Regret and False Pretense pt04

CHAPTER 4″Are you sure this will work boss?” Mercy asked looking at the small portable DVD player. “Who do you think it will be?”

“Maybe the Flash. Once it’s done send me a message so I can be sure to end the dinner from hell.”

“What if they try and take him?”

“At the moment they only have speculation on where I am. And are they going to come in by force? He can’t be moved.”

“Do you know what happened to him?”

“Probably some idiotic alien mating ritual for all I know,” Lex said with a shake of his head. Walking back into his bedroom he looked at Carla who was drying Clark’s freshly washed hair. Clark’s new medication still left him in a mostly pain free haze but he was aware of the goings on.

“Lex,” Clark whispered with half open eyes.

“I have to go out for a few hours.”

“Okay, sleepy.” Lex waited and was sure the fingers through his hair were not helping Clark win the fight to stay awake moved away from the bed “Lex.”

“Yes?”

“Careful. Mercy.”

The body guard who had entered the room blinked. “Yes?”

“You, Lex safe.”
Lex saw the look of surprise that crossed Mercy’s face as she made sure she understood. “I’ll keep him safe. We had a deal right?”

“Right,” Clark smiled eyes shut.

“Deal Mercy?” Lex questioned.

“Nice Lex,” Clark reprimanded and she didn’t bother to hide her smile. Nor did Carla as she carefully brought the towels and soapy water filled bowls into the bathroom to clean out Mercy saw the corners of Lex’s mouth crawl upwards before his expression closed off.

“What are you going to do when he gets better?”

“We’ll see what he remembers,” Lex said icily moving to the door Mercy trailing behind.

Carla frowned as she returned to the room pulling out a notebook she used to record Clark’s eating habits, medication schedule and all observations. She wondered what Clark had forgotten and resolved to keep a close eye on the couple. Whatever Clark had forgotten didn’t sound good. She could easily see how the duo could have had a fight.

Carla could easily see Lex not allowing any leeway in their relationship normally. And keeping it a secret had to be trying as well. After checking once more to make sure Clark was asleep she headed to the kitchen to prepare a meal for herself smiling slightly at Hope who was hunched on the kitchen island having been left behind.

“Do you stay behind often?” She asked attempting conversation.

“I’m still the new kid. We leave the interesting things to Mercy, I get pancakes.”

****

Lois was sitting at her desk frowning as she glanced at Clark’s desk which was still missing the unassuming farm boy when a shadow fell over her. Looking up the frown only deepened.

“Bruce.”

“Lois,” he said with an easy smile. “We have a dinner date.”

“That’s in an hour.”

“You can’t go to Rose dressed like that. We have to get you dressed,” Bruce said with an easy smile. Lois looked up at him and for the first time noticed he was dressed in a black suit with a light blue shirt that matched his eyes. Not that Lois noticed at all.

Sighing she shut down her computer and followed Bruce down to his car. Surprised to see a limo. “I gave Alfred the night off,” Bruce explained with a smile. They entered the limo and drove for less than five minutes before pulling up in front of a woman’s boutique in one of the most expensive neighborhoods of Metropolis.

Inside Lois saw that they already knew she was coming and had three dresses waiting for her. “She’ll take all of them. She’ll wear this one out,” Bruce said holding up a pale lavender dress that was low cut in both the front and the back.

She was hustled into the dress, provided shoes and had hair and makeup artists attempted to approach her only to be sent fleeing in less than five minutes. She emerged from the back to find that Bruce had undergone a slight transformation as well.

He was in a different black suit that looked much more form fitting and a dark blue shirt and matching tie. A styling product had been added to his hair and it had been slicked back and tousled slightly. If it had been longer she would have thought he was going for an approximation of Clark’s naturally messy black hair.

“You know Jean Claude was very put out you didn’t let him do your hair.”

“I’m oh so terribly sad about that. Let’s get this over with.”

Bruce took her arm gently either completely missing or not being bothered by her sarcasm. She assumed it was the former, the latter required brain cells. Reentering the limo they made their way to Rose. A restaurant she vaguely remembered due to some celebrity’s dirty laundry being aired there. Having been out with the mistress and caught by the wife. Or had it been the other way around?

Lois glanced at Bruce as he held out a champagne glass and fought to not roll her eyes. She was doing this for Clark. She would find out where Luthor had secreted him away to. And get him away before that monster did permanent damage.

Lois hadn’t been there for the doomed friendship, by the time she had arrived in Smallville they were already distant and, from what she had learned from Chloe it had just gotten worse the more Lex did things with questionable legal practices.

They pulled up in front of the restaurant and she scowled seeing paparazzi lining the outside of the restaurant. She wondered if it was for Bruce until the door opened and he stepped out and she heard the question from Cat.

“Why Bruce! What a lovely surprise what brings you to Rose tonight?”

Bruce smiled and stuck his head into the limo grin still in place. “Ready? There are a lot of cameras out here.”

Lois grinned and it was far from friendly. Bruce stepped back, and extended an arm to Lois. The first part to be exposed was a long pale, bare leg. The camera’s flashing increased until she stepped out fully. The flashes died one by one. Some even took a few steps back away from Lois. Cat took one look at her co-worker and fumed.

“How’d you do that?” Bruce asked.

“You feed one paparazzi his camera and you get some kind of reputation,” Lois said with an innocent shrug.

Bruce simply smiled as they walked into the restaurant and to the host. “I’m meeting Lex Luthor for dinner?”

“Ah, yes, Mr. Wayne, follow me.” The duo walked around the restaurant and she was surprised to see Oliver Queen at a table with a brunette she didn’t recognize. He caught her eye raising a brow at her company and she rolled her eyes causing Oliver to grin and zip his lips with his finger before whispering something to his date that had her laughing.

The walked to a few more tables and Lois saw their reason for their greeting. One of those teenage celebrities who had been in an out of rehab dozens of times despite being able to legally drink for less than a year was having dinner with someone who looked like they had been strung out on cocaine just days earlier. Their movements were jittery, and their pale emaciated face looked even worse compared to the teens bottled tan.

Lois was wondering if there was anyone else of note in the restaurant and nearly bumped into Bruce when he stopped walking.

“Bruce, it’s good to see you again,” Lex said standing and extending a hand to the fellow billionaire. Lois stared at Lex for a moment wondering how he could be wearing such a fake smile and chatting with Bruce when he had Clark holed up somewhere doing gods knows what to him.

“Good evening Ms. Lane.”

“Luthor.”

Bruce pulled out a chair for Lois gently pushing her into it to stop the glaring contest that Lois had initiated.

“I didn’t know you were brining a date.”

“Where are the double mint twins? Guarding Clark from escaping?”

“I have no idea what you mean,” Lex stated with a frown, “Bruce how have you been?”

“Well, I seemed to have made a few more million dollars even with out that Luthorcorp defense contract.”

“With what?” Lex asked wondering if Bruce would actually give him an answer.

“No idea, Lucius takes care of things like that. I cut a few ribbons; attend a few galas, interviews and such. I leave the business to professionals.”

Lex smirked and lifted a hand towards the waiter and he approached. “Another scotch Mr. Luthor?”

“Yes and my friend will be having?” Lex asked glancing at Bruce.

“A Vesper, Lois?”

“Water,” she stated coldly.

“So how long have you and Miss Lane been an item Bruce?”

“Huh? Oh she wanted to see you. I thought she was dating that other reporter. Mark?”

“Clark,” Lex said smoothly. “That would fit Lois’ pattern.”

“What pattern?” Lois snarled.

“Your attraction to sanctimonious do gooders. Granted romantically Clark doesn’t give you the time of day.”

“Clark doesn’t give me…you,” Lois snarled “I don’t want that as you like to call him sanctimonious do gooder.”

“Oh Clark’s quite the hypocrite,” Lex said blandly. “I think I’ll have the duck, with pineapple fried rice.” Lex said as the waiter returned with their drinks.

“I’ll have the Chicken Pad Thai. Lois?” Bruce asked.

“What have you done with Clark?” Lois snapped.

“Is the madam not hungry?” The waiter asked calmly.

“I’ll have the spring rolls,” Lois said glancing at the first thing on the menu. Usually she loved Thai and would have gotten some curry, but right now she was very tightly locked in a rage.

“And what would you like for your entre?”

“Green Curry, brown rice. Now get gone.”

“Lois you are being quite rude to the waiter,” Lex said mildly.

“And you are a bastard.”

“Sadly Lois I’ve always been aware of who my father is.”

“And you grew up to be just like him.” Lex said nothing as he watched her fume. “You will tell me what you have done with Clark.”

“I have known Clark much longer than you,” Lex glanced at Bruce who was watching them with an expression of mild interest. “And I’ve always known how to take care of him. It is not my fault you seem to be misplacing the men in your life.”

Bruce’s expression didn’t change as Lois glared. “Misplaced? I haven’t misplaced anyone! You stole Clark.”

“I was referring to your lover of primary colors, but we can discuss Clark as well. He is safe, well cared for and has shown no desire to leave.”

“I want to see him then if he is so fine. Take me to him right now.”

“He has also shown no desire to contact you Ms. Lane. Besides, we are in the middle of a wonderful Thai dinner. You are quite the neglectful date as well, is this why you are single or are you really stupid enough to be fawning after an alien?”

A small streak of color splashed across Lois’ cheek before she gained control over herself. She tossed her napkin on the table and stood in a sharp movement.”

“This isn’t over Lex! And so help me if you have hurt Clark.”

“You will use your amazing ability to dangle off buildings to make my life a living hell. You should keep in mind there is no one to catch you anymore Ms. Lane. Neither Clark, nor Superman.”

“Was that a threat?” Lois snarled leaning down towards Lex.

“Just a statement of fact.”

“Let’s go,” Lois snapped to Bruce and for a moment Lex saw his true face at being ordered so casually.

“What? But I haven’t even finished my Vesper.”

“Forget it! I’m taking the limo.”

“Okay,” Bruce said with a shrug, knowing he had to keep Lex at the restaurant for some time more at least for the extraction to happen. He watched Lois stomp out of the restaurant ignoring the fact that he gave Lex his back. “So I noticed the new car wasn’t a Porsche.”

Lex grinned, “Someone convinced me to give British Luxury Cars a chance.”

****

Mercy smiled as she watched the power for the penthouse go down. She waited the breath before activating the disruptor. As usual Lex was right and in a blink a Flash of red came to a stop before her. She knew she only had moments before the Martian made his way in as well. The illusory fire would only keep him at bay for so long.

“You guys are idiots,” she said tossing a DVD to the Flash who felt trapped in molasses and actually fumbled the catch. Walking out she saw the green head begin to push up through the floor as she headed to the roof and her escape.

Once the helicopter was in the air, she dissipated the trap and rolled her eyes at the bumbling heroes. She had been worried at first but this helped her to believe that Lex was still at the top of his game. He had anticipated the entire scenario perfectly.

Sitting back as the helicopter landed barely a mile away she called Lex once the noise had stopped.

“It’s done sir.”

“Good, would you like Thai for dinner?” Lex asked casually and Mercy wondered if Batman was thick enough to think this was Lex’s public face. It was a mockery of Bruce Wayne he only used for the other Billionaire.

“Green Curry sir.” Lex laughed and Mercy wondered what was so amusing but Lex had already hung up.

“Girlfriend?”

Lex smirked, “Mercy,” ignoring the dark that flashed in Bruce’s eyes at the mention of the name. He wondered if he only noticed because he knew who Bruce was or if the man was simply not as good as he had originally thought. Living every public moment as something you were not could not have been easy. If Bruce had found a more middle ground it would have been simpler.

Making Bruce Wayne a complete idiot was not necessary to isolate him from Batman. If he had been a least a little business savy in his public face he could have learned a lot of things from people like him and Randall Savage as Bruce Wayne. Though he supposed Savage after living nearly 10,000 years would not be fooled so easily.

But maybe that worked just the way he wanted. Some lesser criminals might feel free to talk in front of an idiot Bruce Wayne because the man had no intelligence to use what he learned. Though those that did that deserved their fate, Lex never had the desire to wax poetic to The Alien all his ‘secret schemes’.

But The Alien had been smarter than that; most of its attacks towards Lex were from a distance. And the Kryptonite bullets still remained an unused threat.

“So been anywhere interesting lately?”

Lex smiled it was such an innocuous question. “I’m actually heading to a couple of different places in the next few weeks. New York, Milan, Paris, London, Tokyo. The next few months are shaping to be quite interesting. You?”

“You know me, wherever catches my fancy.”

“You do tend to spend an enormous amount of time in that house on the hill.”

“I like the manor and I can have anything brought to me. But if I feel like going to ski, or going to Metropolis I just do. No meetings to reschedule and all that.”

“Yes I do lack that luxury and most of these trips have a tie to business somewhere,” Lex admitted.

“And business isn’t half as fun as being in a hot tub in aspen with a dozen ski bunnies.”

“It can be,” Lex said talking a sip of his drink.

****

The Flash and the Martian Manhunter entered the control room of the watch tower at a quick stride to see what they had been given by Mercy. They had thought it a DVD until words slowly appeared on the screen.

John Jones
Wally West

Martian Manhunter
The Flash

Oliver Queen
Kyle Rayner

Green Arrow
Green Lantern

Wally’s legs buckled as he fell on his behind. The list continued on and on. Even reserve part time members of the league who had never crossed Lex’s path were there on full display. When Mercy’s face finally appeared on the screen Wally got enough of himself back to stop the DVD.

“All of us. Every last one,” Wally gasped and looking at J’onn he wondered if some that was green could be pale.

Wally reached a trembling hand to assemble the entire JLA when J’onn stopped him.

“No we need to discuss this first.”

“It’s not just us J’onn it’s everyone.”

“We have to approach this right. Some of them would want to go in their guns blazing and destroy Luthor before he exposes them. We do not know where he has placed this information. We need to have clear heads on this.

“Fine,” Wally said shoving his cowl away from his face and pacing.

It took minutes for the heroes to assemble. Even Bruce appeared dressed impeccably, but despite the clothes it was Batman that sat in the chair blue eyes cold and hard.

They were all in the meeting room and with out a word J’onn began to play the DVD. Shock, Horror, Fear, and Anger played across the faces of all gathered until Mercy with a smirk appeared on the screen.

“I guess we have your attention now? Good. So its simple really, leave us alone or that will be posted on the internet in seconds. We catch sight of cape’s, cowls, spandex or masks and you will be oh so very sorry.”

The Screen went black again and this time it was not names of heroes but family, friends, co-workers, lovers, and even pets that went across the screen,”

Lex appeared on the screen then. “I have know Clark Kent since he was 15. No cape and hair gel could fool me. Not with Jonathan Kent’s platitudes coming out of The Alien’s mouth. The only name not on this list is his. Not for fear of him but because nothing on this earth will bring harm to Martha Kent that I can control. She is the only one safe from this.

“I have no interest in your civilian lives, families or dogs. There are others who will not be so kind. Try to breech my home again and I will bar my door against the cold and ignore the starved baying of the wolves. You have already seen once what one madman can do with just one name freely given. Enjoy your lives in the clouds and leave us mere mortals be.”

The screen went black then and stayed that way.

****

“So how do you think they are taking it?” Mercy asked as Lex climbed into the helicopter handing her a takeout bag from Rose.

“Well they play gods. They never want to admit a mere mortal could be smarter than they are.”

“I know you were waiting for something special to use that.”

“I think this qualifies Mercy. This is an interesting mystery. And it will be much easier to unravel without the capes and cowls in my way.

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