"On tonight's very special edition of Cribs, we're taking you where no camera crew has ever been allowed to go before. Have you ever wondered how political candidates live when they're not blazing the campaign trail? Wished you could see how a potential senator relaxes after a hard day of speech giving and baby kissing? Pondered on what happens to all that charm when the camera stops rolling and the housework needs doing?
As part of MTV's Rock the Vote week, we're giving you the opportunity to get all your questions answered."
*"I'm not doing it." Lex tossed the file onto his desk, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms.
"Lex, you know that your highest rated demographic is people aged eighteen to thirty years of age."
"I do," said Lex. "So I don't understand why we're wasting time figuring out ways for me to pander to them."
Pete waved the file triumphantly, beaming. "Because they don't vote."
Lex looked at him. Then he looked at Lana, who just smiled at him encouragingly, and didn't offer an explanation. Lex sighed, and wondered if his choice to hire both the Rosses had been a wise one. He looked back at Pete. "Excuse me?"
Pete came around the table and sat down next to Lex. "Okay. When you made the decision to bring me in as chief advisor, it was because you knew that could win some serious support in rural areas, right?"
"Right," said Lex, not bothering to keep the boredom out of his voice.
"There are groups of people who we won't win over, Lex, no matter what we do," Pete said. "And some of those groups are pretty powerful."
"I take it you're referring to those bible-bashers who stand outside our offices all day yelling about how my marriage to Clark is an affront to God?"
"Lex, those bible-bashers make up a dauntingly large percent of voters," said Lana, shifting over to sit next to him. "At this stage of the campaign, Pete thinks it's wise to stop trying to change the minds of people who don't want to listen, and start looking at other ways to boost your numbers."
"Lex," said Pete earnestly, leaning forward, "this could do wonders for your youth market appeal. At least take a day or two to think about it."
"I don't need to think about it," said Lex. "I'm not doing it. End of discussion. Now, what else is on the agenda for today?"*
Metropolis' streets flashed by as the camera panned up to reveal LexCorp Towers. Swooping shots of the building flashed by as a contents list appeared on the side of the screen.
Penthouse, LexCorp Towers, Metropolis.
Lex opened the door, looking about ten years younger than he was in a slim, dark suit and open-necked shirt. Clark hovered behind him, grinning straight at the camera and obviously just barely resisting the urge to mouth 'Hi, Mom.'
"Good afternoon, MTV," said Lex, "I'm Lex Luthor, CEO of LexCorp and senatorial candidate. This is my husband Clark Kent, Pulitzer-winning reporter-" behind him, Clark rolled his eyes "- for the Daily Planet. Welcome to our home."
"I told him he was supposed to say 'crib'," Clark said, standing back as the cameras moved past him into the apartment. "But he doesn't think he's cool enough."
"On the contrary," said Lex, and the camera swung around to show him shutting the door. "I think I'm cool enough to make using it obsolete."
Clark laughed. "Whatever you think they'll believe, Lex."
Lex ignored him. "First of all, let me start by assuring you that this isn't real." He reached up to a long, ornate sword and scabbard, taking it down from its mount on the wall beneath a complicated-looking light. "While I respect every American's right to bear arms, I personally don't make a habit of keeping actual swords in my house. It's a prop from <I>Throne of Blood<I>, my favorite of Kurowasa's films. I got it at auction."
"And by auction, he means Ebay." Clark winked. The camera showed the rest of the wall, covered in black and white stills from movies, and various bits of memorabilia. "As you can see, Ebay is one of Lex's most visited sites."
"Ebay is a form of auction," Lex stated, putting the sword back on the wall. "I see no reason to spend an afternoon waving a numbered table-tennis paddle in the air when I can use the internet instead."
Clark looked seriously at the camera. "We should move on before he gives his Technology Is The Future speech."
"It's no secret that The Tomorrow Party embraces technology," said Lex, smiling as he led the way down the hall. "But let's not bore the viewers. Come through to the living room."
In the living room, Lex directed the camera's attention to the huge fish tank, which took up most of one wall. "Keeping pets can be difficult when you're as busy as Clark and I, but we felt that even we could manage to look after fish."
"Their names are Warrior Angel and Devilicus," said Clark, pointing to the little stone figurines of the characters, which stood in the brightly colored pebbles covering the base of the tank. "We used to have one called Norbert, but he died."
"We think he was moving in on Warrior Angels' turf," said Lex, leaning down to look through the glass. "And no bald guy worth his salt would ever let anyone entrench on his territory without taking swift recourse." He straightened up again, looking at the camera as he added, "That's a philosophy which forms an integral part of The Tomorrow Party's manifesto."
Clark moved away from the fish tank and the camera followed him to the entertainment center on the other side of the room. "We do have a home cinema, but we usually end up watching TV in here anyway."
Lex nodded, coming to stand on the other side of the television, which was playing MTV. "I regret to announce that in this household, MTV is often passed over in favor of CNN, but I've taken the opportunity to catch some while you're here."
"Say, Lex, isn't that Jake Mullet on MTV News?"
Lex turned to look at the television, a completely transparent look of fake surprise on his face. "As in my esteemed opponent? Why, yes, Clark, I believe it is."
They watched the screen for a minute, neither of them reacting when the recent footage of Jake being sat on by a mule at a farm in Granville started to play.
"Such an unfortunate incident," said Lex.
"Huh," said Clark. "That came on just as the cameras focused in on this corner of the room. What a coincidence."
Lex smiled. "I'll say."
*"I'm not doing it," said Lex into his cell phone as he unlocked his car. "It's a terrible idea. It could do a lot of damage."
"Has Pete ever recommended you do anything that could be damaging to your image?" asked Chloe, crackly on the other end. "Have you ever regretted taking his advice?"
"There's a first time for everything, " said Lex, pushing his briefcase into the back seat. "And seeing as I'm the one with experience living my life in the public eye, I happen to think that in this situation, Pete's advice is a little uninformed." There was a scuffling sound and muffled laughter, and Lex frowned. "Chloe, is everything okay?"
She laughed a little breathlessly. "Yeah, it's just Wally. He wants to know if he can come over and host a barbecue in the back yard while they're filming."
Lex gritted his teeth and slid into the car. "It's a terrace, not a backyard, and also, no, because I'm not doing it." He put the keys in the ignition and started the engine. "And that's that."
"Uh huh," said Chloe, sounding anything but convinced. "Did you talk to Clark yet?"
"No," said Lex. "But I don't imagine that doing so will change my mind."
Chloe snorted. "Whatever you say, Lex. Whatever you say."*
"You have to see the terrace," said Clark, taking Lex's hand as they stepped through the wide French windows into the garden. "It's an amazing view of Metropolis."
"I'm not overly keen on heights," said Lex, leading the cameras to the edge of the terrace. "But I must say that being able to look out over the city is incentive enough to get me out here."
The cameras panned slowly from one side of the city to the other, as Lex and Clark looked out over it.
"The campaign trail is extremely focused. It can cause a kind of tunnel vision," said Lex. "When you're travelling from small town to big city, concentrating on little steps, the next speech or press conference or personal appearance, it can be easy to forget the big picture." He turned to face the camera, framed by the skyscrapers of Metropolis in the late afternoon sun. "Being able to look out like this keeps me focused. I never forget that I'm not working for me, I'm working for every American, every resident of Kansas. It's a big state, and it takes an open mind to understand the responsibilities that come with public office."
They made their way back into the apartment, Lex indicating various bits and pieces as they went. He paused by the door of Clark's study. There was a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. "I don't know what Clark does in there, and I'm not supposed to ask."
*"I'm not doing it." Lex slid up onto the counter, breathing in thick steam and trying to make out the shape of Clark's body through the frosted glass of the shower door. "I can't believe Pete even suggested it."
"Isn't that pretty much his job?" said Clark. Lex could hear the grin in his voice.
"It's his job to engender and maintain public investment in me," said Lex, drumming his heels on the cabinet under the counter. "Not to make a spectacle out of me. Out of us."
"Won't it be good publicity?"
"I'm not interested in publicity, Clark."
Lex couldn't hear Clark's replay under the running water, but it sounded suspiciously like a snort.
"Okay, I'm interested in publicity," he amended. "But not at the expense of my privacy or my dignity. And besides, I've tried to keep media attention off you for a reason, Clark. Do I need to remind you about all the blinding spandex hidden in the closet? Do you really think having a film crew here is a good idea? "
The water shut off and Clark's hand appeared over the top of the shower, groping around for the towel slung over the door. A few seconds later he emerged, towel knotted around his hips, his hair slicked back from his face.
Lex swallowed convulsively. "Come here."
Clark did, leaning in close between Lex's legs. "I'll get you all wet," he said, pressing a soft kiss to the corner of Lex's mouth.
"Mmm," Lex murmured, sliding a hand up Clark's warm, slick back. "I'm okay with that." He kissed him again, tilting Clark's head to the side for a better angle. Clark's arms came up around him and he found himself being pulled to the edge of the counter, water seeping through his shirt where it touched Clark's skin, dripping down over his fingers where they were knotted in Clark's hair.
"The blinding spandex is behind a steel door, Lex." Clark assured him when they broke apart. "That door is three feet thick and it won't open without retina identification. I hardly think a film crew from MTV is going to be getting the scoop on who Superman is when the boots come off."
Lex considered that. Clark had a point. But still. "I just think it's reckless to invite that kind of scrutiny into our home. Besides which - people are dubious enough about taking me seriously as a candidate, Clark. I'm not sure an appearance on Cribs is going to boost the opinion polls in my favor."
Clark shrugged. "Maybe you're right. What does Pete say?"
Lex closed his eyes and sighed, resting his forehead against Clark's. "He says that Cribs could do for me what the saxophone and Arsenio Hall did for Bill Clinton."
Clark grinned. "Well that can't be bad." He pulled back, grabbing another towel and lifting it to his face before pinning Lex with a serious look. "But no intern scandals, okay? I don't have time to be posing for photographs in Martha's Vineyard just to prove that we're still as solid a family as always."
Lex would have kicked him, but he thought broken toes might make the campaign trail even more of a challenge.*
"This is the master bathroom," said Clark, pushing the doors open. "It's pretty regular, as far as bathrooms go."
"You might notice that we have two of everything," said Lex from the doorway. "I believe that can be explained by the fact that Clark's morning ablutions take approximately six hundred times as long as mine."
"Ignore him." Clark countered, as shots of the double sinks, mirrors, and the enormous sunken tub slid across the screen. "He's just bitter because he has no hair to wash."
*"I'm not doing it." Lex took the proffered mug of coffee, nodding his thanks. "I don't know what Clark told you, but I'm not."
Martha slid into the seat opposite him, handing another mug to Jonathan. "Well, that's your decision, Lex. You shouldn't do anything you don't feel comfortable with."
Lex looked at her. "Oh, my god. You think I should do it, too."
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to." Lex put his mug down and folded his arms. He stared at Clark across the table. "This is all your fault."
Clark laughed. "Right. I don't have enough to do with the Planet and the League, I need to make nefarious plans involving you and MTV to entertain myself." He bit into his toast. "This was all Pete. And maybe a little bit of Lana."
Lex sighed, rolling his head back to stare at the ceiling. "You know, I've never been anything but nice to Lana. I saved The Talon for her. I babysat her children which, granted, I was forced into by Clark, but still. I hired her to work on my campaign. And this is how she repays me."
Jonathan leant forward, his hands clasped. "You know, son, Pete's been very useful to you. Now, I don't know much about MTV and I can't say that I see how it'll help your campaign, but if Pete thinks it will, then he's probably right."
"That's what I said." Clark rocked back in his chair, looking smug.
Lex looked at Martha again for help, but she just twinkled at him over her mug, shrugging slightly as she said, "I think they have a point, Lex."
Lex groaned. "And here I thought you liked me."*
"The bedroom on the other side of the apartment is actually bigger," said Lex, pushing open the dark double doors. "But this one has the windows."
The whole of one wall was glass, providing a floor to ceiling view over the center of Metropolis. The camera followed the line of the heavy drapes down over the hardwood floor, past the soft rugs in front of the fireplace and up to the enormous bed in the center of the room.
"The windows are polarized," said Clark, sitting on the end of the bed. "No one can see in."
"That's what I tell him, anyway," said Lex, winking at the camera as he moved to the bookcases. "We took the liberty of removing some of the pictures which normally rest here. Clark didn't feel anyone needed to see his fourth grade school picture."
"And Lex didn't feel anyone needed to see him on a hayride in Smallville."
Lex grinned, indicating a photograph of a smiling Jonathan and Martha Kent. "My wonderful in-laws. And here we have a rather lovely picture of Peter and Lana Ross on their wedding day. Believe me, they're a lot more intimidating in person."
Clark joined him on camera. "Who, the Rosses or my parents?"
The camera swung around again, focusing on the bed and providing close-up shots of the low tables on either side. On one was a biography of Alexander the Great, lying beneath a sleek chrome lamp.
"Clark tells me that it's tradition to utter a certain phrase when the Cribs cameras are doing their shots of the bed," said Lex, trailing a hand over the deep blue covers. "But I've never held much with tradition."
"That's Lex's way of saying he's a spoilsport."
"No, that's my way of saying that while I always appreciate the advice and counsel of others, I do things my own way and I don't apologize for it." Lex caught Clark's hand and kissed the back of it, twining their fingers together. "Now, I think it's only appropriate that we show the good people of America that we're hiding nothing in the closet. Don't you?"
"Lex calls it a closet," said Clark as they made their way down the short hallway. "But it's really an entire room, dedicated to clothes."
Lex shrugged as he opened the door and flipped the light on. "I have my vices."
What looked like row upon row of neatly hung and immaculately pressed clothes flew across the screen, punctuated by bulky dry cleaning bags and underlined by an army of shoes and boxes.
"You know, left to my own devices, I really wouldn't be this organized when it comes to clothes." Clark walked along his side of the closet, the camera dipping under his shoulder to slide past the shirts and jackets. "But it makes him happy."
Lex, on the other side of the closet, looked over his shoulder as the camera closed in on him. "Clark, I fail to understand how organization can be such a chore for you. All your shirts are the same." He indicated his own clothes with a broad sweep of his arm. "Order in all things. It's one of the keys to success."
Clark laughed, and came to stand next to him. "Lex, this isn't order. This is obsession. I think you may have issues."
"It's important to categorize," said Lex. He moved down the row, pointing out divisions as he went. "Casual, dress, office, formal - and here we have a suit which cost a huge amount of money and was rendered unwearable by a wayward serving of salsa at a party hosted by Wayne Enterprises." He leaned into the camera, holding the suit jacket up for inspection. "You owe me an outfit, Bruce."
*"I'm not doing it," said Lex.
"Yes, Mr. Luthor," said Carolin, dropping an armful of mail onto his desk and gathering up the papers he'd signed that morning. "I told Mr. Ross that, but he's very anxious to talk to you."
"I'm not doing it."
Carolin set a fresh cup of coffee down, and picked up the old one. "Yes, sir, I mentioned that to him. Several times, in fact." She set a stack of files on the 'in' pile. "Funny thing, though. He doesn't seem to care."
Lex glowered at her. "So my decisions count for nothing, now?"
Carolin gave him a look. "Mr. Luthor, you know I have the utmost respect for your judgement, but it really is very difficult to get on with my work when Mr. Ross is calling every five minutes. Perhaps if you would consider hearing what he has to say, we could all get on with our day."
"I pay you to agree with me."
"No, Mr. Luthor, you pay me to do everything else for you." She handed him a small piece of paper. "The receipt for the dry cleaning you had me pick up this morning, sir." She turned on her heel and made her way back to her own desk, the efficient clip of her heels fading when she closed the heavy door between her office and his.
Lex stared at the slip in his hand for a full five minutes before he leant over and buzzed for Carolin.
"Yes, Mr. Luthor?"
Her voice through the intercom was pleasant and professional as always. Lex sighed.
"If he calls again, patch him through."
Carolin rustled some papers. "Very good, sir."*
"This is my home office," said Lex, wandering over to the large desk and sitting in the chair. "I don't use it, really, which is the advantage of living in the office building. No need to work from home. I only come in here to check email, and every so often look over a little work."
"We should show them the kitchen," Clark called from the hallway.
"Excellent idea." Lex agreed, getting up to follow him.
The camera followed them down the hall to the kitchen, which opened out into an enormous sunny space, kitchen at one end and sofas and a pool table at the other. The camera honed in on the wall of glass, sweeping over the view of Metropolis and curving back around to find Lex and Clark standing by the breakfast island.
"Lex can't cook," said Clark, "and I don't like to. So we had to think of alternate ways of feeding ourselves."
"It's a three point plan," said Lex seriously, resting his forearms on the counter. "First of all, we eat out a lot."
"Secondly, we order in a lot," said Clark, opening a drawer and pulling out a handful of menus. He waved them at the camera.
"And finally, we have a secret weapon." Lex moved to the fridge and opened it a crack. "Normally I wouldn't disclose information like this," he said, his head bent conspiratorially towards the camera, "but in this case I think the American public needs to know that this woman is very often the only reason we make it through the week."
He flung the fridge open to reveal a picture of Martha, taped onto the highest shelf. The camera zoomed in on it, then dropped to make a tour of the countless tupperware containers and covered dishes resting on every shelf.
"My mom is our kitchen goddess," Clark said seriously, making a little mock bow. "Every time we go home to Smallville we come back loaded with food."
"It's a good thing, too," said Lex, opening an empty cupboard. "As you can see, she's pretty much the sole source of foodstuffs in our house. I guess I got used to Kent produce while I was living in Smallville."
Clark grinned, and shook his head.
"Lex," said Hans, "if you weren't going to do it, I wouldn't be here on my day off, making sure all your babies are ready for their close-ups. Now hand me that wrench."*
"You've seen pretty much everything of interest inside our house, so now we're taking you down to see the cars." Lex pressed a button when the elevator came to a stop, and the doors slid open. The garage was revealed as a wide, airy room, pristine tools hung up around the edges and the cars themselves displayed as if they were in a public showroom.
Lex moved among the vehicles, pointing out this feature and that model. He spent a few minutes making fun of Clark's car, and then came to a stop next to the Porsche.
"This isn't the Porsche I was driving when I met Clark," he said, placing a hand on the roof, "but it is the same model. The one I was driving is little more than a mangled hunk of metal."
Clark looked down and took Lex's free hand. "Lucky you weren't hurt."
"Not really," said Lex. He looked up at the camera. "When I was first assigned to the fertilizer plant in Smallville at the age of twenty-one, I announced my arrival by driving off a bridge. Clark jumped in and pulled me out. I knew then that I had a second chance, an opportunity to distance myself from the socialite image I'd garnered during my teens, and make a fresh start."
He moved around the car, his fingers still linked with Clark's. "What happened changed me. I realized that you have to make the most of every day, and I became a man of drive and ambition. I want nothing more than to pour all of that into being Kansas' senator and making sure that our state is the best it can be."
The elevator doors opened again, this time revealing Clark and Lex back in the foyer of the apartment again.
"We'd like to thank MTV for coming over to our house-"
"For checking out our crib," said Clark, grinning.
Lex rolled his eyes. "That, too. We hope you enjoyed looking around as much as we enjoyed showing you, but if you'll excuse us, I have an election to win." He held his hand up in farewell as Clark waved from behind him. "Until next time."
*"I can't believe I just did that," Lex groaned, leaning against the closed door. "I feel like a performing monkey."
"You were great," said Clark, moving in to slide his arms around Lex's waist. "Very senator-y."
Lex dropped his head onto Clark's shoulder and groaned again. "If I don't win this fucking thing, I'll never live this down."
"Of course you're going win," said Clark taking his hand and leading Lex toward the living room. "After your little speech in the garage? I wouldn't expect anything less than a landslide."*
It wasn't a landslide, but it was enough. More eighteen to thirty year olds in Kansas turned out to vote than ever before, and Martha found herself inundated with requests for recipes.
"I told you it would be a good idea," said Pete over brandy a few weeks after the victory.
"Yes, well," said Senator Luthor, lifting his feet up to rest them on the low table. "Maybe I'll keep you around after all."
Pete beamed, settling further back into his chair. "Good," he said. "I've got some great ideas for the presidency campaign."
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