The Lex Luthor Myth
Michelle Perry

The man caught her eye around the middle of her presentation. There was something about the keen, sharp attention that was almost unnerving. It was deeper than the polite attention bordering on abject boredom she could see on the faces of the rest of the crowd. Michaela took in the sharp, dark eyes, the downward curve of the thin lips, and the set of the strong jaw. She couldn’t tell whether he was displeased with her treatise, or merely concentrating, but the gaze was unnerving. She had the distinct feeling she was being measured and judged.

Michaela stumbled on her words and snapped her attention back to the thesis after a sip of water. She went back to her argument for why Lex Luthor qualified as a heroic icon. She’d already completed her discussion of the arguments against - his cruelty, his disregard for most human life, his apparent desire to destroy the planet. It was now time to embark on the comparatively “good” qualities - qualities that would be seen as positive in almost every other person in modern culture.

She started with perseverance and determination, then went on to ingenuity. There was a slight motion from the direction of The Judge (as she had come to think of the keenly attentive man), when she began her favorite topic - genius. She dared to look in his direction, and was irrationally pleased to see a slight upward quirk to the corners of his mouth. The Judge approves, she thought. She moved through the extensive explanation of the ideas of his genius - both measured intelligence and creative abilities.

When Michaela finally completed the presentation of her Masters Thesis, The Judge was the first to applaud. The audience followed suit, more from respect for the intelligence of the argument, rather than agreement with the ideas themselves. She stepped away from the podium, shook hands with her professors and left the stage. She wasn’t expecting a large crowd in the reception area, and she was surprised by how many people were waiting to speak to her. She was familiar with many of the faces from her classes. There were several polite congratulations and other murmurings, but a few people seemed dissatisfied at her “positive” portrayal of Lex Luthor. She responded to the grumbles with her rehearsed answers - along the lines of, it’s a paper, not public policy - and glided through the reception with a fair amount of grace and only a few irrevocably ruffled feathers.

Michaela made it outside at last, surprised that The Judge hadn’t stayed behind for the reception. She wanted to hear his opinions on the thesis very much. She looked back through the room, just to be sure she hadn’t missed him, though she was fairly certain she would have recognized him right away. She shrugged, mildly disappointed, and turned back toward the street. She took two steps toward the parking lot when a tall figure loomed suddenly out of the shadows beside the reception hall.

Michaela jumped slightly, relaxing only fractionally when she recognized the facial features of her most attentive listener. “Sorry to startle you,” he said, stepping out fully into the light of a street lamp. He had soft looking brown hair, cut just below the ear, and (surprisingly) side burns of a length that were just on the safe side of tasteful vs. early 70’s flower child. He wore a navy blue pin-striped suit, double breasted, with a black, knee-length coat and a navy scarf. The suit was well-made, expensive without being gaudy. But it wasn’t the suit that struck Michaela the most. Except for the sideburns, the man looked extraordinarily like Lex Luthor. The features seemed to match the many newspaper clippings she had seen, and he even looked to be about the same age. She glanced sideways, not wanting to seem silly, but noticing with alarm that there was no one else on the street.

“I didn't mean to startle you," he said again. Was there a hint of familiarity about his voice, too? "I apologize, Miss Stephens,” he said smoothly.

“Not at all,” she said with a smile, hoping her voice didn’t sound nervous.

“I would have spoken to you earlier, but,” he looked toward the hall with distaste, “I dislike crowds.”

“I know how you feel,” Michaela said, relaxing slightly. It was a reasonable explanation.

“Come. I’ll walk you to your car,” the man said.

“Um…” she glanced toward the door again. “Sure, Mr…?” She lifted her eyebrows inquisitively.

“Alexander. Adam Alexander.” He extended a gloved hand.

Michaela shook hands, noting the firm, businesslike grip. “You know…” She let out a nervous chuckle. “Maybe you hear this all the time, but, do people tell you you look like-”

“Lex Luthor?” The smile was friendly. “I get it all the time.” The smile quirked even more. “I’ve been told I should go into the impersonating business.”

Michaela chuckled gleefully at the small joke. Adam offered her his arm, like an old-style gentleman. She took it, smiling brightly, and let him escort her to her car. She was set at ease by his friendly demeanor, and by the time they reached her car, her head was full of his lucid, intelligent, complimentary discussion of her thesis. When he asked for her phone number after helping her into her car, she was only too happy to oblige.

Adam called her the very next day, and three days later, they had their first date. Michaela was treated to the finest dining, and the most gentlemanly behavior. They were subject to a few odd glances. Michaela was never sure whether it was because of their obvious age difference (she could certainly have been mistaken for Adam’s daughter), or because of Adam’s resemblance to the modern terror of the world.

There was no question of sex. Adam was far too genteel to suggest intimacy so early in the relationship. Their first kiss came after four weeks (on the third date). And what a kiss it was! He had begun gently, touching her face and drawing her slowly to him. Once he started, though, Michaela had felt his hands grip her tighter, and the kiss became more urgent. It had almost turned into more, but Adam forced himself to stop. They had both stood, breathing hard, with passion in their eyes. If he had made a move to take them farther, Michaela would have followed willingly - eagerly. He only kissed her again, made a date for next time, and saw her in.

Despite her mild frustration, Mikaya appreciated his resolve not to move too fast. He explained to her (at their next date) that he wanted to be sure that she knew he was not interested only in carnal pleasures, but in her. Michaela assured him that she felt the same, and he need not worry about her getting too impatient. When the right time came, they would both know.

Four months after meeting Adam, their relationship was still going strong. They spent time together almost every day, and Michaela felt that soon, if Adam didn’t suggest moving to the next level, she would ask him. It was on one of their many evening walks together that the attack occurred.

Two men, masked and armed, appeared on the relatively deserted street and shouted for them to stand still. Adam clutched Michaela’s trembling arm and drew her behind him. “All right, gentlemen,” Adam said bravely. His voice only quavered a little bit. “I have plenty of cash. It’s in the left coat pocket. Just… take it and don’t hurt us, all right?”

There was a snort from the man in front of them. “Now,” he said. Michaela’s arms were roughly forced behind her by the second man, and she was shoved toward the alley.

“No!” Adam cried.

Don’t be a hero,” the first man snapped, shoving Adam into the alley behind Michaela. They were forced to their knees, and the first man pressed his gun against Adam’s head.

Adam gritted his teeth, and Michaela started to whimper. “What do you want?” she said in a frightened whisper.

“I’m just making sure you cooperate, girl,” the man said. “Get to work, Doc.”

The second man shoved Michaela to a sitting position. “Don’t worry,” he leered. “This won’t take long.”

“Dammit, what are you-”

Shut it!” the man snapped, jerking Adam’s head sideways with the gun. “I fucking dare you to to open your mouth again.”

Adam looked at Michaela almost apologetically. The “doc” holstered his weapon and pulled out a white plastic bag from his coat pocket. He ripped open the package and pulled out a syringe and four glass vials. Michaela stared at him in disbelief. She drew back, but the man quickly grabbed her wrist and forced her forward. Quickly, professionally, the leader drew four vials of Michaela’s blood. He carefully wrapped the vials in tissue and put them back into his pocket. The first man snatched Adam’s wallet out of his pocket, pulled out the cash and tossed the wallet to the ground in front of them. Then, without further words, they turned and ran off.

Michaela swayed, and Adam grabbed her and held her tightly in his arms. “Are you okay?” She nodded, but when she tried to say yes, she burst into tears. Adam held her tighter. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. It’s all over now, okay?”

She nodded again, and after a few minutes of comfort, Adam helped her up, grabbed his wallet and took her back to the main street. They took a cab to the police department and filed a report. The police were surprised by what was stolen from Michaela, and they were puzzled by the fact that the robbers didn’t steal Adam’s entire wallet. Adam explained that he had already told the men he had cash, and they probably knew he would have all the credit cards canceled right away.

When the report had been filed, they made their way back to Michaela’s house. Adam came inside with her, wanting to see that she was settled. He waited while she showered and put on night clothes. He made her a pot of hot chocolate, and added a large amount of spiced rum to the mix to help calm her nerves. He stayed with her for a few hours, while she tried to puzzle out what they could possibly have wanted with her blood. She couldn’t come up with any decent explanation for such a bizarre crime, but the idea that someone was out there doing who knew what with her blood was incredibly disturbing. Adam tried to help her relax, telling her that it was probably just some weird vampire cult, or some guys trying to make a name for themselves by stealing something “unique”.

Michaela thought it sounded reasonable enough, and she let the matter rest. The alcohol was beginning to make her drowsy, and it was difficult to find fault with his explanation. Adam asked if she thought she needed anything else before he left, and Michaela told him she would be fine. Still, she grew agitated when he reached the door and kissed her goodbye. She let him get a few feet away before her nerve failed her. “Adam?” He turned immediately. “Can you… would you mind staying with me tonight? I feel so silly, but… I just…”

He was already back at the door, folding her into his arms. “Of course I will.”

Two weeks after the attack, Adam asked Michaela to dinner. He took her out to a movie, and after, to an elegant restaurant. They were pampered to the point of excess. Michaela allowed herself to get just a little tipsy (Adam drove), and she indulged in whatever she wanted on the menu.

After dinner, he took her for a drive to a place she had never been. “I want to show you my home,” Adam said. Michaela was surprised. They usually spent their time in her neighborhood, or in neutral places. She knew Adam was a private person, and she’d never asked him about his own home. In fact, she’d often worried that perhaps Adam had a wife at home, or some other secret that she just didn’t want to know about. She was pleased and just a little nervous about what she would find. Perhaps this new sign of trust from the extremely private Adam meant that he wanted to take them to that “next level” she had been waiting for.

Adam’s home was on a huge plot of wooded land (”Four and a half acres”, Adam said) far from the city. The land was surrounded by a quaint looking gate with a wooden sign that read: Genesis Ranch. About half a mile up the wide, paved road, they came to another, more fortified gate of wrought iron. Adam pressed a code into a number pad at the gate, and continued to the house.

The main house was large - not mansion sized, but Michaela assumed there was probably room for about six bedrooms. There were various out buildings within sight of the house, and Michaela caught a glimpse of a few more when they pulled up into the drive.

There was a tasteful, beautiful stone walkway leading up to the porch, edged in white stone and colorful flowerbeds. Adam led her to the front door and they stepped inside. A clean-cut man of about Adam’s age came swiftly to the door and took their coats. “Is everything ready, Jacob?” Adam asked.

“Yes, sir,” Jacob said. “I checked again just before you arrived.”

“Good,” Adam said with a smile. “Take the rest of the night off, okay?”

“Thank you, sir. Have a pleasant evening.” He looked at Michaela with a slight smile. “Good evening, miss.”

He left them alone, and Adam took Michaela to a pleasant sitting room. There was a wood fire already lit in a beautiful stone fireplace. Adam poured drinks, and they talked for a while. After a few more minutes, conversation was abandoned, and they were giving each other passionate kisses. Adam stopped and pulled her away from him after a few minutes. He took her hand and led her to a large bedroom. The king sized bed was made up with cream colored blankets, with one corner turned down. There two robes lying on a cream colored plush chair. Michaela could feel her excitement growing. It looked like she had been right.

Adam was already coming out of his jacket and shirt. Michaela undressed slowly, and stood near the bed feeling self conscious. She’d grown to adore Adam, and she was afraid that her figure might not live up to his expectations. The look in his eyes when she finally looked up proved that she had nothing to worry about. He paused in his task of removing his clothes to gaze at her, staring hungrily at the full breasts and wide hips, down to her large but toned legs. Michaela blushed and took a moment to run her eyes down Adam’s frame. The sight was breath-taking, she had to admit. He was 46, but he obviously took good care of his body. His arms were well defined and although he had no six pack or bulging biceps, there was power in the thick torso. His legs looked strong and well-shaped. She could feel the heat rising to her face as they drank each other in. After a few seconds, Adam came toward her and pushed her slowly down into the bed.

He stopped suddenly, before removing his boxers. “I’m sorry,” he said, voice slightly husky with passion. “I… I need to show you something before we…” Michaela suppressed a frustrated sigh and nodded. He pulled a few papers out of a drawer in his night stand and handed them to her with a slightly embarrassed expression. “I don’t really like condoms,” he said. “So… I wanted to give you that so you could be sure.”

Michaela read the STD test results, dated only two days before. She hurriedly scanned all the negatives and handed the papers back to him with a smile. “I appreciate you doing that,” she said. “But… I don’t have anything to show you. Are you sure you-”

“Oh, I already-” he paused, ever so slightly, and smiled at her. “I already know that I can trust you,” he said. Michaela might have thought more of the odd pause, but at the moment all she could think of was how sweet it was that she trusted her, and of how much she wanted to shove the papers aside and yank Adam into the bed with her. The interruption didn’t seem to have affected Adam’s passion, either. He took the test results and slipped them back into the night stand. He hastily removed the last of his clothing and followed her into the bed.

He began slowly and gently, but a strong, fiery passion vibrated below and Michaela could tell he was holding himself in check. As she got used to him, and began to feel her nervousness melting away, she encouraged him to let go and do what he wanted. He did just that, still taking gradual steps, but eventually rising to a speed and force that was both exhilarating and just a little frightening. He was attentive of her and responded to the desires she made known, but he maintained total control the entire time. In fact, Michaela spent much of the time with her arms pinned forcefully to the bed. She was glad that they had waited until she knew him well, and trusted him completely.

They came to a shuddering and fairly vocal climax, and lay panting beside one another. Adam confirmed that Michaela was indeed satisfied. The consideration pleased her immensely, and she assured him she was more than satisfied with him in every way. He laughed and pulled her close to him, wrapping his arms around her. Michaela rested her head against his chest, and was soon fast asleep.

Over the next six months, Michaela came to know Adam’s private life very well. After their first night together, whatever mysterious boundaries Adam had put up that made him spend most of his time with her in her neighborhood disappeared, and he invited her to spend every weekend, and most week nights at the ranch with him. Just as he maintained complete control in the bedroom, so he maintained complete control in his home life. His five-person staff operated with precision and deference, attending to all of his requests without giving the impression that Adam was some kind of evil overseer. This was quite a feat, considering the fact that those requests tended to be extremely detailed, and his cleanliness standards were stringent. He was fairly fastidious in public, but that aspect of his character was magnified to a nearly obsessive degree at home.

Adam’s morning routine was carried out with a precision that bordered on religious ritual. She could set her watch by his system. At 7:00 AM sharp, alarm or no alarm, Adam got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. By 7:15, teeth were brushed and flossed, and the shower water was hot and ready for him. At 7:45. the shower water stopped, and there were sounds of electric razors, and body lotion being applied. By 8:10, Adam was in a clean dressing gown with a folded silk scarf tucked into the neck, and a pair of soft slippers. Breakfast was set before him at 8:15 AM on the dot. He was presented with a copy of the Daily Planet and The Wall Street Journal, both already opened to the business section.

Michaela didn’t mind stringent routines - in fact, they made her feel secure and comfortable - and she was easily able to slip into a pattern that did not interfere with Adam’s rituals. He gave her her own bathroom (he was not comfortable letting anyone in the room while he performed his morning rituals), and she avoided letting her shower coincide with his. She made certain to be at breakfast five minutes early, especially after witnessing the icy glare his housekeeper had received one day when breakfast was a record six minutes late. Michaela would have withered under such a look, and indeed, Ellen (the housekeeper/cook) was nearly in tears when she brought the food and made her abject apologies. The head of staff, Jacob, who had greeted them at her first night at the ranch, came and apologized a few minutes later, and assured Mr. Alexander that he would take steps to see that it never happened again. Adam had been gracious and forgiving with Jacob, and even told him to let Ellen know that all was well. Still, Michaela had not forgotten that first glare, and she had made a point NEVER to be late to a meal with Adam.

Adam worked independently as a stock consultant and real estate agent combined. He spent a few hours each day on the phone with various contacts and high powered clients. He gave her free reign of the house while he worked, and Michaela treated herself to his heated pool and spa some days, and other days she made use of his wide screen television and DVD collection. Still other days she made use of his unbelievably massive library.

When he wasn’t working, Adam focussed entirely on pampering Michaela. He took her out when she felt like going out, and entertained her at home when she didn’t. He bought her gifts, often surprising her with deliveries to her home and (once in a while) to her classroom (causing murmurs and whistles amongst the students). Michaela had far less money than Adam, but she still saved and bought him gifts when she could. He made it clear that he disliked anyone knowing his address, so she didn’t send him gifts by messengers. she often showed up at his door with flowers, clothes and bookmarks (he seemed to already own every book in existence). By the time their first anniversary drew near, they had settled down into a very comfortable routine together, and Michaela hardly ever spent time at her own house.

On the one year anniversary of their first meeting, Adam took Michaela on a South American cruise. They had one of the premium two-room suites, with an in-room bar and every imaginable amenity. Adam seemed happy at the beginning of the trip, but as the days passed, he seemed to grow more agitated. He snapped at the cruise staff more than once, he seemed to have developed a nervous habit of tapping his fingers into the table during meals, and one morning she actually caught him biting his nails.

Despite his nervousness, Adam was very attentive to her, and seemed even more concerned than usual for her comfort and happiness. His solicitous behavior, combined with his nervousness led Michaela to entertain the hope that he might propose to her on the cruise. She tried hard not to get her hopes up, but the idea made her heart pound each time she thought about it.

On the fourth evening of their trip, Adam’s edginess seemed to increase. It was the actual date of their anniversary - a year from the day when she’d given her master’s thesis. Adam didn’t arrange for anyone to sing at their table - he was far too private for that. They did receive a bottle of champagne, and a huge bouquet of stargazer lilies awaited her in their suite.

Mikalya clapped at the sight of the flowers and squeezed Adam into a tight hug. “Thank you,” she cried. “Have I told you lately that you are the best man on Earth?”

“If, by lately, you mean within the last twenty minutes, then no,” Adam said with a grin.

Michaela kissed him then headed toward the bedroom. “I’m going to change into some more comfortable shoes. Can you look in the bathroom and see if I left my watch in there? I couldn’t find it earlier.”

“All right,” he said. Michaela changed shoes and quickly went back to peek at Adam. She wanted to see his face when he found her gift. She’d slipped the case into the medicine cabinet just before they left the room, and she thought that now was as good a time as any to help him find it.

Adam looked diligently for the watch, checking counters, drawers, and finally, the medicine cabinet. His eyes widened at the sight of the long black box. He picked it up and shook his head, a smile on his face. “What a devious little girl you are,” he said. He opened the box and his eyes grew even wider. He pulled out the Omega steel blue Seamaster watch with the white-gold chain and simply admired it for a few seconds. Then he put it on, replacing his old watch, and pulled Michaela into a hug. “It’s beautiful,” he said. “But how on earth did you save enough to afford this?”

“Oh, I just cut back a little here and there,” she said vaguely. She had no intention of telling him that she’d also dipped heavily into her nest egg to help pay for the watch. From the look on his face, she thought that he had probably guessed as much anyway.

“Well, I adore it,” he said. “I adore you.” Suddenly, Adam’s face grew very serious, and he took her face in both his hands. “I adore you, Michaela. I want you to know that. More than any other person on this planet.”

Michaela smiled at him, but she could feel the heat rising to her face, and she was almost embarrassed under his intense gaze. “I know, Adam,” she said.

“I… I want…” Adam shut his eyes and sighed. Michaela’s heart pounded, and she struggled to squelch her rising hopes. Adam took a few seconds to collect himself, then opened his eyes and looked down at her. “I want to ask you something. But I… want to tell you something first.”

“Okay,” she said hesitantly. He looked more uncomfortable and uncertain than Michaela had ever seen him look; almost as if he were about to confess to murder. Michaela tried to steel herself for something big, but she couldn’t imagine him telling her anything that she could not forgive.

“All right.” He took a breath. “I’m… my name… is…” Michaela gave him an encouraging smile, sympathizing with his nervousness. She could understand why he would think she might be upset about him lying about his name, but if it was as simple as that, she would let him get it out on his own, then brush his worries aside. What’s in a name, anyway?

Adam cast about for a few seconds, apparently unable to find the words for his confession. Finally, he took a few steps back from her and straightened, seeming to gather his resolve. He reached up and slowly tugged at the sideburns on his cheek. He pulled them off one at a time and set them on the nearby table. He then reached up and slowly pulled off the sandy brown hair, revealing a completely bald head. Michaela’s eyes widened and she took a step back herself. Without the wig and facial hair, the resemblance she’d noticed when they first met was absolutely unmistakable. He must have known she didn’t need a confession now, but he said it anyway. “My name is Lex Luthor.”

Michaela wasn’t sure how long she stared at him before she remembered to take a breath. It was incomprehensible, but at the same time it seemed painfully obvious. His appearance, his behavior at the lecture, his controlling tendencies, his meticulousness about timetables and cleanliness. Hadn’t all this been part of her research? Hadn’t all this been part of the Lex Luthor Myth that seemed to be common knowledge throughout most circles? But was it idiotic to have believed he spoke the truth when he told her who he was? Was it foolish to think that more than one person could be a neat freak?

Michaela could feel her legs growing weak, and she steadied herself on the table. She caught sight of the hair pieces, and swiftly drew her hand away. Adam - Lex Luthor - stepped toward her, hand outstretched. Michaela raised her hand and shook her head slightly. “Please,” she said, her voice sounding weak and distant to her ears. “Please don’t.” He stopped and let her stumble to a chair on her own.

“I’m sorry, Michaela,” he said. “Please believe that.”

Michaela looked sharply at him when he said the word “believe”. A sarcastic comment was on the verge of coming out when she remembered that she would be saying it to Lex Luthor. Ruthless, sadistic, egomaniacal, heartless… She stopped herself. Was he really heartless? In the twelve months that she’d known him, he had never so much as said a sharp word to her. He certainly seemed sincere now, looking down at her with worry and sadness in his eyes. But was he just acting? Could he have been pretending with her for an entire year? She shuddered when she thought about the many happy days and passionate nights she’d spent with him, and faced the prospect that they were all just part of some kind of dark-minded plot. “Oh God,” she whispered, lowering her face into her shaking hands.

“I’m sorry,” he said again. “But I… Michaela, I love you. I lied to you about my name, but I haven’t lied to you about anything else. I do love you.”

He certainly sounded sincere - there was even a crack in his voice at that last passionate statement. Michaela brushed tears from her eyes and forced herself to look up into his face. “Ada-… L-lex…” She sighed, and a few tears replaced the ones she’d brushed away. “I don’t-” A thought suddenly occurred to her, and her eyes narrowed. “Were you- When we first… had sex, you said you didn’t need me to show you any test results to trust me. Did you arrange for those people to attack us and take blood from me?” Lex was speechless, gaping at her with guilt written on his face. She sprang to her feet, not sure whether to attack him or run away. “How… how could you?!”

“I’m sorry,” he said, finding his voice at last. “God, I’m sorry, Michaela. You just… I couldn’t-”

“Couldn’t what?” she asked loudly. “You couldn’t just ASK me to take a test for you like a normal person? I would have done it, you know. Gladly! I… I trusted you! I could have been killed!”

“No,” Lex said. “No, the guns weren’t loaded. I made sure of that.”

“They could have disobeyed you! They could have killed us both! But that’s not even the point! You… you violated me, do you understand that? You c-could have just asked!” Michaela sat heavily in the chair again, sobbing, fists clenched in frustration.

She could hear footsteps, and soon, a linen handkerchief was handed to her. She took it reluctantly, and opened her eyes to see Lex kneeling in front of her. “I’m very sorry,” he said softly. Were those actual tears shining in his eyes? “I just… I wasn’t thinking. I… when you’re so used to just taking what you want, it’s not easy to kick the habit. It’s no excuse, for what I did, but… it’s the only way I know how to explain it. Please, Michaela. Please forgive me.”

Michaela managed to look steadily at him, perhaps aided by the fact that he was actually on bended knees begging for forgiveness. She didn’t address the plea - couldn’t address it yet. “What do you want with me?” she asked. “And please tell me the whole truth.”

Lex lowered his head for a second, then looked up at her, his eyes still glistening. “At first, I wanted nothing more than for you to have my child.” Michaela gasped, and he sighed. “I know. It sounds callous, and at first, it was. I’m… I’m not immortal, and I wanted… I needed a… an heir, if you will. A legacy beyond a history of failed plans and colossal defeats.” His tone grew bitter for a moment, and the scowl on his face was chilling. He focused on her again, and the concern and sadness were back. “You were an excellent candidate. You’re young, your features would work well with mine, and you were intelligent. Over those first months, I came to find that I enjoyed your company very much as well. There only remained being certain that you were free of disease.” Michaela frowned at the phrase, feeling nauseous as she thought about him sizing her up like so much chattel.

“I’m sorry,” he said, no doubt guessing her thoughts. “God, it makes me sick to think about it now. But as I got to know you, it became less about making a baby, and more about making you happy. You were there, so I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that I fell in love with you, Michaela. I’m in love with you. I mean it, and I hope with all my soul that you’ll forgive me for what I did to you, and for my intentions at the beginning.”

There didn’t seem to be anything more that could be said, and Lex looked up at her, a couple of wayward tears trailing down his cheeks, waiting for her to speak. Michaela looked away, staring down at her hands, thinking about everything she had heard. It was certainly awful to have been deceived, and to have been selected as some kind of vessel for the Lex Luthor legacy. But at the same time, it was almost bizarrely flattering to have been chosen as the perfect candidate by a man of such a precise and demanding nature. Besides his physical specifications, to be called “intelligent” by a genius was no small compliment.

Michaela pushed those thoughts aside, not quite comfortable with them, and looked back into his face. Could she forgive him? Should she? Surely, those tears couldn’t be fake. Did it matter that he had a criminal past - a most notorious one - and apparently still involved himself in conspiring to attack women and steal their bodily fluids? She’d been prepared to forgive him for murder a moment ago. Wasn’t it still true, now that he’d basically confessed to just that? Michaela shut her eyes, blocking out the supplicant face, and searched her feelings. No. The last year couldn’t have been a year of make believe and lies. Yes, he’d lied about his identity, but could he have done otherwise? Could he have walked up to her and said, “Hi, I’m Lex Luthor, criminal mastermind and most widely feared individual on earth, would you like to go out for coffee and bear my child?”

To be realistic, he could easily have taken a totally different approach. He could have kidnapped her, forced himself on her until she got pregnant, and held her captive until the baby was born. Then he could have killed her and let Ellen or Anna (his head gardener) raise the baby. On the whole, Michaela had come out on the brighter side of what could have been a very frightening experience. He’d welcomed her into his home - past the imposing exterior gates, into his private life, and, Michaela firmly believed, into his heart as well. Despite the lies, and his initial intentions, Michaela couldn’t honestly say that she wasn’t deeply in love herself. If he really was lying to her, she would just have to risk it and hope that he kept up that charade forever.

Finally, she opened her eyes and looked down at Lex. His face was morose, and Michaela wondered how long she had sat immobile, with her eyes closed. Michaela wiped the tears from her face with the handkerchief, then gently dabbed away Lex’s tears. “Okay Lex. I forgive you,” she said.

Lex was physically moved by her statement. He gave a violent shudder, and relief seemed to wash over him like a flood. His eyes were already wet with tears again, and he raised himself slightly and yanked her into a passionate kiss. Michaela fought the urge to panic, reminding herself that it was just Adam without hair in the end, and let herself enjoy the kiss. When he finally let her go, they were both out of breath, and quivering with the brief release of emotion. Back on his knees, his hands shaking, Lex reached into his pocket. “Now that I’ve told you the truth, I can ask you my question.” He pulled out a black ring box and held it before her. “Will you marry me?”

He opened the box, and Michaela gasped at its contents - a white-gold ring, studded with diamonds, and centered by the a single, huge round-cut diamond surrounded by a ring of smaller diamonds. There were more diamonds on the ring than she had ever seen in one place before, and she was almost afraid to touch it. She gazed at it in wonder for several seconds, before remembering that she should probably answer him. “Yes,” she said, her voice now weak for a different reason now. “Yes, yes!” She squeezed him into a bone crushing hug for a moment. She let him go, and reached out for the ring, but she was still too nervous to touch it.

Lex slid the ring gently onto her finger. Michaela didn’t bother to think about how he’d found out her exact ring size. She gazed at her newly adorned hand, and let out a giddy chuckle. Lex laughed too, and pulled her close to him. He smiled down at her, and she found her hurt and anger fully melting away. “Now,” he said. “Now you really belong to me.”


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