How Frogs and Cookies Ruined Clark's Life
Originally written for the www.livejournal.com/users/sv_undercover/ challenge: someone makes a proposition. Thanks to kitkat3979 for the beta, any remaining errors are my own. Disclaimer: I have no rights to these Smallville characters; no copyright infringement intended.
Clark was positive he hadn't heard Chloe correctly. "What?"
"I said I couldn't wait to see which baby picture your mom sent in for the yearbook. I bet you were adorable," Chloe teased.
"Yeah, he was a cute kid," Pete added. "What happened, man?"
Rolling his eyes at Pete, Clark set his drink down. "Chloe, what are you talking about? They only do that for seniors, not juniors."
"If you paid as much attention to what's going on in school as you do to Lana-" Chloe flipped her blonde hair toward the Talon's bar, "you'd have seen the notice in the Torch about it. They're trying to sell more yearbooks, I guess."
"Besides that, the letters went out to the parents a couple months ago," Pete added. "I tried to hide my baby book, but my brothers said humiliation is a fine Smallville tradition. Mom wouldn't even tell me what picture she sent in."
"My mom never mentioned a letter like that," Clark said, trying to remember. Had she?
Chloe rolled her eyes. "Clark, it's supposed to be a surprise when they hand out the yearbooks. Besides, your mom probably thought you'd hide your baby book like Pete."
"I was adopted when I was three, Chloe, I don't have a baby book," Clark said.
"So?" Chloe sipped her coffee. "I bet your folks took tons of pictures at your most embarrassing moments." Her confident demeanor slipped a little. "My dad sure did," she said in a low undertone.
"Yeah, what did he send in, anyway?" Pete asked. "Any chance of full-frontal-ow!" Chloe and Clark had whapped him at the same time.
"I don't know," she admitted, looking a little worried. I tried to hack into the yearbook club site, but they had it too well protected." Chloe stood, gathering her things. "It's a moot point, anyway, since the yearbooks come out tomorrow. My only hope is that someone else's picture is more embarrassing than mine." She shot them a hopeful smile. "I'm sure one of you will help me out!"
Watching her leave, Pete and Clark exchanged worried looks.
"You look confident," Pete observed the next day in homeroom.
"I was worried for nothing," Clark replied. "I asked Mom if she had sent in a picture and she said no."
"And you believed her?"
"My Mom wouldn't lie to me, Pete."
"We'll see," Pete replied, watching the teacher hand out the yearbooks amid the din of chatty students.
So confident was Clark that he flipped right to the S section to look at Chloe's picture. "Aw, she's cute! Her dad sent in a good picture, huh Pete?"
But Pete was staring in open-mouthed amazement at the yearbook. "Clark, I don't know how to tell you this..."
"What?" Clark looked over to Pete's yearbook. He was in the K section, and unmistakably, there was a photo captioned Clark Kent, age 3. Above the photo was the caption Frog! Clark was stunned. It wasn't just any picture; it was the Worst Possible Picture that could have been submitted.
"Damn, Clark, I wouldn't have thought your mom would send in the full-frontal-"
"Oh, no," Clark groaned, head sinking to the desk. "Kill me now. If you're really my friend Pete, you'll kill me now."
"I would if I could," Pete shook his head in sympathy. "Man, no one deserves that, not even you. And wait till Chloe sees it...and Lana...and the rest of the school..."
Clark groaned again. Why didn't he have any useful abilities, like invisibility?
"Mom, how you could you do this to me?"
Martha looked up as the yearbook landed on the kitchen table. "Oh, they came out today! Let me see which one he picked," and she was flipping through the yearbook to The Picture That Ruined Clark's Life. "That one! Oh, aren't you cute!" Martha beamed at Clark.
"Mom! You said you didn't send in a picture," Clark complained.
"Well, I was going to, but just couldn't decide which one, and then I missed the deadline. I was so upset with myself, and then Lex offered to help-"
"What?" Clark sputtered. "Lex did this?"
Martha shook her head as Clark zipped off, and went back to looking at the yearbook...Clark was simply too cute in that picture...
"Lex, I thought we were friends."
Looking up from the computer, Lex saw Clark staring at him in outrage. "We are friends, Clark, last time I checked; care to explain?"
"The baby pictures," Clark hissed. How dare Lex act innocent when his life was ruined?
"Oh, the yearbooks came out today? Did your mom like it?"
"Lex, why didn't you tell me? I can never go to school again." Clark flopped down into a chair. Lex didn't have these problems. Lex didn't have people yelling 'Frog!' at him wherever he went. Chloe had even asked him to recreate the photo for comparison's sake. Clark had blushed so hard he was sure he was going to set off the sprinklers.
"I think you're overreacting just a little, by fall people will have forgotten about it."
Clearly Lex had never attended public high school. "My best friend betrayed me, I don't believe it."
Now Lex looked slightly annoyed. "Clark, I ran into your mother at the post office, what-" Lex paused to think, "three months ago. She was upset she missed the mail drop...all I did was offer to call the publisher and ask them to hold printing for one more picture. Your mom was in a hurry and left the pictures with me, said to send in whichever one I thought was best. She was so grateful she made me some cookies."
"Cookies?" Clark asked in disbelief. "You betrayed me for cookies?"
"I hardly consider it betrayal, Clark, and not just any cookies, your mom made me a whole assortment. Chocolate-chips, macadamia, and oatmeal-raisin, as big as your hand--well, my hand anyway." Lex appeared inordinately pleased at his cookie haul.
Clark still couldn't believe it. Slumping back against the chair, he muttered, "Well, for ruining my life, I hope you enjoyed your ill-gotten cookies."
"No, I've been saving them, they freeze really well and--" Lex stopped, alarmed at how Clark had looked up, suddenly interested.
"They're in the freezer?" he asked, a too innocent look on his face.
"Clark, no-" but Clark was already up and out of the study, racing down the hall. Lex cursed, struggling to get around the huge desk and stop him. "Clark, those are mine!"
By the time Lex reached the kitchen all he saw was a glimpse of Clark ducking out the opposite side. Quickly Lex turned down another hall. If Clark was trying to get out the front door he could cut him off in the library--
"Clark, wait!" Relieved to see Clark stop, he stepped further into the library. "Put the cookies down, and we can talk about this."
"Too late for that, Lex, you should've eaten these when you had the chance." Box tucked under one arm, Clark was scoping the room for another exit, a maniacal smile on his face.
"Clark, there's no other way out of here." Trying to sound calm, Lex never thought he'd be using hostage negotiation tactics with Clark, but his cookies were at stake. "You don't want to do this." Subtly he turned, trying to block the huge double doors out of the library.
"Actually, Lex, I--" Clark suddenly sobered, eyes wide, looking over Lex's shoulder. "Mr. Luthor," he said quietly.
Lex whirled. His father wasn't supposed to be--damn. He turned back, but not surprisingly Clark was gone. Oldest trick in the book, and he fell for it. Lex listened, but couldn't hear Clark in the mansion at all. He strode out of the library to get his keys. "Nice try, Clark, but I know where you live."
For the second time that afternoon Clark burst into the farmhouse, only this time he latched the screen door behind him. He was halfway up the stairs when his mother stopped him. "Clark, what on earth..."
"Mom!" Clark shifted the purloined cookies under his jacket. "Whatever you do, don't let Lex in. We, um, had a fight, and he's really mad at me."
That probably didn't sound dire enough, judging from his mom's confused expression. "Um, he's really, really mad. Dangerous. Crazy even. Don't let him in!" He started back up the stairs but stopped. "Oh, and if he does come by, I'm not home." He darted upstairs to hide the cookies.
Martha shook her head and went back to fixing dinner.
Ten minutes later there was a knock on the door. "Lex, what brings you by?" Martha asked, unhooking the latch.
"I'm sorry to tell you this, Mrs. Kent, but I've been robbed." He entered the kitchen, inhaling appreciatively. "Suspect is 6'4", black hair, green eyes, goes by the name Clark Kent. Last seen running off with my cookies."
Martha stared, hand frozen above the pot she'd been stirring. "Clark took the cookies I made for you? Wait right there."
Lex watched her stride out of the kitchen, heard her call up upstairs, "Clark Jerome Kent!"
"I'm not home!" was the distant reply.
Chuckling to himself Lex sat down at the table. Amazing how he had his own personal chef who could cook anything, but nothing smelled as good as the Kent kitchen. Muted banging and raised voices could be heard upstairs, then the stomping of reluctant feet down the stairs.
"Clark, apologize and give Lex his cookies back. Honestly, what were you thinking?" Martha moved to answer the ringing phone.
Thoroughly amused, Lex couldn't resist. "Yeah, Clark, what were you thinking?" he murmured.
All he got was a cookie box shoved at him and a gritted, barely audible "Sorry," from Clark.
"What was that? I couldn't quite hear you," Lex opened the box, making sure the cookies hadn't broken. Clark was going to pay for putting his cookies at risk. Oh yes.
Darting a glance at his mother still talking on the phone, Clark leaned in over Lex. "I'm sorry I didn't throw them into the river when I had the chance," he muttered, green eyes glittering.
"Good thing you didn't, you'd be in worse trouble than you are now," Lex observed.
"I'm not in trouble," Clark retorted. "You've got your cookies, you can go now."
"Clark, that was your father, they were delayed in Granville; he won't be back until late tonight."
Clark winced, and Lex couldn't keep from grinning knowing what was coming next.
"Lex, why don't you stay for dinner? Since you're out here already..."
"Not a word from you, young man. Set the table."
"Yeah, Clark, set the table," Lex said under his breath. Louder he replied, "Mrs. Kent, I would love to stay for dinner; it smells wonderful. Can I help?"
"Don't be silly, Lex, you're our guest."
What I wouldn't give for a camera, Lex thought, watching Clark set the table who was shooting him dirty looks when he thought his mother wasn't looking. Clark probably thought he looked tough and defiant, when in reality he was being petulant and...well, cute.
"I'll get you," Clark muttered at one point, slapping down knives.
"Sure you will."
"I mean it. I'm sure there are embarrassing photos of you out there somewhere."
"Quite a few, really, but juvenile records are sealed." Lex didn't bother to mention that those records had been destroyed as well.
"I'm never saving your life again."
"Now that hurts, Clark."
"I mean it. The next bridge you drive off, you're on your own."
Lex snorted. "You're overreacting, Clark, truly. The photo isn't that bad." He paused, wondering if Clark would recognize his setup. "Things could be worse."
Clark gaped at him. "Lex, that photo shows me naked in a washtub holding a frog over my head and laughing like an idiot! How could it possibly be worse?"
Ah perfect, Grinning smugly he called out, "So, Mrs. Kent, I was wondering: what's the story behind that charming photo of Clark?"
Martha laughed, remembering. "Lex, at that age Clark was into frogs. Everywhere he went he had to hop like the frogs. All over the house, hop hop hop..."
Clark groaned, falling into a chair and covering his head with his hands, beaten.
Lex's smile was completely devoid of sympathy. Steal his cookies, would he?