Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the characters that exist within the realm of the show. Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own the Buffyverse. I do not own Plastic Man. He was created by Jack Cole for Quality Comics and was later bought up by DC comics.
AN: No, I'm not dead. Though quite a few people I know have passed recently. Some of which I would have heard about way faster if I were on Facebook. Stupid self imposed social media blackout.
That and I already spend way too much time on my computer as it is.
A tired and semi-conscious Cordelia Chase stumbled her way out of her and Xander's bedroom towards the apartment's small kitchen. She made her journey by leaning against the walls for support as she headed towards her goal.... the coffeemaker.
A few minutes later she was sipping her first cup of the day and stretching some of the kinks out as she headed towards the balcony of their apartment.
Xander was passed out on the couch, something that had become more common lately. Things were becoming more strained between them and she couldn't exactly pinpoint what the problem was.
She couldn't, until this morning that is.
She stared at her boyfriend as he slept on the sofa. She thought it was a little amusing that he'd fallen asleep in his uniform, shades and all.
It was amusing, at least until she saw his uniform and glasses in a pile next to the sofa.
She was losing him to what he'd become the day Angelus had tortured him. He wasn't Xander Harris anymore. He really was Plastic Man.
He wouldn't understand the difference. Not really.
She had to go. Somewhere. Anywhere, and soon.
“You see my problem?” Cordelia asked Clark as she poked at her breakfast.
“He's...been as I've always known him.” Clark said as he looked through the wall again and confirmed that Xander was still asleep and still in the shape of Plastic Man. “The accident and the powers... there had to have been a significant personality change.”
“There was.” Cordelia admitted. “But deep down, he was still Xander. Still caring and compassionate. Still.... him. He's been a shape-shifter for a while now and he has always reverted back to Xander when he's asleep.”
“Until now.” Clark said with a nod. “I've encouraged him to spend more time as Xander in the city but he hasn't been all that receptive. I'm not a psychologist..... I don't know how we would go about this.”
“This has been building.” Cordelia told him. “He's been growing into this since that day... I don't think going back is the way forwards on this. Have you ever felt like something was holding you back?”
“I left Smallville for a reason.” Clark said before sipping his coffee. “I can't just bide my time running the farm all day. Most of the chores would be done in minutes anyways. I needed more. That's why I came to Metropolis.”
“I think he needs more than me.” Cordelia said softly. “Or at least... something else.”
Clark sighed. He knew breaking up was hard to do, but he was out of his depth here.
Later.... At The Daily Planet....
“What's all the hubub?” Clark asked Lois as they walked past the empty gossip and fashion desks.
“Those two eloped.” Lois said as she continued her path towards Perry's office. “They left us in a lurch with the fall show coming to town.”
“I've got a bad feeling about this.” Clark muttered.
“You and me both Smallville. I don't have time for fashion shows. There are rumors that there's some sort of huge arms deal going down soon. The last thing I need is to cover what colors are in this season.”
“But what if lavender's out?” Clark asked her as he grinned a little.
“Quiet you.” Lois said. “I like this outfit. It's held up in hostage situations, explosions and pretty much everything else under the sun.”
“Yet it's becoming dated.” Clark said with a grin.
“Oh let's talk about dated clothing Mr. Gallagher.” Lois said as she rounded on the man from Kansas. “What is with you and your neighbor?”
“We're good friends Lois. He's kind of like the insane little brother I never wanted.” Clark told explained. “We do odd things. Heck, we even flew kites in the park one weekend.”
Lois just stared at Clark.
“What? Can't two dudes just hang out?” Clark asked with a grin.
Lois started to say something then thought better of it.
“Lane, Kent! You two are covering the fashion show!” Perry said as the two reporters made their way into his office.
“Oh boy.” Clark said with a sigh. “What are the details?”
Perry gave them a rundown of the fashion show as well as a list of the up and coming designers that were going to be there. At the mention of one of the names, Clark's pencil snapped.
“What is it Smallville?” Lois asked Clark as she noticed his reaction. “Lana Lang an old flame or something?”
“Actually... we dated in High School.” Clark told her. “She was Prom Queen and well, I somehow got elected King. I still say someone rigged it.”
“Wait... you were Prom King? Seriously?” Lois asked him.
“It was High School.” Clark shrugged. “It's not really pertinent.”
“You have an in with one of the latest designers.” Perry said as he consulted his missing Fashion columnist's notes. “Take advantage. We need coverage here. Luthor is one of the sponsors. He always has an ulterior motive.”
As Clark nodded and Lois narrowed her eyes. She'd have to meet this 'Lana' person. Maybe she'd have an idea what Clark was hiding under that suit and his 'aw shucks' demeanor. No one could be as 'Clarklike' as Clark was without hiding something.
Before the whole roller disco thing, Lois almost suspected Clark was a closeted serial killer. Now she wasn't so sure.
Back with Xander and Cordelia....
“Can you at least tell me what's wrong?” Xander asked her. “Is it something I did?”
Cordelia sighed. “It's complicated.” She told him. “I can't stay here Xander. Metropolis.... this is eating away at me.”
“What is it?” Xander asked her.
“I can't tell you. You wouldn't believe me.” Cordelia told him. “It's...” She broke off. She'd been about to say 'It isn't you, it's me.' But that wasn't true. It was him. “It's complicated.” She repeated.
“Well uncomplicate it.” Xander sighed. “We're breaking up aren't we?”
“Yeah, we are.” Cordelia said quietly. “This has been building for a while Xander. We both know that.”
Xander nodded as he rubbed his face. It stretched for a moment before snapping back into place. “I'm going to go patrol for a little while before I sell the rest of the coins. You can have the money, start over somewhere else.” He told her as his clothes shifted into his costume.
“Xander....” Cordelia said quietly as he made his way towards the balcony. She didn't say any more as he shrank down and leaped off the building.
What could she say? He just turned back into the problem.
Back with our intrepid reporters....
“So... what exactly were you like in High School?” Lois asked Clark as they walked towards the cafe they usually frequented for lunch across the street from The Daily Planet.
“Well... I had perfect attendance.” Clark began....
“Yeah, let's change the subject. What was Lana Lang like in High School?” Lois said before the waitress set down their usual cups of coffee at the table.
“Actually, you and her are a lot alike.” Clark said with a grin.
“Beautiful and too talented for her own good?” Lois asked as she brushed some of her hair back with her hand.
“Well, I was going to start with stubborn and prone to making bad decisions but okay.” Clark said as he adjusted his glasses.
Lois kicked him under the table. “Ow.” She muttered. “Are you wearing shin guards?”
Clark just shrugged. “I'm sturdier than I look Lois.”
“I'm getting that.” Lois sighed. “So... have you got a tuxedo?”
“I can get one. I know a place that does last minute fittings. The Planet's footing the bill right?” Clark asked.
“That's a no then.” Clark sighed before looking out the window. “I suppose I had better go get fitted. Pick you up at six?”
“Make it six-thirty.” Lois told him. “I need to get my hair done.”
Clark fought the urge to roll his eyes. “Well, I think we had both better load up. No telling what kind of food they'll be serving there tonight.”
“What, you don't like French Cuisine?” Lois grinned.
“It's French.” Clark said with a bit of distaste. “Even though I can speak it, I still had nothing but bad experiences there.”
“Really?” Lois asked.
“Yeah. Getting lost in the sewers while researching a human trafficking ring is no way to spend an evening.” Clark told her.
“I've read your portfolio. I haven't seen that particular article.” Lois said with a hint of an accusatory tone.
“Some things you don't publish. You know that Lois.” Clark said before adjusting his glasses. “Some things aren't meant to be known. Especially when certain politician's daughters are involved.”
“Now I have to know.” Lois grinned.
“Can't. I signed some non-disclosure agreements.” Clark shrugged. “Still. It was a hell of a chase.”
“You're full of secrets aren't you?” Lois asked.
“More than you know.” Clark grinned.
“I'll find out your secrets one day Clark Kent, just you wait.” Lois told him.
“Sure you will Lois.” Clark said as he rolled his eyes.
“How the hell is this what I ordered?” Cordelia Chase said as she practically slammed her cup of coffee on the counter as she berated the Barista. “What did you do? Piss in it?”
Behind her in line, a redheaded woman watched in amusement as Cordelia dressed down not only the Barista, but the coffeehouse's prices, uniforms, color schemes and furniture.
A few people actually started clapping once the Barista started crying.
“And you know what?” Cordelia said as she finished her rant. “I'm taking my tip back.” She grabbed the two dollars she'd put into the jar and stormed out of the Coffeehouse.
“Hang on.” A voice called as Cordelia stopped at a crosswalk.
Cordelia turned and wiped her eyes a little. “Sorry. I'm having a bad day.” She said as she recognized the woman who had been in line behind her.
“I can tell.” the woman grinned. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“It's complicated.” Cordelia said.
“I've got some free time until this evening.” The woman said. “What's your name?”
“Cordelia Chase.” Cordelia told her as she sniffed a little.
“Nice to meet you Cordelia. I'm Lana Lang.” The redhead told her.
“The designer?” Cordelia asked. “Oh my god! I love your work!”
“Speaking of work... what are you doing tonight?” Lana asked her.
“I'm in the middle of breaking up with my boyfriend.” Cordelia told her. “But other than that, I'm free.”
Lana grinned “How would you like a job?”
“Doing what?” Cordelia asked.
“What you did back there, and more.” Lana told her. “You've got spirit.”
“And.... I'm bored.” Xander said as he glided over the city for the umpteenth time. He knew stuff was happening that he didn't like, but he'd live. With or without Cordy. She had been there for him before and after his transformation but even he knew they were drifting apart.
He just didn't know what he could do about it. They were both still growing up in their own ways. He'd seen enough daytime TV talk-shows to know that much. He wouldn't keep her here. If she wanted to leave... that was her choice. He didn't know what he'd actually do with his free time without her though.
Maybe Detective Turpin could give him some advice....
Later..... at a very familiar looking coffee house....
Dan Turpin couldn't help it. He laughed. He laughed long and hard.
“It's not funny.” Xander said as he sipped his coffee.
“Sure it is.” Turpin said as he stopped giggling. “Kid, I've been married three times. Four if you count The Job. So far only one of those marriages have stuck. Guess which one.” Turpin smirked.
“The Job.” Xander sighed. “That's it isn't it?”
“Mostly. You're gone all day and as you two grow older, your interests are going to change. Most people don't stay with their High School sweethearts. People grow and change, and change happens much faster in the big cities. That's partially why our divorce rate is higher than small towns.” Turpin explained.
“What's the other reason?” Xander asked.
“Have you seen the women in this town?” Turpin asked him. “I've had the opportunity to have an affair but never have. Not a lot of guys have that... fortitude.” Turpin said as he tried to find the right word for it. It was either fortitude or stupidity. It was a matter of opinion he supposed.
“Well... to be honest I haven't been really looking all that much.” Xander admitted. “Especially since I'm pretty much always 'working'.”
“The Job is like that.” Turpin agreed with a nod. “You need more downtime kid. The other guy has his regular job and other stuff. What do you do in your free time?”
“Well, I used to do my girlfriend.” Xander said. “Now... beats me. I guess I really need to get a life outside of the suit don't I?”
“Yeah, you do.” Turpin agreed. “You gonna be all right kid?”
“I think so. Thanks for listening.” Xander muttered before sipping his coffee. “This is terrible.”
“You chose the place.” Turpin shrugged. “Besides, crap or not... it's still better than what we get at the station.”
“No wonder so many cops have ulcers.” Xander sighed.
Turpin laughed. “You may just be onto something with that kid.”
“You're dating who?” Cordelia snorted.
“Lex Luthor.” Lana said. “He's a powerful businessman.”
“Oh I know.” Cordelia said. “My cousin is his.... assistant. He's also a thug and an arms dealer. He's very dangerous.”
“Which is part of why I'm dating him. Though the whole 'arms dealing' thing is new.” Lana muttered.
“He hasn't been caught. Yet. My neighbor's an investigative reporter who is doing his best to link Luthor to his criminal activities.” Cordelia told her. “Nice guy. Kind of a nerd though.”
“Oh? How big of a nerd exactly?” Lana asked.
“Well, big enough of one to be best friends with my Ex for one. He's also kind of boring when he's not working. He's from some small town in Kansas.” Cordelia told her.
“I'm from Kansas.” Lana told her.
“You're not from Smallville are you?” Cordelia asked her hesitantly. Xander's Chaos couldn't have rubbed off on her could it?
“I am.” Lana said. While the information was out there, she didn't advertise her origins all that much. “Who is your neighbor?”
“Clark Kent.” Cordelia muttered.
“So... do you know about his.... other job?” Lana asked.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “My ex is his partner.”
“Wait... you're breaking up with Plastic Man? The walking sex toy?” Lana asked. “Really?”
“Is... is that what people call him?” Cordelia asked, more than a little horrified.
“Only people with dirty minds.... so pretty much everyone.” Lana smirked. “What was it like being with a shape-shifter?”
“Different.” Cordelia admitted after getting her blush under control. “Really different. I knew him before he became... well him. But he's more Plastic Man than man now.”
Lana nodded. Clark had changed a lot once his powers started developing so she knew what Cordelia meant. “So... exactly how dangerous is Luthor?” She asked her new acquaintance.
“Do you like living?” Cordelia snarked. “If so then stay out of his business dealings. People that know too much tend to disappear around him.”
Lana's eyes widened. “He really is a bad boy isn't he?”
“More like a major criminal.” Cordelia muttered.
That night at the Fashion Show......
“Well shit.” Clark said as he set his fork and knife down.
“You know Smallville, I think that's the first time I've ever heard you swear. What's up?” Lois asked as he flagged one of the waiters for another glass of champagne.
“You see the brunette on the runway?” Clark asked as he nodded at the stage a little.
“Yeah, she's a little young for you isn't she?” Lois teased.
“She's my next door neighbor and she wasn't a model this morning.” Clark told her. “I guess she impressed someone today.”
“You live a very strange life away from work don't you? Roller discos and living next to supermodels. Do you do anything else?” Lois asked him.
“Well, I dabble at yodeling.” Clark admitted.
“And I've suddenly stopped caring.” Lois sighed as she started taking notes about the show.
“Hey, don't knock the yodeling. I started an avalanche once.” Clark told her.
“That isn't humanly possible.” Lois said. “I did an article on myths like that when I was in college. The human voice isn't capable of reaching the levels needed to do so.”
“If you say so.” Clark half sang as he started to eat his dinner again causing Lois to roll her eyes.
“I have to say... this place went all out on the catering.” Lois said as she tried to focus more on her notes than on the food that Clark was eating.
“It's good, but it's not home-cooked.” Clark said. “Something about cooking things yourself.”
“More of that Kansas philosophy?” Lois asked.
“A little. My Dad can't do squat in the kitchen, but I took Home EC in high school. It's come in handy.” Clark told her.
“I'll take your word on that. My Dad had me and my sister focus on other things.” Lois shrugged.
“Like what?” Clark asked.
“Mainly surviving being stranded in the middle of nowhere and firearms.” Lois said. “Lucy still has issues with wild dogs. I've still got my pelt and she... hates barking.”
“You've got a weird family.” Clark said as he adjusted his glasses.
“Pot to the Kettle, Smallville.” Lois said. “I've met your friends.”
“Fair enough.” Clark shrugged as he opened the communications link he had with Xander. “Still hard to believe Cordelia is a model here. Last I knew she didn't have a job.”
“With a name like that, I'm not surprised she's a model.” Lois snorted.
“Model or not, I think this is her first time at the Luthorcorp Plaza.” Clark shrugged. “She seems to be handling it well.”
Elsewhere in Metropolis....
“She's doing what where?” Plastic Man said as he looked up from his bowl of noodles. “That's bananas!” He stood and started pacing.
“Is he okay?” One of the waitresses asked the cook.
“I don't know. That's his fifteenth bowl.” The cook said. “He's been here since sundown.”
“He's actually going to pay right?” The waitress asked.
“After the tenth bowl we asked for a down-payment. He gave us enough for thirty.” The cook shrugged.
“Tip included?” The waitress asked.
“Yep.” The cook nodded.
“Good.” She said before heading back to her other tables. Business had been booming since the superhero had walked in the door. Hopefully the gawkers would tip too.
Later at Luthorcorp Plaza...
“That went well.” Lana said as she and Cordelia rode the elevator up towards Lana's Suite.
The elevator stopped five floors short of their destination and two women entered the elevator.
Cordelia and Lana shared a look shortly before the smaller of the two started to threaten Lana and demanded she give them the overly expensive diamond necklace she'd been loaned for the evening.
Briefly rolling her eyes, Cordelia sprang into action and bitch slapped the smaller of the two women hard enough to knock her into the wall of the elevator before headbutting the taller of the would be robbers hard enough to break her nose.
“Wow. Where did you learn how to do that?” Lana asked Cordelia.
“High School. It was murder.” Cordelia said as she rubbed her head a little. “Let's call the cops or something. This place does have internal security right?”
“They're supposed to.” Lana frowned. “Wait... these jewels were insured. I had to sign a lot of paperwork before I could wear them.”
“Every penny helps.” Cordelia muttered. “Welcome to Luthor's Palace, where everything that happens leads to profit for Lex.”
“What a douche.” Lana said quietly.
“Yeah. He gets that a lot.” Cordelia grinned. “Let's get the jewels back to where they belong.”
“Good idea.” Lana nodded. “So... is this town always this interesting?”
“Nah, sometimes it gets weird.” Cordelia laughed.
Later.... at the Daily Planet....
“And we're done.” Clark said as he finished spell-checking both his and Lois' articles.
“Good.” Lois said as she rubbed her feet. “These shoes are murder.”
“You bought them.” Clark said as he tugged lightly at his collar. “I just rented the monkey suit.”
“Still... it was kinda fun. I'm just surprised nothing weird happened.” Lois said as she sipped her coffee. “Besides me drinking a little too much champagne.”
“Why?” Clark asked her.
“It's Metropolis. Something weird always happens. It was like that before Superman and Plastic Man showed up. Just not as... noteworthy I guess.” Lois told him.
“The world is changing. There are stories of a speedster out in Central City. Nothing concrete yet though.” Clark told her. “Someone has come up with the term Meta-human. I think that is what's happening.”
“A spontaneous jump in what humans are capable of?” Lois asked.
“Maybe not spontaneous, but things are happening that's causing mankind to advance for better or for worse. We've got meta-humans, aliens and robots. We're living in the future.” Clark said as he adjusted his glasses.
“Well, we are in the City of Tomorrow.” Lois grinned. “So... what are you doing tomorrow night?”
“I was going to go to the Old Metro Theater on the docks. They're showing some Vincent Price classics this week.” Clark told her.
“Man, I haven't seen any of his movies in like... ten years.” Lois said. “I'm in.”
“Okay.” Clark grinned. “I hope you like Whoppcorn.”
“What?” Lois asked as she set her coffee down.
“Whoppers in popcorn, minimal butter.” Clark explained.
“This is another of those Midwest things?” Lois asked.
“Maybe.” Clark shrugged. “You ready to call it a night?”
“Yeah.” Lois said as she stood and stumbled a little. “Maybe I should call a cab.”
“I can drive your car to your apartment and take a train home.” Clark offered. “It's no trouble.”
“Generous to a fault.” Lois sighed. “You're never going to get anywhere in this business with that attitude Kent.”
“I got here didn't I?” Clark grinned.
Clark smiled a little to himself as he took the elevator up to his floor. All things considered, things had gone pretty well with Lois. Superman didn't have to make an appearance at all for once. It was... nice. There was some potential there. He could see himself in a relationship with her.
As with most things in the universe, balance had to be maintained.
Clark sighed as he checked the apartment next to his with his X-Ray vision. Xander was lying in a puddle on the floor, apparently unconscious.
“Man, he really needs to pull himself together.” Clark muttered. He paused and considered what he should do now. He could try to get a couple hours of sleep before heading back into work... or he could help his friend. The sun was coming up soon... he'd manage a day without sleep. He didn't really have problems unless he was awake for a week or more.
Clark shook his head and used the key Xander had given him to enter his friend's apartment.
“Hhhn?” Xander grumbled as his eyes focused on his visitor.
“Get in shape and get dressed. We're going out.” Clark told him.
“Don't wanna.” Xander half gurgled.
“I will use my heat vision if I have to. Then you'll really have to reform yourself out of a puddle.” Clark threatened as his eyes turned gold briefly.
“Fine.” Xander sighed before once more taking his human shape. “She's leaving.”
“I know.” Clark nodded. “Worst thing? Her new friend is my old girlfriend from High School.”
“The Universe hates us.” Xander said as he deflated a little.
“I think it hates you a little more than me.” Clark told him. “Maybe. My planet did blow up after all.”
“So now what?” Xander asked.
“If we were normal, I'd get you blind, stinking drunk. If we were normal. Since we're not... Let's just head to one of my favorite places. It'll be sunup soon.” Clark offered. “It may seem bad now... but things will get better.”
“Liar.” Xander sighed.
“Nah. Just seeing the long game. The sun will rise, and things change with each passing day. It is the way of the world.” Clark said softly.
“Fine.” Xander said. “Let's go.”
The top of the Daily Planet building....
“Here.” Superman said as he handed Plastic Man a cup of coffee.
“Thanks.” Plastic Man said before taking sip. “Three sugars. Nice.”
“I remember.” Superman shrugged. “So.... how is it?”
“It's beautiful.” Plastic Man said as they faced the rising sun.
“It is.” Superman agreed.
Neither man cared that Jimmy Olsen had somehow found out about this and was taking photos with a telescopic lens from one of the nearby buildings.
It was a new day, and the two were ready to face it.
AN, the 2nd: It's a little rough, but it's done. I'll try and work on some of the others soon.