Title: Allied Cats
Plot: Clark and Lex experience a brief transformation!
Cover Art: by ctbn60 and jlvsclrk
"How's it going down there, John?"
"It's-" A crackle of static cuts off Green Lantern's com-link. "Sorry, guys. It's loud down here. And surreal. I just saw a hot dog stand pick itself up and walk into the Art Gallery."
Clark and Bruce exchange glances.
"And Circe?" asks Clark.
"She's having a great time, cruising about with her entourage, firing spells every which way."
"Is Zatanna having any success blocking Circe's magic?"
"Well…" Green Lantern hesitates. "She's certainly firing back."
That was always the danger. Zatanna may be a member of the Justice League but she is first and foremost a magician and therefore something of a wild card.
"Thanks, John," says Clark. "I'll be right down."
"No, you won't," says Batman. "You're vulnerable to magic."
"I'll let you tackle Circe," says Clark. "And talk Zee down. I'm worried about the civilians caught in the middle. If it's anarchy on the streets, the other villains will be out there soon enough, taking advantage. Green Lantern and I can look after damage control."
Batman gives a grudging half nod,
* * *
Clark rights a tipped over van and gets a wave from the driver; he fuses a burst water pipe with his heat vision and stops a runaway, rider-less motorcycle. The air is thick with magic. Zatanna is visible in the distance, at the top of City Hall. Hopefully Bruce will talk her into a more strategic deployment of spells.
His eye catches a flicker of movement to his right, a bald head receding down an alley.
"Where do you think you're going, Lex?"
Lex turns to face him.
"To my car, if that's quite all right with you. I'd take the streets but they're a little chaotic at the moment. Shouldn't you be working on that, instead of harassing me?"
Before Clark can answer, a shadow crosses the mouth of the alley.
It's Circe, looking every inch the goddess in a flowing gown and platform boots. She's got two handsome men on either side and is clearly enjoying herself.
Clark meets Lex's eye: stay quiet. Lex nods. But it's too late. Circe has seen them. She laughs:
"Look at the two of you. Always fighting, like common alley cats…."
Clark grabs Lex and leaps upwards but Circe has anticipated him. Her spell flies up too and bursts, like bubble gum, against Clark's left shoulder. He sinks back down to earth.
Once Clark's feet hit the ground, he keeps right on sinking. Has he fainted? There's red and blue mist in front of his eyes. No, it's thicker than mist – like trying to fight his way through fabric.
Clark emerges into cooler air. He's on his hands and knees and can't seem to stand up. It's very strange.
He looks across to the window of the building opposite. There's his costume, puddled on the ground and next to it, a large, glossy black cat. Has Circe made him invisible? He raises his hand; the cat raises its paw and …..damn.
There's a gray suit and lavender shirt on the ground next to his costume. The shirt is making angry bucks and leaps. Clark walks over and with his hand, no his paw, lifts the shirt tails. A white fluffy cat with an orange spot on its neck emerges and hisses at him.
Well, that's typical, thinks Clark.
To his credit, Lex figures it out instantly, looking from Clark's face to his own paw and then growling.
Clark hunches his shoulders: I don't like it any better than you do.
Lex hisses again.
Frustrated, Clark thumps his paw on the ground. Which shakes.
So he still has his powers in cat form. He's a super-powered cat! Flash will think it's hilarious. Batman won't say "I told you so" but he will think it. Loudly.
And to top it all off, it's starting to rain. Slow fat drops. Lex twitches an ear and shivers unhappily.
There's a scream from the street. It's Copperhead, holding a woman's purse aloft as its owner flees into the distance.
Clark growls. Copperhead is always first on the scene when there's trouble. Though the League regards him as more of a pest than a true threat, his snake costume frightens civilians and his presence on the street is likely to elevate the mood from nervous to panicked.
Clark may not be able to stop Circe but he can certainly stop Copperhead. Now, if he can only work out how to fly in cat form…
An awkward jump sends him into the air. He circles Copperhead and bites the neck of his costume, just as the barn cat used to carry her kittens on the farm. Copperhead goes wild, arms, legs and tail gyrating, but Clark has a good grip and begins his ascent.
"Look, Mummy," says a child's voice. "The black cat is arresting the bad Snake Man." The mother pulls out her phone and takes a photo.
Clark looks down and sees Lex, huddled in the alley. He can't leave Lex like this but that raises a dilemma: if he sets Copperhead down, he'll bolt and cause more trouble.
A hook for Christmas lights resolves the problem. Clark drapes the hood of Copperhead's costume over the hook, dodges the venom spat in his direction and goes back for Lex.
Lex hisses again but it's half hearted. When Clark walks over and crouches down, there's barely a moment's hesitation before Lex is climbing onto his back. As they rise into the air, Lex's paws go round Clark's neck in a vise-like grip; he still doesn't like heights.
"Look, Mummy," says the child in a piercing voice. "The kitty came back for his girlfriend!" Lex growls, the rain pelts them both and Clark wishes these people would just go home for god's sake.
Copperhead screams abuse as they approach and Clark is careful to circle a wide arc around him until he's out of range of the venom, then darts forward to grip the neck of the costume in his teeth.
Normally, when Clark wants to go to Watchtower, he just flies straight up. But with both his passengers requiring oxygen, a teleport is required. The closest one is hidden on the East side of Metropolis. It feels like a very long trip: Copperhead yells insults and flails the entire way; Lex hisses his discontent into the fur of Clark's neck. It's a relief when the teleport shoots them all skywards,
On landing, they are greeted by an astonished Flash who fortunately reacts to Copperhead first and speeds him into a holding cell. He returns with a towel.
"Well, this is a first. The cats at my Grandma's house sometimes chase the grass snakes…you two are a little more ambitious. C'mon, hero-kitties, let's dry you off."
He scoops up a startled Lex and wraps him in the towel. Clark shakes the water off his fur and follows Flash to the kitchen.
"Saucer of milk?" says Flash. "Then we can figure out who you two really are."
"The black cat is Superman," says Batman, from the doorway. "The other cat is Luthor."
"But how did you-"
And then he just stops because it's Batman. He always knows.
Batman turns to Clark:
"Wonder Woman has neutralized Circe. Zatanna is working to undo all the spells; it may take her a while to get around to yours. The mayor and the chief of police are currently trapped inside a giant flying fish-"
"And while Luthor is here," says Batman, "He'd better be locked up. Even as a cat, he could go snooping about-"
"I'll shut him up in a bedroom," says Flash. Lex darts between his legs but it's merely a token gesture of defiance; Flash scoops him up and says:
"Play nice, Lex. I was going to slice up some salmon for you."
Clark looks up at Lex's face, in the crook of Flash's arm. His ears are drooping; he looks miserable. Clark sighs. In a way, he did get Lex into this mess; Circe was aiming the spell at him, not Lex. The least Clark can do is wait out the spell with him.
"You coming too, Supes?" says Flash, stroking his back. "All right, lead the way."
They are shut into one of the guest bedrooms; Flash returns with a dish of fish and a bowl of milk. Clark has some of both and waits for Lex to come out from under the bed.
Fine, suit yourself.
Clark hops on the bed and stretches out. It feels particularly good to open and close his paws. His teeth are a little tingly from carrying Copperhead. A nap would hit the spot right now.
There's a soft thump at the end of the bed; Lex has joined him. Clark listens sleepily to the sound of washing, then a subtler noise. He opens one eye. Lex is shivering.
Metahumans and aliens don't feel the cold much and Batman has trained himself to withstand low temperatures; Watchtower is a chilly place.
Clark stretches again, digging his claws pleasurably into the blanket and crosses the bed. Lex watches him, apprehensive, but not hissing.
It feels entirely natural for Clark to curl around Lex and to rest his chin on the soft crown of Lex's head. Lex sighs – a long drawn-out sigh, which is so typically him, that Clark can only laugh.
But he can't laugh, so it comes out as a purr. Lex jumps, and Clark licks a long stripe along the back of Lex's head.
Did I just do that?
Actually, he's still doing it and Lex seems to like it. He's relaxing now, butted up against Clark, and there's rusty sound, gears not quite meshing.
Lex is purring.
Clark falls asleep to the oddly comforting sound.
* * *
When Clark wakes, he feels happy and enormously well-rested. His head is resting on something warm and soft.
He opens his eyes and sees rosy pallor and a tiny dot of brown. He focuses on the dot.
Gradually, the memories fall into place. He was a cat; Lex was a cat. That brown dot is a nipple. Which means they aren't cats any more. Which also means: he's sleeping naked in Lex Luthor's (naked) arms.
Clark lifts his head from Lex's chest; Lex wakes instantly, meets Clark's eye, blinks, and then flushes.
"I guess the spell wore off," says Clark. Then he winces: just call me Captain Obvious. He rolls off the bed without looking at Lex, very conscious of their nakedness.
Someone has tactfully left a Superman costume for Clark and a set of sweats for Lex. Less tactfully, there's also a litter box on the floor, Wally must have his joke,
There's a note in the kitchen.
It's all over but the clean-up. We'll handle it! Bats wants you to take the rest of the day off."
PS. I came in and petted you when you were asleep but Lex took a swing at me so that was that.
Lex is standing behind Clark, Green Lantern's sweats bagging at his knees.
"Well," says Clark. "Let's get you home."
They fly in silence. As they near the penthouse, Clark notices that Lex is trembling. Is he cold, frightened? They land on Lex's balcony and Lex instantly doubles over.
"Lex? Are you okay?"
Small vocal explosion from Lex; Clark bends down to see his face and…Lex is laughing. Laughing so hard, tears are streaming down his face. He hasn't seen Lex laugh like this in years. It's not his mocking laugh; it's a full belly laugh that reddens his cheeks and flattens out his nose.
"What's so funny?" asks Clark, though he can feel a grin forming on his own face.
"You have to ask? Clark, we were cats," says Lex.
"Just another day in Metropolis…"
"Cats," says Lex again.
"You purred," says Clark.
"You washed me," says Lex.
"Yeah, I did…" and something possesses Clark – a last remnant of Circe's spell? – and he leans in and licks a stripe down Lex's cheek.
And then he blushes because it was meant to be a joke but Lex is staring at him…
"Lex, I didn't mean-"
And that's when Lex pounces on him.
An hour later, they're entwined naked on Lex's bed. Clark can't get the smile off his face and the soft snoring from Lex almost - almost - sounds like purring.
Happy Birthday. my dear!