I have no doubt that the character of Mercy Graves will be eventually introduced to the Smallville universe (if you don't know who she is...well you will in a few minutes. This would be her retold origin, I suppose. So no, this is not an original character, she's a 'real' one from the DC universe), so I decided to write it while I was in this weird DC comics writing mood I've been in for the last few days.
Mercy Graves hadn't meant to fall in love with Lex Luthor. It had been one of those stupid, idiotic things that she didn't have any control over, like so much else that had happened in her life thus far.
She wanted to make it go away, that tight feeling in her chest whenever he came within three feet of her, but try as she might it wouldn't fade.
No matter what he did, or what he said, she still felt that uncomfortable twinge in the center of her sternum whenever he was in the same room with her.
It was an unfamiliar, terrifying feeling. She didn't like it very much, because she felt that it made her weak in his eyes, but she glossed over it and pretended it wasn't there. After all, he had that Lana Lang girl that was always hanging around…Mercy was just the hired help.
She knew her place. She knew that being with him was out of the question, they were far too different…he was a boy billionaire and she had been a street kid.
No…not a street kid. A thief.
A petty thief.
Granted, that was why the two of them met in the first place. To think she never would have even met Lex Luthor if she hadn't tried to steal from him…
If there was one thing that Mercy Graves prided herself on, it was her prowess as a thief. She had an incredible ability to blend into the background of the hordes of people in Metropolis. It was a skill that allowed her the freedom to pick and choose her targets carefully then spring out from the crowd, take what she wanted and then disappear into the mass of people that she had come from.
Mercy had never intended to become a thief, neither did she ever in her wildest dreams think she would become one; but oftentimes in life, circumstances change and make it impossible to escape drastic, unforeseeable alterations to ones lifestyle. Such as it was for Mercy.
Almost overnight, she had found herself a homeless teenage girl and was forced to think on her feet and live by her wits.
Quite often, that meant doing things that were considered by 'normal' society to be wrong.
She had a different view of things, though. While she would readily admit to doing plenty of illegal things, she had never done anything unethical. She lived by her own moral code, and while it deviated from that of the authorities in Metropolis slightly, there were certain things she found acceptable and certain things she didn't.
Mercy's first rule was never rob from anyone who didn't look like they could afford it. If her target looked like they were just a step or two from being in her position, she left them alone. Only occasionally did she steal from anyone who looked like they were a slice of middle class Americana, and those times were when pickings were incredibly slim and she really needed to eat.
So with the lower and middle class out of the equation, that left only the rich ones.
Rob from the rich to give to the poor. Mercy always had to stifle a smile when she thought of it like that. She was putting herself in a class with Robin Hood...honestly, how could anyone not be gleeful at that idea?
Mercy sat perched on a bus stop bench, watching as the crowds passed her, keeping a sharp eye out for a good prospective target who could afford to 'misplace' his wallet.
There was no shortage of rich men in Metropolis at this time of day, most of them business men in suits on their way to lunch, and all of them ripe for the picking.
Mercy scanned the huddled masses as they passed, looking for the perfect target.
After all, no sense wasting this most plum of opportunities on a lackey out on a coffee run. If she was going to strike, she intended to make it count. The cops were being more observant then they used to be and she didn't like putting herself at risk any more than absolutely necessary. If she hit a fat cat today, she wouldn't have to steal for the rest of the week
Murky blue eyes narrowed to slits, Mercy searched the endless stream of citizens, searching for just the right 'look' that indicated they were loaded.
A slim, nervous little guy brushed past her with a briefcase in hand, which was tempting because he came so close she could have just reached out and grabbed it, but she stopped herself due to his choice of apparel.
A short sleeved white shirt and cheap polyester tie. Most definitely not indicative of a man in upper management
He was probably a lowly cubicle worker…maybe an engineer or gofer.
Not worth her time.
Another group passed, these the power lunch crowd with their state of the art cell phones in hand and glued to their ears.
Easy pickings, but it would be too much effort for too little.
Although the blonde in the magenta business suit looked rather promising…
A flash of light hit Mercy in the eye, she grimaced and blinked the stabbing pain in between her eyes away.
Wondering where the heck that had come from she scanned the immediate area for an idiot with a flashlight or a mirror or something.
That same blinding glare hit her in the eye again and this time she squinted to try and find it's source.
There…across the street at that little outdoor café. The suit eating a salad and talking on his cell phone. The sun was glinting off the face of his watch.
A smile spread on Mercy's face.
The sun was glinting off his watch alright…
His platinum watch.
She watched him for a few minutes more, studying him intently. He was bald, for a start. Which was rather unusual because Mercy pegged his age between twenty eight and thirty five. After the glaringly obvious (if you'll pardon a cruel bald pun), she saw that he was smartly dressed in a designer suit. Hell, his entire ensemble was designer down to his shoe strings. There was a briefcase placed on the ground near his feet and it too was as magnificent as the rest of him, shiny and slick and brand, spanking new.
Damn, this guy was totally going to be worth the effort. He probably had a thousand dollars on him.
With a sense of glee that she hadn't experienced since the last time she'd spotted a mark this well dressed in Gotham (Bruce…something, his name was…she hadn't really paid attention to what his ID said because the hundred dollar bills were much more interesting), Mercy nonchalantly got up and started for the sidewalk café.
He wasn't paying much attention to his surroundings, which served Mercy's purposes beautifully. Nothing like an easy mark to brighten a girl's day and put an extra spring in her step.
And spring she did. All the way across and down the street until she was about thirty feet away and behind him.
He was still talking on his cell phone, checking that glorious watch impatiently every few minutes.
It was just too easy.
At least, that's what she thought as she swept close enough to him to snap up the briefcase by it's handle. The second her fingers closed around the slick leather covered handle, Mercy took off like a shot. The adrenaline was coursing through her the way it always did during one of her little heists and it was heightened by the knowledge that her victim was one of those playboys with so much money he could use a hundred for a Kleenex if he wanted to.
She barely heard him call after her angrily, the glee bubbling up inside her making her feel more alive than she had in weeks and the blood rushing in her ears.
Her elation was short lived, however, as a positively gargantuan man in a black suit and sunglasses deliberately stepped in her path.
He stared right at her.
Mercy could feel the blood draining from her face as she saw the determination written in that tightly clenched jaw.
She panicked for a moment; this had never happened before. Mercy was always able to slip into the crowd and disappear…no one had ever bothered to try and stop her. This was completely new.
All these thoughts occurred to her almost simultaneously before she veered off course and booked it towards the entrance to an alleyway next to a little Italian restaurant out of instinct.
After all, her biggest concern right then was getting as far away from that gorilla as humanly possible.
The only problem with that idea was that when she darted down the alley, not only did he follow her, but there was someone who looked unbelievably similar down at the opposite end heading her way.
How did they do that?
Mercy skidded to a stop and quickly took stock of her situation. Two goons blocking off both entrances/exits to the alley, no doors on either side.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Wait! To the left! A fire escape! If she could grab hold of the ladder and scramble up, she could get to the roof and just go up and over!
With a gulp and a steadying breath, Mercy threw the briefcase (because whatever it was they were chasing her for had to be pretty damned valuable) up onto the fire escape. She took a running jump at the half lowered ladder.
It was slick with condensation and she very nearly slid off of it, but after a few seconds she managed to get a firm grip on the bottom rung. Her feet tried to find purchase in the open air as she swung, trying to scramble up the ladder.
All her violent scrambling managed to do was cause the ladder to fall. It slid down with a jerk and her feet very nearly touched the ground.
"Hey!" One of the goons shouted, "Hey you!"
With renewed purpose, Mercy struggled up the fire escape with a noise erupting from her chest that sounded suspiciously like "Gnugh!"
The ladder seemed to go on forever when in reality it was only half a dozen bars stretched in front of her.
Then again, that grim assessment might have had something to do with the fact that someone had grabbed hold of her ankle and was trying to yank her down.
With her free leg, Mercy kicked out wildly, reacting like an animal with it's leg in a bear trap. The heel of her sneaker knocked the burly man square in the nose and he recoiled as a stream of red burst forth from one of his nostrils. She kicked out once more for good measure, forcing him to fully relinquish his hold on her ankle when his nose broke with a cracking noise that echoed in the alley.
Feeling a sense of satisfaction that laced her fear, Mercy scrambled up the fire escape, snapped up the briefcase and started up the six flights of metal stairs that lead to the roof and thusly: freedom.
Without so much as a glance behind herself, Mercy started up the stairs, taking them two at a time. She found her footing on the roof of the apartment building whose fire escape she'd managed to shimmy up and took a moment to catch her breath.
Her break was cut short by the sound of the fire escape's ladder slipping down once more.
With a little groan and a deep whine in the back of her throat, Mercy took stock of her situation, huffing and puffing the whole way.
She really had to quit smoking if she was going to keep this 'fleeing from the bad guys' thing as a hobby.
Of course, the fact that she was conceivably the 'bad guy' in the eyes of the law didn't phase her. In her opinion, she was the underdog in this scenario. Robin Hood and all like that.
Besides, how fair was it that there were two big burly guys chasing her?
Scratch that. Four big burly guys chasing her.
Christ, who did I rob, James Bond? And how the hell did they get on the roof so fast?
She almost broke out in peals of hysterical laughter at the sight of them. All this for some business man's briefcase? Come on. You didn't send four bodyguards after a street kid who stole your Samsonite. Nobody had that much power in Metropolis anymore. He'd would've had to be a-
No freakin' way. She was not that unlucky. Fate couldn't possibly hate her that much.
Mercy took a moment to gaze at the initials that were stamped into the gold plate that was under the handle.
She'd robbed a Luthor?
Great. Now what?
Running might be a good idea. A little voice in her head supplied.
Mercy starting backing away from the men who were advancing on her position, her brain working at a million miles a minute. She stumbled as her heel collided with the edge of the roof and she nearly went sprawling backwards.
Which considering the fact that she was six floors above the concrete, needless to say, would have been bad.
Having regained a few of her faculties now that panic had worn off a little and was being replaced by pure terror driven adrenaline, Mercy saw that she had two choices.
Well, three if she counted surrender, but since she didn't consider that to be a viable options, she kept her choices narrowed to two.
Fight or flee.
Now the sensible thing would have been to run like hell but since she was on a roof, that would have entailed getting a running start at one of the edges and jumping off, praying that she made it to the next rooftop without breaking any bones and then resuming her flight.
And Spiderman she most definitely was not.
Of course, her chances of survival in a fight weren't all that great either.
The decision was made for her when goon number one made a run at her and she reacted without thinking.
She swung the heavy briefcase at his head, the corner of it hitting his temple with a rather satisfying CRACK.
He made a positively lovely sound when he went down in a heavy, unconscious lump at her feet.
Mercy didn't have time to feel triumphant. She knew it was dumb luck that let her hit him hard enough in just the right place to render him unconscious.
She had bigger things to worry about than gloating anyway.
Namely goons two and three, who decided that a team effort approach was going to be the most effective.
Mercy looked at the briefcase, which was looking quite a bit worse for wear. She could try and hit them with it as well, but even she wasn't going to get that lucky twice more. Of that much she was relatively certain.
Goon number two lunges and Mercy dodged, tripping over an uneven spot beneath her in the process. She cursed her clumsiness when she wound up landing on her knees hard.
Damn it. She'd managed to give them the advantage.
Goon number three grabbed at her and got hold of her shirt, tugging her up off her knees and into the air.
Violently, and with singular purpose, Mercy balled up her fist and swung it with all her might, clipping the giant in the eye. He let out a yelp and dropped her on her feet, which gave her the opportunity to kick him where she knew it would hurt.
As goon number three fell with a yowl, Mercy's internal scoreboard started to look a little more optimistic, reading a perfect 'Mercy Graves: 2, Goons: 0'.
Of course, no winning streak goes unbroken, which Mercy found out the hard way when goon two and goon four rushed her.
While she kicked, screamed, fought, bit and scratched at every available surface (faces, necks, eyeballs), they still somehow managed to subdue her.
Granted, after quite a bit of struggle.
Shortly thereafter, bruised, battered and sore, Mercy found herself in the Metropolis downtown police station getting her very first set of mug shots taken.
It wasn't exactly a glamorous business, with her face sporting a couple of nasty welts where she had fallen or knocked into the goons, she looked less like her usual angelic self and more like a very, very, grubby, scruffy and mildly wicked pixie.
Well, at least she could say she did more damage to the goons than they'd done to her. That gave her a small amount of pride.
Mercy Graves: homeless, teenage girl and petty thief had managed to badly injure four professional bodyguards.
Surely anyone would be impressed with an accomplishment like that. She certainly was. She hadn't known she had in it her, honestly.
Sure, she was bruised and rather bloody, but as she said to the horrified officer who fingerprinted her, "You should see the other guys".
It turned out that she wasn't the only one impressed with her own feat. The man she had stolen from was astounded as well. Not only had she managed to steal something right from under his nose, but she'd very nearly dispatched his personal security squad…all on her own.
He was so intrigued by this fact that he didn't even bother to press charges.
He also ordered his hired goons not to press charges either.
And if that wasn't weird enough, he offered her a job.
Which she declined.
After all, what kind of nut hires a criminal who's not only on record for petty theft but who stole from you personally as well?
The guy clearly had a screw loose.
However, his argument for hiring her was a logical one. She had managed to beat down his personal security squad, surely she would be a good bodyguard. Plus he was willing to pay her a good salary.
Of course, he didn't expect her to make up her mind right away, he told her to think about it and then pressed a business card into her hand.
The week of internal debate that followed was the most intense period of self examination that Mercy had ever indulged in.
On the one hand, she wouldn't be alone anymore. An idea that she wasn't entirely comfortable with. She'd been on her own, just barely scraping by the skin of her teeth for so long, the idea of being responsible for someone other than herself was quite mind boggling.
Besides...she'd be answering to his every whim. Following him everywhere to insure his safety. What kind of a life was that? Being some rich guy's shadow?
On the other hand, he was offering her a lot of money…a lot, a lot. There was no way in hell that she was going to get this kind of opportunity again. How often in life did fate throw her a bone? She should take it while she could, right?
At the end of the week, Mercy placed a collect call from a payphone outside the YMCA and officially accepted Lex Luthor's offer of employment.
It was the last collect call she'd ever have to make.
Hell…it was the last call from a payphone that she'd have to make. The second she was a LexCorp employee she got her own cell phone with her minutes paid for by the company.
Within weeks her entire life changed so drastically it made her head spin. She moved, for a start; she stayed with Lex wherever he was, became not only his bodyguard but also his chauffer and pretty soon she started to forget what it was like to go days without a decent meal.
Sometimes when they were in Metropolis, she would catch herself looking for an easy mark, but she would shake it off and remind herself that all that kind of thinking was behind her.
She went on like this for almost half a year before things changed.
Again it was one of those small kinds of things that changed her entire existence; just like when she'd tried to rob Lex Luthor all those months earlier.
Mercy had driven Lex and his date to a huge soiree thrown by the Wayne Foundation and was left with the car to await his return. She relished the opportunity to sit still and quiet for a while because trailing a playboy millionaire was much more exhausting than anyone ever could have anticipated.
It was while sitting in the Limo, while she was flicking the buttons on the radio when she spotted her.
It was like looking into a mirror.
Not literally of course, but figuratively.
Seated on a park bench, with her knees pulled up tight to her chest for warmth, was a street kid. Not much younger than Mercy and clearly in the same boat she'd been in.
Something inside her felt like weeping. Was it really only six months ago that she'd been like that?
Mercy reached up and adjusted the rear view mirror to look at herself. She'd started taking the clean face, pressed clothes and perfectly styled hair for granted already. She'd forgotten what it was like to skip regular baths and sleep in doorways with only layers of filthy clothing to keep you from the frostbite that could attack so viciously during Metropolis winters.
An overwhelming sense of gratitude washed over Mercy. She was immensely ashamed of herself for not thanking Lex sooner.
Lex had saved her from that life. His reasons may have been selfish, but in his own way, he had saved her.
It was there, inside that limousine, staring at her reflection but not really seeing it, that the loyalty blossomed deep within her heart. He, regardless of whether or not he knew it, had been her knight in shining armor and had saved her from a miserable existence of poverty and starvation.
From the gratitude and loyalty it was only a short trip to adoration.
And from there…
Of course she hadn't meant to fall in love with him, but as with everything else thus far in her life, she hadn't a single ounce of control over the matter.
He didn't love her back, she knew that…On some level, she knew that and he could see it in the way she looked at him.
She thought that she hid it well, but the adoration was barely restrained and mingled with hope beneath the façade of sardonic wit and determination and he could see it there.
She was devoted to him to a fault and he knew it.
He took advantage of it.
She knew he did…she knew that he would most likely never love her, but it was enough that she loved him. Her need for approval was so strong that she still tried to do everything in her power to please him, regardless of how many times he shot her down.
He'd throw her away and she just kept coming back for more.
That was who she was. That was who he'd manage to make her with everything he said and did that gave her even a shred of false hope to cling to.
It was the one chink in her armor that he could find and exploit.
And exploit it he did.
He strung her along artfully. Every word, every action in her presence was a carefully crafted chess move in the interests of keeping him in complete control and keeping her devotion to him absolute.
Lex Luthor knew that as long as she loved him and he didn't love her; as long as he kept her thinking that it was possible if she tried hard enough, he would be guaranteed the one thing he valued above all else.
A/N:Boy...you would think, after writing a horrible Smallville parody and professing to despise the show, I would never write another Smallville tale. However, the one shot bug bit me violently in the form of seeing an old Justice League episode that featured Lex and Mercy which caused this to just spill out of me. There was no stopping it. I actually like it as an examination of a very twisted relationship and now...well, if the writers of Smallville want to handle introducing Mercy to the universe the way I did then I'm sure I could handle that.
Anyways...hooray for writing a serious story for a change of pace. -does flappy hands dance-
Show me the love.