Disclaimers: Unfortunately, the characters of Lex Luthor, Clark Kent, and Bruce Wayne do not belong to me. I believe DC has that honor.
Lex Luthor looked down at the city that he had called home for most of his life. The multicolored lights of Metropolis shone brightly in the darkness of the night. The LuthorCorp logo seemed to glare at him balefully from across the city, almost as if the building itself had the contempt and disgust for him that his father had always displayed. He glared back at it. This was not what he had wanted out of life. At constant war with his only remaining family member, distrusted by one he once considered his closest friend, hated and feared by the general populace--how long was this farce of a life going to continue? He could have ended the war this night. Had been tempted, even, but despite appearances to the contrary, he had no desire to see his father dead. A blue blur distracted him momentarily from his thoughts and he clenched his jaw in irritation. With one last glance at the Metropolis skyline, he turned on his heel, leaving the city behind. It was time for a change.************
Bruce Wayne stared at the man across from him in disbelief. "What did you say? I couldn't have possibly heard you correctly."
Lex rolled his eyes. "I said I'm leaving. Why is it so hard to believe? I'm just sick of it all. All the lies, the plots, the illusions..." The last was said with disgust as he tossed the image inducer onto Bruce's desk. The Lex Luthor that was currently sitting comfortably in Bruce Wayne's study was a much thinner and younger looking man than the one Metropolis was accustomed to seeing. Even his expressions were different. Where as "Luthor" always seemed to wear a sinister or smug expression, Lex just looked tired, and maybe a bit sad.
"What happened, Lex? You didn't just wake up one morning and decide to give up. That's not like you."
"Actually, that's pretty close to the truth." Lex rubbed his hand over his face before letting out a soft sigh and sinking back into plush, leather chair. "But, yeah, something happened. I could have won the war...against my father, I mean. Last week, I was approached by Morelli family. Evidently, they've concluded that the Luthor War has been cutting into their operations and they want it stopped. Eugene Morelli decided that I should win and offered to 'take care of Lionel.' Of course, this would signal an alliance between LuthorCorp and Morelli Incorporated. What scared me was how tempted I was by his offer. Just to end the war." Lex shook his head in disgust. "I can't do this any more, Bruce. I'm just so tired."
Bruce examined his friend closely. He hadn't actually seen "Lex" in quite some time and he was apalled at how pale and thin the man had become. "Have you considered telling Clark the truth?"
Lex snorted. "Right. Like he'd believe it. No, Clark made up his mind about me years ago. I'm a bad seed you know, like father like son."
"Lex, he was young and inexperienced. Now that he's older, he might have a better understanding of the realities of your life."
Lex shook his head again, as he reached down for his briefcase. "No, Bruce. I think it would be best for everyone if Lex Luthor simply disappeared. Here, I've drawn up the paperwork for a friendly take-over of LexCorp by Wayne Enterprises. Feel free to make any changes you deem necessary. All proceeds are to go to Raven's Nest."
Lex handed the papers over and then held out an unlabeled CD case. "This is for Clark. It has all the information I could find that LuthorCorp has assembled about kryptonite--various experiments, theories, storage facilities... I've also included files detailing several illegal activities that LuthorCorp or its subsidiaries have been or currently are engaged in." Lex smirked. "That should keep the intrepid team of Lois and Clark busy for quite some time, with the added bonus of keeping Lionel occupied."
Reaching out, Bruce took the proferred case. "What about Mercy and Hope? Have you discussed your plans with them?"
"No. They'd insist upon accompanying me. I've left them in charge of Raven's Nest and set up healthy bank accounts for each of them. You'll watch over them, won't you? I don't worry so much for Clark now that he has the League to watch out for him, but Hope and Mercy sometimes need a guiding hand."
"I'll do what I can, but I'm not you, Lex."
Lex shrugged. "All birds need to leave the nest eventually. As long as they have each other, I'm certain they'll be fine."
"Can I ask where you're going?"
"You can ask, but I'm not going to tell you. I know you too well. You wouldn't be able to resist checking up on me. However, if you, the girls, or Clark, ever need me, you can leave a message at this number." Lex handed him a plain white business card with just a phone number, no name or address.
"Anything else?" Bruce asked.
"Just one thing. If it's alright with you, I'd like to give an interview to the Gotham Herald tonight about the change in leadership at LexCorp."
"Not the Daily Planet?" Bruce asked, surprised.
"No, definitely not the Planet. Let's just say I'm going to do a favor for an old friend."************************
"Lane! Kent! In my office now!" Perry White's bellow resonated throughout the news room.
Clark couldn't help the wince as his super-hearing made Perry's words seem even louder than they were. Lois glanced at him with some trepidition as she slowly rose from her desk. Neither of them were looking forward to the dressing down they were sure to receive for having been scooped by the Gotham Herald. The CNN coverage of Bruce Wayne's press conference wasn't helping, either. With a heavy sigh, Clark hurried to catch up with his partner, who, even walking as slowly as possible, was already halfway to Perry's office.
As Clark let Perry's diatribe wash over him, he couldn't help but drift off into his own thoughts. Ever since Lois had stormed in earlier and thrust the Gotham Herald under his nose, he'd felt as if he had been transported into some parallel universe where the normal rules no longer applied. The sense of unreality only increased when he discovered that the exclusive interview with Lex Luthor regarding the takeover of LexCorp by Wayne Enterprises was written by Chloe Sullivan. Clark started when he felt something impact his shin and looked up to find both Lois and Perry glowering at him, Lois was still bringing her foot back from where she had kicked him, nodding her head emphatically.
"Uh, yes, sir. We will, sir." Clark said, hoping that it was the correct response and was relieved when Perry seemed mollified.
"Well, then. Get out of here, both of you." Perry dismissed them gruffly. "Scooped by the Gotham Herald, of all things...Not even a Metropolis paper..." he continued to grouse under his breath as the two reporters scurried out the door.
No sooner had they reached their desks than Lois bopped him on the head with the dictionary she had grabbed off of his desk.
"Ow," Clark complained, rubbing his head. "What was that for?"
"What do you think, Smallville? Daydreaming during a reaming? Are you trying to get us demoted to the gossip column? It's bad enough that we were completely blindsided by Luthor, but escaping to la la land while I have to placate Perry is not acceptable. What is with you, anyway?"
Clark grimaced. "I'm sorry, Lois. I think I'm just in shock, or something. I mean, Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne? And by all accounts, the takeover had no opposition? This sure doesn't feel like Kansas anymore."
"No kidding. And giving an interview to the Gotham Herald? I bet that was a deliberate snub." Lois fumed.
"Um, Lois, just what did I assure Perry we would do?"
A feral grin spread itself over Lois' face. "Why, interview Lionel Luthor, of course. After all, it's not every day that Luthor's son hands over his company to Lionel's greatest business rival."**********
"Where is he?"
Bruce Wayne looked up from the report he had been reading to regard the serious looking young man in a disheveled brown suit standing in front of his desk.
"Good evening, Clark. It's nice to see you, too," he drawled.
Clark frowned at him and absently pushed the glasses back up that had started to slide down his nose, again. "Bruce. You of all people must know that he's up to something. Aren't you the one who is always warning us not to underestimate Lex Luthor?"
"It was never a warning, simply good advice which no one ever seems to take. Even now, you underestimate him."
"What do you mean?" Clark's confusion was evident in his hazel eyes and wrinkled brow.
Bruce sighed wearily, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. "Alexander Luthor has always been more than what he allows others to see. Yes, he was a ruthless businessman, but have you ever found evidence that LexCorp was engaged in unethical or illegal activities? Yes, he has relentlessly attacked Superman both vocally and physically, but have you ever actually been harmed? Have any of Lex Luthor's numerous villanous activities ever actually resulted in anything more than property damage? And even that was almost always restricted to either LexCorp or LuthorCorp property."
"You can't be serious... Bruce, what has he been telling you? You can't trust a Luthor."
"Oh really? And how did you come to that conclusion? He knows that you're Superman, you know. He's always known. Just as he's always known the Batman. I'd be surprised if he didn't know the identities of the rest of the League, as well."
Clark paled in shock. That couldn't be true. He shook his head in denial. "No, no, if he ever knew he would use us or destroy us."
"Believe what you want, Clark. It doesn't matter anyway--he's gone. Here, he left this for you. Don't worry, I've looked it over. No booby traps."
"What do mean 'gone?'" Clark asked, absently taking the offered CD.
"Just what I said. Lex Luthor is no more. Good thing, since there seem to be several contracts out on his head as of this morning. Seems some people don't care for having their activities exposed in the newspaper. I'm sure Lionel is less than pleased with recent events, as well."
Clark grimaced as he remembered that he needed to interview the Luthor scion as soon as possible. But he was having a difficult time working up his usual anxiety about pleasing his boss. His mind was still reeling from the revelations of the day. Could Bruce be right? Had Lex really been living a dual life? After all, he and Bruce did... and there was no question that Lex could pull it off... Shaking his head again, Clark looked up to catch Bruce regarding him steadily.
"I, I have to go," he stammered. He held up the CD. "Thanks for giving me this. I need to think..."
And then Clark was gone.
Bruce sighed heavily. He'd done what he could.***************
Six months later
Bruce Wayne frowned as he examined the plain manilla envelope addressed to him with no return address. He'd checked it out, and it seemed innocuous. Shrugging, he used his letter opener to slice through the edge of the envelope. Inside, there was only a CD case, no note or card attached. His brow furrowed as he flipped open his laptop and inserted the disc. He discovered it was an electronic journal and began to peruse the table of contents. What he saw there caused his brow to smooth out and he allowed himself one sharp bark of laughter before carefully suppressing his amusement. Shaking his head in disbelief, he got up from his desk to retrieve the DVD he needed to include with the CD when he sent it along to Clark.******
Clark studied the CD marked "Anistoritan: Journal of History, Archaelogy, and Art History" and the accompanying DVD, "Highlander: The Methos Collection," with puzzlement. The DVD had a post-it note attached, reading: "Watch me first.'" The items had been in an envelope in his mailbox when he had arrived at work, with just his name printed on the front. No return address or any other indication of where the package may have come from...until he noticed the small bat inked on the corner of the post-it.
Luckily, the Planet had a media room that included a DVD player, monitor, VCR, LaserDisc player, etc. If you had media, the room had the proper equipment with which to display it. As the opening credits began to play, Clark settled in to watch and idly wished he had thought to get some popcorn.
Several hours later, somewhat bleary eyed and completely confused, Clark picked up the CD and inserted it into his laptop. As he scrolled down the listed articles, comprehension dawned: "Friends for Life: Alexander and Hephaistion" by Adam Pierson. He'd found Lex. Or rather, Bruce had and taken pity on him.******
Using the JLA's computer, it hadn't taken long at all for Clark to find the current address of one Adam Pierson, currently residing in Paris, France, while completing his doctorate in Ancient History. It had taken far longer for him to get up the nerve to go to Paris. Taking a deep breath, Clark nervously smoothed down his brown suit jacket, put his black-rimmed glasses in his pocket, and then rapped sharply on the apartment door. For a minute, he was certain that no one was home and he consciously supressed the urge to use his x-ray vision. If Lex was home and pretending not to be, he really didn't want to know it. He didn't even realize he had been holding his breath until it expelled forcefully with relief when he heard the lock disengaging. "Adam Pierson?" he asked as the door slowly opened.
Even dressed in a baggy sweater and faded jeans, it was most definitely Lex who stood before him. Lex as he remembered him from Smallville--lean, pale, and welcoming. Lex smirked and held the door open wide enough for Clark to enter. "Mi casa es su casa."