By Laura S. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted July 2007
Summary: Just how did Clark learn how to cut his invulnerable hair with his heat vision? An unfortunate haircut mistake on prom night has some comic and tragic repercussions for 16-year-old Clark Kent.
The sound of metal scraping ominously on some hard granite surface was the first sound Jonathan Kent heard as he cautiously opened his front door. The terrible screeching sound was coming from the bathroom, and he warily grabbed the umbrella by the door, brandishing it in front of him as a fearsome weapon. The screeching sound abruptly ended, followed by a clank and then a muffled curse. Jonathan peered down the hall and saw golden light streaming out of the open bathroom door. Umbrella in hand, Jonathan stealthily crept forward, careful to remain light and silent on his feet. He took a deep breath outside the door and finally jumped out in front of the door frame, umbrella thrust forward like a rapier.
His wife and son blinked up at him.
"Dad? Umbrella?" Sixteen-year-old Clark Kent nodded his head at the make-shift weapon in confusion.
"Just … just practicing my … baton twirling." Jonathan hastily threw the umbrella out of sight and peered at the two of them. There was a pile of metal scraps on the floor. A closer look revealed them to be … broken scissors? Clark was perched on a chair pulled from the kitchen while Martha stood behind him, viciously attacking a clump of his hair.
Ever since Clark had started setting the hay bales on fire in the barn with any rogue glare, there hadn't been much that could faze Jonathan. Still, the sight perturbed him.
"Ah … son? Care to explain?" He rushed forward a moment later to wrench the scissors from his wife's hand. "Careful, Martha! You nearly stabbed him."
"Wouldn't do any good," Clark muttered.
"What's that, Clark?"
Rolling his eyes, Clark grabbed one of the spare scissor parts and viciously stabbed it into his hand. Nothing. The metal bent at an extremely odd angle and Clark's flesh remained smooth and unbroken.
"Jesus, Clark! Don't scare me like that again!" Jonathan grabbed the scissors from his son. Invulnerability or not, he didn't like seeing him get stabbed with sharp metal. "Yes, we've known that you seem to be invulnerable. You've been that way for a few months now. What's all this?" Jonathan opened his hand and swept it across the air in a vague gesture encompassing the mess in the bathroom.
His mother answered for him. Picking up a piece of Clark's floppy brown hair, she sighed. "It's his hair. Look how long it is. He looks like a St. Bernard."
Clark opened his mouth in protest, but his mother continued on. "I sat down to cut it earlier, you know, like I've done since he was a little boy."
Jonathan nodded, encouraging the story.
"But it just won't cut." She gave the piece a half-hearted stab. Nothing. "His hair is as invulnerable as the rest of him. I don't know how we'll ever cut it."
Clark glared at his reflection in the mirror. Unbidden, the image of himself as some Yeti in the Himalayas sprang up in horrible vivid detail in his mind's eye. Clark's eyes widened. "No! We have to cut it! I don't want to be a snow beast!" His voice cracked a little, something that hadn't happened for well over two years. "A pubescent snow beast!" He cried, his normally mild-mannered expression twisting into a grimace of teenage angst.
"Clark! Stop exaggerating and calm down," Martha admonished him. She grabbed a fistful of his hair and yanked it. It was nearly four inches long up at the top. They needed to figure out *something*.
Clark grimaced as she yanked on his hair and glared at his reflection in the mirror. Martha was holding the hair at the front of his head straight up, mentally measuring it.
That was when it happened. Jonathan saw it unfold, but he wasn't quick enough to shout a warning. At Clark's glare, a thin red beam shot from his eyes. It crashed into the mirror and then rebounded backward, first toward the hair his mother had extended in her fingers and then to his mother herself, directly behind him. As soon as Clark felt the heat in his gaze, he squeezed his eyes shut, swinging his head in a silent no. Too late. The beam followed the turning of his head. He was on his feet a split second later. He could see the deadly beam an inch from his mother's face and he threw himself at her, twisting and tucking her body against his as they slammed into the tile in the shower.
"Martha! Clark!" Jonathan was at their side in an instant, kneeling by his family. His heart was in his throat he grabbed his wife and son's hands. Everything had happened so fast he wasn't even quite aware what had occurred. "Are you okay? Martha, are you hurt?"
"N-No, I'm fine. Thank you, Clark." She twisted to give him an affectionate smile. The tiles behind him were cracked and molded into a vague outline of her son. Her smile lilted a little. "Guess we'll have to fix that."
"I'm so sorry, Mom! I didn't know … I didn't mean to … I'm so sorry." Clark was nearly beside himself. He gently helped his mother to her feet and steadied her. It was while he was doing this that he noticed what his mother had fisted tightly in her hand. A handful of dark, nearly black hair. Eyes widening, Clark rushed to the mirror and placed both of his hands on the sink to steady himself as he gazed at his reflection.
The entire top part of his head was nearly shaved. His long hair … Holding his breath, Clark turned to view his reflection in profile. The image was so appalling he nearly yelped.
"I have a *mullet*!"
"Oh dear." Martha looked at her son's hair. His dark hair was indeed long and shaggy in the back, and flat and short in the front. Resting her head against her husband's shirt, she tried to hold back the giggles threatening to consume her.
"Clark …" Laugh. "it isn't …" Snort. "so bad."
Letting out a howl of indignation, Clark stomped across the hall to his bedroom.
Jonathan raised his eyebrows at his wife. "He usually isn't this temperamental."
"It's his Yeti delusions morphing into an extreme mullet fear, I'm afraid."
"At least we know his hair is possible to cut now; he should be relieved."
"Yes, but he's got that dance in an hour, Jonathan! You know he was so nervous about asking Lana. We had better go check on our boy."
They both started for the door before Jonathan left a placating hand on his wife's shoulder. "Let me go in first. He might still be a little miffed at you laughing at his hair."
Conceding this with a nod of her head, Martha bowed out as Jonathan entered his son's room. It hadn't changed much throughout the years. The walls were dark blue with chestnut furniture. Framed pictures lined the wall, chronicling his past and present. Atticus the goldfish swum listlessly in the bowl atop Clark's nightstand. There were a few clothes on the floor and a novel half-finished on his bed. And there, in the midst of the chaos that was Clark's room, his son stared at himself in the mirror, a red beam slicing through chunks of his hair. His jaw was set stubbornly, and though Jonathan knew his son was aware of his presence, Clark made no mention of it.
"You're butchering those thick locks of yours, Clark."
Without glancing up from the mirror, Clark doggedly kept at it. "I don't know why you and Mom expect me to attend the dance looking like an unkempt hillbilly," he gritted out, stifling a curse as he tried desperately to get the red beam to slice through the long hair at his neck. It was no use. He hadn't gained enough control of his heat vision to allow him to sever the hair at the base of his neck while looking sideways at the mirror. He was already half-dressed, wearing his dress shirt and his tie knotted loosely around his neck, but boxers instead of the dark suit pants lying in a heap on the floor.
Clark gave up a few minutes later. All he had managed to accomplish was to cut the top part of his hair even shorter. He sank down on the bed and rested his aching head in his hands.
Jonathan sat next to his boy and rested a comforting hand on his back. "Oh Clark, things aren't so bad. If we could just get another mirror to line up behind you, we could arrange the beam so you can cut the hair in the back. You'll look fine as soon as we set that up. It'll just take a little bit of practice."
"I know Dad. We'll figure something out." Clark stood and glanced at himself critically in the mirror. "I don't suppose you'd let me call Lana and tell her I've contracted the flu, would you?"
At his father's look, Clark sighed. He'd known the answer to that question before he had even asked it. "Everyone's going to laugh at me, Dad."
"Then they aren't your real friends."
"Aww Dad, come on. Cut the clichés. I don't even know if Lana will want to go with me after this. She's kind of … image conscious."
"Clark, just finish getting ready. It's nearly 7. I know this seems awful, but tomorrow's Sunday. We'll spend a good long while experimenting with some mirrors and that heat vision of yours. We can get your hair looking sharp in no time."
Clark ran a hand across his head from long habit and winced as he felt the unfamiliar short locks. "All right. I'll go."
Jonathan left the room so Clark could finish getting dressed and went to join Martha in the kitchen. She was reaching in the refrigerator to pull out the corsage Clark had ordered from the local florist. It was a beautiful arrangement of deep purple and white, chosen to compliment the pale green color of Lana's dress. Clark had spent nearly forty-five minutes agonizing over which flowers Lana would like best. She frowned inwardly. How she wished the dance wasn't tonight. Lana was a nice enough girl, but Martha knew her to be slightly shallow and self-absorbed. She wasn't sure she could trust the girl not to seriously hurt Clark's feelings with an ill-timed remark about his hair. If she only knew he had no control over the matter! But she heard Clark coming around the corner and she pasted a reassuring smile on her face. Clark was strong where it counted,and however mortified he might be later that night, she was certain her affable son would bounce back.
"Oh, Clark! You look wonderful!" And Martha wasn't lying. His suit jacket fitted across broad shoulders, a recent development Martha still wasn't used to. She didn't even notice his hair. Her son, her boy was looking much more like a man. Somehow the effect wasn't as glaring when he was decked out in T-shirts and jeans, munching on after-school snacks and telling her about teenage problems. Now, dressed to impress, she realized that the boyish roundness of his face had begun to disappear. Tears blinded her vision for a moment before she hastily blinked them back. In the state Clark was in, he'd probably misinterpret them as tears of mirth at his hair or some other ridiculous notion.
Wordlessly she gave him a hug. A flash snapped behind her as Jonathan preserved the moment with the camera. Clark blushed at the picture. "Aww, Dad, come on. I don't want to ever remember this haircut. That picture will never see the light of day."
Martha glared at him. "Clark Jerome Kent, stop worrying about that hair of yours. You sound worse than a primping 11-year-old girl."
Clark stifled a grin. Leave it to his mother to insult him with the aim of making him feel better.
"Now you grab this corsage and get over to the Langs'. Treat that girl to a night she'll never forget!"
"Yes Mom." Clark kissed her on the cheek and gave his father a grin as he shrugged his shoulders. "I guess I could say it's the latest style …"
"That's my boy, the trendsetter!" Martha beamed.
Rolling his eyes, Clark grabbed the keys to his truck and waved.
As he drove over to the Langs', he coached himself. His hair wasn't that bad. He caught his reflection in the mirror and grimaced. Okay. He had a mullet. It was bad. But Lana was his friend. A good friend. And maybe even more than that. She wouldn't laugh.
His stomach twisted sharply as he pulled up to the two-story home of the prettiest and most popular girl in his class. He clutched his corsage box as he made his way up the long walk of cobbled stone. Glancing down to make sure his shoes were tied and his pants were on, Clark hesitated and drew in a deep breath. Then, as he exhaled, he knocked firmly on the door.
The wait was agony. It was probably about a minute, but he had to seriously put some effort into hushing the voice in his head that told him to get the heck out of Dodge. Finally, the door opened.
"Hi Clark! Lana's just about …" Mrs. Lang trailed off as Clark stepped out of the shadows and she got a full view of his unfortunate haircut. "Um … she's just … just about ready."
"Thank you, Mrs. Lang," Clark said quietly. He stood just inside the door, his hands folded tightly behind him. The older woman pursed her lips and then disappeared up the steps to find her daughter. Clark's stomach jackknifed.
Finally, Lana glided down the stairs, looking every bit the most beautiful girl in school. Her pale green dress, the elegant hair, the sparkling jewelry … it all blended together in his mind, leaving a vision of loveliness. He swallowed slightly, trying to clear his suddenly dry throat.
"Y-You look very pretty, Lana," Clark said softly. He tried to extract the corsage from the box. While his head was bent, he missed the look of disgust that passed over Lana's face.
"What did you do to your *hair*?!" She blurted out, just as he managed to free the flower. He was extending it toward her, but the fury in her voice made his arm falter and list a little.
"I … They made a mistake," he explained. He tried to mask the hurt in his gaze.
"They sure did. You look terrible."
Clark didn't respond, merely extending his hand again to hand her the flower he had painstakingly picked out.
Mrs. Lang returned with a camera. "Picture time!" She snapped a few shots of Lana posing on the stairs. Clark shifted, miserably uncomfortable. He watched the proceedings with a veneer of detached interest, but inside his heart was reeling.
"Now I want one with you and Clark," Mrs. Lang said. Clark looked up just in time to see Lana shaking her head vehemently at her mother. Mortified, Clark looked down again, trying to disappear.
Mrs. Lang grabbed his arm and pulled him next to Lana. He tried to smile, but it came out as more of a wry grimace. Why had he thought Lana wouldn't care about his hair? He looked like a freak. After one picture, Lana grabbed her purse and left, leaving Clark to stumble behind her.
They drove to the dance in silence. Lana stared out of the window and when Clark wasn't focusing on the road, he stared at her. He had let the easy acceptance of his parents skew his imaginings of the dance. How naïve he was to think it would all end so easily.
"So … are you excited about the dance, Lana?" He asked while they drove down the stretch of empty road.
Clark was about to speak again before Lana wheeled on him and glared. "I mean I *was*. What the hell were you thinking, doing this? I can't believe you would humiliate me like this. You're a big jerk, Clark Kent. People are going to laugh at me for going with you!"
"I'm sorry, Lana, that I'm so repulsive," Clark gritted out, gripping the steering wheel and staring straight ahead. His jaw set in a tense line and they were silent for the rest of the drive.
When they finally arrived, the dance was in full swing. Lana got out of the car and strode in ahead of him, apparently having come to the decision that if she pretended they hadn't arrived together, no one would place her as his date.
The next few hours were excruciating. Clark leaned against the wall, in the shadows mostly, as he watched Lana dance with just about every guy in school. A few kids noticed him and said hello and Clark developed a sort of masochistic game where he timed them to see how long they would speak before noticing his awful hair. A few of his lesser buddies flat out laughed at him, though his best friend Pete merely grinned and told him that he always had been a trendsetter. Clark smiled politely and fumed over Lana's comments to him in the car. He desperately wanted to leave, but that was out of the question. Lana's parents had entrusted her to his care and he would not leave without escorting her safely home. But he certainly couldn't be begrudged air, he decided. Yes, he would step outside and while the night away there.
The February air was freezing, but it didn't really bother him as he stepped out of the crowded dance hall. The painfully cold gust that filled his lungs was cleansing. He breathed out and idly watched the condensation as he leaned against the wall. A snuffling sound to his right suddenly alerted him. Clark curiously scanned the darkness and saw someone sitting on the cold ground, heedless of the dirt staining her dress. He took a hesitant step forward and saw that it was Rachel Harris. She was crying.
"Rach …?" Clark knelt down on the dirt beside her. "Rachel, what's wrong? Are you all right?"
She sniffled and shook her head.
"What's the matter?" He cautiously maneuvered himself so he was sitting next to her and put a comforting hand on her back.
Rachel took a look at him and suddenly threw her arms around his neck. Startled, Clark froze for a second before relaxing and hugging her back.
"Do I need to beat some guy up for you, Rachel?" He asked softly into her hair. Her hair smelled like strawberries. It was nice.
"I just … Oh, this is stupid!"
"No it's not, I'm sure it isn't," Clark said reassuringly as he rubbed her back. Rachel had pulled back a little and he caught his breath as he saw her slightly freckled face only a few inches from his own. Her hazel eyes looked green tonight, and glimmered with a sheen of tears.
"My date … I think he only took me because his mom made him," she said softly. Her cheeks flushed a red barely visible in the dark night. "He bolted as soon as we got here."
She fingered the single orchid on her wrist. It looked paltry compared to the bouquet he had bought Lana.
Before Clark was fully aware of what he was doing, he had leaned forward and given Rachel a soft kiss. His hand gripped hers as they pulled apart. She looked breathless, blinking in surprise.
"You cut your hair," she said softly.
"Yes, do you like it?"
She wrinkled her nose. "It looks okay. But I did like your hair before, Clark."
For the "it looks okay," Clark leaned forward and kissed her again.
"You're beautiful, Rachel."
"Your hair really is kind of ugly like that, Clark," Rachel said, hiding a smile.
The words didn't slice through him as so many others' had that night. Instead he felt a warm glow suffuse through his chest. He gave her another short kiss, as it began to thunder overhead. A streak of lightning tore open the sky, illuminating the couple sitting on the lawn. Rachel's head rested on Clark's shoulder as they stared up at the rain, the pulsing beat of the dance a forgotten memory behind them.