The uni-ponies made their rainbow bridge touch down inconspicuously around the corner from the coffee shop. Lex walked casually into the Talon and ordered a latte. There was some whispering among the other patrons, which he ignored, choosing instead to sit down at a centrally located table and enjoy his beverage.
He'd only drunk about a quarter of his coffee when Clark came storming in. Lex stayed in his seat, working hard to keep a perfectly neutral expression on his face. He didn't think Clark would lay hands on him in a public place, but he wasn't really sure.
"Lex!" Clark challenged. "What are you doing here?"
"Having a latte," Lex responded with a little smile. "Would you care to join me?"
Clark glowered at him. "I don't know how you got away before, but you belong in Belle Reve! I'm going to see you're put away, where your insanity can't hurt anyone anymore!"
Lex was pleased to see that most of the other customers looked curious rather than wholeheartedly on Clark's side.
"Insanity, Clark? I don't think I understand. Why don't you sit down and explain it to me?"
Clark looked mulish but took a seat.
"What can I do for you today, Clark?" Lex murmured, capturing cream with his tongue. He gestured to the waitress, whose attention was riveted to the drama going on at their table, to bring Clark a latte as well.
Clark narrowed his eyes. "You're trying to pull something!" he accused. "I don't know exactly what right now, but I will find out! So don't think you can get away with it!"
"I'm not trying to get away with anything," Lex said mildly, playing to the mid-afternoon coffeehouse crowd. "What were you saying about insanity?" he prompted.
The waitress brought Clark's latte, and he took a big gulp of the hot drink, just as he always did. Lex had long ago figured that Clark must be resistant to heat, as well as to blunt force trauma.
"On top of what you're up to right now, and what you did to Lana yesterday --" Lex wasn't at all sure what he might have done to upset Lana "-- this morning at the castle you said you were talking with a horse!" Little flecks of foamed milk flew from Clark's mouth as he ranted.
Lex played it very cool. "I don't remember that."
Clark changed tactics, trying to look earnest and sincere. He wasn't as good at it as he had been a couple of years earlier. "Your memory problems aren't your fault."
Lex raised his eyebrows and looked skeptical at that. He could feel the balance of this small crowd, and hoped he could play the onlookers to keep him safe from the Kent temper and his bastardous Luthor father's power. Life had been a lot easier before Clark had decided Lionel was the more trustworthy of the Luthors.
Clark continued. "You need to go back to Belle Reve, Lex. You know it's the best thing for you. Just for a while." He sloppily drank again. "How did you get out of the castle this morning anyway? The guards, I mean mental health specialists, had all the roads blocked almost as soon as I called them."
Lex took another neat sip of his latte. "I'm telling you, Clark, I don't know what you're talking about. I wasn't even there this morning."
"What!" Clark sputtered. "You're telling me you weren't at home this morning!"
Lex inclined his head and looked patient.
"And you didn't tell me you'd been talking to horses? And you didn't somehow sneak away from the Belle Reve guys?"
Lex shrugged and tried to look concerned. "Are you feeling okay, Clark?"
Clark glared. After a moment's silence, he demanded, "What's up with that hat?"
Lex had forgotten he had a Bushwoolie perched on his head, and he didn't completely squelch his natural reaction to the question. His instinctive flinch seemed to rekindle Clark's anger. The farmboy loomed up from the table.
Lex started to be afraid again. The other coffee customers just seemed to be developing their rooting interests now -– they probably wouldn't really help him. And he didn't know what to do about the Bushwoolie –- he'd hate for the friendly little creature to get hurt –- he wished he'd remembered to leave it with the ponies where it belonged.
Suddenly, to Lex's great relief, he felt the momentary twink of uni-pony magic. He could barely keep from laughing when he saw what they had done.
Lex stood up, straightened his Bushwoolie more securely on his head and raised his voice to address the crowd. "Honestly! Who's more believable? The man who signs a quarter of the paychecks in town, even if his warm winter hat is rather strange-looking? Or the man who's wearing his underwear ON THE OUTSIDE OF HIS PANTS?"
The crowd laughed. Clark looked down and blushed tomato-red. Lex made good his escape, and found Buttons and Gusty giggling in the flower-bed planter outside by the sidewalk.
"Thank you!" he told them. "Get this little guy home?" he asked, passing them the Bushwoolie.
"You bet!" the ponies giggled. "See you later, Lex!"