Clark woke slowly as his body cried out for pain medication. Blinking in what could only be early morning light he wondered where Lex had gone. He was trying to see where Lex was when he saw a woman staring at him from across the room.
“Hello?” Clark asked attempting to sit up to greet the older woman and wincing.
“Hello, now don’t move I was looking for Mr. Luthor. I’m Carla Henry I’m to be your nurse.”
“Clark Kent. Hmm, he was here, at least when I fell asleep,” Clark said not noticing the arch of Carla’s brow.
Lex chose that moment to exit the bathroom wet pajama bottoms clinging to his legs as he looked at Carla. “Yes?”
“It’s seven, well ten after now. I wanted to discuss my duties and what I expect from you.”
“Let me get dressed. How did you get in here?”
“Your body guard sent me right in.”
“Hope,” Lex muttered disappearing into his walk in closet. Clark smiled faintly before turning back to Carla.
“Don’t mind him he’s grumpy before his morning coffee.”
“How do you feel?” Carla asked approaching Clark’s side of the beds. Clark was finally able to put a face to the voice and saw she was in a nurse’s uniform. The top despite being a scrub seemed to be fitted for her perfectly.
“How long have you been in pain?”
Clark sighed, “It’s what woke me.”
“It is what I assumed. Do you have a low tolerance for pain?”
“I’ve never been this hurt before.”
Carla lifted the medication bottles on the beside table and read them both. Placing the sedative aside she frowned. “When was your last dose?”
“Last night, Lex will know. It’s early isn’t it?” Clark yawned.
“Didn’t you grow up on a farm? Getting up with the rooster?” Lex asked entering the room in grey slacks and a long sleeved shirt.
“Lex,” Clark whined.
“Mr. Luthor I need to know when Clark received his last dosage of his medication. Lex glanced at his watch.
“Nine hours and twenty three minutes ago.”
“So he can have another good.”
Lex approached the bed plucking the bottle from the side table and shaking a pill into his hand before pouring out a glass of water for Clark and feeding him the pill.
“Thanks Lex, but isn’t that her job?” Lex glanced back at Carla who gave him a wave that for a moment reminded him o f hope and her tendency to be insolent.
“We will be discussing that in a moment, what do you want for breakfast?”
“Pancakes?” Clark asked pleadingly.
“I’ll send Hope out. Any place in particular you would like them from?”
“My mom’s kitchen?”
“That might be a distance Clark. Seeing as we are in New York.”
“Oh, New York?”
“Yeah once you are up for it we can go to central park its right outside.”
“That would be nice, oh, chocolate chip pancakes from IHOP, with the strawberry syrup. They have IHOP in New York right?”
“Yes I’m sure they do,” Lex said indulging Clark and dealing with Hope’s little joke all at once. “If you would follow me,” Lex said glancing at Carla.
“Hope, Mercy,” Lex said in way of greeting.
“Oh Hope, Clark would like some chocolate chip pancakes, with strawberry syrup from IHOP.”
“Okay, you want me to go to IHOP? Where is there even an IHOP?”
“135th street,” Mercy supplied slipping her PDA back into her pocket.
“You have half an hour.”
Hope looked at Lex’s cool glare and sighed making her way to the door, ignoring Mercy’s smirk.
“Don’t forget to call ahead,” Mercy said ignoring the woman’s grumblings.
“Now then, we need to discuss your duties and hours. Normally I would offer you a room in the penthouse for the duration of your working with me but seeing as you own an apartment here it seems redundant.”
“True, I have brought some standard equipment I will need,” she said pointing to a small suitcase in the corner. Walking over to it she pulled out a folder. “Here is an itemized list of the cost of the contents that will be added to my standard fee. I assume looking at his injuries I will be working here for the next few months? First in my capacity as a nurse followed by Physical Therapy?”
“Yes, you have been selected because of your discretion.”
“I have no interest in foolish tabloids, I do not care who Bruce Wayne took to the latest charity event. I think it’s a shame that that nonsense like that get more coverage than genocide happening. If the vultures find out Lex Luthor is gay it won’t be from me.”
“That’s good to hear…I’m what?” Lex asked.
“He’s very pretty, so I can understand. And polite, imagine trying to sit up to greet me.”
“A wonderful man I can tell. You are lucky to have him. I think I will enjoy caring for him.”
“He…” Lex shook his head. If nothing else it would prove if this woman was in fact telling the truth when she said she didn’t speak to reporters or the like. This was one rumor that would not come from anywhere else. It also helped that the Planet didn’t have the circulation of the New York Times. While there was a copy sitting in his office waiting for him now he doubted Carla had seen Lex Luthor kidnapper headline courtesy of Lois Lane.
“Will you need anything from me?” Lex asked calmly.
“Not at the moment, are there any allergies, I should concern myself with; any complications with his accident?”
“Nothing that should concern you,” Lex said planning to keep a close eye on Clark should his powers or memory return.
“Good, I want to speak to Clark a little more. He needs to be comfortable around me.”
“I’ll join you.”
“I’m sure someone like you have many things to do. You can’t just stay at Clark’s bedside day in and out. It’s why you hired me after all.”
“I want to make sure he’s comfortable around you. And as you rightfully guessed if you made him uncomfortable he is much too polite to ever say any thing about it. It’s infuriating.”
“Whatever you wish, does he have anything to keep him distracted? It’s not a concern now but in about two weeks he will be awake longer and still have to be kept mostly immobile.”
“Once he is able to stay awake longer than a few minutes at a time he will have plenty to keep him occupied.”
“Of course,” Carla said standing and making her way back to Lex’s bedroom. Lex looked around the room with a frown but before he could say anything Mercy entered the room with a chair in hand for Carla.
Lex nodded at Mercy who stood at the far end of the room as Lex threw off his shoes and climbed into his bed. The light movement enough to wake a dozing Clark.
“Mmm?” He murmured turning his head towards Lex.
“Wake up Clark, there is someone I need you to meet, and Hope should be back soon with your pancakes.”
“Mmm,” Clark said with a tired smile and Carla frowned.
“His dosage is too high,” she said snatching up the bottle on the bedside. Reading the label more closely she frowned. “Is he resistant to medications?”
“No if anything he would be more susceptible to them…that idiot,” Lex snarled in the same breath. “Mercy have the good Doctor here now.”
“Yes sir,” She responded phone already in hand and dialing.
“Is it dangerous?” Lex asked looking at Clark who had drifted off again.
“It may become habit forming, in the long term but the real danger would be the side effects of this medication, well one of them is a lowering of blood pressure. Increasing the dosage to this level unnecessarily increases the risk.”
“I see what dosage level would your recommend?” Lex asked.
“I am not a doctor, but even 1/3 less would be more than adequate. I’m surprised a doctor would make such a mistake.”
“I think he has dealt with too many people who take too many recreational medications. Doctor to celebrities and billionaires, since Clark was with me he must have assumed the worst.”
“But he could have asked.”
“Oh he will be paying for his mistake in spades,” Lex said not noticing his hand drifting into Clark’s hair. Until his hand comes out slightly grimy, there was still dried blood in Clark’s hair and who knows how long it had been since it was washed. They had removed Clark’s clothing to set his bones but he hadn’t had so much as a toothbrush since.
“Hair washing does fall under my duties, unless you want to cut his hair off that makes it simpler.”
“Alright,” she said removing a small metallic purple pad and attached pen from her pocket, flipping open the case she started to write on the crisp white paper.
They worked to prepare a morning schedule for Clark, when he should wake, medication, Lex making adjustments from what he knew of Clark’s nature. Hope arrived when they were devising an afternoon plan, and Lex simply waved her into the kitchen.
The doctor was next to arrive to a scathing reprimand for Clark’s dosage.
“But you said he was like you,” the doctor stammered nervously.
“I said his body may react more violently in healing than my own. I never said anything about his drug tolerance levels, which I might add are weaker than average. If anything goes wrong because of your blunder…” Lex said letting the threat hang, wondering now if Clark’s confusion was at least partially based on the medication.
“I’ll change the prescriptions immediately. It would help to see his medical records,” the doctor said glancing nervously at Mercy who simply loomed a distance away arms crossed.
“No you don’t, if he had been brought into the ER you would treat him the best you could with the information gathered. His medical files will bring you no magical insight into him. Do your job and do it right this time,” Lex snarled.
“Yes sir,” the doctor nodded trembling slightly, “I will have the new prescriptions here in a few hours.”
“Its nice to know you have some level of competence,” Lex growled looking over at Mercy as the doctor went into the bedroom to receive another berating from Carla and they both entered the kitchen where Hope was sitting on a stool.
“Anything to report?”
“Seems Bruce Wayne was spotted having breakfast with a model who’s currently residing in the Empress Hotel in Metropolis.”
“What a coincidence,” Lex said. “Let me know when the bat shows, or when Wayne wants to meet with me. Arrange a dinner meeting.”
“But you’re in New York,” Hope pointed out.
“It will take less than two hours to reach Kansas.”
“Don’t you even want my pancakes?” Hope asked gesturing the bags on the kitchen island Lex was ignoring.
“Clark wanted them but he’s asleep now so you can get them again tomorrow morning,” Lex said easily ignoring Hope’s irritated huff.
Bruce Wayne walked into the main offices of the Daily Planet and headed for Lois’ desk. Pressed against it at a right angle was Clark’s own desk, awash in papers and files the mess merging with a similar one on Lois’ desk.
“Hello Ms. Lane.”
“Oh, hi. What are you doing here? You know what never mind. Unless you can get me up close and personal with your Metropolis counter part.”
“You mean Lex Luthor?”
“No the other multi billionaire mogul in Metropolis.”
“Ollie’s in Metropolis?”
Lois leveled Bruce with a glare that would make lesser man cower, He just graced her with a foppish smile ignoring the none to kind statements about inbreeding she muttered under her breath.
“Would you like to have dinner with me Ms. Lane?”
“What? No what I would like is to talk to with someone with two brain cells to rub together to tell me why Luthor’s private jet and helicopter took off within minutes of each other. And why he’s cancelled appointments right and left after kidnapping my partner. Why I would like to know is how long it took for him to own this police force so that my calls are ignored. God, why doesn’t your town export something useful like Batman, at least he’s a detective. He would be useful.”
“You know he’s probably not real. I mean no one but crooks have ever seen him.”
“Well what you invite him to a party and he didn’t show?” Lois asked with a roll of her eye.
“No I was held hostage at one and he didn’t show. You shouldn’t believe in fairy tales Ms. Lane.”
“Fine she said grabbing his arm and tugging him towards the elevator.”
“What…where are we going?” Bruce asked as a perfectly manicured nail slammed into the elevator button repeatedly.
“Well that bitch Charity may turn me away but she wouldn’t dare turn Bruce Wayne away.”
“Luthor’s personal secretary. Mercy and Hope seem to be gone which is why I’m sure he took Clark out of the country or something. Why else would his jet fly to Greece?” Bruce arched a brow wondering how it could be possible that Lois had found that out but smiled easily.
“Well if someone saved me from a car I would foot the bill too.”
“He’s not footing the bill, he took Clark! Just up and kidnapped him, who knows what he’s up to. Its not like they are on the best of terms I mean, I never even saw this supposed friendship when I was in Smallville and Clark can’t take care of himself. He was being friendly to Luthor when he showed up. Called them friends.”
“Yes I know insane, Clark’s been out for over a month and now this. Its bad enough Clark was oblivious enough to not know who Superman was, but to think Luthor was his friend? That’s just insane.”
Bruce was glad Lois was ignoring him as he forced himself to slip the Bruce mask again. “Forgot Superman? The big alien in the cape? I thought your partner was really smart.”
Lois narrowed her eyes at Bruce. “You’re calling Clark dumb?”
“Well didn’t he get the first ever Superman interview? Got himself some awards for that. How do you forget something that made your career?”
Lois frowned as they approached Alfred and Bruce grinned. “Where would you like to go to lunch?”
“You haven’t heard a word I’ve said!” Lois snapped and Bruce gave her an enigmatic shrug.
“To Luthorcorp Geeves and step on it.”
“There aren’t any good restaurants near there,” Bruce said with a small frown.
“How closely related were your parents?” Lois snarled and watched Bruce’s expression darken as a scowl twisted the normally handsome and harmless features into something that made the hair on the back of Lois’ neck stand on end. Clark had a similar expression when Lex was mentioned. One that reminded her of Clark’s darker side, which she had seen up close and personal.
“Master Bruce,” Alfred called for no reason Lois could figure until she saw the expression melt away from Bruce as if it had never been there. And Lois watched the man closely. Life and joy in his expression again though now she wondered what Bruce Wayne was like. Lex had a similar double face and despite her and Clark’s best efforts he was still mostly Metropolis’ darling son.
“Sorry,” Lois said grudgingly pulling out a battered pack of cigarettes and banging the pack against the back of her hand.
“No smoking, it makes Alfred sick,” Bruce murmured softly. “I thought you quit?”
“Have you been paying attention to me Mr. Wayne?”
“Well kissing is not half as fun with a girl who smokes.”
Lois rolled her eyes but decided there was more to Bruce than meets the eyes. “I did. This was my last pack; it’s a few years old. But this is enough to get me started again. The banging works for now. See still sealed.”
Bruce looked at the pack and nodded. “Plus when an Alien tells you your lungs are looking a little dark…you get nervous,” Lois admitted.
“Have you heard from Superman? I know you two are friends.”
“Nothing he disappeared, me and Clark looked into for a while but then Clark got sick. I mean what kind of grown man gets Mono then runs off to hide with mommy?”
“Well I’d hire a few playboy bunnies to care for me but not every one likes the bunnies,” Bruce said wistfully and Lois wonders if she was giving the man too much credit. He was either a world class actor that put Lex Luthor to shame or a spoilt billionaire playboy.
Master Bruce we have arrived at Luthor corp towers as per Ms. Lane’s request.
“Thanks Alfred,” Bruce said opening the door and stepping out of the door before politely holding the door for Lois.
“Thanks big boy,” Lois said with a sigh leading Bruce into the building and bypassing most of the security by walking with a quick purposeful stride to the elevator in her three inch pumps. Bruce followed more sedately but with no less purpose arriving at Lois’ side as the doors of the elevator slid silently open.
Bruce’s mind whirled at what he had learned so far. While Lois had assumed he was moping at bringing up his parents he had telepathically set up a meeting at the watchtower for an hour from now. The league needed to be brought in now and J’onn was just the Martian to do it.
Stepping off the elevator Bruce allowed Lois to lead wondering what the woman hoped to accomplish. Sitting behind the desk in a crisp maroon suit was Charity. The blond stood her ringlets bouncing as cool blue eyes.
“Ms. Lane,” Charity spoke coldly. “You were told already, Mr. Luthor has a busy schedule. He can pencil you in for fifteen minutes sometime next month at the earliest.
Bruce slipped between the two women a charming smile on his face. “Hello, Charity is it? Bruce Wayne.”
“I know who you are Mr. Wayne,” Charity said dark expression not changing.
“Well I wanted to know if your boss would like to head out for dinner; I’ll only be in town a day or two more and we had the best conversation about Porsches when we last saw each other though I heard he bought an Aston I wanted to know if I had converted him.”
“One moment Mr. Wayne.”
“Call me Bruce, he added grinning. Charity sat back down and typed a few keys into her computer, spoke what could only be a code into her headset and looked at Bruce with a smile.
“Mr. Luthor had a cancellation. He will be able to have dinner with you tonight about seven.”
“Excellent, thank you Charity. Would you be free for a drink?”
“I’m sorry but that would not be possible Mr. Wayne,” Charity said smirking at the glare Lois was sending from over Bruce’s oblivious shoulder.
“Maybe lunch tomorrow then?”
“I take my lunch at my desk most days.”
“All the more reason to join me at a bistro,” Bruce said gently taking her hand and kissing the back.
Charity smiled but Bruce saw it did not reach her eyes. This woman was not taken by his supposed charms. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Excellent, maybe I will keep your boss out so late he’ll give you the day off, I have yet to have an official tour of this fair city.”
“And what about, Miranda?”
“The model Mr. Wayne,” Lois butted in. “If your boss has time to make for this oaf I’m sure he can squeeze me in.”
“That is just not possible Ms. Lane. Now if you would excuse me,” Charity said returning to her computer and ignoring them both.
“Good bye beautiful,” Bruce said with an easy smile leading the huffing Lois to the elevators.
“You’re worse than Clark and that aw’ shucks’ I’m just a simple farm boy from Podunk routine he pulls out.”
“What she was cute, why shouldn’t I want to have lunch with her?”
Lois moaned into her hand, “at least with Clark its mostly fake. I’m coming to dinner with you.”
“Bruce grinned of course you are. Let me just tell Charity it will be a double.”
“No,” Lois said tugging him into the elevator it can be a surprise.”
“Okay,” Bruce said as he approached Alfred who was again waiting outside door open for Bruce. “Alfred I’ll need a dozen long stem red roses sent to Charity hmm did you catch her last name?”
“Its Standish, she’s from a small town in the northeast right on the water. Tranquility, or Melody , or something like that.”
“Oh and something nice for lunch. Maybe sushi?”
“I will look into it. Sir, do not forget you have to prepare for your meeting.”
“Oh yes of course Alfred. Let’s just take Lois back to the planet. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to get ready in the meanwhile.”
“As you wish sir.”
Bruce played up the playboy side of his personality knowing Lois to be skilled but could turned off course more easily now that she a larger concern looking for Clark. Dropping her off at the planet Lois nearly fled and the mask shattered completely.
Alfred said nothing as they drove to the outskirts of town before Bruce Wayne vanished and emerged Batman.
“J’onn,” Bruce said this time into a communicator and in moments he was emerging from one of the watchtower’s teleportation pods.
Entering into the war room he saw he was the last to arrive. Flash, Diana, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, J’onn and Black Canary were all seated at the table already.
“Did you get him?” Flash asked quickly his hands blurring across the table in his nervousness.
“No, there are more things to consider.”
“What’s there to consider? I get the boys together and we do a snatch and grab,” Oliver said with a growl.
“While your terrorist techniques worked six years ago, most likely due to your repeated attacks Luthor’s security has grown by leaps and bounds. Kryptonite laced weapons, fine motion sensors, fire shooters, even the random yellow laser beam.”
“None of which would stop me,” Diana said.
“No, but you are an ambassador to your people. He would call it an unprovoked attack at best, a declaration of war at worse.”
“Are you saying we can’t get him?”
“No I’m saying we have to be smart about it,” Batman said. “First we have to know where he is. According to Lois, Luthor’s private jet and helicopter took off within moments of each other. The helicopter ‘forgot’ to register its destination. I am going to assume the jet was a decoy. Oliver, you can look into that.”
“What will you be doing?” Oliver snarled.
“One I will be having dinner with Lex Luthor and hitting him with a tracking spray.”
“What else did you learn?” John asked sure Batman would not have brought them up here with such a frantic call for a slight lead.
“Lois was the only one to speak to Clark before he was taken. She said Clark was disoriented and confused. Both of which question the state of his memory.”
“Well do keep us in suspense,” Flash said irritably.
“One Clark treated Lex as if they were friends. Two he had no idea who Superman was.”
“But they are one and the same,” Diana said with a frown.
“Which is why when we find him one of the first things I want to happen is to have J’onn scan him.”
“You know I can not read him. Short of one incident where I was able to enter his mind by way of a parasite to free him his mind is a sealed box to me.”
“I want you to do it anyway,” Bruce said without further explanation.
“This is bad isn’t it?” Flash said almost as big a fan of Clark as the younger speedster Impulse. “This is why he got hurt isn’t it?”
“Hurt?” Diana questioned echoed by Oliver and Dinah.
“They got here right before you did Bats, they just know Luthor kidnapped ‘Clark Kent’. What you missed was Lois’ article in the planet. Clark pushed Lex out of the way of a car. And was hit, he was hurt badly and hustled off to who knows where in a LexCorp ambulance.”
“But he is invulnerable.”
“He is supposed to be. Which is why the sooner we find him the better.”
“Maybe we should talk to Martha.”
“It would prove difficult she’s gone back into session. She left the farm yesterday which means there is a good chance she hasn’t heard of it yet.”
“I will speak to her,” Diana said. “It would be best to understand. Though I hope we will have better news to give her. She will not be free until early evening correct?”
“At best,” Bruce said having checked in on the woman as well though discreetly. She had back to back meetings and sessions planed. Her second term and first full term was just as hectic as the last.
“Is that all?” Oliver asked already standing.
“Just find where he’s hiding,” Batman said standing ignoring Diana’s glance towards him.
“What should we tell the others?” J’onn asked.
“Nothing if they don’t ask or know. Not until we can be sure what is going on. That includes your little band Queen,”
“Whatever you say oh mighty leader,” Oliver said his voice dripping with sarcasm as Dinah touched his arm calming him slightly.
“Let’s go Ollie, I’ll help you research.”
“What are you thinking Batman?” J’onn asked.
“I think there is a lot more going on than we realize and its tied to Clark’s disappearance and whatever happened the last month. I think Luthor took advantage of an opportunity and now Clark is in over his head. What worries me the most is that I don’t think kryptonite was involved. Lois made no mention of Clark acting ill when Luthor approached and there are simply too many holes. Too many inconsistencies, things are not adding up.”
“You are worried for him.”
“Without his powers, hell even with his powers Clark is the most naïve one of us all. This time it may have gotten him killed.”