Season 7, based on a plot arc by Steven DeKnight
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read the previous chapter here.
Read the story from the beginning here.
The headline read, FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH! Smaller type beneath it added, STAYING YOUNG THE LUTHORCORP WAY!
Lois couldn't restrain a little shudder at the headline. It wasn't the title she'd suggested, though she had to admit it had a little more pizzazz than PHARMACEUTICAL BREAKTHROUGH MAY SOMEDAY INCREASE LIFE EXPECTANCY. But it was just so...
"Tabloidy," she grumbled.
Lex looked up from the chessboard he was playing with. She wasn't quite sure why he was studying it so intently, sitting there alone with no one else on the other side of the board.. Maybe he was so good he couldn't find competition that challenged him. Or maybe he was just trying to solve a problem. Regardless, he'd been studying the carved marble pieces for the past twenty minutes, an expression of deep concentration on his face.
"The Inquisitor is a tabloid, Lois," he said. "But you're easily the best writer there. It was an adequate place to start your career, but I have great confidence that you'll go on to much better things before long."
Lois sighed and shoved the article aside, stretching out her legs on the leather couch. At least Dan Roberts hadn't altered her words much, even though he'd sensationalized the article with an attention-grabbing headline and a Photoshopped picture of a woman whose face was heavily wrinkled on one side and young and beautiful on the other.
But the content had been left pretty much alone. She supposed she should be grateful for small favors.
Yesterday, Dan had emailed her back after a mere fifteen minutes: This is awesome, Lois. You are really improving as a writer. It'll run in tomorrow's paper.
Apparently she was improving as a writer, she thought wryly, judging from the quality of the earlier piece she'd written about the Green Arrow. She was able to see a very clear difference between the two stories, but admittedly the story on the vigilante had been written almost a year ago.
She didn't think it was surprising she'd wound up writing for a tabloid, not given the rather poor quality of her earlier work. But Lex was right-- she was obviously growing as a writer. Maybe eventually she could move on to something more... dignified.
She sighed, and closed the paper so she didn't have to look at the headline any more. Her gaze fell onto the silver cuff bracelet she wore on her right wrist, and she remembered the inscription: To Lois-- Love, Dad.
Somewhere, she realized, she had a father who was probably worried about her. She frowned, trying to remember his face, but she couldn't seem to dredge it up from the dark recesses of her mind. Even so, she had a responsibility to reassure him, and anyone else who might be trying to find her. She looked over at Lex.
"Shouldn't I call my friends and family, and let them know where I am?"
Lex picked up the heavily carved black queen and studied it for a long, thoughtful moment.
"The truth is," he said, slowly, "that right now I really think it's best for you to remain hidden."
She tilted her head, puzzled by his words. "I thought we agreed I was just staying here until I recovered from my concussion?"
His long, elegant fingers stroked over the black queen, caressing the smooth marble surface, and she felt a little shiver go through her at the sudden image that flashed into her mind, an image of those graceful, manicured fingers sliding over her bare skin. She pushed the thought away impatiently.
"That's part of it," he answered. "But the other part-- I've been doing some digging, and it looks like you were pretty deeply involved in some sort of expose. And the people who you were trying to expose evidently weren't happy about it." He looked at her, his gray eyes very serious. "You didn't get that concussion by accident, Lois. Someone hit you over the head and left you to die in those woods."
She thought about that for a moment. "It must be a pretty important story, then. Maybe I need to get back out there and finish writing it."
"You don't have your notes," Lex pointed out. "You don't have a laptop. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that you don't have the slightest idea what you were working on."
"There must be a computer at my apartment."
He shook his head. "I thought of that. My people already checked. The hard drive on your home computer has been wiped completely. And you don't have an office at the Inquisitor, so there's nothing there, either."
She lifted her eyebrows, torn between irritation and amusement. "You broke into my apartment, Lex?"
He shrugged, looking apologetic, but only mildly so. "I was trying to find out what happened to you, Lois. I had my people do some detective work."
"Some illegal detective work," she answered, but without heat. Somehow she could easily imagine herself doing something very similar in pursuit of a story. She had the uncomfortable feeling her own research might not always be one hundred percent legal. "So did you find a clue as to what this very important story was about?"
"No," he answered, looking back down at the chessboard and frowning. "If we could figure that out, I could protect you more effectively. I might even be able to get the person or people involved arrested. But as matters stand right now, I don't want you to let anyone know you're here. Not even your friends and family."
"Are you telling me I can't trust my friends? My family?"
"I honestly don't know, Lois. All I know is that someone is trying to kill you." He stared at her intently, his eyes so chilly they looked like chips of ice. "Until we know more, I want you to stay here. All right?"
She sighed. No doubt there were worse fates than being stuck in a huge, lavishly appointed mansion, with servants to cater to your every whim. But she hated to think of the people she loved, whoever they were, worrying about her.
Besides, what she really wanted was to go home and resume her normal life... whatever her "normal life" was. She had the faint hope that once she got back to her regular routine, her memory just might come back.
And besides, she didn't like the idea of hiding behind thick stone walls when there were important stories to be written.
But she had to admit she wasn't thrilled with the idea of anyone killing her, either. Someone had apparently already tried, and failed, once. She didn't particularly want to give them a second chance.
"I just published an article on LuthorCorp," she pointed out. "What if someone connects the dots and figures out I'm here?"
"I've recently upgraded my security systems, and hired a large number of guards to patrol the grounds," Lex answered. "This castle is virtually a fortress now. No one can get in without setting off alarms, and quite likely getting themselves killed. And if they do come after you-- there's a helicopter out back, and I can get you to a safe place almost immediately. Right now, though, I'd rather have you where I can keep an eye on you personally."
There was a warm note in his voice that made her stomach melt in the familiar way, and a hot, all-too-sexual buzz vibrate through her nervous system. She tried to ignore that reaction, though, because somehow the warmth in his voice didn't quite match up with the cold ruthlessness in his eyes.
She didn't remember Lex Luthor, any more than she remembered anything else about her life, but she was pretty sure she couldn't trust him completely.
In fact, she wasn't sure she could trust him even a little.
Read Chapter 5 here.