Title: Folded in Your Heart
Fandom: BtVS/ Smallville
Pairing: Xander Harris/ Lex Luthor
Rating: Probably no higher than FR18 or R, but I'll modify the rating if that changes.
Summary: In response to Spiritraven's challenge for a Halloween fic with a twist: Xander has to later meet and hook up with the character he dressed as for Halloween.
Disclaimer: I own nothing and no one. I am not making any profit from this.
Author's Notes: Timeline tweaking - About Season 3 for Smallville (I'll narrow it down later) and approximately two years post-Chosen. This makes Lex, Willow, and Xander the same age (about 24).
"Stop! Don't come in." The shout startled Lex, both because he hadn't seen anyone and because people simply didn't talk to him like that. He briefly entertained the thought that the speaker didn't recognize him, but he frankly doubted it. With his distinctive baldness and his newsworthy name, Lex Luthor was more recognizable than the president. Looking carefully around the entryway, he finally spotted an arm sticking out from the other side of the doorway he had been about to walk through. The reason it had taken so long for Lex to notice it was that the arm was up at the very top of the doorway, instead of decently in the lower half.
"Just wait there for a sec," the voice. This time Lex was able to classify it as male. Which was in no way a surprise, as the visible arm was bare and muscular. Aside from one bodyguard when he was ten, Lex had never seen a woman with arms like that.
When Lex heard a power tool growling, he decided it would behoove him to obey. Heaven knew he wouldn't impress the programmer he'd come to recruit if he was passed out with a concussion. And he was determined to impress this programmer. Willow Rosenberg had filed four patents in the last year, all of them elegant and innovative. If Lex was going to establish himself as a power separate from his father, he was going to need exceptional employees who were unconnected with LutherCorp.
"Okay," the man called out. The arm moved lower as he clambered down a ladder. With a little hop, he was suddenly right in front of Lex, framed in the doorway. The man had dark shaggy hair, damp with sweat, and a patch over one eye. He was dressed for hot work in a white wifebeater and old jeans. "Sorry about that," he said. "It's hard enough to convince people I'm a competent carpenter with only one eye. I don't even want to try it after dropping a lintel on Lex Luthor." He shook the hair back off his face. Well, that answered that question: This man knew who he was and still talked to him with casual impertinence.
"Yes, I can see where manslaughter might damage your credibility," Lex replied dryly. He really wanted to ask how a one-eyed carpenter had gotten hired by the IWC, but he restrained himself. Luthors did not show interest in the lives of manual laborers. He settled for a smirk.
The man saw his smirk and raised him an amused grin. "I'll show you in," he offered. Without waiting for a response, he turned and led the way inside. Lex opened his mouth to protest this cavalier treatment, then shut it. He was already running late, a fact which galled his punctual soul. He wasn't going to waste more time by arguing with the handyman.
He followed the carpenter down one hall and through three short rooms. Lex looked around as they walked and decided he liked the building. It was solid and impressive without the cold grandeur Lionel Luthor insisted upon. The floors were warm oak, and the walls were painted in inviting shades of cream and sage. After two more turns, they walked through an unmarked door and came to a halt before a large cluttered desk. A blonde woman sat behind it, working on what looked like charts and schedules. She raised her head when they came in and smiled brightly. It was blinding.
Her smile dimmed just a notch as she wrinkled her nose. "Xander, what have I said about coming in here all sweaty?"
"Ummm, that the evidence of my manly labor makes you weak-kneed with lust?" The carpenter's eye was wide and innocent, but the smile tugging at one corner of his mouth betrayed his amusement. Lex hoped the man knew what he was saying; sexual harassment was no joking matter.
"Close, but I think my exact words were 'Don't.'" She tried to shoot a stern look from her large hazel eyes, but her expression revealed an annoyed affection. Apparently sexual harassment wasn't an issue.
"Okay, I'll obey your silly rules later," the carpenter said with an air of great concession. He stepped aside direct her attention toward Lex. "Mr. Luthor is here to woo Willow. Not the fun kind of wooing, though, 'cause he so isn't her type." This last was accompanied by a raking look that took in everything about Lex, from the top of his bald head to the tips of his Italian loafers.
Lex frowned. First of all, he'd never told the carpenter why he was here. So how did he know that Lex was meeting with Miss Rosenberg to recruit her? And secondly, what did he mean Lex wasn't her type? He was attractive, charming, and incredibly wealthy. That was everyone's type. Confused and slightly insulted, he turned a questioning look on the other two in time to see the woman glaring at the handyman and stretching herself up to speak in his ear.
"Xander!" she hissed at him in a loud whisper. "Don't embarrass me in front of the millionaire." Her stage whisper was clearly audible, and Lex allowed her rebuke to salve his ego a bit. Just a bit, though, because he really didn't like being called 'the millionaire,' as though he were nothing but a nameless bank account.
"Yes ma'am, Miss Summers, ma'am!" the workman replied in the same loud whisper. He gave he a mock salute. "Don't worry about it. Mr. Luthor's not a millionaire, anyway. He's a billionaire."
"Oh, that makes me feel so much better," the woman said, stepping back and rolling her eyes. "Go clean up."
Nodding amicably, the carpenter turned to go. He gave Lex an encouraging smile as he left, which Lex found baffling. Only one person ever looked at him like that, and Clark usually reserved it for times when Lex would be facing off against one of their fathers. He found himself watching the dark haired man leave the room and shook himself.
He donned a smile and faced the blonde woman. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss ... Summers, was it?" She nodded in confirmation of her name and held out a fine boned hand. Lex considered kissing it but reconsidered. She was lovely, but he was far more interested in landing his computer programmer than in landing a date.
"It's really nice of you to come here yourself to talk to Willow," Miss Summers said as she led him down yet another hallway. "I mean, I would have expected you to send someone to do it for you ... not that I think rich people don't work or anything, just, um, I'll shut up now."
It was only the legendary Luthor control, learned at his father's knee that kept him from sighing in relief. He knew he intimidated people into saying stupid things, but that didn't mean he had to like it. After only one more left turn and past two closed doors, Miss Summers finally led him into a small conference room. Lex hoped someone would lead him out when his meeting was over; either the IWC building was labrynthine, or his guides had purposely been trying to confuse him, but he'd never be able to find his way back on his own.
"Okay, so you can sit in here. Or stand, standing is also a valid choice. And I'll go get Willow and then kill myself in the bathtub." Miss Summers favored him with that blinding smile again, though it was tinged with embarrassment. Lex nodded at her politely and took the chair she'd been aiming him toward.
After she left him, Lex took a moment to compose himself. He smoothed down his plum shirt, making sure it hadn't rumpled in the drive over. Closing his eyes, he consciously relaxed his major muscle groups and smoothed the signs of stress from his face. He'd been flying from unproductive meeting to unproductive meeting at his father's behest all week, and the miles and hours had taken their toll. Now he was at a meeting that was all his own idea, and Lex was determined to make it a success. He knew it was foolish, but he couldn't help viewing this meeting as an auger for things to come. If he could bring in talent of Willow Rosenberg's caliber, Lex would be able to believe in a successful future out from under his father's thumb. He opened his eyes and arranged himself in an attitude of casual grace just before a pretty redhead stepped into the room.
"Mr. Luthor? I'm Willow Rosenberg. It's nice to meet you."
Willow stared blankly at the table, tracing her fingers absently over the grain of the wood. She had actually done it. It seemed surreal and impossible, but she had really signed a two year contract with Lex Luthor. It shouldn't be such a shock to her system; she'd known going into this meeting that she was going to sign. When Mr. Luthor had first contacted her expressing interest in her work, she'd called a Scooby meeting. They'd argued and debated, listing pros and cons for hours. In the end, though, it had just been too good of a chance to pass up. The money and resources were tempting, of course, and the chance to get to know Lex was a major temptation, but it was the time away from magic that made the offer so irresistable.
Willow was an addict. She knew it and her friends knew it. The fact that she was addicted to magic rather than to alcohol or heroin didn't change that fact. Most heroin addicts weren't forced to shoot up to save the world, however. Willow had gotten to the point where she could handle what were, for her, basic spells with no ill effects. But the big magics still sucked her in, flooded her with a sense of power and pleasure until she could barely fight down the impulse to rearrange reality to suit herself. Coming down after one of those spells sucked. The aftershocks of the Slayer activation spell had lasted for weeks, and she could only be grateful that she'd been trapped on a school bus with no spellbooks at the time.
It was generally recommended that addicts avoid both the thing they were addicted to and the situations that led to using. Working with the Watchers' Council was a situation that led to using. Willow couldn't stay at the Cleveland base, surrounded by ensorcelled weapons, magic tomes, and spell components without being tempted. And she couldn't see the apocalypses coming without feeling compelled to do big magics in order to help out. She needed to get away. And suddenly, like a well dressed, bald djinn, Lex Luthor had appeared with an offer that gave her the perfect escape.
Willow would never admit it, but she had cast a small spell on herself to keep from babbling through the meeting. She didn't even feel guilty about doing frivolous magic; it had been completely necessary. She wanted this job. She needed this job. There was no way she was going to lose her opportunity because she lost control of her mouth and compared her prospective employer to a prairie dog or asked him about his opinion on crossbow maintenance. It had worked, too. She had managed to remain professional for two whole hours while they negotiated her contract.
She had only insisted upon two conditions, and Mr. Luthor had agreed to both. First, she needed more than the usual allotment of leave time. If an emergency arose and Willow had to do some major spellwork, she would need time off both to do the magic and to recover from the withdrawal symptoms afterward. Mr. Luthor had been willing to work with her, and between them they had come to an acceptable agreement. Willow could take up to four weeks a year of emergency leave without penalty, provided she made up that time at the end of her contract. Buffy was going to flip when she realized Willow's new job came with apocalypse leave.
Mr. Luthor hadn't even blinked at her second condition. She had asked that all transportation, moving expenses, and accommodations cover two people. Mr. Luthor probably thought she was bringing her significant other. Well, Xander was significant, but not in the way the phrase was usually meant. When Willow had decided she was going to accept Mr. Luthor's offer, she'd told the others that she needed a companion. If she was alone and lonely, there was no telling what she might do to make herself feel better. Since she couldn't trust herself, Willow needed someone she could trust. Xander was the best choice. For one thing, while was extremely useful to the Council, but he wasn't crucial, like Buffy and Giles were. For another, this was *Lex Luthor*, and Xander would have a better shot at getting to know the powerful man than the others. Most importantly, Xander made Willow feel safe. He'd been there for her all her life. He knew how to take care of her when she started to jones for magic and he cared for her enough to do whatever it took to help her. Xander loved her unconditionally. When she was young, Willow hadn't realized how rare that was, but she was old enough now to cherish it.
So two months from now they would be off to Kansas. Mr. Luthor had originally wanted to place her with one of his labs, but after talking with her, he'd changed his plans. Her interests were so varied that he thought it would be a mistake to pigeonhole her right away. Instead, she would be staying at his home in Smallville, where he would set up an individual lab for her. There, she could pursue her eclectic interests for a few months, until they solidified into concrete plans that could be communicated to more linear thinkers. When they had discussed it, Willow had been nothing but enthusiastic. Thinking back on it now, alone in the conference room, she wanted to giggle at the thought of his home. A castle in Kansas. It reminded her of watching "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," her feet in Tara's lap, shouting at Brad and Janet not to be fools. A castle in rural America could only mean aliens or demons. She watched her fingers running over the conference table and snorted. Obviously, the anti-babbling spell was losing its hold on her mind.
Two warm arms slid around her shoulders from behind, and Willow leaned back against Xander's chest. He'd gotten much better at sneaking lately; she hadn't even heard him coming.
"You doing okay?" Xander asked, laying his head on her shoulder.
"Yup. You are hugging an official employee of Lex Luthor." She smiled when she said it. "We're going to stay with him for a while, in Smallville."
"Really?" She could feel his smile against her neck.
"It's the Gospel truth. Except I don't really believe the Gospel, 'cause Jewish and Wiccan, right? What's something believable? It's the Guiness Book of World Records truth." The anti-babbling spell was definitely over. Despite the bubbly joy of accomplishment that was tickling through her, Willow was suddenly scared. What if she messed up? What if this was a bad idea? "Tell me this is a good idea." She insisted.
"This is a good idea." His voice was sincere enough to wash away some of her fears. "You are the most brilliant, smarty pants woman ever, and you're going to do great things. And Lex is ... Lex. He's going to help you do great things."
"Are you sure?"
"Sure I'm sure. I know you. And I've been him."