Chloe rang the doorbell to Lex's penthouse and as she waited for someone to answer the door she mentally made a checklist. This was just Lex but she had to be professional and couldn't afford to forget anything. Twisting her finger in the necklace she was wearing, she ran over the topics for the interview one more time.
Lex had been lounging on the couch, flicking idly through the TV when his doorbell rang. Looking at his wristwatch, he saw that it was a few minutes to three and smirked. Obviously, someone had been fretting to be on time.
He got up from the couch and made his way down the short hallway from the spacious living room. Opening the door, he found Chloe, looking deep in thought and twiddling her necklace.
"Hello, Chloe. I've been expecting you." He stepped aside to open the door wider. "Come in."
She looked up at Lex as the door opened and grinned, "Thanks” She said as she walked into the penthouse and taking in her surroundings, "I don't think I've been here before."
Closing the door behind her, he helped Chloe out of her coat before he motioned for her to step further into the apartment. "You made it as far as the private elevator, I remember." He hung her coat on the rack beside the door, then followed her into the living room. "I had it redecorated after that particular incident."
Chloe stopped as they reached the living room and turned around to face him, the place sure looked good, "You did a great job, can't even tell a bomb went off here."
Lex smirked, stepping aside to bend over the back of the couch and reach for the remote. "I made it a point that no visible marks would be left on either me, or the apartment." He shut off the television, then turned back to Chloe. "Can I offer you a drink?"
"I'm good, thanks." She said as she shook her head, "did you ever figure out who planted that bomb?"
Lex's jaw clenched involuntarily as he slid his hands into his pants' pockets. "Unsurprisingly, all leads hit a dead end when we found the poor sod who actually put it in my office dead in the gutter of Suicide Slums."
He took another step aside and went over to the counter, separating the living room from the kitchen. Taking a bottle of water from the silver tray on the wall end of it, he took a long swig before turning back to Chloe.
"So, shall we get right down to business?"
Chloe nodded at the information Lex gave her. Since she had been watching him closely, something she always did when asking Lex questions, she could tell he tensed up at the mention of the bomb and she couldn't blame him, after all, it was definitely meant for him. It worried her that there were no suspects, especially after the rumors she heard recently... Shaking her head to clear her thoughts she smiled at Lex and nodded once again, "Sure, don't wanna take too much time of your busy day."
Lex nodded, then extended his arm to motion her forward. "Alright," he set into motion and walked down the hallway leading from the living area and kitchen to the other rooms. "We'll do this in the study. Familiar ground for both of us, you'll see what I mean."
As Lex lead her into his study, Chloe felt like she had stepped into the past. The room was decorated almost exactly the same way his study in Smallville had been. This room was much smaller so the furniture looked like a smaller version of the original.
Without a word, she looked around the room and stopped by the window that took almost the entire wall behind Lex's desk, "This view is actually a lot better." She grinned at him and continued, "Its too bad the pool table wouldn't fit here."
Rounding his desk to step up to the window, his hands found their way into his pockets once more as he looked down at the city below. His home. "I asked if it was possible, but the interior designer said with the measurements, I could either have that or the sitting ensemble. And since Clark doesn't stop by as much as he used to," he trailed off with a shrug, leaving the rest of his comment unspoken.
Turning around he motioned for Chloe to take a seat, waiting for her to sit down before he sat in his own leather chair. "Let's get started, then."
Chloe decided not to comment on Lex's quick change of subject, she knew his friendship with Clark had been odd lately, anyone who knew the two could tell but she assumed between her and Pete, she was the only one who really noticed. She decided to save any type of personal questions for later and took the seat opposite from Lex's.
Opening her purse, she took out her tape recorder and notes. "You ready?" At Lex's nod, Chloe pushed the record button and adjusted her position on her seat, "Ok, let's start with LexCorp." She said looking up from her notes, "It's a known fact it's restoration only happened after you inherited LuthorCorp. How was the transference of companies and how are you managing things?"
Lex smirked, contemplating her silently as he thought about the best way to answer her question to not make it sound like a complete PR statement.
"The transference went rather smoothly, considering the circumstances. Most of the board members chose to stay and put their trust in me, knowing from experience that I was not only willing, but also able to steer the ship. I choose a different approach to expansion and regulation than my father did, but all in all, the status quo has not only been maintained, but raised significantly over the last year."
Chloe nodded, "You have been in this position before I imagine you'd be prepared for the situation. What projects do you have in store for the future of LexCorp?"
"LexCorp is thinking about expanding in several fields, including medical research and ecological development. I have to admit that those two subjects also hold my personal interest, for reasons lying in my past. The sickness and resulting death of my mother are no secrets and since then I always hoped I would be able to use the resources granted to me as a way to find a cure for terminal diseases. To spear other children the loss I had to face."
Ok, he was going for a tearjerker with that one, but it was at least partially true. He'd spent the last two years of his mother’s life trying to find someone with a magical cure. Of course there hadn't been any. Now, he was going to use his father's money to fund research in the field of cancer treatment. In a way, it was making the cause pay for the cure.
Chloe knew the death of his mother had affected Lex and she knew if he could, he'd research for cures, but the way he worded his answer, made her do her best not to roll her eyes. She knew Lex far too well to know that was pure PR. She nodded and kept her eyes on her notes for a second before raising her head again,
"Speaking of expansion, several newspapers have been reporting Mr. Wayne's frequent visits to Metropolis and there have been rumors that the reason for those visits is business between Wayne Enterprises and LexCorp, is that true?"
Lex smirked, knowing that this was the turning point. Before questions had merely led up to what was commencing now. Fishing for information that others hadn't and weren't likely to get, either.
"Bruce and I are old friends, we met at the Excelsior Preparatory School for Boys when I was transferred there. I heard he's been in town the last few days, but we haven't met as of yet. I can't make any speculations as to the reason of his visit to Metropolis, but I heard that a new exhibition is going to be opened in a few days time at the Metropolis Museum of Modern Art. If we happen to meet there, I'll make sure to ask him."
She couldn't stop herself, this time she actually rolled her eyes and shook her head at Lex. It sucked being friends with your subject because you could tell he was lying and yet it'd be unprofessional to use the knowledge she had. No shortcuts... "Considering you and Mr. Wayne have known each other for years and as you mentioned, are old friends, why hasn't there been talk of an association yet and would LexCorp be interested on a association with Wayne Enterprise?"
Lex smirked back at her, leaning back in his chair more comfortably. He'd expected that she wouldn't give up that fast, especially since that was probably the most pressing question she had in mind.
"Wayne Enterprises is as established and respectable a corporation as LexCorp. Both have a solid base of projects and interests that are at times overlapping. An association between the two is theoretically not unthinkable, however, neither corporation is in need of the others facilities or resources, so there would be no financial or economical reason for an association."
Chloe held back a grin as she noticed Lex relaxing on his chair. So he thought this was the climax of the interview? Maybe it was a good thing she hadn’t interviewed him since high school. She nodded at his reply and crossed her legs, relaxing slightly against her chair as well, couldn't help the small smile that she felt appearing on her face.
"You have mentioned before that most of the board members chose to stay, I assume they are the ones helping you manage LexCorp now, but according to the documents made public a few years ago, Lucas Luthor, you half brother, had rights over a fair amount of LuthorCorp's share. Did that change or is Lucas also part owner of LexCorp?"
That was an interesting curveball to throw, but in no way threatening to Lex. The small smile Chloe wore on her face made him a little wary though what else she might be hiding up her sleeve. "Lucas was given his share of LuthorCorp when he turned 18, the same I was. However, my brother doesn't find as active an interest in the corporate business world, and chose to sell off the majority to me, deciding to use the value given to him in exchange to pursuit his own aspirations. Last I heard, he had settled down in Rome, owner of a respectable under 18 nightclub."
When she looked down at her next topic and the few interrogation points surrounding the subject she almost decided not to ask the next few questions but she knew Lex could hold his own and would, hopefully, understand her need to ask those questions. Even if they never got published. She stopped herself before she could take a deep breath.
"So you are the only one in charge of LexCorp, and according to the business reports of your company that have been made public, since you took over the acceptance of Metropolis citizens on future LexCorp projects has been growing gradually, opposed to the last few years when LuthorCorp had been losing the respect of many civilians. How do you think the public image of Lionel Luthor affected this acceptance?"
Lex's smirk stayed in place as he linked his fingers together, leaning slightly forward in his seat, to rest his forearms on the table. This question could be potentially dangerous, but it could also accomplish a lot for public recognition if he ever chose to let Chloe publish this article.
"People don't put their trust in numbers, or statistics, they put their trust in another person. It's also not a gift gained easily. My father has done a lot of questionable things in his past that came into the light of day. It was the reason he lost people's trust and therefore their support. A more than understandable reaction. I realize that I am not a person of a completely clean slate either, as some papers like the Inquisitor like to point out in exaggerated terms every once in a while, but I extend myself not only to redeem myself, but also to correct the mistakes my father made and shape the corporation into what it is supposed to be. A means to do great things for the people of this city. That was also the reason for the much questioned name change after I became CEO. It was a visible sign that a line has been drawn and we are now at the beginning of a new and hopefully prosper area for Metropolis and its citizens with the support and dedication of LexCorp."
With a grin at Lex, Chloe nodded, he had not only managed to avoid speaking ill of his father but to sound like a saint-in-the-making all at the same time. She now had no doubt if he wanted one day, Lex could become the president of the United States. She felt strangely proud of the man who was now smirking at her and almost winced when she read her next question, without meeting his eyes, Chloe spoke.
"Since you mentioned your father's questionable actions, two years ago he was arrested for murdering his parents and the most important evidence to successfully arrest him was provided by you. Many articles and stories were published on the subject of your relationship with your father. How did Lionel Luthor's death affect you?"
It had to happen, and Lex would have been surprised if Chloe had pulled her punches and shied away from that particular question. Even though he had prepared for it, for a moment, it wasn't the reaction of the public that affected his answer. It was Chloe's personal reaction as well. It gave him pause.
"The Luthor family has always shown a united front as long as my father was alive. However, people became aware that everything was not as it seemed when my father went to trial for murder. It's not easy as a son to find out that the person one is supposed to look up to, the man that has inevitably shaped ones life and opinions up to a certain point, has fallen from the pedestal he has been put on. A friend of mine is a firm supporter of the opinion that everyone has redeeming qualities and that one can change for the better, if trying hard enough. It's sad that my father never took that chance and now he never will."
Chloe wanted to stop and in her notes, that had been the last question but before she could stop herself, she was asking one more, "Your father's murder remains unsolved and the police has no suspects, do you fear whoever did this to him could come after you?"
Lex unlinked his hands and leaned back in his chair running a hand over the back of his head as he contemplated the question. "It's hard to say. It's been a year since it happened and even though an attempt on my life has been made since then, nothing has happened after that certain incident. But I don't live in fear of what might happen. The police hasn't given up investigation and the murderer of my father will be found out and brought to justice, until then I will let nothing stop me from doing what has to be done in the best interest of my corporation and this city."
He desperately longed for a scotch, but that could wait until Chloe had finished and left him once more. There was no reason flaunting the affect of her last two questions on him.
"We all hope so. Thank you for your time, Lex." With that Chloe reached over the table and pressed stop. She could tell Lex was uncomfortable with her last two questions and she just hoped the silence between them now wouldn't be too bad. She hadn't mean to make he feel bad but she had to ask those questions, she started putting away her stuff back into her purse and waited for him to talk.
Lex used the opportunity to get up off his chair and turn towards the panorama window once more. Looking down at the lights of the city, his city, below. He let the silence stretch for a moment. He knew that Chloe was uncomfortable, now that all her questions were out there and answered and she always had trouble getting out of reporter gear once she'd shifted into it.
"This will open you quite a few doors, when you take the opportunity to have it published," he stated, still looking out of the window, his hands once more firmly seated in the pockets of his pants.
Chloe sighed and looked at Lex for a long time, all the time he was silent, she was glad his back was turned to her even if she was sure he knew of her discomfort, it was better this way. Somehow she knew it'd be a while before he looked at her again. "I know" She stopped herself from saying anything else when she felt her voice cracking slightly. Right now her instincts wanted her to apologize to him, but she knew it'd do more harm than good. The damage was done and she knew apologizing to Lex would make no different. She got up and stared out the window as well but didn't move closer to him, "That's the thing about journalism, everything can open you a few doors and immediately shut others and when you realize what happened, it's too late to choose."
Smirking, Lex half turned his face towards her, recognizing her statement for what it was. "That is something not exclusive to journalism. And it's not that it's too late to choose, it's that you've made the choice and then have to accept the consequences. Life doesn't give you the option to cheat by going back and choosing different."
Turning fully he looked at Chloe's expression, watching his statement sink in. He didn't plan on taking this topic of conversation any further. His choice of the moment was to bid Chloe goodbye and a merry Christmas, then send her on her way and spend the rest of the evening like it had become tradition.
"In any case, I know you have plans for this evening, so let's not hold you up any longer. I'm sure that Lois is already waiting for you, hoping to get the juicy details."
He turned from the window and immediately started on his way to the door, holding it open as he waited for Chloe to get her purse.
She was sure now that nothing she said would make the situation better so before she regretted anything she picked up her purse and walked towards him, not that she had much of an option. She paused and looked up at him, nodding once. "Thanks again, Lex. I can see myself out." As she was in the middle of the hallway leading to the exit, she stopped and turned around, "I know what your answer is to my invitation but..." She didn't know what to say, she hated seeing Lex shut her out completely again and it being her fault and her journalistic impulses. She should have known by now that mixing work and friends was not a good idea. With a shake of her head she said "Goodbye, Lex." And walked away.
Lex showed her to the door anyway. Ingrained habits were hard to get rid off, so he even helped her into her coat. "Goodbye, Chloe. Merry Christmas."
Shutting the door behind her, he went back into the living room, turned the TV to CNN and went for the bottle of scotch he now kept in the bar compartment of his entertainment center.
Text message: Just wanted to tell you I'm sorry about how the interview went. It's like you said I can't go back and change things and to be honest I don't know if I would. But Lex, I've been considering you a real friend for over three years now and I was trying to be as professional as I could during that interview. You know me and I think when you agreed to me interviewing you, you expected no less from my questions. I hope this doesn't change things and I want you to know whatever information you gave me today will only be published when you feel ready. Have a good Christmas, Chloe.
(A few days later)
Text message: You have a date for dinner with Wayne at the 17th, 6 pm. The limousine will pick you up.