Lex rarely visited the trophy room. He considered it crass: the dusty menagerie of mangy disembodied heads peering gloomily down from the walls, the tiger skin rug, the splayed jaws of a shark mounted on a pedestal. They had mostly been predators in life, or at least large and bad tempered, and all of them had been on the endangered species list when Lionel caught them. Anybody could go on a Safari these days, but not everybody could bag a snow leopard and bring it home.
The stuffed fish in its glass case was almost as out of place amid the other trophies as - well, as a small bald child in class full of ordinary boys, or a saint suspended in a cornfield. Lionel kept it as a reminder of the castle's previous owner, and his first serious takeover. If Lex had imagined for a moment that Lionel would be upset by it, he would have built a bonfire out of the stiffened corpses and poised the wretched fish in pride of place at the top to sizzle and smoulder until the prizes were just so much ash; but he was quietly certain that Lionel would find such acting out amusing, so he let them alone.
Lex knew the story by heart; his father regarded it as something of a rite of passage. Lionel, so the story went, had been fishing in the burn on the McAllister family estate in Perthshire with his dear old friend Antony McAllister when the phone call came. Lionel had caught the salmon - which was of a prodigious size, fat and gleaming in its iridescent armour, hooked during its long journey from the sea just before it could reach the spawning grounds - as his dear old friend's face crumpled incredulously at the news that LuthorCorp had been behind the buyout. That LuthorCorp owned McAllister Inc and held the mortgage on the castle. That Lionel owned everything now. The fish flailed desperately on the end of Lionel's line, its silvery mouth gaping as it drowned in air. Antony McAllister stared at his schoolmate, his best man, his wild and fearless American friend, the man whose career he'd helped to build, whom he'd introduced to the right people, whom he'd treated like a brother, and was at a loss for words.
"You have twenty four hours to get off my property," Lionel had told the laird, and he had smiled. "Then we're going to pull the castle down and send it out to Kansas."
And that, Lionel had told his son, just goes to show you what happens to the weak. Natural selection, my boy. Natural selection. Trust nobody.
Lionel Luthor had hired landscape artists to build a lake and had shipped over scores of startled fish from the Perthshire estate, but he had left the castle to gather dust out in the middle of nowhere, and let the transplanted fish slowly die. He had certainly never taken his son fishing. Lex had never craved the opportunity to spend some quality time alone with his father in a tiny wooden vessel, bobbing on some deserted lake with nothing to entertain them but the panorama of mountains and trees sprawled under silent, empty skies, enlivened only by the occasional rainbow gleam of a dragonfly darting past. He couldn't imagine Lionel in such a bucolic setting, but upon reflection Lex was a little surprised that Lionel hadn't tried to impart any early Luthor life lessons via a father-son fishing trip. The principles weren't so far removed from those he lived by, after all. Perhaps Lionel had considered such lessons redundant, because his son had always been a good strategist. And Lionel had, to be fair, taken Lex swimming with sharks off the Great Barrier Reef for his fifteenth birthday. That had been - memorable. Appropriately Luthor-like.
Jonathan Kent took his boy fishing every year, and Clark, unsurprisingly, hated it. Lex, surprised by another twinge of envy, was still amused that a boy raised on a farm should feel any sentimental compunction about the fate of a few fish. Not for Clark any patient game of waiting in silence with eyes fixed calmly on a brightly coloured lure, until at last the unsuspecting prey ventured to take a tentative bite at the bait. Clark, despite his stalker-ish tendencies, was a lousy hunter. A big, guileless, bounding puppy of a boy. No killer instincts at all.
Then again, it occasionally struck Lex - generally when he found himself agreeing to do something time-consuming and philanthropic after one hopeful hazel gaze - that Clark might be the best hunter he'd ever met or heard of.
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