Disclaimer: I don't own 'em— if I did, Lana would have been killed a hundred times over by now, and we'd be seeing lighter shades of this.
Pairing: Lex/Chloe; mentions of Superman/Lois
Timeframe: Future-fic, in a universe that skewers off after 'Covenant,' about ten years after it, by my best estimates, but don't hold me to that—time will be a bit of a fluid thing in this little universe.

It had been surprisingly difficult to get his hands on Virgil Swann's research.

When he did, however, he found it was even more difficult to understand the late man's brilliance than he ever could have imagined it would be. The best professionals, all on his payroll, at his beck and call, there at his slightest whim and, still, he found himself clawing to find anything other than dead ends and cold trails.

Yet, was it really any surprise that it was his wife who found their first real lead in years?

His eyes were aching slightly, the bright light of his laptop even more blinding than usual in the darkness of the bedroom, and he typed only when he needed, spending most of his time reading what he had opened and studying the images scanned onto the screen. Rubbing his eyes for a moment, he looked back at the last image, the one she had taken with her own camera, one of her few truly beloved and never missing possessions.

"Only you would fall in a hole and find something like this," he muttered absently, half to the figure out cold at his side and half to himself, drumming fingertips across the keyboard slightly, thoughtfully, staring at the circles and lines that he didn't recognize but Virgil Swann had, at least to judge by his files devoted to this word and this word only.

Whatever it was, whatever it had meant, it had become one of his obsessions in the months before he had passed away.

"I hurt my ankle."

He glanced down, met hazel eyes at his hip and his lips twitched slightly at the faintly annoyed look that had settled on her face as she cocked one eyebrow and stared up at him. "I know, I've been helping you hobble around, remember?" She cocked that eyebrow higher in answer, the corner of her lips twitching slightly with amusement. "You mean when you let me hobble around?"

"I'm protective—"

"You're possessive."

"You say that like you're proud of that attribute."

"I shouldn't be?"

"I shouldn't be surprised," he mused, scrolling up the image and studying it more intently, feeling her shift and raise her head, peering at it curiously even though she had been the one to accidentally find it. "I mean," he added in a lower tone, "you're the one who married Lex Luthor, so I guess you would be proud of me being possessive."

"I prefer the term 'protectively possessive,' actually."

"That's your description of me?"

"Can you think of one better?"

"Not at the moment, no," he conceded, rubbing his eyes again, regretting it when he felt her heave a dramatic sigh, sliding one arm across his middle and leaning into him. "You're tired," she taunted and he shot her a childishly dirty look, although it might have been affected by how much he had to blink to make out her face past the spots. "I'm not tired."

"You're exhausted and you're hurting your eyes."

"Says the woman who will forget to eat and sometimes breathe if I don't pull her away from her work every few days?" Yes, she was right, but he finally had something, and while it might not have been a big something, per se, he finally had a new starting point, and he was finding himself becoming as obsessed with it as he was with her and with his other work.

"I'm just returning the favor."

He felt her grin against his side, breath heating his ribs as she slid one leg around him, and he refused to acknowledge it, knowing she was going to win and reaching down, brushing his fingers across the ankle that had been carefully wrapped just in case and was finally nearly healed, prodded on by some of Grace's innocent efforts. "I finally have something."

"You'll have it when you wake up."

"This isn't fair—"

"You and I both know life isn't fair," she sighed unhappily, resting on one elbow and reaching out to close the computer, pushing it off his lap and away until he finally gave in and set it aside. "I mean, I wanted to be a reporter and instead I end up settling down with Lex Luthor, king of protective possessiveness. And you wanted a dim-wit brunette—"

"I never actually wanted her—"

"Yeah, yeah…" With the computer shut, it was dark, and he took a few moments to adjust to the change, feeling her shift a few times and finally settle down at his side, laying half on top of him at the same time. "Luckily, though, you got stuck with me and my non-dumb intelligence."

"Don't forget your quick wit."

"Yeah… yeah, that too," she snickered, and he could finally make her out in the darkness, settled comfortably and staring back at him, hint of white teeth bared in a grin and he felt her fingers drum across his chest, something they both did but she did more than him, usually when she was deep in thought over something. "You poor thing," she added more conspiratorially, leaning close to brush lips across his collarbone, "suffering with an ambitiously brilliant blonde when you could have had a dim-witted and self-righteous brunette."

"Poor me…"

"Poor you," she agreed in a hushed whisper, essentially pressing him down against the bed as she grazed her teeth across where she could feel his pulse, quickening with awareness of her and how warm her breath was, heating his neck and shoulders, fingers playing at his skin like he was something she was working on—which wasn't quite wrong. "However will you recover from your suffering at my hands, Mr. Luthor?"

"I wouldn't quite call it suffering—"

"Stop messing with my sex play," she hissed, kissing him hard enough to shut him up before pushing him back into the bed, half-straddling him as she trailed her mouth back down to where his neck joined his shoulder, making him smirk slightly at her not-well-hidden obsession for that particular area of him. "I never get to have enough of your time as it is," she added dryly, making him slide fingers through her hair slightly, palm finally settling on the small of her back.

"I'm a busy man—"

"Yes, Lex, I know… I knew that when I married you…" A pause, and then a slightly amused and slightly bitter laugh, "I knew that when I made my decisions, Lex, I know that… what is it with you and ruining the sex?" she added unhappily, even as she kept up her examination of him, at how his muscles and bones fit together to make him with fingers and palms. "Maybe I'm just tired?"

"You're never tired when it comes to sex—which I blame on the fact that we rarely get any."

Lex was forced to agree rather unhappily, and he lay back with a sigh, closing his eyes for a moment and savoring how her fingers felt as they brushed his ribs, sliding across them and then pressing, fanning for a heartbeat or two before shifting again, gliding across skin intently. "You could always come to Metropolis with me."

Shit. He hadn't meant to say that out loud, but there it was and he ground his teeth, feeling her still for a full minute before rolling off him and towards the table, flicking on the light, forcing him to close his eyes to adjust to yet another abrupt change for his exhausted vision. "Where the hell did that come from?"

Personally, he had no idea and he rubbed his face as he sat up, leaning back against the headboard to stare at her, now regarding him with wide eyes and a distinctly pissed-off expression. "Once again, you have to ruin the sex." He opened his mouth but she could only make an enraged sound in her throat, not unlike a feline being dunked. "I thought we decided this."


Casting him a look, she climbed out of bed, and snatched his shirt off the back of the chair some feet away, tossing it on and buttoning it up quickly, pacing a few moments as he resisted the urge to bang the back of his head against the surface behind him. "I thought this was working."

"It used to."

"What do you mean by that?"

He kneaded his forehead with his knuckles, exhaling quietly as he felt the exhaustion catching up to him now that she had left his side and was glaring at him like that. "I miss you," he finally snapped, irritated that he had slipped up and let out the thought that had been drifting around in his skull for the last week or two, since he had come out to take care of her and her wounded ankle. "I miss you, and I miss Grace."

"I miss you, too."

"Then come back to Metropolis with me."

"I can't do that."

"Lois misses you, too."

"You hate Lois."

"But she misses you, too."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

He wasn't quite sure himself, which did nothing to improve his mood. Like his first stupid comment of the evening, he hadn't been able to keep the stupidity in, something he rarely had problems with being who he was. "Lex, you have enough private planes to come visit us at any hour of the day or night."

"Yes… and it's not quick enough for me."

"Then get faster planes."

"I already have faster planes—and they're still not fast enough."

"This isn't fair."

"Life isn't fair," he noted dryly, and she winced, rubbing her neck and pacing a bit, and he ground his teeth a bit harder, finally giving in and climbing out of bed, grabbing her by the arm and shoving her onto the bed. The ankle was mostly healed, enough that it didn't seem to be hurting her anymore, but he had just seen something that looked suspiciously like a limp. "Stop pacing."

"Stop saying stupid stuff."

"Missing you is stupid?"

She gave him a glare but said nothing, apparently satisfied with simply trying to stare him down. She rarely succeeded and tonight for no different, for she growled in frustration and spun away, yanking her feet and rolling away from him, pulling one pillow over her head and groaning low in her throat.

The groan did pleasant things to him.

"I'm not going to throw you over a shoulder and drag you there," he finally offered sardonically, and she issued a muffled snort from underneath the pillow as he climbed back into the bed, though she didn't resist when his hand settled cautiously on her thigh, fingers sliding between fabric and skin slowly. "I mean, if I decided to force you to come with me, I could… but I'm not going to."

"I know that, Lex."

Of course she did, possibly better than anyone else in the world, and he stretched out in his usual spot, something he tended to be slightly irrational about, not happy unless he was in his favored area of the bed, especially in the regrettably rare instances when he was sharing it with his wife. "Chloe… anyone who tried to throw your name on the papers would be cut and dried within a heartbeat."

"I know that, Lex."

"Are you sure you do?"

She lowered the pillow and looked at him over her shoulder, offering him a disgruntled look as she allowed him to scoot closer and start fiddling intently with the buttons on the shirt, because they were so deeply fascinating to him. "You could take Grace to see the Daily Planet." Personally, he hated the stupid place, but she didn't, and he knew that Grace would most likely follow in her mother's footsteps when it came to the Planet, arriving in Metropolis and gazing up at the building with that delightful mix of glee and panic.

"Stop it."

"Stop what?"

"Stop trying to use Gracie to get to me."

"I'm doing no such thing."

"Yeah… right…" She watched, glaring, as he proceeded to pull her foot into his lap thoughtfully, using it as an excuse to keep from meeting richly understanding eyes. "My foot feels fine, Lex." He ignored her, fluttering fingertips across the curve of the arch and she exhaled noisily, dragging the pillow back over her face.

"I'm not going to drag you with me, Chloe."

"Yes… I know," she ground out, and he ground his teeth slightly in answer, unhappy with all the sudden shifts over the last several minutes, one jerky twist following another, first interrupting his work, and then interrupting what was clearly heading towards sex—and, without doubt, good sex… because they never had anything but good sex.

"Things are going well, aren't they?"

She wasn't wrong, but she wasn't right, either, and he stilled for a heartbeat in consideration before getting a good hold on that quiet flicker of something inside him; that place where Chloe and Grace had wormed their way in, even with him kicking and screaming in resistance. "Lex—"

Stop keeping home from me—

"Lex, I'm just— I can't go to Metropolis… it's… it's just too soon…"

"I told you I'm not going to force you to come back with me," he snapped slightly, irritated, and ashamed at being irritated with her of all people. The shame only made him more upset, and he slid her foot off his lap, leaning back against the pillows and trying to ignore how hard she was now staring at him, eyes narrowed slightly.

He didn't apologize and, eventually, they fell asleep—acknowledging with one last shared glance their refusal to comes to peace with this particular question at hand. it wouldn't be the first time—they clashed so violently at times that they sometimes even scared themselves, seeing their darker aspects blooming in their terrifyingly real connection—but he still hated when it happened.

But he didn't hate it enough to apologize this time.

Next - Lois enters the picture...