Smallville Episode: Strings

Scene I: Talon

Chloe: "Hey, look over there! Have any of you guys ever seen that man before?"

Clark: "Can't say that I have."

Chloe: "Well, I'm going to get his name and run a background check on my product placement IMac. Otherwise one of us will be in mortal danger soon."

Clark: "Don't you ever give it a rest?"

Chloe, starts to snap back, but instead decides to let Clark know she is supportive of his Big Secret. "Gee, you know, it must be tough to have people automatically assume you have something to hide."

Clark, uneasily looking around for distractions: "Hey, there's Lex. Maybe he knows the guy."

Lex: "He's from Time Magazine, and he's going to interview my father for a story on miracle cures."

Chloe: "Are you sure that's all he's here for?"

Lex: "Of course not. That would be too simple. My guess is he's either a reincarnation of a 16th century figure, an expert on hieroglyphics, or a paid assassin my dad hired to kill me, so I'll land back in Belle Reve, and he can have the mansion to himself."

Clark: "I thought your dad was supposed to have reformed."

Lex: "Have you ever heard the saying about the leopard and his spots?"

Clark: "No, but it sounds like something my dad would say."

Lex: "Hey, Lana, you haven't been sneaking around my mansion when I'm not there, have you?"

Lana, uneasily: "Of course not. I'm either here at the Talon, at school or with Jason."

Lex, under his breath: "That's what I meant."

Lana, annoyed: "If I had, I'd tell you. Unlike some people, I believe in honesty."

Chloe, journalist radar going on full red alert: "Did you lose something, Lex?"

Lex: "It wasn't important."

Scene II: Luthor Mansion

Lionel: "Now it's safe to talk."

Mystery Man: "Are you sure your son isn't going to come back any time soon?"

L: "No, he's out putting himself in the path of mortal danger. We'll have privacy."

MM: "Does he do that often?"

L: "All the time. Last week, he got his knees bashed in by an extorter with a very bad foreign accent. The week before, he went to China and got himself pistol-whipped by the police."

MM, laughing: "And I bet you set up the trap, and let him walk right into it. Just like the old days."

L: "Well, when I was in prison, I got nostalgic for all the times I was pulling the strings, and when I finally got out, I tried to reform, but I couldn't help myself."

MM: "I'm sure you couldn't."

L: "My brain comes up with these diabolical plans right before I go to sleep, and then when I wake up, all the particulars are in place. It seems a shame to let them go to waste."

MM: "Does Lex show any signs of catching on?"

L: "My son is not the fastest learner. It doesn't help that all his friends are still in high school."

MM, intrigued: "Really?"

L: "Yeah, they're always sneaking around here at odd hours, solving mysteries. Oh, get this, sometimes they even try to blackmail me. "

MM: "Whoa. Are they suicidal or just really stupid?"

L: "They come to me with their earnest, Neutrogena-commercial faces and say, 'Mr. Luthor, I want to make a deal with you'."

MM, laughing: "I'm sure you would never take advantage of a minor, though."

L: "They're never too young to learn that actions have consequences."

MM: "So who's this Clark Kent you e-mailed me about."

L: "Now, he's the real story. We swapped bodies for a few days, and he really does have superpowers. Speed, hearing, strength, all are far beyond the limits of a mortal."

MM: "So the kryptonite stories are true."

L: "They are, and I'm considering blackmailing the Kents, but there's so much other evil stuff I want to do, I'm not sure what to do first. I really should just sit down in a quiet place and make a list."

MM: "Always a good idea."

L: "By the way, I've tapped all the phone lines, so if you want, we can listen in tomorrow and find out what Lex has planned, and then come up with a way of putting him in danger."

MM: "Sounds like fun. Still, as dense as Lex is, it still doesn't seem like the youths here would share his cosmopolitan tastes. What exactly is the attraction?"

L: "It all started when Lex drove off a bridge several years ago – stop laughing – and Clark saved his life and walked away without a scratch. Which is impossible, unless you have superpowers."

MM: "What did you do, Lionel, cut the brakes?"

L, prissily: "No, I draw the line at that. Lex was yakking on his cell, and he had to swerve to miss another car. Clark just happened to be in the vicinity."

MM: "Let me guess, he still uses the cell when he drives."

L, mock-sadly: "And he won't listen to his father either. Oh, hello."

Lex limps in.

L, instantly assuming an expression of concern: "Son, are you all right?"

Lex: "I've been better."

MM: "Hello, Lex. Remember me?"

Lex, frowning, as he scans his memory: "Unfortunately."

L: "Now don't tell me you went and put yourself in mortal danger again. After what happened in China, I don't think that's such a good idea."

Lex, annoyed, pours himself a drink: "You certainly have been making yourself at home around here, haven't you, Dad? Dipping into the Scotch. Pilfering my Pepperidge Farm cookies."

L, mock-indignant: "I never touched them!"

Lex: "Don't tell me, I have to stick on Post-Its saying Off Limits."

L: "Of course not."

Lex turning to MM: "And what brings you to town?"

MM: "Just thought I'd stop by and see your father."

Lex: "You did some time in prison, didn't you? Did you find religion, too?"

L: "That's enough, Lex."

Lex: "Be sure to ask my father all about how he did, it's quite a story. Did you know he's the Messiah now?"

L: "I said, that's enough!"

Lex, preparing to leave: "Just be sure you turn off the lights when you're ready to go back to the guesthouse." Under breath: "Which is where you should be right now."

Scene III: Kent Farm: Exposition Loft

Clark: "Oh, hi, Lex. Is that guy still visiting your father?"

Lex: "Unfortunately."

Clark, turning around, so the camera can ogle his muscled physique: "Chloe thinks he's up to something. She did an online background check and found that he's done time in prison for drug smuggling."

Lex, sadly: "He was the one who got me hooked. Luckily, that's ancient history now."

Clark: "And your dad's still friends with him?"

Lex: "MM's the closest thing he has to a best friend. Having both in been in prison, they have yet another bond."

Clark: "That's awful."

Lex: "Guess what they're doing right now?"

Clark: "What?"

Lex: "A month ago my father had all the phones tapped, and he and MM are probably sitting in the study listening and plotting how to put me in mortal danger again."

Clark: "But…but didn't he promise not to do that kind of stuff once he was cured of cancer? I thought he saw the light and reformed."

Lex, gently: "The term is dysfunctional family, Clark. As tempting as it may be to try new, healthier behaviors, the descent back down is unavoidable when it comes to the Luthors."

Clark: "So that means I'll have to save your life tonight?"

Lex: "Sorry. I hope you didn't have anything else planned."

Clark: "Just some chores and a history test, but I can study for it tomorrow in study hall."

Lex: "Maybe you should bring Lois, too. She's the only woman in Smallville who can do self-defense without resorting to pseudo-kung fu, and she doesn't have any weird hang-ups about honesty. By the way, what's up with you two?"

Clark, annoyed: "Nothing. She's bossy and hogs the bathroom, and I have to do….uh, never mind."

Lex: "But she's your canonical love interest."

Clark, making a face: "Lex, why don't you just tell your father you know what he's doing. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with that. It's your mansion."

Lex: "You don't understand. My father didn't have the easiest time in prison. They wouldn't let him do any evil stuff, except for that time he switched bodies with you."

Clark: "Yeah, and hit on my mom. And made Chloe and Lana not speak to me for a week – and I still don't quite remember what happened."

Lex: "Well….the point is, my father isn't happy unless he's manipulating someone. It's better that I let him think he's getting away with stuff, rather than being totally unaware of what he's up to."

Clark: "So you're going to put yourself in mortal danger again? Isn't that kind of hard on you?"

Lex: "A little, but I'm working on a plan to get him out of the mansion."

Clark: "You must miss your privacy."

Lex: "Tell me about it."

Scene IV: Remote loading dock in Metropolis

Clark: "This is it, right?"

Lex: "Yeah. The prison guard that's going to give me the details on how my father blackmailed that Freak of the Week into setting up the gambling ring at Smallville High. This way, I'm one step closer to putting my father back in prison."

Lois: "I can't believe you dragged me out here again."

Clark: "To get you back for using up the hot water this morning."

Lois: "Yeah? Well, for such a farm boy, you sure have a superhero complex."

Lex: "You two are acting like an old married couple…Ow!"

Masked goon: "Take that! And that! And..ow!" Clark picks him up, throws him, then superspeeds over and repeats the maneuver.

Lois: "Hey, I'll just kick Goon Number Two where it hurts. Let's hope I don't get arrested."

Lex picks up the gun and points it at the man on the ground.

Clark: "Say, Lex, you really should get one of those for your own, in case I don't happen to be around."

Lois: "Since when will that happen?"

Lex: "OK, time to talk. Did my father set this whole thing up?"

Goon Number One: "How did you know?"

Lex: "I'm smarter than he'll ever give me credit for."

GNO: "He tapped your phone lines, in order to find out that you were still interested in the gambling ring freak, who's now out of prison. That's how he got you to come out here, even though you were putting yourself in mortal danger again."

Lex: "He's good at that. Now tell me, where is my father getting the money to pay you?"

GNO: "He figured out your safe combination."

Lex: "I knew there was something I kept forgetting to do."

Lois: "Speaking of theft, let's go to the Talon and see if Lana got robbed again."

Clark: "Sounds good to me. Lex?"

Lex: "I have some unfinished business to take care of."

Scene V: Luthor Mansion

Lex: "Evening, Dad. Where's your friend? Or should I say co-conspirator?"

Opera music swells.

L: "He had to leave early."

Lex: "The fun's over. I know you've been tapping the phone. Again."

L: "Lex, paranoia is a highly unbecoming quality. Are you sure you're getting enough sleep?"

Lex: "Not lately. But that's exactly what you want, isn't it?"

L: "Don't be absurd. I'm only concerned about your welfare. Putting yourself in mortal danger once in awhile is fine, but every single week is just not practical. When Clark goes to college next year, how exactly is he going to know when you're in trouble? It's not like he has…. superpowers."

Lex, making a visible effort not to lose his temper: "This isn't about Clark. I have a videotape of you and MM listening in on my private conversations, and you both seemed to find them highly amusing. Would you like to see it?"

L: "Now, why would I do a thing like that? I've reformed."

Lex: "Which is why you've been pilfering more than Pepperidge Farm cookies. I want you to know, I changed the safe, and if you do anything else, I'm changing the mansion locks, although you can stay in the guesthouse and try to ruin my life from there, if you want."

L, sarcastically: "Why don't we just put a piece of masking tape down the middle of the mansion, and stay on our separate sides. You can't escape your destiny, Lex. Either I kill you, or you kill me. And you know, you enjoy it as much as I do. I'm just honest about it."

Lex: "Well, maybe a little. But I'm still changing the locks."

The End