*~* Author's note: This is actually the first story I'd ever written with the character of Lex Thorne, although, since then I've become attached to her and used her in other stories ad nauseam. Much of the inspiration for this particular one comes from the delightful Batman Beyond RPG at Gotham City USA. *~*


"That does it! The old fool has gone too far." Alexandria Thorne, Lex to those who knew her, slammed her hand down and glared across her desk at the huge man in front of her. Her gray-green eyes were as hard as diamonds as she looked back down at the memo her father had sent her. With a growl she crumpled it in her fist then threw it savagely across the room.

Bishop, Lex's personal bodyguard, faced her rage calmly. He'd worked for her for years now. He was well accustomed to her temper. In that one respect Lex was a typical redhead: fiery and temperamental. "What did he do?" His deep baritone voice rumbled through the room.

With a very unladylike curse Lex flopped down in her desk chair. "The bastard actually had the audacity to suggest I marry that old lecher Charles Haskins. Father seems to think Mr. Haskins would do a good job of running the company for him when he retires."

Bishop winced. No wonder she was angry. For the last three years or so Lex had practically been running Thorne Enterprises while her father finally began submitting to the ravages of age. There was no one, in Bishop's opinion and many others' as well, who could run the company as well as Lex. But Rupert refused to hear it. He wanted a man to take his place.

Lex was clearly fuming. "It appears my father has finally slipped into senility. He's out of his mind." Smoky eyes narrowed dangerously. "He's lived far too long already. He's cheated death I say it's high time we remedied that."

It was true. Rupert, already in his 80s when he'd fathered Lex nearly 30 years ago, had lived much longer than anyone had expected. His contemporaries were all long dead and he spoke freely of the changes he'd seen in Gotham in his many years here. Lex had speculated once that his unnatural longevity had come as a result of some of his underhanded business deals but she'd never found any proof. She'd simply been forced to endure her father's growing incompetence as he became one of the nation's richest centegenarians.

"This is my company and I'll be damned if I let him give it away to anyone else."

Bishop had heard her make such a statement many times before. But something in her coolly furious voice made him pause. "Ms. Thorne" he began, cautioning her.

Lex simply fixed her verdant eyes on his. "I don't recall asking for your opinion." She rested her slender legs on top of the desk. Bishop caught a glimpse of the hilt of her favorite knife sticking out from the top of her black thigh high boots. He hoped she wasn't planning something messy.

"Ms. Thorne," the big man began again, "you must be careful. If your father so much as suspects he won't hesitate to kill you."

"He won't. I've played the dutiful daughter far too long for the old fool to see it coming." Lex waved a negligent hand. "My father sees me as harmless. He'd never have let me gain so much control if he didn't."

Bishop was not quite convinced. He suspected that Rupert Thorne knew exactly how dangerous his fiery daughter was. He'd seen the pride on the old man's face, heard the admiration in his voice. Mr. Thorne's problem, as Bishop saw it, was, that though he knew how ruthless Lex could be, he still thought of himself as stronger.

"What do you want me to do?"

A malicious smile twisted Lex's full lips. "Call Manuel. Have him meet us at the club tonight. We'll be needing his services very soon."

**************************


Green Dolphin Street, one of the many clubs owned by Thorne Enterprises, was busy that night. The house combo, musicians handpicked by Lex herself, were doing their usual exemplary job of entertaining the crowd. It surprised Bishop sometimes that a jazz club would be so popular in Gotham City. But, like always, Lex had made the right decision in opening the place here.

He entered the dimly lit room one step behind her. His huge presence was always enough to keep people away. Lex was looking especially lovely tonight. The asymmetrical top she wore left one creamy shoulder bare and its honey brown color lent a certain softness to her features. She wore a short skirt of the same color and Bishop found himself glowering at the many men who couldn't seem to take their eyes off of her perfect legs.

Lex paid little attention to the patrons around her. Her smoky eyes scanned the room with irritation until she noticed Manuel sitting at a table in the far corner. At least he had the good sense not to make her wait. She crossed the room to him, ignoring the invitations to dance or buy her a drink that were offered her with nearly every step.

"Manuel," she greeted the oily little man in front of her. "I appreciate a man who's on time."

"Ms. Thorne." Manuel kissed her hand gently. "I am honored that you have chosen to make use of my skills."

A grim smile touched Lex's full lips. "Whether or not I use you remains to be seen. However, I would like to speak with you for a while."

"Of course." Lex's beauty did not seem to be lost on Manuel. His brown eyes traveled up and down her petite form. He began to scoot his chair a little closer but upon seeing Bishop's dark scowl he backed up.

"Manuel, there's a certain individual that I need gotten rid of. I'm looking for something untraceable, natural looking, and easily administered. For personal reasons, I'd like to deliver this myself." Lex pinned the little man with her gaze.

"Um" Manuel swallowed hard. "That's fairly specific. It may take me a while to procure that. Can I ask who you plan to use it on?"

"No." Lex leaned over to him. "Find me the poison I seek, and not only will I pay you handsomely for the job, but I'll keep you on as a permanent employee."

Manuel's dark eyes lit up. For too long he'd been on the outskirts of the organization, the other employees not having much respect for a poisoner, but here was his chance to get on the inside. "I'll have it for you within a week," he promised.

Lex chuckled softly. "I knew I could count on you. Meet me here in one week. Then we'll discuss payment."

Manuel nodded adoringly then stood to leave. "Ms. Thorne, you won't regret choosing me. I won't fail you."

"I know you won't." Her gray-green eyes seemed colder than usual. "It'd be very bad for your health if you did."

Lex watched with amusement as the little man's face grew pale. He skittered away into the crowd leaving them alone at the table. Turning her attention to the life of the club around her, Lex watched the happy couples on the dance floor with a vaguely wistful look.

Bishop caught the expression on her face. As amusing as it was to watch Lex use, then destroy the various men that had come and gone in her life, he sometimes wished she could just be happy. He wondered if she'd ever find someone to care about and be cared for in return. Looking down at his little employer, he had to admit that it seemed highly unlikely. He'd yet to meet a man strong enough for Lex. Still, privately, he could hope that one day she'd be one of those couples on the dance floor, content and safe in a loved ones arms.

He sighed and moved a step closer to her chair. Crossing his arms across his chest, Bishop continued his job of protecting the dazzling woman who ran his life.

**************************


"Lexie, my dear, you're looking exquisite today." Rupert Thorne had Peter, his personal attendant, wheel him into his daughter's office. He'd lost the use of his legs only a few months ago and now found the sensation of being pushed about in a wheelchair somewhat irritating. Still, he hadn't seen his only child in a couple of days, since sending her that memo, and he wanted to see how she was doing.

Lex gave her father a frosty look. "What do you want old man?" she asked ungraciously. "I've got work to do."

Rupert ignored her hostility. "Now, now, my dear, does a father need an excuse to come visit his darling child?" He chuckled as Peter pushed him closer to Lex's desk. He placed his withered hand over her own, stopping her work. "I have something to tell you."

Gray-green eyes, the only physical characteristic she'd inherited from him, locked onto his. "What is it? Have you found some other old pervert to marry me off to?"

"Lexie, I'm hurt." Rupert began to laugh but soon found himself coughing uncontrollably. His daughter gave no signs of concern as he struggled to breathe. Finally he was able to continue. "Charles Haskins is not a pervert. He's a good man and one of my dearest friends. In fact, he's coming to dinner tonight. I think you should join us."

"I'm busy."

"You misunderstand me." Rupert gripped her hand more firmly. "That was not a request. You will join us for dinner. Got that girl?"

Lex shot him a look of pure hatred. "Of course, father dearest, I'd be delighted." Her voice dripped with false acquiescence. "What time shall I meet you and your distinguished guest?"

Rupert was not fooled in the least. But he was satisfied she would be attending. "Seven o'clock. And try to find something a little more inviting to wear." He gestured to the emerald green business suit she wore.

"Anything else?" Lex clenched her teeth. Her hand closed around the hilt of the knife she had concealed under her desk. Mightily, she restrained herself.

"That'll do, my dear." Rupert patted her hand. Then Peter rolled him from the room.

Lex waited till the door was shut and her father was well on his way down the hall before breaking into curses. With a particularly vile oath she threw her knife at the heavy oak door. It struck dead center and hung there, quivering from the force of her throw. Imagining it was her father's back she'd just buried the blade in seemed to make her feel better somehow.

Glancing down at the stock reports she'd been going over, Lex shook her head in disgust. She'd never be able to keep her mind focused now. She ran a hand through her auburn curls and sighed. She might as well go get ready for dinner. She was sure it was going to be an intolerable event.

***************************


Lex stood on the balcony of her penthouse suite in the Thorne Enterprises building. A mild spring wind ruffled her flaming hair as she stared out at the lights of the city below her. From far off, she heard the sound of Gotham's theme song-- police sirens. A small smile touched her lips. The cops tried valiantly to curb crime here in the city but with organizations like hers around they were fighting a losing battle.

She closed her eyes and leaned on the railing. Much as she'd suspected, dinner tonight had been terrible. Charles Haskins was an intolerable lecher. She'd barely taken a seat at the lavishly decorated table, when she'd felt his wizened old hand moving up her thigh. It had taken a physical threat to get him to move it.

"Remove you hand now! Or I'll be forced to separate you from some things you hold dear," she'd hissed at him, quickly positioning her knife at his crotch.

Haskins had only laughed at her. "I see I'll have my work cut out for me teaching you to be a proper wife. I look forward to the chance to teach you some respect." Nonetheless he had removed his hand.

Lex had waited until her father's attention was elsewhere before she responded to that ridiculous claim. "I will never be your wife," she vowed. Haskins continued to chuckle. She was certain he was still laughing at her when, after hours of their insufferable company, she'd retired for the night.

Now even the magnificent view of the Gotham skyline was doing little to improve her mood. Her next meeting with Manuel was still several days off and she was beginning to believe she couldn't wait. With another heavy sigh Lex came back inside. She turned off the lights in her suite and made her way to her opulent bedroom.

All the wood, from the huge 4-poster bed to the large work desk, was a deep glowing mahogany. The ivory satin fabric she'd used to decorate with set off the wood's dark color perfectly. The entire room was elegant yet simple. Just the way Lex liked it. It was a far cry from the gaudy showiness her father preferred to surround himself with.

Lex collapsed onto the soft bed. Staring up at the ceiling she thought about her plans. It was obvious that, after her father, Charles Haskins would have to go too. Perhaps if she played her cards right she could kill both of them together. Finally a small smile crossed her delicate face at the thought of getting rid of both the old men. Her father had been earning this fate for quite some time now, but Haskins he'd earned it the minute he'd laid his hands on her. And Lex was determined to make him see the error of his ways