“You know I was wondering something,” said Lex. He was sitting in one of the chairs in the penthouse while Conner was sprawled out across a nearby couch. This was now the fifth time they had gotten together to try to come up with a way to stop Lana and so far they had established the following: LexCorp’s scientists new top priority was finding a way to disable or remove Lana’s nano-suit, Lex had an awesome car collection, Conner could totally beat Lex’s ass at poker, The Lord of the Rings movies were greatly enhanced by a marathon viewing session, but nothing could improve the quality of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Warrior Angel comics were way too much like their daily lives to be anything but vaguely uncomfortable to read.
Their efforts may have been lacking in focus.
Lex, Conner was fairly certain, was still somewhat under the control of Lana’s meteor power and was subconsciously shying away from actually doing anything that she might not want. Conner’s excuse was mostly that Lex, evil mastermind thing aside, was actually pretty cool. There were definitely worse dads Conner could have gotten saddled with, like Lionel. Besides Lana, after a brief stint as a superhero, then a pastry chef, then a model, was now using her superpowers to feed hungry orphans in Somalia. Conner wasn’t sure how that worked exactly, but the point was, taking her out probably wasn’t of immediate concern.
“Nothing good ever comes from you wondering things,” Conner said in reply to Lex’s earlier statement.
“You want to be careful about blanket statements like that, you almost always end up being wrong,” Lex told him.
“Fine,” Conner retorted. “Usually nothing good comes from you wondering things.”
“Yes, well I hardly think this particular train of thought is going to lead to the end of the world as we know it,” was Lex’s dry response.
Conner eyed him suspiciously for a moment before conceding. “Okay, what were you wondering?”
“You look a great deal like Clark, close enough to fairly easily pass as his brother, and you have all his powers. But from what I remember about you from before I died” – and the fact that he could say that so casually was a testament to just how insane their lives were – “you looked identical to a younger version of myself and had no powers to speak of.”
“Latently dominant Kryptonian genetics,” Conner said in response to Lex’s unasked question.
“Latently dominant Kryptonian genetics,” repeated Lex, skepticism written all over his face.
“Yup,” Conner agreed. “Kryptonian genes are apparently dominant over human ones, but only after a certain amount of time has passed. I think it has to do with needing to absorb solar radiation first.”
“You are aware of how little sense that makes?”
“You were making clones of yourself that underwent rapid aging and then added alien DNA to prevent deteriorating and to make them more stable,” Conner pointed out. “What part of that makes you think that any of this is going to make sense?”
Lex inclined his head in acknowledgement before asking, “Are your Kryptonian genetics also the reason you went ‘evil’ and then rapidly good again?”
“I was never evil!” Conner protested. “Clark told me about the thing you’re talking about and I wasn’t evil, just overly proactive and somewhat reckless about my self-defense.”
“That’s not what Tess’s notes said,” Lex responded lightly.
“Yeah, well Tess was crazy,” retorted Conner belligerently. He and Clark had found a bottle of cyanide and a bent needle when they were going through her stuff after she died, and, completely aside from the fact that she had tried to kill one of them, who the hell tries to poison someone with cyanide by injecting it. The huge effing needle kind of undermined the attempt to kill the person subtlety.
Conner waited for Lex to object to Conner’s defamation of Tess’s character. Lex was weirdly fond of his departed sister, considering he was the one who killed her in the first place.
“You know,” Lex said, “I don’t think you’re supposed to say that about someone if they’re actually mentally unstable.”
“Look Dad, I don’t care –“ Conner began before what Lex had said sunk in. “Wait what?”
“Tess had antisocial personality disorder,” Lex explained.
“Tess was a sociopath?” Conner yelped. “But, how… Why didn’t we know? And why did you?”
“I saw Tess’s medical records.”
Conner almost asked when Lex would have seen Tess’s medical records, but then he remembered it was Lex. “Okay fine. But why didn’t any of the rest of us know?”
“She was very good at hiding it. She had a tendency of picking various people or causes and using them as an external control for her behavior. She did have trouble committing to a single cause though,” Lex told him.
“Huh. Well that would explain the alien Jesus thing,” Conner mused.
“What alien Jesus thing?” Lex asked, perplexed.
“Tess thought Clark had come from outer space to save Earth,” Conner informed him.
“Ah,” Lex said. “On a scale of one to ten, how annoyed does Clark get when someone calls him alien Jesus?”
“Eight,” Conner answered promptly. “Nine if he’s having a bad day. But don’t tell him I told you. If he finds out he’ll probably lecture me.”
Clark was a world-class champion lecturer. He could go on for hours about “the difference between right and wrong” and “considering the consequences of your actions” and “taking responsibility when you mess up,” before he even got to talking about whatever he was upset at you about. And that was if he didn’t break out the down-home style platitudes. Clark’s lectures were truly the stuff of horrors.
“I didn’t hear it from you,” Lex promised solemnly.
“Good,” Conner said. Then a thought occurred to him. “Hey, speaking of Tess, whatever happened to Lucas?”
“Be careful Conner; that almost made sense.”
Conner rolled his eyes the way all teenagers were required to when their parents were trying, and failing, to be funny. “Seriously, what happened to him?”
“Why does Clark tell you all these things anyway?” Lex asked, completely avoiding the question, again.
“Because I ask him. I’m a curious person.”
“Clearly,” Lex responded drily.
“I take after my dad that way,” Conner said with a cheeky grin. Lex rolled his eyes the way all parents were required to when their children were being complete suck-ups.
“If you must know, he died. Got completely stoned and then decided to go out for a joyride.”
“Oh,” Conner said. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Lex replied. “It happened a long time ago now, and to be honest I’m not entirely sure he was even my brother. The ages don’t line up right.”
“What does that mean?”
“Lucas was given up for adoption as an infant and his case was handled by Metropolis United Charities, which was only in business for six months right after the meteor shower in 1989. But to turn eighteen in 2003, Lucas would have had to been born in 1985. So either my father altered Lucas’s records later in order to make Clark’s adoption more believable, or he went out and found someone he could convince that he was actually Lionel’s son as part of one of his elaborate schemes to teach me a lesson.”
Conner considered that for a minute before offering, “I know I never met your Lionel, but from the version that I did meet, those both sound like things he would do.”
“Which is why I’m not certain if Lucas really was my brother or not,” Lex concluded. “Either way, it’s probably for the better that he isn’t around getting underfoot.”
Conner was going to say something else about Lucas next, but Lex’s comment about feet (well it was sort of about feet) clicked something in Conner’s head. He ripped off his socks and checked the soles of both his feet, and, sure enough, there was a small skin toned patch on his right arch. He pulled it off and ripped it in half, and little bits of wires stuck out of the tear. He held it up to Lex, who was looking a bit confused at this point, and said triumphantly, “Batman’s tracker.”
“Do I even want to know how he got that on you?” Lex asked.
“Probably not,” Conner replied. “I know I don’t.”
“Why are you and Clark friends with him again?”
“Because he’s Batman,” Conner said. Lex raised his eyebrows at that comment. Conner considered what he had just said and yeah, it kind of sounded like something a meteor love-slave would say about Lana.
“What I mean is, even though he’s scary and paranoid and has some stalkerish tendencies, he’s also totally awesome and crazy prepared. He kicks ass and he knows everything. And if he doesn’t know it then he has a file on it, just in case he ever needs to know for a case. He has a file on mangos,” Conner explained.
“So you’re friends with him because he has a file on mangos,” Lex dead-panned.
“Well, when you put it like that,” Conner said with an eye-roll. “Besides it’s really Clark who’s friends with him.”
“Clark and his billionaires,” Lex muttered, which Conner ignored because they were supposed to be pretending that Lex didn’t know that Batman was Bruce Wayne.
“I mostly hang out with Robin, and Nightwing sometimes,” Conner finished.
“You mean Tim Drake and Dick Grayson.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Conner responded blithely. And then, since Lex blatantly refused to play the secret identities game, Conner changed the subject.
“We really should be trying to figure out what we’re going to do about Lana,” he said.
“We really should,” Lex agreed.
“Want to order a pizza?” Conner suggested.
“I’ll pick the toppings and you’ll pick the movie?”
“No,” Conner disagreed, “I’ll let you pick the movie Dad. You have horrible taste in pizza toppings.”
Lex looked like he was thinking about being offended, but the he just shrugged. “Deal.”