This story takes place in an Alternate Universe of Smallville where Clark and Lex meet much earlier in life. Clark is 12, and Lex is 18.

Friendship Chapter 3

Lex woke up to see Jonathan smiling down at him. Jonathan said, “Time to get up.”
Lex groaned and rolled onto his back. As soon as his butt hit the mattress, he rolled back over to his stomach, and groaned even louder.
Jonathan said, “I know you don’t feel very good today, but you’re still gonna have to get up and help me.”
Lex said, “I’ll give you a thousand bucks to let me sleep for an hour.”
Jonathan laughed out loud and said, “No deal. Come on, get up. You’ll feel better once you get up and start moving.”
Lex slowly sat up, and then quickly stood up. He muttered, “I didn’t drink enough to feel this bad.”
Jonathan patted Lex on the shoulder and said, “Looks like you slept in your clothes too, so we can just get started.”
As Lex walked with Jonathan out to the barn he was amazed at how stiff and sore he was all over. He had expected his butt to be sore, but his whole body hurt. He supposed it was from all the struggling to get away. Clark was already in the barn and greeted them with a “Hi!”
Lex smiled weakly at him. Clark frowned and said, “You don’t look so good.”
“I don’t feel so good either.”
“Why not?”
Lex looked at Jonathan who said, “Lex had trouble sleeping.”
Clark waited for more of an explanation but didn’t get one. Soon they were all busy feeding the animals.
By the time breakfast was ready Lex did feel less sore, but he didn’t really want to sit down either. He thought about skipping breakfast, but he was really hungry after not having had any dinner the night before. He was glad the kitchen chairs were padded as he sat down to eat. He would have rather stood, but he didn’t want Martha or Clark to know what Jonathan had done.
Lex was wary of Jonathan for most of the morning. He kept expecting to get yelled at, or worse laughed at. He expected Jonathan to bring up what had happened last night, and he could even picture Jonathan telling Clark about it. Lex thought it would be unbearable to see Jonathan and Clark laughing together about it, but that was the image that kept popping into his head. As the morning turned into afternoon Lex started to relax. Jonathan appeared to be back to normal.
After lunch while Martha was clearing the table, Clark asked Lex if he wanted to play a basketball game, but before Lex could answer Martha said, “Hey Clark, I was hoping you would ride with me to the lake today. You and I haven’t spent any time together, just the two of us, this summer.”
It wasn’t very often that his mom wanted to do something like that so Clark grabbed the chance. He said, “You bet! You want me to go get the horses ready?”
Martha smiled and said, “You bet.” back to him.
Once Clark was out the door, Martha turned to Lex and patted his hand when she said, “Good luck today Lex. Hopefully next time you can come with us.”
She put the last of the dishes in the sink and walked out to see how Clark was doing. Lex looked confused for a second at the ‘good luck’ remark. Jonathan said, “As soon as they’re on their way, we’ll be going to town. You can apologize to Bill, and then you’ll drive the truck back while I drive the bike.”
Lex got bright red when he realized Martha knew what had happened last night. He whispered, “You told her?”
“Sorry Lex, but she’s my wife, and I don’t leave the house in the middle of the night without telling her where I’m going, and I don’t lie to her.”
Lex had been angry for a second, but when he thought about it from Jonathan’s perspective he saw that there was no way for Martha not to know.
Soon they were in the truck and headed to town. To pass the time Lex asked Jonathan when he had gotten the motorcycle. Jonathan said, “I got it when I was eighteen. I knew my parents would never have the money for it, so I worked for two summers and saved up my money. That bike was my only vehicle for five years. Martha used to love riding with me, but that was a long time ago.”
“It’s in pretty good shape still.”
“I enjoy working on it, and keeping it in good condition. But even if it were worn down, it would still have sentimental value for me. I took Martha out for our first date on it. I think that cemented her father’s hatred for me.”
Lex wouldn’t have thought that the Kents could have any kind of family problem. He said, “Does he still hate you?”
Jonathan laughed and said, “Oh yeah. I really shouldn’t laugh. Martha hasn’t spoken to her father for years. Sometimes I feel bad that Clark won’t get to know his only living grandfather very well. How about you? Do you ever visit your grandparents?”
“No, they’re all dead. I never met my father’s parents; they died long before I was born. My mom’s mom died when I was still a baby, and her dad died when I was three.”
“That’s a shame. How old were you when your mom died?”
Lex looked out his window and said, “Nine.”
“Martha’s mom died when she was twelve. She still can’t understand why she doesn’t have a better relationship with her father. She says that her mother’s death pushed them apart.”
Lex couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It sounded very similar to his situation. Jonathan and Lex were quiet for the rest of the ride, both thinking about what they had learned.
Soon they arrived at the bar. Lex felt kind of sick to his stomach thinking about confronting the bar’s owner Bill. He put on his best look of indifference before getting out of the truck. The bar hadn’t opened for business yet, but Jonathan knocked at the door anyway. When the door opened, Jonathan stuck out his hand and said, “Bill, good to see you.”
Bill shook his hand and said, “It’s good to see you too.”
Bill looked at Lex and said, “Too bad it isn’t under better circumstances.”
Lex tilted his head up a touch, looked past Bill into the bar, and tried to look bored.
Jonathan said, “Yes it is.”
Bill stepped back, “Come on in.”
As they all walked to the center of the room Jonathan said, “How’s Sally?”
“Not so good. Her arthritis is acting up, so she can’t do as much as she used to. How are Martha and Clark?”
“They’re both doing great. Clark was pretty bored at the beginning of the summer, but since Lex has been staying with us, Clark has been much happier.”
Lex was surprised to hear that. He’d been having a good time getting to know Clark. They had fun playing basketball and talking, but he hadn’t realized that Clark was having a better summer because of him. He just figured Clark was always a happy kid.
Bill smiled and said, “So how is it that Lex Luthor ended up staying with you. I mean it isn’t like you walk in the same circles of society.”
Lex kind of panicked at the thought of what Jonathan would say, so he butted in with, “None of you’re business.”
Jonathan gave Lex a disapproving frown and said, “Lex!”
Then he turned to Bill and said, “Sorry about that. He isn’t feeling that great today from lack of sleep.”
Bill nodded and said, “That’s all right.”
Jonathan said, “Lex is staying with us because had the misfortune to end up at our place one day, and Martha decided to keep him.”
Lex was happy that Jonathan wasn’t going into detail about what had happened.
Bill laughed out loud and eventually said, “Your Martha always did have a stubborn streak.”
Jonathan smiled and said, “It’s part of why I love her. But we should get back to why we’re here today.”
Bill got serious and nodded. He looked at Lex and said, “Okay Lex, what’s the story.”
Lex shrugged and said, “I came in the back and drank some scotch. You should really get an alarm.”
Jonathan was about to say something to Lex about his attitude, but Bill beat him to it by saying, “By came in, you mean you broke in, and by drank some scotch, you mean you stole some scotch.”
Lex muttered, “Semantics.”
Bill said, “You have no business drinking my alcohol. Your dad paid me, and the other two bar owners here in town, not to serve you. And you’re under age so it’s illegal anyway.”
Lex gave Bill an evil glare and said, “I see, so my father paid you off, and Mr. Kent left you money last night. Sounds to me like you have nothing to be mad about. In fact, it sounds to me like you should be thanking me for the profit.”
Jonathan grabbed Lex by the upper arm and turned him so they were eye to eye. He said, “We came here so that you could apologize to Bill for breaking in and stealing what wasn’t yours.”
Lex was still mad, but it was secondary to being worried about the fact that Jonathan seemed to be getting angry. Lex said, “But I shouldn’t…….’
Jonathan gave Lex a little shake and said, “I don’t care what your father did or didn’t do. It doesn’t matter at all. The only thing I care about is you, and what you do. Breaking in here was wrong, and you need to apologize to Bill for it.”
No one had ever told Lex that what his father did didn’t matter. He believed that Jonathan was sincere in what he was saying. Lex looked kind of confused. He looked at Bill for a few seconds and eventually looked away when he said, “I’m sorry I broke in.”
As soon as he said it, Jonathan let go of his arm and put his arm around his shoulders. Jonathan patted his shoulder and pulled him close beside him.
Bill nodded and said, “Okay.”
Jonathan gave Bill a look, and Bill said, “Sorry Jonathan. I know you think I should be angry about it, but Lex is right. His dad paid me, and you paid me. It’s more than enough to cover for the scotch. And there was no damage to the door. If you hadn’t left a note, I wouldn’t have even noticed someone had broken in.”
Jonathan sighed and said to himself, “That’s great. Just great.”
Bill looked at Lex and said, “Listen up boy. If I had caught you in here stealing my stuff I would have called your dad to complain and get more money out of him, but now that I know you’re staying with the Kents, I’ll call Jonathan if I find out you’ve done it again. Mostly because I know Jonathan would never forgive me if I did anything else.”
Jonathan nodded and said, “You’re right about that.”
Lex wasn’t sure what to think of that. He just nodded his head. Jonathan said to Bill, “I guess if there’s nothing else you want to say to Lex, we’ll be on our way.”
Bill said, “Why don’t you guys stay and visit for a while. The bar won’t open for half an hour yet.”
Jonathan nodded and said, “Sure.”
“If you guys wanna sit down, I’ll get us all some soda.”
Lex thought the car ride over was bad enough, and he really didn’t want to sit down. He thought quick and nodded to the pool table when he said, “I think I’ll practice my game while you two visit.”
Lex practiced shots at the pool table while he listened to Jonathan and Bill talking. While they were talking about the farm, Lex heard Jonathan say, “Things are going better this year. Now with Lex and Clark helping me, we’ve almost finished putting the new fence up. And Lex is really a good kid. He’s been helping me with the farm work, he’s been helping Martha in the kitchen, and he’s a good friend to Clark.”
Lex smiled and thought it was odd to overhear someone saying something nice about him. It was much more familiar to overhear people, especially his father, saying what a problem he was.
Soon it was time to go. Once they were in the parking lot Jonathan handed the truck keys to Lex and said, “I’ll ride behind you on the bike. See you at home.”
Lex had an uncomfortable ride back. He thought about Jonathan, and the things he had said and done last night. Lex thought, ‘Why haven’t I called my father yet? He would be able to get me out of here. Why haven’t I put up more of a fight? Why don’t I want to get revenge? I don’t even think I want to leave. It doesn’t make sense.’
Once they got home Jonathan had Lex help him wash both the truck and the bike. They were almost done when Clark and Martha got back from their ride. Clark got off his horse and said to Jonathan, “Cool, you have the bike out. Can I go for a ride?”
Jonathan smiled and said, “Okay kiddo, but just a short one.”
Clark grinned and said, “Yes!”
Martha frowned but didn’t say anything as she started to get the saddles off the horses. Clark went to get the extra helmet, and Jonathan said, “We’ll be back in fifteen.”
Jonathan got on the bike, and waited for Clark to get on behind him. They took off, and Martha shook her head. Lex went over to help her brush down the horses. She said, “How did it go?”
Lex shrugged, “Okay I guess.”
“Bill’s a good guy. A big softie really.”
While they got the horses settled, Martha told Lex about how she and Jonathan met Bill and his wife.
When Jonathan and Clark got back, Clark got off the bike and said, “Thanks dad. That was great. Do you think I could try it by myself soon?”
Jonathan said, “Clark, we’ve been over this before. You can’t ride the bike by yourself until you’re fifteen and have your permit. I’ve given you the reasons more than once, so why don’t you tell me why this time.”
Clark looked irritated and said, “Because it’s illegal, and I might wreck the bike, or hurt someone while I was out riding.”
Lex had been listening and said, “Not to mention you could hurt yourself.”
Clark looked at Jonathan who smiled reassuringly. Then he said, “Um, yeah, that too.”
Lex said, “My dad got me my first motorcycle when I was thirteen. It was brand new, and the most expensive thing he could find. I crashed it the first day I rode it and broke my arm. It was fu…..”
Lex looked in Martha’s direction and continued with, “damn painful, and the bike couldn’t be fixed.”
“Wow. Was your dad mad about the bike?”
Lex shook his head, “No. He bought me a new bike, and hired a stunt guy to teach me how to ride. It didn’t take long for me to get good at riding.”
Clark looked to Jonathan and said, “Lex could take me out and give me some lessons on how to ride.”
Martha who had been listening said, “Absolutely not Clark. You know how I feel about the bike. You’ll be lucky to get the chance to ride when you’re fifteen. Don’t push it.”
Clark looked disappointed but nodded his head. Martha said, “I’m gonna go start on dinner. You want to help Lex?”
Lex smiled and said, “Sure.”

Lex wasn’t sure how it happened, but he easily fell back into the routine of the day, and soon it was time for bed. He got ready for bed when everyone else did, and lay down on his bed thinking about things. He went over what had happened during the day. He said quietly to himself, “Why am I still here?”
He thought, ‘I should just walk out. I could make it home even if I had to walk all night. But Jonathan would try to come to get me if I did. And I don’t really want to go anyway. Why don’t I want to go?’
He fell asleep before he could answer that question.
Lex went through the next few days still asking himself the same questions. He told himself he should want to leave and go home, but he found it much easier to just stay. It felt to him like the routines on the farm got in the way of his plans to leave. His spare time seemed to be filled with things like talking with Martha and playing basketball with Clark. Before he knew it, it was Friday, and the week had passed.
Friday night after dinner they got a call from Lionel. Martha answered with a, “Hello.”
“Hello, this is Lionel Luthor. May I please speak with Lex.”
“Of course. Hold on.”
Martha looked to Lex and said, “It’s your father.”
Lex took the phone and said, “Hi.”
“Well son, you really have surprised me this time. I can’t believe you’re still there. I don’t know if I should be proud of you for sticking it out so long, or if I should be ashamed that the people you’re finally connecting with are backwater, hillbilly, poor, illiterate, rednecks.”
Lex took a deep breath to stay calm and said, “I don’t know dad. If you were ever proud of me for something, we might have to reevaluate our entire relationship.”
“If only you would do something I could be proud of.”
Lex said, “What did you want Dad?”
“I want you to finish out the summer working for me here at Luthorcorp.”
“Lex son, I don’t know why you keep fighting me. You will eventually work for me whether you like it or not. You could make it easier on yourself and do it now.”
Lex was getting more and more angry. He said with clenched teeth, “I’ll never work for you. Why don’t you make it easier for yourself, and get that through your head. And anyway you told Mr. Kent that I was staying here for the whole summer. Why are you changing your mind about that?”
“Why in the world do you want to stay?”
“Well, right now I’d have to say, just to piss you off.”
Lex slammed down the phone before Lionel could respond. He stood there staring at the phone for a while. Martha walked up and put her hand on his shoulder. He jumped and then smiled a fake smile when he said, “Dad says hi.”
Martha said, “I can see you’re angry. Tell me what he said.”
“It’s not important.”
Jonathan and Clark had been playing cards in the living room when the phone call came, and now Jonathan walked up to Lex and said quietly, “Sorry Lex, but you need to tell us about it. You’re upset, and you need to let that out, or I suspect it will be another sleepless night for you.”
Lex thought about it, and said, “Dad says he’s ashamed that I’m still here with you poor, illiterate, rednecks, and that I should finish the summer working with him.”
Jonathan smiled at Martha and said, “It’s nice to know Mr. Luthor has such a high opinion of us.”
Martha laughed and said, “It’s amazing how he can know us so well when he’s never even met us.”
Clark frowned and said, “How can you guys make jokes about it? If Mr. Luthor wants Lex to leave, I’m sure it won’t take much for him to make that happen. I don’t want Lex to go.”
Lex didn’t know what to say. He had been expecting Martha and Jonathan to get upset about the things his father had said, but they seemed to be blowing it off. Just the fact of them laughing about it and not taking his father’s comments seriously made him look at things a little differently and some of his anger went away. And it was really nice to hear that Clark at least didn’t want him to leave. Lex said, “Don’t worry Clark. I’m NOT going to work for my father this summer.”
He smirked and said, “He knows that if he tries to make me, I’ll make him sorry.”
Jonathan put an arm around Clark and said, “All of us want Lex to stay, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure he does.”
Martha patted Lex’s shoulder and said, “Anything else he had to say?”
“No. I hung up on him before he could say much else.”
Martha smiled and said gently, “Don’t let your dad’s opinion of us bug you Lex, because it doesn’t bother us. He doesn’t know us. He’s just trying to get a rise out of you. Don’t let him.”
Lex smiled and said, “You’re right.”
That night, after he had gone to bed, Lex found himself thinking about Lionel’s phone call. Usually when his father had said things to piss him off, he would replay the conversation in his head again and again deciding what he could have or should have said to make the conversation sway his way. It always made him angry when he thought of the things he could have said to hurt his father as badly as his father had hurt him, but he couldn’t stop himself from going over it and over it in his head.
But right now the thing that kept going through his mind was how Jonathan and Martha had reacted. Lex started replaying many of the conversations that he had had with his father and tried to imagine what Lionel’s reaction would be to Lex laughing at him in a condescending way. Lex tried to imagine what his dad’s reaction would be if Lex stayed calm during an argument, and didn’t react to his goads. The more Lex thought about it, the happier he was. He decided for the first time that the best way to beat his dad was not to play the game. He stayed awake long into the night, but he wasn’t angry, and he did eventually fall asleep.

On Sunday morning Jonathan asked Lex and Clark if they wanted to go fishing. Lex said, “I’ve never been, but I think it would be fun.”
Clark couldn’t believe Lex had never been fishing, and said, “Well then we have to go.”
Martha who had never enjoyed fishing, and who was looking forward to a quiet day alone to read a book said, “I’ll pack you a lunch.”
Half an hour later they were sitting by the side of a lake, and Jonathan was showing Lex how to cast his line. Lex practiced for a while, and eventually left his line in. Soon the three of them were sitting around talking about the farm. Jonathan said, “I can’t believe how fast the fence has gone up. With the three of us working we’ll be done by the middle of next week. I think once that’s done we’ll start on the barn roof.”
Lex said, “Are you just repairing, or putting a new roof on?”
“It’s past time for a whole new roof, but I can’t afford it. We’ll just be repairing. That should take about a week to finish.”
Lex thought about it for a minute and said, “You know Mr. Kent, I would be happy to pay for a new roof for you.”
Jonathan smiled and said, “That’s really nice of you Lex, but I can’t accept your money.”
“Why not?”
Clark broke in with “Yeah, why not?”
Jonathan got serious and said, “Sorry Lex, it’s just who I am. I have to do things myself. I have to make the farm work independently. I can’t use money from others to get it working. Some people say it’s a downfall of mine. Maybe it’s stubborn pride like Martha says, or maybe it’s smart of me, but either way, I’m not going to be beholding to anyone.”
Lex nodded and thought about it.

By the time lunch was over Clark had caught a fish that was big enough to keep, and Lex had caught one that was too small which they put back. Clark was getting bored and said, “Hey Lex, you wanna take a walk by the lake with me?”
Jonathan and Clark had been to that area many times, and there was a long trail that went all the way around the lake. Jonathan said, “You guys have fun, but be sure you’re back in an hour, because it’ll be time to head home.”

As they started walking Clark said, “I can’t believe you’ve never been fishing before. What do you think?”
“It’s okay. It seems like a nice excuse to just sit around outside.”
“Dad and I go at least once a month in the spring and summer.”
“Do you guys usually catch something?”
“Almost every time. Mom likes trout, so we try to bring something home.”
Clark saw something moving out of the corner of his eye. He stopped and said, “Look.”
They both saw a tiny snake trying to get under some bushes. Clark ran and caught it before it could get too far away.
Lex said, “Jeez Clark don’t pick it up! It could be poisonous.”
Clark lifted it up for Lex to see and said, “No this is just a racer. At least that’s what dad calls them. We see them all the time. Wanna hold it?”
Lex made a face and said, “No thanks. I’ll pass.”
Clark shrugged and started walking again while holding the snake. He said, “Don’t you think it’s kind of funny sometimes how we get along?”
“What do you mean?”
“It seems like all the things that seem normal to me are new to you, and vice versa. Like you’ve never been fishing, and it looks to me like you’ve never caught a snake. Those are like every day things for me. And things that you used to do every day are things that I’ve never done. It’s just weird.”
“I guess I never thought about it like that, and we do have things in common. We both like cars and sports, and for now we’re both working with your dad. We’re both out of school for the summer, and going back in a month and a half.”
“Yeah, but you’ll be going to college, and your school was an expensive private school. I like cars, but you own more than one. I like sports, but you’ve been to lots of professional games, and I’ve only been to school games. It’s just different.”
Lex thought about it. “You’re right. But you know what?”
“I like you anyway. If someone had asked me a few weeks ago if I could ever be friends with a twelve-year-old boy, I would have laughed. But here I am, and I’m glad to call you my friend.”
Clark got a big smile and said, “Thanks Lex.”
“What for? I’m just telling you the truth.”
Clark held up the snake and said, “You sure you don’t wanna hold him?”
“I’m positive.”
Clark went over to the side of the trail and put the snake down. It immediately got itself under the nearest bush.
They started walking again and Clark said, “I’m really glad you’re staying with us, and I’m glad you’re my friend too.”
Clark was distracted by something up ahead and said, “Oooh, looks like something dead. I think it’s a bird. Let’s go see.”
Clark ran ahead to investigate the lump on the path. Lex kept a steady pace, and thought about what Clark had said.

They made it back from their walk to see that Jonathan had caught two more fish while they were gone. That night Martha was happy to let Lex show her a new way to cook trout.

The next week passed as quickly as the one before, and soon Lex had been staying with the Kents for three weeks. He really thought about it one night, and decided that in the past three weeks he’d had more happy moments than in the previous three months. He thought it was a mixture of the physical work, the Kents, and the fact that his father wasn’t there.

On Saturday morning Jonathan told Lex and Clark that he and Martha were going to go into town that day to sell some food to the market, and to pick up some supplies. He left them with enough chores to keep them busy most of the day. Before they left Jonathan pulled Lex aside and said, “I’m trusting you and Clark to be good while I’m gone, and to still be here when I get back.”
Lex nodded and said, “I know.”

Clark and Lex got started on the chores, and talked while they were working. Lex was telling Clark about the colleges he had applied to, and the fact that any of them would take him once they saw his name because of the donations they could get from his father. Clark said, “It’s kind of cool that you can go anywhere you want.”
Lex sighed and said, “Not really. I mean, yeah, good for me that I can pick and choose, but they want my father’s money not me.”
“You say that a lot.”
“What do I say?”
“That people want your dad’s money more than they want to be around you.”
“I don’t remember saying that before.”
“You said it at least four other times, when you were talking about some of your friends at school, and your teachers.”
Lex shrugged and said, “Well, it’s true.”
Clark thought about it. “It sucks that you never know if someone really likes you for who you are, or if they like you for your money. There’s a problem I’ll never have.”
Lex smiled and said, “You’re lucky.”
Clark frowned and said, “No. I don’t think that’s true. It’s good to know that my friends like me for me, but it really sucks to be poor. I have to watch my friends get things that I know I’ll never be able to have. I mean, most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but once in a while I get mad about it. Like this summer Pete got to go to Disneyland. Most of the kids in school get to go cool places for vacation. The only kind of vacation my family gets are camping trips, and that’s only once a year, because we have to get someone to watch the farm and take care of the animals.”
Lex said, “I didn’t know being poor bugged you.”
“Not always, just sometimes. But then on the other side of things, my parents are always around when I need them. If I wanted my dad to do something at two in the afternoon on a Tuesday, he would be able to, and I know from talking to my friends that their parents can’t.”
Lex nodded. Clark changed the subject. “So what are you going to college to be?”
“I haven’t decided. I’m mostly going just so that I don’t have to work. My dad wants me to work with him, but that sounds like a nightmare to me. I’ll see how many years I can get away with taking a few classes and partying most of the time.”
Clark was quite for a few minutes, and then he said, “That doesn’t sound very smart to me.”
Lex started to take offense and said, “Well I didn’t ask you.”
Clark got upset too. “I’m sure you don’t want to take advice from a kid, but if I were you, I would decide quick what I wanted to do in life, and be serious about college. I mean you’re getting a free ride, so make the best of it. Then you can get a job on your own when school is over, and you can tell your dad to take a hike.”
Lex thought about it and eventually said, “I would love to be independent, and tell my father to go screw himself, but I know myself too well. I could live without the money for a while, but not forever. I would eventually go back to him. I know it’s weak, but it’s who I am.”
Clark nodded and said, “It would be hard to give it up.”

Martha and Jonathan conducted their business as quickly as possible, because they didn’t want to leave the boys alone for too long. Jonathan was especially pleased to see both Lex and Clark still home, and still working when he got home. Later that night Jonathan took Lex aside and said, “Hey Lex, I just wanted to tell you that I was proud of you today.”
Lex looked at him funny and said, “Why?”
“Because you stayed here and did what I told you to do while I was gone. I think a couple of weeks ago you would have taken the opportunity to run off. I’m glad you want to stay.”
Jonathan patted Lex on the shoulder and walked away.
Everyone was happy when the weekend was over, and Lionel hadn’t called.

The next week Jonathan, Lex and Clark worked really hard on digging up a hole, and putting in a new septic tank. They were all ready for a break when the weekend came around again. It had been a hot week, and the weekend was even hotter. Martha suggested that they all go to the lake for swimming on Sunday.

When they first got to the lake, everyone went swimming, but soon Martha and Jonathan got out and sat on the bank watching the boys. Lex and Clark roughhoused until Lex was worn out, and Clark was pretending to be. After that they got out a couple of small inflatable rafts that they had brought. They were floating around in the lake relaxing when Lex said, “Sometimes on the farm I really miss air conditioning, especially this week since it’s been so hot, but this is good too.”
Clark smiled and said, “At your house you could be in the warm pool in the air conditioned house, but I would rather be here.”
“If I were home right now, I’d probably be playing the same game I’d played like a million times on my X-box. You know, at first when your dad told me I had to send it home I didn’t want to, but now I’m glad it’s not here.”
Clark mumbled, “Well I’m not.”
Lex sat up on his raft with his lower legs dangling in the water on either side. He said, “What was that about anyway? I mean you were pretty upset that night when your dad wouldn’t let us keep it. And your mom said something about bad choices.”
Clark blushed and stammered, “I… Well….. I…”
Lex laughed and said, “Come on Clark, it can’t be that bad.”
“Yes it can.”
Lex got serious and said, “Sorry I laughed. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, I just haven’t seen you that angry since.”
Clark looked away towards where his parents were sitting out of hearing range. He said, “I really wanted a Nintendo, but we don’t have the money for one, so I stole one.”
Lex was surprised. “Really? I mean, I’ve stole lots of things, but I can’t see you doing it.”
Clark’s head whipped around to Lex and he said, “What do you mean you’ve stole lots of things?”
Lex shrugged and said, “I’ve done lots of things that I’m not proud of. A lot of them I did just to piss off my dad, and some of them I did to impress other people, and still others I did because I was drunk or high or both. When I was younger I took things like candy, comic books, videos, and games, but I’ve stolen cars, bikes, alcohol, and drugs before. I even tried to steal a gun.”
Clark just stared at Lex for a while, and Lex started to feel his cheeks getting red. Clark said, “But you have money.”
Lex couldn’t look at Clark anymore, so he looked away and said quietly, “Yeah, I do.”
“I don’t understand. Why didn’t you just buy those things?”
Lex shook his head and still didn’t look at Clark when he said, “Because that wouldn’t have been as much fun. It wouldn’t have been a challenge.”
Clark frowned and said, “It’s amazing you haven’t been caught.”
Lex laughed ruefully and said, “I’ve been caught lots of times.”
“Now I really don’t understand.”
Lex sighed. He said, “I know it isn’t right, and it isn’t fair, but my dad has paid off many different people many different times to keep me out of trouble.”
“If your dad knows that you’re stealing things, why doesn’t he stop you?”
“My dad thinks of my stealing things as an annoyance. He doesn’t think it’s morally wrong the way your folks do. He’s more annoyed about the money he has to spend to get me out of trouble then he is about me stealing things. In fact, if I was able to take something without getting caught, he would probably be proud of me.”
Clark thought about it and said, “I’m sorry for you Lex.”
Lex got pissed and said, “I don’t need your fucking pity.”
“Sorry.” Clark said in a small voice.
Lex felt bad for getting mad. He said, “No, I’m sorry. My father always brings out the worst in me.”
After a few minutes of silence Lex chuckled and said, “So you really took a Nintendo?”
Clark said, “I can see why you’d think it’s laughable. But it’s not to me. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done.”
Lex smiled and tried not to sound serious when he said, “I think we need to get you out more.”
“I felt so bad about it, I confessed before I even got to use it.”
“Was your dad mad?”
Clark laughed and said, “What do you think?”
“Okay, dumb question.”
“He wasn’t as mad as I thought he’d be. Probably because I was blubbering the whole time I was trying to confess. I guess you think that’s pathetic.”
Lex shook his head. “Your dad is pretty intimidating. I think I’d have a hard time confessing something to him too.”
“He made me take it back, and said I couldn’t have any kind of game system for the rest of the summer. I was really mad at myself more than anything else when he wouldn’t let us keep the X-box.”
“When summer’s over, and I’m back home, you can come over to my place for a day and play with the X-box.”
Clark smiled. “Thanks Lex. That’s really cool of you.”
“I hope that we can still keep in touch and do things together sometimes even when I’m in school.”

The next week on a Wednesday when they were all eating lunch, Martha said, “Hey Lex, I just realized you’ve been here with us for a month.”
Lex looked at his watch for the date and said, “I guess you’re right. I never thought I’d make it more than a week.”
Jonathan said, “You’ve served almost half your sentence.”
Lex looked at Jonathan questioningly. Jonathan smiled and said, “You did say this was a way for your dad to put you in prison without the press finding out.”
Lex laughed. “You’re right I did.”
Lex got serious and looked at his plate when he said, “You know, I really am glad to be here.”
Martha patted his hand and said, “We’re glad you’re here too.”
Jonathan nodded, and Clark said, “Very glad.”

Friday night when they were in bed, Martha said to Jonathan, “Let’s do something just the two of us this weekend.”
“Like what?”
“I’ve been thinking about spending the night in Metropolis.”
Jonathan groaned, and Martha continued, “We wouldn’t have to stay anywhere fancy, but I thought maybe we could go out to a nice dinner. I’ve been keeping the money from selling my flowers separate, and we should have enough. Please Jonathan, it will be fun.”
Jonathan thought, ‘Fun for you.’ He said, “What about Clark and Lex?”
Martha said, “They were fine when we left them last time, and the fact that Lex is here to help Clark if there are any problems is part of why I feel okay about going.”
Jonathan couldn’t think of any other good reasons not to agree, so he said, “All right.”
Martha kissed him and said, “Thanks. You’ll see. It won’t be as bad as you think.”
Jonathan was about to say something about wasting money, but Martha kept kissing him, and he soon decided she was right.

Saturday morning at breakfast Jonathan said, “Martha and I have decided to spend the night in Metropolis this weekend.”
Lex nodded absently as he ate. Clark stopped eating and stared at his dad. He said, “Really?”
Martha said, “Yes. We’ll be leaving here as soon as we pack a few things, and we’ll be back Sunday afternoon.”
Clark smiled. “That’s great.”
Lex kept looking at the sports section of the paper as he said, “I’ll call The Palace and have Carl book you a room.”
Jonathan said, “What?”
Lex looked up and said, “Carl is the manager there. He owes me. I’ll get you a room for free.”
Martha smiled, but Jonathan frowned and said, “I don’t think so Lex.”
Lex said, “Look Mr. Kent, I know that you don’t like taking money from other people, but this won’t involve any money. Believe me when I say Carl has been well paid by my father many times, and he knows me. He won’t think twice about this. You can have a nice room in the most expensive hotel in Metropolis for free with no strings attached.”
Jonathan was still frowning and started to say something else, but Lex cut him off with, “Please let me do this for you. Both you and Mrs. Kent have fed me, and let me stay here for free all month, so this will be a way for me to say thanks.”
Martha said, “You don’t owe us anything for that Lex. You know that we want you to be here.”
Lex nodded. “I know that, but I still want to show you how much I appreciate it.”
Jonathan thought for a few minutes and said, “Are you sure there won’t be any problems with this?”
Lex smiled and said, “I’m sure.”
Jonathan looked at Martha who was smiling and nodding her head. He said, “Okay.”
Lex got up and went to the phone. He dialed and said, “May I please speak with Carl. It’s Lex Luthor.”
Once Carl got on the line Lex said, “Hi Carl. How have you been.”
“Very well Mr. Luthor, and yourself?”
“Good. Listen, do you remember the favor that you owe me?”
Carl sounded slightly nervous when he said, “Yes Mr. Luthor.”
“I want you to book your best available room for tonight for a Mr. and Mrs. Kent. They will only be staying one night, but I would like you to make it as pleasant as possible for them. Then we’ll be even.”
Carl sounded very relieved and happy when he said, “That will be no problem at all Mr. Luthor. They will receive excellent service.”
Lex said, “Thanks.”
Lex hung up. He said to Jonathan, “It’s all arranged.”
Jonathan was frowning again and said, “Why did he owe you a favor Lex.”
Lex had an evil grin as he leaned in close to Jonathan to whisper, “About a year ago, I was staying at the hotel with my dad. I was practicing my lock picking skills on one of the hotel’s conference room doors, and I found Carl in a compromising situation with the Mayor’s wife.”
Jonathan gave Lex a disapproving look and said, “Blackmailing people is wrong Lex.”
Lex sighed and said, “I know, but Carl was expecting much worse, and it’s just the way his world works. He knows me too well to believe that I would just let it go. Trust me when I say that you would not approve of any of the other things I’ve thought of asking him for.”
Jonathan thought about it for a few minutes and then nodded and said, “I don’t like it, but I know Martha is really looking forward to it, so I’ll go along with it this time.”
Once Jonathan and Martha were packed and things were loaded into the truck, Jonathan looked at Lex and Clark and said, “You boys know what needs to be done on the farm, so I expect to find that you’ve kept up with things while we’re gone. I don’t want either one of you going anywhere while we’re gone, and I don’t want anyone coming over here either. I expect to find both of you safe at home with the house still standing when we get back on Sunday. Are we clear?”
Clark said, “Yes sir.”
Lex said, “Yeah.”
Martha gave Clark a hug and said, “Be good sweetie. See you tomorrow.”
She gave Lex a hug and said, “Thanks for this Lex. See you tomorrow too.”

By the early afternoon Lex and Clark were done with everything that needed to get done on the farm until the evening. They were starting to play a game of cards when the phone rang. Clark answered, “Hello.”
“Hello, this is Lionel Luthor. May I speak to Lex please.”
“Sure. Hold on.”
Clark handed the phone to Lex and said, “It’s your dad.”
Lex looked grim and said, “Hi dad.”
“Hello son, how are you?”
“Good. What do you want?”
“I just wanted to talk to you. You’ve been there a month.”
“I have.”
“You know Lex, I’d like to hear about it. Why don’t you come out to the mansion today for dinner.”
Lex thought about it. He always had mixed feelings about his dad. He often hated his father, but at the same time he still wanted love and acceptance from him. He said, “What do you really want to see me for?”
“Just to talk and see how you are. We haven’t really talked for over a month son, and I just want to see you.”
Lex knew it could be a trick. He knew every time he gave his father a chance to be nice that things went wrong. But he couldn’t stop himself from wanting his father’s affection. He thought about it and said, “Can I bring my friend Clark?”
“Of course. I would like to meet your friend.”
“Okay then. We’ll be there about four.”
Clark had been listening, and at the last two statements had started to shake his head. As soon as Lex hung up Clark said, “What’s going on?”
Lex said, “My father want’s us to have dinner with him.”
“But Dad told us not to go anywhere.”
Lex looked imploringly at Clark and said, “Please come with me Clark. I could really use a friend tonight.”
Clark didn’t know where to start with his objections, and was silent for a few seconds. He said, “Neither one of us can go, because Dad told us not to leave, and we don’t have a way to get there anyway.”
“Your dad will understand why I have to go, and we can take the bike.”
Clark shook his head and said, “No way! Dad would kill us. He will not understand why you disobeyed him, and he will not be okay with you using the bike.”
“Jeez Clark lighten up.”
Clark got angry. He said, “If you’re so sure Dad will be okay with it, then why don’t you call him at the hotel and ask him if you can go?”
Lex got angry too, because he knew Clark was right that Jonathan probably wouldn’t approve. He said, “I’m eighteen. I don’t need your father’s permission to do anything.”
“Well I do, and I’m not gonna let you get me into trouble!”
“Fine! Don’t come with me. Some friend you turned out to be. Will you at least keep quiet about it?”
Clark felt like crying. He stammered, “But….but….I can’t just not tell him!”
“Oh yes you can. Just keep your fucking mouth shut!”
Clark started to cry. Lex saw Clark’s face crumble. Clark turned and ran up the stairs to his room before he started sobbing. Lex stood there staring at the stairs. He felt worse than he could remember feeling in a really long time. He made a loud noise of frustration and walked out the front door slamming it behind him. He stood on the porch glaring at the cows in the field. He thought about calling Jonathan and asking him about seeing his dad, but he knew that if the answer was no, he would still go to see his father. After five minutes of thinking and deciding what to do, he went back into the house and grabbed the keys to the motorcycle. He put on his jacket and went to get the bike. He uncovered it, and rolled it out of the shed. Soon he was riding home.
Clark was trying to stop crying in his room. He couldn’t believe that Lex had been so mean to him. He really looked up to Lex, and was proud to have someone so much older than him consider him a friend. He wanted Lex to still be his friend, but he didn’t want to lie to his dad. He wasn’t good at it, and had never been able to pull it off. But the thought of Lex not liking him was even worse. He made up his mind to keep the secret as he heard the motorcycle start up in the yard. He went downstairs and tried to figure out what to do with himself for the next few hours.
While Lex was riding he was thinking to himself, ‘I can’t believe I said that to Clark. I made the poor kid cry for Christ sake. I hope he doesn’t hate me now. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked him to lie. But then maybe he shouldn’t have such a problem with it. It isn’t like he’s lying about something he did. I wonder if dad really just wants to see me.’
After half an hour of berating himself for making Clark cry, and wondering about his father, Lex arrived at the mansion. Lionel came to the entranceway to greet him. He said, “Hello Lex. Where’s Clark?”
“He decided not to come.”
“And you’re early. It’s only two o’clock.”
“Is that a problem?”
“No. No. It’s a pleasant surprise. Why don’t you come with me to my study, and we can sit and talk.”
Lex nodded and followed his dad into the study. Once they were both sitting on the couch, Lionel called to one of his servants, “Bring me a gin and tonic. Anything for you Lex?”
Lex hadn’t had a drink for a long time. He thought about it and said, “Same.”
Lionel nodded to the servant and said, “So Lex, tell me what you’ve been doing.”
“Let’s see, over the past month I’ve helped Mr. Kent and Clark put up a fence around one of their fields. That job took two and a half weeks. Then we fixed the barn roof, and put in a septic tank. Next week we’re going to be working on the hay.”
Lionel said, “You’ve always been of average build, but I can see that the physical labor has helped you to build up some muscle. You look good.”
Lex was amazed. He said, “Umm….Thanks.”
“Tell me about the Kents.”
“Mr. Kent is pretty serious about everything, but he’s patient when he’s teaching me how to do something. Mrs. Kent is nice. She’s shown me some new recipes. And Clark is a normal kid….and my friend.”
“I see, and how well do you fit in with them?”
Lex didn’t really like where that question was going. He said, “What do you mean?”
Lionel said, “Don’t play dumb Lex.”
Lex clenched his jaw a couple of times and then looked away as he said, “I don’t fit in, but then you already know that, so why bring it up?”
“Explain how you don’t fit in.”
Lex sighed and said, “Mr. Kent has high moral standards, and I don’t.”
Lionel said, “Ah, I see. You know what I think?”
Lex shook his head and looked at his dad. Lionel said, “I think that only a fool would have high moral standards in this day and age. By sticking to his out dated moral code, Mr. Kent is making sure his family will never prosper or succeed in life. To get ahead in life, you have to be willing to do things that society may think of as wrong.”
Lex frowned and thought about it for a few seconds. Their drinks came, and Lex gulped his. Lionel watched his son closely. He said, “How don’t you fit in with Mrs. Kent and Clark?”
“I fit in pretty well with Mrs. Kent. She hasn’t always lived in Smallville, and she understands more of what I’m like, but she’s also too trusting. She would be easy to lie to.”
“But because she trusts you, you wouldn’t lie to her.”
Lex finished off his drink and said, “How do you know that?”
“Because she reminds you of your mother.”
Lex jumped up and walked over to the side table and poured some whisky into his empty glass. He sipped it and said, “Fuck you.”
Lionel shrugged and said, “Okay, we won’t talk about that. What about Clark? How do the two of you not fit?”
Lex laughed and said, “He’s a lot younger than me, and the worst thing he’s ever done is pitifully small compared to my record.”
Lionel nodded and said, “Thanks for being honest with me Lex. Now, why are you still staying there? What makes you keep trying to fit in?”
Lex took another drink and said, “I don’t know.”
“Oh come now Lex, of course you do.”
Lex downed the drink and said, “Then why don’t you tell me.”
Lionel said, “You keep trying to fit in, because you’re trying to live out some ridiculous fantasy about a family. You’re trying to belong to them, because you miss your mother, and we haven’t been close for a long time.”
Lex poured himself some more whisky and turned to glare at his father. He said, “So what if I am? They’re a good family, and they like me.”
Lionel got up and went to Lex. He grabbed his upper arm in a vice like grip and said, “They are not your family, I am. Like it or not we are bound together by blood. You can go play house with the Kents for the rest of the summer, but don’t ever forget that it’s just a game. They can never really love you, because they don’t know who you really are.”
Lionel gave Lex a little shake and let him go. He looked at Lex with contempt and said, “Your weakness disgusts me. Get out.”
Lex was rubbing his arm where he was sure to have a bruise, and stumbled back a few steps. He shook his head no and turned to run out dropping his glass as he went. He ran all the way to the bike and started it. He took off as fast as he could and almost fell off when it lurched forward. By the time he was a block away he had to pull over, because he couldn’t see through his tears. He got off the bike and sat on the side of the road crying. He kept up a mantra of, ‘Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.’ in his head. It was sometimes directed at his father, and other times directed at himself.

Clark was playing solitaire and thinking about what he was going to tell his dad when he got home when the phone rang. He picked it up with a, “Hello.”
Jonathan was on the other end and said, “Hi son, how’s it going? Everything okay there?”
Clark felt his heartbeat increase, and he said, “Yeah, we’re fine. How are you guys?”
“We’re great. The hotel is beautiful, and your mom is having a really good time.”
Clark smiled despite his nerves and said, “I’m really glad you guys did this. You should go out just the two of you more often.”
“Well I don’t think we’ll be going out like this again. This room is about three hundred bucks a night. I mostly called to tell Lex thanks, because we’d never be able to afford this.”
Clark said, “Um… Well, Lex is in the bathroom.”
Jonathan said, “Okay. Just tell him we said thanks again, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Okay. Bye.”
Clark hung up and felt his stomach lurch at the thought of having to lie to his dad again when he got home.

Lex had been sitting and crying for fifteen minutes. He finally shook his head and said out loud to himself, “Shut the fuck up you looser.”
He stood up and realized he could feel a little buzz from his drinks. He dusted himself off, and wiped his face. He said, “Sitting here crying like a girl. How weak! Letting my father win. I should have never gone to see him. Fucking stupid! Just shut up Lex. Get on the fucking bike, and forget about him. Think about Jenny. She was a good distraction.”
Lex got on the bike and started it up. He got back on the road and headed towards the Kent farm while thinking about the prostitute. He thought about turning the bike around and heading for Metropolis, but decided not to because he knew Clark was probably still feeling bad about what had happened. Lex knew he had to make it up to him.
By the time Lex rode up to the Kent farm he was more in control of his emotions. He had put a lot of effort into shutting himself down, and he had almost succeeded in making himself not care. He rolled the bike into the shed and went to find Clark. Clark had heard him drive up, and was on the porch waiting for him. They both said, “I’m sorry.”
Clark smiled while Lex looked surprised. Lex said, “What are you sorry for?”
“I’m sorry I was such a baby. I won’t tell my dad that you left.”
Lex looked at Clark for a few seconds and almost started to cry again. He pushed the feelings down and said, “You’re too nice to me Clark. I’m not worth it.”
“Yes you are.”
Lex shook his head and said, “I’m so sorry that I yelled at you Clark. You didn’t deserve it, and I’m an ass.”
Clark took the two steps that separated them and gave Lex a fierce hug around the middle. He let go and said, “It’s okay Lex. I know your dad makes you mad.”
Lex had been taken off guard by the hug and didn’t react quick enough to hug back. He said, “No it’s not okay, and I’ll try to make it up to you. You don’t have to lie to your dad for me. If he’s mad, well then I’ll just have to deal with it.”
“Too late.”
“What do you mean too late?”
“Dad called while you were gone. I told him everything was okay, and when he asked to talk to you, I said you were in the bathroom.”
Lex looked away for a second and then back at Clark. He said, “Thank you for being such a good friend to me.”
Clark smiled. Then he looked at his watch and said, “Why are you back so soon?”
“I can’t talk about it yet. I need to do something to wear myself out so I can stop thinking about it.”
“Like what?”
Lex thought about it and said, “I think I’m gonna go dig a hole. I’ll just dig until I’m tired, and then I’ll make myself keep going until I fill it up again.”
Clark looked confused and said, “That seems like a big waste of time. You sure you don’t want to talk about it?”
Lex patted Clark on the shoulder and said, “I know it doesn’t make sense to you, but I know it will help me, and I just can’t talk about it.”
Clark nodded. He said, “Did you want company?”
“No. I’ll come help you tonight when it’s time to milk the cows and feed the animals.”

Lex spent the next hour out in the field digging a hole. As he worked he thought about his father. By the time the hour was up, Lex was breathing hard and sweat was pouring off of him. If he hadn’t been working on the farm for the past month his hands would have been full of blisters, but they were pretty well callused now. Clark came out and brought him a glass of water. Lex smiled and said thanks as he handed back the empty glass. Clark said, “Aren’t you going to be too tired to put all the dirt back?”
Lex said, “Yeah, but I’m gonna do it anyway.”
Clark frowned and Lex started digging again. Clark walked slowly back to the house. After another half an hour Lex was too tired to go on. He sat down on the side of the hole and rested. Soon Clark came out and said, “It’s about time to get the animals fed.”
Lex nodded and followed Clark. Two hours later when all the chores on the farm were done they went into the house and Lex said, “What do you want for dinner?”
Clark said, “Peanut butter and Jelly?”
Lex laughed. “You can have anything you want, and that’s your choice?”
Clark smiled and said, “With potato chips, milk, and cookies.”
Lex shook his head and made the sandwich for Clark. Lex made himself a steak and a salad. When they were eating Lex said, “Some wine would be nice with this.”
“Dad doesn’t drink much. Too expensive.”
Lex nodded. Clark said, “You wanna talk about it yet?”
Lex pushed his half-eaten steak away and said, “No. I’m going back out.”
Lex went back to his hole and looked at it. His dad’s words ‘your weakness disgusts me’ kept going through his head. He picked up the shovel and started to fill the hole back in. His muscles protested at first, but it got better as he got into the rhythm of it. Once he had been doing it for half an hour he was pretty sore. When he had been digging the hole, he had been angry which made him push himself instead of working at a steady pace. The anger was now dulling, and he was tiring. His father’s voice saying ‘weakness’ was all that kept him going until the hole was filled. He stood looking at the disturbed ground for a long time. Clark eventually came out and stood next to him. Lex said, “I hate my father.”
“Because he makes me hate myself.”
“What happened today?”
“I don’t want to burden you with it Clark. I’m better now. Let’s just let it go.”
Clark didn’t think that was the best idea, but he nodded his head in acceptance anyway. Clark followed Lex as he put the shovel away and went to the house. Clark could see Lex’s arm shake with effort to hold a glass of water while he drank. Lex went to take a shower. When the hot water ran out he got out. He thought about taking a couple of Tylenol, and then he thought about taking the whole bottle of Tylenol. He shook his head and said to himself, “That would be weak.”
He went and said to Clark, “I’m going to bed. If you get up before me, wake me up so I can help you with the animals.”
Clark nodded and went to watch some TV until he was tired. He felt bad that Lex felt bad, but he didn’t know what else to do to help him.

The next morning Clark woke Lex up at six. Lex hurt all over, but he got up anyway and helped Clark with the morning chores. Lex made them pancakes for breakfast, and found that his appetite was back. They spent the rest of the morning weeding the small family garden, and talking sports. Jonathan and Martha arrived home just in time for lunch. Lex was in the process of making sandwiches when he saw them drive up. He said, “Hey Clark, why don’t you go ask if your folks want some lunch too.”
Clark ran out and hugged his parents as he said, “Lex is making lunch, are you hungry?”
Martha said, “Sure.”
Soon they were all eating, and Martha was telling them about the hotel. Lex was happy to hear that they had been treated well, and that they did have a good time. When Martha was done, Jonathan said, “So how were things here?”
Clark looked down and said, “Fine.”
Jonathan frowned and said, “Are you sure?”
Lex jumped in with, “We had a little argument that was my fault, but we’ve made up.”
“What about?”
Clark said, “I’d rather not say if that’s alright.”
Jonathan’s eyebrows went up. He looked at Martha who shrugged. He said, “I guess that’s okay if you’re both okay now.”
Jonathan pointedly looked at Lex who nodded.
When they were done eating lunch Clark asked Lex to play a game of basketball with him, but Lex was too tired. Lex went to take a hot shower instead. Martha started unpacking, Clark went to practice shots at the hoop, and Jonathan went to have a look around to make sure the animals were okay, and that everything was how he had left it.
As soon as Jonathan went into the shed he had a pretty good idea what the argument had been about. He walked to the bike and looked it over for damage. He didn’t notice any, but did note that the gas was almost out. He looked across the yard and called out, “Clark.”
Clark looked over and saw his dad motioning for him to come to the shed. Clark ran over and said, “Yeah dad?”
Jonathan pointed to the uncovered motorcycle and said, “Care to explain?”
Clark tried to come up with a quick lie. He said, “We were just looking at it, and we must have forgotten to cover it back up.”
Jonathan looked disappointed and said; “It’s low on gas.”
Clark got bright red and said, “Oh.”
Jonathan crossed his arms and looked down at Clark with anger and disappointment. He said, “I can’t believe you just lied to me Clark.”
“I’m sorry.”
“What happened?”
Clark shook his head no and said, “I’m sorry, but…I…I can’t say.”
Jonathan glared at Clark and said, “Go to your room right now.”
Clark found it very hard not to run at super speed to get to his room. He sat on his bed and waited nervously. He thought, ‘Crap! I should have known I couldn’t get away with it. Dad was really mad. He’s gonna spank me for sure, and Lex is right down the hall. Getting spanked is bad enough without knowing that someone will hear! He’s gonna hear me yelling, and then he’ll know that I’m a wuss. I hope Dad doesn’t kick him out when he finds out what Lex did. If he does, I hope Lex will still be my friend. Maybe Dad won’t spank me. No, I know he will. Damn I shouldn’t have lied.’
Jonathan counted to ten in his head and took a couple of deep breaths before he went to the house. He found Martha coming down the stairs. She said, “What’s wrong?”
“Where’s Lex.”
“Taking a shower. What happened?”
Jonathan got out the small box that held the meteor rock from the kitchen cupboard as he said, “Clark just lied right to my face. One or both of them took the motorcycle somewhere, and Clark won’t tell me about it.”
Martha gasped and said, “Clark wouldn’t take the bike.”
Jonathan said, “Well one of them did, and he obviously knows what happened.”
Martha shook her head as Jonathan started up the stairs. She followed him saying, “Don’t you want to get Lex’s side of the story before you punish Clark?”
Jonathan stopped and turned to Martha. He said, “I’m spanking Clark for lying to me. I’ll talk to Lex when he’s done in the shower, and then we’ll see if either one of them deserves more. If you don’t want to hear, you should go outside now.”
Martha wanted to go outside, but instead she stationed herself at the bathroom door and when Jonathan gave her a questioning look she said, “In case he hears you and wants to make a run for it or barge in on you.”
Jonathan smiled and whispered, “I love you.”
He turned and walked down the hall to Clark’s room. He knocked on the door and went in without waiting for an answer.
Clark had been chewing at the inside of his lip thinking. He heard the knock, and then saw his dad holding the hated box. Jonathan shut the door put the box on the night stand and sat down next to Clark. He put an arm around his shoulders and said, “You lied to me Clark. You know it’s wrong. Do you have any excuse? Anything you want to tell me?”
Clark kept his face down and some tears spilled out of his eyes as he said, “I lied when you called too. Things weren’t fine, and Lex wasn’t in the bathroom.”
“Where was he?”
“I promised not to tell.”
Jonathan said, “Okay then. Stand up.”
Clark stood, and Jonathan opened the lead box. The little meteor rock glowed, and Clark groaned. Jonathan undid Clark’s jeans and pulled them down to Clark’s knees. He pulled Clark over his lap, and once he was in position, he pulled Clark’s underwear down too. Jonathan brought his hand down with a loud ‘SMACK’. Not being used to pain, Clark yelled a loud ‘Oooww’ with the first swat, and kept yelling as more swats came down. On the third swat Clark put his hand back to try and cover his butt. Jonathan easily caught the hand and held it out of the way as he brought down his hand for the fourth spank. Clark was starting to kick his legs and he was yelling ‘I’m sorry’ when he wasn’t yelling ‘Ooww.’ After ten swat’s Clark was crying too hard to talk. Jonathan paused and said, “You don’t lie to me Clark. Do you understand me.”
“Yeeeees. I’m soooorrryy.”
Jonathan gave him six more swats and then stopped. He let go of Clark’s hand and rubbed his back for a few seconds. He leaned over to the nightstand and closed the little box. He saw Clark’s pink butt go back to normal. He said, “Okay we’re done.”
Clark stood up and fixed his clothes quicker than his father could see. He stood there crying until Jonathan pulled him down to sit on his lap. He wrapped his arms around Clark, who hugged him back. Clark tried to stop crying but couldn’t. Jonathan said, “It’s okay son. I forgive you for the lies. Do you want to tell me what happened now?”
Clark shook his head no. Jonathan said, “Okay. I want you to stay here in your room while I go to talk with Lex. I’ll send your mom in to see you okay?”
Clark nodded his head. Clark didn’t want to face Lex at all. He was much too embarrassed.

Lex enjoyed the heat of the shower on his sore shoulder muscles, but he tried not to stay in too long. He didn’t want to use up all the hot water, because he knew Martha was going to do laundry. As he started to dry himself off he heard a loud smack and a yell. His eye’s got wide, and he paused in his drying. Then when he heard more smacks and yells he dropped the towel and yanked on his pants as quick as he could over his wet legs. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It sounded like someone was beating the crap out of Clark. He yanked open the bathroom door and almost knocked Martha over before he could stop his forward momentum. Martha thought Lex looked panicked. Lex said, “Can’t you hear? We have to help him.”
Martha took Lex’s hand in hers and said, “No Lex. We’re going to wait right here until Jonathan is done.”
Lex couldn’t understand. He said, “But…”
The sounds stopped and Lex said, “What could Clark have possibly done that was so bad? He’s just a kid!”
Martha calmly said, “Clark lied to Jonathan.”
Lex paled as he heard the sounds start up again. He said, “My fault. Fuck, it’s my fault.”
Martha squeezed his hand and said, “Clark makes his own choices.”
Lex was about to pull away from Martha and make Jonathan stop when the sounds stopped anyway. Martha let go of Lex’s hand and said, “It’s done. Why don’t you finish getting dressed. Jonathan will want to talk to you in a minute.”
Lex glared at Martha and said, “How can you let him do that to Clark?”
“I agree with Jonathan’s approach to raising our son. Clark’s good boy, and this is part of what makes him who he is.”
Lex shook his head and didn’t know what to say.
Martha saw a big bruise on Lex’s upper arm and said, “What happened to your arm?”
Lex glared at her again and said, “Nothing.”
Martha poked Lex in the chest none too gently and said, “You better worry about your own behind. Get dressed.”
Lex got bright red and stepped back to shut the bathroom door. He looked at himself in the mirror and muttered, “What the hell are you gonna do now Lex?”
In the hallway Jonathan said to Martha, “Can you sit with Clark while I talk to Lex?”
Martha nodded and said, “Lex thinks you were killing Clark. And he has a large bruise on his upper arm that looks kind of like a hand print.”
Lex took off his pants and dried off the wet spots that hadn’t been soaked up by his pants. Then he got himself fully dressed and looked at the sink as if it would have the answers to all his questions. He was interrupted with a knock on the door. He didn’t say anything. The door opened to reveal Jonathan. Lex turned and snarled at him, “How the fuck could you do that to Clark?!”
Jonathan had been expecting that. He talked soothingly when he said, “Clark is fine Lex. I promise he’s not really hurt.”
Lex said, “Not really hurt! It sure sounded like he was hurt.”
“Clark is pretty vocal when he gets spanked, but believe me when I say he’s fine.”
Lex shook his head. He said, “It was my fault that he lied to you. You should have taken the time to find out what really happened.”
Jonathan raised an eyebrow and said, “I did give him time, but he wouldn’t tell me what happened. He said he promised you he wouldn’t.”
Lex put his head in his hands and said, “Fuck. I’m sorry Clark.”
Jonathan put a hand on Lex’s shoulder and said, “Lex have I ever lied to you?”
Lex thought about it and shook his head no. Jonathan said, “Clark is fine. I spanked him for lying to me, and it has nothing to do with you.”
Lex started to protest, but Jonathan held up a hand and said, “Even if you’re very persuasive, Clark knows the difference between right and wrong, and he has to learn to make the right choice even when he doesn’t really want to.”
Jonathan said, “Let’s go talk in your room.”
Jonathan turned to go, and Lex just stood there. After a few seconds he followed him. Once they got in the room Jonathan closed the door and said, “Sit down.”
Lex sat on his bed. Jonathan said, “I found the bike uncovered, so I asked Clark about it. He said you guys were just looking at it, but I knew he was lying because the gas was low, and it wasn’t when I left. When I called him on it, he wouldn’t say what had really happened. So now I’m asking you to tell me what happened.”
Lex was feeling tired, and sore, and guilty. He decided to just tell Jonathan everything. He said, “Things were fine until my father called. He said he wanted to have me come over for dinner. He sounded like he really wanted to see me, and I…I had to go. I asked Clark to go with me but he said no. He told me I shouldn’t go, and that he wouldn’t lie to you about it. I… I yelled at him. I told him to keep his fucking mouth shut, and it made him cry….”
Lex was silent for a few seconds and Jonathan said, “Go on.”
“I took the bike and saw my dad. He was his usual charming self, and then I came back here. I apologized to Clark and told him he didn’t have to lie, but he said it was too late, because he already had. I told you it was my fault. You shouldn’t have hit him.”
Jonathan said, “What did your dad say when you saw him.”
Lex said, “Nothing.”
Jonathan crossed his arms and glared down at Lex. He said, “You just heard me spanking Clark for lying to me. Do you really think I’m going to let you get away with it? Show me your arm.”
Lex shook his head no. Jonathan said, “Lex look at me.”
Lex looked up defiantly. Jonathan said, “Your father hurt you. Talk to me about it, so I can help you.”
“You just hurt Clark! How do you think it’s different?”
“Because I love Clark, and he’s secure in that love even when he’s done something wrong.”
Lex couldn’t keep eye contact, and felt his eyes start to water. Jonathan said, “Let me see what Lionel did to you.”
Lex pulled up his sleeve. Jonathan saw the bruise and said, “Tell me about the whole visit in detail, and don’t leave anything out.”
Lex crammed his emotions down and tried to keep himself detached when he said, “Dad said he wanted to see me, and visit. I believed him. When I got there he actually complemented me on looking good. More muscular than before. Then he asked what I’d been doing on the farm. I told him about the various projects we’ve done, but he didn’t ask any questions about that. Then he asked me to point out how I don’t fit in here. I told him, and then he asked me why I stay here when I don’t fit in. I wouldn’t answer, so he said he thought I was trying to live out my fantasy of a happy family life, and that I should always remember that he is my true family. He grabbed me and said, ‘Your weakness disgusts me. Get out.’ I drove the bike back. That’s it.”
Jonathan sat next to Lex and put a hand on his knee. He said, “Tell me what you told him about how you don’t fit in.”
Lex looked at him and said, “I told him you have a high moral code that I could never live up to, and that Mrs. Kent is gullible and easy to lie to, and that Clark is a goody goody who can’t even imagine the horrible things I’ve done.”
Jonathan said, “What did you do when you got back?”
“I dug a hole until I was too tired to stand, and then I forced myself to fill it up again.”
They sat in silence for a few seconds. Jonathan said, “Well, it could have been much worse. I think you did a really good job of coping with the things your father said to you.”
Lex looked at Jonathan like he was insane. He said, “What?”
“You could have run off to Metropolis, you could have gone to town to drink yourself into a stupor.”
“I had some drinks at the mansion.”
Lex couldn’t believe he had just said that. He said, “I mean….oh screw it.”
Jonathan smiled and said, “I think my moral code is catching up to you Lex. How much did you have?”
“Two and a half drinks. I could feel it a little when I drove home, but not much.”
“Do you think it’s safe to ride a motorcycle when you’re even the least bit affected?”
Lex shrugged. He said, “I know the answer you want is no, but I think I was safe to drive.”
Jonathan stood up and said, “I’m proud of the fact that you came back here after the things your dad said, and that you knew what you needed to do to calm yourself down. Don’t get me wrong, you still did plenty of things to get yourself spanked, but all in all I think you did pretty good with the hand you were dealt.”
Lex felt his cheeks get warm and he squeaked out, “Spanked?”
Jonathan said, “Let’s count it up. Number one, I told you not to leave the farm while we were gone and you did. Number two, you drove after having alcohol - AGAIN. Number three, you encouraged Clark to lie. And number four, you lied to me yourself.”
Lex said, “But…”
Jonathan interrupted, “Stand up.”
Lex stood. Jonathan pulled him into a hug and said, “I like you Lex, and I consider you part of the family now. If I didn’t care about you, I would just kick you out, but I want you to stay. I feel bad for you when I hear about the way your dad treats you, and I want you to see that there’s another way.”
Jonathan let him go and said, “Undo your pants.”
Lex shook his head no and stepped back. Jonathan took a step forward and undid the pants for Lex. He grabbed Lex’s elbow and pulled him to the bed. Jonathan sat down and had Lex over his lap before Lex decided to put up a real fight. He pulled Lex’s pants and underwear down together. Lex muttered, “Shit. This can’t be happening.”
Jonathan brought his hand down and Lex grunted. Lex thought about how Clark had sounded and bit the inside of his cheek to keep from making noise. By the time Jonathan had smacked him ten times Lex was starting to have trouble staying quiet. Jonathan paused and said, “You don’t leave the farm when I tell you not to.”
Jonathan brought his hand down six more times, and Lex could feel his body start to try and move away from the swats, even when he told himself to stay still.
Jonathan paused again and said, “You don’t have other people lie for you.”
Lex started to say ‘I’m sorry about Clark’, but as he opened his mouth, Jonathan gave him another six swats, so what came out was more like “I’m s…oooowww.”
Jonathan paused and thought about the next one. He knew what he would say to Clark, but it didn’t seem right for Lex. He said, “You don’t lie to people who care about you.”
Jonathan gave him another six swats and Lex didn’t care anymore if anyone could hear him. Lex yelled and tried to get off Jonathan’s lap. Jonathan was angrier about the last misdeed, because they had gone over it before. He thought about using his belt, but he decided not to since Lex had been up front and honest about it. He said, “Are you listening Lex?”
Lex said, “Y…..yes.”
“I’ve already talked with you about drinking and driving. I’m disappointed that you decided to do it again, but I’m proud of you for telling me about it even though you knew I wouldn’t approve. I don’t expect to have to go over this again after we’re done here. You don’t drive after you’ve been drinking.”
Jonathan’s hand came down again and again with loud ‘Smacks’, and Lex started yelling at the first swat. When he realized that Jonathan wasn’t stopping at six swats this time, Lex yelled, “I’m soorrry….Aaahh….Please stop!”
Jonathan kept going, and very soon Lex started to cry. Jonathan gave him four more extra hard swats on his sit spots and then stopped. Jonathan rubbed Lex’s back while Lex cried. Jonathan said, “Okay Lex, we’re done.”
Lex pushed himself up, and fixed his pants. Jonathan stood up next to him and pulled him into another hug. He said, “You know you’re wrong about not fitting in here Lex.”
Lex was still crying, but shook his head no in Jonathan’s chest. Jonathan continued, “I do have high moral standards, but I don’t expect everyone to live the same way I do. I really do understand why you don’t agree with some of the things I believe in, and I don’t think it makes you a bad person. Martha may seem gullible, but she is not as easy to fool as you seem to think. As for Clark, well it just isn’t in his nature to go against what society says is right. But I know he doesn’t look down on you for the things you’ve done.”
Lex had almost stopped his crying when Jonathan said, “I’m sorry your dad hurt you.”
Lex started crying loudly again. Jonathan held him and waited. After a while, in between sniffles, Lex said, “Dad thinks I’m weak.”
“I’ve known you for just over a month, and the word weak has never come to my mind when thinking about you. In fact I think you had to be strong to survive your childhood.”
Jonathan let go of Lex and smiled a little to let Lex know he was joking when he said, “Now if your dad had said stubborn, willful, or arrogant I might have agreed.”
Lex smiled too and said, “You should know about being stubborn.”
“That I do. So your dad thinks your wanting a happy family is a weakness?”
“He thinks that I’m weak for wanting to stay here.”
“So caring about people is what makes you weak according to him?”
“No…. Maybe…. I don’t know.”
Jonathan put a hand on Lex’s shoulder and looked into his eyes when he said, “I think caring about other people makes you stronger. My love for Martha and Clark helps me to get through any hardships that I face. If your dad thinks caring about us makes you weak, then he must be a very sad and lonely person.”
Lex didn’t say anything. Jonathan said, “You’re a good person Lex, even if your father can’t see it, we can.”
Jonathan said, “Okay, let’s get back on track for the day. I’m gonna go check on Clark and then I’m going to make some calls about renting the hay mower for tomorrow. You should go talk to Clark in a few minutes. I know you probably still feel guilty, but I think once you talk to him and see that he’s fine you’ll feel better.”
Jonathan left, and Lex went to the window to look out across the field.

Clark was sitting on his bed when his mother came in to see him. He couldn’t make eye contact. She went to sit next to him on the bed, and put an arm around his shoulders. She said, “How are you doing sweetie?”
Clark shrugged. Martha kissed his head and said, “Want to tell me why you lied?”
Clark shook his head no. Martha said, “Okay.”
They sat in silence for a few seconds and then Clark said, “Where’s Lex? I mean did he….was he….”
“He was in the bathroom, and when he heard what was happening, he wanted to rush in here and save you.”
Clark looked disbelieving at his mom. He said, “Why?”
Martha smiled and said, “Lex thought dad was hurting you.”
Clark thought about it and said, “Is dad going to kick Lex out?”
“No honey. What would make you think a thing like that?”
“Well he’s gonna be mad that Lex…about what Lex did.”
Martha squeezed Clark’s shoulder and said, “Lex is part of the family. We’re not going to kick him out. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I’d bet that your dad is going to spank Lex too.”
Clark’s look of surprise almost made Martha laugh, but she kept it in. Clark whispered, “But he can’t.”
“Sorry Clark, but I think he can.”
“He shouldn’t.”
“I think he should.”
“But it’s…..”
Martha interrupted him with, “Let’s just wait and see what happens. Then when it’s done, you can talk to Lex about it.”
“Yeah, like Lex will stay after that. He’ll go back home even if his dad is horrible.”
“I think your wrong Clark.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, and just as Clark was starting to relax, they heard the first smack. Clark thought it was a little surreal to hear someone else getting spanked. After the first pause Clark said, “Lex is really quiet compared to me.”
“He’s older, and more used to pain.”
They sat in silence again until they heard the first ‘ow’ from Lex. Martha tensed up hating to hear it. Clark’s face got red again and he said quietly, “Is that what I sound like?”
Martha nodded.
“Shouldn’t dad be done now? Seems like it’s a lot longer than mine.”
Martha said, “I know it’s hard, but trust your dad to know what he’s doing.”
Both Martha and Clark were relieved when it was over. They sat together in silence for a few minutes. Eventually Clark said, “Do you think Lex is okay?”
“I’m sure he’s fine.”
“It sounded really bad, and it’s not like he gets to feel better right away like me.”
“Why don’t you ask Lex how he feels later today.”
There was a short knock on the door, and Jonathan came in. Martha patted Clark’s shoulder and got up. She picked up the box with the meteor and said, “I’m going to go put this away and start some laundry.”
Jonathan nodded as Martha walked out. He said to Clark, “Hey kiddo how are you doing?”
“Okay. How’s Lex?”
“He’s not very happy, but he’ll be fine. I told him to talk to you when he’s ready. Don’t try to talk to him until he comes to you okay?”
Clark nodded. Jonathan said, “I’m gonna go make some calls. You can do whatever you want, except bug Lex.”

Twenty minutes later Martha had the laundry started, and had heard the whole story from Jonathan. She decided to go see how Lex was. Lex was still standing at the window thinking, when he heard the knock on his door. He turned around and said, “Yeah?”
Martha came in and Lex looked away embarrassed. Martha went and gave him a hug. She let him go and pointed a finger at him and said, “I don’t want to hear you talking about not fitting in here. When I first moved here with Jonathan I didn’t think I fit in either, but I was wrong, and you are too.”
Lex wasn’t sure what to say to her, and before he could figure it out she said, “I’m sure Clark is anxious to talk to you. He’s upset.”
“Because I got him into trouble?”
“No. Because he thinks you’re going to leave.”
Lex didn’t believe her, but didn’t comment. Martha left him in peace. Lex looked back out the window and realized that until Martha mentioned it, he hadn’t even considered leaving. He had been thinking about his mom, and wondering what she would have thought about him staying with the Kents. Lex absently rubbed his butt and thought about Clark. He was really not looking forward to talking to him. He thought for sure that Clark would hate him now. He whispered to himself, “No time like the present to loose a friend.”
He walked to Clark’s room and knocked on the door. Clark said, “Come in.”
Lex came in and shut the door behind him. Neither boy looked at the other. Lex said, “Do you hate me now?”
Clark looked at Lex and said, “What? No. Why would I?”
“Because it’s my fault you got……in trouble.”
“No it’s not. That’s something my dad has always been very clear about with me. I’m responsible for my actions. I could have, and should have told you to screw off when you asked me to lie. I’m mad at myself for not doing what I knew was right, but I’m not mad at you.”
“You should be.”
“Well, maybe a little, but I’m more worried about you.”
Lex smiled and said, “I guess you heard me as well as I heard you.”
Clark nodded and said, “I’m never gonna piss off my dad again after hearing that. It was awful. I’m sorry he thought he had the right to do that to you. I mean you’re like an adult.”
Lex laughed and said, “Maybe legally I’m an adult, but I sure don’t feel like one right now. And your dad made it pretty clear to me the first week that I was here that he thought he did have the right to punish me. So I guess if I was going to leave I would have called my dad and made that happen back then.”
“So you’re not gonna leave?”
“Really? I mean, that’s great and I’m glad, but why not?”
“I don’t want to.”
They were both quiet for a few seconds. Soon Clark said, “I’m sorry I don’t lie very well. I really did try.”
Lex smiled mischievously and said, “Maybe we’ll have to practice.”
Clark laughed and said, “No way!”
“I think I feel better now that they know anyway. You’re right, you should have told me to screw off when I asked you to lie. Next time I want to do something you think is wrong, you remind me of this, and don’t listen to me.”
Lex walked over and squatted down in front of Clark who was sitting on his bed. Lex said, “Hey Clark, I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry I asked you to lie, and I’m really sorry that you got spanked because you listened to me. If I had known that your dad was gonna do that, I would have kept you out of it.”
Clark shrugged and said, “It’s okay Lex. It’s not the first time.”
Lex shook his head and said, “You know what Clark? You’re the best friend I’ve ever had. I may not deserve to have a friend like you, but I’m really glad we’re friends.”
Clark smiled and said, “Me too.”
Lex stood up and winced. He said, “I don’t think I’m up for a real game, but do you want to go practice free throw shots?”
Clark stood up and said, “Yeah. That would be great.”