Lex was home for a week. He couldn’t believe how much he had missed the Kents over the past three months while he was away at school. He had seen them a few times during those months. He had stayed over the weekend twice, once in October, and once in November. He had also flown in to join them at a few of the football games he had given Jonathan season tickets to, but it still felt good to be home for a whole week.
He had arrived yesterday late in the evening, and hadn’t done much besides say hi and go to bed. Then a few minutes ago Jonathan had gotten him up. He was helping Jonathan and Clark feed the animals, and they were all talking and visiting having a good time catching up. Clark was telling him all about Pete, and school, and how excited he was about Christmas. Soon they were all sitting down for breakfast and Jonathan asked, “So Lex, how do you think you did on your finals?”
Lex smiled and said, “Good I think.”
Martha smiled too, “Now that the first term is over, and you have an idea of what it’s like, do you think it’s something you’re gonna want to do for the next four years?”
“Yeah. Some of it was boring, but for the most part I liked it. My History class was actually fun.”
Martha beamed and said, “I’m so glad.”
Jonathan asked, “Have you made any friends?”
“I’ve met a few people in class that I talk to sometimes, but no one that I’ve hung out with outside of class… well, I guess I’ve talked to some of them outside of class, but it was about class. Does that count?”
“It’s a start. A good start.”
Lex smiled and took a bite of food. Martha said, “What about the parties? I know you told us about two of them. Did you meet anyone at either of those…. Or at any others?”
Lex darted his eyes over to Jonathan wondering if he should confess to going to the other parties or not. Jonathan saw the look and chuckled. He said, “As long as you passed your classes I’m not gonna be upset about partying after the fact.”
Lex gave him a sheepish smile and said, “There were a total of five, but that really isn’t very many for me during a three month span.”
Lex looked over to Martha and continued, “As for meeting people, there were a few nice girls, but no one I wanted to talk to more then one night.”
Lex thought that was a politic way of saying he had a few one night stands that didn’t lead to anything else. Martha nodded, “Well that’s okay.”
Clark said, “So was there like a ton of homework every night?”
Lex smiled at him and said, “Pretty much, and most of it was reading.”
Clark nodded and looked somewhat discouraged. Jonathan said, “When do you get your grades?”
“Should be this week or next. I asked my personal assistant in New York to have it faxed to the mansion when she gets it. Then one of my dad’s employees will give me a call here when it comes.”
Jonathan nodded and Martha said, “So tell us about each of your classes and what you learned.”
Lex gave her a quizzical look, and Clark said, “Yeah, she’s serious. She’s like that.”
Lex shrugged and started in on a long talk about his classes.
The week passed happily for everyone. On Friday Lex got a call from the mansion telling him his grades were in. He drove over and picked them up. He saw them and was kind of surprised at how good they were. Two A’s and three B’s. He did a double take and looked at the name to make sure it was his. It was the best report card he had ever gotten. On the ride back to the farm he wondered how different high school would have been if he had known Jonathan back then. He arrived right after lunch and found Jonathan on the porch. He handed the report card to Jonathan, and Jonathan gave him a smile and a hug. When he was still in Jonathan’s embrace Jonathan murmured, “I’m so proud of you Lex. You did such a good job.”
Lex started to tear up, but had a huge smile on his face at the same time. Jonathan let Lex go, and called to Martha and Clark who were both in the kitchen. They came out to the porch and Martha also hugged Lex and told him she was proud of him. Clark smiled and said, “That’s cool Lex. Not as good as mine’s gonna be but pretty good.”
Lex laughed and punched Clark lightly on the shoulder. He said, “Shut up show off. Not everyone can get straight A’s.”
Clark smirked, but his smart comment died on his lips when he saw his dad shake his head and give him a serious look. He looked up at Lex, and ended up saying, “Yeah, well I’m sure your classes are harder then mine too.”
Lex felt himself smiling throughout the rest of the day for no particular reason.
Sunday was Christmas, and Lex was spending the morning with the Kents, and then going back to the mansion to spend the second half of the day with his father. The following week he was going to be spending time with his father in Metropolis. He had wanted to spend both weeks of vacation with the Kents, but his father had flat out refused, and told him he could kiss his college money goodbye if he didn’t spend at least one of the weeks with him. Lex had begrudgingly agreed.
Christmas morning Lex woke up at six, and was happy to note that
he wasn’t as sore as he had been the rest of the week. He was amazed that
three months away had left him so out of shape that one week at the farm made
him hurt all over. He looked at his clock and went downstairs. Martha was at
the table sipping coffee with an anxious looking Clark not eating his cereal.
Lex smiled, and as he poured himself some coffee he said to Clark, “Having
Clark gave his breakfast a little glare and said, “I don’t see why the animals can’t wait to be fed for a few hours one day a year.”
Martha put a hand over his and gave him a sympathetic look as she said, “That wouldn’t be a very good Christmas for them now would it?”
“I guess not.”
“Your dad will be done in a few minutes, and the presents aren’t going anywhere.”
Clark put a bite in his mouth so he would have an excuse not to talk. Lex sat at the table and enjoyed just relaxing for a few minutes.
The second Jonathan walked through the door Clark jumped up and said, “Can we go in the living room now? Can we please?”
Jonathan nodded, and Martha handed him a Coffee and a muffin to take with him. Lex also took his coffee with him. Lex smiled as he thought about what Clark had told him last night.
A few minutes after Lex got into bed he heard a timid knock at his door. He sat up and said, “Yeah?”
Clark opened the door, and then shut it behind him. Lex looked concerned and said, “Is something wrong?”
Clark stood at the foot of the bed and said, “No…not really…I….I just don’t want you to think I’m a baby or something tomorrow.”
Lex shook his head and said, “What do you mean?”
“I had a talk with Dad last year about….about Santa,…..and we agreed that I wouldn’t tell Mom that I didn’t really believe in him until next summer. Dad says it will make Mom happy…like a Christmas present for her.”
Clark looked a little worried and Lex looked at him seriously when he said, “I would have done that for my mom too Clark. It’s okay.”
Clark smiled with relief and said, “Thanks Lex.”
Lex waved him off and said, “Go to bed, or Santa will never come.”
Clark smirked and said, “Okay.”
Now Lex had to smile into his coffee cup as Clark talked animatedly about what Santa had left for him in his stocking. Then Clark turned to Lex and said, “Aren’t you gonna look in yours?”
Lex looked over at the fireplace and saw that the second stocking that had been hanging there was also full of things. He looked bewildered at Martha who gave him a smile and a wink. He said honestly, “I thought it was just up for decoration.”
Clark gave him a funny look and said, “Don’t you usually have one on Christmas morning?”
Before Lex could answer Clark said, “Hey, do you get two?! Is there gonna be another one for you at your house?”
Lex just sat there and shook his head ‘no’ slowly as he tried to block out the memory of his last stocking. Jonathan and Martha exchanged a look of concern for Lex, but a few seconds later Lex put his empty coffee mug down and said, “Be right back….too much coffee.”
Lex got into the bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror. He whispered fiercely to himself, “Don’t think about it. This is going to be a good Christmas for the first time in nine years, and you aren’t going to ruin it for yourself or them.”
Lex jabbed his finger at himself in the mirror and said, “So just drop it God damn it.”
He looked away and flushed the toilet on his way out the door. He smiled as he went back into the living room and looked at Clark when he said, “So what do you think Santa brought me?”
Clark ran over and gave him his stocking. Lex gave Martha and Jonathan a genuine smile, and even gave them a laugh, as he found school supplies like pens, highlighters, and a stapler in his stocking. Clark looked disappointed at what Lex got. He hoped that he wouldn’t get that kind of crap once he told his Mom he didn’t believe anymore, and put a possessive hand over his chocolate and toys.
Jonathan had made Lex promise a month in advance that he wouldn’t spend more then fifty bucks on any of them for Christmas, and Lex stuck to it even though he had found it excruciating. When his stocking was empty Lex said, “Hey Clark, why don’t you open the one from me?”
Clark opened it and found the newest and most popular game for his X-box. He exclaimed, “Cool!”
Clark gave Lex a sheepish look and handed him a gift as he said, “It’s dumb, I know…..but it’s all I could afford, and I thought you could take it with you to school and it would remind you of me….or something….you can take it back if you want….or if you have one.”
Lex smiled as he opened it to find a new basketball. He looked at Clark and said honestly, “Thanks, Clark. It will remind me of you, and I don’t have one, so thanks.”
Clark had shrugged and smiled as he said, “Okay.”
Clark opened a few from Santa, and handed Lex one that said it was from Santa too. Lex opened it and found a handmade quilt with a spiral pattern in various shades of blue with an off white background. He took it out of the box and stood up to hold it up so he could see the whole thing. He looked over at Martha who was smiling. Lex said, “It’s beautiful. Thank you.”
Martha said, “Don’t thank me, it’s from Santa.”
Lex folded it up and sat with it on his lap for a while so he could admire it while Jonathan and Martha opened a few things from each other.
Clark opened a couple from his parents that were clothes and he said, “Thanks.” without much enthusiasm.
Martha handed one to Lex that was from her. It was a large journal with hand written recipes. When he opened it she said, “Those are my absolute favorites, along with the ones I know you like, but the second half is blank so you can put your favorites in it as the years go by. But you have to promise to share if you find a really good one.”
Lex smiled and said, “Thanks Mrs. Kent, I promise I will.”
Lex got up and got the gift he had gotten for her and handed it to her. She opened it and found a new carving knife. She smiled at him and said, “Thank you Lex. Now I won’t have to listen to you complain about my old one that’s been sharpened too many times to count, and wasn’t a very good knife to start with.”
He smiled at her and then gave Jonathan a slight glare as he said, “I wanted to get you a whole set.”
Jonathan ignored that comment and said, “We’ll put it to use with the Turkey we’re having for lunch.”
Lex got up again and handed a gift to Jonathan. Jonathan opened it and said, “Wow Lex, thanks. That’s a really nice set of wrenches. Did you have a flashback of working on the tractor when you bought them?”
Lex laughed and said, “Actually I did.”
Jonathan got up and handed Lex a small box, and when Lex opened it he found an old compass. Lex wasn’t sure why Jonathan had given it to him, but he smiled and said, “Thanks.”
Jonathan said, “It was my grandfather’s. He gave it to my dad, and my dad gave it to me when I was eighteen. I thought you should have it. It’s so you can always find your way home. No matter where you go or what life brings you, you can always come home if you need to.”
Lex held the compass and looked over at Jonathan as he said, “Wow….that’s…are you sure you want to give it to me? I mean shouldn’t Clark have it?”
Jonathan patted Lex’s shoulder and said, “I talked to Clark about it first. We both think you should have it.”
Lex looked over at Clark who smiled and nodded. Lex looked down at the compass and whispered, “Okay. Thank you.”
Jonathan could tell Lex was choked up and said, “Anything else under the tree Clark?”
“One for me, and one for Mom.”
Once the presents were all open, Clark talked Jonathan into playing one of his video games with him, while Martha and Lex started cooking for the big lunch.
A couple of hours after lunch Lex couldn’t help but look
at his watch every few minutes. He didn’t want to go see his dad at all,
but he knew he would be waiting, and Lionel didn’t like people being late.
Eventually Lex reluctantly said, “I’m gonna have to go pack up my
stuff and head to the mansion. Dad will be waiting.”
Everyone helped Lex gather up his stuff and packed it into his car. Finally he gave each of them a hug and said goodbye. When he hugged Martha he whispered, “Thank you for the quilt. It will be nice to have something to remind me of home when I’m in New York. This was the best Christmas I’ve had in over nine years, so thank you for that too.”
Martha squeezed him tight and said, “It has been one of my favorites too.”
She let him go and patted his cheek as she said, “Just remember that we love you if things get bad next week with your dad okay?”
Lex nodded. He walked to his car and gave everyone a last wave before driving off.
Lex felt himself getting more and more nervous as he got closer
to the mansion. He had talked to his dad a few times over the past three months,
but not much. He pulled up to the mansion and had the staff take his stuff to
his room as he went out in search of his father. He found him in his office
doing paperwork. Lex shook his head and said, “It’s Christmas Dad.
Are you working?”
Lionel looked up and said, “Ah Lex, how wonderful to see you. I’ll just finish this up, and then we can visit.”
Lex said with some sarcasm, “You know Dad, when you have your own company, you really ought to be able to take a day off when you want to.”
Lionel smiled condescendingly at his son and said, “If you want to make sure the company is run well, you don’t take any time off.”
Lex sighed and said, “Whatever.”
Lionel looked back at his papers and waved Lex away as he said, “I’ll meet you in the main living room in half an hour.”
Lex turned and left. He went to the main living room and admired the tree that someone had put up. As he was looking at it one of the ornaments caught his eye. He couldn’t breath for a second when he realized what it was. He walked up to it and touched it softly. It was a white porcelain ornament of a Santa that said at the bottom ‘Baby’s First Christmas’. Lex took it off the tree and said, “Julian. I thought this was gone.”
He had been trying to block it out all day, but seeing the ornament he was tossed back into the memory of his last happy Christmas.
Lex woke up and looked at his clock to make sure it was morning.
It said seven AM, so he got up and ran down the hall to his parent’s bedroom.
He went to his Mom’s side of the bed and said, “Mom?”
She looked over at him and gave him a small smile. Lex whispered, “Can we go see what Santa brought?”
She said, “You’re brother just went back to sleep. You want to climb in bed with us for a little while first?”
He climbed into bed between his mother and father. This woke Lionel up. He gave Lex a small smile and rolled over to sleep some more. Lex lay there and watched his mom sleep. He looked at her close, and noticed that she looked thin, and there were dark circles under her eyes.
Then he thought about his brother. Lex thought his brother was the best Christmas present he could have. He couldn’t wait for Julian to get a little older so he would have someone to play with. He wasn’t at all popular in school, and he kept thinking of all the ways having a brother to stick by his side would make him feel less alone. He also thought about protecting his brother from being lonely the way he had. He would make sure he was always there for Julian when he needed a friend. His dad was working most of the time, and his mom was busy with fundraising and charity events all the time, so Lex knew that Julian would be lonely too if he didn’t help.
Half an hour later Julian cried, and Lex watched as his mom stumbled over to the bassinet half-awake. She picked the baby up and held it. Lex thought there was something wrong with the way she held the baby, and Julian didn’t stop crying. Lionel woke up and got out of bed too. He walked over to his wife and rearranged the baby in her arms. Lex smiled when Julian stopped his full blown crying and went to whimpering. Lionel looked at Lex and said, “Let’s go see the tree.”
Lex got out of bed and nodded. He said, “Come on mom.”
Lionel looked at his wife who was staring out the window. He said, “Come on dear. You can feed the baby while Lex opens his gifts.”
She looked over at him with a blank look, and he put a hand on her arm to steer her towards the living room.
In the living room the servants brought out some breakfast and coffee for everyone including a bottle for Julian. Lex opened gifts and handed gifts to both his parents and his brother. Lex watched when his mom opened a gift from Lionel. It was a porcelain ornament of a Santa that said Baby’s first Christmas. Lex was confused when his mom started crying and let the baby fall from her arms. Julian landed half on her lap and half on the couch. Julian started screaming, and Lionel looked angry when he picked the baby up to sooth him. Lionel caught Lex looking at them and Lionel said, “Your mother is just very happy about the gift. Sometimes women cry when they’re very happy.”
Lex looked over at his mother. She didn’t look happy to him. He went over to her and said, “Mom?”
She looked at him and focused on his face. She pulled him to her and hugged him tight. She said, “Oh Lex, I’m sorry. Look at me crying on Christmas. Don’t worry honey, Mommy’s fine. Why don’t you open another gift.”
Lex was comforted by her words, and she seemed to be more herself again. He went and opened some more gifts.
Lex now looked at the ornament in his hand again. He said to
it, “Have you been in with the Christmas stuff all this time, but no one
put you on the tree before? I wonder why?”
Lex had been lost in thought until he heard his father directly behind him say, “What are you doing?”
Lex spun around still holding the ornament and said, “Sorry, I didn’t hear you. Look what was on the tree.”
Lionel saw the ornament and snatched it out of Lex’s hands. Before either one of them realized what was going on Lionel had backhanded Lex who went flying back and hit his head against the fireplace bricks. Lex was too stunned to do much besides lay where he had fallen while he stared up at his dad. Lionel gave Lex a look of hatred and said, “Don’t touch it again.”
Lionel turned and left the room as quickly as he could without running. Lex sat himself up and felt his head where it had hit the bricks. He pulled his hand away to see blood. He stared at his hand until it blurred. He started to cry quietly. He picked himself up and walked to his room. He lay down on his bed and curled up into the fetal position while holding a pillow to his stomach and thought about that night. The night that had changed everything.
Lex couldn’t remember the actual event, although he often
tried. He could only remember the aftermath. He was standing next to the bassinet
with a pillow in his hands, and his father was looking at him with disbelief.
Lionel said, “What did you just do?”
Lionel looked in the bassinet and picked up baby Julian who wasn’t making any noise. Lex was frozen in place not sure what had happened. Lionel started to cry once he realized Julian was dead. He put Julian back in the bassinet gently and then turned on Lex with hatred. Lionel slapped Lex as hard as he could and Lex was knocked backwards a few feet. He dropped the pillow as he fell, and blacked out when he landed.
The rest of the night was a blur to Lex. He could remember seeing his mother sitting in the dark staring out the window, with a disconcerting smile on her face while she cried. He remembered the police, and the ambulance. He heard the emergency people tell his father it was most likely SIDS, and that they were very sorry. He remembered his father had gone into his study and refused to come out for two days. And he clearly remembered being sent to boarding school the following week even though he had cried and begged his father and mother not to send him away.
Lex was still curled up on his bed crying and remembering when
he started to hear the baby cry. He sat up and wiped at his eyes. He said, “Julian?”
The baby’s cries got louder and Lex got up to find the baby. He walked down the hall towards the nursery. It hadn’t been changed since that day. He looked in the crib, and there was his brother crying. He picked Julian up and rocked back and forth with him saying, “It’s okay. Don’t cry.”
He sat in the rocking chair and rocked with the baby until he fell asleep.
Two hours later Lionel had finished firing the woman who had put up the Christmas tree, and felt calm enough to talk to his son. He walked off to find him, but couldn’t find him anywhere. Then he saw the door to the nursery was ajar. He walked in to find Lex sitting in the rocking chair with a wadded up blanket in his arms. Lionel looked down at his feet knowing what had happened. It hadn’t happened for years, but it had happened before. He sighed and walked over to Lex. He took the blanket out of his arms, and as he did, he noticed that Lex had a wound on the back of his head. The blood had dried, and the wound wasn’t still leaking, but there was blood all over the back of his head, and some had leaked down into his shirt. Lionel felt a twinge of guilt. He knelt down and put a hand on Lex’s arm. He shook him gently and said, “Lex?”
Lex woke up and said, “Dad?”
Lex looked around and said, “What am I doing in the nursery?”
“I’m not sure. We need to get you cleaned up. Come on.”
Lionel stood and started for the door. Lex looked around him for a second and then got up to follow his dad. They went to the bathroom and Lionel said, “Take a shower and change your clothes. I’m going to call Dr. Schmidt to come take a look at you.”
Lex said, “Why?”
“Your head is bleeding. We need to make sure it’s not a concussion.”
Lex put his hand up to the wound and felt it. He looked over at his dad remembering what had happened. He berated himself for touching the ornament and whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Lionel said unconvincingly, “It’s okay. Come to the kitchen when you’re cleaned up.”
Lionel handing him a washcloth and said, “Hold that to your head if it starts to bleed again.”
Lionel left and shut the door. Lex looked at himself in the mirror. His skin looked very pale against the dried blood. He couldn’t look at himself for long and stripped to take a shower. The whole time he was rinsing off he felt the same crushing guilt that he had felt for the first few years after he had killed Julian. He wasn’t sure why he had done it, and couldn’t remember doing it, but he knew he had smothered his baby brother to death with the pillow. He asked himself the same unanswered question again and again. Why? He loved his brother. He wanted a brother more then anything else in the world, so why did he kill him? He didn’t know the answer and probably never would. But he knew his father was right to hate him for it.
He got out of the shower and dried off. He wrapped a towel around his waist and walked to his room to get some clothes. Halfway there he scratched his neck, and found it was sticky. He remembered the head wound and went back to the bathroom to get the washcloth.
A few minutes later Lex met his father in the kitchen. Lionel motioned for Lex to come sit in the chair next to his. Lex sat and Lionel lifted the washcloth and looked at his head. He said, “It will probably need a couple of stitches. Dr. Schmidt should be here in twenty minutes or so.”
Lex nodded, and Lionel gave him back the washcloth to hold to his head. They sat in uncomfortable silence until the doctor arrived. Lex had four stitches, and the doctor said everything else seemed to be fine, and that Lex didn’t have a concussion. Dr. Schmidt was on Lionel’s payroll, and didn’t ask Lex what had happened. Lionel walked the doctor to the door, and told him about Lex’s episode. The doctor gave Lionel some pills to help Lex sleep for the next few days.
When they were alone again Lionel said, “Why don’t we go in the living room, and open a few gifts?”
Lex silently followed. Lex sat on the couch and stared at the floor. Lionel went to the tree and pulled out a gift. He gave it to Lex and said, “Merry Christmas son.”
Lex opened it and found a new electronic personal day planner. He said, “Thanks.” mechanically. Lionel handed him another, and another, but Lex found no joy in opening the gifts. By the time he was done there was a few thousand dollars worth of stuff around him, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. His father looked at him expectantly for a minute and then said, “Well, I guess that’s it then.”
Lex said, “Oh, wait. I’ll go get your gift.”
Lex went to his room and got the box. He went back down and handed it to Lionel. Lionel smiled and opened it to find a new watch. Lionel said sincerely, “Thank you. It’s very nice.”
Lex thought it was dumb now, but he couldn’t stop himself from saying, “There’s something else in the box.”
Lionel took out some tissue paper and found a folded piece of paper at the bottom. He opened it to see Lex’s report card. Lex shrugged and said, “I know it’s stupid, but I thought you might like to know that I’m doing better with college then I did with high school.”
Lionel looked at Lex and said, “I hardly think a report card, which clearly shows that you’ve been bribing people to take your tests, is a good gift Lex. Although I am glad you’ve learned the value of good grades well enough to pay the right people.”
Lex said, “But I…..”
Then Lex thought about it, and knew his father wouldn’t believe that the grades were his anyway, and with the way he felt right now, he didn’t think he deserved any praise anyway. He said, “Your right. I’m sorry.”
Lionel got a bottle of pills out of his pocket. He said, “Lex, you look tired, and Dr. Schmidt said you should get plenty of rest for the next few days. He left these for you. Why don’t you head up to your room and call it an early night?”
Lex went to take the bottle of pills but Lionel pulled it back and opened the bottle. He gave Lex two pills and put the bottle back in his own pocket. Lex smiled at his father’s lack of trust, and as he took the pills from his father’s hand he said, “It’s good to be home Dad.”
He started to laugh almost hysterically as he walked off to his room. He put the pills in his mouth and swallowed. He prayed that they would take effect quickly as he lay down on his bed and waited for the darkness to take him.
The next week Lex stayed with Lionel in Metropolis, but Lionel
went to work all day every day, and Lex filled his time with sleep, TV, drugs,
and alcohol, so they didn’t see each other much. Lionel and Lex said very
little to each other during the week, and sometimes their only contact was when
Lex got his sleeping pills from Lionel.
When Lionel had originally made Lex stay with him for a week, he had planned on taking him to Luthorcorp with him every day. He had envisioned showing him around to try and get him interested in working there. But after the Christmas incident and the bad memories that brought up, he couldn’t stand to be around Lex for very long. And besides that, Lex’s face had turned a bluish purple color where Lionel had hit him, and his head wound was still obvious.
On the last night before Lex was supposed to go back to school Lionel got home from work later then usual. Lex was waiting on the couch. When Lionel finally arrived Lex got up and held out his hand when he said, “I’m really tired dad. Could I have the meds please?”
Lionel took out the bottle and handed it to Lex. Lex gave him a curious look and Lionel said, “Last two.”
Lex looked disappointed. Lionel said, “The jet is set to take us both to New York tomorrow at 10am.”
“You don’t have to come. Just write me a blank check.”
Lionel shook his head no. Lex shrugged not really caring at that point and took his pills and went to his room.
The next day Lex slept for part of the trip, and pretended to sleep for the rest of it. They both went to the school, where they had a meeting with the Dean. Lionel and the Dean did most of the talking, and most of it was about what they were going to name after Lionel once he wrote him another hefty check to keep Lex in school. Near the end of the meeting the very happy Dean turned to Lex and said, “If you give me a list of the classes you want to take this term, I’ll make sure you’re signed up before registration tomorrow.”
Lex nodded and said, “Thank you.” as the Dean handed him a class list to look over. Lex didn’t much care about classes at that point, but it helped him block out his dad doing the fake cheerful act, so he did look at it and pick some classes.
Once business was done, and they were out of the office Lionel turned to Lex and said, “I’ve made sure you have enough in your account for books and living expenses. Is there anything else you need?”
Lex shook his head no. Lionel said, “Very well. Do you want a ride back to your place?”
Lex said, “No I’ll call Laura and she’ll have a car sent for me. I’m pretty sure I told her this was the day I was coming back.”
“Yes, I gave your assistant a call yesterday. She’ll be expecting you.”
Lex nodded. Lionel nodded too and then said, “Bye then.”
Lionel turned and walked away. Lex watched his father leave, and felt a kind of relief wash over him when his father got in his car and drove away. Lex called his assistant and got a ride home.
The rest of the day Lex spent looking thorough the mail that
had piled up, and talking to his assistant about his daily schedule for the
term. She said she would have the cook and the housekeeper start the following
day. After she left, Lex sat alone on the couch in his living room and stared
at the fireplace for a while. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do.
He had avoided thinking about Christmas day with his father for most of the
past week, but now he was sober and by himself.
He thought, ‘What the Fuck are you doing Lex? Wallowing in guilt over something that happened nine years ago is fucking stupid. But how can I not? Am I gonna go to school still? Pretend like nothing happened, and then Mr. Kent will give me that look that says he’s proud of me and I did a good job, when really I’m a murderer on the inside. But if I don’t go to school he’s gonna find out, and he’s gonna want to know why. So I tell him what I did, and then he’ll give me the same look my father gave me. Then he’ll walk out the door and never come back. But I’m a murderer, so that’s what I deserve. I shouldn’t have love. But God I want it so bad. Can I stand to have Mr. and Mrs. Kent love me after what I did? Fuck! Why am I thinking about this so much after all these years! I haven’t had problems with this for at least….six years. Goddamn ornament! Does this mean I’ll have to spend the next five or six years high or drunk to forget about it again? Shit. What the Fuck are you going to do Lex?”
While he was thinking the phone rang. He went to answer it. Martha was on the other end. She said, “Hi Lex honey, I was just calling to see how you were. How was the week with your dad?”
Lex wasn’t ready to talk about any of it and said, “It was fine, how was your week?”
“We had a pretty good time. It was really kind of funny, because Jonathan got sucked into that new game you got Clark, and he played it almost every day this past week. Clark actually complained to me about it.”
Lex did laugh at that and then said, “Maybe next year I should get one for Mr. Kent.”
Martha laughed and said, “Don’t you dare. So what did you do with your dad?”
“Not much. He was working most of the time.”
“Well knowing how he is, maybe it’s good he didn’t have a lot of contact with you.”
“So are you all signed up for classes?”
“What are you taking?”
Lex went through the list of the classes the Dean had signed him up for. Martha said, “Sounds like a full load of classes, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy the second part of that History class you took. Is it the same teacher?”
“When do classes start?”
“In two days.”
“Are you looking forward to it?”
Lex was getting uncomfortable talking, and wanted to blurt out what had really happened at Christmas with his dad so he said, “I am, but I actually have to get going. I need to go buy my books.”
“Oh, sure no problem. Clark was wanting to talk to you, but he can say hi next time.”
“Okay sounds good.”
“Bye. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Lex hung up and stood glaring at the phone. He said to himself, “Just stop. The Kents love you whether you deserve it or not, and you aren’t going to let them down and disappoint them just because you’re a waste of human space. Go to your classes and be serious about it.”
Lex nodded to himself and then looked at the time. It was late afternoon, and he didn’t really have anything to do for the rest of the day. He decided he would go buy his books.
Three hours later he had his books in his car and was driving home. On his way home he saw a bar. He thought about going in and having a few drinks as he drove by. Then he said to himself, “Yeah, then you can drive yourself home and murder someone else along the way. Perfect.”
He went home and cooked himself some dinner. He didn’t have any appetite, and sat poking at his food. Fifteen minutes and three bites later he pushed his plate away and yelled, “Fuck this!”
He called a cab and was soon at the bar he had passed having drinks and forgetting.
On the day that school started Lex was hung over, and so was
his hooker. They were both woken up by Lex’s personal assistant. Lex had
arranged for her to call him on that first day, and now he kind of regretted
that. He told the prostitute to go home, and paid her a little extra for having
to get up early. He showered and tried not to throw up. He wasn’t sure
what he was doing or why, but his headache made it easier not to ask himself
He was only a little late to his first class, and he went to all of his classes. He actually enjoyed a couple of them. By the time he was done for the day he had four text book chapters to read. He went to the campus library where he liked to study, but half an hour into it, he realized he had been on the same two pages for the entire time. He shook his head wearily and closed his book. He put his head in his hands and tried to will himself to stop going over Christmas again and again in his head. He opened the book and tried again. Half an hour later he slammed it shut. When one of the librarians gave him a look he said loudly, “Don’t give me a look, my father probably paid for this whole fucking wing!”
She raised her eyebrows at him, and he was immediately embarrassed about what he had said. He gathered his stuff and left. He tossed his books in his car and went home. Half an hour later he was at the bar again.
The next day, after his wake up call, he did go to class, but this time he was half an hour late, and didn’t even try to go to the library after. The next day he told his personal assistant not to call him in the mornings anymore. He sat in bed and said to himself, “I quit. No more school, just parties and drinking and forgetting. Sounds good right about now. Some vodka will get rid of this hangover. If Jonathan Kent doesn’t like it, he can fuck himself.”
The next three weeks went quickly for Lex. He spent most of it at bars, and tried to stay perpetually high or drunk. He avoided all calls from the Kents with the help of his personal assistant. He did take one call at the end of the second week. And then he had mostly listened to Clark, and had a good time hearing about what Clark had been doing for the past couple of weeks.
On Sunday at the end of the third week, Lex arrived home from
the bar and paid the cab driver way too much. He stumbled into his condo, and
went to his bedroom to lay on his bed. He ended up thinking about the Kents.
He missed them more then he would have thought possible, and eventually decided
he should call them just to say hi, because he did miss them. He dialed their
number successfully after three tries, and a sleepy Jonathan answered with,
Lex slurred out, “Mis’er. Kent?”
Lex smiled happily and said, “I miss you.”
Jonathan was now fully awake and said, “What’s wrong Lex? Have you been drinking?”
Lex nodded to himself and said, “Yep.”
“Where are you Lex?”
Lex looked around confused, “Home, why?”
“That’s good. Make sure you don’t go anywhere tonight okay?”
Lex laughed hysterically for a few minutes and then got out, “I jus’ got home.”
Jonathan said, “By cab?”
“Yep. Smelled bad. Shoulda had a driver.”
“Okay, good. So, what’s wrong?”
Lex sounded impatient when he said, “Nothin’….jus’ sayin’ hi…. but we shouldn’ do the deal.”
“What deal? Our deal for school?”
Jonathan said, “Sorry Lex, that’s not gonna happen. Part of the agreement we made is that we don’t call it off in the middle of a term. Remember? Once the term is over we can talk about ending the deal, but not before that.”
Lex sighed and said, “But tha’s su’pid Mis’er. Kent.”
Jonathan smiled to himself and said, “Well that’s the way it is.”
Lex shook his head violently and implored, “You don’ un’ers’an. I’m…I’m… no’ worth the time.”
Jonathan glared at the nightstand and said, “Yes you are Lex.”
“No…. I’m jus’…. It’s jus’…. I gave up. Haven’ gone in weeks. I’m jus’ fuc’ed up.”
“Lex listen to me. Are you listening?”
“Go to bed, and I’ll see you in the morning.”
Lex smiled and said, “See me? Tha’s nice. Tha’ll be nice.”
Jonathan said, “See you then.”
Lex hung up the phone, pulled the quilt Martha had made him into his arms like he had every night since arriving in New York, lay down, and passed out.
Jonathan turned to Martha who was awake and looking at him with concern. He said, “I’m gonna need to use the emergency credit card.”
The next day at noon Jonathan banged on Lex’s door. He
had been there for five minutes banging. Eventually a sleepy, and disheveled
looking Lex yanked the door open and yelled, “Go the fuck away….
Jonathan gave Lex a look and said, “You’ve got ten minutes to get you butt ready for class, and if you aren’t ready, I’m gonna spank you right now.”
Lex sucked in some air and said, “Oh God! I really called you? I thought that was a dream!”
He looked down and muttered loudly to himself, “Stupid! Fuck!”
Jonathan looked at his watch and said, “Nine minutes and forty five seconds.”
Lex stood there for a few seconds trying to understand how he had been so dumb, and trying to decide what to do about it. The longer he stood there, the more he started to panic, and he wondered how much Jonathan knew.
Jonathan saw the lost look on Lex, and took pity on him. He pulled Lex into a hug and said, “It’s good to see you Lex. I’ve missed you.”
Jonathan let him go and said, “Now go get ready, and do it quick.”
Lex nodded numbly and walked back to his bedroom. He gathered up some clothes, and went into his bathroom. As he was taking off yesterday’s clothes he thought, ‘What am I doing? I’m not going back to school. I quit.’
He got in the shower and rinsed off while thinking about how to convince Jonathan that quitting was the right thing to do, but it was hard to think with a massive headache and a nauseated stomach. By the time he got dressed in his clean clothes, he had put together what he hoped was a convincing argument. He walked back out to the living room and saw Jonathan sitting with one leg on the edge of his couch and the other balanced on the floor. Jonathan looked at his watch and smiled as he said, “One minute still to go. That’s good, it gives us a couple of minutes to talk since I told the cab driver to wait for about fifteen minutes.”
Lex took a deep breath and said, “Mr. Kent, I really appreciate you coming all this way to see me but….”
Jonathan stood, and took the two steps that separated him from Lex. He took Lex by the upper arm and dragged him over to the couch with him. On the way there Lex said, “Wait!… If you just let me explain… No!”
Jonathan had sat back down on the arm of the couch and tossed Lex over his one leg. Jonathan brought his hand down with a loud smack, which made Lex shut up fast. Jonathan brought his hand down five more times and then stopped. He asked conversationally, “Do you know what I did this morning Lex?”
Lex, not having been in this position for quite some time was a swirl of emotions. All he could get out was “N.. No?”
“I had a nice little chat with three of your five teachers.”
Lex groaned and put his head down on the couch cushion. Jonathan continued, “And I made us appointments with the other two.”
Jonathan gave Lex another two hard swats and Lex jumped a little not expecting them. Jonathan said, “Are you listening?”
Lex spat out, “Yes Damn it!”
Jonathan shook his head and said, “Good, lets see if we can do something about that attitude, because we have a long day ahead of us, and I’m not putting up with it.”
Lex shook his head no, but Jonathan started spanking. After about ten swats he stopped and said, “Are you finished with your attitude?”
Lex was quickly remembering how unpleasant this situation could be. He nodded and said, “Yes…. Yes sir.”
Jonathan said, “Good. Okay let me tell you our plans for the day. You are going to the one class you didn’t miss today, and then we will be going to see your two teachers that I haven’t already talked to. Then we’ll come back here and discuss the things you need to do to catch up with your classes. And before you go to bed, you’ll be right back here, over my lap, explaining what the hell you think you’ve been doing for the past three weeks. If you are anything less then compliant before then, we can always stop at a bathroom and do some attitude adjustment. Have I made myself clear?”
Lex’s stomach was in knots as he said, “Crystal.”
Jonathan helped Lex stand up, and stood up himself. Jonathan pulled Lex into another hug and after a few seconds said, “Get whatever you usually take to school, and let’s get in the cab.”
The first thing that came to Lex’s mind was, ‘But I quit.’ He looked into Jonathan’s face and nodded as he went to get his notebook and pen.
Once they were in the cab and on their way to the campus Jonathan said, “What happened Lex?”
Lex looked out the window and said, “It doesn’t matter.”
“Yes it does.”
Lex sighed and said, “I’m just a fucked up looser Mr. Kent. Don’t waste your time.”
Jonathan looked out the window and said to the cab driver, “Excuse me, could you pull into that McDonald’s please?”
Jonathan turned to Lex and said, “I’m sure they have a public restroom.”
Lex looked pale and said loudly, “No! Let’s just….talk. I’ll talk.”
Jonathan nodded and said to the cab driver, “Never mind.”
Lex’s heart rate went down to a more reasonable level and he took a deep breath. He looked away from Jonathan and out his window as he said, “Things didn’t go well with my father at Christmas.”
Jonathan put an arm around Lex’s shoulders feeling immediately bad that he had come down so hard on Lex, and said, “Why didn’t you call us son?”
Lex just shook his head and said, “Not here. Please.”
Jonathan squeezed his shoulder and said, “Okay. But tonight we will talk.”
Lex nodded, and then Jonathan tried to cheer him up by telling him about Clark and Pete trying to build a tree house on their own. By the time they were at the campus Lex actually did have a small smile on his face.
They got out and as Jonathan started to pay for the cab, Lex held out some money and said, “Let me.”
Jonathan nodded and put his money away. Jonathan looked at his watch and said, “Let’s head to class. It starts in ten minutes.”
Lex led the way. As they walked Jonathan said, “Your teacher agreed to meet with us immediately after class, and then we have a meeting with your History teacher an hour after that.”
Lex nodded. Now that he was over the initial shock of seeing Jonathan he was both kind of glad to see him, but also kind of sad about it. He kept thinking about what to tell Jonathan that night, and every scenario in his head ended with Jonathan hating him for what he had done to his brother, and walking out of his life for good. Lex didn’t want their relationship to end, but he thought it was probably inevitable. As they were walking Lex suddenly had a thought and stopped walking. He turned to Jonathan and said, “How did you get here?”
“I took the first flight I could find after you called me last night.”
Lex looked almost confused when he said, “But….but you can’t afford that.”
Jonathan nodded, “I know, but I won’t let a little thing like money stand in my way when I know you need me.”
Lex couldn’t believe it. He felt both overjoyed that Jonathan cared so much, but at the same time he felt guilty that he had made Jonathan disrupt his life. He looked down and said, “I’m so sorry I called you like that. Please let me pay for the ticket.”
Jonathan tilted Lex’s head back up so he could look in his face. He said, “Don’t be sorry that you called me Lex. I’m glad you called me. You obviously need help right now, and I want to be the one to help you. And even though my pride my not like it, I’ll let you pay for the ticket, because it would probably take me a year to pay it off. Thanks for the offer.”
Lex nodded and turned to keep walking at he wiped at his eyes. Soon they were at the classroom door. Jonathan said, “Do you mind if I come in with you, or should I meet you back here in an hour?”
“It’s a big class. No one will notice if there’s an extra person.”
Jonathan nodded and went into a large room with over a hundred students in it. They sat down and listened to the lecture.
When most of the students had cleared out Jonathan headed down to the teacher and Lex followed. Jonathan held out his hand and said, “Professor Randall?”
The professor shook hands and said, “Yes, are you Mr. Kent?”
“Yes, nice to meet you. This here is Lex.”
The professor held out his hand to Lex too and they shook. He said, “So what can I do for you?”
Jonathan said, “Lex here has missed all of your classes except for the first one. He had some family problems, but he’s back to school full time now.”
The professor nodded in understanding. Jonathan continued, “I was hoping that you could give us a list of all the homework he’s missed, and maybe some short outlines of the lectures. Maybe if you have a teachers aid for this class we could set up a couple of tutoring sessions to help Lex get caught up.”
The professor smiled and said, “Of course.”
Lex just stared with disbelief as the professor got out a piece of paper and started writing down homework assignments, and the name and number of his T.A. Lex had no idea it would be so easy. He was expecting some kind of embarrassing meeting with a bunch of explanations. Jonathan took the paper once the professor was done writing and the professor said, “My T.A. is Tammy. She has all the outlines for my lectures so far, and I’m sure you can set up a meeting with her tomorrow if you give her a call today.”
Jonathan held out his hand again and as they shook he said, “Thank you very much Professor Randall. It’s very nice of you to help us out like this.”
The professor nodded and said, “I have to go to my next class.” He turned to look at Lex as he said; “I’ll see you Wednesday in class Lex.”
Lex nodded. The professor gathered his stuff and walked out with Jonathan and Lex following. Once they got outside Jonathan looked at his watch and said, “Let’s get some lunch in you before we meet with your history professor.”
“I can’t believe it was so easy.”
“It went better than I was expecting. Your professor seems like a nice guy, and I thought the lecture was kind of interesting.”
Lex nodded in agreement. Jonathan said, “Is there someplace to eat here on campus?”
Lex pointed down the sidewalk and said, “There is a café about a block that way.”
Jonathan nodded and headed that way. As they were walking Lex said, “I don’t know if I can eat yet.”
“Too bad. You’re going to try anyway.”
Lex frowned but didn’t say anything. He thought, ‘Why do I let him do that? He just says eat, and I do it? What if I don’t want to eat?…….Then he’ll probably take me into the bathroom and swat me until I agree to eat.’
Jonathan heard Lex sigh as they were walking. Jonathan put an arm around Lex’s shoulders knowing it was hard for him to get back into the mode of doing what he was told instead of what he wanted to do. “I would venture a guess that you haven’t been eating very well the past few weeks. Am I right?”
Lex thought about the beer nuts and nachos he had eaten at the bar last night for dinner and nodded. Jonathan said, “How about some scrambled eggs and dry toast?”
“Everything sounds like it will come back up.”
Jonathan didn’t say much else until they got to the café. He ordered a sandwich for himself for lunch and some dry toast and plain tea for Lex. Lex sat at a table and rested his head on his arms. Soon the food was there and he found he could eat it without too much trouble. When he was done Jonathan said, “Do you think you can keep something else down too? Maybe some eggs or half a sandwich?”
Lex had half a sandwich, and felt pretty good after he had eaten it. Jonathan pulled out some papers from his jacket pocket, and looked them over while Lex ate. When Lex was done Jonathan said, “It’s a lot of work Lex. You’re gonna have to work really hard for the next few weeks to catch up, but I think it’s doable. Especially if we set you up with some tutoring sessions with each of the T.A.’s.”
Lex didn’t want to think about it yet. Jonathan continued, “As soon as we’re done with our next meeting we’ll go back to your place and call each of them to set up appointments.”
Lex gave a slight nod. Jonathan said, “We still have half an hour left, why don’t you show me around campus?”
Lex perked up slightly and said, “Okay.”
After a fairly relaxing half an hour of walking around and looking at beautiful old buildings, Jonathan and Lex were at his history professor’s office door. Jonathan knocked and someone said, “Come in.”
Jonathan went in and held out his hand to the professor. The professor stood and shook. Jonathan said, “Hello, I’m Jonathan Kent, and this is Lex.”
The professor nodded and said, “Hi, I’m Gene Bennett. Nice to meet you Mr. Kent, please have a seat.”
They all sat, and Jonathan said, “Thanks for setting up this meeting to see us.”
“Lex has had some family problems, and he’s missed all but the first one of your classes this semester. We were hoping that you could give us a list of the homework he needs to catch up on, and maybe an overview of your lectures. It would also be helpful if you could get us the name of your TA if you have one, and we can talk to him or her about what Lex needs to do to catch up.”
Professor Bennett leaned back in his chair and looked at Lex as he said, “I don’t know.”
Jonathan looked a little confused and said, “What don’t you know?”
“I don’t know if I should help Lex catch up or not.”
Jonathan was getting irritated. “And why is that?”
Professor Bennett looked at Jonathan and then back at Lex. He said, “I remember you from class last year Lex. I remember when the Dean came to me and told me I had to let you in my class because your father was giving the school a ton of money, and it made me angry. I didn’t get into teaching to play politics or to see who could get the most money from who, so I found it to be offensive when the Dean asked me to do it. But I tried not to blame you for it, and I was very pleased to find out that you were actually coming to class, and seemed to be enjoying yourself. I thought some of your insights were very good on that paper you did about Roman politics. Then when the Dean forced me to put you in my class again I was okay with it because I thought you were serious about it. But that first day you came to class you were late, and looked hung over. You haven’t been to class since, and I don’t really see why I should be helping you out now.”
The room was quiet for a few seconds and then Jonathan said, “I understand your reluctance, but as I said, Lex has had some family problems, and it would mean a great deal to both of us if you would consider helping him out.”
Professor Bennett looked over at Jonathan and said in a condescending voice, “Did Lex pay you to come here and talk for him?”
Lex jumped out of his seat and said, “No I didn’t, and don’t talk to him like that!”
Jonathan said calmly but firmly, “Sit down Lex.”
“We don’t have to sit here and listen to him if he’s gonna be an ass.”
Jonathan stood up too and said, “Yes we do, now sit down.”
Lex just stood there for half a second until Jonathan’s calm look turned more into a glare. Lex sat down and crossed his arms while looking at the floor fuming. Professor Bennett observed all this and was a little surprised. He turned to Jonathan who had also sat down and said, “I’m sorry, that was rude of me, how is it you know Lex?”
Jonathan didn’t hesitate to say, “He’s been unofficially adopted by me and my family, and he spent last summer staying with us.”
Professor Bennett thought about that for a few seconds and then said, “I see. Well then I guess I just have one more question before I agree to help.”
Jonathan nodded and said, “Shoot.”
“If Lex missed class because he had family problems, then why did I see him three days ago completely wasted at the bar where my TA works part time? And why is it that Pete, my TA, said that Lex is there most days?”
Lex yelled, “None of your God damn business! What are you, a spy or something?”
Jonathan looked at the professor and said, “Will you excuse us for just a minute? I need to talk to Lex outside.”
Lex slouched lower in his chair and didn’t look up. Professor Bennett waved them off and said, “Of course. Go ahead.”
Jonathan stood, and when Lex didn’t follow he said, “Now Lex.”
Lex, still obviously angry, got up and followed Jonathan out the door even though he didn’t want to. As soon as they were out of the office Jonathan closed the door behind them. He didn’t say anything, just took Lex by the upper arm and started towing him down the hall. Lex stumbled, but then caught up and whispered, “He’s an ass! I’ll just drop his stupid class. How dare he talk to us like that! The audacity!……..Where are we going?”
Jonathan stopped half way down the hall and looked up. Lex looked at what Jonathan was looking at. It was a sign that said, ‘Boys’.
Lex shook his head no violently, and Jonathan gave Lex a sympathetic look as he said, “I did warn you Lex. Come on.”
Jonathan pulled Lex into the bathroom. It was a small bathroom with only one urinal and one stall. The stall was open, and they could tell no one else was in the bathroom. Jonathan quickly bent Lex over and tucked his torso under his left arm. Jonathan then used his right hand to give Lex six swats hard and fast. Lex bit the inside of his cheek to stay quiet. It was over before Lex had time to think much about it. As Jonathan let go of him, Lex realized anyone who was in the hall would have heard it. He looked at his face in the mirror and saw he was bright red. He looked away and at the floor. Jonathan said, “I expect you to behave for the rest of the meeting. You are the one at fault. You missed all of his classes, and you need to keep that in mind when he’s talking to you. Do you understand me?”
Lex whispered, “Yes sir.”
“Then let’s go back, and you can apologize, and try to keep your temper in check.”
Lex wanted to stay in the bathroom for the next few hours to make sure everyone was out of the building before showing his face. But Jonathan put an arm around his shoulders and steered them back out. Lex kept his head down, and was grateful not to see anyone in the hall. Jonathan let him go and knocked on the door again before going in.
Professor Bennett said, “Yes?”
They went in, and Lex went straight to his chair and sat down without looking at anything but the floor. The professor could see that he was blushing and obviously embarrassed about something Jonathan had said to him. Jonathan said, “Lex.”
Lex mumbled, “I’m sorry I yelled at you.”
The professor made a noise of uncertainty. Jonathan said, “Professor Bennett, I can understand that you might think Lex has just been screwing off and partying the past three weeks, but believe me when I tell you that is not the case. He has had serious family problems that I am not willing to discuss with you. If you are willing to help us that’s great, but if not, I’m sure Lex will pass your class anyway.”
The professor was more and more impressed with Jonathan and eventually nodded. He said, “Alright Mr. Kent. I’ll give you the list of homework, and the outlines of my lectures. My TA is already tutoring two students in upper level classes and has a job, so I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have time to help you out. However, I would be willing to tutor Lex for one hour two times a week until he catches up.”
Jonathan smiled and said, “That’s very generous of you, and I appreciate it. What time works for you?”
Lex shook his head, but neither of the men paid attention to him as they made arrangements for the tutoring sessions.
Once all the arrangements were done Jonathan shook hands with the professor, and Lex stood to go. The professor said, “I expect I will be seeing you in class tomorrow?”
Lex grit his teeth and thought to himself, ‘This would be the one class I have five days a week wouldn’t it.’ He said, “I’ll be there.”
Before Lex was ready for it they were back at his condo. He paid the cab driver and dragged his feet to the door with Jonathan following. He unlocked the door and went in. As he was putting away his stuff he noticed two duffel bags behind the couch. He looked at them and said, “That’s odd.”
Jonathan saw what Lex was looking at and said, “They’re mine. I got them out of the cab while you were taking a shower earlier.”
Lex looked at him confused. Jonathan said, “I’m going to stay with you for a week to make sure you’re back on track before I go home.”
Lex not quite believing it said, “What about the farm?”
“Remember my friend Charles who lives a little closer to town?”
Lex nodded. “He agreed to come by the farm and help Martha and Clark with whatever they can’t get done.”
Lex shook his head and went to sit on the couch. He said, “I can’t believe you’re so willing to turn your life upside down just…….for me.”
Jonathan walked to the kitchen and started looking in the fridge when he asked, “Is there anything in the house to eat?”
“I’m really not sure. I told the cook I didn’t need him to come by again until I called him, and I don’t know if he had the place stocked or not. Seems like there was stuff there a couple of weeks ago.”
Jonathan looked in the cupboards and said, “There’s not much. We’ll have to go out or order in. Tomorrow when you’re in class I’ll pick up some food.”
Lex nodded. Jonathan came back into the living room and said, “Come and sit with me at the kitchen table, and bring your class schedule.”
Lex did. Jonathan spread out all the stuff they had, and got a clean sheet of paper to write stuff down on. He started a chart with five days and broke each day into hours. First he put down the classes. Then he added the tutoring sessions with Professor Bennett. Then he said, “Do you want me to call the TA’s, or are you going to do it?”
Lex looked at the chart and said, “I will.”
Half an hour later he had some more blocks of time assigned to more tutoring sessions. When that was done Jonathan took the paper and looked at the list of homework Lex had to catch up on. He wrote out times to study for each class on the chart, and when he was done he said to Lex, “I hope you’re a quick reader. It doesn’t look like you’re going to have any free time for the next few weeks.”
Lex just shrugged and said, “Doesn’t matter.”
Jonathan put the paper down and turned his full attention to Lex. He said, “And why do you think that?”
Lex looked out the kitchen window and said, “’Cause you’re going to leave as soon as you hear about Christmas.”
Jonathan shook his head no and stood up. He said, “Come on Lex. Let’s go sit on the couch and talk about it. But I’m telling you now there is nothing you could have done that will make me walk out on you.”
Lex gave him a look of despair and said, “You will.”
Jonathan pulled Lex up and walked them to the couch. He sat down and sat Lex down right next to him and kept his arm around his shoulders as he said, “Tell me what happened.”
Lex said with detachment, “When I was nine I smothered my baby brother to death.”
The house was silent for a few minutes and then Jonathan said, “I don’t believe you’re capable of that Lex.”
Lex turned to look at Jonathan and saw that he was serious. Lex said with some anger, “What are you talking about? I’m telling you I did it.”
Jonathan squeezed Lex’s shoulder. He said, “I’ve seen you with Clark, and with the animals on the farm Lex. You don’t have it in you.”
Lex tossed off the arm and stood up. He said, “Jesus Mr. Kent! Don’t you think it’s hard enough for me to tell you about it without having to prove it to you?! I was there! I did it!”
Jonathan stayed where he was and said, “Why?”
“You’re telling me you did it, so I want to know why you did it.”
“How the fuck should I know! I was nine!”
Jonathan shook his head. He said, “Now I really don’t believe it. If you killed someone, even at nine years old, you would remember why.”
Lex just shook his head and said, “I don’t believe this!”
“Okay, I want you to calm down and sit down. You tell me the whole story. Every detail that you remember, and then tell me how it relates to this Christmas.”
Lex sat on the loveseat that was across from the couch, and looked at the empty fireplace while talking. He didn’t make eye contact throughout the story. Jonathan thought that Lex sounded like he was talking about things that had happened to someone else. When Lex told Jonathan about the ornament and his father’s reaction Jonathan had a hard time not getting up to call Lionel and shout some obscenities at him. Jonathan was concerned when Lex said that he had gone upstairs and fallen asleep in his room, but then had woken up in the nursery and didn’t know how he had gotten there or why he was there. Jonathan was glad to hear Lionel had at least had a doctor come check Lex out. Jonathan was very surprised when Lex started telling him about all the drugs and alcohol he had taken while staying with his dad in Metropolis. Lex told Jonathan that when he got back to campus he had started out going to classes, but couldn’t concentrate on anything well enough to keep going. Then he finished up by telling him how he had spent the past three weeks perpetually drunk or high.
The room was silent for a few minutes, and then Lex said, “See, now aren’t you glad you haven’t unpacked?”
Jonathan ignored that and said, “So why didn’t you call me? If not the day that it happened, then the next one, or the one after that? I know you talked to Martha and you told her the week with your dad was fine. Why didn’t you tell her what had happened?”
“I just couldn’t take it. My father hating me is normal, but to see you or Mrs. Kent look at me like that……I just…..I wanted to avoid it for as long as I could.”
Jonathan shook his head and said, “Look at me Lex.”
Lex shook his head no. Jonathan said, “Yes.”
Lex darted a glance over expecting to see hate in Jonathan’s eyes, but it wasn’t there. Jonathan said, “Come sit over here with me.”
Lex now couldn’t take his eyes off Jonathan’s. He got up and walked over to the couch. He sat down a couple of feet away, and Jonathan put a hand on Lex’s knee. He said, “You don’t remember killing your brother, and you didn’t have a good reason to kill him. Did it ever occur to you that maybe you didn’t kill him?”
Lex just shook his head no and said, “But I did……Dad said I did.”
“If you’re remembering the events of that night correctly, then I would say your father assumed you did it without knowing the truth. How do you know your brother didn’t die from SIDS?”
“But the pillow.”
“Clark used to carry his pillow with him when he came to our room after a nightmare, and wanted to sleep with us. Maybe you were just holding it.”
Lex wanted so badly to believe that, but he shook his head and said, “I wish I could believe that Mr. Kent. You can’t even understand how much I want to believe it, but it’s too much of a coincidence. I just happened to be standing there with the pillow when he died? I doubt it.”
Jonathan smiled and said, “Well it sure as hell sounds more reasonable to me then believing you killed the brother that you loved for no reason.”
Lex didn’t know what to say. Jonathan patted his knee and said, “I’m gonna go order us some dinner. I’ll see if I can find something better than pizza that will deliver.”
Lex nodded absently and leaned back on the couch and closed his eyes while he thought about what Jonathan had said. ‘Maybe I didn’t kill Julian. I don’t remember it. I loved him. I never could understand why I did it. Why didn’t I ever consider the possibility that I hadn’t done it? Maybe that would just be me lying to myself. Maybe Mr. Kent is just too blind to see how horrible I really am. How could it happen like he said? Why would Dad assume I did it? He assumed I did it without ever even asking me. Fucking bastard! But what if he’s right? Why can’t I remember?’
Jonathan stayed in the kitchen and let Lex have some time to process this new perspective. He ordered them some Chinese food, and then called Martha to talk to her about his day. He told her everything, and he could tell by her reactions that she was getting more and more angry as he told her about it. He wasn’t surprised when she said, “Put him on the phone right now.”
Jonathan put the phone down and walked to the living room. Lex was still sitting there on the couch, and Jonathan wondered if he had fallen asleep. But as his feet made some noise on the floor Lex opened his eyes and looked at him. Jonathan said, “Martha’s on the phone, and she wants to talk to you.”
Lex walked into the kitchen and put the phone to his ear. “Hello?”
“Alexander Luthor, how dare you lie to me! I specifically asked you how the week went with your father, and you said it went fine. FINE you said! You are so lucky that I’m not there.”
Lex wasn’t prepared for any of that. Especially when she started it out by using his full first name, which no one ever did. He said, “I’m sorry?”
Martha was in mid rant and continued, “Then, you spent the next three weeks doing horrible things to your body, when all you needed to do was pick up the phone and talk to us. I though we had gone over that, and made it clear that you were supposed to call us no matter what the problem was. Were we not clear?”
Lex was starting to tear up but said, “Yes, I mean no, I mean it was clear.”
“How could you possibly believe that you’d killed your own brother? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Why would you let yourself drown in misery when you have a family that loves you and wants to help you?”
Lex was crying and didn’t know what to say. When Martha didn’t get a response said, “Well, I think you need a big reminder about family mister! I don’t care what else Jonathan does or says, you are going to come home every weekend for a whole month, and maybe longer. You fly here every Friday night, and you don’t go home until late on Sunday. Do you hear me Lex?!”
“And don’t even think you’re going to have fun while you’re here. You are going to spend all your time studying or doing chores. I can’t believe that you let yourself be unhappy for three long weeks when all you had to do was call us and tell us the truth!”
Lex sat in the chair that was next to him and again said, “I’m sorry.”
This time Martha could tell he was crying. She felt her anger draining and wished she were there to hug him. She was quiet for a minute and then said, “Lex, are you still listening to me?”
Lex sniffed and said, “Yes.”
“Lex honey, I’m sorry I was so mad. Sometimes my temper gets the best of me. Do you know why I was angry?”
“Because…..’cause I didn’t tell you about it?”
“Because I love you so much, I can’t stand the thought of you suffering. I don’t like that you lied to me, and I’m sure Jonathan will be talking to you about it, but I’m mostly sad that you didn’t feel comfortable enough in our relationship to confide in us. You’re part of this family forever Lex. There’s no getting out of it, no matter what you do. You’re my son now, just like Clark, so you can just get used to it.”
Lex cried harder and Martha said, “I love you sweetie. Put Jonathan back on the phone please.”
Lex looked around with blurry eyes and saw Jonathan was standing close to him looking worried. Lex just handed the phone to him and put his head down on his arms. Jonathan said, “Martha?”
Martha sounded a little embarrassed when she said, “I kind of lost my temper and yelled at him.”
Jonathan knew that while it was rare, his wife did sometimes just loose it. He said, “I can tell.”
“Give him an extra hug for me.”
“I’ll give him two.”
“He’s going to come home every weekend for a month no matter what.”
“I love you. Go take care of our boy.”
“Love you too.”
Jonathan hung up and put the phone down. He felt pretty bad for Lex, because he had been on the receiving end of Martha yelling a couple of times and knew how bad it could be. He put a hand on Lex’s arm and pulled him up to standing. Jonathan sat back down and pulled Lex down to sit in his lap. Lex didn’t even fight it. He just rested his head on Jonathan’s shoulder and cried.
Ten minutes later the doorbell rang and Lex got up. Jonathan said, “Stay put. I’ll be right back.”
Lex sat back down in the chair. His crying had tapered off and now he wasn’t sure what he was feeling except tired. A few minutes later Jonathan brought in some food. He got out two plates and made a plate for each of them. He set one in front of Lex and said, “Eat.”
Lex looked at the food and started bringing the fork up to his mouth without tasting it much. When they were both done, Jonathan picked up the plates, washed them, and put the leftovers in the fridge while Lex sat and stared at the table. Once he was done Jonathan said, “So, do I get a room, or am I crashing on the couch?”
Lex looked up at him and said, “Oh, sorry, you can stay in the guest room.”
Jonathan nodded and went to get his bags. Lex showed him to the room and showed him where the bathroom was. Lex said, “The place came with the furniture, so I don’t know if that bed is comfortable or not.”
“I’m sure it will be fine, thanks.”
“I’ll leave a note for the housekeeper, so she knows you’re staying here too.”
Jonathan nodded while he started to put his clothes in the drawers. Lex said, “She comes by every day around ten. I’m not sure what all she does besides the dishes and laundry, but things always seem to be clean.”
The room was silent for a few minutes except for Jonathan unpacking. Lex went and sat on the bed. He said in a quiet voice, “Mrs. Kent said I was her son now, just like Clark."
While Jonathan finished his unpacking he said, “I’m not surprised. I know that’s how she feels about you. That’s how I feel about you too.”
Lex just shook his head. He said, “I don’t understand why.”
Jonathan went to sit next to him on the bed and shrugged when he said, “You don’t have to understand it. Just accept it.”
“Just like that?”
Lex was quiet. Jonathan said, “I know you have a lot to think about right now Lex. Why don’t you go take a long shower, or take a bath? Then get ready for bed. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, and I want you well rested.”
Lex nodded. He got up and went to take a bath. He wouldn’t have decided to take a bath if Jonathan hadn’t said something, but it did sound nice. He spent the next half an hour soaking and thinking about his brother, his father, and Martha Kent. He was thinking about how much happier he was now that Jonathan was there, and everything was out in the open, when a though hit him. He sat up in the bath, and the water sloshed over the side. He thought, ‘Fuck! Mr. Kent said I would be back over his lap tonight. Shit, shit, shit! But then he said to get ready for bed, and that he wanted me well rested, so maybe he changed his mind. Well, at least about the tonight part. Maybe he won’t do it at all since I….no, I lied, he will. Maybe he’ll wait till tomorrow to do it. But what if he’s just waiting for me to get out? Fuck. You should have fucking called them Lex.’
Lex thought maybe he should say in the bath for as long as possible, but the water was cooling off. He decided to let some out and put more hot water in. Two minutes after he started the water back up he heard a knock on his bathroom door. He jumped a little, and then turned the water off as he said, “Yeah?”
“That’s long enough, now get ready for bed, and meet me in the living room please.”
Lex closed his eyes and swallowed hard. Jonathan said, “Did you hear me Lex?”
Lex then muttered, “Unfortunately.”
Lex let all the water out, and dried off. He wiped the steam off the mirror and looked at himself. He said quietly, “I guess that means it’s tonight.”
Lex stood there for a minute looking at himself and said, “Are you a murderer? All this time I thought you were, but maybe you’re not. Maybe I’m not.”
Lex brushed his teeth, and went to put on a pair of boxers and tee shirt to sleep in. He swallowed a few times, and tried to resist the urge to just climb in bed, turn the light out, and hide. He opened the door, and went slowly out to the living room. He saw Jonathan sitting on the couch, and immediately noticed that Jonathan’s belt was sitting on the couch beside him. Lex shook his head and took a step back. Jonathan got up and walked over to Lex. He took him by the arm and said, “I’m sorry Lex, but it needs to get done, so come on.”
Lex tried a couple of times to get out of Jonathan’s grip, but he didn’t try all that hard. Jonathan sat on the couch and pulled Lex over his lap. He pulled the boxers down to mid thigh and said, “This spanking is for lying. You flat out lied to Martha when you told her everything was fine over Christmas break. Then on top of that, you’ve been having your staff help you avoid our phone calls by lying and saying you were in class or studying. You know how I feel about lying.”
With that Jonathan brought his hand down. Lex knew it was coming but still jumped at the first swat. Jonathan spanked the same spot twice before moving to the next, and very soon Lex was squirming around trying to get away from the swats. Lex was crying after the first ten swats. Jonathan figured the crying at that point was from emotional overload rather than pain. After twenty swats Jonathan stopped, and picked up the belt. Lex was able to get out, “Please don’t! I’m sorry!” between his crying.
Jonathan said, “We’ve gone over lying more then once Lex, and this time you lied to us for three weeks. This is a lesson that you need to learn, so that you can avoid pain and suffering in the future.”
Jonathan brought the belt down and saw a darker pink, almost red line appear on Lex’s already pink butt. Lex yelled, and Jonathan brought the belt down again. Lex thrashed around on Jonathan’s lap, and Jonathan got a tighter grip on his waist before bringing the belt down again. Lex couldn’t think about anything besides the pain and wanting it to stop. Jonathan gave him a total of twelve with the belt, and then set it on the couch beside him. When Lex had some control of his body back, he stopped kicking his legs, and let go of the couch cushion, which he had in a death grip with both hands. He couldn’t stop crying, and didn’t even try. Jonathan rubbed his back for a little while, and then pulled the boxers back up. Lex pushed himself up, and Jonathan stood up too. Jonathan said, “Let’s get you in bed.”
Jonathan led a crying Lex into his room. Jonathan pulled back the covers on the bed and said, “Climb in.”
Lex did and lay on his stomach. Jonathan covered him up, and then went to the other side of the bed. He lay on his back on top of the blankets and propped himself up a little with a few pillows. He pulled Lex over so that Lex could rest his head on Jonathan’s chest, and Jonathan wrapped his arms around Lex while he cried. Jonathan rubbed Lex’s back and murmured things like, ‘It’s okay now.’ and ‘You’re going to be fine.’
Twenty minutes later, Lex was asleep and Jonathan was easing himself out from under him. He made it without waking Lex up. He made sure Lex was covered up, and then went to his room to get some sleep too.
The next morning Jonathan woke up first and made some coffee.
He went into Lex’s room and woke him up. Lex groaned at having to wake
up, and then as he rolled over groaned again when his butt hit the mattress.
Jonathan said, “Time to get up Lex. Go take a shower and get dressed please.
Make it quick, I’m making some breakfast.”
Lex got up and looked at the clock. It said it was 6am. Lex shook his head and looked at it again. It still said 6am. Lex almost lay back down, but the smell of coffee wafting in made him want to get up. He took a shower and half way through he realized he was humming. He stopped and shook his head at himself. He laughed as he thought, ‘Great. Getting spanked and being too sore to sit down comfortably makes me happy for the first time in weeks. How fucked up am I?’
Then he got more serious and thought, ‘But then that isn’t the real reason is it? It’s because the Kents didn’t leave me, and because they don’t think I killed Julian. And maybe I’m starting to believe that too.’
He finished up and got dressed for the day. He went to the kitchen and was about to smile at Jonathan when he noticed something smelled burnt. Jonathan had his back turned to Lex and was at the stove cooking and saying, “Damn!”
Lex said, “Is there a problem?”
Jonathan turned and looked kind of embarrassed as he said, “I think we should go out for breakfast.”
Lex went and looked in the frying pan which was full of something he thought was supposed to be scrambled eggs, but they were still runny in spots and burnt in others. Lex said, “Mrs. Kent wasn’t kidding when she said you couldn’t cook was she?”
Jonathan sounded defensive as he said; “I can cook. It’s just that….Oh, all right I don’t cook very well.”
Lex took the frying pan away and tossed the eggs in the trash. He said, “Sit down, I’ll make us something.”
Jonathan poured himself some more coffee and got a cup for Lex, while Lex looked through the cupboards. Jonathan sat down and watched Lex start to cut potatoes. He thought Lex seemed to be happier now than he had been yesterday. Then Lex started to hum to himself, and Jonathan was sure Lex was doing better. He thought, ‘It’s gonna be a hard week, but we’ll get through it okay, and Lex will feel better about himself when he’s back on track with school. I wonder if I should tell Lex he has another spanking coming. No, that would be mean. I’ll wait until Wednesday night right before I do it. I still can’t believe he just told me about all the cocaine and ecstasy he’s been doing the past four weeks like it was nothing unusual. Poor kid. Probably thought it didn’t matter because he figured I was gonna walk out on him. After yesterday that thought should be out of his head for good.’
Lex interrupted his thoughts by saying, “There’s some cheese in the fridge. You want some melted on your fried potatoes?”
“Sure. Sounds good.”
Lex nodded and started to hum again.