There was a "pop!", and the suit crumpled to the ground where it lay like a shed skin. In the centre, just near the "S", was a small lump, pushing around in the manner of a kitten under a blanket.
"It's over, Superman," said Lex, a little more uncertainly than he had intended.
The lump moved towards the neckline of the suit, where it poked its head out, revealing floppy ears, a pair of enormous green eyes and a great deal of fluffy white fur.
Lex stared at the bunny. The bunny stared back.
Then it wandered off and started wuffling a dandelion.
For the first couple of days, Lex kept expecting a white whoosh of superspeed and a bunny-shaped hole in the side of his building, but the rabbit didn't seem to have any special powers, just a penchant for celery and the ability to adorably twitch its nose in a way that reminded Lex faintly, horrifyingly, of Lana.
He kept it in an airy cage in his office at first, but he kept getting distracted from his work and staring over at it, especially when it pressed its nose against the bars. Eventually he opened the cage and just let it roam happily about his office. It had a sort of lolloping gambol. He thought it might be a sign of incipient madness to be keeping a bunny in his office on the off chance that it was a transmogrified Superman. Every test result from the lab said that it was simply a French Angora.
Lex had crumpled that first set of test results in his hand, furiously, thinking, the old switcheroo. Superman laughing in the Fortress and Lex Luthor left holding the bunny. The fate of said bunny would have been decided at that moment if the television in Lex's office that showed 24 hour news hadn't started broadcasting live feed of a high speed car chase. Ten seconds had passed. Twenty. Thirty. A minute.
And no Superman.
Lex picked up the bunny and looked it in the eye, holding it at arms length. Its long white ears had fluffy tips that gave it a faintly lopsided look. It was soft to the touch. Its eyes blinked up at him. Of the many and varied forms of victory over his adversary that Lex had fantasized about over the years, this bunny scenario hadn't featured in any of them. But Lex was nothing if not opportunistic.
"Oh, that's a French Angora, isn't it?" said Crystal, his personal assistant. "I just adore his little lavender collar."
"I call him Bunnykins," said Lex, with a feeling of intense pleasure.
Lex spent the next few weeks thoroughly enjoying himself. He took the bunny to galas and the occasional premiere, the ones Clark would really, really hate. He told it about his plans, because it would drive Clark crazy that he couldn't thwart them. He took it to see his particle accelerator and lifted it up so that it could see the kryptonite-enhanced modifications.
Women fawned over the bunny, and loved to stroke it, and sometimes picked it up and pressed it to their breasts, where it looked squashed and uncomfortable. In that respect, Lex reflected, absolutely nothing had changed.
But while Superman had always been easy for Lex to rile, the bunny seemed ineffably content no matter what Lex did or said. It liked celery. It liked sleeping next to Lex's shoe. It liked being lifted up onto the black sofa. Lex took to sitting there with it on the nights when he was working late. Sometimes, draining the last finger of whiskey from a glass, and going over the last of the sales figures, he'd find himself reaching out to tickle the bunny's fur.
It liked, he discovered, being scratched behind its left ear.
And the thing was that Lex enjoyed talking about his plans, and he'd never had a pet before, and it was sort of nice to have something that liked his attention. He found himself telling someone on his staff about the thing it did with its nose, and how it shed hair all over the place. He listened with genuine interest when his staffer replied, "Well, with long haired breeds--" and said something about her cat Miffy.
"Don't you think it would be more masculine to have a snake, or ferret, or a rottweiller?" said one of the LexCorp PR consultants, five seconds before he was wrestled out of Lex's office by two security guards, never to work in Metropolis or any other city ever again.
Lex walked into his office dictating a memo, with Crystal trailing in his wake. When the doors opened, Crystal gave a little scream.
Sprawled out unconscious in the foreground was a man in body armour and a balaclava, packing serious heat in the form of a machete, two hand guns, an assault rifle, and what looked like a grenade launcher.
"Oh my god, it's an assassin," said Crystal, "who suddenly dropped to the ground unconscious for no apparent reason."
The rabbit sat in the centre of the room, looking innocent. Lex gave it a hard stare.
"How awful! I'm glad he didn't hurt Bunnykins," said Crystal.
"You never change, do you," said Lex, when they were alone. "I suppose you've had powers all this time. You've just been pretending to be a normal rabbit."
The tirade went on for some time. The bunny stared up at him. Eventually Lex realised that he was talking to a rabbit and shut up.
"Its DNA is in a state of flux," said Dr Jones. "You see this? This is rabbit DNA. While this, it's like nothing I've ever seen."
"So the powers are intermittent," said Lex. Then he looked more closely at the data. "The rate of fluctuation is increasing. He's reverting to his original form."
"His original form?" said Dr Jones, in the same politely inquiring tone people used to say, "You were kidnapped by aliens?"
At that moment, the building shuddered as though rocked at the foundations, and a shower of sparks exploded from the ceiling. The lights in the lab went dead, plunging the room into near total darkness. Lex had been carrying the gun with the kryptonite bullets since the incident with the assassin. Now he drew it, and began making for the door.
"Mr Luthor? Mr Luthor! Where are you going?" Dr Jones called after him.
Lex said, grimly, "Rabbit hunting."
The corridor was a dead end. The rabbit had nowhere to go. Lex raised the gun. He told himself that he'd been trying to get the better of Superman for years. He told himself that eliminating Superman was even more imperative now that he knew all Lex's plans. He told himself that everything in nature comes to an end, especially rabbits. His index finger moved on the trigger.
There was a "pop!" and Lex suddenly found himself pinned to the wall by an armful of angry, naked Clark. The pain in his wrist told him the gun was long gone. It was difficult to think of guns as there were several new parts of Clark now angling for his attention. A kind of hysteria threatened.
"Well, hello there, B--"
"Don't call me Bunnykins," said Clark, in the bitten off tone of one who has been exploding to say this very thing for two months.
"I suppose you also want me to stop scratching you behind the ear," said Lex, because if you were going to go, it was best to go in style. He closed his eyes and waited for what was coming.
When several seconds passed in which, inexplicably, he remained conscious, Lex experimentally opened one eye.
And saw a very interesting crimson blush spreading itself across Clark's cheeks, a second before Clark said, "Um."