Lex had never been to these labs before. He'd been to the LuthorCorp headquarters downtown and the shiny research facility that sprawled n the midst of Luthor Industrial Park. But this place, tucked into a plain building at the edge of Metropolis, was different. It was cool and quiet down here as he followed behind his father, an institutional feel that reminded him of the hospital. His fingertips tingled and the weight of a phantom IV shunt pulled at his wrist. He wanted to rub at it but a hundred lessons in hiding discomfort finally paid off. Nothing would draw his father's disapproving notice today.
Though the way Lionel Luthor had been acting these past weeks....
Lex remembered waking to all white: walls, ceiling, sheets, the uniforms on the nurses, the coats on the doctors. His body felt heavy and tight, and he'd turned his head to see a clear drip flowing into his arm. An impressive array of machines ringed his bed, their rhythmic whirrs and chirps familiar from the muddled dreams he half-recalled. He nestled back into the pillows--
His head. The linen cool against tender skin.
Lex reached to push his hair back with his free hand, that fluffy red hair that lay so bright against his pale skin, and found....
He'd bitten his lip, muffling his cry to a small gasp, but it was enough to conjure up his father in the doorway.
Another shock, to feel his father's hand smooth over his, then trail back over his naked scalp. A murmured, "You're going to be fine, Lex." And his father's eyes, warmer than they had been in years.
Lionel had visited every day, speaking with the doctors before coming to him. Never a long visit, but more uncritical attention than he was used to. For the first time when his father spoke of the Luthor heritage, Lex did not feel wanting. Instead he felt buoyed up by his father's enthusiasm.
Maybe almost dying was the key to his father's affection.
Ahead of them, a door opened and soft golden light spilled out, drawing Lex back to the present. "Good afternoon, Mr. Luthor. He's just finished his after-lunch nap and is starting playtime." A middleaged woman in a lab coat gestured them into the room.
Inside, Lex's attention was immediately drawn to the large glass window looking into a child's nursery. Bright colored scenes filled the walls and cheerful stuffed animals peeked out from a crib. In the middle of the room, a young woman sat, copper hair pulled back in a long tail. She was throwing a small ball back and forth with a little boy, perhaps three or four years of age, who sat a few yards away from her. The child concentrated on the ball, his thick black hair falling down over his eyes. Lex could hear the woman's voice through speakers as she gently encouraged the boy, praising him for his accuracy and control.
"Who is he?" Lex asked.
His father answered with the suppressed excitement Lex was becoming accustomed to, never taking his eyes off the dark haired boy. "The future, Lex. Your future."
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