Title: What You Don't Know…
Category: Angst, romance
Summary: She's lost her memory. He's lost his patience. Lex takes advantage of the opportunity that fate hands him, but how will he react to someone who doesn't know enough to hate him?
Spoilers: The whole series is fair game here.
**Warnings**: Given the fact that Chloe has amnesia, and the circumstances surrounding it, I'm putting a dub-con/non-con warning here that encompasses all sex during that time period. Please take that into consideration before reading.
Disclaimer: Smallville and all its characters are owned by people who are not me. No profit is made and no infringement is intended.
A/N #1 – This goes pretty much AU towards the end of Season 5, so no Lana pr…pregn…I can't type it, but you get the point. So I won't be following S6 canon, but if I want to add something from it I will. I'm like that.
A/N #2 – I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV. The only research I did for the medical part of this story was to look up a proper term for amnesia. Everything else I just made up. I've tried to make it all seem reasonable, but who knows. But I just wanted to fess up avoid the 8,000 posts telling me what a weenie I am for getting it all wrong. Remember – I'm not stupid, just incredibly lazy. ;)
She could see the door ahead of her. Unfortunately that welcome sight was accompanied by the sound of footsteps behind her. What she wouldn't give to have super-speed…or longer legs.
But she wouldn't give up. Chloe Sullivan didn't know the meaning of the word quit. Although if she made it out of there she was pretty sure she'd be looking it up, because she had a feeling that a new Sullivan motto of "Quit breaking into Luthor research facilities" could only enhance the quality of her life. Probably more so if she'd adopted it two hours ago.
Glinting in the harsh florescent lights of the long hallway, the door, her steel portal to freedom, was nearly within reach. It was so close she could almost touch it when a large bulky form, at least twice her weight, barreled into her back propelling her forward.
And so, when she did finally make contact with the door, she had only the briefest of moments to appreciate the irony that it was face first, before darkness consumed her.
"Where is she?"
The doors to the infirmary flew open and the crowd of medical specialists in the room parted like the Red Sea before the imposing figure in the tuxedo. Lex Luthor was not a man in whose way you wanted to be, even if he wasn't your boss.
Striding into a smaller room containing the only occupied bed, Lex looked down at a bruised face he knew all to well. When he had received the call from his security team informing him that a young blonde woman had been apprehended breaking into one of LuthorCorp's more private facilities he'd known exactly who the culprit was. Needing to find out as much as he could about what she might have seen, he told them to hold her there pending his arrival.
It had taken him about two and a half hours to extricate himself from the charity ball he had been attending, divest himself of his date, and reach the lab only to then be informed that she had been injured in her flight from the guards and, unconscious, was transported to the state of the art medical wing. For that discrepancy heads were going to roll; a vow he reaffirmed at his sight of her, still unconscious after so much time.
He and Chloe had a complicated relationship that, to the outside observer would most likely be seen singularly adversarial but was, indeed, far more complex than that one facet. In fact, of all the people he'd met in his time in Smallville, none better suited his personality than Chloe Sullivan. Although circumstances had thrown them together and pulled them apart in a near endless cycle, Lex was certain that they would have come out of their trials and tribulations much closer if it hadn't been for one thing – Clark Kent and whatever damned secret he was hiding that kept him at the center of everything both bizarre and dangerous.
Not that he and Chloe hadn't had their differences on other matters. Stubborn and opinionated, they were the type of people who could manage to disagree on even the things that they agreed upon. But underneath it all was a kinship that outlasted their struggles towards contrary objectives.
For instance, he knew for a fact that Chloe's earlier flight was not an attempt to avoid the legal consequences of her actions. There wouldn't be any. There hadn't been for a long time between them. No, Chloe was running because she found information that she didn't want to let him know was now in her possession.
By the same token, he was certain that he had little to fear from whatever it was she had learned. While certainly the activities of this particular lab would only, after much falsifying of records and many, many bribes, be considered barely legal by the populace at large, there was nothing here to do with the meteors and, by extension it seemed, Clark. There was also nothing heinous such as human experimentation occurring. And Lex had learned over time that if Clark wasn't in trouble and people weren't in immediate danger, Chloe preferred not to create a tremendous amount of disruption in his life.
Clark might never believe that of his best friend and go to girl, but the boy would also never guess just exactly how much damaging information that Lex knew for a fact that Chloe had acquired over the years and about which she had never breathed a single word.
Sometimes he wondered what kind of friends they would have made had he won Chloe's loyalties before she gave them to another. But that was destined to remain unknown and any true potential unexplored as he was so desperate to uncover the secret she was equally as determined to protect. Somehow, everything always seemed to come back to Clark. And that, more than animosities, jealousies, and betrayals was why Lex knew that he would never quit looking until all of his questions finally had answers.
Hearing Dr. Heideman's voice, as the physician who oversaw the program came in leafing through Chloe's chart, Lex pulled himself away from the injured form before him and confronted the most pressing issue.
"Why isn't she awake?"
Lex had certainly had enough head injuries to know that sleeping after one severe enough to render you unconscious was rarely recommended. 'Get a good night's sleep' was advice reserved for broken limbs and emotional upsets. If Chloe wasn't awake then it was most likely the result of her injury and not the staff's attempts to see to her comfort.
"Mr. Luthor, I have reason to believe that Miss Sullivan's wakefulness or lack thereof is not the issue we need to address." Crossing over to the opposite side of his patient's bed, he glanced at the illuminated displays on the various beeping machinery and then reached out gently to turn Chloe's head slightly to the right to allow him to check the swollen and discolored area at her temple. Finishing his cursory exam he turned back to his employer.
"Actually, she's regained consciousness twice since the accident. No, I'm more concerned with the confusion she displayed during those occasions."
Lex took in all of the physician's actions as he processed this new information. "I thought that confusion was common in injuries of this type."
"Yes, well, there's nearly always a level of thought disorder inherent in even slight damage to the brain but, typically brought on by shock, it dissipates rapidly. This was more than that."
His explanations were interrupted by a slight sound of stirring from the bed that immediately drew the attention of both men. Knowing that patients were often able to absorb information in varying states of consciousness, and wanting to avoid that specific occurrence in this particular case, he waved a nurse over to check on his charge and gestured Lex toward the exit.
"I think that our conversation would be better had in an alternative location."
Although Lex wanted to remain in the room and see for himself that Chloe was, indeed, waking up; he understood the doctor's reasoning. And, as he wasn't one to hire imbeciles for so important a position, he felt it best to follow the older man's advice.
As they entered Dr. Heideman's office Lex seated himself in one of the large, leather chairs placed in front of a bulky mahogany desk cluttered with files. He didn't say anything; he didn't have to. He was a Luthor,; it was most people's natural inclinations to attempt to anticipate and then meet his needs. He wanted information and had no doubt that it would be immediately forthcoming. He wasn't wrong.
"Usually in cases of trauma to the head, especially in those involving periods of unconsciousness, we see a certain amount of cognitive disorientation upon waking – difficulty processing or using language, inability to manage simple mental calculations, and a general sense of confusion in regards to one's environment. What concerns me is that last one.
Both times that the patient regained consciousness she displayed an absence of memory recall that appeared quite substantial."
"Didn't you just say that such symptoms were not particularly extraordinary?" Lex questioned.
"Yes," the doctor hurried to clarify. "But usually that type of difficulty in recollection is of extremely short duration and is less a consequence of the injury and more of a result of the temporary diminishment in cerebral capabilities."
Grabbing the folder he'd brought in with him, Dr. Heideman began flipping through the pages of notes.
"The problem here is that Miss Sullivan was exceedingly coherent, given the circumstances. She was able to understand and execute both simple and complex commands and, in truth, the only sustained difficulty was her complete lack of memory."
Dr. Heideman had delivered a great deal of unsettling news in his time in the medical profession and rarely, if ever, had he been greeted with smirking disbelief.
"Amnesia?" It was all Lex could do to keep from laughing at both Chloe's audacity and the utter naiveté of the man behind the desk.
"That is the tentative diagnosis at this-"
"She's faking." Lex saw little point in allowing the man to finish and even less in wasting his time with Chloe's quite brilliant, but ultimately doomed scheme to avoid interrogation.
Without another word to the doctor, Lex strode out of the office and back to the room currently housing the blonde troublemaker. Through the large, rectangular window looking into the space, he saw Chloe slowly sipping a glass of water that a nurse had just handed her.
"Chloe." He called as he entered, and was not disappointed as she turned to face him at hearing her name. However his triumph was short lived as he jerked to a halt at seeing green eyes completely devoid of even the slightest hint of recognition.
Oh, it was still Chloe looking back at him; all agile intelligence and avid curiosity only slightly dimmed by pain. But it was as if the intricate layers of history had been stripped away, leaving the woman in her purest form.
When he didn't speak, Chloe gave him a visual once over before meeting his eyes. She'd been fairly certain that he had been addressing her. After all, he'd said Chloe and they'd been assuring her, repeatedly, that that was her name. But before she could call out to him again he turned on his heels and walked out.
"Well," she said to no one in particular, "if that's the kind of people I know, I'm not so sure I want to remember."
Lex practically ran the good doctor down as he turned the corner.
"Your office," he barked at the man without breaking his stride.
Upon entering, Lex didn't bother with a chair, and simply turned towards the doctor in his demand for information.
Dr. Heideman could see that whatever exchange he'd had with the young woman had been enough to convince his employer of the validity of his diagnosis. However, being no fool, he chose not to mention the man's earlier doubt.
"Of course. What we believe that we're dealing with is a case of traumatic, global amnesia." Resuming his seat, he shuffled through his papers until he was once again holding the sheaf of notes he had been when they'd first had this discussion.
"Very little is actually known about amnesia, its causes, or its cure. The blow to the head that Miss Sullivan suffered caused a slight swelling in her brain. It was well within an acceptable range for this type of injury and, according to her second CT scan, seems to be subsiding. So, while it would seem that the pressure was the initial cause of the memory loss, I'm concerned that there is no rebound in that area as it diminishes."
Skimming the first three pages, he finally settled on a section of the fourth and began reading aloud.
"The patient's second bought of consciousness lasted approximately ten to fifteen minutes and was characterized by cogent interactions and lucid thought patterns. Patient displayed high levels of agitation at being unable to supply basic information such as name, age, and current location. Follow up questions ascertained that patient has retained social and intellectual knowledge relevant to her age such as an understanding of customs like marriage and laws, and a clear grasp of vocabulary and, at least, a rudimentary mathematical ability."
Turning to the next page, he continued.
"Patient, although distraught, made pertinent inquiries and understood the importance of her lack of self knowledge. Patient even demonstrated a grasp of humor as she pointed out the irony of remembering amnesia when on was suffering from it."
Placing the notes back on his desk, he struggled to keep his amusement from finding purchase on his face until he noted the quirked lips of the man across from him. However, the pervasive somberness quickly returned at the next question.
"So what does this mean?"
"Well, Mr. Luthor; unfortunately I can't tell you that with any certainty. I've contacted a colleague of mine who specializes in disorders of the brain and he confirmed that cases such as these are extremely rare. While loss of memory is common in certain physical and mental traumas, it is generally specific to events surrounding the incident. A car accident or a rape could certainly cause a loss of those specific memories and, even then, it is often transient and a full recovery is made.
However, the type of amnesia from which Miss Sullivan is suffering is much more complex and far more difficult to treat. As Dr. Preston's notes indicate, she has retained a great deal of general, generic knowledge. Upon further interviews we will most likely find a comprehension of things anywhere from the expectation that the sun will rise to an awareness that this country is lead by a president. And yet, those same interviews will probably show a complete lack of any information specific to Chloe Sullivan as a person.
We believe that it has to do with how our minds store memories. The brain is a very organized and partitioned organ. It tends to divide and subdivide data which makes for easier retrieval. With memory there seems to be four major groupings.
Instinctual memories; these include the basis for such things as the fight or flight response. Consensus memories; these would be common information that society deems all members should know, things like we all pay taxes or what a TV is. Skill memories; things anywhere from walking or reading to typing or sculpting. Anything a person has to learn to do. And the last are what are called self memories. These are the memories that take the raw material of a person – intelligence, humor, compassion, etc – and, over time, refine and focus them into the individual that they become.
We don't really know why they're divided along those lines or where they're all stored, but preliminary tests are showing appropriate access to both her instinct and consensus memory. The functional shortfall seems primarily limited to her self memory and only further assessment will tell us if there is any impact on her skills memories."
Lex listened carefully to the explanation of Chloe's condition. However, each answer seemed to leave him with a hundred new questions. Organizing his thoughts, he decided to address them in order of importance.
"What are the treatment procedures?"
Lex had seen the chagrined expression that slid across Dr. Heideman's face far too many times in his life; when his mother was ill, after the first meteor shower in Smallville. It was the look that acknowledged the fallibility of the medical profession; that denied them their self-proclaimed godhood.
"There are none, correct?"
"Sadly, at this time we simply know too little to do much other than wait for the brain to normalize its functions." He confirmed, clearly wishing that he had a better prognosis to offer.
"So the memories will just suddenly come back on their own?"
"Not generally speaking, no. In cases such as this, it is far more likely that if the missing information is recovered, it will come back quite slowly, in hazy bits and pieces that turn the patients past into a puzzle.
You must understand that there are numerous mitigating factors in the recovery process. While familiar places and people may trigger memories, often the expectations of family and friends create a level of frustration that inhibits recovery. There is also the stressor of having flashes of information with little or no context with which to interpret them and the fact that, often, things of importance to the patient, will try to make themselves known, creating a sense of urgency in them that they lack the basic recollective framework to adequately manage."
Dr. Heideman had heard people speak about the genius of Lex Luthor. Not even thirty and running a billion dollar multi-national conglomerate – well – it was impossible not to concede that the man was possessed of a staggering intellect. But sitting before him now, watching his mind in motion was an almost humbling experience. The driven intensity was palpable in the air as and he could see a world of possibilities rise and fall in the the steely eyes burning with force of his indomitable will.
"So the sum of experience tells us that Miss Sullivan has lost access to those memories which have given her a sense of identity but, other than that, there is no sign that her ability to reason has been harmed."
Heideman knew that he was only being asked for confirmation when warranted and not exposition, and so nodded his head in affirmation of the man's statement.
"This condition is likely to persist for some time as her memories return in a random and disjointed manner that will probably defy early attempts on her part to contextualize without the aid of someone who is also familiar with her past experiences."
Again the doctor nodded.
"And it is probably those memories to which she assigned significant importance that will be those that will be first to surface."
As the doctor once again corroborated his theory, Lex's mind began calculating the pros and cons, the risks and complication intrinsic to the stratagem gaining form. He knew that what he was contemplating was not evil in the harshest sense of the word, but it was a level of immorality to which he certainly had never aspired. And yet, there was no real guilt within him.
What had started out as the reoccurring clashes between he and Clark over the boy's constant deceit and Lex's responding dishonesty had, over time, become an all out war as each tried to expose the other's secrets. They were both arriving at the realization that there was an actual threat posed by their foe and, as such, their struggles took on both the instinctual need for security and a tone of righteousness from both sides equally.
Chloe Sullivan had chosen to throw herself in the midst of that volatile conflict and, like any good soldier, must have expected the occasional battle wound.
Besides, in spite of everything that had passed between them, or maybe because of it, he liked Chloe. He had no desire to harm her, he merely wanted access to information that she was one of the few people privileged to hold. And, if Dr. Heideman was correct, her knowledge of Clark's secret would be beating frantically at her mental constraints and would be painfully easy to elicit in the absence of the realization that, while they were not strictly enemies, they were in no way allies. So, if luck were with them, this need not be a prolonged exercise.
But even if that were to be the case, he would wait it out. It was far past time for this distraction with Clark to end. If the mystery he so virulently guarded was truly benign, then Lex could finally expel his former friend from his life permanently. But if, as he suspected, this deception was something that could potentially endanger them all then, forewarned, he could finally begin to prepare for threat the younger man could pose.
For an end to the escalating madness between the two men, it was worth a little discomfort on Chloe's part. And, in what was sure to be her righteous fury at his action, he would be certain to remind her that it was her activities alone that were responsible for her present circumstances.
"Mr. Luthor," the doctor began, "we can-"
Lex didn't even let him finish.
"No; this is what will be done…"
Chloe kept her eyes closed as she heard someone enter the room and approach the bed. She was tired of being poked and prodded; she was tired of being asked questions to which they knew she didn't have any answers; but mostly, after an hour of straining to remember even the smallest of personal details, she was just tired.
"I know you're awake."
The deep voice in combination with the sound of a chair being pulled over stirred her curiosity and she opened her eyes. She remembered him. Well, not remembered remembered, but she recalled him from earlier. How could she possibly forget the tall, good looking man with such a forceful and commanding presence that came into her room, bellowed her name, and then just turned and left? Besides, she still wasn't sure how she knew that she knew these things, but she was pretty sure that completely bald men, especially those in tuxedos, were hardly the norm.
"How did you know?"
Outrage stiffened her spine as she answered such a mean spirited fabrication.
"I do not!"
"How would you know?"
Chloe itched to smack the smirk off of his smug face, but he actually had a point; she didn't know if she snored. Giving up her plans of assault with a long suffering sigh, she looked closer at the man at her bedside.
Despite the fact that disheveled look incredibly sexy on him, he looked as if he'd had a difficult time while she was in and out of it. The jacket he had been wearing earlier had been discarded and his sleeved were uncuffed and rolled up around his forearms. Even his bow tie was undone, the black fabric hanging limply around his collar. It was incredibly reassuring and oddly touching to know that, while she was so cut off from so many things that she needed to know, there was someone with her who cared enough to be so concerned. With a slightly sad and apologetic smile she decided she should probably remake his acquaintance.
"So, I'm guessing that we know each other."
Suddenly she felt long fingers wrap around the hand lying closest to him as his eyes warmed and his features softened.
"I would hope so; otherwise our wedding would have been a very awkward affair."