Lex tilts his head and reads the note tacked to his fridge. Dear Lex, I'm not from around here. Love, Clark.
He opens the fridge door and pulls out the jug of freshly squeezed orange juice and puts it on the counter next to the plate of croissants Clark always buys first thing every morning. They're still warm from the bakery.
He pours the juice carefully and drinks a glass standing up because he likes his morning rituals, likes things to be in order and, yeah, maybe he's in a rut, but he likes his rut. His rut makes him happy.
He takes a croissant and goes to sit on the balcony. Watching his city wake up is one of his favorite pastimes. He wonders which chunk of it he is going to conquer that day and how. He leaves the end of the croissant out for the birds and goes into the kitchen to wrap up another for a mid-afternoon snack.
There's an email from Clark waiting for him at the office and he smiles to his assistant as she lists the messages that have accumulated since the previous Friday. Her hands are shaking slightly, he thinks, because though it's been three years, she still thinks he might be like his father.
He double-clicks on the email and stares.
Dear Lex, I'm actually an alien. Love, Clark.
Lex sits for a while, staring off into space. Absorbing. It's not that far a step up from meteor mutant, he decides, and there was that whole spaceship thing back in Smallville, though Clark must have been three or four when the meteor shower hit and, God, no wonder the boy had spent his days running around after mutants. Clark's guilt complex could rival Lex's ambition any day.
He considers replying, I'm not going to get pregnant, am I?, but he suspects Clark is going for a theme here and flippancy would probably put him off his stride. So he sits back and waits.
Lex's ten-thirty meeting goes well because his board is just as afraid of him as Cynthia is but, unlike his assistant, he wants to keep them that way. He plays with his pencil in what he hopes is a threatening manner.
There are no emails from Clark when he returns but his calendar reminds him that its his assistant's birthday the following day and flowers would really be appropriate. That's exactly what it says, in fact: Flowers would be appropriate. Buy tulips.
God. He really hates tulips.
He sneaks a call to a florist on his cell phone while his assistant is out to lunch and orders three bunches of white tulips. He deliberates over the note.
It's possible Lex Luthor is going crazy. Again.
He double checks his email before his two-fifteen meeting. And again when he returns. Clark has probably been dragged somewhere by Lois. Investigating something. Maybe even LuthorCorp. It's not Lex's fault if he doesn't quite know when a secret subsidiary of his father's company (dammit, his company) is going to pop up and try to ruin him.
Yesterday, he found out the LuthorCorp towers had sub-levels. And it was only by accident, too. He'd hit two buttons at once and had ended up in a darkened basement with suspicious-looking empty containers lying around.
His father had snickered over the phone before hanging up and Lex had spent the rest of the day in the elevator, trying other combinations of buttons. Three sub-levels and a basement later, Lex had grudgingly decided that maybe it was time to build a new headquarters.
"My life is so hard," he tells the empty room. He plays with some of his desk toys. The little pool table is his favorite, even if he's missing a red ball because last week, when Superman had -
It hits him the way the solutions to complex chemical equations used to hit him. Between the eyes. Sort of painfully, because Luthors are supposed to be quick on the uptake. But he's always let Clark fly just beneath his radar. Literally, in this case.
Coolly, Lex reaches over and picks up his phone. "Hey, Cynthia, put me through to Clark."
"Certainly, Mr. Luthor."
He hums a little ditty to himself as he waits for Clark to pick up. His email inbox is slowly filling with unanswered emails, including some that look really quite urgent. Clark had said, once, when he was in college, that Lex was a distraction. Clark should really try walking a day in Lex's shoes.
"Daily Planet. Clark Kent speaking."
"I can forgive you the cape. Because super-heroes should have a cape. It's just a given - "
"Lex, I - "
"I can even forgive you the colors. Sort of. Good distraction method and you do look good in primaries - "
"But the hair. The hair, Clark." Lex touches his own bald head and mourns Clark's gelled curls in much the same way he mourns them when Clark gets a hair cut. "I don't think I can handle the hair."
"I really don't think this is the time or the - "
"Is that it? Is that everything?"
"Um." There's a pause. "I also had sex with Lana. Once."
Lex's stomach revolts. "Jesus. I think that's worse than the secret identity thing."
"Er. There's also something about the croissants."
Lex's eyes slide to the croissant, wrapped in a paper napkin beside his lamp. He picks up a pencil and prods it. Alien croissant? "Yes?"
"I get them from this bakery in Paris every morning."
"Right." Lex sniffs thoughtfully. He's a little disappointed that it's not an alien croissant, actually. Sub-level two was a lab, and he could have dissected it. "I'm going to hang up now."
"Okay. See you at home?"
"You're sleeping on the couch." Metaphorically speaking, of course. They do have several spare rooms.
"Oh." Good God, the boy actually sounds disappointed. He should be relieved Lex isn't throwing a fit. He should be on his knees with relief. Actually, Lex fully intends to make Clark get down on his knees a lot to make up for this.
"I really am sorry, Lex."
"Hmm." A few hundred more 'sorry's and Lex might be closer to forgiving him. "Tomorrow, you can get me a pain au chocolat instead." And Lex fully intends to get up earlier so he can watch Clark... fly off.
"I have lots of work to do." Lex picks up the tiny pool cue and aims it at a blue ball. "Goodbye, Clark."
Lex shoots the ball across the room. Unfortunately, Cynthia chose that moment to walk in and it bounces off her head really quite spectacularly.
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