Red Flannel


Lex stood at the wall of windows in his office at the top of LexCorp Tower, looking out over Metropolis.   Dusk painted the clouds with amber and primrose. Lights flickered on in windows, illuminating buildings like a chessboard. In the distance, Lex thought he saw a darkened shadow of Superman imposed against the sky and, for a moment, felt as though his heart were breaking. 

A scowl creased Lex's face and he downed the drink clutched in his good hand. The alcohol did not wash the feeling away. It came off and on, ever since the alien appeared in Metropolis, and Lex didn't understand why, which added another notch of loathing to the list of reasons why he hated Superman. The list was plentiful. He hated the way Superman made himself lord and savior over Lex's city; he hated how people relied on Superman to help them instead of helping themselves or calling the police or fire department; he hated that Superman was called a hero when the real heroes - those same police and fire personnel - went ignored; he hated the destruction Superman wrought to streets and buildings without giving money to pay for repairs; he hated that when he took home Jasmine or Lydia or Charlene, he dreamed of waking up to find Superman in his bed, dark hair mussed, wearing a nubby, red-checked flannel shirt, watching him with heavy-lidded green eyes and a soft smile curving his lips... 

Lex turned forcefully from the window and stalked over to the liquor cabinet. He sloshed another finger of scotch into the glass. He'd thought enough about Superman for one night.   He had an interview with Clark Kent in a few minutes and needed to be focused. Kent was a professional, and good at his job at the Daily Planet. He was a front page reporter, not some pamby business reporter or fluff writer. Lex had done his research. Kent was son of Senator Martha Kent, both from Smallville, though Lex didn't remember ever meeting them during his brief sojourn there almost a decade ago. Kent would have been in high school then and Lex didn't do underage boys, anyway. 

Fortified by the scotch, Lex set the empty tumbler aside, straightened his violet tie, and checked to make sure nothing was visible on his glass-topped desk or on his computer monitor that Kent could read. The chime sounded on the phone's intercom and he hit the button. "Yes?" 

"Mr. Kent is here, sir," his secretary said. 

"Send him in."

One of the double doors to his office opened, and Clark Kent walked in. Tall and broad-shouldered, cloaked in an ill-fitting, dull navy suit and a sloppily knotted red tie, both which begged to be removed, Kent held out his hand. "Mr. Luthor. I'm Clark Kent. Thank you for agreeing to this interview." 

Lex's scarred right hand, hidden by a black glove, was engulfed by a strong, sure grip. Dark hair curled over the frames of Kent's chunky glasses, and he wore a bright, easy smile. The sharp cut of his cheekbones and jaw reminded Lex of Superman.   A tingle of anticipation coiled in Lex.   "Tell me, Mr. Kent, do you own any red flannel shirts?"