Title: Change - posted June 28, 2007
Author: Lacey McBain
Word Count: ~2450
Summary: Clark learns to appreciate the phone booth.
Author Notes: Future!Fic with a sad lack of actual porn.
Challenge: Originally written for the SV Flash Fiction Enclosed
first time Clark changes in a phone booth, the crowd’s distracted by
Lex’s latest scientific development: a kryptonite-powered jetpack that
promises to revolutionize the aerospace industry—at least for the
highest bidder. Lex hasn’t gotten any better at avoiding the freaks and
psychos that seemed to gravitate towards him in Smallville, and Clark
figures there’s bound to be more trouble than Lois asking some awkward
questions. As much as Lex still manages to get under his skin, Clark
can’t help but feel he’s at least partly responsible for Lex’s
obsession with all things meteor-related, and he doesn’t want to see
He loses Lois in the crowd and looks for
somewhere to change. He hasn’t worn the new suit all that many times
and mostly at night; it still feels strange to him that he’s doing this
hero thing on a more public scale now. Jimmy Olson’s the only one who’s
gotten a half-decent picture of him, and Lois dubbing him “Superman”
grates, but only because he suggested a bunch of better names she
outright rejected. He feels like somewhere along the way he lost
complete control of his life.
Luckily no one’s even looking in
his direction as he slips into the phone booth and starts to change. He
hasn’t gotten the hang of doing it at top speed yet, and carrying the
uniform in his laptop case just means his cape always looks wrinkled.
He’s already had to sit through one lecture from his mom on the
importance of a tidy appearance. It’s likely he’s just going to have to
start wearing the stupid thing under his suits, except it chafes a
little and he has no idea what he’s supposed to do with the boots.
There’s nothing inconspicuous about red boots.
got his shirt undone when the terrorists show up, and he runs through
his change at superspeed, hoping nothing’s inside out. The crowd’s
dispersing with the usual screaming and running, Lois right in the
middle of things with a few well-placed kicks and insults, and Lex is
already half-conscious and bleeding from the head. Typical.
jet-pack thieving terrorists take to the sky, Lex and Lois firmly in
their clutches, and Clark shakes his head, folds his glasses into his
case, and launches himself skyward. He’s just in time to catch Lois,
hurtling towards the ground still shouting threats and profanity, which
is no surprise because she’s got to be the worst hostage ever,
and he sets her down on terra firma, ignoring the dreamy look in her
eyes and the hushed, breathy “Thank you, Superman” that freaks him out
every time because it’s not the Lois he knows.
Lex is still up
there—somewhere—and Clark goes after him because Lex is just as bad a
hostage as Lois, and his plans for self-rescue never ever work
out. They wind up on a rooftop with the bad guys threatening to throw
Lex over the edge and Clark almost wishes they would because at least
it would get Lex to stop trying to make a deal with them. It’s a
surprise that Lex is so damn successful in business because as far as
Clark can see his negotiating skills suck, and it’s almost all
over when the stupid jet-pack takes off by itself, dragging one of the
terrorists with it and suddenly Clark has to rescue the bad guy from
wrapping himself around the spire of a very lovely cathedral. When
Clark touches down on the rooftop Lex is there looking far too smug for
his own good and the cops are taking the other men away.
needed was a diversion,” Lex says, as if they’d had some kind of plan.
Clark crosses his arms and glares at him as he explains about
“If you could control them by remote, why did you let the terrorists
get this far?”
other men had simply given up when the first jet-pack took off because
they’d really only been along for the ride and death on a cathedral
spire wasn’t looking all that attractive.
“It needed a proper
environment for testing,” Lex admits, and Clark lets out a sigh that
frosts the air around him. “And only the one jet-pack actually had an
active remote interface.”
“So, you were bluffing.”
“The key to a successful negotiation is only revealing what you need to
in order to convince the opposition of your sincerity.”
put countless lives at risk, Luthor,” Clark says, but his heart’s not
really in it because Lex still looks frightfully pale, the thin trickle
of blood drying on his forehead, and even after all this time, Clark
knows Lex doesn’t like heights any more than he does. They’ve both
learned to live with the fear.
“So, do you think you can give me a lift back to my building?” Lex
says, gesturing at the LuthorCorp building a few blocks away.
think the walk will do you good,” Clark says, thinking that there might
be a minor elevator malfunction in this building’s immediate future and
that ninety-seven flights down might give Lex time to at least consider
the error of his ways. Or design an even better kryptonite backpack.
It’s a toss-up.
Lex’s eyes narrow and he heads for the rooftop exit just as the press
corps, Lois in front, reaches the top.
fashion statement, by the way, Superman. I like it,” Lex says with a
smirk, and Clark refuses to blush as he looks down and realizes he’s
got his underwear on the outside of his uniform, and now the entire
world knows he likes red briefs. A hundred flash bulbs are going off in
his face, and Clark doesn’t know what else to do so he pastes on a
smile and pretends everything is going exactly to plan.
It always seemed to work for Lex.
second time Clark tries the phone booth route, he’s in the middle of
looking up a number in the Metropolis yellow pages when Cadmus labs
goes up in a ball of neon-green fire and his handful of loose change
scatters around him. He hits his head while he’s pulling his boots out,
manages to get one arm and the cape hooked around the phone
cord and ends up shattering the glass with a flailing elbow while
Cadmus burns in the distance. He can hear the sound of sirens and his
sensitive hearing focuses on other voices, trapped and desperate, and
one all-too-familiar voice trying to enter failsafe codes that don’t
seem to be working.
Superman rescues seventeen trapped
scientists and one slightly smoke-damaged CEO. Lex swears it’s not his
fault this time, but Clark still yells at him for putting lives in
danger, especially his own, and Lex looks at him like he’s the insane
one experimenting with volatile chemicals before saying, “Bad day?”
it’s like Lex is the one with the x-ray vision and Clark feels terribly
exposed standing on the rooftop of Cadmus labs, puffs of smoke still
darkening the air around them, with his underwear on the outside of his
clothes, and Clark sputters a moment before letting out a huff of
breath, and sitting on the edge of the rooftop, saying, “yeah, bad day.”
sits beside him and doesn’t say a word, but when the press finds them,
Lex accepts full responsibility for the incident and thanks Superman
for his help. Clark’s so stunned he doesn’t know what to do, so he
mumbles, “I was just doing my job,” and heads for the Fortress of
It turns out Lex wasn’t at all responsible for the
Cadmus blow up, that he’d been there trying to shut down an
unauthorized project, and it all comes out months later when Lois does
a scathing expose that ends up not being nearly as damning as she’d
Clark spends a lot of time remembering what it was like
to know Lex back in the early days when they still played pool and Lex
offered him history lessons, bottled water, and friendly advice
whenever Clark asked, when Lex looked at him like he was the greatest
friend ever and Clark didn’t know what it was like to be alone in the
world, to never be able to trust anyone. He watches Lex now—sees how
he’s still struggling to figure out right from wrong. Lex didn’t have a
moral compass like Jonathan Kent and Lionel has never done anything but
push Lex in all the wrong directions for all the wrong reasons.
never thought it was hard being Lex Luthor because he was too busy
thinking it was hard being Clark Kent. For the first time in a long
time, he considers that he might’ve been wrong about a lot of things.
The Daily Planet
reports that in spite of a noticeable decrease in crime thanks to
Superman, there have been a rash of phone booth vandalisms in the city.
Generally phones are dented out of shape or the glass is shattered.
Sometimes unfashionable men’s ties are found left behind at the scene,
and once a pair of glasses, but nothing leading to the identity--or
identities--of the vandals.
Lex Luthor runs for the office of
mayor promising to take on city corruption and bring technological
advancement to Metropolis. He endorses a beautification campaign that
includes new larger phone booths made of a more durable material
developed at Cadmus Labs, and even Lois can’t find a selfish reason for
Clark votes for him.
It’s been a long
night of thwarted purse-snatchings and attempted muggings that make
Clark want to just fly home and crawl into bed, but he’s got to go back
to the Planet to finish off a story, and there’s a phone booth right
When he whirls back into his clothes, he realizes someone’s standing a
few feet away. Watching. He feels a shiver of fear as he recognizes who
Lex seems completely unperturbed and lays a hand on the
side of the new, improved phone booth. “Nice, don’t you think?” he
says, as Clark nods and wonders how long Lex has known and if he should
be afraid that everything he’s fought to keep secret is about to
unravel around him.
Lex pats the corner of the booth.
“Bulletproof, shatterproof glass with reinforced corners, wider doors
and an interactive information system. Direct link to Metropolis PD for
emergencies, and—” Lex pauses, “—an eye-pleasing shade of purple.”
leans in the doorway and glances at the painted trim that disguises the
steel bars at the corners. “I always thought it was blue,” he says.
grin breaks across Lex’s face. “You’ve also been known to wear your
underwear on the outside of your clothes, and your choice of neckties
It’s out there now. Lex knows everything—probably
has for a long time—and Clark takes in the familiar smile, the relaxed
stance, and wonders when he decided being right was more important than
this ease of being he’s always found with Lex. He’s missed him—a lot
more than he’s been willing to admit, and maybe Lex has missed him too
because they’re just staring at each other with kind of stupid smiles,
and Clark thinks there are a lot of ways he’d imagined this moment, but
this isn’t one of them.
“Lex—” Clark starts, not sure what to say, but Lex waves a hand and
suddenly the walls of the booth become opaque.
setting,” Lex says, and Clark’s not sure, but he thinks there’s
something else in Lex’s smile now, something that was there long ago
when personal space wasn’t an issue and Clark was too wrapped up in
Lana to realize there were other options available.
interactive screens do double-duty as security feeds, so you’ll need
this if you insist on using phone booths.” Clark catches the small
remote Lex throws to him.
“Remote interface?” Clark asks, and Lex clearly remembers the jet-pack
incident because he ducks his head a little as he nods.
block out the security feed for the amount of time you need—about a
second, I’d estimate—and the video loops for that second, so no one
will even detect the skip. I designed the system, so if anyone
discovers the glitch, I should be able to deflect attention away from
Clark nods. “Why are you doing this, Lex?”
shrugs and when his eyes meet Clark’s they're just as blue and clear as
Clark remembers. “I thought maybe it was time for a change.”
can be good,” Clark agrees. The clock in the main square chimes and
Clark remembers he’s got a deadline to meet and he may be the fastest
typist in the world, but it doesn’t help if he doesn’t have a clue what
to write. Lex notices his glance at the clock because he suddenly
straightens up and says, “I guess you’ve got places to be, things to
do.” He turns to go.
“Lex, wait.” Clark reaches out and touches
his arm, something he hasn’t done in a long time when Lex wasn’t in
need of either a rescue or a good talking to. “I’ve got a deadline at
the paper,” he says apologetically. “But maybe we can go for coffee
“Sure, sometime.” The smile is the one Lex wears when
he’s painting the town red with his socialite girlfriends. Clark’s seen
it staring up at him from the pages of The Daily Planet too
many times to count.
“Tomorrow night,” Clark says firmly, not letting go. “Seven? I’ll meet
you at the coffee shop on the corner of 12th and Main.”
Lex agrees, and Clark’s pretty sure Lex won’t actually believe it until
he’s there. Lex has had a lifetime of being disappointed by people, and
Clark realizes he’s got a lot of making up to do.
“If I’m late, it’s probably because,” Clark takes a breath, “Superman’s
needed somewhere. But I’ll come as soon as I can.”
estimates he’s changed in approximately three thousand seven hundred
and twenty-seven phone booths. Lex corrects him and says he’s changed
three thousand seven hundred and twenty-seven times in approximately
ten different phone booths because he knows Clark has his favourites.
The one in front of The Daily Planet gets a lot of use.
Clark’s come to really appreciate the wider booths.
Eventually he comes to appreciate the privacy setting even more.
Lex does too, although he swears that’s not the main reason he put it
in. Clark knows he’s lying, but he doesn’t care.
Change is good.
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