Title: Someone to
Watch Over Me
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 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
Why follow me to higher ground?
Lost as you swear I am.
Don't throw away your basic needs,
Ambiance and vanity.
December – Collective Soul
Lex wouldn’t tell me much more about what had happened the night before. It was almost as if he were convincing himself that he had been mistaken when he thought he had heard a splash. Then again, maybe he was just trying to confuse me, to center my attention other than where it should be. He wouldn’t even talk about the Radium and D-Glucose found in the water sample, saying it really shouldn’t have anything to do with whatever was going on. Of course, I didn’t believe him and the whole trust issue thing only magnified between us to the point I didn’t even want to be in the office with him anymore. After two hours of going in circles, I finally said I had some work to do and excused myself from his presence. I located Gabe, asked him where old personnel files were kept and wound my way into the back area of Level Two into a tiny storeroom filled with filing cabinets. Finding the one I needed, I began sorting through the files.
It was well after lunch and I was beginning to develop a headache. I swore I had to have been missing something. There were files on every employee in there – every employee except the three pictured in the photograph I had found. At first, I thought that my father’s wasn’t in there because he had been transferred and maybe the file had gone with him. But that didn’t explain why Max Reynolds and Billy Moore’s files were missing as well. It was almost as if they had never been employed at LuthorCorp. Frowning, I sat amidst the pile of folders and tried hard to figure out what was missing. That was when I remembered Earl Jenkins. Sitting up, I plowed through the files once more, looking closely at every name from A to Z. Even putting them in alphabetical order twice. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no locatable file on Earl either. Now my curiosity was really heightened. Stuffing the files back into the cabinet, not really caring at the moment what particular order they were in, I locked the room and headed back up to Lex’s office.
I was actually a little surprised to still see him there. He was seated at his desk, leaning forward against it, talking on his cell. He glanced up when I entered and waved me over. Hoping I wasn’t interrupting anything, I crept quietly over to one of the chairs in front of the enormous desk and sat down. My purse was sitting on the floor where I had left it, so I reached over and pulled the photo out, holding it in my lap. I tried not to listen to Lex’s conversation, even though it was undoubtedly unimportant or he wouldn’t have invited me in. It sounded like it had something to do with an antique exhibit coming up the following month at a gallery he owned in Metropolis. I don’t know how he kept all of his business ventures straight.
Setting his phone down, Lex looked up at me, raised his eyebrows. “Thought you weren’t going to speak to me after the way you marched out of here earlier.”
I ignored that. “Is there any reason why files on some employees would not be kept in the personnel records?”
Lex leaned back in his chair, frowned. “No reason that I can think of. Why?”
I tossed him the photo, waiting until he picked it up to continue. “The man on the left is Max Reynolds. He worked here. The man on the right is Billy Moore. He worked here, too. Except, neither of them have files on record.”
“Whose the man in the middle?”
I hesitated. “My father.” A pause. “I thought that maybe his was gone because he was transferred. But that wouldn’t explain the other two.”
Standing, Lex walked around to the front of the desk, still looking at the photo, and shook his head. “No. During a transfer they would have simply sent copies of his files over to the other plant and kept the originals here. There is no reason there shouldn’t be files on all three men. Are you certain you checked thoroughly?”
He leaned back against the desk, handing me the photo, and folding his arms over his chest. “So what made you decide to look into their files in the first place?”
I chewed on my lower lip for a moment then looked up at him. “A hunch?”
A cocked eyebrow. “Continue.”
“I was talking to aunt Martha this morning, asking about this photo because I didn’t remember my dad keeping in touch with these two men after we left Smallville. It was obvious they were friends. According to my aunt, they were best friends. But she said that Max disappeared shortly after my family left – just picked up and left, no warning, no nothing. And Billy Moore died a few months later from a cancerous tumor on his brain stem.”
Lex shrugged. “And?”
“Billy Moore is the father of Chris Moore, a classmate and old friend of Clarks. Last week he drowned in a pond on his family’s property. They were able to revive him, thankfully.”
“I still don’t understand your inquiries.”
I sighed, got to my feet, wandered around the office for a moment. Turning back to Lex I shrugged. “Truthfully, I don’t either but there are too many strange occurrences happening here. And then the files… I noticed that there was no file on Earl Jenkins either.”
“It was probably pulled during the hostage situation and never returned,” Lex offered.
“No. I checked. Everywhere. There is no file, Lex.” I paused, staring down at the picture for a moment before I looked back up at him. “Do you think my father and these other men may have all worked on Level Three?”
He was silent for a long moment, gazing down at the photo in my hands before meeting my eyes. “It’s possible. I’ll have to do some checking though.”
“I’d appreciate it.”
Lex frowned. “May I ask why? It’s the past, Sinjun. Why would you want to dredge that up?”
I shrugged. “Curiosity, I guess. Maybe I didn’t know my father as well as I thought I did.”
I heard Lex moving toward me but that still didn’t prepare me for the feel of his fingers against my chin or the look of concern in his eyes when he raised my head to meet his gaze. “Whatever wrongdoing occurred on Level Three was done by my father, Sinjun, and no one else. I think you’re searching for answers to questions that you shouldn’t be asking to begin with.”
“I figured you’d say that.” I pulled away from him and stepped back. “Plausible deniability, eh Lex?”
His gaze hardened and I sighed, looking away. “What do you want from me, Sinjun?” He asked.
“The truth.” I turned back to him. “I want to know what exactly my father was doing when he worked here at plant number three.”
“And what if you don’t like the truth? Then what?”
“I’ll have to deal with it, won’t I?” Lex appeared as if he were about to strengthen his resolve, so I moved forward, placing my hand on his arm. “Please, Lex? I know you can find out. I just… need to know.”
A calculating stare. Finally, Lex nodded. “I’ll see what I can do, Sinjun.”
I smiled. “Thank you, Lex.”
Without thinking, I leaned forward and up and kissed his cheek. His skin really was as soft as I had imagined it would be. I think maybe I lingered a little too long there, but he smelled even better up close and all I could think about was trailing my mouth down his cheek and to his neck and… Hell. Luckily I didn’t act on that desire. When I stepped back, Lex was watching me, his expression as unreadable as usual, his head slightly cocked. He almost appeared slightly amused. Or maybe bemused. I really couldn’t say. It unnerved me all too hell though and I found myself fidgeting again. Lex watched me for a moment longer then turned and went back to his desk. I expelled a soft breath and walked over to the bar to grab a bottle of water.
“Grab me one, too.”
I rolled my eyes. “Please?” I grabbed an extra bottle, walked over to his desk, set it in front of him, waited. Nothing. I sighed. “You’re welcome.”
Lex glanced up at me. “What?”
“Nothing.” I waved my hand and dropped into the chair across from him. He was grinning at me and I realized that he had been teasing me the whole time. I just shook my head and drank my water. “So, anything new?”
We spent the next two hours discussing how to handle past lawsuits that were finally coming to court against the company from the time Lex’s father had been in charge. They ranged anywhere from unlawful termination to claims that family members had developed cancer during their employment at the plant. The government had already threatened more than a few times to officially look into the matter but Lionel Luthor obviously had the right people on the Senate in his pockets because nothing ever came to fruition. Now that Lex was in charge though, I felt it might do some good to invite the government out for a tour, a behind-the-scenes look at the operations. I said as much to Lex. At first he must have thought I had lost my mind but as I explained my idea he slowly began to accept it. There was nothing illegal going on, no hush-hush experiments, all disposal laws were being followed and the current employees seemed quite happy. I suggested sending an invitation for some representatives to come out at the end of summer, giving us more time to make certain everything was up to specs and strengthen employee relations. Lex wondered aloud if he were paying me enough. Of course I replied that he wasn’t and he laughed.
“Hey, am I interrupting anything?”
We turned to see Clark leaning in the doorway, back pack slung over his shoulder, grinning at us.
“You guys sound like you’re having too much fun to be working,” he commented as he walked into the office.
“This is what grown ups do at work, beanie,” I told him with a smirk. “Society hides that fact from kids. We don’t want you to know that work is actually much more fun than school.”
He stuck his tongue out at me and I smacked his arm, then winced. He’s all muscle and it hurt my hand.
“And what brings you here, Clark?” Lex asked, watching us from behind his desk.
Clark shrugged, sitting in the chair beside me. “Thought I’d hang out here until dad picked Sinjun up. The bus has a stop about a mile from here.”
“Actually Clark, Lex was going to drive me home,” I replied. “You could probably ride on top of the car.”
“And ruin my paint job?” Lex asked with a raised brow.
“Ah, c’mon, Lex,” I teased. “Clark would make a great hood ornament. Something every billionaire needs.”
Clark and I laughed at Lex’s frown. “Tell you what.” Lex dug into his pocket and tossed me a set of keys. “You take the car. I have a ton of stuff still to do and a few phone calls to make before I can get out of here. We’ll deal with getting it back to me tomorrow.”
I stared at him, uncomprehending for a moment. “You’re gonna let me drive your Lamborghini?”
Lex shrugged, looking back down at the paperwork in front of him. “Go on and get the kid home. We’ll discuss this idea of yours more tomorrow.”
I glanced over at Clark who was grinning. I knew he would fight me for a chance to drive the thing but there was no way in hell I was giving these keys up. Grabbing my purse, I started toward the door, Clark close on my heels. Halfway through the door, I turned back to find Lex watching us, his gray eyes thoughtful. I wanted very much to invite him back to the farm for dinner, but I knew he wouldn’t accept. I wished things were different between him and my uncle. I hated the fact that he was alone so much.
Clark and I practically ran out to the car. It’s one thing to be freaked when Lex is driving because he drives like an insane person. Its quite another to be driving a Lamborghini yourself. I made myself comfortable in the driver’s seat while Clark pushed the passenger seat back to give himself more leg room. I played with the mirrors, certain that Lex would probably curse my name a few times when he had to change everything back and that just made me smile. Buckling our seats belt, I roared the engine to life, grinning like a fool and pulled out of the plant parking lot.
0 to 70 in a snap. I laughed, switched gears, tore down Highway 5 like a maniac. I suddenly began to understand why Lex drove the way he did. There really was no other way to drive a car like this. Clark chuckled beside me, told me he doubted that Lex would pay for any ticket that the local sheriff decided to give me. I just grinned and commented that I doubted the local sheriff would ever make the mistake of pulling Lex Luthor’s car over.
Nearing a corner, I placed my foot on the brake to slow down before going into it. The only problem was, nothing happened. I pressed again, only this time discovering that the peddle was going easily to the floor without making a bit of difference in the speed of the car. My eyes widened.
He glanced over at me just as we went into the turn at about seventy five miles an hour. Luckily it wasn’t overly sharp and I was able to take it wide, the outside wheels skidding over the shoulder. “What are you doing?” He asked, gripping the edge of his seat.
“The brakes aren’t working!” I snapped, anger overriding fear at the moment.
“You think I haven’t been this entire time?!”
Another straightaway. Clark leaned over me as if to assure himself that I was indeed pressing the right peddle. “Down shift.”
I did. It didn’t do much. The road we were on started into a decline and we began to pick up speed. A narrow bridge, spanning a long dried up creek, was coming up just ahead and so was another car. I gripped the steering wheel in a panic.
“Clark! What do we do?!”
He reached over and unbuckled my seat belt, and then did the same to his own.
“How is that supposed to help me from going through the windshield?” I demanded, my heart thudding erratically against my chest as the bridge and oncoming traffic drew ever nearer.
“It isn’t. We’re going to jump.”
“Turn the wheel to the right. Jump when I say.”
“Clark, I can’t do this!” I had never been so scared in my life.
“Yes you can. Just put your hand on the door handle… go on… that’s it. Now turn the wheel… okay… ready?… we’ll be okay, Sinj. Just tuck and roll, like we used to do when we jumped off horses – “
“Horses don’t go seventy fucking miles an hour!”
I hit the edge of the asphalt as I dove out and the car careened off the road toward the empty creek bed. I bounced like twice against the road, heard something pop, then felt nothing but burning pain along my legs and arms as I rolled to a stop. I laid there unmoving as I heard the car slam into the trees and the oncoming traffic screeched to a stop across the road. It hurt too much to move so I just continued to remain immobile, blinking at the grass and weeds that were growing up around me.
“Sinj? Hon, can you hear me?” Clark asked frantically beside me.
I felt his hands touch me and I moaned against the pain.
“Hang on, Sinj. You’ll be okay.”
I didn’t think so. I had just destroyed my boss’s car.
Well, I wasn’t completely okay. When we finally got to the hospital – the time throughout which I was in some major pain – I was told I had dislocated my shoulder. And if you think that hurts, you can’t even begin to imagine what its like to have it relocated! I am woman enough to admit I cried. Luckily it was just me and the doctor and a nurse in the room, though I’m sure they heard my scream into the next county. The rest of me was covered in some fairly severe scrapes and bruises, including a nice nasty purple and black bruise on my hip. It hurt to move, it hurt to lay down, it hurt to breathe. The amazing part was, Clark didn’t have a single mark on him. He claimed it was because he landed on the soft grass and dirt on the side of the road. Lucky bastard.
Aunt Martha and uncle Jonathon were with Clark in the waiting area when I hobbled out of the exam room, complete with shoulder sling. They both rushed over to me immediately, tripping over each other’s sentences asking if I was all right and what had happened. I tried to explain it all to uncle Jonathon, while also assuring aunt Martha that I was fine, just a little sore.
That’s when Lex walked in. I glanced over to my right just in time to see him enter through the doors and hurry toward us. Just seeing him would normally put a smile on my face but this time it made me panic because I had destroyed his car. That beautiful silver Lamborghini that had a license plate that read Lx_Luthr was now tied around a tree by the empty creek bed in a knot or two.
“Sinjun, are you – “ he began.
But he didn’t get very far because I burst into tears. I felt positively miserable. I was in pain and I had crashed Lex Luthor’s car and I really didn’t think the day could get much worse. I didn’t even stop to consider how surprised I should have been when I felt a pair of arms wrap around me and pull me against a soft, black cashmere coat. I barely even registered that much-beloved scent of liquor, spices and mint that I was coming to know so well. Gentle hands caressed my back and hair, careful not to disturb my shoulder.
I sniffed. “I… I killed your car, Lex.”
I think I heard muffled laughter above me. “Don’t you worry about that. All that matters is that you and Clark are all right.”
I wasn’t listening. “I… I’ll try to pay you back or something. I know we might both be dead of old age by then but – “
Lex held me away from him, lifting my chin to meet his gaze. He was smiling at me. Not the smile I had gotten used to – the slightly-jaded, mysterious, mostly mocking smile that made you want to slap his handsome face. No, this one was sweeter, open and honest. “Sinjun, don’t worry about the car. Weren’t you the one just the other day who was teasing me for owning so many?”
“But – “
“Don’t argue with a Luthor,” he told me. “You’re only going to lose.” He reached out and brushed a tear from my cheek.
I’d never seen him like this before and it was a little disconcerting. Not that I minded. Sometimes I felt starved for attention from him, like I fed on it or something. Just being near Lex electrified me. Having him treat me with such special consideration was like a dream. Let’s face it, I don’t live in a fairy tale world. I’m the furthest from Lex Luthor’s ideal woman. But it was nice to know that he at least knew I was there.
“Care to explain what happened?” Uncle Jonathon was suddenly standing beside us, arms crossed over his chest, glaring at Lex.
Lex almost jerked away from me, casting his gaze to my uncle. His expression of concern hardened slightly, wiped clean by that unreadable mask he always wore. The one that seemed to say no one and nothing could touch him. “That’s what I came here to find out,” he replied steadily. “The police said something about the brakes going out – “
“And of course you had no knowledge of the faulty brakes before you gave your permission for my niece and son to drive your car home,” uncle Jonathon accused.
Lex reacted as if he had been slapped, his eyes darkening. “Are you implying – “
“I’m not implying a thing, Lex,” my uncle interrupted. “I’m flat out asking what you had to do with this.”
“Dad – “ Clark moved up beside me, ready to jump in and defend Lex but I beat him to it.
“Uncle Jon you can’t possibly blame this on Lex! Something was wrong with the brakes – that’s it. For what possible reason would he have to cause either of us harm? Clark’s his best friend and I’m his employee!”
“I don’t care what – “ Uncle Jonathon was quickly cut off by aunt Martha, the peacemaker.
“Jonathon, why don’t we get the kids home?” She suggested, casting an apologetic glance at Lex. “They both obviously need some food and rest.” And you need to calm down, her tone implied.
He continued to glare at Lex for another long, uncomfortable moment before nodding and walking off toward the hospital entrance. Martha sighed, gave an embarrassed smile to all of us and followed him.
“Sorry about that, Lex,” Clark told the silent man in front of us. “We’d better get going. C’mon, Sinj.”
“I’ll be right there.”
He nodded and hurried off after his parents. I turned back to Lex, whose expression had once more transformed from uncaring to vulnerable. He was gazing off in the direction the Kents had taken before he finally turned his eyes to me. Without another thought, I moved to him, wrapping my good arm around his waist and hugging him tightly. He stiffened at first, then relaxed and hugged me back.
“I am sorry about the car, Lex,” I whispered against the lapel of his coat.
“It’s all right, Sinjun. When you make your first billion, you can buy me a new one.”
I smiled, pulled back to look up at him. “Uncle Jon was just freaked because of what could have happened, Lex. Please don’t hold that against him. He’s just not thinking rationally right now.”
“Sinjun, when are you going to learn?” Lex attempted a smile but there was a touch of sorrow hidden behind it. “Whatever bad happens in Smallville has to be the fault of the Luthors. Which makes me directly responsible.”
“I don’t believe that, Lex.” I leaned up and kissed his cheek. “Let me know if the police find anything out about the brakes, okay?”
He nodded, not saying anything, watching me as I turned and made my way towards the hospital entrance and the truck that waited to take me back to the farm.
It was late and I had taken a few pain pills to dull the throbbing of my shoulder but I was still too wound up to sleep. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one feeling restless, I joined Clark out in his loft, where he had been staring through his telescope at the stars. Actually, I knew he was using the device to stare a Lana Lang but I wasn’t going to tease him about it. Not when I knew he could just as easily turn the tables on me. At supper tonight, even uncle Jonathon had mentioned that Lex and I seemed a little too friendly for an employer/employee relationship. I had somehow managed to keep my tongue. I knew he was just worried about me but I was getting tired of feeling like a twelve year old. So all I did was assure him that Lex and I came from two different worlds and he had nothing to worry about.
I was stretched out on the couch in the loft, flipping through Clark’s chemistry book while he sat near the telescope, staring up at the stars. We didn’t really say anything to each other, just sort of enjoyed the companionable silence. At one point he tossed a bag of chocolate chip cookies over to me that he had brought from the house. I wasn’t the least bit surprised that he had a stash of food up there.
“Do you think I would look for D-Glucose under “G” for Glucose or “D” for D?” I asked after a bit, glancing over my shoulder, wincing at the action.
“No idea.” Clark shrugged.
“You’re a lot of help,” I muttered, flipping to the index. I scanned through the pages, becoming so engrossed in the text that I was having difficulty understanding, that I jumped, dropping the book to the floor when Lex’s voice called out:
“Mind if I join you?”
“Lex,” Clark greeted with a surprised smile. “We didn’t hear you pull up.”
“I parked the car a little down the road to spare myself the wrath of your father.” He approached the couch, looking down at me. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I’m floating.” I smiled.
“Codeine,” Clark pointed out. “But she refuses to sleep.”
Lex leaned over and picked up the text book I had dropped. “Going back to school, Sinjun?” He asked, handing it back to me.
“No. But lately I have become curious as to certain substances and their chemical reactions to one another and how they would relate to fertilizer.”
Lex raised an eyebrow but said nothing. He looked incredibly spectacular in his black pants and matching black cashmere shirt with the v-front, hands shoved in his pockets, staring down at me. I wriggled into a sitting position, attempting not to wince as I did so, curling my feet under me to make room for him on the couch. Noting the silent invitation, he sat down, his gaze moving away from me to stare at the floor in front of him. I cast a glance toward Clark who shrugged. We had no idea what he was doing there.
“Lex?” I questioned quietly.
He looked up at me, startled, as if he had forgotten we were there. Then he shook his head as if at some mental thought he was trying to make go away. “Spoke with the police this evening. The brake line was cut on the car.”
I blinked. I heard Clark sort of gasp or something behind me.
“Someone was trying to kill you again,” I said softly.
Lex nodded. “Yeah. And almost succeeded in killing you.”
“We’re fine, Lex,” Clark told him. “Would have even been better had Sinjun not attempted to mimic your driving skills.”
“You’re only taking advantage of picking on me because you know I can’t do anything about it right now,” I commented, rolling my eyes at my cousin. Turning my gaze back to Lex, who was silently watching the both of us, I asked, “And what else?”
He smiled in that condescending way of his and shook his head. “Sinjun, I don’t know what – “
“Stop right there, Lex. This is getting serious. Tell me what else you found.”
I could tell he was calculating exactly what he could and could not get away with telling me. God, I just wished he would trust me. Finally, Lex sighed, looking away from me as he spoke, “There were traces of the same water sample in the engine.”
“And they matched the samples from your bedroom as well, didn’t they?”
Clark got up and walked over to hover above us. “What are you two talking about?”
“Remember the break-in at the plant?” I looked up at my cousin and waited for his nod. “While there I found a curious water sample that I had Lex check out. It smelled and felt funny to me – not quite like water but still. What bothered me was how much it smelled like fertilizer. The same strange substance was found in his room the night he was attacked and now it appears in the engine of the Lamborghini.”
“What was in the water?”
“High concentrations of Radium and D-Glucose,” Lex answered looking at Clark before turning his gaze to me. “That wasn’t all, either.”
I shook my head with a wry laugh. “Of course not, Lex. Why should I ever expect you to tell me the complete truth?”
We stared at one another for a moment before he continued, “There were traces of meteor dust in there as well -- the same meteors that hit Smallville.” Lex paused, and I could tell he was wondering if he should continue. Then, as if he had made his decision, he added, “I was able to locate some information regarding my father’s experiments on Level Three.”
Clark and I looked at him sharply.
“The compound he was trying to create included high levels of Radium and D-Glucose as well as the meteor dust.”
I frowned but said nothing. Clark turned and walked away from us, deep in his own thoughts. He paced around the loft for a few minutes while the silence continued.
“This is going to sound weird,” Clark said finally, coming to stop in front of us once more.
“I can handle weird,” I replied. Lex nodded.
“Well, remember Chris Moore, who drowned?” He paused while we nodded. “Well, yesterday I stopped to talk to him, ask him how he was and stuff. He… smelled funny… like… “
“Fertilizer?” I asked, wrinkling my nose.
Clark nodded. “Yeah. And when I touched him he felt… wet. I was going to ask him about but then Chloe and Pete showed up and Chris took off.” Clark shrugged. “I don’t know how he fits into all of this though.”
“I do,” I replied, looking at Lex. “Chris’s father worked at the plant with my father. Its very possible he worked on those secret experiments on Level Three. He died of a tumor shortly after my family left Smallville. Its very possible that Chris blames the Luthors for what happened to his father.”
Lex just shook his head wryly. “Ask me if I’m surprised.”
“I just don’t understand the water samples,” Clark commented.
Lex stood and walked away from the couch. I think he wanted out of the conversation, was most likely regretting the fact that he came and shared with us. I know he wasn’t used to asking others for help, wasn’t used to having them willing to offer it. He wanted to keep us out of this but the problem was, we were already a part of it. Lex would just have to understand that. I had been determined not to let it go since the attack on Lex in his home but now I knew Clark and I would be equally determined, seeing as how our own lives had been threatened. The problem was convincing Lex that he had to continue to keep us in the loop. I yawned.
“You need to get some sleep.” It was Lex who had come to stand beside me once again. Clark was nodding in agreement.
“I’m fine,” I protested, glaring at both of them.
Lex ignored me, turned to my cousin. “You should get her to bed. We can discuss this more later.”
Clark nodded, leaned over me and the next thing I knew he was lifting me into his arms. I kicked in protest.
“Hey! Put me down, you overgrown brute! Lex, tell him – “
“You need to get your rest, Sinjun,” Lex interrupted, grinning at me and Clark. “You can barely keep your eyes open as it is.”
Clark started down the steps of the loft with Lex following us. I pouted. “I can walk, you know.”
My cousin nodded. “Yeah but you wouldn’t. You would stubbornly stay up there on that couch and make the both of us stay up with you while you continue to play Nancy Drew.”
“I’ll talk to you two later,” Lex called out as we exited the barn and he headed back down the road.
Clark stopped to say goodbye and I leaned over his shoulder. “Lex?”
He stopped and turned to look at us, half-hidden in the darkness.
“Promise you won’t shut us out?”
I think he smiled. I couldn’t tell. “I promise, Sinjun.” He turned and disappeared down the road.
Clark started back toward the house while I tapped my fingers impatiently against his shoulder. Fifteen years old and he was carrying me around like I was a sack of flour. If I didn’t know better, I would wonder just exactly what it was my aunt and uncle had been feeding him all of these years. It made you wonder what his biological parents had been like. Weight lifters, perhaps? Oxen?
“He won’t, you know,” I commented as we entered the house and Clark gently set me on my feet.”
“Won’t what?” He glanced down at me.
“Lex won’t tell us anymore than he just did. In fact, he is regretting that he came here at all tonight but he felt some sort of obligation for what happened today.”
“I know.” Clark sighed. “It’s always been the worst part of being his friend, knowing that he never tells me the whole truth, that there are so many things he would prefer to keep buried.”
“We aren’t going to let him get away with it this time, are we?” I asked. “I mean, we’re as much involved now as he is.”
My cousin nodded, steering me towards the stairs. “I’ll see what more I can find out about Chris tomorrow at school. Maybe I can get him to talk to me. We used to be close.”
“Where is his family’s farm?”
Clark frowned. “It borders the plant on the east side. Why?”
That made me hesitate. One more reason to think it could be Chris who was behind the attacks. Of course, that didn’t explain how he could sneak in and out of places without ever being detected. That answer would have to come at a later date.
“I may have to go out there tomorrow morning and have a look around,” I told him.
“Sinjun – “ Clark began, his voice holding a note of warning.
“No. I’ll be fine. I promise no one will even know I was there.” I opened the door to my room and slipped inside. “G’night, Clark.”
“Lex’ll kill you if he catches you snooping around on his behalf, you know.”
I smiled. “I know. Kind of fun living on the wild side, isn’t it, Clark?”
Not that I was especially talented in anything like investigation but really, how hard could it be? At least, that was the thought I had the next morning when I borrowed my aunt’s car to drive over to the Moore farm. I was smart enough to know not to just drive on up to their house, knock on the door and ask Chris’s mother if her son was trying to kill Lex Luthor. Leaving the car parked on the side of the road that ran between the plant and the farm, I tugged my sling off my shoulder, figuring the pain killers would tide me over anyway, and started my way into the thick copse of trees and underbrush that bordered the land. It didn’t take long for me to find exactly what I was looking for – the air quickly became thick with the suffocating smell of fertilizer. I pushed my way through the brush until I entered a clearing in the middle of which sat a dank and stinking pond. I tried breathing through my mouth but it only made things worse so I covered my nose and looked around, frowning.
I guess I had expected to see something resembling a marshland, considering how putrid the stench was. Instead, everything around me was green and flourishing, which was some what surprising considering the Winter thaw had only recently ended and Springs renewal had yet to awaken over Kansas. Kneeling down into the greenery around me, I attempted to break off a blade of grass but found I had to fight with it for a bit before the stem finally snapped in two. The stalk was thick around the outside, hollow inside and water seemed to seep out of it when it broke. I rubbed the substance over my fingertips, sniffed it. Just as I expected. Standing, I walked over to the pond, covering my nose as I neared it, then knelt down and reached into my pocket, withdrawing the vial I had brought with me. I scooped a sample of the water into it, capped it, then tucked the vial and blade of grass into my pocket and rose to leave.
“Who are you?”
I froze at the voice. Heart thudding, I turned to find a teenage boy watching me from across the clearing. He was dressed in jeans, flannel shirt and jacket and he looked as if he had just been caught in a rainstorm. I tried to keep from frowning or staring openly.
“I’m… “ I hesitated, preparing the lie in my head. “I’m Clark Kent’s cousin, Sinjun. My car broke down on the road and I was trying to find a nearby house to make a phone call from when – “
“You can’t use our phone,” he told me angrily.
“Oh.” So much for the friendliness of small town folk. “Well, I guess I’d best keep walking then.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
A shiver ran down my spine. I turned and headed back into the trees in the direction from which I came. I could still feel his eyes on me and picked up my pace, while trying not to look as if I were in a hurry. I only allowed myself to begin to relax when I finally spotted the car up ahead. By that time I did break into a quick jog and hurried for the driver’s side, crawling in and closing and locking the door. Taking a deep breath, I started the engine and pulled out, heading for the plant, testing the brakes just once before I decided to reach the posted speed limit.
It was just before seven when I arrived at the plant. Workers wouldn’t begin arriving until eight but Lex was already in his office, reading over reports. He looked up when I walked in and frowned. Probably because I was dressed in jeans and flannel, looking for all the world like I belonged down in shipping and not in the main office.
“What are you doing here?” He asked. “I told you to take a few days off.”
“There’s a lab here, right?” I asked, ignoring him.
He leaned back in his chair. “Yes. Why?”
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the water sample and set it in front of him. “I got that out of the pond on the Moore farm – “
“Sinjun – “
“Lex, don’t start.” I sighed, not in the mood to argue with him. “I found this, too.” I handed him the stem of grass.
His eyebrows raised as he looked it over, then he glanced up at me, waiting for an explanation.
“I think the plant was dumping its waste onto the Moore property,” I told him, sitting on the edge of his desk. He watched me do so but said nothing. “The pond was seriously disgusting but the area around it was… well, very overgrown and very green and completely impossible considering the time of year. I thought I was going to have to take a hatchet to that blade of grass.”
Lex twirled it between his long fingers, studying it critically. He glanced up at me for a moment then suddenly stood, moving past me toward the door. I guess I was expected to follow because he kind of turned his head at me as he walked through the doorway, but did not bother to break his stride. Slipping off of the desk, I hurried after him, only belatedly realizing he was leading me toward the middle sections of Level Two where R&D was located. The halls were empty of employees still and it was more than a little unsettling following Lex to who-knows-where. He said nothing as he led me through the corridors, finally stopping before a room where he punched in a code and the door swung open. He stood back, allowing me to enter first. A motion sensor triggered the florescent lights above, illuminating the lab that we had just entered.
The room was smaller than I expected. Almost cozy. Was that possible or was I completely losing my mind? Glass cabinets lined the right wall, packed with all sorts of glass and plastic bottles of varying sizes and colors. Oversized refrigerators were scattered about the room, holding God knows what. The bench tops were filled with gizmos and gadgets, some spewing forth whirling noises while their output displays repeatedly blinked numbers in green. There were racks of test tubes, glass flasks and distillation columns, with what looked like marbles inside, attached to tubing or voltage sources, tanks full with churning water. The place seemed alive, swirling with motion. Lex nonchalantly walked past the benches leading me towards a door in the back. I noticed there were several doors along the left wall. One even had a radioactive symbol plastered on the front, warning to keep the door shut at all times. That was just fine with me, not that I could have entered the room without the proper key code. Another seemed to be reserved for animal experimentation. I shivered over that thought, not wanting to know what lay beyond.
Lex stopped and punched in another code, pushing open the door. The room was occupied with microscopes, one even taking up the entire length of a wall. He pulled out the vial and picked up a syringe and glass slide. After placing a drop of the water in the center of the glass, Lex flipped on a microscope, setting the slide on the platform. He adjusted the focus and stepped back, motioning me forward.
“Here, take a look at this.”
I couldn’t help but notice how at home Lex appeared in our current surroundings, but then again he did major in this stuff in college. Shrugging my shoulders, I peered through the microscope’s eyepiece. There were roughly transparent circular blobs moving about, what I could only deduce were cells of some sort. Hey, I wasn’t a scientist by any means and had never really paid attention in chemistry or biology classes in high school, which was the last time I had even seen a microscope. They seemed to be dividing or something, their outlines becoming increasingly more irregular.
“So what exactly am I looking at? Are these cells multiplying?”
“No, they’re dying.”
I blinked. “Come again?”
“These are bacterial cells normally found in water. For one thing, there should be thousands of them instead of just the few you see on that slide. They’re undergoing a process called apoptosis, cell death. Something is altering the cell signaling process, producing a response that is varying the cell’s homeostasis.”
“You want to give that to me in English?” It was weird seeing this side of Lex, the scientist. He seemed comfortable with it. More relaxed and himself than I had ever before seen.
“The cells are being told to shut off, to die,” he explained. “Sure, that’s a normal process but not at this alarmingly rapid rate. These cells are more or less spilling out their cytoplasm, their insides.”
“But I don’t understand. If whatever is in this water kills cells so quickly, then why does Chris seem fine? He must have swallowed a ton of that water when he almost drowned. Shouldn’t he at least be under the weather or even… dead?”
“I’m not sure yet what effect this water would have on eukaroytic cells… sorry.” He grinned sheepishly at my look and continued, ”The cells in our bodies. Our cells, compared to those of bacteria, are composed of different lipids, different receptors. It’s possible that the water is specific to a certain membrane protein that is not present in a human cell, or is present in smaller amounts. There’s an endless number of explanations unfortunately. I wouldn’t be surprised if the water somehow produced a synergistic interaction that caused an entirely different form of mutation. And then there’s the question as to what type of human cell would it influence… all of them or only specific ones? It’s even possible that Chris’ cells are breaking down but at a retarded rate. Like I said, the possibilities are endless and I have a lot more investigating to do before I could even begin to understand what’s going on.”
I moved out of the way so that Lex could take my place at the microscope. He leaned over, examining the slide, while I continued to quietly observe him. His fingers were slim and well-manicured, and they moved delicately over the equipment as if it were the most precious thing in the world. I couldn’t help but wonder what those fingers would feel like on my skin, and then I felt myself blushing profusely at the thought and had to turn away and collect my senses.
“There it is again.”
I looked over at Lex. “What?”
“The green particles.” He moved back from the microscope, indicating me to take his place. I leaned forward, peering into the lens as he asked, “Do you see them? Attached to the cells?”
I finally saw what he was talking about. Miniscule glowing green objects speckled like polka dots over the cells. “That’s the meteor dust you were talking about? The same that was in the other samples?”
I stood back up and looked at Lex. “So your father was using some base consisting of Radium, D-Glucose and the meteors that hit town in order to create some sort of super fertilizer? And he had his employees get rid of the waste on the Moore’s property.” I frowned. “I saw Chris when I went there. He was very… hostile, I guess is the word. And he looked… wet. It was weird.”
Lex continued to stare down at the microscope, his brow furrowed in thought.
“Do you really think this is somehow affecting Chris?” I asked. “I mean, that its done something to make him want to kill you?”
He shrugged. “Anything is possible, especially in this town. If these chemicals have somehow bonded with his cellular structure, then he could very possibly have the ability to transform his body into a liquid form. It would explain how he could enter and exit secure buildings easily.”
“And, if it is doing something to him, that along with his father’s death could make him pretty pissed off at the Luthor family.”
Suddenly I frowned, listening as strange sounds emanating from beyond the shut door reached my ears. My head snapped up. “Did you hear something?”
Lex listened intently and then pushed me to the side. “What the hell…”
I watched as he sniffed the air and then the acrid odor of smoke reached me as he moved to push the door open. Flames had already consumed the front of the lab, fingers of fire lapping greedily at the walls, everything in its path. I didn’t need to be told that we were trapped, for that was the only way out… there were no windows, no other means of escape… nothing.
“Lex… “ I started toward him, uncertain of what to say or what would happen.
His hand reached out, holding me back. I watched his face as he looked frantically over the blazing room before us. “If the fire reaches the cabinet containing the flammable chemicals or the hydrogen tanks stacked in the corner, we’ll be would be blown to pieces, along with possibly half the plant,” he told me quietly.
I laughed nervously. “Always full of good tidings, aren’t you, Lex?”
“One of the extinguishers is missing.” He glanced over his shoulder, back into the lab we were in, then up at the ceiling. “Why hasn’t the sprinkler system gone off?”
Something popped causing me to jump. Glass exploding in the roaring heat. I took as step back as the flames moved closer toward us. Truthfully, I was scared to death of fire. When we had first moved to the suburbs, our neighbor’s house had burned down that Christmas in the middle of the night and I could still remember being outside in my father’s arms while the structure burned to the ground in a mass of writhing flames. It had been started by the lights on their tree and after that, I would always unplug the Christmas tree my parents put out when they weren’t looking.
“There’s a path along the back wall to the right,” Lex was saying from the doorway, wincing against the heat that was blasting through the door. “Come on. I think we can make it.”
I stepped away from his hand, shaking my head.
“Sinjun, we have to get out of here,” he told me sternly. “This place could go in any minute. Now take my hand. I promise, I won’t let anything happen to you.”
I knew he wouldn’t. But still, this was fire. I hesitated, then Lex reached out and grabbed me and was pulling me forward, out into the lab where I didn’t want to go. He kept us close to the back wall, protecting me with himself which, if I had been able to think about it at the time, seemed completely out of character for the spoilt son of a billionaire. But then that was Lex. I would come to learn that he usually did the least expected things at the least expected times.
Another loud pop. Lex pushed me into the wall, hissed as if in pain.
“Lex?” I asked, terrified.
“It’s nothing,” he gasped, obviously lying. “Keep going.”
He pulled me along again. I didn’t think I could handle the heat much longer. I thought my skin would begin to boil at any moment. My hair was plastered to my head, my clothes to my skin. I looked up at Lex, wondering if my face was as flushed as his. It certainly felt like it.
I followed Lex’s gaze to the floor where an extinguisher lay between the counters. He went for it but the moment his hands wrapped around it, he gave a shout, falling back.
“Lex!” I dropped beside him, staring at his reddening hands. “Are you alright?”
He nodded, winced. I looked around for a cloth or something we could grab the extinguisher with but everything above us seemed to be on fire. Then we heard the unmistakable sound of shattering glass toward the front of the lab.
“Sinjun! Lex!” Clark called out.
“We’re in here!” I replied, immediately breaking into a fit of coughing.
The sounds of an extinguisher pouring itself into the flames sent a wave of relief through me. Lex helped me to my feet and we kind of leaned on each other as we continued to skirt towards the front of the lab. Clark cleared a path for us, then grabbed us both and hauled us out the door before turning back inside to continue with the fire. Lex pushed me across the hall to lean against the wall while he picked up another extinguisher and joined Clark, calling out that they needed to get the fire contained before it reached the tanks.
I huddled against the wall, allowing my muscles to collapse and I sank to the floor, coughing occasionally at the smoke I had inhaled. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I heard the sound of approaching sirens in the distance and turned my head toward the right to glance down the hallway. I screamed, unable to comprehend the sight before me. Chris was just down the hall, the upper half of his body exactly as I had remembered from meeting him on his family’s property. The lower half though… was a puddle of water around him. He was watching me miserably, his expression clearly calling out for help while his eyes remained distrustful and angry. I barely noticed as Lex and Clark emerged from the lab to stand beside me, their gazes following mine.
While Clark slowly moved down the hall, speaking to Chris in a calm, soothing voice, Lex slid down to the floor beside me and gathered me into his arms. I hadn’t realized until he held me how badly I was shaking. Moments later, the police and the fire department arrived and while Clark and Lex answered what questions they could, the paramedics led me back to the main offices.
I’d been sitting in Lex’s office for over an hour before Lex and Clark returned to join me. Lex’s hands were bandaged and a piece of glass had caught him in the back of the neck which was also covered in gauze. I found myself immediately getting up and hurrying over to him, unable to hide my concern.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
Lex didn’t pull away when I touched his arm. That was a good sign. He looked down at me and nodded. “Minor blisters, a little cut, nothing to worry about. What about you?”
I forced a smile. “I’m fine.” I looked at Clark. “How did you know to come looking for us?”
“I noticed Chris wasn’t at school today and I remembered that you were going to the farm so I hurried over there. I saw him leave and followed. Unfortunately, he was able to get in here much easier than I was -- I saw him enter through one of the outside drains.”
“Apparently he came into the lab just behind us,” Lex explained. “He found a bottle of acetone, soaked a rag with it, shoved it in the bottle and set it on fire. He must have tried to hide the extinguisher in the back then realized he didn’t have time which is why he left it where he did and hurried to get out of the lab. It must have all been too much for him which is why we found him like he was.”
I shuddered involuntarily at the thought and the remembered image of Chris in half liquid form outside the lab. “What happens now?”
“They’re taking Chris to a special care facility,” Lex told us. “They’ll look into his condition and see what they can do for him.”
I made a face. “I still can’t believe any of this is real.”
Lex and Clark looked at one another with amused expressions. Clark turned back to me. “You live here long enough and you’ll get used to it.”
“I hate to do this,” Lex started, looking down at me. “Especially after everything that has happened but the press – “
I backed over to the desk and grabbed the paper I had just printed off. Looking back at Lex with a slight grin, I handed the press release to him. At his expression of amusement, I shrugged. “I really didn’t have anything else to do.”
Clark sighed. “Well, Sinj, ready to get back to the farm and explain everything to my parents?”
My eyes widened at that. “Not really. But I guess they’ve probably heard by now or will soon.”
Beside me, Lex flinched. “If you can, try not to mention my name, huh? I think almost getting you two killed once in a week is enough.”
Clark and I looked at each other and both laughed, albeit a little shakily.
Two weeks had passed since the fire in the lab and things in Smallville finally seemed to slowly progress towards normal. Well, at least normal for Smallville. Chloe laughed at me when I mentioned it at the Talon one evening and said that soon I would realize that normal in Smallville meant something was obviously wrong. At least uncle Jonathon had calmed down a bit from his rage over what he considered to be yet another attempt on Lex’s part to get me and Clark killed. We tried to convince him that it wasn’t Lex’s fault but my uncle only went on to point out that LuthorCorp was responsible for what happened to Chris and his father in the first place. There was unfortunately no way that we could argue with that, even though it still angered me that anyone would hold Lex responsible for his father’s wrongdoings.
I was sitting on the fence, watching the herd when Lex’s Ferrari came roaring up the drive. I turned to watch it, noticing Clark and uncle Jonathon pause in their work by the barn to look up as well. My uncle said something to Clark and then disappeared inside. Sighing, I turned my attention back to the car which stopped near me. The door opened and Lex stepped out, dressed coolly in black and lavender. Only Lex could pull off wearing a lavender shirt. He cast a wave to Clark before turning and walking over to me. I smiled as he approached.
“Thought you were in Metropolis.”
Lex leaned against the fence, his gaze sweeping over the herd before he glanced up at me. “I was. Cut it short though, telling my father I couldn’t stay away from the plant for long with everything that has happened.”
“How very responsible of you,” I teased.
Lex smiled. “He knew I was using it as an excuse to deny myself of his pleasant company.” He turned, leaning his back against the rails. “So, anything exciting happen in my absence?”
“Two calves were born the other day. And aunt Martha’s tulips are budding.”
Laughter. It made me smile. Shaking his head in amusement, Lex turned his blue-eyed gaze to me. “I knew I was missing something.”
I furrowed my brow. “Calves and tulips?”
“No.” Lex turned thoughtful for a moment, glancing at the farmhouse before returning his attention to me. “The bright wit of a certain PR Director I know.”
I gave a half-smile, looked away.
Lex sighed. Funny how he had already learned to read me so well. “Sinjun, I didn’t… I meant… friend. The bright wit of a certain friend.”
I gripped the rails with my fingers until my knuckles turned white and bit my lip to keep the tears away. Yes, I was a complete and total sap for such declarations. Finally, when I felt quite in control of my emotions, I turned back to face him and smiled. “Thanks, Lex.”
He shrugged, kicked at the ground with his expensive shoes. Lex was adorable when he became uncertain of himself.
“Did you hear that Mrs. Moore is moving to Iowa to stay with family?” I asked, changing the subject for Lex’s sake.
“Really?” He didn’t look up.
My suspicions were confirmed. “Yep. Heard she sold the farm, too. Right now its all hush-hush as to who bought it though.”
Still, he didn’t meet my gaze. Very well. I would ask out right.
“You bought it, didn’t you?”
Finally, Lex looked up at me, his expression masked. “What would I do with a farm, Sinjun?”
“You mean what would you do with land that your father had contaminated with severely dangerous chemical waste?”
Lex frowned for a moment, his gaze moving back to the barn. He shoved his hands into his pockets and stood there silently for a long while as I continued to watch him. When he spoke, his tone was quiet, reflective. “I guess if I were to purchase that kind of land, I would try to clean it up.”
I smiled. “It wouldn’t hurt to perform a few experiments on that land either – I mean, if you were to own such a thing.”
A shrug. “Maybe.”
Well that was as far as that was going to go. Lex trusted me to a point; I knew he did. We had been through too much together in the past month for him not to. But he still wasn’t ready to give over to me completely and that was all right. I could wait. My attention was drawn toward the farmhouse when I heard aunt Martha calling us in for supper. Swinging my legs over to the outside of the fence, I jumped down from the rail and turned to Lex.
“Wanna join us? I’m sure aunt Martha has made enough,” I offered.
“No.” I could see in his eyes that he wanted to say yes. “I’ve got some work that needs to be done.”
“All work and no play makes Lex a boring man,” I told him.
He just smiled, gave a little shake of his head.
“Well, guess I’ll see you at the plant.” I turned and started toward the house then, remembering something, I turned back. “Hey, what happened to Chris?”
Lex pursed his lips for a moment then replied, “I have him under the best care we can offer. Unfortunately, the cellular structure in his body is continuing to break down from the chemicals. The doctors are working around the clock to find a cure.”
“What will happen to him if they don’t?”
Lex frowned. “He’ll end up becoming a liquid form permanently.”
I swallowed at that. “But how can… I mean… he can’t live like that, can he?”
He shook his head.
I wrapped my arms around myself, suddenly cold. What a horrible way to die. And so young. Lex moved over to me and put his hands on my shoulders, as if offering me some sort of support. I really wanted him to hold me like he had in the hospital but I wasn’t going to overstep my bounds.
“I promise I will get my scientists to do everything they can to make certain that doesn’t happen.”
I looked up at him. “I know you will, Lex.”
Lex seemed to relax at that, as if he had been tense, waiting for some sort of rejection or rebuttal. He smiled at me and then I leaned into him and he wrapped his arms around me and we were hugging each other, just clinging to one another, offering silent support. Lex was always very warm and again smelled positively wonderful and I thought it was such a shame that he rarely allowed people to get close to him. I knew he didn’t liked to be touched, so the fact that three times now he had pulled me to him left me slightly in awe.
“Thank you,” he whispered against my hair.
I tried and failed to suppress the pleasant tremor that ran through my body at his words. I didn’t bother to ask him what he was thanking me for. It could have been because I had just given him my trust. Or that we were friends. Or because of everything we had been through in the past few weeks. I didn’t know and I didn’t care. All that mattered was that he was here and we were holding each other and there was something between us that I couldn’t explain at the moment. Maybe I was little too scared to explore it just yet. As much as I knew I was falling hard for Lex Luthor, I still realized he was out of my league. I didn’t want to get hurt, but I doubted that I could escape it for much longer.
I stepped back, not wishing to take advantage of what he was offering me. “Sure you don’t want to join us for supper?”
Lex shook his head. “Maybe I’ll take a rain check.”
Well, that was something. “Will you be at the plant at all next week?”
He smiled. “Seems like every time I go there lately, something bad happens.”
I laughed. “Good excuse not to come in to work, eh?”
“Maybe I’ll stop by and take you to lunch.”
“Or I could take you to lunch,” I offered. “Seems my boss gave me a fairly spiffy raise recently.”
“Is that so?”
I nodded, smiling.
“I just might let you do that,” he teased. I knew he wouldn’t really let me get away with doing such a thing. After all, who was the billionaire here?
“Well then, goodnight, Lex. And thanks for stopping by.”
I walked back toward the farmhouse, a smile touching my lips as I heard the Ferrari roar away down the drive. I realized that Lex had called me by nickname for the first time since we had met.
Continue to Part Two
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