Exposé
Author: DebC
E-mail: debchilson@yahoo.com
Rating: PG
Keywords: futurefic, drama, romance
Characters: Lex, Clark, Lois, Chloe
Pairing: highly implied Lex/Chloe
Series: none
Spoilers: Season One
Disclaimers: None of them are mine.
Summary: Lex tells all

Author's Notes: This story contains many flashbacks, which are all indicated in by :: Also, I realize this is not likely to ever happen in the context of the show. Oh well. Thanks to LaCasta for helping me find a way for Lex to not seem terribly out of character and for the beta job. I really need to start paying her.

"Exposé"

"Kent!" Perry White boomed at the top of his lungs as he flung open his office door. Clark Kent looked up, tearing himself away from the computer screen in front of him.

"Yeah, boss?" Clark's investigative partner--Lois Lane--also looked up at the sound of their editor's voice.

"I have a special assignment for you. You've just been granted an interview with--"

"Lex!" Clark exclaimed suddenly, cutting Perry off. The editor of the Daily Planet--and everyone else in the main office--followed his gaze to the front entrance.

Lex Luthor leaned casually in the doorway, watching the exchange in silent amusement. "Hey, Clark," he said amiably as he launched himself away from the door and descended the stairs gracefully. He came to a stop beside the editor. "Thank you, Perry," he said. "I'm sure Clark and I can take it from here."

Perry White looked stunned, and from her seat beside Clark, so did Lois. Perry recovered first. "This may be none of my business, Mr. Luthor," he said, his words helping him to regain his composure, "but I thought you said you wanted Kent to meet you someplace neutral?"

"I did. I changed my mind." Lex informed him.

"Wait a minute!" Finally Lois spoke up. "You want *Clark* to interview you? Clark? Smallville?"

Amusement flickered across Lex's face. "Is that so hard to believe?" he asked, but waved away her answer like a king hushing an annoying servant. He turned his attention solely to Clark, ignoring the stares he was receiving from every reporter in the room. "Is there someplace we can have some privacy?" he asked after assessing the situation he'd placed himself in.

"Conference room," Perry White suggested. "Clark, why don't you show Mr. Luthor the way?"

As Clark started to stand, Lois jumped up, too. "I'm going with you." At Clark's protest, she added, "We're partners. We're supposed to share scoops. Especially ones this big."

The novice reporter exchanged glances with both his boss and the person he was supposed to interview. Perry nodded; Lex just shrugged, not caring. He follow Clark and partner into a nearby conference room, oblivious to the stares they were receiving from the other journalists in the office.


"Shall we sit?" he inquired as the door closed and the three of them were alone. "How have you been, Clark?" he asked once they were all seated. He spoke as if greeting a friend he hadn't seen in a few days.

"I, ah, I'm... fine," Clark stammered, acutely aware of the death look Lois was giving him. There were so many things he should be asking Lex, but the only one he could come up with was "How about yourself? I haven't seen you since the wedding."

Dead silence. Lois gave a gasp as if he'd committed a huge faux pas.

"Yes, the wedding..." Lex echoed, a sad Mona Lisa-like smile appearing on his face.

::People were everywhere, milling about, talking. Then the organ music started and ushers began seating them. Most weren't family, as the bride's people were all in Europe and groom had none. Instead, there were mutual business associates, local politicians, members of the social elite, and the media...

Clark Kent and Lois Lane were among them, having received, as everyone else had, a gold-edged, engraved invitation to Lex Luthor's wedding.

Soon, everyone was seated and the groom appeared, looking elegant in his tuxedo and tails. A black top hat was perched on his bald head. "Green Sleeves" began to play on the organ, and people turned towards the back of the out-door chapel, waiting expectantly for the bride.

Minutes passed. The song ended and began again.

Presently, Lex Luthor's personal assistant appeared, slipping through the crowd to his boss's side. Guests in the front row were able to hear the exchange and within a minute, the news had spread: the bride was not coming. ::


"Oh, no! Oh, God!" Clark stammered, blushing furiously as he realized what he'd said. "Lex, I'm sorry, I--"

Lex's hand waved again. "Don't apologize, Clark. It's not as if I was ever really in love with Victoria Hardwick."

Clark opened mouth to object, closed it, and then opened it again. "But Lex," he pointed out. "You were going to *marry* her."

"Yes, I was, Clark, but it had nothing to with love and everything to do with our on-going games."

"Games?" Lois butted in.

The Luthor's eyes flitted to Clark's partner, sizing her up in a swift up-and-down gaze. "Games, yes. Like chess perhaps. Strategy and manipulation. " He turned his attention back to Clark. "But I'm through playing her games, I think. That was... the end." At the younger man's confused look, Lex sighed. "You don't understand, do you?"

"No, I do... or at least I think I do." The former farm boy frowned as he digested the words. "Okay, no, I don't."

"No, perhaps you don't," Lex mused.

"But, Lex," Clark asked. "If you weren't in love with Victoria, why did ask her to marry you?"

"I suppose it had a little to do with my father's death and a lot to do with how drunk I was when I asked her," came the glib response. "I'm sure you've seen the picture." With that, Lex pulled a crumpled newspaper clipping from the pocket of his Armani jacket. The picture showed Victoria perched wantonly atop Lionel Luthor's tombstone, champagne glass in one hand, and Lex kneeling in front of her, apparently proposing. It had appeared in every major tabloid shortly after Lionel's death.

Clark gaped at it as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing. "I didn't think that story was true," he whispered in a tone of voice that said he'd just learned something new about someone he thought he knew.

The Mona Lisa smile was back on Lex's face. "Quite true, sadly," he admitted. "All of it, quite true..."

:: When the news came--an urgent call on his cellular phone--Lex Luthor was thousands of feet in the air on the LuthorCorp jet, en route to a business meeting in Italy. His father has had a massive heart attack, the doctor told him, and needed surgery immediately. When Lex inquired about his father's chances, the doctor had fallen ominously silent. "You'd be better to just to turn the plane around, Mr. Luthor," he was told.

But the couldn't just turn the plane around. They were three-quarters the way over the Atlantic Ocean already and needed to get to the airport in Naples to refuel. Naples was five hours away, and the pilots need at the very least eight hours of sleep before they could legally fly again. Moreover, the return flight would be another thirteen hours, even had he been able to secure another pilot or two on this short notice.

Which he had been unable to do.

By the time Lex made it back to Metropolis and the hospital his father was in, Lionel's condition had worsened considerably.

The rich man's son was directed to the room where his father was resting, waiting to die. However, once he found it, Lex Luthor could not bring himself to enter. It wasn't that he was afraid to see his ill and weak--he'd seen it before, after the tornado in Smallville--but because the fools at the hospital had placed him in his mother's room... the room where she'd died all those years before.

Standing there in front of the open door, his father's diminished body right in front of him, Lex could do nothing but remember the past--ghosts of painful memories haunting him. Before he could gain the courage to do something, his father's heart had stopped, the machine flat lining.

Lex could hear its warning buzz from the hallway, jolting him out of one waking nightmare and into another.

His father was dead, and the funeral was three days later. Lex had wanted it sooner, to get it over with and the business of mourning out of the way. Instead, he had to endure three days of tedious preparations and sympathy of total strangers.

He'd started drinking early on the day of the actual funeral service, taking his first drink of the day at breakfast with a toast of "To Dad!" and continuing to imbibe until five minutes before his limousine approached the cemetery. It had been the only way Lex was able to drown out the memory of his mother's death long enough to feel sorrow for his father's passing. Or summon tears enough to look significantly grievous.

Victoria Hardwick found him in the graveyard an hour after the funeral had ended. She had dark rings under her eyes and looked more distraught than Lex had ever known her. He was too mentally and emotionally exhausted from the week's events to argue with her, so instead he asked her what was wrong. He'd assumed she'd known about his father and that her appearance was an act, but instead he learned that her father had died earlier in the week.

A day or two before Lionel, in fact.

They consoled each other in their patheticness with alcohol and a lot of glossed-over reminiscing. Then the unthinkable happened; Victoria apologized.

"I'm sorry, Lex," she told him.

"For what?"

"Sleeping with your father," she answered. "It wasn't my finest moment."

Lex snorted. "Don't worry about it, Vic," he said, slurring her name. "Dad used everyone he came in contact with. Me, you, everyone."

She told him it shouldn't have been that way, and the conversation took an alarming turn. They spoke of the disappointment that both their fathers had for them, recalled trying to prove them wrong by trying to out do them, do them in.

"I should have allied with you in truth, Lex, rather than playing games," Victoria told him. "We could have been good together. We could have shown them both."

"We still can," Lex said, the alcohol in his system making his actions sloppy and his next words slurred. He leaned in, capturing her lips in a fierce kiss. "Marry me," he mumbled against her mouth.

"What?"

Lex responded by hoisting her atop his father's tombstone, then pressing against her for another kiss. He dropped to one knee, taking one of her hands as she reached out for him seductively. "Marry me, Victoria. We'll... we fix them both for good. Dad can't stop us, neither can Sir Harry. We'll... We'll..."

Behind them, a camera flashed, but neither of them seemed to care. ::

Clark fingered the crumpled, worn clipping thoughtfully and then asked, "Why do you keep with you? I thought you weren't the type to dwell on the past." His words came out a little too sharp, as if hiding something bitter that he didn't have the heart to bring up.

Lex winced. "Usually I don't. This is different. It's to remind me of the biggest mistake of my life. Victoria." He gave a little sigh, waving off Clark's next question. "We didn't love each other, and under more ideal conditions, I never would have proposed. Just slept with her and let her walk out of my life again."

"Like in Smallville, when she came to stay with you." Realization seemed to be dawning on the boy from said town.

Lex's reply was a curt nod. "But I did propose, and worse, she accepted. We were both too proud to admit it was a mistake at the time, too proud to give ourselves an easy way out, even when we both knew it would never work."

"What changed?" Lois asked, getting caught up in the conversation.

"What makes you think something changed, Ms. Lane?" he asked defensively.

"Something had to, Lex," Clark jumped in. "You just said she was too proud to back out before, so something must have changed her mind."

"Jealousy." Lex's expression was smug.

"Jealousy?" Clark echoed.

"I cheated on her. Several times, in fact," Lex admitted nonchalantly. "But those indiscretions didn't make her leave me, because she knew I thought even less of the other women than I did of her."

Lex's sudden laugh--harsh and bitter--sounded too loud in the silence that followed the admission.

"The irony was, Victoria could care less about the women I slept with during our engagement, but she was insanely jealous of the one I *didn't* sleep with..."

:: "Gotham certainly does seem to be thriving, Bruce," Lex told Bruce Wayne as their power luncheon wound down. "Do you really think I could turn Metropolis into the same sort of--" he paused, his eyes having been caught by someone at another table.

"Do you know them?" His companion asked.

"One of them, yes. Excuse me a second." He crossed the room to where two women--a blonde and a brunette--were sitting. "Excuse me, Ms. Sullivan."

Chloe Sullivan whirled around at the sound of his voice. "Lex!? What are you doing here?"

The sole surviving Luthor smiled an enigmatic half smile and nodded in the direction of his table. "Having lunch. Care to join us?" He extended the invitation to the other woman as well.

"That's Bruce Wayne," Chloe told him.

"I know. Have you met him, Chloe? I could get you an interview."

"Lex, you can't even get me an interview with you. What makes you think I'd trust you to get me one with *him*?"

Lex merely laughed as he escorted both women back to the table he'd recently vacated. Chloe's companion, a friend from journalism school, was visibly intimidated by the prospect of dining with Lex Luthor *and* Bruce Wayne. If the combination of the two powerful men was supposed to be lethal, however, Chloe barely noticed.

He and Chloe would up back at his hotel suite that night. It was late, and they'd somehow managed to spend the entire afternoon together, laughing and talking about old times in Smallville. It'd been refreshing, something different from the string of gold diggers he'd played around with recently or Victoria, who was worse than a gold digger in his eyes.

Chloe Sullivan had blossomed in to a beautiful, accomplished woman in the years since Lex had last seen her. She'd been in high school then, and angry with him because her father had lost his job when the plant closed. The years, it seemed, had dulled her anger or taken it away. She actually seemed happy to see him, if that were possible.

Their verbal judo was still as stimulating as ever, though, and they both lost track of time while they talked. Soon it was three a.m. and they were talking about meaningless trivia.

Back in Metropolis and with Victoria, Lex realized he missed the pointless conversations and the certain spark of the young woman who'd shared them with him. He made some phone calls and got her e-mail address for the Smallville Ledger, where she worked, and surprised both of them by sending her a lengthy e-mail about the color of the sky outside his window.

She wrote back, telling him it couldn't possibly compare to stars twinkling above Smallville right now. The part of Lex that missed the simpler life he'd led there couldn't agree more.

Their e-mails became longer and more personal. Lex felt something growing in his heart for her. He didn't understand it at first, but when the e-mail came saying she'd accepted a position at a newspaper in Gotham and would be moving in two months, he finally did.

He wrote to her--a long e-mail professing feelings of love so deep they scared him. Scared him so much, in fact, that he couldn't bring himself to send it. He saved it instead, planning to sleep on it and see how he felt in the morning.

By morning however, Victoria--whose favorite pastime always had been snooping--had found and read Lex's proclamation of love. She was livid, demanding that Lex never speak to "that hussy" again.

Lex informed her that they weren't married yet, and would do as he pleased with whom he pleased. The "death glare" that replaced Victoria's practiced pout did not bode well. ::


"... the one I love," Lex continued. Lois Lane choked on the coffee she'd been drinking.

Clark made a face like he had a headache from trying to process it all. "But Lex," he almost whined, sounding very much like the high school student he'd been the last time he'd had such an in-depth conversation with Lex Luthor. "If you didn't love Victoria, where did you go after the wedding? You just disappeared. For three weeks."

Lex smiled, a brilliant smile that no one had seen him use before. Then he laughed, leaning forward in his seat to clap the younger man on the shoulder. "Ah, Clark. I've really missed you. Your sense of honesty is as refreshing as I remember." He chuckled ruefully. "Your mom says hi, by the way."

The words were spoken seriously and with much calculation.

"You were in Smallville all this time!?" Clark exclaimed.

"You know Clark's mom?" Lois interjected, rounding on Lex before glaring at her partner. "He *knows* your mom?"

"Uhh... yeah. Lex used to live in Smallville for a while. He, uh, used to be my... " He gulped "... best friend."

"YOU WERE BEST FRIENDS WITH LEX LUTHOR?"

"Uh, yeah Lois, I don't see--"

"And you didn't tell me?" Her eyes so far out of her head she could have been a bug.

"I'm sure you didn't ask, either," Lex countered in Clark's defense. "Believe me, Ms. Lane, there is a lot about your partner here that you don't know."

"Oh really?" Lois sounded doubtful.

"Really," Lex replied. "He saved my life once, and I'm... hoping he can do it again, actually." Lex voice was wistful.

"Lex?" Concern radiated from Clark Kent's eyes. "What is it?" he asked.

The business mogul shook his baldhead sadly. "I'm trapped, Clark, caught between a woman I could love for the rest of my life and the world my father created for me."

"LuthorCorp," said Clark, numbly. Lex nodded, as if acknowledging the unspoken accusations. "Would she care? I mean, this woman, however she is... would she care about the bad stuff? I mean, come on, Lex, it's you. You could have any woman you wished."

"Okay," Lois butted in, "if this bimbo is so important to you that you have to come begging Smallville here for advice, who the heck is she?"

"Chloe Sullivan is no bimbo," Lex fumed, letting slip the name in his anger. "And I doubt she'd look past my company's... activities in the name of love."

"CHLOE!" It was Clark's turn to shout now. "You're... in love? With Chloe? My Chloe?"

"Yes, Chloe, although I doubt very much she'd appreciate you referring to her as *yours,* Clark. The way I understand it, she left the Daily Planet for the Ledger because of you and not because she missed the corn fields."

Clark looked sheepish. "Do you really love her?"

"I think so."

"Does she... does she love you?" the former farm boy asked.

"To tell you the truth, Clark, I don't really know how Ms. Sullivan feels about me. She's friendly and open in our correspondences, but between Victoria and LuthorCorp, there's always been a rather thick wall between us. I hadn't thought to ask. But now I'm free... "

"Are you going to tell her how you feel?" Clark asked.

Lex shrugged. "I may. But really, Clark, I only came out to here to see if you wanted that interview. Do you?"

"This wasn't it?" Clark blinked.

"You're kidding, right?" Lex shook his head, an amused smile on his face. "Why don't you meet me at my penthouse at..." he looked at his watch " ...six? Bring Lois with you; we'll have dinner and I'll give you both the story of a life time."

"And that story would be?" Lois asked, suddenly glowing at the invitation, despite Lex having been rude to her several times today.

"How I plan to clean up LuthorCorp, of course, and make Metropolis a better place in the process," Lex replied with a smirk. Rising from the chair he'd practically taken up residence in that afternoon, he exited the conference room. Lois and Clark followed as his heels, only to find the eyes of every Daily Planet employee on them. Heading for the door, Lex called back, "And Clark, you'll be happy to know we're dining in style tonight. Your mom sent me home with a trunk full of produce. Said I'd been looking too thin and pallid on the television lately."
He left to the sound of Clark's amused laughter and the growing din of reporters wanting to grill him about what had transpired behind closed doors.