Cady slipped the blue blanket over Logan's sleeping form, brushing her fingers through his soft hair before leaning over to kiss his cheek. During the ride to the airport, her son had been confused, but quiet, refraining from questions that normally would have occupied his time. Lex had not spoken once to either of them, feigning attention to his laptop, though Cady knew his gaze often lingered on Logan. Luckily, exhaustion had hit before the questions could begin. She still wasn't certain how she was supposed to explain Lex's presence to her son. A father she'd told him couldn't be a part of their family was now, inexplicably, a part of their lives.
Rubbing a hand over her eyes, Cady stood and walked down the aisle of the jet to the small room that had been converted into an office. Taking a deep breath, she moved over to sit across from Lex, where he was typing something into his laptop. She remained silent, waiting for him to acknowledge her but as the minutes passed, she realized it wasn't going to happen. Suppressing the urge to scream, she cleared her throat purposely.
Lex finally lifted his gaze, his expression bordering on amusement. "Yes?"
Now that she had his attention, Cady wasn't certain what to say. She had a million questions in her mind but didn't know where to begin. Deciding to settle for the simplest, she asked, "How did you find out?"
was apparently the wrong question to ask because Lex's face
immediately darkened and he returned his attention to the laptop.
"Did you really think you could hide it from me forever? If so,
you are both stupid and sloppy."
Cady glared in reply but didn't speak.
"After my... disappointment in your leaving faded, I decided to check up on you, to see if you were well." He glanced up at her. "Misguided attachment, I suppose. When I was told that you had both a different name, and a child, my informant mistakenly took this to mean that you were also married, and had moved on. I left it at that, forgetting about your existence."
Lex became silent once more, dropping his eyes to the screen in front of him, hitting the keys harder than necessary before he finished whatever it was he was doing. He finally continued, "Imagine my surprise when, during a meeting with a mutual friend of Wayne Enterprises, I discovered that you were not married – and never had been. In fact, apparently you're a great mystery to the bored elite in Gotham. The friends of Wayne who ponder the very guarded and secretive Miss Catherine Parker." He chuckled without humor, glancing back up at her. "Very sloppy, Cady. I thought I taught you better than that."
"The last thing I would ever want to do is learn anything from you!" She snapped.
His gaze narrowed dangerously. "Well, you certainly get an A in deception."
Cady's mouth tightened as she stared across the small coffee table that separated them. She didn't owe him an explanation. "As if I had a choice in the matter," she replied, looking away toward the door, wondering if Logan would awaken to find her gone. "I had to think about my baby. I had to protect him."
"From me?" Lex asked incredulously.
She turned back to him. "From what you had become, Lex. From you, from your father, from that stupid war of yours! I wasn't about to add an innocent baby to your causality list."
"Do you really think so little of me that I would sacrifice my own child – "
"Yes, Lex. Yes, I do," she admittedly honestly. "Because you weren't thinking straight. When it came to your father, you never did. All that mattered was beating him at his own game. Once you realized you wouldn't get what you truly wanted from him, it became a battle to see who could destroy the other one first!"
Lex slammed the laptop down onto the coffee table. "I would have protected my child, dammit!"
"You mean the same way you protected me, Lex?" Cady demanded, her answer in the form of a hard swallow from the man across from her. She nodded. "I laid in that coma for five months! While you were out crisscrossing the globe on some fool's errand – "
"I did what I could," he replied, shaking his head. "I did everything I could to protect you, to help you. I left because I wanted to find whatever was out there that could save us both."
Cady snorted. "And I'm still suffering the after-effects of your meddling. Do you know what it's like to wonder with every sonogram whether or not your child is going to have suddenly developed two heads? Or maybe grown wings?"
"The procedure was perfectly safe," Lex defended. "It saved your life."
"Right, Lex. It's only left me looking over my shoulder every second of every day, wondering when the next person decides to make me his lab rat."
"You wouldn't need to fear those things if you had stayed with me, Cady. If you had been honest with me. I would have protected you."
"That's all you have, isn't it?" Cady asked, leaning forward to drive the knife a little deeper. "Your power. You bury yourself inside of it because the rest of your life is such a sham."
She knew she'd crossed the line the moment she said it but having Lex suddenly in her face, hand curling tightly in her hair as he yanked her head back cemented the fact that she went too far.
"Don't pretend that you know anything about me, Cady. You can sit in your thrown of righteousness like the rest of the goddamn Kent family, and point your finger in blame all that you want to," he snarled softly. "You're the one who gave up. Not me. Don't ever act like you're better than me unless you can admit to being the fucking hypocrite that you are."
Cady bit her lip, blinking back tears of pain and frustration as he tightened his fingers in her hair slightly before letting go and walking away. She reached up to rub the back of her head as she watched him move over to the bar. The brandy sloshed over the sides of the glass as he poured it; his hands were shaking. It reminded her of the past, of a time when his temper came quickly, unexpectedly, and their whole world together slowly began to unravel. Luckily, she'd never developed a liking for brandy.
"What are your intentions?" She finally found the courage to ask, wanting to get this over with. If she had to move near him, somewhere in Metropolis, and give up her job with Wayne Enterprises, so that he could begin visiting his son, then she would agree to do so if only to put an end to this nightmare.
Lex stared down into his glass of brandy before he took a small sip. It was habit, even though he knew if there were poison in the beverage, he'd never be able to see it. Even though he knew it didn't really matter anyway. Short of a bullet to the brain – and Lex had yet to try that hypothesis – he didn't think there was much out there that could kill him. There was little left in the world that he feared.
And someday he would conquer the rest.
"I want my son to have what I was denied," he commented finally, finishing off the glass in one quick tip.
"A father who loves him?"
He glanced over at Cady with her comment, glaring slightly. He hated that she seemed to revel in throwing that in his face. The whole fucking Kent family seemed to have a lot of fun with that one. He clenched his jaw a moment before replying, "A real family."
Cady stared up at him incomprehensively, silence filling the jet. Then she blinked, as if understanding suddenly dawned. "Wha – what the hell are you talking about?"
Apparently, it hadn't.
Lex set his empty glass down and walked back over to the couch, retrieving his briefcase. He pulled out two manila folders and laid them on the table in front of Cady. "See for yourself."
Hesitating only a moment, she reached out and grabbed the first one, opening it to glance over the contents. Her eyes widened and she looked up at Lex in shocked disbelief. "This is a marriage certificate! With our names on it!"
"Yes. That is correct." Lex nodded, slipping his hands into the pockets of his slacks. "I'm not going to be a weekend father, Cady. I want to be a part of my son's life. I want him to have a family. To grow up knowing what it's like to have both a mother and a father – "
"You are insane!" Cady told him, tossing the folder back to the table. "I wouldn't marry you if you were the last man on earth!"
Lex smiled as he leaned over to pick up the second folder, holding it out to her. "Very well. Here is your second option."
Teeth snapping together with an audible click, Cady snatched the folder from his hand, opening it. Panic flashed through her as she read over the paperwork addressed to the State Supreme Court, filing to have Logan removed from her care and listing her as an 'unfit mother'. She was instantly on her feet.
"You unbelievable fucking bastard!" She railed, the folder curling beneath her fist. "I won't let you take him away from me!"
"You won't have a choice, Cady. Not only are single fathers granted more respect than they have been in the past, I have lunch at the Statehouse in Topeka quite often. You won't stand a chance, even if you somehow convince Wayne to ride to the rescue with a bevy of his lawyers. Once my firm files the paperwork, you won't be allowed within a hundred mile radius of our son. Is that understood?"
It was Cady's turn to lose all control. She threw herself at Lex, beating at his chest with her fists. "I won't let you take him! I'll kill you first! I swear it!"
Grabbing her wrists, Lex pushed her arms down to her sides, holding her there. He noticed Hope entering the room out of the corner of his eye and briefly shook his head, waiting until she disappeared before focusing his full attention back to the woman in front of him. She was more beautiful than he remembered, all grown up with soft curves and a face that could make an artist weep in appreciation. His body was already reacting to her nearness; the warmth from her skin, the faint floral scent of her perfume, the hypnotic rise and fall of her chest. God help him, but the attraction was still there, and it was obviously reciprocated, as told by the darkening of Cady's eyes as she stared up at him. There was a time when he knew that look well.
But the more beautiful the woman, the more vile her heart. It was a lesson Lex had been taught over and over again, and one that he didn't plan on forgetting. Not when Cady had proved herself to be the most dangerous of all.
"Quiet," he whispered, amused by her antics. "You'll wake our son."
She struggled in his grasp, anger quickly returning. "Asshole! I'd kill Logan before allowing you to be his father!"
Lex froze at her words, staring down in shock as memories of his mother and Julian engulfed him. For a brief second, the thought of snapping Cady's neck and having done with it crossed his mind. It would be nothing to convince the court of the danger she was to their son. Just as quickly as the thought appeared, it faded away. Cady wasn't Lillian Luthor. She wasn't ill or unbalanced. Angry, yes. Desperate, maybe. But Lex had learned enough about Cady and her care of Logan, over the past week, to know that her threat was a pathetic attempt to scare him.
He shook his head, allowing a smile. "No. You wouldn't." That fact was cemented as Lex noticed the tears appearing in her eyes. The mere idea of such an action was too painful for her. That was something, at least.
Letting go of her, he pulled the pen from his pocket and held it out. "What's it going to be, Cady? Sign the certificate? Or say goodbye to your son in fifteen minutes when we land at Metropolis International?"
The tears hovered at the corner of her eyes, but she stubbornly refused to let them fall. Her gaze dropped to the pen in Lex's hand, and she hesitated another few moments before slowly reaching up and taking it from him. Lex hadn't realized he'd been holding his breath until she moved away and he was able to breathe freely again. He remained silent, watching as she quietly opened the folder and signed the marriage certificate, the familiar headiness of victory sweeping over him as she did so.
Nodding once, Lex grabbed the folders, telling her as he moved away, "These will be filed when we get back today. By this evening, you can begin the process of changing your name to Luthor."
He glanced over his shoulder to see Cady silently staring at the floor of the jet, face pale. "I'll send my people to gather the things from your apartment and bring them to Metropolis. Obviously, you'll need to quit your job with Wayne Enterprises."
Cady nodded slightly in reply. At least he knew she was hearing him.
He placed the folders back into his briefcase as Cady got to her feet and started out of the tiny office. She stopped at the door and looked back at him, gaze one of complete hopelessness. "I... I don't understand you, Lex. Yes, I may have hurt you but this... " She waved a hand toward him. "Why? I stood by you, through it all. Even when no one else would."
Nodding in acknowledgment of her words, Lex replied, "That's why you were given a choice."
Swallowing, Cady turned away and disappeared out the door. The moment she was gone, Hope reemerged from the shadows.
"This is dangerous, you know. She has more of a reason than any of your past wives to want you dead. To try to accomplish it."
"Yes." Lex looked over at his bodyguard and smiled slightly. "But she also has more to lose."
"Mommy, where are we?" Logan had his face pressed against the window of the limousine, staring out at the city as they drove through downtown.
"Metropolis, pumpkin," Cady replied softly, scooting closer to her son to peer over his shoulder. "This is where my cousin Clark lives."
He turned his head, looking up at her with eyes wide. "When are we going home? I'm supposed to sing." Sliding around on the seat, he stared over at Lex, who he still hadn't said a word to beyond 'hello' when they first met. "I'm the Little Prince," he explained, and pointed to his crown. "See?"
Lex allowed a small smile. "Yes. I can see that."Cady settled down beside her son, slipping her arm around his shoulders as he tapped his shoes together, still watching Lex. Finally, he asked, "Are you friends with my mommy?"
"Something like that." Lex's smile thinned slightly.
Sighing, Cady turned her attention to Logan, brushing her fingers through his hair as he looked up at her. She knew she had to get this over with, and the longer she waited, the more confusing it would likely be for her son. "Lex is... he's your daddy, Logan."
Logan blinked up at her before fixing his gaze back on Lex. "I thought my daddy couldn't be with us?"Cady looked up to meet Lex's gaze, refusing to cower beneath the glare he gave her. Returning his eyes to the obviously confused little boy, Lex explained, "There have been things that have kept me away, Logan. But now I'm here, and we can be a family."
"Really?" Logan upturned his head to look at Cady. "Is that true, mommy?"
"Yep." Cady forced a smile and kissed his forehead. "We're a family now. You, me and your daddy."
"Oh." Logan dropped his gaze to stare at Lex a moment longer before once more getting on his knees and pressing his face against the window in curiosity, his attention already focused elsewhere.
Lex frowned slightly, expecting more questions, perhaps a protest or two. But his son appeared quite content to just watch the cars and buildings as they passed by the window. He opened his mouth to comment on Logan's lack of attention but quickly stopped himself. A memory of the first time he was chastised for such a thing as a child flashed briefly across his mind. He'd been about Logan's age at the time and remembered his mother arguing that he was a child, and Lionel couldn't expect to hold his attention long when it came to discussing the proper etiquette for addressing the house staff. His father had disagreed, and decided that teaching Lex the lesson of focusing one's attention was of the utmost importance. For the next ten hours, he was forced to sit in one spot, back ramrod straight, and watch as his father worked.
Clenching his fists at the memory, Lex glanced over at his son and silently vowed never to teach such lessons to his own child.
Moments later, the car pulled into the garage of LexCorp Tower II. The door was opened and Cady hurried out, taking Logan's hand the moment he was beside her, and waiting until Lex leaded them toward the elevator. Mercy stayed behind with the car and this time they were joined by another gorgeous woman, dark-skinned and exotic, who Cady knew must be Hope. They entered a private elevator, silence hanging around them. As the elevator began moving, Logan tugged on her hand.
"Mommy, we're moving really fast," he told her.
Cady smiled and nodded. "That we are, pumpkin." She pointed to the lighted numbers on the panel as they flew by with incredible speed. "You can watch the floors as we pass them there. We just keep going up, up and up!"
Logan's eyes widened slightly and he glanced over at Lex. "We aren't gonna go through the roof, are we?"
Raising an eyebrow as he looked down at his son, Lex shook his head. "No, Logan. We're perfectly safe. The elevator will stop on our floor."
Logan appeared doubtful so Cady squeezed his hand and gave him a smile. "Are there butterflies in your tummy?"
"Yeah." Logan poked his belly. "Right here. It feels funny."
Cady was having a little trouble holding on to the contents of her stomach as well, though she doubted it was from the elevator ride. She glanced over at Lex, who was currently preoccupied with his cell phone and seemingly off in his own little world. The elevator came to a smooth stop and Hope was the first one off as the doors slid open directly into the penthouse.
Slipping his phone back into his pocket, Lex waved Cady and Logan off of the elevator, following behind them closely. Cady stopped at the top of the steps, which led down into the living room, staring at the vast expanse of white wall-to-wall carpeting. The wall was all glass, with French doors that led out onto a beautiful garden over-looking the city. There was a marble fireplace, luxurious brown leather couches, an entryway with a small waterfall and pool filled with brightly-colored carp. This was Logan's first stop, already on his knees and peering into the water.
"There's real fish in here, mommy!" He exclaimed, fearlessly reaching in to pet one as it swam by.
Biting her tongue to refrain from commenting how much his father apparently liked to flaunt his wealth, Cady walked over and took her son's hand, pulling him to his feet. "They're pretty, aren't they?"
She led him away from the fish and down the steps where Lex was quietly speaking to Hope. The woman glanced over at them once before nodding and heading back out the door.
"Follow me," Lex instructed, turning on his heel and heading down the hall.
Cady frowned but her son was already tugging on her hand, following Lex. She allowed him to lead her along the hallway to where Lex was standing just outside the second door on their left.
"This is your room, Logan," he announced, stepping back as Logan pushed past his legs to peer inside.
"Oh, wow!! Mommy, look at that bed!! It's a car!"
Frown deepening, Cady leaned her head around the corner to see what he was talking about. The room itself was three times the size of his room in Gotham, and filled with more toys than a department store. There was a 40" flat-screen TV on the wall, a shelf full of video game systems beneath it and two kid-sized leather chairs in front. The bed was indeed designed like a car – a blue Ferrari to be exact – and the walls of the room were painted in a mural like a race track. Her son darted inside, immediately running his hands over everything, oohing and ahhing at every item he came across.
Lex folded his arms and leaned against the doorframe, smiling in satisfaction at Logan's obvious delight. He could remember wanting so many toys as a child, and his father telling him they were foolish, gifting him instead with books and museum pieces that would even bore an historian. While Lex had every intention of assuring that his son had the best education, he certainly wasn't going to steal his childhood from him. Logan would have every little thing his heart desired.
"Think you can buy his love?" Cady commented beside him, quickly destroying every ounce of joy Lex was feeling in the moment.
He turned to glare at her. "I've lost five years of my son's life, Catherine," he growled softly. "I have a lot to make up for."
"I won't let you turn my son into a spoiled brat!" She whispered fiercely.
"Our son has been denied what is rightly his for too long," Lex replied, voice mellowing only slightly. "If you don't like it, I can have Hope show you the way out."
Glaring angrily, Cady turned away, staring helplessly into her son's room, knowing that there was nothing that would convince her to leave Logan here alone, to be raised by his father. Somehow, she would figure a way out of this sham marriage. Certainly her family could help her, or even Bruce. Lex couldn't force them to stay here under duress. This was nothing short of kidnapping.
"Our room is down here," Lex commented, interrupting her thoughts before he turned away and continued down the hall.
Hurrying after him, Cady pointed a finger toward his back, even though he couldn't see her. "You are insane if you think I'm going to sleep in the same bed as you!"
whirled around to face her in the darkened hallway, leaning in so
close that their noses were practically touching. "You are my
wife, Catherine Josephine. And as such, I expect you to
behave like one –"
"This is a marriage in name only!" She insisted.
"You will raise our son," he continued softly, dangerously. "You will stand by my side at public functions, you will sit across from me at dinner and you will sleep beside me in our bed." Flashing her a wolfish smile, he reached up and ran his finger along her cheek. "If the inclination possesses me, I may even fuck you."
Too quickly, he caught her wrist before she could hit him. Cady gasped as he twisted slightly, bending her arm behind her back and pulling her close, body pressed against his. He leaned into her, warm breath fanning over her cheek and mouth causing her to tremble slightly.
"You are my wife," he repeated in a whisper. "It's legal. It's binding. You will get used to it. In the end, you may even like it."
"When Hell freezes over."
Chuckling at her reply, Lex nipped at her lower lip before letting her go. He stood back, fixing the cuffs of his shirt. "I remember saying the exact same thing when the idea of bringing you along with Logan crossed my mind."
He pushed past Cady, moving away from her back toward the living room. "Your things will be arriving from Gotham this evening. You can spend tomorrow putting everything away and getting comfortable. There's plenty of room. Make yourself at home."
It took every ounce of willpower that Cady possessed not to scream as Lex disappeared around the corner.