Leslie Templeton was maybe the best-known agent in Metropolis, and she had certainly lived up to her reputation that night. Well, at least her professional reputation. Lex's copy of his contract lay on the passenger seat next to him, waving at him in the late-night breeze. It still amazed him a little. A brief meeting in her office earlier this evening, just long enough to sign his name so many times it stopped looking real to him, and it was official.
Lex Luthor was a professional athlete.
He'd tried sleeping, but the excitement still buzzed under his skin hours later. Official or not, something just didn't feel right yet. Finally, he decided to go for a drive. There was something he knew he had to do.
He drove passed the arena, and turning on Western Avenue, Lex stopped in front of Carl's Ice Box. The Ice Box was a like second home to Lex, and the owner, Carl, had existed in that strange middle ground between father and friend. Lex had spent countless nights at the Ice Box, drinking oceans of cream soda (and later, beer), eating mountains of ribs, and watching the 'Gliders games on Channel 5 with Carl, all the while telling anyone who would listen that this day would come. Carl used to just snicker and pat Lex on the shoulder when he really got going, but the amusement in Carl's eyes had faded into belief over the past couple years, and that had only strengthened Lex's drive.
When Carl had cleared a space on the wall between signed pictures of Gretzky and Lemieux, he told Lex it was only a matter of time, he expected the first autographed photograph. It was the closest Lex had ever gotten to crying in public, and maybe the happiest he'd been since before his mother died; Carl just wiped down the bar, and pretended he didn’t notice.
As happy as he was, as much as he had worked for this, Lex knew his dream was only half complete. He sighed, running a shaking hand absently through his hair as he climbed out of his car.
The grimy, soap-covered windows hurt his heart, and someone had spray-painted words of soundless fury on the front door. Though Carl had only been dead for a few weeks, the Ice Box already had a feel of lingering desolation. His daughter had been unwilling to sell at first, and then she'd asked for far more then the place was worth, but she was no match for a Luthor's tenacious will. Carl could have told her that.
Lex unlocked the door, and with a small push, it swung open silently. He took two steps into the darkness and reached out for the light switch he knew was there, just behind the bar. A soft glow filled the main room, and shadows were cast at bizarre angles by chairs turned over on top of the tables.
So many nights he'd stayed to help, running the trash out to the dumpster in back while Carl turned the chairs and swept the floor. Everything looked exactly the same, and Lex half expected Carl to come walking out of the storeroom with a towel thrown over his shoulder and a cigarette behind his ear. Lex eyes blurred with unshed tears, but he just blinked them back.
Lex stepped through the low swinging door that divided Carl's domain behind the bar from the rest of the Ice Box. He reached above the cash register, hanging the picture he'd carried in on the small nail, right between Gretzky and Lemieux. It was taken during the playoffs a couple years before; Carl's beefy arm was slung casually around Lex's neck, and they were laughing.
It was truer than any posed family photo Lex had ever taken with his father, and Lex couldn't think of a better place for it. When he had it lined up straight with the other pictures, he stepped back. He shut the light off again, crossed to the door, and locked behind him.
Standing on the sidewalk, he stuffed his hands in his pockets to keep from wiping at his eyes, and looked up at the stars. Despite the tears, Lex smiled.
It felt right now.