pop up any day now.”

“Why is it he doesn’t think you know who he is?” Mercy asked as they walked into the bedroom.

“Because all those heroes are self righteous self absorbed idiots. At least he,” Lex said glancing at the still sleeping Clark, “never insulted my intelligence, at least not once he put on the cape. He just made me wonder if an alien could have dissociative identity disorder.”

“Have you figured out what is going on?”

“We are slowly working on his memory gaps, with prompts he remembers more we’ll see what happens when he wakes up today. Just no mention of the other.”

“No problem boss,” Mercy said.

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