Perry White had gotten a lot of phone calls over the last months since Cat Grant began her parody series. He'd gotten them from lawyers, including the Planet's own terrified staff when the article first appeared on their desks, as well as those representing both of the Luthors. That had been somewhat nerve-racking that first day as he'd been expecting to be summarily hauled off to face charges of criminal libel, but oddly, nothing worse than snarling had come from it, and that mostly from Lionel Luthor's people.
The LuthorCorp PR people had called about keeping the companies from being dragged into the scandal. Lex's assistant had called about the gag order on Myst's real identity. The LexCorp PR people had called to complain about the effeminization of their CEO, but they hadn't even tried to back up their complaints with any legal proceedings, or threat thereof. In fact, he'd gotten the impression that they were working behind Lex's back on that call.
He'd gotten calls from the readership, both praise and concern. Some callers were enraged by the flippancy shown towards one of the city's major employers, some were disgusted by the way the subject of Lex Luthor's homosexuality was being portrayed, and still others were so vastly entertained they just had to call and personally let the editor of the Daily Planet know that they'd snorted their morning orange juice.
There had been dozens of calls from different men all claiming to be "Myst" offering exclusives. Grant, fortunately, was able to disprove their alleged identity with just a few questions and they'd all been set away with a dutiful warning about the laws they were breaking. Fortunately, that trend had died down in the last few weeks. Perry expected they would come to a complete halt now that the two men were engaged and Lex had announced a child on the way.
After the second article, there'd even been one from Lionel Luthor himself. He'd stated in no uncertain terms that if he weren't leaving it up to Lex to defang the media frenzy he'd stirred up, the Planet would now be printing travel brochures.
From Lex, there had been nothing but eerie silence. Every day now, the Daily Planet was printing a new article about his 'courtship' and there wasn't so much as a word. Not even his laywers had called after the first week, unless it was related to a LexCorp article.
Perry hadn't realized he'd been waiting for the other shoe to drop until the call was patched through to him from the nervous girl at the front desk. Lex Luthor was on line three. He picked up his phone, frowned at his open door, gestured for the new copyboy, Jimmy, to shut it, then pressed the flashing button for line three. "Perry White speaking, Mr. Luthor."
There was the sound of muffled speaking that abruptly came to a stop when Perry spoke, then a very brief pause before, "Good morning, Mr. White." He recognized Lex Luthor's voice immediately, though whether that was because he would have recognized it anyway or because he'd had prior warning from the secretary, he wasn't sure. Either way, he recognized it, and more importantly, it didn't sound angry. Of course, this Luthor in particular tended to be most dangerous when he was calm. Angry, he just tended to break things that shatter loudly.
"Mornin'," Perry returned, deciding to act friendly until it became obvious his paper was getting sued. Not that it seemed likely Luthor would do that now, at this late date, but maybe in the excitement of yesterday's disownment, he hadn't quite gotten around to suing the Planet for the slightly over-the-top article about Myst's proposal. That one had been a little risky and took a few more gender-neutral liberties than normal, and only the months of silence on Lex Luthor's part had allowed him to okay it. And now Luthor Junior suddenly wasn't silent anymore.
"I'll hold while you get Cat Grant into your office," Lex Luthor told him. That didn't bode well, but Perry agreed to put him on hold and get Grant. He made it as far as his door before stopping, opening it, and bellowing Grant's name. She broke off a conversation with one of the college interns and hurried into Perry's office at his impatient gesture. He closed the door behind her, nodded to the phone, warned her who was on the other end, then took him off hold.
Again, the muffled talking cut off abruptly when Perry announced his return. Perry added that Lex was now on speaker phone and Cat Grant was also in the room. "Good morning, Ms. Grant," Luthor's voice greeted her.
"Back at you, Lex," she responded in her normal sultry tone that Perry tried to insist she stop using in situations like these. As yet, he hadn't gotten through to her. Fortunately, he was fairly certain Luthor understood that was just the way she was.
His lack of reaction reassured Perry that he did have a close enough acquaintance with Grant to not have her attitude reflect poorly on the Planet. "I'm glad you're both there. I have a proposition to make."
Perry looked at Grant, but she appeared as baffled as he was by what Lex might mean. "What sort of proposition?"
"There's something I'd like to leak slowly to the public. I thought Ms. Grant's story might be a good initial avenue to introduce the idea."
Perry got a bad feeling in his gut. Aside from the hiring and subsequent firing of one high school summer intern several years ago (who had proved plenty competent enough to hire back on her own merits more recently), the Planet had never catered to Luthor whims. It would not be a good precedent to start now.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Luthor," Perry managed to get out before he was cut off.
"Mr. White," his name was spoken calmly, but sharply. "I could still sue you." He had wondered when that would get dangled over their heads. What surprised him was that Lex Luthor didn't sound like he intended to carry through with the threat. It was just something he was putting out there as an option.
Cat snorted, making Perry look at her in surprise. "Oh, please, Lex. You'd have been roasted alive without us." Well, that was a new take on the situation Perry hadn't considered before. He had rather thought the Planet was the lead paper in the roasing of Lex Luthor. And here was Cat Grant, the person singlehandedly responsible for an entire city viewing Lex Luthor as a fainting heroine in a bodice ripper, claiming she'd done him a favour?
"I'm aware of that, Ms. Grant, which is why I haven't bothered you before. But now your story has cost me significant financial losses."
Perry was still trying to figure out how being emasculated counted as not being roasted alive, but even Cat didn't seem to follow what Lex was talking about. "I saw the stock values this morning, Lex. You're holding steady."
"I'm not talking about my stock, Ms. Grant. I'm talking about LuthorCorp."
Great Caeser's ghost. Luthor Junior wasn't saying that the Planet was responsible for him getting disowned, was he? But great shades of Elvis, wasn't that was Luthor Senior himself said on day two? He was waiting for Lex to defang his media frenzy? Perry hadn't noticed any defanging going on. And now, between what the Planet had printed following Myst's proposal, and Lex's own inaction, the heirship of LuthorCorp was skipping a generation.
"Bullshit, Lex." Perry was going to fire her. He swore it. Just as soon as his heart started beating again and he could resume breathing. "Your old man can't handle a gay son. End of story."
There was a long pause during which Perry imagined all the different ways he could fire Grant and the myriad possibilities Luthor could take to dispose of the both of them. He felt a heart attack coming on.
When Lex did finally speak, his voice was carefully measured. "That is not entirely accurate. The full story is part of what I wanted to leak. Will you listen to my proposal?"
Perry blinked. Luthor wasn't angry. There would be no death squads. At least, he didn't think there would be, not as long as they listened to the proposal. "Yes, fine, state your terms. We're listening."
"Thank you. I want to give Ms. Grant an exclusive interview. We will go off record for about ten minutes at the end, which is when I'll tell her the item I wish included in the parody only. She writes up the interview and the next installment of the story. I get to see both before they're printed. The off record part can be printed as fact once sufficient time passes."
Perry frowned. "How long is 'sufficient time'?"
"That will become obvious by the nature of the secret. Look, Mr. White, I'm not asking you to bury a story. If anything, I'm offering to break a scandal ahead of when it'll break naturally. I just want it to happen in a controlled fashion. Also, I want this deal absolutely confidential, kept secret between you, me, and Ms. Grant. I don't want any lawyers, either mine or yours, involved at all."
He didn't like it. Not one bit. He'd never known a Luthor to use a verbal contract before. But there didn't seem any way for Lex to weasel out of his side of the deal and no way for him to certify the Planet had broken their end if they chose to do so. "That seems like a lot of trust you're putting in us."
There was a long pause before Lex spoke again. "I don't really have much choice, do I?"
That alone told Perry that whatever secret Lex Luthor was hording, it was a bigger one than Perry could imagine. No explanation he could could up with would make the city's second most powerful man that desperate. He nodded toward Grant. "Do it."
"I'm in my penthouse. I'll let security know to let you up, Ms. Grant."
Curiosity was supposed to be a cat's downfall. That had never detered Cat Grant before, and right now it burned in her strongly enough to make her speed up her steps as she left Perry's office and made for the elevator. Even if Perry had said no, she would have gone for Luthor's deal behind his back. An exclusive interview was unprecidented enough (she'd only heard of one other, and that had been given to a high school newpaper), but it was the forbidden secret that had her crossing the street with barely any regard for the presence of traffic.
Sadly, it was LuthorCorp that was right next door and she had to grab a taxi to get across town to where LexCorp Towers were. She elbowed her way passed a woman with a squalling toddler and a man in a wheelchair to get on the first one available. If they'd had an interview with a Luthor, she was sure they wouldn't have been any more polite about it.
On the trip over, she readied her notebook, checked that her pen and tape recorder worked, and wondered if this had anything to do with the cryptic message she'd gotten yesterday to wait a day before writing about the disownment cause or the unborn heir in the courtship chronicles. It had been difficult to leave those details out, but the act itself of the disownment had provided plenty of drama to play with so she'd left it off with Princess Lexia running to her suitor in tears over what her father had done. As yet she'd left the reason vague and hadn't mentioned the child at all.
Linking the child to the disownment like that gave Cat a pretty good idea of what Lex might want her to do in the story, assuming the 'P. Lexia' who had signed the email actually was Lex. She didn't know who else would or could be sending her messages from princess_of_Metropolis@Lexcorp.com.
When she finally got to LexCorp Towers, past security, and up the express elevator to the penthouse lobby, Mysterious Kent was waiting for her. "Lex is inside," he told her, and blocked her view of the keypad with his body as he entered in the passcode to get them into the penthouse itself.
Myst opened the door and gallantly invited her inside. She stepped through the threshold into a room that was tasteful yet clearly decorated by somebody with too large a budget. The coathooks looked like they had to have cost thousands of dollars, and she wasn't even going to try to estimate the price of the floormat where someone had kicked off a pair of gigantic muddy work boots.
A worn red bookbag was propped up against a couch that was probably imported from the Far East. Textbooks and papers littered the glass coffee table in the middle of the living room, and crystal brandy decanter sat beside them with a white film and what looked like cookie crumbs stuck to its bottom. A huge plasma television hung on the wall, with wires hanging down from it to a X-Box with two controllers plugged in.
To say the least, it was an interesting mix of high elegance and lived-in. She began to suspect that Myst might not be as cultured or as old as he played on TV.
Lex was sitting on the couch, and Myst joined him there. Though the couch had one more open spot, Cat took the matching armchair placed at an angle to it so she could see their faces. She took out her notebook and pen, balancing them on her lap, then held up the recorder and looked at Lex for permission to begin. He nodded and she pressed the record button.
She focused the interview around their plans for the future, possible baby names, wedding details, and whether or not Myst planned to become involved with LexCorp. In response, she learned they were waiting to know the gender of the child before they seriously began thinking about names, no they were not going to wait to be surprised about whether it was a girl or a boy, the length of the preliminary guest list to the wedding (roughly a thousand) and their plans to try to cut that by half. They had decided on a location for the reception but were still trying to find a church that would marry them.
Myst stated that LexCorp had Lex's name on it, so he wasn't going to touch it. She asked what he did do for a living and he said he planned to write. She noted the books on the coffee table were about journalism. Lex fielded that one and stated that Myst was still exploring his options. As the subtle approaches had failed, she asked point blank whether he was still in college. The two men had looked at each other and answered at the same time. Myst had firmly stated 'Yes.' Lex had given an unequivocal 'No.' Then they glared at each other, but neither took back their answer until Myst deepened his frown and Lex slumped sullenly back into his couch.
"He attends Metropolis University and is taking a few summer courses so he can graduate early. As yet, his classmates haven't realized he's Myst." Lex paused a moment, gave Myst another glance, then added, "He's a sophmore. We started dating in November of his freshman year."
Cat looked at her recording device and saw that it was indeed still running. "Was this what you wanted to discuss off record?"
But Lex shook his head. "We're not actively hiding this anymore. It's just that people seem to have lost interest in Clark's real identity lately so nobody's been digging for it. And we're hardly likely to just volunteer that he's six years younger than me."
Clark Kent. She had Myst's full real name now. And his age, since she knew Lex was twenty-six, so Clark had to be twenty.
"Aren't you two moving a little fast given he's still in college?"
They looked at each other again and she definitely understood why they thought getting engaged was appropriate. They already had the subliminal married couple communication thing going. The baby, however, seemed a bit premature.
"I don't believe we're doing anything we can't handle," Lex answered. "Clark's a mature twenty. I got married the first time when I was only twenty-one, which, I admit, was a mistake, but I knew Desiree for days. Clark and I have known each other for years and have been dating for months. He was my best man at that wedding, and he's been around to see my failures with everyone else I've dated in the last five years, so he definitely knew what he was getting involved with when he kissed me."
Cat raised her eyebrows. "He kissed you first?"
Lex rolled his eyes like she'd just asked the stupidest question of all time. "I thought he was straight."
"But he didn't think you were?"
Myst smirked and drawled, "I'd seen sufficient evidence to give me a good idea he wasn't." He paused, grinned, then made a wide gesture that encompassed the room, providing a pat PR answer that probably had nothing to do with how he actually figured it out. "He decorates in purple, for one thing."
Lex gave him a back handed smack. "There is nothing wrong with purple. It's the color of kings."
"You just keep telling yourself that."
Lex pretended to ignore him and leaned toward Cat. "He's just bitter because he has no sense of fashion. Left to his own devices, he wears plaid flannel."
"Farmer's kid here!" Clark defended himself, "You can't go mucking stalls in designer suits." He appealed to Cat then, "Now, if you were visiting a barn where cows live, would you go in there wearing shoes costing upwards of a thousand dollars?"
"Those were my cheap shoes," Lex refuted.
"I know you have a pair of sneakers."
Lex gave him a pitying look. "Those were specifically designed for my feet and were created for running a treadmill. They cost four thousand dollars and have never been worn outdoors."
Clark looked at Cat again, "You see what I have to deal with? You'd think with all the money he's got, he'd own a pair of real sneakers." He turned back to Lex, "Our kid's gonna have real sneakers, Lex. None of this four thousand dollar specifically designed crap."
"As you wish."
Clark shot him a look, "I mean it."
Lex went suddenly brittle. "I know you do. And the kid will have real sneakers. Fine. Do you want to go out and buy them now, or should we wait until it's born?"
Clark's eyes widened in surprise and alarm. "Lex, what's wrong?" Then he seemed to remember Cat, and he gestured to the recorder and mouthed, 'Turn that off now.' She did, because things seemed to be swiftly descending into weird and she didn't want to risk getting thrown out. Clark refocused on Lex, ignoring Cat completely as he said, "Lex, it's okay. We'll deal with the baby's shoes when we've got the baby. What's really the matter?"
Lex shook his head. "I can't do this."
"Do what? The interview? The other thing? We don't have to. We'll go on a long honeymoon and deal with the company and school later."
Lex shook his head harder. "No, have to do it this way. That's not the problem."
"What then, Lex? I can't make it better unless I know what's wrong."
Lex squeezed his eyes shut and Myst wrapped his arms around him. Cat felt like she probably shouldn't be there anymore, but nothing short of the world ending was going to make her leave. "The baby's what's fucking wrong. I fucking gave up Laura because I can't be a parent. And it's good I did because wouldn't have even known what fucking shoes to get her."
"Shh. You'll be a great parent, Lex. I'll be right here, too. You don't need to do this by yourself now. And mom and dad will help, you know they will. I helped them with the twins everyday. I know what I'm doing, and you'll pick it up fast. Don't worry about it."
"You say that because you don't fucking have Lionel Luthor for a fucking father."
"You had Lillian for a mother," Clark said calmly.
"She left when I was twelve."
As she silently watched and listened to the exchange, Cat reached two conclusions. First, Lex already had a daughter named Laura who had apparently been given up for adoption sometime in the past. Which meant this girl, whoever and wherever she was, was the biological grandchild Lionel Luthor had made his heir. Second, it wasn't Clark who wasn't ready for how fast the relationship had moved.
Clark was still trying to calm Lex. "Shh. So you just won't have a positive role model for parenting teenagers. We've still got time before we need to worry about that. You'll do a great job and you're not alone. We're getting married, Lex. Trust me, even if you do go insane and suddenly metamorphasize into Lionel, I'll metamorphasize you right back. We'll raise this kid right, and we'll do it together. Okay?"
Lex nodded and when Clark let him pull away, Cat was shock to see there were tears glistening in his eyes. Lex glanced in her direction, cursed, and dropped his face back against Clark's shirt. "She's still here," he said, the words slightly muffled.
"I put her off record, but you were in crisis mode. I didn't have time to shoo her away properly."
"Shit. I hate this."
"I know." They sat there together for several seconds, Lex in Myst's arms exactly as she had described them in her story at the end of her last article. Never would she have imagined she'd see it in real life. For the first time since she started writing her courtship chronicles did she begin to wonder if maybe she was causing Lex permanent damage.
"May as well tell her now," Lex said after what seemed too short a time to fully recover from whatever had just happened.
"We don't have to. We could-"
"No, I told you, we need to do it this way if I want to have any hope of keeping LexCorp."
It was apparently an argument Clark was used to losing, because he sat back and let Lex escape his embrace for the second time in as many minutes. This time when Lex looked at her, he was dry-eyed and held her gaze. "I've tried to figure out how best to ease into the subject, but so far I've only been able to put it bluntly, and after what you just saw, there isn't really much point in sugar coating it." He paused for a moment, gathering his nerve, then announced, "I'm pregnant."
Cat looked at him, then at Myst, then back to Lex, looking for evidence that he was pulling her leg. All that got her was a wry grin from Myst and a dryly spoken, "You just witnessed a hormonal moodswing and still you doubt?" He glanced toward Lex, then back to her, smirking, "Will watching him eat a peanut butter and caviar sandwich convince you otherwise?"
To her horror, Lex sat up straighter and looked entreatingly at Myst. "Actually, I am getting hungry again."
Apparently, Clark was no less dismayed than she was, for all his joking. "Again? Can't you make it this time?"
Lex gestured toward Cat and gave a wide eyed look of innocence that nobody would buy. "I'm giving an interview."
Clark stood up. "Fine. One PBC coming right up. Anything else, your Highness?"
"Just a bottle of Ty Nant. Thanks, Clark."
Clark waved it off as he made his way deeper into the penthouse, presumably going toward the kitchen. "Sure."
Cat only gave the exchange peripheral attention. Mostly, she was staring at Lex. Specifically, at his stomach. He didn't look pregnant, though, upon closer examination, she did have to admit he did look a little heavier than he had a few months ago. Nothing significant though. Nothing to suggest something like this. "Pregnant?" she repeated in disbelief.
Lex regarded her seriously. "Yes."
"Like, baby growing inside you, pregnant."
He nodded solemnly. "Yes."
"But you're a guy."
"Glad you noticed."
She tried to wrap her mind around it. She couldn't. Instead, she laughed, "So, what, you forgot your condom when Myst fucked you one day and, bang, you're pregnant?"
"Actually, it broke."
She shook her head, baffled. "What broke?"
"The condom." She stared at him uncomprehendingly. He expanded, "The condom broke and, bang, I'm pregnant."
"Yeah." They fell silent and she continued to stare. It was a time honored technique in the interviewing process, staying silent to urge the interviewee to continue speaking but she wasn't employing it now. She just didn't know what to say. "I'd prefer not to let it get out that it was an accident. For the kid's sake." Still, no idea what she should say. "I mean, in the story, it's fine, I want Lexia pregnant there, but I'll never go on record as myself and say this was unplanned. Obviously, I can't stop speculation, but don't quote me about the condom. I'll deny it."
"You want Lexia pregnant." There, speaking wasn't that hard, was it? Her voice was a little flat, the intonation more of a statement than a question, but she was conversing again.
"You want the story to mirror reality as closely as possible, right? It's why I was disowned. He wanted me to abort it. I refused to kill Clark's baby. He told me I wasn't welcome to keep the Luthor name any longer."
Lex looked down and cleared a space on the coffee table in front of him. "I expected it."
She was staring again. Nobody was going to believe this. Except they would have to, because she really didn't think he was lying. He was perhaps deluded, but Myst believed him, and Lionel seemed to, and there were the sonogram pictures which were presumably taken from Lex's stomach instead of some anonymous surrogate that nobody had been able to find the least hint of yesterday.
"Aside from the condom, how . . . ?" she trailed off, not knowing how to finish the question.
Lex bit his lower lip and did not look up at her. He swallowed audibly, then took a deep breath. "I'm a metahuman." After this admission, he met her gaze squarely, a small jut to his chin dared her to comment. "There have been a few cropping up here and there, people who exhibit extraordinary abilities beyond what normal humans are capable of. My 'power', so to speak, is the ability to conceive children during unprotected anal sex."
Her eyes widened. She'd heard reports about metahumans before, and there had already been evidence of one being in Metropolis. Closer review of the incidents made her realize Lex had usually been reported as being somewhere near the neighborhood where each of the sightings took place. "Are you the Night Angel?"
Surprised by her deduction, she caught his eyes widening before he quickly schooled his features. It was as guilty a reaction as she had ever seen a Luthor give. "No, I have no knowledge of that person. My ability is limited to childbearing. It's not a useful crimefighting skill." The answer rang false to her instincts, but she decided not to press. Yet.
She had another line of questions, first. "How did you figure out you were pregnant? It's not exactly something most men need to worry about. For that matter, you're in an exclusive relationship, how did you know to use - shit."
"What?" he asked, raising a curious eyebrow and faking calm, but there was a tightness around his eyes that belied his act.
Synapses fired in her brain, leading her toward an impossible conclusion. I gave up Laura because I can't be a parent. . . . You'll do great and you're not alone. Holy shit. She'd gathered that this 'Laura' was his kid, but . . . You don't need to do this by yourself now. There would have been a mother. He wouldn't have been alone. "You've been pregnant before."
He went completely tense. "I deny that."
She could see the fear in his eyes. "You're lying. You're Laura's mother."
Terror, now. "I have no idea what you're talking about. Laura who?" She could see that his pulse was too fast. He had no hair to hide that vein. She could hear the agitation in his voice, though he did a decent job of toning it down.
The biggest tell, though, was the way Myst came charging back into the room, placing himself between Cat and his fiance, and glared down at her with an expression far more threatening than any that had ever been directed at her before, and she used to be an investigative journalist. "The name Laura does not ever leave this room. Her existance and parentage does not leave this room. I swear to God, if this leaks, you will be buried right alongside your story."
She looked at Myst, around him to a ghost-pale Lex, then back to Myst. "Is Laura yours, too?"
Myst was replaced by Clark as he stepped back, shaking his head. She couldn't let it go, though. Their reactions were far too extreme for it to just be some newborn babe Lex had given away to strangers. And if they were that attached to her, Lex's father couldn't have missed her existance. "Lionel knows who she is, knows where she is, doesn't he?"
"Shit," Lex gasped out shakily. Myst was immediately at his side, holding him, comforting him. "Hate this."
"I know, love, shh. She's safe. She'll stay safe. Right now, Lionel wants her to inherit, so he's not going to hurt her. You said yourself that you've got enough on him to keep him quiet. Ferrier said the hospital people won't talk. I'll see to it that Cat doesn't talk. Everybody else who knows, you trust. Okay? Laura's safe."
"Grant figured her out. Ferrier figured her out. She's not safe."
As he held Lex close, Myst looked over his future spouse's back to glower at Cat like this was all her fault. "Cat witnessed a private moment of doubt. Ferrier's known you way too long. Even if anybody else could guess, they'd need her name to be able to find her. Not even Ferrier knows that."
"Grant does. I said Laura's name when she was here. I told you I can't-"
"Shh. Stop it. Cat won't say anything. And I promise I'll do a better job of getting witnesses away when you start panicking. This won't happen again. All right?"
Lex nodded, but this time he did not try to pull away. Myst continued to hold him as he looked again at Cat. His eyes seemed to read right into her. "You will not ever speak of Laura. In exchange, I will explain why he's so afraid. Are we clear on these terms?" Cat nodded mutely, half afraid that speaking would distract him from explaining what the hell was going on.
"Laura, as you guessed, is the first child Lex gave birth to. I never met her father, didn't even know Lex slept with men until he admitted he was pregnant with a one-night-stand's byblow."
He paused as Lex flinched at that description of his firstborn daughter, then backed up a few steps in the story. "I should perhaps explain how Lex became capable of having children."
"Yes, perhaps you should," Cat agreed, trying unsuccessfully not to sound overwhelmed.
"In 1989, there was a meteor shower over Smallville. A lot of people died, but even more were . . . changed. The EPA claimed the meteors weren't harmful, but they're wrong. They can mutate people. You can ask Chloe Sullivan for the full list of mutants we encountered during high school, but I'm just going to say what happened to Lex.
"Lex was nine years old when they fell the first time. He was visiting Smallville with his father when he came to buy the building that eventually became Fertilizer Plant Number Three. He had wandered into Riley's Field while the grown-ups talked business and that's right where one of the meteors hit. The only other person nearby was in a coma for twelve years and when he woke he hadn't aged a day and was able to electrecute people with his hands. Lex got off with a coma of a few days, a kickass immune system, and irrepairably damaged hair follicles.
"Had he stayed in Metropolis, that might have been all that happened. But he came back to Smallville to work at the Fertilizer Plant. He was repeatedly exposed to the meteors, often intentionally because he's a suicidal idiot."
"Scientifically curious," Lex corrected. Having seen and occassionally experienced the more extreme ends of journalistic curiosity herself, Cat was willing to believe they could both be right.
"Anyway, at some point, during his couple of years at Smallville, Lex managed to mutate again, probably in response to his desperate wish to have a family that would accept him unconditionally. The meteors tended to grant wishes in the worst possible way." Cat looked at Lex doubtfully, but his rigidly still form gave no indication either way about whether this was a 'desperate wish' he had harbored during his early twenties. The lack of response could be taken as extreme embarrassment (if it were true) or an attempt to let Clark go on believing that (if it were false). Though, if Clark were right about the wish fulfillment thing, she didn't know what other kind of 'desperate wish' might result in getting a man pregnant.
"So, anyway, Lex got himself pregnant. Laura was delivered in a lab by a couple of scientists, only one of which had a medical background. Lex had found a family willing to take her in and pretend she was theirs. The mother had just had a new baby herself, so they faked Laura's birth certificate and everyone but a couple of doctors believed the two girls were twins."
"Shit," Lex interrupted, pulling free of Clark finally. "Martha's doctors. Gotta call Ferrier. Go on." He got up and left the room, pulling a cell phone out of his pocket.
Clark watched him go, then continued as instructed, "So the girls are being raised like they were flesh and blood sisters. Neither one knows one of them is adopted. Nobody in town knows the mother didn't have twins. The doctor who delivered her single biological daughter was swiftly given a transferral to Metropolis and a large raise.
"For a year, nothing much happened except a lot of diaper changing, bottle drinking, and spitting up. They looked enough alike that nobody ever doubted they were sisters. But then Lionel approached Lex. He'd known Lex had given birth and gave the baby away. He'd even known who the baby was going to. Lex just figured he wouldn't have any interest in the baby at all since it was a girl and a bastard. He was wrong.
"The problem with Lionel is that he takes interest in things Lex takes an interest in. And the girl was Lex's baby. He'd given up his parental rights to her, but he hadn't been able to stay away from her completely."
"Lionel decided to use her against Lex in one of his schemes. I really don't think Metropolis ever understood just how much they hate each other or how vicious the infighting can get. In an attempt to get Lex to give LuthorCorp a contract that LexCorp had, Lionel pointed out in exacting detail just how much trouble he could get the foster family in for illegal adoption. The birth certificate was a lie, there was no documentation from the real parents giving the family custody which made it kidnapping, and the fact that their first child's adoption was equally illegal, there would be the added severity of repeated offenses. The foster parents would probably be put in prison. As the father who was complicit in his own child's kidnapping, Lex wouldn't be given custody. Laura would be given to her grandfather's custody. I was eighteen, so I would probably be left independent and in charge of the farm, but he might have taken in Cara as well. No court would have given me custody of my sister if Lionel Luthor was willing to adopt her to keep the 'twins' together."
Clark paused long enough to take a breath. "The thing you really have to understand is that Lex believes a rabid squirrel who eats its young has better parenting techniques than Lionel Luthor. He would sooner kidnap Laura himself and go live in Siberia than let Lionel have custody. I think that was his Plan H if Plans A through G fell through. Fortunately, though, his Plan D was 'Ask the Kents for help' and we worked something out."
It was a soap opera, Cat decided. She'd used the wrong setting for her story. Lex's daughter was being raised as Myst's sister. But, no, that part would never enter into the plot. Not unless the Courtship Chronicles were still in syndication when Lionel died. For the other part - Myst getting Lex pregnant and Lex promptly getting disowned when that was discovered - that she could work with in her fairytale, even if it did slide a notch away from a Disney tale toward a Grimm tale.
As she tried to figure out how to make the townpeople would respond to the scandal, she abruptly realized why Lex had come to the conclusion this was the only way to break the news. "Good God," she blurted out.
Clark broke off whatever it was he'd been saying and looked at her in concern, "What?"
"Lex is pregnant."
"Takes a little while to realize the full horror, doesn't it?" Lex voice asked as he returned to the room. He dropped back onto the couch where Myst immediately draped an arm around his shoulders. At some point over the course of the morning, Lex must have come to accept Cat as part of the inner circle because he closed his eyes and rested his head again Myst's chest as he murmured, "Ferrier's got everything under control with Martha's doctors, both the ones who did the initial sonograms, and the one who actually delivered Cara. Helen didn't know anything about the number of children before she left, did she? I'd rather not approach her if at all possible, seeing as I was dating her at the time of conception and she might just go to the press out of spite if she puts the clues together and figures out what we're trying to keep hidden."
Clark appeared to be considering it, but he shook his head. "You weren't even close to showing yet when she left and Mom was only about a month ahead of you. I think it would have been too early to tell."
Lex nodded. "Good." They fell into what was probably a comfortable silence between them, but Cat felt out of place again. Fortunately, it didn't last long, and soon Lex broke the silence again, "I take it since Cat is as appalled by the situation as my PR guys that you got her firmly on our side?"
"Mmm, well, she seemed to favour us from the beginning. Now she understands the whole score."
Lex opened his eyes to look at her. Unlike Myst, who had seemed to dissect her with laser precision, Lex's study was more leisurely, like a scholar with an ancient scroll. When he was finished, he nodded and closed his eyes again. "I slept with her twice, you know."
Cat's eyes widened and looked at Myst in alarm. Over the last few months she couldn't help but notice he was incredibly possessive. He had narrowed his eyes and his expression had dropped into a deep scowl. His arms tightened around Lex, but Lex's lips only twitched upwards. "Was a long time ago, Clark. I'm just saying I liked her and she never tried to kill me."
She'd always gotten the impression that Lex was overly suspicious, but if his standards for trust really were as low as two steamy nights ages ago and a lack of murderous intent, Cat didn't want to know what his life had been like. Perhaps he really did need a white knight to protect him.
Myst still didn't look happy about this new information but his scowl lessened to a frown. He did not loosen his hold on Lex, not that Lex seemed to mind. He just looked a little drowsy. "Weren't you making me a sandwich?"
Myst's frown turned rueful. "Right." He let Lex go and stood up. With a final warning look at Cat, which she took to mean 'if you touch him or upset him again you will die without mercy' he went back into the interior rooms of the penthouse. A white knight seemed to be exactly what Lex had found for himself.
She picked up her recorder for him to see. "Mind if we go back on record? I have just a couple more questions about Myst."
He waved vaguely. "Go ahead."
She pressed the button and began again, as if they hadn't just been talking about two of the biggest Luthor scandals of all time. "When did you meet Myst?"
Lex smirked. "We're going to have to start calling him Clark now, because he wasn't a mysterious suitor back then. Clark was a freshman in high school, about fifteen years old, when we met. I'd just gone out to Smallville to start managing the plant out there. On my way back to the mansion after getting my initial tour of the factory, I lost control of my car, nearly hit Clark who was standing on the side of Loeb Bridge, and drove through the guardrail and into the river below. Clark jumped in after me, pulled me out of a watery grave, and pumped air and life back into my lungs. We've been friends ever since."
Oh, she could use that in her story, too. No cars, of course, but she could work with it. "And when did you realize your feelings went deeper?"
"Me, personally, or when did we start officially dating?"
"We started dating in November of last year. Clark was nineteen and a freshman at Metropolis University. It was just after the midterm craziness and before final projects started coming due. I'd recently discovered that Clark had never been to a club before, so I took him to one. Since we went public, you'd never know it, but he used to be increadibly shy. I tried to get him out on the dance floor, even got one of the girls there that night to agree to dance with him, but he just blushed and stammered and would have none of it. So I went out on the floor with the girl instead, hoping that he might get over himself and have some fun.
"I'd noticed at the time that he was watching us. So I started showing off. The girl was a good dancer, and I know we looked good together. After a while, I realized that he wasn't going to join us, so I passed the girl off to some other guy and went back to try cajoling him again. He said he'd rather just go home, so we left. He was really quiet on the way back to the penthouse. I kept up a steady one-sided conversation, but I was starting to worry that I'd made a mistake bringing my farm-raised best friend to a city club."
"Meanwhile," Clark interrupted, handing over a sandwich on rye bread that looked normal from the outside. Cat was just as glad she was sitting far enough away that she didn't need to know for certain that their was caviar and peanut butter inside it. "I'd spent the entire car ride wondering how I was going to let Lex know that I'd just spend the last two hours watching his ass."
"He apparently decided that stopping me from unlocking my front door and kissing me was the way to go. When we did get inside, we had a lengthy discussion about public distance, secrecy, and cover dates, then we went back to the kissing as an officially dating couple."
Lex took a moment to take a bite of his sandwich, and implemented his fine upbringing by waiting until he was done chewing before talking again. "As for, me, personally, I don't have a defining moment when I realized I loved him as more than a friend. I knew we had a destiny together almost from the day we met, but that's not quite the same thing. When Clark's mother had the twins and I was adopted as a psuedo uncle, I began to view Clark's whole family as my family, but again, that's a far cry from being ready to marry or even seriously date Clark. I believe I mentioned earlier that I thought he was straight right up until he kissed me, so I just wasn't letting myself think of him in any terms other than friendship. When we did start dating, I tried not to get my hopes up too far, and to be honest, it was probably only a few days ago, when Clark asked me to marry him, that I really understood that this was forever."
She had intended, when Clark returned, to asked him about when he realized he loved Lex, but Lex's answer was such a perfect soundbyte, that she decided it would be unfair to ask him to try to top that. So she clicked off her recorder and told them that was it. Ever the gentlemen, they both stood up to shake her hand as she got ready to leave. That propriety accomplished, Lex sat back down to resume eating his sandwich, and Myst walked her to the door.
"Lex expects to see both the fictional article and the write up of the interview before it prints," Myst reminded her. "And nothing about Laura anywhere, ever, you understand that, right?"
She had plenty of other exclusives in her notebook. She could let that one sleep. "Your sister's secret is safe with me," she promised.
He did that laser inspection thing again, then nodded. "Good. And you're not ever going to think about touching Lex ever again, right?"
"Wouldn't dream of it," she assured. "You do realize he's slept with most of Metropolis, though, don't you?"
He grimaced. "I'm well aware of it. You're not going to make Princess Alexandria into a slut, are you?"
Cat made a dismissive gesture, "I'll use poetic license. Myst is her first."
He nodded in satisfaction. "Good."