Author email: email@example.com
Author webpage: http://www.watchersjournal.com/aelora/aelora.html
Genre: Het, Original character, Drama, Romance
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DC Comics and Warner Brothers. Except for Cady. She's mine.
Summary: Clark's cousin comes to live with the family, and challenge Lex's outlook on life.
Warnings: Yes, there is sex in this. What did you expect?? It's Lex!!
Notes: Thanks to my inspiration, Rael, for being the perfect Lex!
It's been so long since I've
So long since I wanted
Then you made me laugh
And my heart opened
Please Forgive Me – Melissa Etheridge
“Have you ever thought about getting into politics?” Clark queried to Lex above the din of the music in the Talon.
“Someday I’d like to be President,” came the honest reply.
Clark gave a barely noticeable eyebrow raise at that. “In that case, you can have your slogan back.”
Lex smiled and glanced back out at the crowd. “It’s okay.” He flashed a quick smile at Clark. “You can keep it.”
“President Luthor, huh?”
Lex and Clark turned to see Cady walk up beside them, tray piled with dirty glassware in hand which she set on the counter. She smiled up at Lex. “Now that’s one election I might have to remind myself to cast my vote in.”
A half smile from the man who would be President. “Oh? And just how would that vote be placed?”
“Depends on the competition.”
Lex allowed a hint of laughter at that, though only briefly. “When did you start working here? What happened to the job at the Ledger?”
Cady leaned against the counter beside him. “This is just a part time thing I started last week.” She waved a hand dismissively. “More money and all of that.”
“Ambitious,” Lex commented, flashing another smile at Cady.
Clark watched the entire exchange silently, wondering what he had missed. If he wasn’t mistaken – and when it came to his cousin, he rarely was – Cady was flirting with Lex. Of course, that wasn’t quite as staggering as the almost complete certainty that Lex was flirting with Cady. Clark wasn’t exactly the most experienced person when it came to matters like this but he knew flirting when he saw it and the “casual” glances these two were throwing at one another were anything but! He found himself wondering if either of them knew what they were doing then quickly decided that it wasn’t possible. Lex would not be flirting with Cady. Clark had rarely seen Lex flirt with anyone openly. And Cady… Well, Lex just didn’t seem her type.
“She makes a pretty good cup of coffee,” Clark finally commented, wanting to be a part of the conversation. He couldn’t help but notice that Lex didn’t even cast him a glance but kept watching Cady.
“Is that so?” Lex remarked raising an eyebrow at Clark’s cousin as she gave him a small smile. Cady was wearing a small white t-shirt that showed off her midriff and he had a stirring mental image of placing his hand against her belly, his palm and fingers caressing the soft skin. Turning his gaze back out to the crowd in the attempt to push the thought from his mind, Lex told her, “I wouldn’t mind a cup of cappuccino.”
Cady made a face. “I guess as owner of this establishment, you’re allowed,” she finished with a loud sigh that made both Clark and Lex chuckle as she walked off behind the bar to get his order prepared.
Lex felt the eyes of his friend watching him closely but decided to pay no attention to it. He nodded instead toward Lana, who was standing amidst a group of students, smiling at something that was said. “I have to admit, Lana continues to surprise me. She’s doing very well with this place.”
“That almost sounded like a compliment, Lex,” Clark commented with a big grin.
Lex shrugged noncommittally in reply.
Noticing a wave from Chloe across the room, Clark glanced over at Lex. “Looks like I’m being summoned. See you later.”
A small smile and Lex watched Clark move away to join Chloe and Pete on the other side of the room. He watched the three friends for a moment, not missing the half-frown from Pete sent in his direction. At least Pete didn’t remember the whole episode with breaking into his house and attempting to kill him. Then, Lex supposed, they would really have issues.
“My cousin left you to fend for yourself, I see.” Cady leaned over the counter, sliding the mug of cappuccino to Lex.
Shrugging, he picked up the beverage. “I’m used to being alone, Cady.” Now why did I say that? Lex wondered.
Cady raised an eyebrow. “Well, that’s a little maudlin, even for you.” She paused, watching Lex for a moment as he sipped at his drink. He did seem to be alone more often than not but she had always suspected he chose it to be that way. From the tone of his words just now, she found herself wondering if that assumption were incorrect. “How is it?” She asked, nodding at the cappuccino.
“Very good,” Lex replied sincerely. “Any other hidden talents I should know about?” He turned to lean over the counter on an elbow, facing her.
“I wouldn’t call making coffee a ‘hidden talent’,” Cady laughed. “At least I’ve never listed it on my resume.”
Lex smiled. “Maybe you should.”
“Yeah, if I wanted to be a secretary.”
A smirk followed by a long pause. Lex watched surreptitiously as Cady turned to clean the counter behind her and toss a few empty mugs into a tub. Wanting to start a conversation with her, he asked, “So do you have plans to finish college?”
Cady turned back, tossing the rag beneath the counter. “My parents would return to haunt me if I didn’t and aunt Martha would kick my butt all of the way back to Metropolis.”
Lex chuckled. He could really see Martha Kent doing that, too.
“Actually, I spoke with my counselor the other day, explaining how it wouldn’t be until summer before I would have enough saved to take a few classes. Then he had some brilliant idea about an internship, saying that he could swing it so I would only need 4 more classes if I enrolled in an internship now through the summer.” She raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “He said I could graduate in December. Of course, I burst his little bubble when I informed him that Fordman’s and the local feed and tack store didn’t seem to be likely internship candidates.”
“You’ve got a point.” Lex considered her reply for a moment, then asked, “What kind of internship are you looking for?” He took a sip of his beverage as he watched her over the rim.
“Marketing and promotions. From what Mr. Brommer said, I am supposed to develop a specific campaign geared toward the product or service the company I would internship with provides, implement the plan, track the results and get graded on how well both its performance and my own do.” She shrugged. “Sounds simple enough.”
Setting the cup down, Lex looked at her face. “What about the Plant?”
Cady glanced up and their eyes met. There was silence between them for a moment before she commented, “Certainly LuthorCorp already has an established marketing department far beyond what I could offer.”
Lex flashed a tight smile. “My father’s business practices are a bit… antiquated. Does he have a marketing division for himself and LuthorCorp as a whole? Of course. One of the biggest in corporate America. Does each separate business have one of their own? No. He doesn’t feel it is necessary. Especially for a crap fact – er, fertilizer plant.”
Cady laughed and Lex found himself enjoying the sound. “Now there’s a marketing slogan – The Smallville Crap Factory - Where Innovation Is Scented!”
Allowing the laughter to emerge, Lex did glance around to make certain no one heard their exchange. Luckily, the students of Smallville High appeared too wrapped up in their own conversations to notice.
Glancing back at Clark’s cousin, he asked, “So? What do you think?”
“You’re serious?” Cady blinked at his nod.
“Why don’t you stop by the office tomorrow around ten thirty and we can discuss the details,” Lex suggested, sliding his empty cup over to her as he straightened to leave.
She smiled. “I’ll be there.”
“Absolutely not!” Jonathon Kent thundered at his niece where they stood, toe-to-toe in the front room of the farm house.
Martha sighed from her vantage point on the couch where she could keep a close eye on both her husband and her niece. When Cady had come home only half an hour, talking in her usual animated way about how with the offered internship from Lex, she would be able to finish college with minimal expenses, Martha had been more than happy for her. Then Jonathon had come in from checking on the herd and, as Clark had so eloquently commented under his breath “All hell broke loose”. While Martha understood her husband’s reservations regarding Cady working for LuthorCorp, she thought he also needed to see that technically she wasn’t working for the Luthors. It was an internship, which would allow her to get a very good job once she graduated with her degree.
“Why?” Cady demanded. “Because I’ll be working for Lex Luthor?”
“Exactly!” Jonathon replied with an ever-growing frown. “You can’t trust the Luthors, Cady. Why did he even offer this to you? Why doesn’t he simply hire someone with all of the money he had? What does a fertilizer plant need with a ‘promotion’ campaign anyway? None of it makes sense, Cady, and I am not going to allow those people to take advantage of you!”
“Those people?” Cady threw her hands up in the air with an exaggerated sigh. “Those people happen to be Lex Luthor and he has done quite a bit for this town and that Plant from what I can see! As for what a fertilizer plant would need with a promotions department – you obviously know as much about business as I do growing corn!”
Martha closed her eyes and shook her head. This could go back and forth between them all night long and likely would. The real problem was, uncle and niece were more alike than father and daughter had ever been. While Cady inherited her trusting nature and optimism from the O’Rourke’s, she very definitely picked up the obstinacy and pride from the Kent side of the family. Of course neither Jonathon nor Cady ever seemed to realize this. They would simply continue to butt heads, always thinking they were right and the other was wrong and neither would ever back down. And, as usual, Clark was draped in the easy chair across the room, watching them both with a clearly interested and even amused expression on his face. Martha attempted to catch his eye, trying to let her son know not to even think about adding his two cents to the conversation. It would only serve to make things worse.
Turning her attention back to the two combatants in the room, Martha quietly contemplated what to say in order to diffuse the situation as they continued.
“It’s as if you could care less if I graduate or not!” Cady accused.
“Now that’s not true,” Jonathon responded, attempting to cool his anger and discuss this with his niece reasonably.
He couldn’t understand how Cady could not see what a bad idea this was. Lex Luthor would take advantage of both her intelligence and her trustworthy nature. He would have a “free” employee, whose entire graduation would rest on a solitary grade from him. He could hold that over her, use it to get anything he wanted. And then Jonathon’s mind went places he didn’t even want to consider and his anger came right back to the forefront.
“All I’m saying is you don’t have to resort to this to graduate. Certainly there is somewhere else that you can intern – “
“And where would that be?” Cady asked, folding her arms over her chest. “The local Dairy Queen?” Her tone dripped with sarcasm.
Jonathon ran a hand over his face in frustration. “That’s unfair, Cady. There are plenty of good companies around here that do not include LuthorCorp.”
“Nothing but LuthorCorp measures up to anything that would be considered acceptable by a Metropolis-based organization,” Cady responded, attempting to curb her raised voice somewhat.
What was wrong with her uncle? What had the Luthor’s ever done directly to him to catch his animosity so severely? Sure, Lex was a little arrogant and he had more money than necessary and was more than likely a spoilt brat at heart but those certainly weren’t reasons to hate someone. She glanced down at Clark who quickly looked away, obviously not wanting to get caught in the middle. That or he felt bad about ganging up on his father over the subject. On the way home together, Clark had been more than enthusiastic about her interning for his best friend’s company. He had behaved as if Lex and she were getting married or something. To her it had been… strange.
“My father worked for LuthorCorp for almost twelve years. I don’t see the issue here.”
“The issue, Catherine O’Rourke,” Jonathon replied. “Is that you are not your father and you now reside under my roof. Under no circumstances is someone in my family working for the Luthors!”
“Then maybe I will just have to find another place to live!” Cady shot back at him, pushing past him to run up the stairs to her room. The resounding echo of a slamming bedroom door quickly followed.
Martha sighed. “Jonathon, did you have to push?” She asked quietly.
“That girl is -- pig-headed and immature!”
Trying her best to hide her smile, Martha replied, “It must run in the Kent family.”
Opening his mouth to reply, Jonathon closed it just as quickly, shaking his head. He turned to glance at Clark who was watching him quietly, though every indication of his expression clearly expressed how much he wanted to say something. Shaking a finger at him, Jonathon told his son, “Don’t you start!”
Rolling his eyes, Clark repressed the need to stick up for both Lex and Cady, and pushed himself up from the chair, heading for the staircase. “I’m going to check on Cady,” he told his mother as he passed by her.
She smiled and nodded and watched her son disappear up the stairs before she stood and moved over to her husband who was standing with arms folded over his chest, staring out the window. Slipping an arm around his waist, Martha told him, “Cady’s going on twenty-one, Jonathon. You can’t expect to become a father to her now. She’s old enough to make her own decisions and whatever the consequence, we simply have to be there for her, support her.”
“I understand that, Martha.” Jonathon sighed.
From the moment Cady had come to live with them, he had found himself instantly taking to her like she were his own. And here he had thought having an alien for a son was stressful. Having a ‘daughter’ to worry about every time she stepped out of the house wasn’t any easier. He could only imagine tearing his hair out had Clark been a female.
Continuing, he added, “But this isn’t any regular situation. This is Lex Luthor we are talking about.”
“I understand your worries regarding the Luthors, Jonathon,” Martha replied quietly. “But this is an excellent opportunity for Cady. If her parents were alive, she would be acquiring an internship in Metropolis, possibly at LuthorCorp because of her father. At least here we can keep an eye on her and you can continue to offer her advice when you feel its merited.”
Jonathon found a smile at that. “You really think she is going to take my advice?”
Laughing, Martha shook her head. “No. But at least its there if she ever changes her mind.”
Leaning over, Jonathon kissed the top of his wife’s head. “What would this family do without you to keep everything in perspective?”
“Obviously spend more time arguing than anything productive,” she replied, shaking her head and stepping away to head toward the kitchen. “Go finish up outside. Dinner will be ready soon. Hopefully it will be civil.”
“Yes, m’am.” Jonathon smiled as his wife disappeared around the corner. Glancing up once at the stairs, he considered going to talk to Cady but realized they both likely needed to cool off a bit first. He hated the idea of her interning for Lex but as his wife had pointed out, it was a great opportunity for her. He knew his sister would have approved – she had always had such high hopes for Cady. It certainly wasn’t his place to destroy those.
Cady entered the offices of the LuthorCorp Plant No. 3 promptly at ten twenty-five the next morning. If there was one thing she had learned from her father, it was that punctuality always counted. She had learned that appearance was also important from her mother, and while she knew the ivory silk suit, with matching skirt and jacket, was appropriately business-like enough, she still did not appreciate Clark’s teasing comments that morning at breakfast. He had said she stuck out in Smallville like a sore thumb, to which she had replied that just because all of the other classless farm boys didn’t know how to dress, didn’t mean she had to follow in line. A food fight had almost broke out after that but Martha had quickly jumped to the rescue, saying that she thought Cady looked beautiful and Clark needed to stop teasing his cousin. When Clark had missed his bus and Cady had threatened not to drive him to school, he had relented and apologized. Of course, that was until he got out of the car in front of the school, then he had promptly called her a ‘stuffed shirt’. Cady would have ran him off the sidewalk if there hadn’t been a crowd of witnesses. She had then driven to the Ledger for a few hours work, contemplating all the while how to get back at her cousin.
Walking up to the receptionist
-- a false blonde in her late twenties or so, who appeared entirely too wrapped
up in buffing her nails -- Cady smiled pleasantly. “Good morning. I have an
appointment with L – Mr. Luthor.” Cady doubted it would be appropriate to call
him Lex here in the office.
The woman glanced up at her as if she hadn’t seen her standing there in front of her desk for the past thirty seconds. She sighed, obviously not pleased about being interrupted during her manicure. “Your name?”
Picking up the phone, the blonde waited a moment then said into it, “Cady O’Rourke is here for her appointment.” She nodded and hung up, glancing back up at Cady. “He’ll be right out.”
“Thanks.” Cady watched the woman go back to her nails then turned and moved over to the waiting area. She had barely glanced down at the magazines stacked neatly on the little glass table when Lex emerged from his office.
“Good morning, Cady. Come on in.”
Smiling, Cady followed him into the enormous and plush office, her gaze quickly taking everything in. It was tastefully decorated in the LuthorCorp colors of black and deep purple, the furniture all very modern with lots of glass and chrome. It didn’t quite seem to match the rest of the facility but then Cady doubted that when Lionel Luthor had the place built, he ever cared much for what anything but the office he might have to occasionally visit should have to look like.
“Have a seat.” Lex waved toward one of the plush black leather chairs in front of his desk as he moved over to the wet bar on the other side of the room. “Would you like anything? Coffee? Water?”
Cady realized she had been momentarily distracted as her eyes had swept over the man who would soon be her boss for a short time. He was dressed as impeccably as usual, in charcoal slacks and a pale lavender shirt, his jacket discarded and hanging on a rack in the corner. Cady silently wished she didn’t find the man so damn attractive. “Umm… water would be great, thanks.”
Smiling, Lex grabbed two bottles of Ty Nant from the small refrigerator before turning and heading back over to the young woman perched on the edge of her chair as if she were ready to take flight at any moment. Handing her one of the waters, he commented, “Relax, Cady. This isn’t a trial. In fact, the last time I checked, I thought we were friends.” Sitting in the chair behind his desk, Lex took a sip of his water, fixing her with his gaze.
“Sorry.” Cady kind of smiled, feeling a flush of embarrassment in her cheeks. “This just… feels different. I mean, here you’re Mr. Luthor, general manager of the Plant. Out there,” she waved to the outside world, “you’re just Lex.”
Grinning, Lex leaned forward over his desk as he set his water beside him. “And in here I’m just Lex as well. This isn’t Metropolis, Cady.” Finding a quick frown, he added, “And I’m not my father.”
Taking a breath at his words, Cady relaxed a little and moved back a bit in her seat. She fidgeted for a moment, feeling as if she were on display or something. Truthfully, this wasn’t even an interview, since everything were really as simple as Lex agreeing to the terms her counselor set for the internship and her beginning the work. Unless, of course, Lex was changing his mind.
Lex regarded Clark’s cousin thoughtfully for a few moments, thinking how nice she looked in all ivory. Not many people could pull the look off without appearing washed out and drab. But Cady’s bright eyes and fair complexion stood out all the more against the color. That or he was just drawn again by the innocence it seemed to represent. Purity. At the thought, Lex silently cursed himself for offering her an internship. Time spent around him only meant that she would wind up corrupted and ruined. Even Clark had changed somewhat in the short time Lex had known him. And Lex had no doubt that it was his fault.
“I’m surprised your uncle agreed to this,” Lex commented, leaning back in his chair. At Cady’s startled look, Lex realized he should have known better.
“I wouldn’t exactly say he ‘agreed’ per say,” she replied, fidgeting in her seat once more. “That would be expecting a little much. But neither did he bar me from walking out the door this morning, which is a beginning.”
Lex didn’t like that sound of that. “If this is going to cause a problem with your family – “
“Oh no!” Cady hastily interrupted. “Nothing like that. I mean, sure, uncle Jonathon and I had our little round last night but it was nothing more than he had and I have gotten in to since I was like 13. And aunt Martha seemed to calm him down a bit. Though this morning I think Clark was egging him on.” Cady frowned. “Clark seems to enjoy having me around so that his father can focus on me and not him. Come to think of it, Clark tends to get away with a lot when I’m there.”
Lex found a smile over her apparent annoyance at her cousin’s brilliant use of her presence. Shaking his head, he commented, “Somehow I find it impossible to believe that Clark would ever do anything that would require sneakiness on his part.”
Cady raised an eyebrow. “You obviously don’t know Clark very well.” She smiled. “He plays that sweet and innocent act really well with everyone but me. I think he spends his days in school dreaming of ways to torture me.”
It was difficult for Lex to picture what sharing such a relationship with a family member was like. To have someone so close to you that you were comfortable with teasing and games and childish pranks. Once he had lost his mother, there had been no one. His extended family had been all but nonexistent before his mother’s death. But when she was gone, his father had ended all communication with her side of the family. The Luthor side was small and unapproachable. Lionel had a brother that Lex had met once when he was younger and even then he had quickly understood that the hatred between his father and his uncle crossed any and all family ties. Deep down, Lex fervently wished that Julian had lived. Certainly they would have been enemies as adults, but perhaps as children they would have had a small chance of being close. Maybe, having grown up with one close relationship, he wouldn’t have so many problems with simply making friends with others now.
Snapping from his reverie, Lex refocused his attention on Cady and what she was saying as she leaned forward and slid some papers on his desk. “… the requirements from my counselor. He was hoping you would call him when you had a chance so everything could be discussed in detail.”
Lex nodded, glancing over the forms but not really paying attention to what they said. Whatever Cady needed, she would get. Maybe if Jonathon Kent saw that he was helping his niece with her degree, then he might begin to view him a little differently. Of course, there were better odds of his own father being proud of him. Frowning again, Lex pushed the papers to the side and stood.
“Come on. I’ll show you around.”
Standing, Cady took her bottle in hand and followed him out the door, hanging back as he walked over to the receptionist’s desk.
“Janine, I’ll be out of my office for a bit. If Ray Walters from Arrow calls, tell him I’ll get back with him after lunch.” Turning back to Cady, Lex didn’t seem to think twice as he placed a hand against her back and moved her forward. “How would you like having your own office?”
A shiver stole through her at his touch, but Cady was able to keep from showing it. She glanced up at the man beside her to find his blue gaze trained on her, the barest hint of amusement visible in his eyes. “An office sounds great!”
With a tiny smile, Lex led her out of the main reception area, down a corridor past three doors before stopping. Removing a key from his pocket, he opened the door in front of them and led her inside, switching on the lights. It wasn’t a very big room, maybe 10’X15’, but there were two windows, a set of filing cabinets, a storage locker, desk and three chairs.
“It’s the only empty office available right now,” Lex commented as he stood back and watched Cady walk around the perimeter, stopping to peer out the west side window. Unfortunately, his gaze was drawn to her legs, where it remained for a long moment before he reminded himself that this was Clark’s cousin. Clark’s innocent, sweet, completely uncorrupted cousin. He snapped his eyes back up just in time for her to turn around.
Not completely, Lex thought, but it would do. Nodding at the empty desk, “I’ll get Janine to put in an order for a computer. Do you have a cell? We’ll get one for you. It’ll be necessary should anyone here need to get a hold of you after hours. If there is anything else you think you’ll need, just let Janine know.”
Cady smiled. He was treating this like a real job when all she had really been expecting was some tiny cubicle where she would be forced to file and maybe answer a phone all day and report to someone like Janine. Briefly, she hoped Lex wasn’t giving her special treatment because she was Clark’s cousin. Then she had to remind herself that somewhere along the way, she and Lex had become friends as well. And she hoped that had nothing to do with it.
“What about your job at the Ledger?” Lex asked, leaning back against the doorframe.
“I was waiting until this morning before I told them that I would need to quit. My part time hours at the Talon will be enough for spending money and I have enough saved to pay for my tuition for the semester.”
Lex nodded. “Sounds like you came in here this morning with the belief that I might not agree to allowing you to intern at the Plant.”
Cady shrugged. “A little, sure. I didn’t want to seem too confident.”
A smirk. “Cady, I agreed to it yesterday. Or don’t you remember?”
“That seemed more like an offer.”
Pushing off the door, hands shoved in pockets, Lex moved over to stand in front of his intern. “I wouldn’t have made an offer if I didn’t expect to make the deal.”
“Oh,” was all she could think to reply.
Lex had this incredible ability to make her feel either about ten years old and completely out of sorts or a helpless bunny about to be struck down by a waiting cobra. Neither sensation was completely comfortable. The words he had just spoken were said as if they were meant to have a double meaning to them and he had used that voice, too – the one that made her knees weak and her heart race. Lex’s voice would become a complete caress, soft and slightly husky. Not appropriate for the work place, that much was certain. Then again, this was his territory and Cady figured he could pretty much behave however he wanted.
“Would you like a tour of the rest of the facility?”
Cady had to crane her head back slightly to meet Lex’s gaze. He was still speaking softly to her and standing entirely too close. Her eyes drifted momentarily to the scar on his upper lip, wondering if he had put it there purposely to make every woman who looked at him long to kiss him. Finally, she nodded. “Yes. Please.”
Lex didn’t understand why he felt the need to flirt with Cady, but here he was doing it again, just like at the dance club in Metropolis. Whenever he was around her, he found himself feeling young and foolish again, wanting to play at little games and sneak stolen glances and thrill over the occasional brush against her. More than once he found himself wishing she were no different than any of the other women he had desired. Then they wouldn’t be standing here casually flirting. He would have closed the door, thrown her onto the desk and taken what he wanted. But Cady was different. And strangely, Lex wanted more from her. More that he could never have, which was what kept them both safe.
Forcing himself to move, Lex led her back out of the office, closing the door behind him and then out of the main offices toward the factory. Conversation between them remained casual as they toured the facility. Lex found himself asking about Clark’s past behavior and their relationship growing up as cousins and Cady’s amusing tales of incidents shared between them kept his curiosity peaked. With the ending of each story, Lex found himself encouraging her to tell another. She had a singular talent at imitating Clark, Jonathon and Martha that actually bolstered a few chuckles out of him. Ignoring the glances he received from employees nearby, Lex allowed himself the very rare moment to enjoy himself and the company of the young woman at his side. Like her cousin, Cady had the singular ability to make him for get himself for a time, to stop taking everything so seriously and simply be like everyone else. Of course, he had to be careful not to allow that slip to occur often, and certainly not for everyone around him to see it. He would hate to think what his father would say if he saw him now.
Lex was a little surprised to see that over an hour and a half had passed by the time they got back to the main offices. It was nearing noon and he found himself clinging desperately to the comfort he had felt in Cady’s presence since her arrival. Not considering the ramifications as they neared his office, he asked, “Can I take you to lunch?”
Cady didn’t want to seem too eager. For almost two hours, Lex’s attention had been completely centered on her and she was loathe to give it up. She had been allowed to see more of the person that Clark seemed to know and understand and she didn’t want him to go away just yet. “I’d like that.”
Smiling briefly, Lex walked into his office to grab his jacket then joined her back out in the waiting area. Calling out to Janine that he was leaving for lunch, he took Cady by the arm and led her out of the building to the black Lamborghini parked just outside by the stairs. Holding her door open, he asked himself just what the hell he thought he was doing as she slid into the passenger seat. He continued to ponder his sudden reckless behavior as he moved around to the driver’s side and climbed in. It was out of character and could be dangerous, for both of them. He ignored the warning bells though and started the engine, pulling out of the parking lot and off toward downtown Smallville with a screech of his tires.
Grabbing the edge of her seat with wide eyes, Cady commented, “I had forgotten what an experience driving in the car with you was.”
Lex glanced at her in amusement. “As I recall, you aren’t exactly the poster child for safe driving.”
Cady pursed her lips into a quick pout that Lex could only describe to himself as adorable. He wanted her to do it again as she replied, “That was all part of driving a fast car for the first time that I would likely never drive again.”
Smirking, Lex commented, “It was worth it then, even if it meant killing us to get your thrill?”
“Those who live in glass houses – “
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Lex grinned over at her. “I’m allowed. It’s expected. You’re uncle would have your hide if he knew.”
Laughing, Cady shook her head. “No. Its your hide he would have for letting me drive your car in the first place.”
Unfortunately, that was about as close to the truth as it got and Lex knew it. He didn’t even want to consider Jonathon Kent’s reaction to his niece being in the car with him right at the moment. With that thought crossing his mind, Lex actually found himself slowing down a bit, paying a little more attention to his surroundings and taking corners with more care. After all, it was Clark’s cousin that was sitting in the seat beside him. That alone required more than the usual lack of responsibility on his part.
Pulling up to Lidia’s, a little family owned café on fifth street, Lex hurried around to the passenger side and opened the door for Cady, helping her out of the car. She seemed a little surprised at the gesture and he had the impulse to ask her if farm boys didn’t understand proper manners, but decided to keep his sarcasm to himself. It was a surprisingly nice day for February and Lex found himself squinting a little against the bright sun as he led Cady to the front door, holding it open as she entered.
There was a small wait, which Lex was okay with but the manager noticed him behind the few patrons in line and quickly ushered him and Cady forward through the crowd to a table in the west room. Cady raised an eyebrow as the manager walked away, promising to have some water out to them soon.
“An immediate table during the lunch crowd. Must be nice.”
Lex frowned as he glanced down at the menu. “Sure. You’d be amazed at the amount of enemies moving ahead of the line can gain you.”
Considering that, Cady asked, “Then why do you allow it? You could have just told the manager, no thanks, I’ll wait.”
Glancing up at her, Lex shrugged. “Why would I do that?”
Cady was silent as a waiter brought their glasses of water and a basket of bread with butter, setting it all before them. He took their drink orders, then moved off after assuring he would be back quickly to take their orders. Taking a small sip of her water, Cady commented, “Just because you are Lex Luthor doesn’t mean you always have to behave like Lex Luthor.”
Raising an eyebrow at that but not removing his gaze from his menu, Lex told her, “That made very little sense, Cady.”
“What I mean is – “
“I know what you mean.” Lex placed his menu on the table in front of him and turned to look at her. “What I’m saying is this is who I am, who I was raised to be. It’s what’s expected of me.”
“Have you always done what’s expected of you?”
“Does anybody?” Lex flashed a too-quick almost-smile at her. “But maybe its time that I should.”
“Maybe you should just be yourself.”
Sighing, Lex reached for the bread, breaking off a piece and lightly spreading it with butter before setting it on Cady’s plate. He didn’t know why he felt the need to cater to her like this, but he found himself enjoying it. “What if this is who I am, Cady? Sometimes I wonder if maybe both you and Clark see someone who isn’t really there.”
“I could take that as an insult,” Cady replied, staring at the bread on her plate. She hadn’t expected such a simple and yet considerate act to come from Lex. Yet another layer peeled from the outer mask. She looked back over at him, noticing that he refused to meet her gaze. “I consider Clark an excellent judge of character.”
“What about you?” Lex asked, concentrating his focus on the centerpiece of sunflowers in front of him.
Cady smiled slightly. “I tend to believe the good in people outweighs the bad.”
Lex nodded. “Sheltered and naďve. What a frightening combination.”
Setting her glass down a little too heavily, Cady responded, “You’re making me regret coming to lunch with you, Lex.”
Half-smiling, Lex turned to look at her. “Still believe the good outweighs the bad?”
Cady didn’t have time to reply as the server returned with their drinks – a diet Coke for Cady and a vodka collins for Lex – and then took their orders. Leaning back in her chair, knowing that their conversation had somehow dwindled into territory better left untouched, she attempted to find a safer avenue of discussion for them to share.
“I really do appreciate the chance for this internship with LuthorCorp.”
Lex smiled and looked over at her. “The way I see it, the Plant is getting the better end of the deal. No pay, no benefits and a smart employee.” He picked up his drink and took a quick swallow. “Every deal should be this one-sided.”
“Careful!” Cady laughed. “I just might have to rethink this.”
Taking another sip of his drink, Lex set his glass down and looked out at the restaurant for a moment before turning back to her. “When do you want to start?”
“Eager, too?” Lex raised an eyebrow in amusement. “Next week is perfect. Your computer and phone should be in by then as well. You sure you don’t need more time at the Ledger? You have enough for tuition?”
Cady nodded, only slightly frowning over his concern for her financial situation.
What Lex really wanted to do was offer to pay her tuition in exchange for the internship. It seemed fair to him. Maybe they could even work out a contract for her to promise to work for the Plant for two years after graduation. The problem was, he knew Jonathon Kent wouldn’t allow it. Would likely want to string him up for even offering. Lex knew he should be used to being turned down with any offer of help he had for the Kent family, but that didn’t mean he wanted to quit trying. He thought that maybe Cady would be smart enough to accept it, to see it for the great opportunity it was. But he also didn’t mean to cause further problems for her and her relatives.
Lunch arrived and conversation dwindled to the uncommonly warm weather for February, the inability for the Sharks to make it through the playoffs again and general local gossip. Cady was quickly learning that Lex was a man of few words, though usually whatever he did say held a lot more meaning than one could just glimpse on the surface. It was as fascinating an aspect of him as the neutral expression he always attempted to keep on his face or the smile he would flash in place of anger or hurt. He seemed to constantly battle showing any emotions that he might be feeling, and Cady couldn’t help but wonder at the behavior. When she had earlier told him to just be himself, she hadn’t realized how difficult that could truly be for Lex until she spent an hour speaking with him about a variety of topics over lunch. Was it an extension of simply being the person everyone expected him to be? Or something deeper? She was no psychology major, but Cady was beginning to think Lex Luthor would be a fascinating subject for study.
The drive back to the Plant included very little conversation spoken between them. After parking, Cady got out of the Lamborghini and moved immediately over to her car, glancing up as Lex walked over to her, hands in his pant’s pockets. He stopped just beside her so that she was once more forced to lean back to meet his gaze. He smiled slightly.
“So I’ll see you at the Talon.”
Cady nodded. “A cappuccino ‘on the house’.” She paused and glanced down for a moment, her gaze drawn to his lavender-colored shirt. Worrying her lower lip, she looked back up. “Lex, I still believe the good outweighs the bad.”
For just a moment something flickered in Lex’s eyes – pain, hope -- she couldn’t tell which. But then it was gone and he gave her a tight smile and surprisingly reached out and brushed a strand of hair from her cheek, tucking it behind her ear. “Optimism. I sometimes forget what that sounds like.”
Placing her hand over his, Cady held it gently, staring into his eyes. Deep pools of sky blue that seemed to carry more pain and loneliness than any being should be allowed to bear. “Lex – “
“Cady, don’t.” Lex pulled his hand from hers and shoved it back into his pocket. He straightened and his gaze became shuddered once more. “Thanks for meeting with me. And for agreeing to lunch. I’ll call your counselor and get the details together for the internship.”
Glancing at the ground, Cady nodded quietly.
“See you around town.”
“Good bye. And… thank you, Lex.” She looked up in time to catch Lex watching her for a moment before he nodded.
And then he turned and walked back into the Plant.
Continue to Chapter Six
Back to Lex