“Snatch the Pebble” [Rated PG]
Clara tapped on the door of the closed movie theater, the Talon. Lex came and opened the door for her. Clara smiled and kissed Lex on the cheek in greeting before saying, "I made it! Why did you want me to meet you here today?"
Lex said, "I bought this property from Mr. and Mrs. Lang as part of a package deal along with several other properties. For sentimental reasons, they made a condition of the sale that this building not be torn down. I'm trying to decide what to do with it. I was thinking of making it into a fitness center. Maybe people could watch a movie while they work out on treadmills or exercise bikes. I don't have a clear plan. Mrs. Lang suggests making it into a coffee house, but Smallville are already has one. I don't know if this town could support two AND turn the kind of profits I would need to see to make it worth my while."
Clara said, "I don't like watching movies so I hope you didn't invite me here to …."
Lex said, "No, I …. You don't like movies? Why not?"
Clara said, "They give me headaches. The twenty-four frames per second flash rate bugs me."
Lex said, "That's too bad. I can’t imagine going without seeing some of the classics or experiencing some of the latest special effects in the movies they make these days. I’m sorry you miss all that."
Clara said, "I have listened to the old movies that are shown on TV. I read a lot and have a good imagination so I don’t think I am missing much. So why did you bring me here? I feel a little guilty meeting you like this. It's one thing if we just happened to bump into each other on River Road almost every day, but meeting behind closed doors like this makes me nervous. I don't like surprises much, so I hope you don't have any surprise planned for me today."
Lex said, "You don't need to feel nervous. I will never push you to do things you don't want to do."
Clara said, "It's not that I don't trust you. I don't trust me either. I'm scared you might not have to push me … or that I might start doing the pushing. And I don't have the slightest idea of what I'm doing when it comes to men. You’re like some alien species to me. Normally, I avoid guys at all costs. It keeps my life a little less complex. But I don’t want to avoid you. You do make me feel all nervous inside … but it’s a good kind of nervous if that makes any sense at all. I don’t know why I'm afraid to talk to my parents about you. … That's not quite true. I'm afraid that if I tell them about you, they'll tell me that I can't see you anymore. And I really do enjoy our, uh, conversations."
Lex said, "Well, let me put you at ease about my plans for today. After what happened with you in the cornfield on Homecoming night, I decided that you are in serious need of some private lessons. Since you don't want to visit me at my mansion, I thought of this place."
Clara asked, "What kind of lessons? … Oh." Clara’s expression suddenly got intensely sad. She looked at the floor and said, “I’m sorry if I did it wrong. Except for my family and my Mom’s women friends, I don’t have any experience kissing anyone except you.”
Lex said, "Clara! You are a remarkable kisser. YOU should give lessons. Well, you COULD but I’d rather you didn’t. I was trying to tell you that you could use some training in self defense."
Clara said, "I don't need ….”
Lex interrupted, "Clara, I'm worried about you. You take all kinds of risks. I'm glad you took a chance pulling out of the river, but you're making a habit of putting yourself in harm's way. You go around like you can't be hurt. You risk everything for total strangers. If you can't stop doing that, you can at least be a little better prepared."
Clara said, "Lex, I'm a strong girl. The guys that took me … they wouldn't have stood a chance if I hadn't been sick that day. Even if I had taken self-defense lessons before they abducted me, it would've helped. I still would have been too sick to fight them."
Lex said, "Anybody, no matter how strong, can learn how to use their strength to better advantage. Maybe that night in the corn field, you could've gotten out of your restraints if you had some training."
Clara said, "You didn't hire someone to train me, did you?"
Lex said, "No, I thought I'd try teaching you what I know."
Clara said, "You?!"
Lex said, "I know tae kwon do."
Clara said, "Well, I know tie one bull and plow forty acres."
Lex said, "I'm serious, Clara. Some day you'll meet someone so equally matched in strength to you that you may need an added edge to help you survive. Training might provide that edge for you."
Clara said, "I'm plenty edgy already. I’ve got more going for me than my strength. I’m a very resourceful person!”
Lex said, “When it comes to defending yourself, you’ve got weaknesses too.”
Clara asked, “Like what?”
Lex said, “Like trust, compassion, mercy, empathy …. Someone out to get you will use all your finer qualities against you.”
Clara said, “I still think I can beat anybody in a fair fight.”
Lex said, “Exactly my point! A fair fight is a rare thing. When a mob comes after you, there is no one there to referee and make sure that the playing field is level. But beyond that, your attitude scares me. Do you really think you could beat “anybody?” There are a lot of big, strong people in this world … and some freakishly strong people right here in Smallville. I’d rather help you understand that you can get hurt and teach you to run for your life, but I know you won’t do that if it would leave anyone else in harm’s way. I’ve begrudgingly come to accept that. My only alternative is to try to convince you to get as prepared as possible for the road that you seem to have chosen for yourself. How will getting a little extra training hurt you?”
Clara said, “I hope it’s not true of me, but I’ve noticed that people who train to fight are tempted to try out what they’ve learned. I don’t want to be a fighter. I don’t even want to be tempted to raise my hand to anyone. I want to heal people, not hurt them. Can we go now? I'll even break a rule and let you buy me a hot dog."
Lex said, "I'm expecting someone. A friend is in town for a few days and wanted to connect up. He said I could bounce ideas for this place off him. He has a knack for making money off of anything, especially real estate. So until he shows up, I had hoped to pass the time constructively with you."
Clara said, "I don't want to meet your friends! I don't want to embarrass you by letting one of your friends see you with someone like me."
Lex said, "You don't embarrass me!"
Clara said, "Thanks, but you should think more about your image in the community. It IS okay for me to leave now, isn’t it?"
Lex said, "But you haven't snatched the pebble from my hand."
Clara asked, "What?!"
Lex said, "There was a TV show called "Kung Fu." A student of martial arts couldn't conclude his training until he snatched the pebble from his mentor's hand."
Clara asked, "So where's the pebble?"
Lex said, "I'll find something." Lex found a cabinet with a loose knob and unfastened it. He said, "This will do." He walked over to Clara with his hand closed. He said, "This is a test of reflexes." He held out his closed hand and said, "When I opened my hand, try to grab the knob out of it before it can close it again." Lex opened his hand and it was empty. He said, "Huh? I swear I felt it in my hand but I must've dropped it."
Clara held out her hand and said, "Looking for this?" She opened her hand and the cabinet knob was in it.
Lex said, "How did you do that?"
Clara said, "I know magic tricks … and I know how to defend myself too. I'd like to do my disappearing act now, before your friend shows up."
Lex said, "Give me a chance. The mat is set up and I have a punching bag too. My friend won’t be here for at least an hour if he shows up at all. He usually calls to say he has some emergency business to take care of. If that happens, I’ll buy you that hot dog."
Clara said, "Okay, but it will be 3 hot dogs and I want to be gone before your friend is supposed to get here."
Lex proceeded to explain principles of self-defense and how to use an opponent's strength against them. Every time he tried to throw Clara to the mat, he ended up on his back instead. Clara managed to keep from laughing, but was having so much fun that she lost track of time. Finally, Lex asked Clara to fall when she was supposed to so he could explain the way things were supposed to work.
Lex was holding Clara to the mat when a voice behind them said, "Did I arrive at an inopportune moment?"
Lex jumped up quickly and brushed himself off before shaking his friend’s hand. The darkly handsome newcomer looked down at Clara and smiled. Clara was not amused to be found that way. Lex said, "Bruce, I was just helping Clara by showing her some self-defense moves."
Bruce said, "If YOU can pin her, she definitely needs more training."
Lex said, "I couldn't throw her down or pin her. I had to ask her to lie down for me for the sake of the demonstration. She's a farm girl -- very strong for her age … for any age."
Bruce said, "Maybe I’ll have the pleasure of having Clara lie down for me someday."
Now Clara was even less amused. Lex said, "I thought our schoolboy competitiveness was in our past."
Bruce said, “It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen you with something I might want.”
Clara got up, offered a polite smile and said, "Lex, I'd better be leaving now."
Lex said, "Just a minute. I still have the pebble." Clara held up her hand and showed him the cabinet knob. Lex said, "Oh, before you go, this is Bruce Wayne. Bruce, this is my best friend, Clara Kent."
Bruce held out his hand. Clara hesitated for a moment then stuck out her hand. Bruce gripped it and stared into Clara's eyes. He said, "You have some kind of aura about you. I can almost sense an energy flowing through you."
Clara kept glancing into Bruce's steadfast gaze and then down at the floor. Finally she said, "I believe you have something that belongs to me."
Bruce said, "Really? What?"
Clara said, "My hand."
Bruce said, "It's only fair. You have something of mine."
Clara said, "Really? What?"
Bruce said, "My heart."
Clara's eyes opened wide in surprise. She said, "Forgive me. Even though I'm a farm girl, I'm not used to hearing corny come on lines. Guys usually won't waste them on me."
Bruce said, "Then how did Lex get you into his clutches?"
Clara said, "Lex didn't. I got him in my clutches. I pulled him out of a river."
Bruce said, "Really? You should have thrown him back and waited for someone bigger to come along … like me. I would gladly jump in a river if I knew that you would pull me out.”
Clara said, “Go ahead … but don’t hold your breath.”
Bruce said, “… waiting for you?”
Clara said, “No, just don’t hold your breath. Period.”
Bruce chuckled and said, “You know, I have much more to offer you than Lex can. Lex's fortune is his Father's. Mine is my own."
Clara said, "Well, I'm not really into money, but there is something I'd like that you have."
Bruce said, "Name it!"
Clara said, "MY HAND!"
Bruce said, "Certainly, but don't be surprised if I ask your Father for it some day."
Lex said, "Bruce … stop fooling around."
Clara said, "It's okay. I live on a farm. I have a high tolerance for bull shit."
Bruce said, "Would you think it was bull shit if I told you that you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen?"
Clara said, "Either that … or that you must spend your life like some hermit in a cave somewhere."
Bruce said, "I've been all over the world."
Clara said, "Then you must be blind as a bat."
Bruce said, "If I am, I certainly have you in my radar."
Clara said, "Well, go hang some place else. Can't you see what kind of signal I'm sending you?"
Bruce said, "If I see a signal, that just triggers me to get busy. Let me suggest that, if you are really intent on hiding just how beautiful you are, you'll need to have something more substantial over your face than a wall of hair -- a mask perhaps. When you move, if I look closely, I can see right through it … and you."
Clara said, “Oh really! What is it that you think you see?”
Bruce said, “Don’t ask unless you are certain you want an answer.”
Clara said, “I don’t really care whether you answer or not. I have to be going.”
Bruce said, “It might not be polite to say what I sense when I look beneath that thin veneer you hide behind. Let’s just say that the description I would use for you is the title of a Rick James song. I’ve heard stories about special people from Smallville. You fit the bill except that exceptional people like you usually have ambitions unrestrained by … by … anything … and you don’t seem to. I think that your exceptional beauty and physique – no, I don’t have x-ray eyes but I’m not easily fooled by someone’s clothing … I think that the odds of someone like you coming into this world by an accident of birth are too astronomical to calculate. I think you must be one of the enhanced people that populate this area. I’d bet my last dollar on it and, unlike you, I AM into money. I find it useful. I like my toys. Do you like toys, Clara?”
Clara turned to see Lex hiding a grin and gave him an evil stare. She said, "Lex, this isn't funny! I don't like men hitting on me … or calling me a super freak!"
Bruce said, “Oh my! Super freak? Why did you choose that one? Why not “Sexy Lady” … or “Moon Child” … or “Soul Sista” … or even “So Soft So Wet” ?? Do you consider yourself a freak, Clara?”
Lex said, "Don’t mind Bruce and his games, Clara. The very rich are often very bored and tend to forget their manners in pursuit of a little amusement. You can be proud of yourself. I thought I was the only one that could stand up to Bruce Wayne ... and never successfully. You are doing great. I'm just dying to see how this is going to end."
Bruce never stopped looking at Clara for an instant. He said, "I am quite enjoying this. Miss Kent can give me a tongue lashing any time she wants to. Speaking of tongue, English isn’t your native language is it? I can usually place someone's point of origin within a hundred miles just by their accent. With you, I'm sure my best guess would be off by a million miles."
Clara said, "Then play it safe -- don't guess if you know you're going to be wrong."
Bruce said, "Lex said he couldn't throw you. Mind if I try?"
Clara said, "YES, I mind!"
Lex said, "Show him, Clara. Otherwise he'll razz me for years. By the time he’s finished with the story, he’ll be saying that I couldn’t pin a girl that was no match for his elderly butler."
Clara said, "Okay, what the heck. Mr. Wayne, give it your best shot."
Clara and Bruce stepped onto the mat. Bruce made several unsuccessful attempts to get a good enough hold on Clara to throw her to the mat. Finally, he turned to Lex and said, "I never would have believed it, this woman …." Bruce turned at lightning speed and threw Clara to the mat and pinned her. He laughed and said, "You did very well. But now that I have you pinned, I could hold you here like this forever with almost no effort. The physics of the situation would require you to have enough strength to move a mountain to get out of this hold."
Lex said, "Congratulations, Bruce, on successfully pinning a 15-year-old girl."
Bruce laughed, then saw that Lex was serious. He examined Clara's face closely. She looked angry and her eyes glowed red. She began to get up despite Bruce's hold on her. He held her tighter, but that didn't slow Clara from moving as if he wasn't even touching her. Bruce applied everything he had to keep her down. She pushed him off like he was a small boy. As she got up, she said, "More like a mole hill than a mountain!" She headed for the door. She called back to Lex, "I'll see you later, Lex. Nice meeting you, Mr. Wayne. At least I'm glad I met you in a well lit room with Lex around. I wouldn't want to meet you in some dark alley."
Lex said, "Wait a few minutes and we can all go out to eat together."
Clara said, "Sorry Lex, I've got to go. Besides, I've got the pebble." She reached into her shirt pocket. Lex and Clara were surprised when Clara found that her pocket was empty. They looked over at Bruce. He was smiling and tossing the cabinet knob into the air.
Bruce said, "Clara, I hope you continue your training. You could be quite remarkable -- a super woman ... IF you find the right instructor."
Clara said, "I'm not a big fan of Nietzsche."
Bruce asked, "Then whose philosophy do you prefer?"
Clara said, "There are many. My parents to name four. But A number one would be Jesus Christ.”
Bruce said, "Well, I do like the way you turn your cheeks and I certainly wouldn't mind doing unto you what I'd like you to do unto me."
Clara said, "Lex aren't you going to do anything but snicker? … OH! Are you SO sure of yourself that you think it's amusing to stand by and watch while another man makes a play for me? Well watch this!" Clara marched over to Bruce. Standing as far away from him as she could and still do what she intended, Clara leaned forward and kissed Bruce lightly on the lips while watching Lex out of the corner of her eye. Bruce quickly grabbed the back of Clara's head with one hand and her right butt cheek with the other. He pushed his lips hard against hers, pulled her close and leaned her backwards as he put everything he had into his kiss. Clara pushed herself free and said to Bruce, "What was that?!"
Bruce said, "If you really don't know, I'm willing to offer instruction in that area as well."
Clara said, "You shouldn't have done that!"
Bruce said, "Well, you started it."
Clara said, “If you try anything like that ever again, I’ll make you regret it. I’ll become the bane of your existence!”
Bruce said, “Now who’s the one making come on?”
Clara pouted her lip and looked quickly back-and-forth at the two men. She said, “Lex! The next time your friend will be in town … let me know … so I can stay home and bolt my doors. I hope you guys can appreciate an analogy. I’m not like a recreational property. I don’t do time share!”
Bruce said, “Hmmm. I think that is a simile. But I get your point and you don’t worry about me. I was never big on sharing.” Clara turned and walked briskly across the room. Bruce said, “See you later, Girl Scout.”
Without looking back or slowing down, Clara shouted, “I certainly hope not!” She ducked out the front door and was gone.
Lex said, “I think she was really mad. I will probably end up paying for this later.”
Bruce said, “Don’t worry about it. You have deep pockets. Personally, I prefer Clara’s pockets. Retrieving that knob was the high light of my day so far.”
Lex said, “Clara can’t be bought. … And I’ll ask you kindly this time to stay out of Clara’s pockets in the future.”
Bruce said, "I believe the game is afoot! Want to make a friendly little wager about which one of us she ends up with?"
Lex said, "This is no game for me, Bruce.”
Bruce said, “It will be no game for you and no challenge for me. The good guys always win and we both know the path you’re on.”
Lex said, “I’m serious. Clara is off limits.”
Bruce said, “If this isn’t a game, what was with that line about her being 15. Do you think that I would buy that lame of a ploy and back off? There’s no way someone that ripe isn’t legal.”
Lex said, “Watch how you talk about the future Mrs. Alexander Luthor! I met her when she was six and a half years old and, believe me, she looked every bit her age back then. When she pulled me from that river a couple months ago, I knew she was the one. When I found out that she was that same girl … and that she was only 15, I committed myself to wait until she grows up and is ready for me. I had been waiting for her for years already, only I didn’t realize it. I’ve got many cold showers ahead, but the prize is worth too much to risk losing by being impatient now. Until she is ready, I’m guarding her like a junk yard dog guards his turf. You and I have been friends a long time and maybe you just consider me a joker, but I'll be your worst nightmare if you try to come between Clara and me. She's the focal point of my life now.. She's the one I’ll give everything else up for. Enjoy the little taste you've had of her while her flavor is still on your lips, because the next time and last time you'll kiss her is on the day when she and I are married … IF I decide to invite you to the wedding."
Bruce asked, “So you really love this one?”
Lex answered, “More than I could say.”
Bruce said, “What if you found out that she would be happier if she was with someone else?”
Lex said, “If I found out that she needed to be with a different type of man to be happy, I love her so much that there is only one thing that I could do.”
Bruce asked, “Step aside?”
Lex said, “No, I would become the man I needed to be for her. I’m selfish enough that I would never consider a life without Clara as an option. If I could, I’d put her in a golden cage and keep her for myself – safe from the rest of the world.”
Bruce said, “And what if another man … a man who is already perfect for Clara comes along and decides he wants her too. What if, life you, this man also refused to step aside?”
Lex paused for a few moments before saying, “I guess I would have to kill him.”
Clara came in the kitchen door. Martha asked, “Are you ready for some lunch?”
Clara said, “Whatever, Mom.”
Martha said, “I was going to put some hot dogs on the grille. Will two be enough?”
Clara clamped her eyes shut as if she was trying not to cry. Martha said, “You can have as many as you want.”
Clara said, “I don’t want any! I don’t want to have anything to do with men ever again!” She turned quickly, left the house and ran for the barn.
Martha said, “I guess I should have suggested hamburgers.”