by Amy Wolf
"Helen, you're looking well." Lex flashed his shark-toothed business grin at her. He was sunburned and still a little malnourished, giving him a lean and hungry look. Behind him Clark stood like a high-end bodyguard. "The honeymoon seems to have agreed with you."
"Lex, it was your father. He..." Helen began urgently.
"I know." Lex cut her off. "I will deal with him separately. Please confine any excuses to your part of that little adventure."
"My part? He kidnapped me!" Helen stopped and took a deep breath. Shouting wouldn't help. "The champagne was drugged. The pilot strapped me into a tandem parachute and jumped. I woke up on a boat, worried sick about what happened to you."
Lex stared silently for a moment. Then he slid a desk drawer open and pulled out a folder. He dropped it on the desk, and pictures spilled out everywhere.
They were of her. Her sitting on a beach in a swimsuit, reading a novel. Her stepping out of a pool. Her in a sundress, talking to Lionel. Her laughing, goddamnit. She felt a knot form in the pit of her stomach.
"Where did you get these? Lionel?"
"Standard protocol. Should I turn up missing or dead, all parties involved will be automatically investigated. I must say, for a possible widow being held against her will, you look... comfortable."
"Just because I was a prisoner at a resort, doesn't mean I wasn't a prisoner." Helen snapped back. "Your father's been trying to separate us for months. You think this is beyond him?"
"My people are loyal." Lex had a talent for knowing which words not to emphasize.
"You'll believe some employee over your own wife? I thought we trusted each other. Lex, I need you to trust me here." Desperation crept into her voice despite her best effort.
"I believe you." Unexpectedly, Clark spoke up. His voice was softer and more hesitant than before, or perhaps she remembered it wrong. "Lex, I think you can trust her."
"Clark, sometimes you can be touchingly naive." Lex shot him a surprisingly tender look. It was the kind of look he used to give her back when she was the girl from anger management with the funny nametag and the nerve to reject a Luthor. Or when she was picking out a wedding dress and sent a scandalized tailor running from the room, leaving a trail of lace and silk. He'd smiled, just like he was now. Back when things were good.
"Helen," he said, all business again, "I'm willing to offer a degree of leniency, this one time only. Your possessions will be moved out of the castle, to an apartment in Gotham City. Rent is paid up three months in advance. A doctor of your talent should be able to find work quickly. You won't face any unexpected problems. This is contingent on two things. One, you grant me an uncontested annulment. Two, you never get involved in my business or my life again." He pulled a form from the bottom of the file and slid it across the desk to her. It was a legal document granting an annulment, his part already signed.
"Lex, don't do this."
The shark-tooth grin was back. "Consider yourself lucky, Helen. Most of my enemies don't get off this lightly."
"I'm not your enemy, I'm your wife." She leaned forward on the desk, begging.
"I believe this should take care of that situation." He handed her a pen.
She shot a pleading look at him, then a desperate one at Clark, who turned his head guiltily. Trapped, she scribbled a signature.
"I believe that concludes our business." Lex took the paper and hid it away in his desk. "I think you can find the way out. A car is waiting for you at the front gate."
She gave him one last long glance, and walked away. Halfway down the hall, she was joined by a set of heavy footfalls. She knew who it was without turning.
"It's not your fault, Clark.", she replied flatly.
"I tried talking to him, but I can't get Lex to do anything once he's made up his mind. No one can." She did once, or so he told her, but Clark doesn't need to know that.
"Maybe it's for the best. If he doesn't trust me..." Perhaps she should have run the first time he accused her. Perhaps she should have conducted herself better, screamed a Lionel, stayed away from the pool, gone the whole six weeks without smiling... No, if Lex wanted to believe the worst, that was his choice.
"It's just he's spent his whole life looking for enemies. I don't think he knows when to stop."
She turned around. "Be careful, Clark."
"Me? Why?" He furrowed his brow, looking like a teenage boy for the first time that day.
"You said it yourself, he doesn't know when to stop. And with what you are..." She hesitated. She still didn't know quite what he was. "He'll find out. Or it will be something else. And it will look like betrayal. If you're lucky, you'll get off as easily as me."
"Lex wouldn't... I wouldn't... It won't end up like that." He stammered, uncertain.
"Be careful Clark, just be careful." And with that, she walked out of the castle and into a new life.