Lois and Clark got their first real look at the Lexor as their cab turned into the car-park. The hotel was a half-mile or so from the Strip, a gleaming tower block with grey glass walls. There was a terrace five floors up with what looked like a canopied outdoor restaurant, above that the glass was featureless. The casino was a separate building, linked to it by bridges on the third and fifth floors.
Inside the hotel was built around an atrium, reaching up ten stories. The reception desks were on one side. Looking around, Lois saw signs indicating that most of the hotel's convention facilities were busy; one suite had a wedding reception, most of the rest were in use for a film memorabilia convention. A full-sized replica of a Star Wars X-Wing fighter hung from wires about thirty feet up, under a banner reading "Filmorabilia IV".
"We've booked a room for two," said Clark. "Charles and Laura Kane. We're with the convention."
"Spelled like 'Citizen Kane?'" asked the receptionist.
"That's right," said Lois. "His dad liked the film, that's why they called him Charles." Privately she wished that Clark had chosen something a little less memorable, but he always swore that he'd forgotten about the movie when he selected it.
The receptionist smiled, said "Rosebud is a sleigh," and typed in a few letters, then looked at her screen and said "That's odd, it isn't showing up in the block booking for the convention."
"It wouldn't," said Lois. "Last minute change of plans, we only booked yesterday, much too late to get the convention rate." She gave Clark a look intended to give the receptionist the idea that she thought he was to blame.
"Okay..." said the receptionins, pressing more keys. "Here we are, a room for two. May I see your driving license and scan your credit card?"
"Of course," said Clark. Their identities and credit card accounts had been set up legitimately by the Planet for use on undercover assignments, with IRS and FBI knowledge, and a routine computer check would show 'Charles' working as an engineer for Metropolis Power and Light, 'Laura' as a freelance interior decorator. They had other papers, less well authenticated, that were sometimes useful if they wanted to go under cover without government knowledge of their movements.
"You have room 1532, if you'd like to follow the bellboy with your luggage he'll show you where it is."
As they were going up Lois noticed that the elevator buttons only went up to 19. She took a chance and pointed towards them, saying "I thought this place had twenty-two floors."
"Top three floors are penthouses and the big suites for celebrities," said the bellboy. "There's an express elevator."
"Oh, right. Anyone famous here now?"
"Sorry, the Lexor respects its guests' privacy."
"What do you make of the place?" Lois asked once they were upstairs and Clark had tipped the bellboy and checked the room for bugs. It was a modestly-sized bedroom for two, with a tiny bathroom and a drinks refrigerator only slightly smaller. The TV offered the usual range of pay channels, including shows from the Strip and the latest films.
"It's much more modern than the Metropolis Lexor, and there's the dark glass and windows that don't open," said Clark, hanging some clothes in the wardrobe.
"Will that be a problem for you?"
"It might make it a little harder to get out in a hurry if there's an emergency. One odd thing..."
"The glass must have a high lead content. I can see through it well enough with my normal vision, but it's blocking my special abilities."
"What about the internal walls?"
Clark experimented, and said "No, I can see right through them. It's just the outer glass."
"And the ceiling? Can you see up to the twentieth floor?"
"Let's see..." Clark took off his glasses and looked up, his gaze penetrating one floor, then the next, then... He hastily looked away from the bedroom three floors above, blushing, and tried another direction. Eventually he said "I'm fine up to the nineteenth, then nothing. It looks like there's a layer of lead under the twentieth floor."
"I'll bet Lex had a suite up there."
"The glass is clever. He probably had a hand in that too."
Lois leafed through the hotel guide on her dressing table, and said "Here we are... yes, 'all windows are fitted with N-Tempered(R) Lexon(TM) glass to filter out harmful wavelengths. Lexon is a trademark of LexCorp International.' Clark, you might need to be careful, it sounds like you won't be able to recharge your powers properly indoors."
"You're right," Clark said after a moment, "it feels like I'm in a concrete bunker. A little's coming in, but much less than usual. Not a problem unless I'm exposed to Kryptonite, it takes me days to run out of energy."
"I wonder if that's what Lex had in mind? If he had some Kryptonite here you'd..."
Clark put his arms around her and said "Lex is where he belongs, Lois, and we've got two hours to kill before Xander gets here. I'm sure we can find a more interesting way to pass the time than worry about might-have-beens."
"Mmmmm," said Lois. "Unzip me." She wriggled out of her dress, kissed him, then pulled out of his embrace and began to put on jeans, a 'Kill Bill' T-shirt, and a 'Stargate' baseball cap and said "Let's check out the elevator to the penthouses and the service elevators and stairs, see if we can find a way up there without tipping off their security. And we need to check in at the convention. You need to dress the part too."
"Okay," said Clark, watching her as she put lock picks and a tiny digital camera into her bag, and pulling on his own 'Incredibles' T-shirt, "that wasn't quite what I had in mind, but I suppose it's interesting..."
"Security's pretty good," Lois said about an hour later, catching up with him on the fifth floor landing of the central atrium and glancing round to make sure that they couldn't be overheard. "I got a glimpse inside the service elevator when the maid was loading a trolly, there's at least one surveillance camera and you need a key-card to operate it. But there are buttons for all the floors and a helipad on the roof. It's the same for the express elevator. You need a key card to operate it, and I'm willing to bet that you have to be hotel staff or staying on those floors. How about the stairs?"
"The stairs and escalators in the atrium only serve floors one to seven, the convention facilities and restaurant and so forth. Above that it's bedrooms and the only stairs are next to the service elevators. There are cameras and motion sensors."
"That's a little paranoid," said Lois, "they must get a lot of false alarms."
"Most people never think of using the stairs, I guess," said Clark.
"Can you get past them?" asked Lois, then noticed one of the hotel security men looking in their direction and guessed that they might be attracting attention by staying still while the bustle of the hotel went on around them. A little more loudly she added "And I'm telling you, Charlie, there's no way that you could get Arnold Schwartzenegger and a horse into one of those glass elevators, any more than someone could slide down one of those banners."
Clark picked up on the cue and said "That wasn't 'True Lies', Laura, that was 'Commando.'"
"We haven't even checked into the con yet, and you're already arguing about films."
"I guess we'd better check in then." He looked around, pretended to spot the security man, and went over to him and asked "Is the convention check-in around here somewhere?"
"The membership desk? It's on the second floor."
"I told you we'd come too high," said Lois, and turned towards the escalator.
"I thought I told you," said Clark, just loud enough for the guard to hear. He gave Clark a look of compassion, Clark did his best to look henpecked and followed her down.
"Think he bought it?" murmured Lois.
"Why not? I don't think he was suspicious anyway. Let's just hope that none of the media fans recognise you."
"You. The famous one." During Lois's second pregnancy she'd finally completed her novel and sent it to an agent. Two weeks later the film rights had sold to Woody Allen for a hundred thousand dollars. Filmed as a romantic comedy, 'Wanda Detroit' had been a huge success. An unforeseen side effect was a whole new level of fame, over and above her reputation as a journalist; the novel had Jimmy's best picture of Lois on the cover, and they occasionally ran into fans. At a media convention that seemed more likely than usual and fans were likely to wonder why she was there incognito.
"Why did you think I'm wearing a cap, Charlie?" She pulled down the brim of her cap a little, to make it even less likely that she'd be recognised, dug him in the ribs with her elbow, and spent the next couple of minutes rubbing her funny-bone and wishing that she hadn't.
"Let's hope it's enough."
An hour later Lois and Clark were in the lobby, wearing their convention badges and pretending to discuss sightseeing tours, when Xander arrived. As they'd arranged he glanced past them without any obvious sign of recognition bar a tiny nod, and Clark again wondered about his background. Most people would have been unable to resist reacting more openly. Soon Xander was telling the story they'd agreed:
"..been in hospital, came home minus an eye to find the entire goddamned town destroyed and my parents missing. Doctors didn't tell me earlier because they were worried I might have to be sedated. So I finally remembered to check my voicemail and they said they'd won the jackpot and were staying here. I checked the date you said they checked out and that's the same day they left the voicemail, so I think that they would have said if they were leaving, especially since they didn't have a home to go to. Someone's giving me the run-around. Where the hell are they?" Xander smashed his fist down on the counter with his last word, rattling a nearby vase.
"Just a moment sir, I'll check again," said the receptionist, going into a back room.
"I think the CSI tour sounds good," said Clark, in case anyone was listening, "They might even be filming if we take it on Monday."
"I want to do the James Bond tour," said Lois. "Diamonds Are Forever is a classic, and we can do it tonight." She was listening to Xander through a tiny radio, concealed under her cap. The transmitter was concealed in Xander's pocket.
"It's the Star Wars memorabilia talk tonight," said Clark, looking at the convention programme, "we don't want to miss that."
"We don't?" said Lois, raising her eyebrows. Clark gave a tiny nod towards the reception desk, where the receptionist had returned with an older man. He focused his hearing on the desk, and heard "...delicate situation. Your parents gave instructions that they were not to be disturbed by anyone, especially... and I'm quoting here... 'my money-grubbing family.'" Clark focused on the man's badge and saw a familiar name, Lee DeMarco.
"Well," Xander said more loudly, "I don't want a nickel from them, I just want to make sure that they're okay and remind them that they need to make a claim on the disaster fund. If they leave it too long they're going to lose out. They must be entitled to a half million or so including dad's business." It wasn't true, the real amount was much less since a huge chunk would go to pay off mortgages and other debts, but if DeMarco was as greedy as they thought the extra money might be attractive.
"I'll pass on the message, sir."
"And I'll wait here until I get a reply."
"In view of this situation, the Lexor will be delighted to comp you at the bar or one of our fine restaurants while you're waiting."
"Okay, I'll take you up on that."
DeMarco scribbled something on a card, and handed it to Xander. "Give that to the barman, or to the waiter if you choose to take a meal."
"Okay," said Xander. "Thanks. One question, how will you find me when my folks are ready to see me."
"When you use the card I'll be informed."
"Right. Thanks... and tell my folks I'm really not after their money."
He looked at the hotel plan displayed near the reception desk and strolled towards one of the escalators. As he went up he murmured "Headed for the bar and grill on the fourth floor."
"Did you get that?" asked Lois. Clark nodded, and in a louder voice said "Let's go eat." If they took the lift they'd get to the bar at about the same time as Xander.
Comments please before I post to archives.
Next part probably tomorrow evening.