“And what if someone goes after Luthor for something else? What if he decides that that person is our message back to him and leaks this information anyway?”
“No lesser members of the League have ever had direct dealings with Luthor. Usually it is us and they may accompany us in assistance,” J’onn pointed out.
“I still don’t like it. They should know that one of the most dangerous people on the planet has control of their lives like that. It isn’t fair that they get no say in this and will suffer the consequences just the same.” “I say damn the consequences, let him publish that information,” Kyle snapped.
“Easy for you to say, an only child, single, hell what do you have to lose if someone decides to come after you? A job? I’m engaged, I’d like to have children some day. I have no interest in being hounded day in and out. And it wouldn’t be criminals only. Civilians would want things from you too.”
“We can’t allow this information to get out,” Bruce stated his voice leaving no room for argument.
“See, even Bruce agrees and most of his family are bat people who can take care of themselves anyway,” Wally said with a sigh his hand running along his short blond hair at increasing speeds in his agitation.
“We can not make such a decision for them. You want to go public go ahead. But don’t for one second believe that if you go public and antagonize Luthor he won’t release the names of everyone else and watch the carnage unfold from his penthouse.”
“We can not leave Clark in the hands of that madman,” Kyle said incensed.
“I know that, but we have to be intelligent about it,” Bruce explained. “We have to have a plan. We thought we could simply lift Clark out of the penthouse on the word of an EMT. We should have known Lex would move Clark to a more secure location. We should have never played our hand so soon.”
“So what you want to wait?” Ollie snarled. “I’ve seen first hand what Luthor does once he has you in his grasp and knows how do abuse your power or exploit your weakness. While we sit here and worry about ourselves and our secrets Clark is being tortured.”
“And whose fault is it that Lex has better security than most countries? Your little terrorist cell attacked him time and time again forcing him to go deeper underground, find better weapons, better defense. That device that stopped Wally, how would Lex have learned to stop a speedster? Where did he ever come in contact with one?”
Oliver glared at Bruce. “Oh now you’re blaming me for this? Where were you when Lex was kidnapping teenagers out of their beds to check for mutation? Rounding up children and adults alike round the world to see if he could harvest their abilities? Yes we hit him hard and repeatedly. We had to or Lex Luthor would be much worse today. Even then he had ways to deal with us. He always seemed to know more than he should. Like how did he know to set a trap for Wally and not Kyle?”
“What are you saying? Do you think there might be a spy here?”
“No, I think the most dangerous man on the planet finds us predictable. And that is a hell of a lot more dangerous than a spy. We are the only ones who even know what’s going on. Clark’s accident even with Lois’ story did not make major headlines. Outside of us few even know there is a connection to be made between him and Superman beyond the articles that he writes about the hero.”
“I have a more important question,” Dinah started. “how did he find out? Some of those names; they haven’t been in costume months yet he still knew who they were. Some have not even set foot back on earth since they put on the costume. Don’t dismiss the spy idea outright. There is something dangerous going on here.”
“Do you think he could have planted someone right under our noses?” Kyle asked in distain. “Maybe the training program was a bad idea.”
“No, leaving those with skills like ours untrained was a greater danger,” Diana said. “Warriors need training or they are no better then what they are fighting.”
“Diana is right. Even if Luthor did plant a spy it would not explain how he knew who we are. We don’t let everyone who joins the league know who we really are,” Bruce pointed out. “Most think I am a partial financial backer nothing more. And even that does not have my direct involvement. I will look into it.”
“So will I,” Oliver said.
“And how will you do that? They will not believe that you suddenly want to join the lower ranks and associate with the bench warmers.”
“Victor can do it.”
“He is the least hot headed of your little group,” Batman said coming as close as he would to agreement with Oliver as he would for the night.
Lex smirked to himself and wondered what the JLA was doing right now. If he was right they were digging their own graves. Knowing those heroes they were. Lex glanced down at Clark and frowned. His brows were furrowed and his breath was hitching. When he started to attempt to flail his arms Lex intervened holding Clark down by the shoulders his legs on either side of Clark’s body.
“Clark wake up,” Lex snapped. It took a few moments before Clark woke eyes wide and frantic before he settled on Lex.
“Yes it’s me, you were moving about in your sleep. I’m sure you didn’t want to disturb the bones,” Lex said trying not to show how surprised Clark’s initial reaction was. He had relaxed at the sight of Lex, even being an indestructible alien Clark tended to never relax around him.
“My arm is already hurting,” Clark admitted softly as Lex climbed off him.
“Was it about the accident?” Lex asked.
“No,” Clark said with a frown. “I was somewhere cold, and I was being frozen alive I think. It was crawling all over my skin,” Clark shuddered.
“Yeah kinda like those grow your own crystals kits, but much faster strange huh?”
“I suppose. Dreams can be odd,” Lex said picking up his laptop.
“Oh, I’m keeping you from work,” Clark said quietly turning his head away from Lex.
“Its fine Clark, I just remembered something. Nothing a quick email can’t deal with.”
“Oh okay,” Clark said turning back to Lex a smile on his face as he looked up towards the older man.
“You seem more aware,” Lex remarked as he added to his notes.
“Yeah I think I’m getting used to the medication, not that it doesn’t work or anything, but I’m not in a bubble anymore.”
“We lowered your dosage.”
“Oh,” Clark said with a slight yawn.
“All I do is sleep.”
“Clark, your body went to a traumatizing experience you need the rest. And maybe you will think twice about diving in front of a car.”
“Worth it.” Clark said glancing at the laptop with a frown. “Lex, this is going to sound really strange but…never mind.”
“No go ahead.”
“What do you do?” Clark asked. “I mean I know you’re CEO, but what does that mean?”
Lex looked at Clark’s face and couldn’t help but laugh. Clark let out a laugh as well but winced when he felt the bruises on his abdomen and back.
“Clark you’ve known me how many years? And you ask this now?”
“In Smallville I got it about the plant. Managing it I mean. It was like mom was doing with the farm just with more people.”
“And a lot of crap.”
Clark grinned. “Don’t make me laugh. I wanna stay awake a while longer and if I laugh more Carla will make me take pain pills.”
“Sorry,” Lex said easily. “Do you like Carla?”
“Yeah, she’s sweet. She tells me about her daughter. She’s a DA,” Clark yawned again blinking slowly.
“Sleep Clark, I’ll wake you for dinner.”
Lex had barely finished the instruction before Clark drifted off again. Lex was already replaying the interaction in his mind. There were things fundamentally different about Clark, which led Lex to believe even more, with the addition of his nightmare that Clark had been altered by his fortress.
Lex had yet to decipher the location, knowing only it was in the north. Now he wondered if he wanted to know. If the technology would do such a thing to its owner, and if Lex was correct this was the second time. The last time, Clark had regained his powers through death. Even if the boy wouldn’t admit it, Lex was neither stupid nor blind.
Lex looked at his notes. Clark was human, vulnerable, and seemed to be missing all references to The Alien from his memory. But much more interesting was the fact that Clark seemed to trust him in a way he hadn’t done in years. As if without The Alien between them Clark had no reason to doubt Lex.
Lex knew better. There were other things that had nothing to do with Clark’s power. His ex-wife and the love of Clark’s young life came to the forefront of his mind. What else had Clark forgotten? And what did it truly mean for this relationship they seemed to be building.
To make matters worse, Clark still had the ability to get under his skin like no other. He had Lex laughing, joking, and Lex wondered if he was falling into the trap that was Clark Kent all over again. Bright eyed with unshakeable faith in Lex to be a good man and an even better friend.
What bothered Lex the most was the fact that there were too many holes in this. He did not know what would happen for example if Clark took a turn for the worst. Would the fortress do whatever it had done to bring Clark back to his Alien life that it had done when Clark had been shot? Once Lex had learned of the fortress Lex had finally understood how Clark had come back to life and most likely gained his mortality in the first place.
The question became was it Clark’s choice. He hadn’t interacted with Clark that first time but it was when he had been with Lana. He hadn’t acted much differently towards Lex that time. So the question became what made this time different. If the same event had happened to Clark again why were his memories altered as well?
He wondered if something could have occurred to cause a change in the way the fortress treated Clark. After his last disappearance Clark had returned and The Alien had reared its ugly head. A summer where Clark seemed to vanish off the face of the earth and when he resurfaced so appeared Superman of all things. Lex could still remember that first sighting.
The helicopter dived lower to get a better view of the action. Tilting dangerously as the part time pilot misjudged the space and banged the plane. Jerking sideways he fought to keep the plane steady not noticing for a moment that he had lost a passenger.
The screams drowned out by the whirr of the blades. Steadying the plane he shouted to who he thought was still in the plane.
“That was a close one right Lane? Lane?” He yelled turning his head to the back of the helicopter. Looking around frantically when he realized the woman was gone hoping beyond hope she was holding on to a leg. That was when he saw it and for the second time nearly lost control of the plane.
“Don’t worry Miss I’ve got you.”
“You’ve got me? But…But who’s got you?!” Lois shrieked as the man continued to fly upward his expression calm a small smile oh his face.
Lex shook his head of the memory and wondered if that had been the way Clark had planned to expose himself to the world. Clark had found himself a Daily Planet position, by meeting with Perry White and handing him the first interview with the creature the newspaper had dubbed Superman and the unholy unity of Lois and Clark had been formed.
He’d much prefer Chloe. She had enough sense to keep herself alive with out an alien shadow. Making a note to keep an eye out for the blond, he felt she was the real danger more so than any cape, Chloe would find a way to get to Clark. He wondered if Lois threw herself into danger because she expected Superman to save her or if she was stupid enough to believe that she could survive on her own.
Lex glanced down at Clark shut his laptop and planned to head down to the labs under his building when he realized despite the layout of the room he had was no longer in Metropolis. He didn’t own this entire building, just the penthouse.
He went into the living room and found Hope, Mercy, and Carla deep into a conversation that stopped once he entered.
“Am I interrupting?”
“Just women talk, Mr. Luthor,” Carla explained with a smile that made Lex all the more suspicious.
“Hope, Carla, keep an eye on Clark he was thrashing from a nightmare. Mercy, we need to get a handle on those meetings I’ve rescheduled. I’ve neglected work for much too long.”
“Yes, sir,” Mercy said not noticing Carla’s frown. Lex paused looking at Hope a long moment.
“Nice hair,” he said before disappearing into his study.
Hope stared after her boss’ departing form. “It’s been like this a week,” she said to the hair she had recently shorn off.
“Lex is still a male. If it hadn’t been for the color I put in it earlier he would never noticed. Now let’s go check on Clark.”
Victor stood on the platform of the watchtower and looked out at the Earth revolving slowing beneath them in awe. It was an amazing sight.
“Welcome to the Watchtower Victor,” Oliver said and the man nodded. “Don’t worry; I catch Wally doing that all the time.”
“Yeah I guess I should go meet the troops huh? What are we going to tell the other guys?”
“Leave that to me. Its meal time, the perfect time to do some meet and greets,” Oliver said with a smile that was barely visible though his hood. Throwing it back his green domino mask in place the two walked to the mess hall. He preferred the sunglasses but this was safer in the long run.
Cyborg stared and the volume of heroes milling about. “All of these guys?” He whispered.
“Most are still in their training capes. Hell our boyscout would still be in training if he wasn’t so damn powerful with an enemy all his own. It was the Bat’s idea, and as much as I’m loathe to admit it a good one. ”
“Then why didn’t you ever want us to come?” Victor asked.
“Do you guys need training working as a team or following orders? Excluding Bart but he’s a lost cause.”
“Maybe he should hang out with the flash.”
“If those two ever meet I want to be on the other side of the planet,” Oliver said with a shudder.
“How am I supposed to figure this out?”
“You’ll find a way. If not I’m sure the new outfit will help you pick up the ladies.”
Victor rolled his eyes at his new disguise. Coughing his voice modifier clicked into place and he looked at his changes. Lies mixed with truth. One arm was completely exposed but thanks to a Waynetech toy looked completely mechanical. His other arm was encased in the same black fabric that made the clothing for the bat family despite. Both his eyes were “artificial” glowing blue from under his own face mask, slightly larger than Oliver’s. It hand an extra camera to catch anything that Victor may have missed.
The mask as well as the outer layer of his uniform was dark blue with silver accents and his codename of all ridiculous things was A. I. he would get Oliver for this. The only perk was that some of the upgrades were real. He had a new set of toys loaded at the small of his back that he couldn’t wait to try.
Noticing a cluster of younger heroes he began to approach them until Oliver grabbed him and spun him towards the food first. “Its catered, you’ll love it.”
“What I don’t have to eat oil nuts and bolts?” Victor snapped with his new even deeper voice.
“You can if you really want to,” Oliver deadpanned before walking away. Sighing Victor rolled his eyes and headed over to the food, wishing for a moment that he really was a newly welcomed member of the Justice League training initiative instead of a pretender.
While Oliver was right and most of these people would not end being invited to join the league it was still a superhero hub. People came at went so even if A.I. vanished once he learned who the mole was the rest of those present would not be any wiser.
But he couldn’t think like that. There were a few telepaths here and who knew how well the scrambler worked. But combined with the fact that he though partially in code it might be fine.
“Close only counts in horseshoes,” he muttered as he filled his tray.
“Just get out of a training session with Robin? He’s worse than Batman. And he’s just a kid,” A blond girl done up in the American flag stated. “He’s always saying that.”
“Robin? No haven’t met him. I didn’t know he was a member of the League.”
“Oh he’s not he’s just a teacher though I swear he’s like 12.”
“But hasn’t Batman been operating with Robin for nearly eight years?”
“I didn’t mean it literally. Geez Alien or Computer?”
“Computer human hybrid why?”
“Its always the Aliens and Computers that just don’t get it, StarGirl by the way.”
“Cool, I saw you talking to one of the Fellowship.”
“Like Lord of the Rings. The Big Guns. Elf Boy, Green Arrow.”
“Oh, so who’s Frodo?”
“Yeah him and Flash, Merry and Pippin by the way are the nicest.”
“What do you mean?” Victor asked as they took their seats.
“My first day here, and this is a little embarrassing. I was walking around and I got lost. I walked in on this guy, and he’s in blue jeans and a red t-shirt and all I can think is hubba hubba. He just looks at me and grins. Asks if I’m lost, gives me a grand tour then has dinner with me.”
“What does it mean?”
“Ugh, Computers, I’m getting to that. Anyway we’re playing scrabble when Batman comes in and starts yelling at him about some explosion and not waiting for backup. He’s not saying anything, and I just get so mad. So I start yelling at Batman, like ripping him a new one for being so mean to a new guy.” Victor grinned trying to imagine the diminutive blond yelling at Batman of all people.
“So finally he asks me if I know who I’m playing scrabble with and the guy grins holds out his hand and says ‘hi, I’m Kal.’ Like it’s no big deal. I mean come on the guy is Superman and he’s playing Scrabble with a nobody like me.”
“Are you telling the Superman story again?” A man Victor assumes is dressed in civilian clothes as he’s in a T-shirt and jeans takes a seat.
“So what if I am.”
“Well you should be ashamed to tell it. I mean how did you not know that was Superman? He doesn’t even wear a mask!” Pat exclaims to his partner.
“Well what about his secret identity?” Stargirl counters.
“He doesn’t have one. Don’t you think we would have noticed Superman walking down the street by now?”
“He’s an Alien maybe he can shape shift,” Stargirl snapped.
“Why wouldn’t he say so then?”
“Well if he can only shift into Superman and his secret identity why would he tell anyone? It helps keep his secret.”
“She has a point, though it is not in the list of his confirmed abilities. And the ability to shape shift implies less stable body mass, similar to that of the Martian Manhunter. In which case, trauma, damage, or loss of concentration would cause a loss of the shifted form,” Victor said and grinned at his connection to Google.
“Did he just agree with me and disagree with me in like the same sentence?” StarGirl asked shocked.
Pat nodded and she rolled her eyes. Darn sidekicks.
“Hi, I’m Pat or you can call me Stripe.”
“It’s shorter than Special Tactics Robotic Integrated Power Enhancer.”
That it is,” Victor agreed. “Tell me more about the Fellowship.”
“Well Gimili is out on some mission, Hawkgirl.”
“I can see that. Who’s Sam? If Superman’s Frodo? Batman?”
“No, I can’t figure that one out yet, Batman’s more the Strider type. Strong, silent, in the shadows.”
“And why is Flash both Merry and Pippin?”
“Clearly you haven’t met the Flash,” was StarGirl’s only answer and Victor’s eyes widened.
“So what were you discussing?” Lex asked as he took a seat at his desk.
“Well Carla over heard your comment about deciding what to do once he remembered. She decided that you had had a fight and she will do everything in her power to make sure you two are together and happy no matter what Clark remembers.”
“She would be quite the miracle worker since we aren’t together in the first place.”
“Yeah,” Mercy said and standing behind a seated Lex he didn’t notice her smirk.
“Should I be concerned?”
“Hope thinks it’s funny. Carla is smitten by Clark and likes you as well, so she means well and will most likely keep Hope in check. And as silly as she is behind closed doors Hope knows better than to cross the line she simply steps a toe over it from time to time.”
“Well I’m the spy of course,” Mercy said calmly.
“For who?” Lex asked and this time he was in time to catch the grin on his guard’s face. “Mercy.”
“You have two overseas meetings next week that can be postponed.”
“No push them up if possible,” Lex said accepting the change of subject for now. “It will be of more use to be around when he can be awake for longer. And it will throw those cape’s through a loop.”
Mercy’s grin was darker then and she nodded. “And the madman?”
Lex sighed. “I had forgotten about him. He’s still on the loose?”
“Biding his time I suppose,” Mercy said.
“Okay, unlike that Bat he doesn’t mind crawling out of that cesspool Gotham for time to time. Have him meet me on my way back. Schedule a layover, just enough for plausible deniability if it should go public. And tell him his bitch and her mutts are not welcome.”
“Make sure he understands the word discreet or there will not be a hole deep enough that he can climb into and be safe.”
“Are there any gala’s or events coming up that will be televised?”
Mercy frowned but quickly scrolled through her events. “That music channel is hosting its movie awards here in a few weeks. Wait, sorry that’s Metropolis, what kind of event?”
“A grand gala with wheelchair access, in four or more weeks.”
“That will be nearing summer events, it should be simple enough to find. Any charity type you prefer?”
“One of those Green New York causes would work well. Maybe a hundred thousand,” Lex mused and Mercy couldn’t hide her grin. Lex was going to make the most of this for as long as it lasted and drive the heroes and Lois Lane insane while he did it.
Oliver approached Batman and saw he was already watching what Victor doing out in the mess hall on a small screen that was built into his gauntlet.
“How is he doing?”
“He has connected with StarGirl.”
“Courtney? Good, that girl knows everyone; he’ll be in deep in no time.”
“Yes she is explaining the Fellowship to him.”
“I thought we talked to her about that? For weeks they kept trying to drop my hood to check for pointed ears.”
Batman said nothing as he walked away, only years as Batman keeping his smirk from his lips. He had no problems being compared to Aragorn.