Title: Someone to
Watch Over Me
Author email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Sinjun. She's mine.
Summary: Clark's cousin moves to town. Told between alternating viewpoints of Lex and Sinjun.
Warnings: Yes, there is sex in this. What did you expect?? It's Lex!!
WATCH OVER ME
Part One - Coming Home
I'm hearing without listening
And believing every word
You are not saying
Speaking without a sound
Cling and Clatter – LifeHouse
The next week passed by without incident. When I spoke with the press the morning after the supposed break-in, I informed them that since there were no signs of entry, it was agreed that the perpetrator was simply a raccoon that had climbed in through one of the vents. All of the vents in the plant were being repaired to keep such a thing from happening again. When the news went out, I received a message on my voice mail from Lex. All it said was “Didn’t know you had it in you.” I knew to what he was referring and I didn’t believe that my explanation to the press was a lie. After all, there was absolutely no conclusive evidence that there had been a break-in. The guards hadn’t actually identified anyone, animal, human or otherwise. Therefore, what I told the press simply included the omission of certain facts that weren’t really their business anyway. They were part of an investigation and did not need to be shared.
Not that I still didn’t harbor a few suspicions on my own. Problem was, I didn’t know where to begin. I mean, its one thing to feel suspicious about what’s going on at a company owned by LuthorCorp. Its quite another to begin wondering about what’s going on with your own family. I was beginning to think I was the only person in Smallville who wasn’t keeping something from me. Chloe called me paranoid when I mentioned it to her. I replied it wasn’t paranoia, it was perception. I swear everyone around me had a secret to harbor and I was beginning to feel a little left out.
One evening after dinner, I followed Clark up to his sanctuary in the barn, the loft that uncle Jonathon referred to as his “Fortress of Solitude”. We sat and played checkers for awhile and he asked me how I was enjoying my job and I asked him about what was going on at school. Then we sat in silence while I continued to beat him.
“You’re mind doesn’t exactly seem to be on the game,” I commented after our sixth round. “This isn’t exactly chess, you know. The odds should be a little more even between us. Something wrong?”
Clark looked up at me for a moment and there was something in his eyes that seemed to say he wanted to talk. But then it went away and he replied, “Just stuff at school. Nothing important.”
“Of course.” Standard answer. I was getting used to it. I cleared two of his checkers from the board and asked, “So how did you and Lex become friends? I mean, you have to admit, the two of you are about as opposite as two people could be. I don’t picture him hanging out a high school pep rallies.”
I glanced up. Clark was fidgeting suddenly and I found myself wondering if I had picked up the trait from him or he was picking it up from me.
“I sort of… saved his life.”
I raised my eyebrows at that. “Okay, now this is interesting. Saved his life? Lex Luthors? What happened?”
“His Porsche hit some debris in the road and he lost control and went off the bridge into the river. I saw it happen and dove in and pulled him out and revived him.” He shrugged as if it were nothing, keeping his eyes on the board between us.
“Wow.” I continued to stare at Clark while he continued to pretend he didn’t know that I was. “Good job, Clark. Now wonder he seems so impressed with you.”
My cousin shrugged again. “It wasn’t anything. He made a pretty big deal of it, gave me a truck and all.”
I smiled. “Let me guess, your dad wouldn’t let you keep it?”
Clark finally looked up at me and flashed a wry grin. “Of course.”
Poor Lex. Forbidden from even showing his appreciation for having his life saved. Not that I completely disagreed with my uncle’s decision. In a way, Clark accepting the truck would have cheapened what he had done. Saving someone’s life shouldn’t be worth the price of a truck and I sure as hell hoped that Lex didn’t put such value on his own. Life was worth more than that, something which I think my cousin has always understood.
I stood, yawning. “Well, I am off to bed. Got another day of file perusal to look forward to tomorrow.”
Clark smiled. “Thanks for keeping me company tonight, Sinj.”
I waved a hand in the air. “You know I love spending time with you, Clark. G’night.” I turned and started down the loft.
“Yeah?” I stopped and glanced over my shoulder.
“Do you believe in Fate? I mean, that somehow my saving Lex’s life and becoming his friend and your moving in with us and getting a job an important job at the plant from Lex all might have something in common? Some reason that they occurred?”
I shook my head. “No, Clark. They’re merely coincidences in the ongoing shuffle known as life.”
Clark smiled, shrugged. My cousin had the most adorable smile. “Just curious. Sleep tight, Sinj.”
“You too bean pole.”
The next morning at work, as I had informed Clark, I prepared myself for another day of reading. I had cleared out most of the files, leaving only the most recent press stories left to peruse. It was while flipping through those that I noticed mention of the Kent farm. Going back to the article I had passed, I laid the folder on the desk and quickly began reading. Apparently LuthorCorp barrels containing chemical waste were deposited onto my uncle’s farm, killing his entire herd of cattle. There was something I didn’t know. The next few articles went on to describe how the area was cleaned up and the herd replaced by LuthorCorp but that it was very possible the land was permanently contaminated. Now I understood why there was an entire pasture that uncle Jonathon refused to use. I hadn’t really questioned the family about it, figuring it had something to do with farming that I knew nothing about.
I glanced up to see Lex leaning casually in the doorway, dressed in a gray cashmere shirt and black slacks, looking a lot sexier than any man had a right to. I forced my gaze back to the article in front of me, wondering how long it would take before my boss realized I was mooning after him like Clark did with Lana.
“There’s a lot here,” I replied. “Seems LuthorCorp is a favorite with the press.”
“Gabe tells me you have practically closeted yourself in here the past few days, going through those files.” I heard him move across the room until he was standing in front of the desk, but I still didn’t look up. Not until he reached out and flipped my current folder closed. “Come on. It’s time for lunch.”
I glanced at my watch. After noon. I was hungry. But I shook my head. “I’m expecting a call from someone at the Planet wanting a follow up to last week’s events.”
“They can leave a message,” Lex told me, walking around the desk and pulling me and the chair out to face him. He leaned down until we were eye to eye. “The boss wants to take you to lunch. Are you going to say no?”
Did anyone say no to Lex Luthor? Well, besides my uncle, I mean. I could have said no. Easily. The problem was, I didn’t want to. Any chance to spend time in his presence was becoming increasingly important to me. And we had done nothing but converse over the phone for the past week. My uncle would kill me if he knew. Clark would laugh at me. I couldn’t remember the last time any man had affected me this way. He was still staring down at me, piercing me with those blue eyes of his and his familiar scent hung in the air between us and I found myself wriggling in the seat uncomfortably under his gaze.
“You know, if you’re ever going to make it in this world, you’ve got to conquer this fidgeting problem of yours,” he told me quietly.
“I didn’t know I was going to make it anywhere. This is Smallville,” I replied.
A slight smile. “You never know, Miss St. Claire.”
He continued to stare at me for a moment longer and I realized that for once I had remained completely still throughout. He smiled and straightened, holding his hand out to me. “C’mon.”
Like I really had any plans to say no.
Lex took me to the steakhouse in town owned by the Carlisle family who had owned and operated the place for over fifty years. It was really the nicest restaurant in town but Lex looked completely out of his element there. Mrs. Carlisle was thrilled when she realized Lex Luthor was in her establishment and I’m certain we received an unprecedented amount of attention compared to the rest of the patrons. It was actually kind of amusing, watching the Carlisle family practically trip over themselves and each other to make certain everything was perfect. Even Lex flashed me a secret little smile that seemed to say he was finding the entire experience quite entertaining. Mrs. Carlisle insisted he call her Beth, fawned over me for a short time welcoming me back to Smallville, offering her condolences on my loss, congratulating me for getting such a great job within Mr. Luthor’s company, etc., etc. I think she crammed more conversation into the three or so minutes she hovered around our table than I had in my entire life. I was physically tired by the time she left.
Lex raised an eyebrow at me the moment the woman walked away. “Is she always so… gregarious?”
I laughed. “The entire family is. My parents used to bring me here every Sunday night for dinner before we moved out of Smallville. Dad loved the steak and mom loved the company.” I smiled for a moment at the memory, then turned my gaze back to Lex who was watching me thoughtfully. “You don’t seem exactly like the meat and potatoes type.”
“I don’t?” He leaned forward, grabbed his glass of water and took a sip. Amazing how one simple action can be so… lovely.
I looked back at the table, focused on the centerpiece – a cheap vase filled with daisies and one sunflower. “No. I mean, I see you as more the outdoor café type. You know, veggie burgers and fresh fish.” I chanced a glance his direction, just to see if I might have offended him but he was just smiling at me and I relaxed a little. Actually, I began tapping my foot under the table. Nervous habit. Always had it.
Not bothering to reply, Lex picked up his menu and looked it over. I took the opportunity to surreptitiously watch him from under my lashes. Its kind of hard to describe Lex Luthor to someone who hasn’t actually seen him in person. I guess most people would be a little put off by his baldness, which was more than slightly strange on someone so young. I had asked Clark about it but he just told me that if Lex wanted me to know anything about him, then he would tell me. Damn cousin. Personally, I thought he was incredibly beautiful bald. Not that I would ever, even on risk of death, admit such a thing aloud to anyone within the city limits of Smallville. Its just his skin was so flawless and pale and it looked so soft. I always wanted to touch him. Can you imagine Lex’s reaction if his employee suddenly reached out and caressed his head? The very thought of it made me want to laugh. But I stifled the urge.
Lex has beautiful eyes. Blue with flecks of silver and they can cut with just a glance. He must have perfected that look at a very young age. And sometimes, just occasionally, the mask of the rich and powerful son of Lionel Luthor would drop and his gaze would appear so vulnerable and sad that it brought tears to my eyes. It was so infrequent though that I usually found myself wondering if it had ever really happened or if I just imagined it. He has nice lips, too. Oh I know I really, really shouldn’t be going there when it comes to my boss but they are nice. Not too full, not too thin, delicately colored. And a little scar on his upper lip that I’m dying to know how he came by. Sometimes if I stared at his mouth too long, I’d feel a sigh well up in me. Like now.
“Aren’t you going to look at the menu?” Lex asked, not glancing up. I kind of started at his question. I think he knew I was looking at him. And even if he didn’t, he had to know by my reaction.
“Erm… no. I doubt its changed much since I was last here. I’m a creature of habit. Have always ordered the same thing.”
Lex set his menu down, took another sip of water, watching me over the rim of his glass. “I’ve noticed,” he commented, settling back against his chair. “And yet, surprisingly, you are not as predictable as one would believe.”
“Do you have a problem with predictability?” I asked.
“People learn you too easily. It leaves you open for attack.”
“Do you believe everyone’s out to attack you, Lex?”
He was silent for a long moment before replying, “I’ve come to rely on the fact, actually.”
Wow. What exactly did one say to something like that? As little as possible I believe. Luckily I was saved by Beth who returned to take our orders. Talk about predictable – Lex ordered soup and salad. I had to cover my laughter and he just quirked an eyebrow at me. I, on the other hand, ordered the filet mignon – medium rare, of course -- baked potato with everything and some deep fat fried okra. Oh yeah. I knew how to eat like a denizen of Smallville. Lex was staring at me with this sort of disbelieving expression when I finished. Just to have a little more fun, I ordered a glass of whole milk to wash it down with. How’s that for unpredictable? I think he was used to women ordering a light salad with no dressing and water with lemon. I said as much. He laughed and nodded.
“You’re right, as a matter of fact.” A pause. “Are you actually going to be able to eat all of that?”
I widened my eyes a bit. “Actually, a month ago I doubt it. Now that I’m back to doing farm work at five-thirty every morning, my metabolism seems to be doing back flips and somersaults all over the place. Last night I beat Clark out for the last dinner roll. He was so not pleased with me.”
“How’d you do that?”
“Distracted him,” I grinned, glancing over at Lex. “I looked out the back door and said ‘Hey, there’s Lana’. That was all it took.”
Lex laughed. “Your cousin does have it bad for Miss Lang.” A short silence, then, “And what about you, Sinjun? Is there someone you left back at college that you’re pining for?”
I rolled my eyes. “As if. In high school I was always the wall-flower – you know, the antithesis of Miss Lang. And in college… well, I guess I just developed such a severe distrust of men and their intentions that I’ve kind of done everything I can to make certain they stay away from me.”
Lex frowned. “There you go being unpredictable again. I never would have pictured you that way. I mean, you seem like you need a man in your life.”
I gave a very unladylike snort at that. “Gee, Lex. Thanks. I’ve always wanted to be co-dependent.”
He laughed and shook his head. “No, I didn’t mean it like that. What I meant was, you should have someone there to appreciate you, to send you flowers and take you out and shower you in compliments. You deserve someone to do those things and more.”
Grabbing my glass of water for a sip, I smiled into it. “That’s sweet of you. Frankly, I’d settle for someone who makes me laugh and blesses me when I sneeze.”
“You certainly don’t ask for much, do you?”
“Unlike you, Lex Luthor, the rest of us poor souls don’t exactly have the world at our feet.”
Lex didn’t reply to that but he did frown, looking away from me just as Beth and one of her sons brought us our food. Knowing I had said something wrong, and not certain how to take it back, I turned my attention to my food, making certain the steak was cooked just right and fiddling with my potato. I wondered how many dates Lex had who played with their food. Not that this was a date in even the broadest sense but he probably felt completely mortified at being seen with me. No doubt this would be the last time he would take his PR Director to lunch in public. Next time he might show up in the office with a brown bag of PB&J.
At some point I realized I had lost my appetite. Maybe it was because Lex seemed to suddenly be doing his best to ignore me. I twirled my fork in the middle of my potato, my mind wandering to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. NO wonder Richard Dreyfus was playing with his potatoes. It was kind of fun. Okay, so the silence between us was becoming more uncomfortable than I wanted to deal with. Even an argument would be better than this. With that thought, my mind turned to the article I had read in the office just before Lex had appeared. I stared at my plate for a long moment, chewing on my lower lip, knowing I was about to take a very big leap in what had been easy conversation between us but unable to stop myself from doing so.
He flickered his gaze over at me. “Yes, Sinjun?”
“Can I ask you something?”
Lex set his fork down and leaned back, his gaze unwavering. I think he knew that what I was about to ask was probably something he would prefer not to talk about. Cautiously, he answered, “Go ahead.”
Take a deep breath. Remember to breathe. Stop fidgeting. Okay.
“The chemical waste that was dumped on my uncle’s farm, that killed his herd, how did that happen?” I lifted my eyes to meet his gaze.
Surprisingly, Lex didn’t appear so much pissed off as resigned. He looked away from me for a moment, as if speculating on how to respond. I prepared myself to be lied to. It seemed to be a habit of those in Smallville lately. And I doubted anyone could do it as well as a Luthor could. Plausible deniability, you know. When Lex finally turned his gaze back to me, it was unreadable once again but didn’t exactly appear closed off. It was hard to decipher.
“It had nothing to do with the plant. It had everything to do with me and an incident in my past. Someone decided to get back at me by attempting to ruin my relationship with the people of Smallville.” He paused, then asked, “I take it you read about it in the files?”
I sighed. “Yeah. I was curious as to why uncle Jonathon hasn’t mentioned it. Guess he would rather pretend it never happened.”
Lex shook his head. “No, I think he would rather not mention it to you since you now work for his enemy.”
“You aren’t an enemy to the Kent’s,” I denied, glancing at him.
“He seems to think so.” Lex leaned back onto the table, our gazes meeting. “Ever since I first arrived in town, I’ve been trying to prove to your uncle that I’m not my father. Unfortunately, that little incident only seemed to ground his opinion in fact.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Lex,” I told him. “Nor the fault of the plant.” I paused, making a face. “Unless of course one were to bring up the little matter of how someone just walked in and got a hold of a bunch of chemical waste in the first place which could get a little sticky now that I think about it.”
Lex frowned. “Thank you. I feel much better now.”
“Oh! I didn’t mean… hmmm… open mouth, insert foot.”
At least that got a semblance of a grin.
“Wow. Food’s getting cold. Why don’t we eat?” Not subtle in the least but I turned my attention to my plate and after a few seconds so did he.
We didn’t say anything more until we climbed into his car and headed back to the plant. Today he was driving a black Porsche. Personally, I think Porsches are the ugliest cars in creation. Who knows? Maybe Lex didn’t like them either. But I’m sure it was more of a status symbol than anything. A Hyundai could be the best car in the world but people like the Luthor’s wouldn’t drive one because everyone could. That would make them common. I’m sure that was the way that Lex was raised.
Deciding to lighten the mood between us, I asked, “So how many cars do you own anyway?”
He cast a sideways glance to me. “One for everyday of the week.”
I made a face. “Do you label your underwear by day of the week, too?”
Lex grinned. “You mean you don’t believe I throw them out after one wearing?”
“Okay now that’s just silly,” I replied with a frown.
Good. Back to an easy repertoire between us. I tapped my fingers against the door handle, keeping my eyes diverted from the road. Lex Luthor really does drive like a maniac. It scares the hell out of me. Every time I ride with him, I tell myself I will never do so again. And then I do. Of course, knowing the way I reacted to Lex, he could probably talk me into going to Hell and back. I wouldn’t bat an eyelash. I know, I’m treading on dangerous ground here. I must rid myself of this ridiculous fascination.
Turning my focus back to work, I asked, “So anything on that water sample I gave you?”
Silence. I glanced over to see Lex frowning. When he noticed my gaze he quickly changed his expression to one of neutrality and I realized I was just about to be lied to.
“Nothing conclusive. Regular water.”
Regular water my… “I see.” I tapped my fingers against the door handle. “Tell me, were you taught how to be this evasive or was it something you learned on your own?”
“I’m not being evasive, Sinjun,” Lex replied smoothly, not even giving me the courtesy of a glance. “There was nothing conclusive in those water samples to lead one to believe they had anything to do with the break-in.”
“So our raccoon was just carrying some bottled water with him in case he got thirsty,” I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm.
“I don’t see why you find a puddle of water in the basement of a factory so suspicious.”
He pulled the car onto the main road of the plant, and at the moment I wanted nothing more than to get out of that car and get back to work before I said something I’d regret.
Oops. Too late. “I don’t see why you find it necessary to lie to me,” I retorted.
Lex put the car in park and turned to regard me. I didn’t meet his gaze, keeping my eyes focused on the building in front of me. “Why do you think I’m lying to you, Sinjun? Why would there be a need to lie? What do I have to hide from you?”
I looked over at him. “You tell me.”
The hint of a smile on those perfect lips. “Trust me, if there was something I felt you needed to know, Sinjun, I would tell you.”
I glared, hard. I think my nostrils even flared. “How kind of you, Mr. Luthor. Perhaps the next time you have raccoon issues, you should discuss them with someone you actually trust as opposed to the hired help.”
I pushed the door open, got out and then turned and slammed it hard just to prove my point. Of course, it all would have been a much better exit if I hadn’t trapped my purse strap in the door in the process. Oh yeah, I’m all about finesse. If I hadn’t been so pissed, I probably would have been mortified beyond belief. Especially when I stood there trying to yank the damn thing free and Lex finally reached over and opened the door. Ah hell. I stumbled back a little in mid-pull – can you imagine if I had fallen on my butt?? – but luckily caught myself before I ended up looking like any worse of an idiot. And I really wanted to scratch that damn smile off of Lex’s face as he watched me. Not wanting to deal with any further humiliation that I could focus onto myself, I turned abruptly to leave, faltering only when Lex’s voice reached me:
“It has nothing to do with hired help, Sinjun,” his voice said behind me. “I don’t trust anybody.”
Even if I had wanted to play psychiatrist and ask him why he had trust issues, at the moment I was still too angry and humiliated to reply. I just walked straight back to the office to immerse myself in work and files and bad press. I forced myself not to think about lunch or the conversation before, during or after. I didn’t want to think about Lex. I was sick of thinking about Lex. He was the most confusing person I had ever in my life met. I mean, rich people were supposed to be easy to figure out, right? They were arrogant and greedy and superficial. And children of rich people were even worse. Because they were also spoilt and expected everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Not too much depth there. So Lex Luthor, spoilt rich kid, should have fit that bill, right? Wrong. There was a lot more going on there than I could begin to decipher. And I didn’t even know where to begin digging. Not that it should have mattered to me. Lex and I came from two different worlds and I was simply his employee and I doubted we would ever reach the point of casual friendship so why I should even bother trying to understand him I have no idea. Except that I was already drawn to him like a moth to a flame and unfortunately I had no cares at the moment as to whether or not I got burned.
I knew I didn’t want that cell phone.
This time it was shortly after midnight when it started whirring in my ear. Actually, I kept it on my night stand, just in case my boss decided he had something important enough to wake me up from sleep for. I tried to ignore it at first, thinking Lex could just tell me whatever it was in the morning but then something started nagging at me and I snatched it into my hand and hit “talk.”
“Lex, you’re making this a habit,” I yawned.
“Sorry but this is Brandon, Lex’s assistant.”
I didn’t even know Lex had an assistant. “Oh. How did you – “
“Please come to the castle as soon as possible. There has been a…situation.”
I sat up in bed, instantly awake at the tone of the man’s voice. “Is Lex okay?”
“He is… a bit shaken up.”
“I’ll be right there.”
I hung up the phone, grabbed my jeans and a flannel shirt, shrugging into both of them before sliding into my Keds and hurrying out of the room across the hall where I knocked on Clark’s door. Peaking my head in, I called out softly, “Clark? Clark, wake up!”
“Hmmm? What is it? The house on fire?”
“Something happened to Lex. Can you take me over there?”
He was out of bed instantly. “What happened?”
“I don’t know. Do you know he has an assistant? Someone named Brandon. Anyway, he just called me. Said that something happened and Lex was shaken up.” I leaned against the doorframe as my cousin slipped on his jeans and a t-shirt.
“That’s all he said?”
We made it there in record time. I’ve never actually seen my cousin drive quite so recklessly. I’ve also never quite seen a home like Lex’s except in movies and television. I had always thought when people referred to it as the “castle” that it simply meant it was the biggest home in Smallville. But no. It really was a castle. An actual, honest to goodness castle. Shipped over stone by stone from Scotland according to Clark. To say I was a little in awe was an understatement. I mean, who the hell would bother to uproot an old castle from Scotland and transplant it to the Heartland of America? Answer: an insane person. Or at least in my opinion. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just keep it where it belongs and use it like a summer home or something? It was just… well, silly. A castle for one person? Didn’t Lex get lonely in that enormous place? I know I would.
I followed Clark along the walk to the main entrance where some young man was already standing, waiting for us at the door, dressed in a three piece suit and looking for all the world like he probably never bothered with something as useless as sleep.
“Miss St. Claire. Thank you for coming so quickly. I am Brandon Miller.”
We shook hands. “Where’s Lex?” I asked.
“In his study.”
He turned and led us down the hallway. So far, I was unimpressed with the place. Oh sure, it was a castle and all but it just seemed more like a museum than a home. I could never be comfortable in it, always afraid that I would damage something and most likely carrying a can of dust spray around with me to wipe away every fingerprint I made.
“So what happened?” Clark asked Brandon.
“Someone got into the house and tried to kill Lex.”
Clark and I looked at each other, then back at the man in front of us. “What?” We asked simultaneously.
He stopped beside a doorway and Clark, obviously knowing his way around, quickly passed through it, with me following close on his heels. Lex was seated on a leather couch near an empty hearth, a glass of liquor in his hands. He looked up as we entered and almost seemed relieved to see us. Or maybe it was relief to see Clark. After all, the last encounter we had didn’t exactly end well.
“Lex, what happened?” Clark demanded.
Either it was because I’m a woman and women happen to notice details more quickly than men or its because I have stared so often at my boss that I immediately noticed his neck. I hurried over to the couch and took a seat beside him, not even hesitating to reach out and lightly touch the dark bruises that were forming on his skin. Lex flinched when I reached out to him, but I don’t think it was from pain. I think he didn’t want me to touch him. At the moment, I didn’t care what he wanted and so ignored his reaction. Instead, I grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him closer so I could look at the marks in the light. My fingertips grazed over his neck and he seemed to relax just a bit.
“Who did this?” I asked, hating the sight of the discoloration against his pale skin.
Lex shook his head. “I don’t know. I woke up hands around my throat, choking me but it was too dark to see anything. I was able to finally dislodge my attacker off of me and I called out for Brandon but by the time I got the light on, there was no one… there.” He seemed to choke on the last word for a moment and reached up reflexively to his neck.
“Maybe you should go to the hospital,” I suggested.
“No. I’m fine.”
All men were such babies when it came to doctors.
“I’m going to check your room,” Clark told him. “Unless this was a ghost, there has to be some evidence as to who did this.”
I nodded. “And I’ll help,” I said, starting to rise to my feet when Lex grabbed my arm, holding me back. I looked at him with a frown but he just shook his head. Pursing my lips for a moment, I looked back at my cousin. “Actually, Lex and I need to talk about what will happen if the press get a hold of this. Holler if you find anything.”
“Holler? In this house?” Clark grinned and walked out.
I turned back to Lex. “Why didn’t you want me going with him?”
Lex looked away from my gaze. “There was something else I didn’t want to mention while Clark was here.” He turned back to me, his expression grim. “After I got whoever it was off of me, I heard a splash, like water hitting the ground.”
I blinked, said nothing.
“Brandon found a few drops of water near the door to the bathroom. A few more inside, leading to the sink. I had him make some samples…” He trailed off, looking away from the accusing gaze I was purposely flashing at him.
“So this has something to do with the raccoon problem at the plant?” I asked.
Sighing, I stood and walked over to the desk on the other side of the room. Other than two flat screen monitors and his laptop, there wasn’t much personality to it. No photos of loved ones or anything. There was a bust of Julius Caesar on the shelf across from it. Like I said, museum. I wandered over to the pool table covered in purple felt. Very cool. I picked up one of the balls and played with it for a moment., not looking up as Lex joined me. I could feel him watching me, waiting for me to say something. I want to crack the cue ball over his goddamned head. Instead I tossed it back to the table and turned to him.
“So you gonna tell me what was in that sample of water at the plant that I gave you?”
Lex frowned for a moment, remaining silent. When I was about to give up, he replied, “High concentrations of Radium and D-Glucose.”
“And that means what in English?’
He ran a hand over his head, rubbing the back of his neck in agitation. “Sinjun – “
“Lex, you hired me to take care of whatever messes your plant decides to get itself into,” I told him. “If you can’t trust me enough to be honest with me and let me do my job then maybe I should look for work elsewhere.”
“It’s not that,” he replied, turning back to me, holding my gaze. “I don’t want you involved in things that could be dangerous. I’d rather keep you out of my father’s line of sight.”
“What does this have to do with your father?”
Lex sighed. “I believe it all goes back to Level Three and the experiments my father was obviously performing there but I don’t know how its connected or where to begin looking.” He walked away from me, pacing for a bit beside the pool table. He stopped in front of me once more. “I don’t want you involved in this, Sinjun.”
“I don’t think you have a choice in the matter, Lex,” I replied. “If I’m going to take care of matters with the press and the townspeople regarding these little incidents that you and the plant are experiencing, then I need to know what is going on.”
“If anything happens to you, your uncle – “
“Let me take care of uncle Jon, Lex,” I told him, reaching out to touch his arm. This time he didn’t pull away. “I’m a big girl. I don’t need you looking out for me.”
“I’m your boss. I feel responsible for you.”
I growled, causing Lex to look at me in surprise. “Are all billionaires this impossible to reason with?” I demanded.
Lex smiled at me. “Yes. I do believe we are.”
Clark returned saying he couldn’t find anything that appeared out of the ordinary. Lex and I glanced at one another. I could tell he was asking me not to get Clark involved in this and for the first time that night, I actually agreed with him. The less people who thought this had any connection to the Level Three incident the better. I was uncomfortable about leaving Lex alone though after the attack. Clark must have felt the same because he offered for us to stay there but Lex declined, saying that he would be fine and Brandon was there and lightning rarely struck in the same place twice. I couldn’t help but smart off that lightning had nothing to do with this. Lex just smiled and told us to go home.
“Will you be in tomorrow?” I asked. I had questions that needed to be discussed.
Lex watched me for a moment before answering. I think he knew what I wanted. “Bright and early.”
I nodded. “Okay. See you then. Try not to get murdered, okay?”
“I’ll do my best.”
Clark and I were silent as we got back into the truck. He started the engine, turned to me. “You like him, don’t you?”
I gave him my haughtiest expression. “What gives you that idea?”
Clark shrugged, putting the truck in gear and heading out to the main rode. I could see him grinning by the dashboard light. “Just a hunch.”
“Well, you’d make a terrible psychic because you couldn’t be further from the truth.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes it is.”
“If you say so, Sinj.”
I was still frowning at him when we got home. He gave me this knowing look as we disappeared into our separate rooms. I knew he wasn’t going to let this just slide by. He was my younger cousin, after all. It was his job to torment me. So, I had to relegate myself to that fact and move on, all the while thinking of various excuses I could give him whenever the need arose.
Unable to go back to sleep, and wanting to be awake in case the phone rang, I went through some of the boxes in my closet that I had brought with my from my parents house. Finding one filled with photo albums, I sat back on my bed, the photos piled around me, and spent the next few hours reminiscing. I swear there was a different photo album for every year of my life, filled with pictures of all of us together, some of me and Clark around the farm as kids, one of us on the tractor with uncle Jonathon, another of us swimming in the river. There were photos with Santa and the Easter bunny and our new house in the suburbs and school plays, various science fairs, horse riding competitions when we were still in Smallville and I had dreamed of one day being on the Olympic team. Unfortunately, there were no stables in the suburbs.
I paused when I opened the fifth book. The first picture that greeted me was one of my father outside the chemical plant in Smallville. I recognized it immediately because it was taken just outside the office at the bottom of the stairs. He was standing in between two men, their arms over each others shoulders, all laughing into the camera. Neither of the other two men were familiar to me. Folding back the plastic, I pulled the photo from the page and turned it over. The date, written in my mother’s neat cursive, read 1992. The year my father was transferred to plant number one and we moved out of Smallville and into the suburbs. I worried my lower lip for the next few minutes while I continued to stare at the photo. I knew the two men appeared familiar to me, but I could not recall their names. That was curious because it was obvious by the picture that the three men were very close, so it was unlikely that a simple move to the suburbs would have prevented them from remaining friends. So why didn’t I remember them being around in those later years?
By five I was outside, completing my chores, in by six to take my shower and prepare for work before joining aunt Martha in the kitchen to help with breakfast. I had the photo with me when I reached the kitchen and after pouring myself a cup of coffee, I held it out to my aunt.
“Do you know who the men are in this photo with my father?”
Wiping her hands on a towel first, she took the picture and glanced at it for a moment. “The one on the right is Billy Moore – he’s the father of Chris, the boy that almost drowned last week. The other man is Max Reynolds. They both worked with your father at the plant. The three of them had been best friends since grade school.” She smiled, handing it back to me.
“I don’t understand.” I took the photo, leaning against the counter while I stared at it. “If they were so close, why did they lose touch when we moved? It’s not as if we were on the other side of the country or anything.”
“Max disappeared about the same time your family moved.”
“Disappeared? What do you mean ‘disappeared’?”
Aunt Martha looked up form the pan of eggs she was frying. “He just left town. Never said where he was going or why. Just packed up and left one day. Hasn’t been back since.”
I frowned. “And Mr.Moore?”
Her expression turned sorrowful. “He died of cancer a few months after your father and Max left. It’d gone undetected until it was too late and they discovered a tumor on his brain stem. That poor family – it was a horrible illness. Chris had been so young when it happened.”
I looked back down at the picture. It was truly a moment captured in time. Two of those pictured were dead, the other very possibly so. Something about it bothered me, though I couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was just because my father had never mentioned them, two people who had been his best friends since childhood. If Max Reynolds were still alive, surely he would have come to my parent’s funeral. Tucking the picture into the pocket of my purse, I put it from my mind and sat down to breakfast.
Clark and uncle Jonathon entered the kitchen a few minutes later and we each shared our plans for the day ahead while we ate. About halfway through the conversation, my uncle finally asked us where we had been the night before and Clark and I flashed each other that “Oh we should have expected this” look. My cousin told his parents about the strange incident at Lex’s. While aunt Martha seemed concerned about Lex, uncle Jonathon told us to be careful because someone like Lex Luthor had a lot of enemies and we didn’t need to get caught up in his problems. I frowned at that but remained silent. I couldn’t really blame my uncle for his misgivings about Lex, especially after the herd incident, but I did feel he needed to give him another chance.
It was about two minutes later when there was a knock at the screen door and we turned to find the topic of our conversation standing on the porch. I couldn’t help but wonder if his ears were burning.
“Good morning, Lex,” aunt Martha called out, rising from her chair and inviting him to step inside.
“Morning Mrs. Kent. Mr. Kent.” My uncle didn’t even acknowledge his greeting, just went back to eating. Lex stood there and watched him for a long moment before finally looking at me and Clark. He was looking all fresh and cool dressed in black slacks and a dark blue shirt that deepened the color of his eyes. “Hey.”
“Hey Lex.” Clark grinned. “Good to see you still alive.”
“Yeah,” I added, taking a sip of my juice. “Nice to know I don’t have to try to explain your unexpected demise to the press.”
“We heard about what happened, Lex,” aunt Martha told him, her expression one of concern as she looked at him. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, thank you, Mrs. Kent.” He glanced over at me. “I thought I’d offer you a ride to the plant.”
I smiled. “Great! I love starting the morning with a lap in the Indy 500.”
Lex sighed, glanced over at my uncle who was frowning into his plate. I rolled my eyes. These two were going to be the death of me.
“Everyone around here really needs to lighten up,” I muttered, grabbing my purse and standing to join Lex. “Want a ride to school, Clark?”
“He’ll take the bus,” uncle Jonathon replied in a tone that implied no argument.
Lex stiffened beside me, turned and exited through the door. Aunt Martha flashed me a look of apology and Clark just shrugged. I said goodbye and walked outside to join Lex where he stood waiting for me in the yard, the sun having just barely cleared the horizon. Lex didn’t move when I reached him, just kept staring at the house. I sighed, wanting very much to reach out and take his hand, think of something to say. In the end, he was the first to speak.
“He hates me quite a bit.”
“No, Lex.” I shook my head. “Uncle Jonathon doesn’t hate anyone. It isn’t in him to do so.”
“Then I guess I should be flattered for accomplishing what others haven’t,” he said bitterly.
I tugged on his sleeve. “Come on, you need to get me to work before my boss gets pissed.”
Lex glanced over at me, his eyes shining silver in the morning sunlight. He gave me a small smile. “Sounds like a slave driver.”
“Oh, he’s the worst.” I rolled my eyes.
“Maybe I should tell him to ease up on you.”
“Then I wouldn’t feel needed.”
Lex looked like he wanted to say something else but instead he just shook his head, smiled and headed toward the car. I didn’t pry for him to say what he was thinking, just did my duty as the hired help and climbed into the car – a Lamborghini this time, silver – and sat back, hoping that karma would remain on my side and we’d make it to the plant in one piece. He sat there for a while before he started the car, then he turned to me and grinned.
“You’re a lot more than just the ‘hired help’. I hope you know that. I want you to know that.”
I felt myself redden, had to look away from his intense regard. “Lex.”
“When you start trusting me, then I’ll know.” I looked over at him. He was staring at a fixed point on the dashboard. “For now, just get me to the plant in one piece, okay?”
He looked up at that, caught my smile, smiled back. “I’m not making any guarantees.”
Of course not.
Continue to Chapter Four
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