This is a beginning. With a new slodicon for luck.
It was a dog who welcomed Clark to the world of hockey. The St. Bernard bounded through the door, leaving paw marks on Clark's shirt and drool spots on his jacket.
"Howie!" a voice from inside yelled. "Howard!" again, sharper this time.
The dog was pulled away and slinked back to the window - to watch the game, Clark guessed. He brushed the hair off his suit, but if he didn't get it to the cleaner's tonight, it wasn't getting clean.
"Sorry about Howie. Game nights make him excitable."
Clark placed him immediately - red hair and blue eyes nobody else had - but he extended a hand to introduce himself anyway.
"Number seven. Right winger," Clark recited, shaking his hand. He studied Lex a moment too long. The red hair helped him stick out of any crowd and every magazine cover. Clark had never noticed the lips before, though.
"You a fan?" asked Lex, carefully.
Clark tore his eyes away, caught. "No. Reporter. Sorry." He dug into his pocket for his press pass, handing it over. "Clark Kent from the Daily Planet."
Lex fingered the ID a moment, grinning. "Nice picture, but you're in the wrong place, Clark Kent." He slipped it back into Clark's jacket pocket. "You must be the new kid over there."
Howie barked in the background as Lex lead Clark into the private box.
"Why do you say that?"
"Only rookies get stuck with the 'Gliders."
In their four year career, the Sugargliders had made the front of the Planet's sports section once: when the league made the expansion announcement. Clark knew what the assignment meant, and apparently, it wasn't a secret in Metropolis. The 'Gliders weren't the embarrassment of the lacrosse team they tried in Topeka, but even a Cup win would have them competing with the Sharks for inches.
"But you're gonna be different, right?"
Lex had asked the question before, had probably even handed the reporter the same blue bottle of water when the poor guy had wandered into the wrong box.
"Why aren't you playing?" Clark decided to say instead. He took the water and moved to the window, looking out over the action and the not-quite sold-out crowd. Howie stayed put, well-trained when he wanted to be. "I didn't see your name on the injury list."
Lex was quiet, waiting until Clark had turned around to speak.
"That's 'cause I'm not injured." There was a pause. "It was an altercation at practice. Coach decided I should sit this one out."
Clark reached into his coat for a pen, but Lex stopped him with a hand.
"Don't bother. My temper won't get you a byline."
He let his hand fall. Clark wanted to say something, but nothing came to mind. Instead, Howie barked, and a second later the goal horn sounded.
"That's my boy," Lex laughed, falling to the ground with the dog, scratching his stomach when Howie rolled over. Clark watched the crowd, trying not to wince when Howie bathed Lex's face with his tongue.
"Uh, I should get to the press box," Clark interrupted.
"Where the action is." Lex got up, wiping a hand on his jeans and pulling the other through his hair, straightening it as best he could. "Listen, I won't leak your rookie mix-up, if you don't say anything about Howie. He's really not supposed to be in here."
"Neither am I," Clark smiled.
"So, it's a deal?" Lex offered his hand. Clark shook it, ducking his eyes, trying not to linger, and not to get caught again.
Lex's lips curved into a smile you'd never find on a hockey card. "See you around, Clark Kent."