1964-07-01 - The Shadow and The Shade
Summary: The famous Lamont Cranston meets the equally infamous Ms. Luthor… and senses the darkness within her.
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lex-luthor lamont 

So, the exhibit's a temporary one, this the opening gala. The subject - Italian art rescued by the Monuments Men of the second World War. There are beautiful altarpieces, Roman sculptures and their imitators - even, in some cases, whole mosaics and frescoes abstracted from their original backgrounds.
Not that many are there really for the art - most are there to mix and mingle, women in dresses of satin and silk, jewels glittering at throat and ear. The men are far more somber - this is black tie, after all. Most are there to gossip and drink and spread rumors, for those in the know whisper that many of these pieces were far from legitimately acquired, after the war.

Most are paired off, but one man stands alone, contemplating a copy of Mantegna's painting of Saint Sebastian. Lamont's in a severely tailored tux, not at the height of fashion, but flattering enough. All of it very plain, save for the dark opal ring on his left hand, which holds a flute of champagne. Apparently forgotten - he hasn't drunk from it in quite sometime. Not here to mingle, it seems.

And Lex Luthor? She was almost always invited to events like this. And tonight was no different- dressed in haute couture from the finest of Italian houses. It was clearly made with only her in mind. Its a dress of silk, in greens and ivory colors. She wears a fortune in jewels- some very old, antiques that are famous throughout the world. She wears them with an impetuous knowledge that she's quite safe anywhere in New York City.

Slowly, Lex comes to find herself near Lamont- looking quietly at the painting of St. Sebastian.

"A lovely painting." she offers quietly, "Are you a fan of the period?"

He's in something of a reverie, it seems, for he blinks a moment before turning to look at her. His expression's mild, curious, though the gray eyes are curiously opaque. "More the later Renaissance," he says, quietly. His accent's upper class New York - not someone from out of town, in for the event. "But this," A gesture with the hand holding the glass indicates the somber image of the saint martyred by arrows, "Reminds me a good deal of some of the art I saw during the war. I ran into a few of the Monuments Men from time to time." He looks to've been of age during the war, if the apparent age of his face is any indication - middle forties, perhaps? "And you, ma'am?"

Alexandra Luthor is a young woman- under thirty. Her meteoric rise to power and wealth is almost legendary- she's got more money than most of the people in this room combined- and her company? It could probably buy and sell everything in this museum. "I'm more a fan of early Renaissance, and art from Islamic Spain." she notes. "I enjoy the geometric designs in Islamic art." she notes, "I have several lovely pieces from the period."

"Lex Luthor." She states, offering a gloved hand over to the man. "A pleasure, I'm sure."

There's a faint warming in his face at that. "Yes," he says. "Surely you've visited the Alhambra?" His tone is almost hopeful. "Lamont Cranston, how d'you do?" He takes her hand, shakes it firmly - rumor paints him as a wealthy recluse, the heir to some other former playboy, but there are gunman's calluses on that hand. A hobby, perhaps? His curiosity's more open now, despite that reserve.

"Visit Spain?" Luthor asks, "Only on business." she states, "There is a lovely economic boom happening now, and it won't be stopping any time soon. Franco was a smart man to put those technocrats into power." Lex says with a chuckle, "My business trips don't leave much time for sightseeing, though, I'm afraid." she says, "As sad as that may be. Still, I'm told its one of the marvels of the era." she states, as she takes hand and gives it a quiet shake.

A woman of odd opposition to the norms, Lex looks up and over her shoulder- a man isn't far off. She snaps her fingers, "Care for a cigar, Mister Cranston?" she wonders of him as a cigar appears from the suited man's pocket to be handed to Lex. She takes a match from the man, already lit, and begins to puff away- very unladylike.

Lamont clicks his tongue in evident sympathy. "Unfortunate, I'm sure," he says, mildly. "It is not to be missed." Then her minion appears with tobacco and match. "Don't mind if I do, thank you," he adds, apparently unfazed. Also without entourage - no sleekly coiffed beauty has made her way from the crowd to his side, nor are there attendants of another sort. But then, he's a relic of a very different age.

Another cigar is produced, along with an unlit strike anywhere match for Lamont. The cigars themselves are thinner and more elegant than those most popular with business men- however, the tobacco is of the finest type. Hand-rolled, likely from somewhere in South America or the Caribbean. The finest sort of cigar. She is a woman of expensive tastes, it seems.

Lex puffs quietly on her cigar for a long moment, "I'll have to see if the Generalissimo will show me around sometime." she mentions on Spain. "LexCorp has begun to open offices there, you know. Taxes are high, but certainly worth it. The boom has been good for business." she smiles at that.

"SO then, Mister Cranston, what is your business?"

He examines the cigar gravely for a moment, and then flicks the match alight with a thumbnail, gets it properly lit before replying. No novice in this either - no coughing or tearing up. "Indeed," he agrees, once he's wreathed in smoke. "I have not been back since Franco took power," he says, with a faint hint of regret. "My business?" he asks, voice languid. "A little of this, a little of that," The hand holding the cigar makes a vague gesture, leaving behind an arabesque of smoke that hangs in the air for a moment. "Import export, investments in other companies. I've rather been on hiatus, travelling, for several years."

"It hasn't been an easy time for the Spanish people, but things will improve." Luthor says, " Particularly with LexCorp in their economy. We already employ two thousand Spaniards." She mentions with a quiet smile. "Very proud of LexCorp's Spanish division." She then continues, "So, you have no business, mostly just managing money you already have." she notes.

"So then, where have you been? What brought you back?" she wonders as she looks over a shoulder towards the man of the evening- a man who is rumored to have connections to the five families of New York. He is, of course, Italian himself… "Were you invited to the event by Mister Falcone?" she wonders, next. "Lovely man."

"I'm sure you have much to be proud of," he agrees, tone still offhand. "No settled business, no," he admits, without any sign of shame. Idle rich, more or less. "All over, really. And …there are wonders to see, but eventually, one does get homesick." His gaze follows hers to Falcone, and there's a momentary gleam in his eyes. "Is he now? I'm not personally acquainted. I rather thought I was invited because I'm a regular donor to the Met, truth be told. You know him, I take it?" That pale gray gaze is back on hers, now, after a puff of smoke from the cigar.

"Oh, I know everyone of power in this city, Mister Cranston." Lex states, "Mister Falcone's businesses often make use of LexCorp products." she continues, "And he has wonderful taste when it comes to whiskey." Lex smiles as she looks back over to Lamont. "He's the kind of man who knows what he wants, and how to get it. I can only admire that sort of thing- but, like knows like." She says next before puffing on her cigar a bit more. "He's a good client. I make it a point to show up at my good client's parties."

He regards her patiently for a little while, gaze cool. But afer those few moments, there's a distinct kindling of interest. As if he'd just now noticed her beauty….or classified her as worthy prey. Women have so rarely been his opponents. "Of course," he agrees. "Always a wise policy."

Even considering Mister Falcone, Lex Luthor is likely the worst person in this room. A room full of truly garbage human beings. She is dangerous. She is beautiful. She is powerful. She's a certified genius and business wizard. In so many ways she is the most deadly thing in the whole Met this evening. "One must know who's on the playing field, Mister Cranston." Lex states, "Its how you win the game. I play and fully plan to win the game." she says with a quiet smile, a wicked thing.

"But what is the goal of the game?" he asks, lightly, almost teasingly. "The most money? The most power? Overt or covert? An ideological cause, apocalypse or utopia? Fame, love, recognition, revenge?" He tosses the options out like a croupier dealing onto a table.

"The game is life, Mister Cranston." Luthor states simply. "To make yourself what you want to be, and to make a mark on the world at large. To be known and remembered and most of all, respected." Lex looks over to the man quietly, "For a woman, that's not an easy task. This world has been very unkind to women and only recently are things changing." she takes a slow breath, another few puffs off her cigar. "But, I do mean to ensure that everyone of of those men down there- the rich and powerful- understand completely that gender plays nothing in the game we're all playing all the time."

Now he smiles in earnest, and it transfigures his face. Takes years off it, and offers the shadow of the young daredevil he once was. It's not mocking or wicked, though, but genuinely delighted - the grin of the hunter who's just seen the maneater wander into his sights. "The female of the species is more deadly than the male," he quotes, gently. He casts his gaze at the assembled - the rich, the powerful, the glamourous, the corrupt. "I look forward with great interest to following your career, Miss Luthor. They won't know what hit 'em."

"They'll know, Mister Cranston. They'll just never believe it." LEx says with a quiet smile, a wicked thing, as she nods her head towards Lamont. "If you'll excuse me, I have to go speak to Mister Falcone regarding a particular mutual business interest of ours." she nods her head quietly before turning. Her Valet/Bodyguard follows not far behind as she heads off down to speak to the notorious mobster- who greets here with all the knowledge that she is as dangerous as any man in this room. At least the criminal element is willing to accept her with open arms.

He even bows a little in farewell. "Of course," he agrees, smoothly. "Do have a good evening," he wishes her. And then he turns back towards the painting, but his eyes are still almost suspiciously bright.

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