"You're an intelligent woman, Chloe," said Lex as they sat at a private dining room in the Moon restaurant in Metropolis known for its excellent dim sum done with a nouvelle twist.
"Your point?" said Chloe, wondering if he was complimenting because he had just sent the latest Mrs. Luthor packing and was casting about for a replacement or was trying to soften her up for some future interview.
"Doesn't the very concept of Justice League bother you?" said Lex.
Chloe frowned. "Why should it? People using their various talents for good? I'm not supposed to approve of that?"
"On the other hand, it's several people with powers going outside the law and enforcing their version of morality."
Chloe scoffed. "And of course, you would never go outside the law."
"I'm just a single man who has a bit more lucre than most and has at most a grudging respect from the populace for that small little fact."
Chloe made a face but kept silent.
Lex continued, "What I'm saying is that you've got a group who think they know what is best for humanity and has the power to do what they want. Most people have a very high, almost worshipful regard for them. That's a very dangerous combination."
"If they were interested in conquering the world, wouldn't they have done it by now?"
"It might take a crisis to push them into it but I can see how it would happen. They would have to take stronger and darker measures until they finally go from being merely superpowered vigilantes with what may be considered good intentions to being something more . . . problematic. They may decide the situation has a permanent need for the world to be under a heavy handed version of their . . . guidance. You know everyday that things are getting worse and worse all over the world."
"Well, that's all very hypothetical. You're not thinking of provoking such a situation, are you?" said Chloe.
Lex chuckled. "No. I have no plan on making my worst nightmare come true. I'm just being realistic . . ."
"Cynical, more like," she said drily.
"Realistic about what could possibly happen. I would like to point out something ironic about the name Superman."
"What's so ironic about that name?"
"He's not precisely a man. He looks like one. He mimics that actions of one but really he's just as alien as the Martian Manhunter. Besides, it reminds me of a peculiar and simplistic interpretation of a philosophy espoused by Nietzsche."
"What kind of interpretation?"
"Now some people have interpreted Nietzsche to read that if a man is more talented and more powerful than regular folk then he has the right to decide what his moral and ethical boundaries are. As you know, that's a very dangerous thing. Don't you agree?"
"Let's hear the rest of the argument, first." said Chloe.
"I'm saying that simply Kal-El can fly, shoot heat out of his eyes, and throw people thirty feet away, it doesn't entitled him to be considered a `Superman.' He isn't an angel or a morally superior being whose judgement is vastly superior to everybody else's. This also applies to his comrades."
"He's someone who has saved people whom he has no reason to save other than pure humanitarianism. In fact, I think one of those people is sitting across the table from me."
"I'm not going to dispute the idea that he and his friends has done some good things for some people."
"I'm amazed to hear you say that."
"You wouldn't be if you bothered to stop making crass assumptions and actually tried to understand . . . Simply because a cop or a firefighter saves lives does not make him exemplary in other parts of his life. Also I'd like to point out that just a few days ago, he blew this undercover operation that the police had been setting up for months because he picked the wrong guy to manhandle and deliver to the station."
"I know he's not perfect . . ."
"A most magnanimous admission from his number one fan."
"If you are saying that he's going to turn into a monstrous overlord, you are really off-base. He . . ." Chloe paused before saying, "He has wrestled with the issue. Being aware of how his powers can be abused, he has bent over backwards not to abuse them. Besides, it's not like the rest of Justice League wouldn't stop him if he tried."
Before Lex could saying something, a waiter carried in two small bowls of congee, a type of rice porridge, with a small portion of foie gras on top that was melting into the thick white liquid. "It's an odd combination but it's interesting."
Chloe grudgingly tried a few spoonfuls before declaring, "I think I'd like some shrimp dumplings and a couple pork buns instead."
"As you wish," said Lex as he gave orders to the waiter who promptly left the room. "Where were we? Oh, yes, his colleagues stopping him from ruling the world. They might decide that it's a good idea to run the world together because it needs all the help it can get. Road to hell . . . and you know the rest."
"I don't think so."
"You don't? I know that one member is very tired of the revolving door of a certain asylum in Gotham. I can guess that the other members are also rather tired of the inadequacies of the rest of us."
"I get tired of how the world is, too. It doesn't mean that I want Operation Overlord."
"I think there are actually people who would welcome such an operation."
"You don't think people would rebel?" she said, raising an eyebrow.
"I'm sure there would be a rebellion even if it was just me and an army of mercenaries. However, I'm also saying that there would be people who would have absolutely no problems with living under the rule of a strongman as long as the streets were clean of various kinds of filth and the trains ran on time and there was a chicken in every pot. People live under worse conditions all over the world. They'd buy into it especially if the ruler came packaged as a Savior with all the power that quasi-religious connotations could give him."
The waiter came back with the requested dumplings and buns and put them in front of her. Using chopsticks, she popped one of the dumplings into her mouth and found it juicy and hot.
"I see it's more to your taste."
"It is," she said after swallowing it. "He doesn't want to be God either."
"It's not a case of what he says he wants. It's more a case of what he does. And from what I've seen of him, he puts in a lot of effort into changing the universe around him. If he could, he'd probably turn back time and change history."
Chloe felt uncomfortable at that remark, wondering if Lex found out about what Clark had done years ago to save Lana. "You make him sound like a complete control freak." She picked up the pork bun and bit into it with a certain amount of viciousness.
Lex gave Chloe a mocking look. "Are you saying that Superman isn't a control freak?"
Chloe looked exasperated. "He's just trying to make things better."
"That's what control freaks try to do . . . try to make things better. I was raised by one, you know."
Chloe finished her pork bun. "Lex, Superman's not Lionel."
"Really, sure could have fooled me," Lex said quietly. "Both of them tried to make me `better.' Both think of me as an abject failure. If my father was still alive, they would probably share notes over drinks and have quite a few laughs at my expense." He took a sip of jasmine tea. "You're going to say that your hero never wished me harm, that he only wishes the best for me."
"He did and he still does," she insisted.
"Funny, my father often said the same thing, telling me that he was just trying to make me strong and get rid of my weaknesses. Until he found a son that he didn't have to improve because he could do anything and everything my father could ever imagine. The bonus was that he also shared my father's opinion that I was unworthy. It helped that he came with a pretty woman who looked a lot like my dead mother. What a bargain!"
Chloe suddenly lost her appetite. "Lex . . ."
"Knowing . . . It makes you feel like you're in a special club, doesn't it?" he said. A waiter walked into the room and gave him a dish with rice noodle rolls filled with shrimp before leaving. "I didn't have the password or the secret handshake. I had to break in, I got into the clubhouse but it's not that much fun if you're not an official member." He picked up one of the rolls with his chopsticks and ate it. "I know too well that he has other flaws other than a susceptibility to kryptonite. Falling out of love makes you see the man so much clearer."
"Love . . ." Chloe whispered.
Lex took another roll and ate it. "This is good. If you're full, I could order dessert. They have a dessert spring roll paired with lychee ice cream."
"Why are you telling me that you . . ."
"That I know? Because I know that you're going to tell him I know and that he'll visit me."
"It depends on who is correct about him."
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