Title: Contempt
Author: solojones
Rating: T
Genre: crime drama/angst/romance
Disclaimer: Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Summary: Post Superman Returns. When Lex Luthor makes his vendetta against Superman personal, Clark's life and those of everyone around him will be changed forever.
Author's Notes: I love SII, but I don't buy the memory wipe kiss. Superman and Lois had a relationship, she didn't know he was Clark, more will be explained within the story.


It would all be worth it.

The years of failed plots, prison, hiding out, all of it was going to be vindicated. Lex Luthor had finally discovered the key to his perfect revenge. And it had practically been staring them, all of them, in the face for years. Masterful, Luthor thought, his eyes fixed on the papers and photos in front of him. For once in his life, he'd been had. But where there might have been anger, instead he felt only a deep sense of amusement.

In the silence of the dark apartment, Luthor's soft laughter seemed to fill the air. "Oh, I underestimated you," he chuckled to himself. Normally, brains weren't exactly what he'd have credited the 'Man of Steel' with, but Lex had to hand it to Superman. It turned out the man had what could almost be viewed as a masochistic kind of cleverness about him. Luthor was beginning to feel for once that Superman might be a worthy opponent for him.

And the loftier he was, the harder he would fall.

"Leeeex!" a whining ache of a female voice interrupted his reverie.

Luthor closed his eyes, summoning what little patience he had. "Kitty, you must take some sort of perverse pleasure in interrupting the moments of my greatest triumphs." He opened his eyes and glanced up at the flamboyantly dressed woman, who was smacking her gum impatiently.

"Uhhg!" she exclaimed in a dramatic sigh. "This is your greatest triumph, Lex? We finally got a boat to take us off that crummy little island so that we could come sit in this crummy little apartment and spy on people?"

Lex rubbed his temples slowly with his fingertips. "I know you couldn't possibly realize it, but this project is the most important of my life. More important than land or money or your damned fur coats."

She gritted her teeth and put her hands on her hips. "Hiring people to follow Superman? Where's that going to get us? I think you're just scared." He stared at her coolly. "You couldn't kill him last time, and now you're just hiding from him." She huffed. "I don't think you could kill him if you wanted to. He's stronger than you."

Lex snapped to his feet, pushing his chair over with a loud clang! He took strong, slow steps towards Kitty, who began back-peddling in fear. "My only mistake before was underestimating his ability to use his bran. But now I know, and I know the precise degree to which his intellect pales in comparison with mine. And this time, the fight will be on my terms!" he shouted, then took a deep breath. More calmly, he added, "This time, he won't just be able to pick something heavy up and toss it out of the way."

Kitty stared at Lex, frozen in terror and shaking slightly. He stepped back, straightened his tie, then spoke in a low, menacing voice. "A fight to the death is playing by his rules. I'm not going to kill him. I'm going to make his life a living hell."

Suddenly, Lex's mood shifted to one of near glee at the thought of just what he could do with the information he possessed. Smiling, he waved Kitty over to the desk. Reluctantly, she stepped forward, eyeing the photos and bagged objects as though they might jump up and bite her.

"I know this is hard for you, Kitty, but try to think- why would I have spent weeks following Superman, Lois Lane-"

Kitty snorted derisively. "Tramp."

Lex rolled his eyes at her petty jealousy. "Their son," he continued, "and…?"

Kitty looked like she was drawing a blank. Lex held up another photo. "That boring reporter?" she asked, smacking her gum loudly.

A ghost of a smile played across Lex's lips. "Yes, that boring reporter," he said, with something almost resembling admiration. "Clark Kent, the mild-mannered, pathetic, reclusive farm boy. Completely benign, totally harmless..."

Lex turned and picked up a bag with a stapler in it. "This belonged to him, before my well-placed intern friend swiped it. And this," he picked up a signed picture of Superman another lackey had gotten for his dear old 'uncle'. Lex held the two objects in front of Kitty, waving them around. "Now, what do you suppose is on these?" he asked as though speaking to a child.

"Bacteria," Kitty replied laconically.

Shaking his head, Lex plopped the two bags back on the table and picked up a long sheet of photo paper with several small snapshots on it. "Fingerprints," he said, tapping each example as he spoke, "Very. Unique. Fingerprints." He smiled. "But, oddly enough, identical."

"So, what's your point?" Kitty asked in a mixture of confusion and impatience.

"My point, darling," Lex said, beaming, "is that Clark Kent is Superman."