Lex ran up to Jeremy as the owner was arranging the paintings on the wall according to a diagram. "You never IM me."
"The paintings arrived yesterday. We're still arranging them." Jeremy hugged Lex. "It's good to see you."
"You left the good china," Lex teased.
"What do I need with bone china that cost more than three hundred dollars a place setting?" Jeremy asked.
"You took everything else. I didn't have a teapot to boil water." Lex kissed Jeremy's cheek. "God, it's good to see you."
"I convinced David to show your art against Mr. Wayne's recommendation. Don't make a fool out of me." Jeremy broke the hug to return to arranging paintings.
Mercy stood by the door and looked thoroughly bored.
"Jeremy, this is Mercy, my personal assistant," Lex said.
"Hello, Mercy, what do you do for Alex?"
"Everything," Mercy said.
"Does everything include putting up paintings? The more hands the faster we'll be done here," Jeremy said.
"Sure," Mercy said.
"How did you come to work for Alex?" Jeremy asked. "We might as well talk as we set up for the opening?"
"I was fifteen and working the streets. My friend was very sick. Mr. Luthor brought me a meal and offered to pay for my friend's medical expenses. He offered my girlfriend and I a home and an education. Under his employee, I've learned several languages and job skills. Hope now works for someone else, but when Mr. Luthor said that he and Chloe could use a personal assistant, I quit my position to work for them," Mercy said.
"She feels indebted to me," Lex said.
"What were you doing when Alex hired you the second time?" Jeremy asked.
"I was hired as body guard. I learned several martial arts during Mr. Luthor disappearance," Mercy said.
"What does she do as your personal assistant?" asked Jeremy.
"Keep me away from sharp objects and flatten me when necessary. She also leads me away when I start reciting gibberish or singing too loud. When I started showing symptoms of mental illness, Mercy's job description included protecting me from me as well as more traditional duties of a personal assistant."
"I go everywhere the boss goes," Mercy said.
"How are things with your dad?" Jeremy asked.
"He hopes to retire soon. He's afraid that Victoria will try to conduct business if he isn't there to keep her away from the boardroom." Lex looked at Jeremy after he put the painting up in his hands. Jeremy had met his father and knew what kind of man Lionel Luthor was. "How is your mother?"
"She's fine. She visited during the summer. She had never seen the ocean before. We had hot dogs at Coney Island. We rented a car and went to the Catskills. She wants me to fly out there for the holidays but I don't know if I'll have the time," Jeremy said.
"You should try to make the time," Lex said.
"Dave says the same. His mother is in a nursing home and he visits her at least twice a week, not that she understands a word that he says," Jeremy said. "He says that he'll cover for me if I want to fly out to Smallville."
At the gallery opening, Lex arrived with his two favorite women, Chloe and Mercy, by his shoulders. Lex was dressed in a black suit wearing a lilac shirt and a dark eggplant tie. Chloe and Mercy were both smartly dressed in dark business suits. The nanny was at the hotel with the children. Chloe had convinced Jimmy to cover the opening as Leslie Lowe and he had given Lex an interview before they left. Jimmy was taking pictures of his work with his press badge on hand for the gallery owner. "This is my wife, Chloe Sullivan. You remember Jeremy Walsh, the gallery manager and this is the owner of gallery, David Jacoby."
"Thank you for taking a chance with my husband," Chloe said.
"His work is rather good. I think Mr. Wayne was a little harsh in his judgment," David said.
"I appreciate your faith," Chloe said.
"I see you brought your own photographer," Jeremy said.
"Is Ms. Lowe that out of place?" Chloe asked. "She covered a number of openings in the Metropolis area including exhibits at the Metropolis Museum of Art."
"Dorothy Gale belongs in Kansas," Jeremy said. A gay man saying "Dorothy Gale" told Chloe that Jeremy must have seen hands that were too big, a smile too big or a glimpse of an Adam's apple.
"She's never been to Gotham City before," Chloe said.
"The red hair, the black dress and the pearls just say hick," Jeremy said.
Jimmy turned around, put the cap on the camera and walked over to them. "I wore this dress to my father's funeral."
"And it shows, Honey," Jeremy said.
"The color is nature; I don't get it from a bottle." Jimmy tossed his head slightly then walked buffet table.
Chloe rolled her shoulders back. "You had no right to insult my cousin." Chloe walked over to Jimmy. "He's an ass."
"I've always passed," Jimmy whispered to Chloe, "even at my father's funeral."
"Uh-ah." Chloe thought Jimmy made the comment as a retort to Jeremy; she didn't want to touch that with a ten-foot pole.
"It took my mother until the reception to recognize me. I had to explain to her that I had been cross dressing for a number of years and it wasn't an insult to my late father," Jimmy explained. "I should find Lucy."
"I'm sure Mercy is terminally bored by now," Chloe said.
"I should go. I'll take more pictures tomorrow." Jimmy found Lucy and touched her arm.
"How's it going?" Lucy asked.
"Take Leslie to the hotel," Chloe said. "The gallery manager outed her."
"So what you going to do?" Lucy asked.
"Keep Mercy company. I'll see tomorrow and help you pick something nice to wear," Chloe said.
Lex talked briefly with a few of the patrons, hoping to spark their interest in buying. Jeremy touched his shoulder then glanced in the direction of Chloe and Mercy. "You aren't that stupid."
"I arranged it. Chloe wanted to date the food editor and I didn't want her straying from home. Chloe once had Mercy call her mistress in this deadpan voice in front of her cousin. I wish I was fly on the wall for that."
"You have a man?"
Lex deadpanned. "Real or imagined?"
"You seem so with it."
"The original had seen imaginary people so the template was fairly faulty. Our symptoms are different. He had these wild breakdowns and would be fine afterwards, not surprising since his father poisoned him with mind-altering chemicals. I'm more out of it but I'm not as violent." Lex recalled the older version threatening the pilot wouldn't live and destroying their own way back to civilization -- those weren't the actions of a sane man. Lex wouldn't tell Jeremy that Lex threatened to kill the pilot that took him to the artic to explore the ice fortress. It took him years to accept that the murders and other crimes that the original did weren't his fault and he couldn't be responsible for the crimes that the template had did in his life and that Lex died at twenty-eight and he had been born at age nine in that ice cave.
"It must be hard for you."
"I have good days. It helps me to remember the control freak isn't me." Lex walked over to two drag queens that seemed to be admiring his work. They were spending a lot of time near his painting, "Hourglass". The two "ladies" had big hair (obviously wigs) and clothing that said catwalk. They were here to be seen, not to buy. Lex hoped to change their minds. "Hello, I'm the artist."
"We figured you're the artist," said the queen in the silver dress over black pants, "when we saw you wandering around bored."
"I painted that one soon after moving to Metropolis," Lex said. "It's about the lost of childhood to the march of time." Actually, it was about his memories from the old Lex Luthor seeping into his childhood. The spilled books represented spilled memories. "I quit school at sixteen to become an artist."
"Why the broken clock?" asked one in the red dress and platinum wig.
"Because there are times when you want time to stop and other times you can't wait to be sixteen to drive your first car," said Lex. "The art talks for itself."
"Alexander Luthor, any relation to Lionel Luthor?" first one asked.
"He's my father," Lex said.
"You have our sympathies," same person said.
"He's mellowed with age," Lex said.
The two "women" stared at him like he wasn't making sense.
"Like a good cheese," Lex figured they didn't get his joke.
Jeremy touched his shoulder. "We should call it a night."
Lex said, "Women pretty time drink with a."
"Mercy will take you to the hotel." Jeremy walked Lex over to Mercy. Jeremy never heard a schizophrenic talk gibberish before. He could see how people in the Middle Ages could see that behavior as speaking in tongues. Lex's words almost made sense in a mix-up confused way.
"I'll call for a cab," Mercy led Lex out of the gallery. "Boss, we'll be back tomorrow."
Letting Mercy do her job, Jeremy returned to selling paintings.
Chloe cell phoned Jimmy. "Run the interview in The Planet. Send Perry White whatever you have."
"Got it," said Jimmy.
"I'll call Perry and tell him to expect it." Chloe hung up the phone. With luck, the news of Lex Luthor's public psychotic episode would hit the news the same day as the interview stating he was leaving LexCorp to become a full-time artist. Damage control was in place. She called Perry. "Lowe is sending you an article on Lex Luthor becoming a full-time artist. I want you to print it in the morning paper, no questions asked. You own me several favors."
"It better be a good article," Perry said.
"It's soft news, but you own me."
"Fine, but we call it even."
Chloe watched several paintings be tagged for sale as the evening progressed. Lex didn't waste Bruce's time after all.
Chloe came to Jimmy and Lucy's room the next morning. Perry had printed Jimmy's article under the Olsen byline. She would have preferred Lowe because Olsen was her sports editor and she didn't want people to think that she couldn't pay her editor a decent salary but mostly she wanted the other byline because Jimmy was her cousin and she feared people think he was going soft on Luthor because he was a relative, but what was done was done.
"He gave you the interview and a pull out section of Luthor's paintings," Chloe said going to Jimmy's computer to pull up the article.
"As Olsen." Jimmy in tee shirt and panties leaned over Chloe to look at the computer screen. "I'm never going to work as Leslie again."
Chloe could swear that he had his beard removed; only inches away, she could see no signs of razor burn or the bluing that occurred with recurring shaving. "I spoke to Jeremy. I gave you away. He may have had doubts because of your bad fashion sense and large hands, but my body language told him. Leslie, I'm sorry."
"I can't go to the opening tonight if everyone knows that Leslie is a man."
"Only Jeremy knows and he won't tell anyone." Chloe wanted over to the hotel closet. "Hick, ugly, plain," she said looking through the dresses hung there.
"You're insulting my taste in clothes," Lucy said.
"Leslie, you know better than wearing a dress that you brought for a funeral to an opening. You save that for cocktail parties in dark rooms and, Lucy, you dress like you're still working as a waitress in that dive on Thirty-fourth Street. I should have taken you both out clothes shopping before we left Metropolis," Chloe said. "I'm sorry that I assumed that you both knew how to dress for an opening in Gotham. Leslie, I expected better from you. You covered several openings in Metropolis and I never heard anyone whisper about you dressing like you were going to a funeral."
"I'm sorry. I thought a little black dress went with everything." Jimmy looked at himself in the large mirror and started to tweeze his eyebrows.
"Leslie, we go to a salon and have your hair and makeup done. I haven't tweezed my own eyebrows since I started working at the Herald. I have my makeup and hair professionally done at least once a week," Chloe said. "Why have money if I can spoil my cousins occasionally? Us ladies deserved to be pampered after last night."
"That is like putting the cart before the horse," Jimmy said.
"No. Jeremy will be impressed if you go to the gallery tonight dressed to the nines. It will show him that my reporters have balls," Chloe said.
"That kind of defeats the purpose." Jimmy started to laugh as he put on his pantyhose. "I'm a transvestite if you haven't noticed."
"What do you think, Lucy; would Leslie looked more sophisticated with brown hair?" Chloe asked.
"I'm not wearing a wig," Jimmy stated.
"A rinse. You have nice hair. We'll talk to the lady at the salon. They have computer imagery; you can see what you look like with darker hair," Chloe said. "You, ladies finish dressing and we can meet in the lobby with the children and nanny."
"My hands gave me away?" Jimmy asked.
"A little skin cream and perhaps a nice ring or a lady's watch," Chloe said. "It's not like you have hairy knuckles. Leslie, you're a beautiful girl. Don't let one asshole ruin the way you feel about yourself."
"I've been cross-dressing since I was a junior in college," Jimmy said. "It took my experience as Leslie Lowe to convince me that I passed."
"Why did you start when you were a junior?" Chloe asked.
"My mother brought my clothes until then," Jimmy admitted in a shy little voice.
"You never did it before," Chloe teased.
"Occasionally, I would sneak into my mother's closet and try on her clothes. It was something that I hid from her and tried to hide from myself." Jimmy continued to dress.
"I thought he was cheating on me when I found makeup and jewelry in his car," Lucy said.
"I was ashamed to admit that it was mine," Jimmy said. "It took Lucy two weeks before we started dating again. Lucy accepts that I like to wear women's clothes, but she prefers it stays in the house."
"I accept Leslie as she is." Lucy put her hand on Jimmy's shoulder.
Clark went over to Lex by himself. "Lex, how are you managing?"
"I'm good." Lex sat behind the desk and folded his hands. "Did you read the review in the Gotham Times?"
"Pretty damning," said Clark.
"At least, Perry ran article announcing my resignation same day as the horror written by a talentless critic. The public will know that I was aware of my failing health before it became public knowledge." The opposing articles went to press at the same time and the newspapers wouldn't have shared their sources; therefore, the interview had been conducted prior to the art show as according the article.
"Public image has always been important to you," said Clark. "This must hurt."
"I was babbling nonsense, not stripping in public," said Lex. "I've done worse when drunk."
"It doesn't read that way," Clark said. The paper read, "Schizophrenic Artist has breakdown at Opening." The lead was nice compared to the rest of the review that said his art was the visual equivalent of word salad -- the images from a disturbed mind. Just because Alexander Luthor had money and rich friends didn't mean he could paint.
"It's hype." Lex sat at the hotel room desk at reread the Planet interview. "It's a medical condition. I have no more reason to be embarrassed that if I had an asthma attack and if people can't see that it is their problem."
"People judge the mentally ill." Clark sat on another chair.
"It would have been better if Ms. Lowe's interview had been published first. But life doesn't work that way, at least, for me."
"You really are okay?"
"Clark, Chloe and Gabe have insured that William will inherit LexCorp. Mercy is a godsend. I'm thankful that Dad and Vicky gave me a good childhood. My demons aren't that bad this time around."
"Your paintings are selling."
"Bad publicity is better than no publicity." Lex stood up. "Let's take in some local nightlight." Lex put his hand on Clark's shoulder. "This only proves that I was crazy before my father had the staff poison me."
"Lex, your father caused the original to have delusions and paranoia. You don't have that."
"I just sing songs to my long dead brother and grieve for all the wrongs that the original did. There are many times I find myself lost in my thoughts and I don't want to come back to the real world." Lex started to cry then sang in a soft voice "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
"You're father is sorry for what he did to you. He has been a good father to you, Geoffrey and Sammi. He even visits Linda and takes her to the mansion for piano lessons. He has learned that there is nothing more precious than family," Clark said. "Daydreaming doesn't make you dangerous."
"The original had visions of owning everything and trampling on everyone and everything that got in his way. He was on his way there owning the tenth largest company in the world at the tender age of twenty-eight. Me, I'm a harmless fruitcake that gives plant owners advice with no ability to have them carry it out."
"And Mr. Sullivan still follows much of your advice." Clark put his hand on Lex's arm.
"We talk. He won't let my pet projects die," Lex said.
"Mr. Sullivan has told Lois than you're still active in the company behind the scenes."
"I make my own food time to time and I even go grocery shopping with the cook. Mercy guarantees that the staff works for me. After what my father did to me, I'm not paranoid just cautious."
"But you see that same therapist that tried to turn your brain into guacamole. How can you trust her?"
"I no longer see her. I go to the group therapy at the mental health clinic twice a week and see a doctor there once a month. I don't see the same doctor each time but I try to get Dr. Hollis. She doesn't care if my father has money and that a foundation manages my care. She treats me no different than her other patients."
"Your father could have made you into a vegetable," Clark stated.
"He didn't. I was brought to a real hospital and given the help I needed. It wasn't long that I was able to return to work, without Dr. Foster double crossing my father I would have never received me the treatment that I needed get my wits about me. It took guts for her to stop poisoning me and give me treatment to reverse the damage and for that she deserves my respect."
Bruce met Lex during the last day of the opening and stayed until the patrons left the gallery with their purchases. "Not bad. It's nice to be proven wrong once in a while."
"I'm taking a few more art classes this year. I still have a lot to learn."
"I hear you're trying to force a merger with LuthorCorp and you have a patent pending."
"Not me, LexCorp and Dr. Robert Connelly. I'm an artist. Gabe Sullivan manages LexCorp."
"My sources tell me that you work behind the scenes."
"Your sources are wrong; the only reason I talk to Gabe is that he's my father-in-law and you know I don't go to my own dad for fatherly advice," Lex sneered.
"Then, you wouldn't be interested in me testing this mystery alloy of yours."
"Mystery alloy; your corporate espionage is better than that."
"My spies tell me that it's a room-temperature superconductor and you've been very active in its development."
"Are you interested in testing it in your labs? I'll have Mercy give you a sample."
"Ship it to me in the morning. If it does half of what my spies tell me, there will be plenty of riches to share."
"I'll leave a message with my R & D department to contact you."
As Mercy was away delivering the alloy to Wayne Enterprises personally, Lucy and Jimmy visited the manor. Lex hugged them both at the door.
"No frisking this time," Lucy teased.
"Mercy is away for couple of days. I'll just take my chances. Cook will have dinner served in a few minutes. J.J. can join William in the nursery," Lex said.
"I'll bring him up," Lucy said.
"Chloe probably won't be home until late. She always puts the paper to sleep," Lex continued. "Would either of you like a drink?"
"Iced tea, if you have it?" Lucy asked.
"Of course." Lex returned in a minute with two glasses. "The housekeeper went home for the day and Cook is rather busy."
"Thank you." Lucy took her glass and handed the other to Jimmy.
"How does she avoid burn out?" Jimmy put the drink on a coaster on the coffee table then sat down on the sofa then crossed his hands on his lap.
"She loves what she does. When I started to walk out on board meetings, I knew that running LexCorp wasn't what I loved. Jimmy, what do you love doing?" Lex took the seat across from him.
"Taking photographs." Jimmy leaned forward to make good eye contact with Lex.
"Then, maybe you shouldn't be editor of the sport section, but take a more hands on approach," Lex said.
"Perhaps," Jimmy said, "but a staff photographer wouldn't make the income I now enjoy." Jimmy might have been in men's clothes but his eyebrows were tweezed and his hair was shaped in a feminine style. Lex couldn't believe how beautiful Jimmy looked with his hair darkened to a rich brown styled in a simple Pageboy. His complexion was smooth and flawless like a woman using moisturizer and makeup that perfectly blended into her skin tone leaving a natural-looking glow without the artificial color of most cosmetics. Jimmy crossed his legs at the ankle showing that he wasn't concerned about how feminine he appeared.
"There are things more important than money," Lex said.
"You're independently wealthy," Lucy said.
"Mr. Sullivan has more money than he could ever use with his salary from LexCorp and not mentioning the dividends he earns from his stock." Lex took a sip of his water.
"Jimmy would never accept a handout," Lucy said.
"Not a handout," Lex said. "Jimmy, have you ever thought about running your own business? You could do what you love and earn a living at it."
"I'm not a go-getter." Jimmy sipped his tea. "Mr. White would tell me that I needed a killer instinct to work in the news industry. I just want to shoot a few pictures and write articles about them."
Chloe arrived as the dessert was being served.
"Jimmy, asks her," Lex said.
"Go ahead," Chloe said. "We're family. I won't fire you for a difference of opinion."
"I don't enjoy being sports editor; I prefer taking pictures," Jimmy explained.
"I don't need another photographer," Chloe said, "but you can fill in when your photographers need assistance."
Jimmy whispered to Lex that he was going to send him a proposal about opening his own shop.
"We'll talk later without the wives," Lex whispered back.
"Scheming behind my back," Chloe said.
"I was just telling Jimmy that he should do what he loves," Lex said.
"Do you love waiting tables?" Chloe asked Lucy.
"Now, that I'm working at a classy Italian restaurant, I do. I love seeing the customers smile and enjoy celebrating life's little occasions with them. I would wait tables if your father dumped millions of dollars in our laps," Lucy said. "If you asked if I liked working, when I served people at the dive that I worked before, I would have said no."
"Don't laugh. He could. Lois and Clark would never take his money. The estate is supported by a foundation and I also draw an income from the Herald so we don't need the money. William will inherit LexCorp when my father retires. It isn't like we need the millions that fall into my father's lap," Chloe said.
"Money like that becomes rather ridiculous. I used to have several cars, but now Mercy chauffeurs me in a rather ordinary looking limousine. The foundation won't approve of me having another vehicle since my diagnosis. We hardly have enough work for the servants that we have, so hiring more seems absurd. Chloe and I have a vacation planned for two months next spring, but she doubt she'll want to take that much time off from the paper," Lex explained.
"My father says that the money is a joke. He has enough that, if he had over fifty grandchildren, none of them would have to work," Chloe said. "He establishes foundations, but money generates more money and when the alloy that his scientists are working on hits the market, LexCorp could easily be worth trillions."
"Scary thought," Jimmy said.
"The Herald is just becoming self-sufficient. We can pay all our salaries and run all our equipment on our income from advertisers and circulation. I suspect within the year that we'll be making an actual profit," Chloe explained.
"The problem is that I don't love editing as much as you do," Jimmy said.
"I've always dreamed of running my own paper," Chloe said. "I hate leaving it for anytime, but Lex and I deserve our vacations."
"Mercy and I could go without you," Lex teased.
Jimmy came to the manor in the middle of the day. "Lex, I'm covering the new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art. I was wondering if you would like to accompany me." Jimmy smiled at Lex. "I could use someone to hold my equipment."
"I'd love to go," Lex said. "Do you always wear women's clothes when you cover arts and entertainment?"
"Most of the time. Don't you think I look good this way?" Jimmy asked. "Come on. Don't you want to go somewhere without having Mercy look after you?"
"That's her job to look after me," Lex said.
"She doesn't go with you to your art class." Jimmy sat down on the sofa.
"Mercy, excuse us," Lex said.
"Of course, Boss." Mercy left the room.
"Cook left some sandwiches if you're hungry," Lex said.
"That would be great." Jimmy walked over to the dining room table. "You think I'm crazy because I like the way I look in women's clothes."
"I would never judge you." Lex put a couple of plates on the table. "Excuse me a moment. I'll get us the sandwiches." Lex returned with two egg salad sandwiches and pickles. "Enjoy."
"Thank you." Jimmy started to eat. "I could use a glass of water."
"I'll be back in a moment." Lex returned with two glasses of water. "You must think that I look like a spoiled housewife with Chloe working long hours and all I do is take an art class."
"You manage the household." Jimmy started to eat.
"Most of the time, it manages me." Lex smiled at the girl sitting across from him. "Did you consider what we talked about?"
"Yes. I'm taking more jobs as a photojournalist. I'm going to cover more art shows and review more restaurants. Diane thinks I could be a great food critic and Will would love to have me work with him reviewing films."
"It doesn't hold my interest like it did. I hate reading over everyone else's work. I've been delegating it to my assistant editor. I hate disappointing Chloe."
"You have to do what you feel comfortable doing. Do you think it was easy to walk away from LexCorp?"
"I wouldn't know." Jimmy drank his water. "I can refill it myself."
"Go ahead." Lex ate his sandwich and a pickle. "It wasn't easy to walk away. It took me years to tell the press that I had signed everything over to my father-in-law. I thought it was telling the world that I could no longer handle my obligations, but it wasn't. It was telling the world that I was responsible for my decision to leave the company in Gabe's capable hands." Gabe wasn't his father-in-law since Chloe and Lex never legally married, but he called Chloe his wife most of the time. Before Jimmy's article, people had speculated that Lex Luthor was forced away from LexCorp kicking and screaming. Even when high-level managers told the press that Mr. Luthor just walked away, rumors persisted.
"You don't think I'm weak if I leave the editorial position," Jimmy said.
"Not at all." Lex picked up the empty plates and put them in the sink. Cook would wash them later. "Let's go to the museum."
Jimmy led Lex to his car. "Chloe told me not to go to the Herald as Leslie Lowe, but three weeks into the job, I realized that I needed to attend staff meetings in person -- phone calls and email weren't enough."
"What did Chloe say?"
"That most of the people in the sports department don't visit the arts and entertainment department. Leslie Lowe used to only visits the Herald about once a week so it hasn't been a problem to keep them separate, but now I spend much more time there as Leslie. I can't just run up the stairs to the sports department, change my clothes, wash the makeup off my face and hope no one notices."
"What are you going to do?"
"Resign as Jimmy."
Lex, although he needed Gabe's approval to do it, liked giving Jimmy the few thousands needed to start a camera shop in shopping district in downtown, reminding him of the time that he rescued Hope and Mercy from the streets. He felt trapped in his house and the rules of the foundation governing his care. Mercy let him take the bus to his art classes, but she treated him like she was doing him a favor every time she let him go alone. When Chloe cancelled their vacation to Europe the next spring because Lexin was hitting the market, Lex feared that he would be trapped in his house the rest of his life.
Mercy was under strict orders by Chloe to keep Lex far away from the press. No longer did Lex take the bus to class but was dropped by limo in front of the school and picked up immediately following his class like an eccentric rich kid. However, he managed to sneak away from Mercy to see Gabe Sullivan's news conference on Lexin and stood in the press box pressed against Leslie Lowe, pretending to take notes although he knew every word that Gabe Sullivan was going to say before he said it while Leslie Lowe took pictures of the man surrounded by microphones announcing an alloy that would change the world as they knew it.
"I can give you a report that will make the crap the other reports have look like nothing," Lex said.
"Thanks," Jimmy said. "We'll go to a coffee shop and I'll get my tape recorder."
"I want to remain anonymous."
"No problem. I can cover my sources. I'll make it sound like I understood the press conference better than anyone else. Where is Mercy?"
"Protecting the heir. Since the news conference, William has become the second most valuable commodity in the known universe."
"I need to get these shots to the Herald."
Lex greeted Chloe in the hallway as a team took Jimmy's camera and recording equipment. "I'm going to explain in plain English what Gabe told the masses."
"Don't give Leslie any of my father's secrets," Chloe whispered to Lex.
"I'll give her an interview so good that the associate press will want to buy it from her." Lex kissed Chloe's cheek. "In a day or two, you'll be able to buy the four news giants."
"Only four," Chloe teased.
"All of them. Lexin is worth trillions mark my words," Lex said.
"But it's hard to make," Jimmy said.
"It's true that it combines very unstable elements. One of the radioactive chemicals we use has a half-life of less than a nanosecond. However, in combination, it's incredibly stable. Leslie, I can't tell you all our secrets; Mr. Sullivan will have my head."
"Whatever you can tell me will help," Jimmy said.
"Have your notepad and tape recorder ready. I'm going to tell you in layman terms all that Mr. Sullivan predicted Lexin could do," Lex said.
After Jimmy set up the tape recorder at the coffee shop and had his notepad in hand, he said, "Mr. Luthor, are you propositioning me?" Jimmy tapped a painted nail on the table; Lex wondered if they were real or just glued on. Jimmy worked under a woman's name at the camera shop and Lex didn't recall seeing Jimmy in men's clothes in several months. Apparently, dressing as a woman made Jimmy happy and with his own problems, Lex was in favor of people doing what made them happy as long as it didn't hurt other people.
"Ms. Lowe, I would never stoop so low to proposition a married woman." Lex smiled flirtatiously. "Are you ready to get the interview of a lifetime?"
"As ready as ever." Jimmy smiled as Lex explained in simple language all the wonderful properties Lexin had.
Lex waited as Jimmy typed the article in his laptop. Lex smiled as Jimmy touched the shoulder length hair dyed a dark red with purple highlights. Chloe must have helped him chose the color because the lightest tint of purple made the color border on natural looking and exotic. Lex knew that Jimmy was a man under his clothes, but his eyes told him that he was looking an incredibly beautiful woman and he didn't want to disturb the illusion.
Perry White stormed into the coffee shop. "So, Mr. Luthor, you have been involved with the development of Lexin. My sources are rarely wrong," he said as he sat down at the table.
"Excuse me, sir," Lex said.
"Jimmy Olsen, I'll pay you top dollar for this interview," Perry said.
"I saw Lois in the press box," Jimmy said.
"And Mr. Luthor isn't giving you the breakdown of the highfalutin gibberish that Mr. Sullivan spouted at the press conference," Perry said.
Lex looked at Perry rolling his eyes slightly. "I'm an expert on gibberish."
"The insane act isn't going to work with me," Perry stated.
"Mr. White, please leave before we have you arrested for harassment," Jimmy said.
"He's a public figure," Perry said.
Lex started to sing "Tonight. " The lyrics of the songs have been going through his head since Chloe and he had seen it at the local theatre a few weeks back. He was often told that he was singing when he didn't realize it, but this time he knew people could heard him. He wanted Perry to know he was crazy. Perry continued to beg Jimmy to share his interview with Lois. Lex felt like yelling shut up, but covered his ears instead. If Perry insisted on interviewing him, he would give him his card stating that he was mentally disabled and needed to be supervised at all times.
"He's disabled." Jimmy refilled his coffee. "Please, go. He can't give you or anyone else a story. Excuse me. I have to finish writing this and send it to my editor."
"Mr. White, I didn't tell Leslie anything that wasn't said in the press conference. Lately, my word hasn't been worth very much," Lex said in a soft childish voice.
"How dare you block me out!" Perry said.
The waitress came to the table. "Ma'am, are you all right?"
Lex stopped himself when he realized that he returned to singing "Tonight" out loud. Lex had been a frequent consumer before Mercy had put him under house arrest. Since the press conference was now over, he hoped that Mercy would allow iota of freedom. The staff here was used to him singing softly to himself or babbling nonsense. Perry White had caused a disruption and he hoped that the staff wouldn't feel uncomfortable serving him in the future.
Jimmy continued his work on the laptop. "I'm fine. He was just leaving." He didn't give Perry White eye contact as he continued typing his article.
"I'm going to speak to your editor." Perry started to storm out of the coffee shop. "You're both crazy." Perry slammed the door of the small shop.
"He knows that Lois won't strong arm me because I'm married to her sister," Jimmy said. "It has nothing to do with you."
"I'll take a cab home," Lex said, getting up from the table, leaving Jimmy money for the bill.
"I'll call for you," the waitress said.
"I don't mind waiting on the curb," Lex said.
"I'll making you a coffee to go," the waitress said.
"Thank you." Lex sat back down at the table.
The waitress asked, "Ma'am, is there anything else I can help you with?"
"I would like the check," Jimmy said.
When news of Lexin's patent hit the market, LexCorp stock quadrupled. After it was thoroughly tested and the world knew what they had, it really went through the roof. Gabe Sullivan forced a hostile takeover of LuthorCorp so LexCorp would acquire the equipment necessary to mass-produce Lexin. It would revolutionize the computer industry, make electric cars easier to use and more affordable and make the space program profitable.
Lex contacted an agent to sell his art. A gallery in Provincetown in Cape Cod was interested. He wondered if he would sell enough for the airfare for himself and Mercy. He hated that he would need to leave Chloe and William for six days but Chloe couldn't go with him to each gallery opening. Jimmy wanted to go since he had never seen the beach; it was winter when Lex had his opening in Gotham.
"We could take the boys," Lex said.
"Lucy doesn't want to close the camera shop for a week," Jimmy explained.
"We'll take the nanny with us. She can watch the boys when we're at the opening. No little black dress this time," Lex said.
"Sure. I have a few of nice ladies' suits."
Mercy suggested that Lex hired more guards to watch William or not take him.
"You do what you feel is necessary," Lex said. "I'm taking him."
They would be going in May and it wouldn't be warm enough to swim but the boys could build sandcastles. Lex sang along to music in his headphones on the plane. Jimmy sat beside him. Lex laughed when he saw the 'f' Jimmy's license when Jimmy filled out the paperwork for a rent a car. Mercy also rented a car; she decided against hiring a staff to watch Little William and Lex. It was an opening in a small gallery on the beach; what trouble would they get into to.
Lex pushed the empty stroller into Johnson's Salt Water Taffy. William, three, and Jimmy Jr., four, ran into the store and each filled a bag. Lex heard music in his head and he could hear a baby cry. He knew that Julian was long dead but the crying still filled his head. It was an accident a long time ago; he didn't mean to kill Julian. He didn't understand. It wasn't him. He told himself that it was another boy named Lex, a skinny bald kid, but it didn't make the crying stop. Lex dropped the candy he collected to cover his ears, but the crying didn't stop.
"Daddy." William picked up the candy that spilled on the floor and put it back into the bag.
"He won't stop crying," Lex said.
"Singing usually helps," William suggested.
Lex started to sing "Hush Little Baby."
Jimmy led him to the door of store as Lex pushed the empty stroller. "I'll pay for the candy."
Joan, the new nanny hired soon after the release of Lexin by the foundation, was a woman in her mid-thirties that looked nearly as tough as Mercy, looking more like a bodyguard than a nanny, but Lex had no choice in hiring her. The foundation was required to maintain Lex's standard of living, not consult him about hiring. "Alexander, do you want me to watch William?"
"Jimmy is buying him candy," Lex said after he stopped singing. The crying in his head had stopped.
Jimmy Jr., asked as he came out with his candy. "Can we go swimming?"
"The water is cold," Joan said.
"You don't have to watch me. You could enjoy the sunshine and fresh air," Lex said.
"I was hired to watch over you and the baby," Joan said.
"Mercy is my personal assistant," Lex insisted.
"I'm under strict orders not to leave you alone with the child," Joan said.
"Leslie is with me. Joan, take the afternoon off." Lex hated that he needed to care a card saying that he was mentally disabled so he wasn't arrested if he started to act out in public. No one paid him the time of day when he babbled on the bus. One time he was arrested when he started screaming that he wanted to kill the president, but he was released as soon as Mercy arrived. The police said that he wasn't arrested since no charges were brought on him. He didn't see much of a difference of being detained or arrested. The police did say that they could charge him with disorderly conduct and put him in a hospital a few days. The cops treated him like he wanted to be mentally ill. He didn't like that his thoughts were so loud that he couldn't always sort them from what was happening in the outside world. He didn't like being haunted by memories of a man that he never was.
"I'll be on the beach behind our hotel room reading a book." Joan glanced at Mercy on the other side of the street.
Mercy continued to talk to the owner of the small gallery. Lex's opening would be that evening and it would run from Thursday night to Monday afternoon any painting that didn't sell would be shipped back.
Lex's cell phone rang. It was his agent asking if the paintings had arrived and other matter concerning the opening. After Lex said everything was fine, his agent said that they had another opening in a month. "I'd like to book you for one a month. Perhaps, two in July or August."
"I shouldn't have agreed to give you 15%," Lex said.
"How does California sound?" the agent asked.
"Ask me after this one. I haven't done an opening since the fiasco in Gotham. I have to talk to the owner of the gallery. I'll call you back." Lex knew his agent would call him first. After the agent learned how much his paintings sold in Gotham, he called Lex at least once a week. Lex had only sold paintings at bookstores and other small venues since Gotham and this was a small town opening and he told himself on the plane a number of times not to be nervous.
"Lola Withers, the gallery owner," the little gray haired woman in a faded beige dress.
"Alexander Luthor. I'll take out the monkey suit for tonight," Lex said.
"This isn't Gotham," Lola said.
"I just want to look my best."
"Is that your wife?" Lola asked as Jimmy and the children walked toward them.
"My cousin, Leslie Olsen. This is Lola Withers," Lex said.
"I put up the works that you sent me," Lola said. "You don't have to stay the whole time. Mercy explained that you have health problems."
"I'm mentally ill," Lex said; he wasn't the type to mince words.
"I'll take the children to the beach," Jimmy said.
Jimmy could have worn the little black dress since most people that came into the gallery walked in off the street. Many people looked but not many brought, but gallery owner insisted that it was normal. She would be happy if they sold a painting each of the five days that they were open.
"It's hard to walk around the small gallery and smile at everyone," Lex said. "Leslie, if you prefer you can go back to the hotel."
"Mercy is at the bar and so you're stuck with me," Jimmy said.
"I hate being treated like a child," Lex said as he waited for the next person to enter the gallery.
"People do the same to me." Jimmy touched Lex's arm.
"Why? You have all your wits."
"Lois wasn't sure when I dyed my hair purple."
"I thought it was sexy."
"You and Chloe alone." Jimmy laughed. "My mother visited before it washed out. It was embarrassing. You would think that she would want to see her only child more than twice a year. It isn't like she lives far away."
"Victoria and my father never visit. Gabe and I talk about business. He loses interest when I talk about William. I'm home with William all day. I broke a lamp the last time he visited; my illness frightens him."
Jimmy touched Lex's hand. "What do you want to talk about?"
"Life. I dreamed about having Superman's baby. I became nine again after I refused to mate with Superman. I had this obsession with Superman. I found his fortress from a satellite and needed to examine it. I threatened the pilot destroying our only way home expecting that the pilot would die in the snow while my healing abilities would keep me alive until rescue arrived." Lex realized that he was still talking about this as a couple entered the store. It was time for a fast recovery; Lex walked over to the couple. "I'm the artist, Alexander Luthor."
"Pleasure to meet you. We're just looking."
The couple walked around the room a long time and finally stood in front of one painting talking about what room the painting would go well in.
The woman walked over to Lex. "I love the landscape. Do you do more watercolors or acrylics?"
"I like both," Lex said. "I prefer to do landscapes in watercolor. I like painting the rain." Lex thought his voice sounded dreamy; he didn't want the couple thinking he was crazy.
"I love the fog over the corn fields," she said.
Lex gave her his business card. "I have a web page."
"Thank you," she said.
The man accompanying her paid the seven thousand dollars for the landscape. Lex smiled at them as they left.
"Lex, you better watch what you talk about," Jimmy said.
"I'm certifiable." Lex's biography posted in the gallery mentioned that he had a history of mental illness. His agent decided it was best to be straight forward in such matters. He managed two other schizophrenic artists and told Lex that lying about it didn't help anyone. "I know the pilot was rescued, but I still feel guilty about it."
"You aren't him," Jimmy said.
Lex continued, "Superman couldn't love the man that entered that cave. He was as cold, calculating and evil; he had vowed to destroy Superman. I try to make up for his sins. I give some of the money made by the paintings to charity. My latest sale at the Borders made money for the local homeless shelter. I like to spend time with the homeless, but Joan won't let me take William. If it isn't Joan, it's Mercy telling me to take my medicine, brush my teeth and comb my hair."
"Did the other Lex give to charity?"
Lex nodded. "Lex started many foundations. Gabe's billions continue them. I should look into donating to the mental health since I go to the center twice a week for group therapy and see one of their doctors." Lex had stopped seeing Dr. Foster after the third set of CAT scans confirmed that he had schizophrenia; she wanted three sets since he had strange symptoms due to the kryptonite poisoning. The doctor at the medical health clinic looked over the records and decided that Lex would benefit from group therapy with his peers. Dr. Hollis, from the mental health clinic, recommended that he attend the daycare two or three times a week. "I like that the other young people at the clinic don't know that my father has money. I wear the same tee shirts and jeans as them."
"You have your art classes."
"I stopped going." Lex put his hand on Jimmy's face. "You're very pretty. We can give the second room to the nanny and the children."
"Lois thinks I'm crazy." Jimmy put Lex's hand over his smooth cheek. "I had my beard removed. I started to take estrogen a few weeks ago."
"Very soft." Lex pulled his hand away. "I have memories of my skin being that soft. Leslie, we should go back to the hotel."
"I can't act like a man; not that I'm sure that I ever did. I don't understand. I never wanted to be a girl when I was young. The first time, I dressed up in my mother's clothes I was a teenager and it was experimental and meaningless." Jimmy smiled at Lex. "When I got a job on campus, I started to think about buying myself makeup and often looked at the woman's clothes at the mall but I didn't have courage to try on clothes to find my size."
Lex stretched and yawned. "Sorry. Leslie, I'm cold."
"In all those clothes," Jimmy said.
"I don't understand it. I don't think anyone else is coming. Let's go back to the hotel." Lex took Jimmy's hand.
"She's your cousin?" Lola asked.
"By marriage. Our wives are cousins," Lex said.
"Alexander is cold and tired," Jimmy said. "Do you still need us to stay?"
"I have artist that stay the whole time and other that only stay for a few hours and others that ship their paintings and never show," Lola said. "Alexander, if you don't want to stay here the whole time, I'll understand."
"I'd like to spend some time tomorrow playing on the beach with William and Jimmy," Lex said.
The children were asleep beside the nanny. Mercy wasn't in either room. She must have been still out or got her own hotel room. "We'll keep the door between the bedrooms unlocked so the boys can come in the room in the morning," Lex suggested.
Jimmy looked around the small room with flower-printed sheets and thin white blanket that looked like they came from the same suppliers as most hospitals used. "Mercy is probably at high class hotel on the opposite side of town."
"I need space from her." Lex shed a few silent tears. "You would think someone as bright as me would be able to control his emotions."
"Lex, I'm here." Jimmy changed into a long flannel nightgown. Lex looked Jimmy's pale skin freckled skin; he was lovely. Lex took his hand in his and put it on his chest. "My skin is growing softer. In a few months, I'll have breasts."
"Lucy is pregnant."
"We agreed on two children before we married." Jimmy put his hand on Lex's face. "I've never touched a man before."
Lex removed his jacket and tie.
"I'll turn up the heat," Jimmy suggested.
"Thanks." Lex removed the rest of his clothes as Jimmy turned up the heat. Lex moved his hand to Jimmy's face and moved closer until his lips pressed against Jimmy's lips. This was nice. Susie, a girl at the group home, near the clinic was always in a hurry. Lex would tell her that he sent her roommate to see a movie, but Susie would worry that her roommate would return. Jimmy opened his mouth. His kiss was drier and slower than Susie. Jimmy's kiss seemed tentative. Lex put his tongue into Jimmy's mouth and sucked on Jimmy's tongue. He put his hand behind Jimmy's head and fondled his long hair.
Jimmy pulled away. "I don't think I can do this."
"Jimmy, I love you," Lex said.
"I have a wife," Jimmy said.
Lex put Jimmy's hand on his chest. "Just touch me." Lex moved so his nose was less than an inch from Jimmy's. He moved so their noses touched. Lex moved again and planted his lips against Jimmy's lips.
Jimmy put his arms around Lex weakly. His kiss was also weak but he didn't pull away.
"Feeling shy." Lex touched Jimmy's arm. "I invited you to spend five nights with me."
Jimmy looked away. "I can't."
Lex put his hand on Jimmy's face. "You are so beautiful."
"What did you expect to find?"
"Someone who loves me as much as I love him. Jimmy, take your nightgown off." Lex lay out on bed closer to the window. "I won't bite unless you want me to."
Jimmy pulled off the nightgown but left on the panties. "Lucy doesn't deserve any of this." Jimmy put his hand on Lex's chest; he lowered his head and kissed Lex's neck and then near his collarbone. "I feel like I fucked up. I was the brightest star. I got my first journalism award when I was twenty-two under a fucking pseudonym. At twenty-four, I get two award for the same article, one for journalism and one of photography and since then it has all been down hill."
"You're burnt out." Lex moved his hand down Jimmy's chest. He licked around a nipple trying to imagine what it would look like after the hormones start to take effect. There is little breast tissue, but many boys have breast tissue from drinking milk laced with hormones. Lex bit the nipple gently then started playing with it with his tongue.
"You said you wouldn't bite."
"So I lied." Lex fondled the other nipple as he continued to plant small kisses over Jimmy's body.
Jimmy puts his hands in Lex's hair. "Lucy tells me that she's pregnant two weeks after I start taking fucking hormones. Apparently, estrogen doesn't affect the sperm count. I tell that I love her and I want a daughter. Lucy has been telling people that she used the same sperm donor for both of her children. I think she's planning to leave me."
"I can't see it in those lace panties." Lex moved his hand over Jimmy's flat soft belly.
"It's pulled back. I like that I look smooth."
"What does Lucy think about this?"
"She hates it. She dates other women. Chloe introduces her to some tough chicks. What a kick in the teeth. My wife is angry that I'm transgender so she starts to date women."
"Chloe hasn't slept with me since William was two months old. She should marry Mercy not that Kansas will ever get on the bandwagon. Mass has allowed gay marriage since 2004," Lex said. "Boston marriage."
"No wonder Lola didn't look at me strange when I told her that our wives were cousins. I better loosen my shit in the bathroom. As another man, it will probably make you squirm."
"Doesn't that hurt?"
"I feel strange when I don't do it. I let them hang for Lucy since she wanted to get pregnant. We tried for six months -- nothing. I tied them back up and start taking female hormones and poof." Jimmy got out of the bed then bent over the bed and kiss Lex briefly. "I'll be back in a flash."
Lex sat up on the bed. Jimmy came out of the bathroom naked; his shit was small and soft but Lex never considered himself a size queen. Lex had been hard so long that it hurt. Lex suspected that the hormones made it difficult for Jimmy to get a riser, but considering how tight he tied up his shit that wasn't something Jimmy usually wanted. "You're fucking beautiful."
"You aren't going nuts on me."
"I'm nuts. Leslie, I want to touch you so much."
"Lucy says the changes in my body are spooky."
"I don't want to talk about your wife." Lex put his hand on Jimmy's shoulder. "I don't want to talk at all."
"It takes me awhile to get going. It's an effect of the hormones. I'm not impotent; it's just takes a little longer."
Lex put his head over Jimmy's cock. Lex licked the length and it hardened. "It seems to work fine. Shut up." Lex licked the tip and swallowed the head. He pulled about half the length in his month and pulled his tongue over the length. Lex took his hand and planted it on Jimmy's hip. His hips were full and fleshy like a girl's. He wanted to get a handful of ass but he had something else that he wanted to do first. Lex used his other hand to finger Jimmy's balls as he continued to suck.
"Lex," Jimmy whined.
Lex slowly pulled his mouth off the organ moving his tongue over it as he pulled away. "Leslie, I make you feel good."
"Fuck me," Jimmy begged.
Lex got lubricant from the pocket in his bag. "I'm going to open you with my fingers." Lex kissed Jimmy's back then put lubricant on his fingers and spread it around Jimmy's opening. Lex put one finger inside slightly; Jimmy was so tight. "Relax."
"I've used dildos," Jimmy teased. "I like to put my fingers inside me. Lucy brings home these girls that pack. I tell that she already has a girl with a dick."
Lex put a second finger inside Jimmy then kissed his back. "Don't talk. We'll talk about it after breakfast."
"Lex, I love you."
Lex planted a few more kisses on Jimmy's back as he scizzored his fingers inside Jimmy. "Is that good?"
"Fuck me, now. I know that you're burning."
"I can wait until you're ready." Lex pulled his fingers out. "You'll feel a little pressure and then it should feel very good."
"I'm looking forward to it."
In the morning, the boys came through the door between the two rooms, as Lex and Jimmy were still asleep in one of the beds. Lex walked to the bathroom. "Boys, I'm going to take a shower. Leslie should be up in a minute."
"Daddy, can I take a shower with you?" William asked.
"It will be better if I give you a bath after I'm done." Lex needed a little time before dealing with the children. The nanny was in the neighboring room; she bathed the children the day before, but William liked to have several baths a day. Nanny said that was normal and many children loved playing in water and she tried to indulge William.
Lex put a towel around him then dressed in jeans and long sleeve lavender tee shirt; he was a bit of transvestite himself since the tee shirt came from the ladies' department. Jimmy rolled over in his sleep as the boy played with their toys and ate the last of the salt-water taffy. "Honey, the boys are up. Let's walk down the street and get some pancakes." Lex shooed the boys into the nanny's room so Jimmy could dress with a little privacy. Jimmy had on a lace off-white blouse and woman's casual slacks when Lex and the boys returned to the room. "Put on your sandals. We'll walk to the pancake house."
"I need to put on some makeup," Jimmy said. "I can't leave the house in five minutes."
"I'll meet you down there. I can bring the boys coloring books and have some coffee as I wait for you to make yourself beautiful." Lex thought Jimmy was beautiful without makeup.
"Did you leave Mommy?" Jimmy Jr., asked.
"We're only going to be here a week," Jimmy reassured the boy. "Grab a coloring book and some crayons. Uncle Lex is going to buy you pancakes."
"With blueberry syrup?" Jimmy Jr., asked.
"We'll see," Lex said. "No stroller. You boys can walk. Yesterday, I pushed an empty stroller most of the day."
Jimmy arrived at the restaurant as the waitress was pouring coffee. "I would like more half and half," Jimmy told the waitress. "I feel like everyone babies me. Uncle Gabe doesn't expect a profit from the camera store. I spend more of my time doing passport photos and one-hour photo. The one-hour photo only is starting to cover the electricity and rent. I hope to hire a college student to help me cover more hours."
"The only reason I'm alive is the AI wanted to save my DNA. Lara gave Superman a girl so can breed with my William," Lex said.
"I'm not marrying Madison," William said.
"I didn't say that you were." Lex fumbled through the books in Williams bag. William had just learned to potty train a less than a month before and still had accidents. William learned his alphabet, numbers to a hundred, and sound out words before he decided that he wanted to potty train. "Teach Jimmy his alphabet." Lex handed William an alphabet book with lots of words and pictures for each letter of the alphabet.
"Sure, Dad. Can we sit at the kids table?" William asked.
"Sure. I'm surprised the nanny hasn't followed us," Jimmy said. "I'll get you the food arrives." Jimmy sipped his coffee. "He speaks so much better than my son."
"Kids develop at their own speed. He worries me. His IQ is off the scale and I wonder if Lara tampered with my DNA. I don't want him have K poisoning because my sperm was defective."
"I doubt it. He's gifted like you and Chloe. He'll test more normally as he gets older; he's just a little precious."
The nanny arrived. No sign of Mercy. That was more than strange.
Lex dialed Mercy's cell number. "Mercy, we're having breakfast at Pat's Country Kitchen."
"Mr. Sullivan called. I'm on my way to Logan. Joan will look out for you and William."
"Are you transferring?" Lex asked.
"I want to learn the business. Watching a harmless fruitcake is a waste of my skills. Sorry." Lex didn't like that Mercy just saw him as a harmless fruitcake and no longer a man that she respected. "Joan was hiring to guard you and the baby. Trust her."
"I could try to set the house on fire more often," Lex teased.
"A normal housekeeper can handle your playing with fire," Mercy said. "Mr. Luthor, it has been a pleasure working for you. Mr. Sullivan says that he could use someone with my talents for a more challenging position."
"Good luck," Lex said.
"Be good for Joan. She knows what she's doing."
"I wondered why the foundation hired me a nanny that was taller than I with twice as much muscle. A normal nanny wouldn't need three black belts," Lex said. "I wish you stayed on as my nurse."
"I could suggest to the foundation that you desire a private nurse," Mercy said.
"I don't need anyone else infringing on my privacy. I can manage without a nurse."
"The board suggested it when I told them that I didn't want to leave you. I'll see you around, Boss." Mercy hung up.
Lex started to sob. He could hear the ocean in his ears, but this time it was a hallucination. Lex put the phone in his pocket as the waitress put their breakfast on the table. The boys returned to the table and leaving their crayons and books on the small table near the front of the restaurant. "I got you blueberry syrup," Lex told Jimmy Jr.
"Superman gave a girl to Lois and Clark," Jimmy said.
"Superman didn't become invulnerable until he was a teenager. We get a cheek sample from her and compare it to my DNA." Lex put his napkin in his glass of water and then played with the wet napkin; behavior that he would punish in his three year old. He started to open sugar substitute packages and pour them into his water while swirling it around with his spoon enjoying how the crystals looked as they dissolved into the water.
"And if Madison is yours?" Jimmy asked.
"I'll tell Chloe and we'll decide if we should tell Lois." Lex cut his pancake into small pieces. He asked the waitress if she had real maple syrup and more napkins.
"Of course, Sir," the waitress said.
"Lex. That is craziness."
The waitress brought out a small bottle of syrup and put a pile of napkins on the children's side of the table.
"Thanks." Lex took the bottle and poured it on his pancakes as the waitress walked away.
"I'll get you a sample. I babysit Madison all the time." Jimmy finally got to eat his breakfast after cutting up the two boys' pancakes for them.
After breakfast, they walked to the beach behind the hotel room. Lex stretched out on the sand. Joan sat in one of the chairs provided by the hotel. Jimmy returned with a blanket for Lex and him to sit on as the two boys played in the sand. "We can talk about last night," Lex whispered.
"How bad are your tantrums?" Jimmy touched Lex's shoulder.
"I break furniture sometimes. I scream that I'm going to kill people usually people working for my father or public figures. My housekeeper threatened to quit after she put out a fire. I enjoyed watching the drapes burn."
"The fire wasn't a tantrum." Jimmy started to massage Lex's shoulders.
"No. I like watching things burns." Lex moved so he could feel the sand between his toes and started to hum "Hey Jude."
"You have quite a repertoire." Jimmy kissed Lex's neck. "Does that feel good?"
"I don't want to be as mad as the hatter."
"You like having tantrums."
Lex enjoyed the feeling of release when he broke things or watched something burn. "Not always. Sometimes, it feels good to blow off stream by breaking things, but most of the time, I hate my lack of self-control. I hate that I need to be watched. Now that Mercy was transfer to work for Mr. Sullivan as company security, I only get an ordinary nurse. He'll probably look like one of my father's goons."
"I suppose it sucks to be watched like a child at all times."
"I want to have control. I try not to break things or act childish," Lex admitted.
"That is why you played with wet napkins and pour sugar into your water at the restaurant," Jimmy teased.
"The crazy act doesn't work with me." Jimmy licked around Lex's ear and started to fondle his ass.
"Jimmy, I love you." Lex turned to face Jimmy and kissed him briefly.
"I love you, too."
Six paintings sold ranging in price from 1500 to 7000 for the large landscape. Lola said that her son would ship the remaining painting back to him within the week. "Thank you for everything," he said.
"Come back next year and bring more landscapes," she said.
"I'll try," Lex said.
Lex returned to the manor to find Chloe's things gone from his room. All Chloe took was her clothes, personal belongings and a few books. Lex was surprised that she took so little. He wondered if Mercy's things were gone too. His largest concern was who would be his new nurse. Lex went to the dining room and found a number of candles and a lighter that was poorly hidden by the housekeeper.
"Alexander," the housekeeper said, "put the lighter and candles back."
"Sure." Lex put the things back into the drawer of the bureau. Lex started to sob putting his hands on his face. "I feel like I've lost control."
"Alexander, you have a new nurse; he's unpacking in Mercy's old room," the housekeeper said.
"I miss Mercy." Lex sobbed silently.
"I'll walk you down to his room before returning to my duties." The housekeeper didn't feel it was her duty to keep Lex from hurting himself or the property.
"Thank you." Lex walked to the furnished basement that included a small office, a rather large home gym and a bedroom and bathroom for the nurse. "I'm Alexander Luthor, your charge." Lex looked at the large ugly hairy man in a white orderly uniform.
"I'm Guido Rosario. You can call me Guy," he said.
"What is your experience?" Lex sat down on the floor in the gym and started to play with his naked toes.
"I've worked as an aide at hospital for a seven years. I took a year off to get my practical nurse license," he said as he looked over the thin red-haired young man.
"I'm sure the housekeeper told you what a terror I am," Lex said.
"I've worked for an agency as a housekeeper for the mental ill since I've got my LPN certificate. Why don't we talk in my office?"
"Sure." Lex took one of the two chairs. "How do you like your quarters?"
"My last two clients didn't provide me with quarters. They are more than adequate. What do you prefer to be called?"
"Alexander, Lex or Alex. I'm easy," Lex said. "The gym is yours. If there is anything that you would like, the foundation will get it for you." Lex handed Guido the card that he carried that identified him as mentally ill. "I would prefer if you dressed in casual clothes, not a uniform. You do have a driver's license. I'll need you to take me to my therapy and peer group meetings. I also like to volunteer at the homeless shelter."
Guido handed him back his card. "Of course, Alexander. Tell me your normal routine. Mercy said that your routine was important to you so tell me what you like to do."
"I'm a professional painter so you'll have to go to openings with me. My agent is trying to get me another opening. I have paintings at two bookstores in metropolitan area. Since the foundation pays for my care, the money from sales goes to them and they give some of it to charity."
"How does a Alexander Luthor sell for?" the nurse asked.
"The ones on sale at the bookstore range from 1500 to 5000. I sell one or two a month from that venue but the bookstores likes having them on their walls. The most that I've sold a painting for is 7000."
"And how many openings do you have?" The nurse leaned forward give Lex his attention.
"My agent would like me to have one a month. He's a greedy bastard; he gets 15% for just finding me galleries and art shows." Lex's agent called while Lex was waiting for the plane to arrange another opening in only three weeks; Lex doubted that he had time to select paintings. He wanted to paint another landscape before showing more of his work.
"I'm sure that is the going rate." It was but Lex doubted that Guido would know that.
"I'll get us both a bottle of water. Mercy said that you didn't like tap water or soda." Guido returned in a minute with two bottles of water. He opened Lex's bottle and handed it to him. "What do you like to do besides paint?"
"I love playing with William. I'm teaching him math. He wants me to teach him his times tables."
"Tutor your son. We can talk later."
"I don't mind." Lex drank his water. "I don't know what Mercy and the foundation told you about me."
"I know that you're five-ten and one hundred and forty pounds." Guido smiled at the young man. "I know that you pick at your food, that you like to play with water and fire, that you throw things when you're angry and threaten to kill famous people. I know you have this tendency to babble about knowing Superman and that I should ignore it. Alexander, I hope you and I can be friends. You were friends with Mercy."
"I was as brilliant as William as a child. My father cloned me. I escaped when the original died from hypothermia while chasing Superman. I didn't know that they intended for me to escape until much later. I have these dreams that I'm my nineteen year older brother. My father didn't know my brother was emotional unstable when he cloned him. Sometimes, I feel my life is a big mistake."
"Did he raise you with love?"
"After the original died. He wanted to make it up to me like I was the bald man that died in the snow. We both hoped that his psychosis wouldn't be passed to the copy, but I wasn't that lucky."
Guido got up from his chair and put an arm around Lex's shoulder. "It isn't your fault. No one asks to be born."
"I miss Mercy."
"I understand. Why don't you teach William his times tables as I have cook make us lunch?" Guido asked.
"I want macaroni and cheese. Homemade is so much better than Kraft." Lex smiled at Guido. He would use the computer in the nursery to check on Guido's background; he hoped the man was really a male nurse that just got his LPN license and no one was trying to pull the wool over his eyes. Lex might have been nuts, but he wasn't stupid. It didn't take long for Lex to discover that his background checked out. Lex had found Guido Rosario's employment history and he worked as an orderly at a hospital for many years then got his LPN license and started to do private duty. The man was really as boring as he claimed.
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