Smallville Friendship Chapter 5

The private detective, that Lex had hired, called the Kent farm on a Thursday afternoon, and as luck would have it Lex answered. He said, “Hello, Kent residence.”
“Hello, may I please speak with Lex Luthor?”
“Hi Mr. Luthor, this is Paul Miller. I have some news about the case.”
Lex looked over and saw that Martha was looking at him obviously wondering who it was. Lex decided he needed to be careful about what he said. He thought for a second and said, “That’s good. Tell me about it.”
“I have an eye witness. I haven’t met the man, but I have talked to him on the phone. He says he’ll only meet with you, and he won’t give me his name. He says he’s afraid of what your father will do to him if he’s found out. I guess he left the company on bad terms, and he thinks your father is watching him. He says he saw the whole thing, but he won’t tell me how Rick Boscco died. So would you like to make arrangements to meet him?”
“Yes I would. Do you have a phone number?”
“No. Unfortunately the man is very paranoid. I have a contact number where I can leave him a message, and then he’ll call me the next day. So, if you give me a time and place, I’ll try to arrange it, and after he calls me tomorrow, I’ll call you and tell you if the guy agrees.”
Lex sighed and thought for a couple of seconds. He said, “I’ll call you back in fifteen minutes.”
Lex hung up and looked at Martha who was still watching him. She started washing the dishes again and said, “What was that about?”
Lex didn’t want to lie, but he didn’t want anyone to stop him from finding out what his father had been up to either. He quickly tried to come up with a way to not lie. He said, “Do you remember I told you and Mr. Kent that I met a girl at that party last weekend?”
“Yes….Monique or something like that.”
“That’s right. Was that Monica on the phone?”
“No… friend Steve says that Monica wants to go out with me again.”
Martha smiled and said, “Well that’s nice Lex. Do you want to see her again?”
Lex gave her one of his charming smiles and said, “Yes, and I was hoping you and Mr. Kent would let me go out on a date with her this Saturday.”
Martha nodded and said, “I’ll talk to Jonathan about it, but I’m sure it will be fine.”
Lex said, “Great…could you ask him now, so I could give her a call and make the arrangements?”
Martha smiled knowingly and said, “A little anxious?”
Lex gave a nervous laugh and nodded as he thought, ‘More than you know.’
Martha stopped what she was doing and went out to see Jonathan. Martha found Jonathan and Clark in the barn. She said, “Lex just got a call.”
Jonathan groaned and said, “Please tell me it wasn’t Lionel.”
“It wasn’t Lionel.”
“Really? Well…good.”
“It was his friend Steve. I guess the girl he met at the party wants to go out with Lex again, and Lex want’s to know if he can take her out this Saturday.”
Clark jumped in before his dad and said, “No fair! This is the last weekend Lex gets to stay with us before school. I want him to stay home.”
Jonathan said, “Now Clark that’s not fair to Lex. He’s been here with us for two whole months, and he’ll be here through Friday of next week, so you still have plenty of time to do things with him. Lex is a teenager, almost a man, and girls are important to him.”
Clark glared at the ground and said, “I don’t care. He was gone last weekend, so he should stay this weekend.”
Jonathan turned to Martha and said, “I’m okay with him taking her out on Saturday, as long as he agrees to the same kind of rules as before.”
Martha smiled and was about to say something but Clark beat her to it when he said triumphantly, “He didn’t follow the rules last time, so you shouldn’t let him go.”
Jonathan frowned and said, “How do you know about that Clark?”
Clark paused for a second. “Lex told me.”
Jonathan raised his eyebrows, not quite believing Clark but he said, “I’ve already gone over last time with him, and I think this will be an excellent chance for him to try it again.”
Clark muttered, “That’s stupid. He should stay.”
Jonathan said, “Clark, I’m sorry you’re unhappy about it, but this is a decision for me and your mother, not for you. Now I don’t want to hear any more complaints out of you about this.”
Clark crossed his arms and looked away from his parents. Jonathan said, “Do you understand me Clark?”
Clark ground out through clenched teeth, “Yes sir.”
Jonathan turned back to Martha who said, “I think it will be good practice for him too. I’ll go let him know.”
Martha patted Clark’s shoulder on the way out and said, “You and Lex will still be friends Clark, even if he doesn’t spend as much time here.”
Martha went to the kitchen and smiled at Lex. “You can take her out Saturday as long as you’re willing to follow the same kind of rules as last weekend.”
Lex smiled and said, “Great. Thanks.”
Lex looked down at the phone and said, “Do you mind if I go use the phone in your room?”
Martha waved him away and said, “Go ahead.”

When Lex got upstairs he went to his room first and got Monica’s phone number, and then went to the Kent’s room and called the detective. He said, “Mr. Miller?”
“This is Lex. I’d like you to set up the meeting with the eye witness for this Saturday, sometime in the early evening, say 5pm.”
“Okay. Where do you want to meet him? I would suggest someplace public with other people around.”
“Tell him we can meet at a restaurant called Marie’s on fifth and Addams.”
“Sounds good. I’ll call you tomorrow with the conformation.”
“No, I’ll call you tomorrow afternoon. Did you get any other leads besides this one?”
“None, which is pretty strange. Usually with this kind of thing, I can find three or four people to talk, but this time…I don’t know, it’s like someone has gotten to the people first.”
Lex nodded to no one and said, “Okay. Thank you for trying.”
Lex hung up and sat thinking for a few seconds. Then he called Monica’s number. A woman answered and Lex said, “Hi, is Monica there?”
“This is Monica.”
“Hi Monica, this is Lex.”
“Lex? Really?”
Lex smiled to himself and said, “Yep.”
“Cool. I had a really nice time last weekend, and I was hoping you would call me.”
“I had a nice time too, and I was wondering if you wanted to go out with me this Saturday.”
“Sure, that would be great.”
“Why don’t you give me your address, and I’ll pick you up around 7pm. We can have a late dinner, and then see where things go from there.”
Monica gave Lex her information and Lex hung up. Next he called his friend Steve and told him that he might have some answers by Sunday. When he was done with his calls he went back downstairs. Martha looked up and said, “That took a while. Did you have a nice talk?”
Lex felt especially bad not being up front with Martha. He said, “I did thanks.”
For the rest of the afternoon Lex noticed Clark wasn’t very happy. He didn’t say or do anything out of the ordinary, but he also didn’t smile or talk much.
During dinner Jonathan said, “I take it you’re going to want to borrow the truck for this weekend instead of the motorcycle?”
Lex thought about it for a second and then said, “Actually no. I think I’ll have one of my cars brought over from the mansion tomorrow. It’ll be more comfortable for Monica.”
Jonathan nodded and said, “I hadn’t thought about that, good idea. You remember the rules right?”
Lex said, “No drinking or illegal substances. Back to the hotel by 2am. And tell you about it and be honest if I mess up.”
Jonathan nodded.
Clark said, “I want you to stay home.”
Jonathan gave Clark a look that clearly said ‘stop.’
Lex was surprised. He said, “But I’m here every day. Why do you want me to be here Saturday?”
Clark looked at his plate and said, “Cause it’s your last weekend.”
Lex couldn’t believe how happy those simple words made him feel. If it weren’t for his father he would cancel with Monica, because he didn’t really care about her, and was just using her as an excuse to get out. He smiled a sappy smile and said, “It means a lot to me that you want me to be here Clark. It really does, but it’s not going to be my last weekend here.”
Clark looked at him questioningly and Lex said, “I haven’t told any of you yet, but I’ve decided that I do want your parents to help me get through college, so you’ll be seeing me at least once a month.”
Clark smiled a little and said, “Well that’s better than nothing I guess.”
Lex rolled his eyes and said, “Isn’t Pete coming home next week?”
“You’ll be having so much fun with him you’ll forget all about me.”
Clark looked up and said, “No I won’t Lex. I’ll have fun with Pete, and I can’t wait to see him, but I’ll never forget about you or our friendship.”
Lex actually felt himself tear up a little and said quietly, “I won’t either.”
Martha who had been practically bouncing in her chair since Lex spilled the information about college finally heard a break in the conversation and said, “I’m so glad you decided to let us help you Lex! I’m so proud of you! I know it wasn’t an easy decision.”
Jonathan smiled and said, “I’m proud of you too Lex. After dinner we can sit down together and write down some ideas on what I can do to help you.”
Lex felt a rush of emotions when both Martha and Jonathan told him they were proud of him, and he had to excuse himself and go to the bathroom so that he wouldn’t break down and cry.
After dinner Martha had Clark help her wash the dishes while Jonathan and Lex talked in the living room. Half an hour later Lex and Jonathan were both satisfied with the plans they had made to help Lex stay on track at school.

The next morning Lex had one of the staff from the mansion drive his Porsche over to the Kent farm. Jonathan and Lex were trying to replace some pipe in the sprinkler system when Lex saw his Porsche drive up. He smiled and Jonathan said, “That’s a really nice car Lex.”
Lex smiled even bigger and said, “I’ve missed it.”
They stopped what they were doing and walked to the driveway. Lex saw the stable master from the mansion get out of his car. Lex smiled and held out his hand to shake as he said, “Hi Josh. Thanks for bringing my car out here.”
Josh looked warily at Lex and quickly shook his hand as he said, “No problem Mr. Luthor.”
Clark had been in the house helping his mom, but as soon as he saw the car pull up he ran out. He was now standing next to Lex gaping at the car.
Lex could tell Josh was uncomfortable and felt bad about it. Lex knew he had been nasty to him on more than one occasion. He said, “Would you like to come in and have something to drink?”
“No thank you sir. I’ll just wait here for James.”
Clark had gotten over staring at the car and giggled. He looked at Lex and said, “Sir?”
Lex got a little red and said, “You can call me Lex, Josh.”
Josh looked away from everyone and said, “We’ve had that discussion SIR.”
Lex got even more red and looked away. He said, “I’m sorry about that….I was drunk.”
Josh said nothing. Clark was uncomfortable with the silence and looked to his dad to help. Jonathan put a comforting arm around Lex and said, “So how long have you had the car Lex?”
Lex muttered, “Two and a half years. Dad got it for my sixteenth birthday.”
Clark said, “Can I go sit in it?”
Lex nodded, and Clark went to get in the driver’s seat. A few seconds later a limo pulled up and James, the man who had brought Lex his things when he first arrived at the Kent farm, got out. Lex smiled and said, “Hi James.”
James gave Lex a small smile and said, “Hello Mr. Luthor, you are looking well. Is the car satisfactory?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“The suit you asked for is in the trunk. Is there anything else you need?”
“Very well.” James looked to Josh and said, “Let’s go.”
Josh started for the passenger side of the limo, and Lex walked over to him before he could get in. He said, “Josh, I….I know I was a real shit to you over the years, and I understand if you don’t believe me, but I am sorry. I know you were trying to help me that night, and I…..I shouldn’t have….said what I said. I was wrong.”
Josh looked at Lex for a few seconds and said, “Okay, I accept your apology.”
Lex smiled with relief and said, “Thanks.”
Josh got in the limo and James said, “Goodbye Mr. Luthor.”
As soon as they drove off, Jonathan put his arm around Lex again and said, “You wanna tell me about it?”
Lex looked down and said, “About a year ago I had a huge fight with Dad….which happened all the time. I got drunk and decided to go horseback riding to get him off my mind. Josh was there and didn’t think I should go riding….”
Jonathan squeezed his shoulder and said, “What happened?”
“It’s a little blurry, but I think he found me trying to saddle up the horse, and he was trying to coax me into giving it to him. I eventually gave it to him and told him to get the horse ready to ride. He told me no, and he said that I was in no condition to ride. He put the saddle away and refused to get the horse ready. I ranted to him that I would have him fired. I tried giving him money, but he wouldn’t take it, so I told him I had more money to spend every month then he made in a year. I…..I tried to punch him and he said, ‘Stop this right now Lex.’…”
Jonathan shook his head but waited for Lex to continue. Lex said, “I told him he was my servant and that he better never call me by my name, or I would do worse than have him fired.”
Lex looked at Jonathan and said, “I was so horrible….so often.”
Jonathan hugged Lex and said, “We can’t change what we’ve done in our past, but we can learn from it, and try to make up for the mistakes we’ve made.”
Jonathan let him go and said, “I’m gonna go see what’s for lunch.”
Lex stood there and then looked over to Clark. Clark was looking at him with surprise, and Lex looked down again. Clark got out of the Porsche and said, “So, after lunch will you pleeeeease give me a ride?”
Lex smiled at Clark and said, “Yeah.”

Saturday morning came, and Lex whistled to himself as he was helping Jonathan and Clark. Lex was happy. He was looking forward to a day in Metropolis, and he was looking forward to both his date with Monica and to finding out what had really happened to Rick Boscco.
Clark was not happy. He was getting more and more jealous and angry that Lex was going to be gone for most of the weekend. He was jealous that Lex was going to the city to have fun, and spend all kinds of money on some girl. Lex whistling and being obviously happy just made it worse.
The three of them were unloading bails of hay from Jonathan’s truck. Clark was up in the truck pushing the bails of hay to the back, and Jonathan and Lex were taking turns pulling them off and stacking them. Jonathan smiled at Lex and said, “So where are you taking Monica tonight?”
“We’re going to Marie’s for dinner, it’s a steak house.”
Jonathan chuckled and said, “It’s an expensive steak house. Trying to impress her with money?”
Lex stopped smiling and said, “I didn’t really think about it….It’s just someplace I like to eat. Do you think it will make her uncomfortable?”
All of a sudden, Lex felt one of the bails of hay slam into his chest, and he fell down onto the dirt. Lex was dazed for a second. Jonathan looked over to Clark. Clark was glaring at Lex on the ground, but then less then a second later his face changed, and Jonathan could tell Clark already regretted what he had done. Clark glanced over at Jonathan, who gave his son a disappointed look. Clark jumped down from the truck and pushed the hay off Lex and said, “I’m sorry. Are you okay?”
Lex shook his head a little and sat up. He said, “Yeah, I think so. What happened?”
Clark blushed and looked away when he said, “I guess I slipped and pushed one of the bails all the way off.”
Jonathan held out a hand to help Lex up, and said, “Are you sure you’re okay?”
Lex nodded and said, “Are you okay Clark? Did you hurt yourself when you slipped?”
Clark looked at the ground and mumbled, “No. I’m fine.”
Jonathan turned to Clark and glared. Then he said to Lex, “Why don’t you go relax and get ready for breakfast. Clark and I can finish up here.”
Lex saw there were only a few more bails, so he shrugged and said, “Okay, sounds good. I’ll tell Mrs. Kent you two are about ready.”
Once Lex was gone Jonathan crossed his arms and gave Clark a look. Clark kept his eyes focused on the ground in front of him as long as he could, but soon the silence was too much for him and he dared a glance at his dad. He quickly looked back down and said, “I’m really sorry Dad.”
“I can’t believe you just used your abilities to hurt someone. Lex hadn’t done anything at all to deserve what you did to him. In fact he has been a good friend to you, and you just hurt him on purpose because you were having a tantrum about him going out.”
Clark felt waves of shame and started to cry quietly. Jonathan continued, “I didn’t raise you to be a bully Clark. Lord knows with your strength you could overpower ten men if you wanted to, but that power is a gift, and not something to be used to hurt others. I am ashamed of your behavior.”
Clark kept crying and after a few seconds Jonathan said, “Do you hear me Clark Kent?”
Clark stammered out a, “Y..yes sir.”
Jonathan went over to Clark and took him by the upper arm. He started walking towards the house and said, “We are going to go in there, and you are going to tell Lex that you did it on purpose, and why, and then you will apologize again.”
Clark shook his head, but before he could say anything Jonathan said, “If you refuse, I’ll spank you, and then tell him myself.”
As they walked to the house, Jonathan wondered if he was being to hard on Clark. But he knew that if he didn’t make a big deal out of it the first time that it happened, there might be a second time, and with Clark’s strength that could turn deadly before the boy even realized what he had done.
They walked into the kitchen and Lex and Martha both turned smiling faces to them, which immediately changed to concerned looks. Jonathan let go of Clark’s arm and swatted him once to propel him forward a step or two. Jonathan said, “Tell him.”
Clark was still crying, and while the swat hadn’t hurt at all, it was still plenty embarrassing. He stammered, “I…I p…pushed the hay on….on purpose.”
Lex looked confused and walked over to Clark, and said, “I don’t understand.”
Clark looked at Lex’s shoes and said, “I was mad…about this weekend…..and I…..I hurt you.”
Lex glanced over to Jonathan who was looking grim, and then back to Clark. He put a hand on Clark’s shoulder and said, “You’re still mad that I’m going this weekend?”
Clark nodded and sniffed. Lex was silent for a few minutes while he thought about it. Then he said, “Well that wasn’t very nice of you, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world Clark. I’m not mad about it.”
Clark shook his head and said, “I’m really, really sorry.”
Lex pulled Clark into a quick hug and said, “It’s okay.”
Lex let go, and tried some humor to ease the situation, “You’re stronger than you look. Maybe you should be unloading the bails, and I’ll push them to the back of the truck.”
Clark didn’t laugh. Jonathan walked over to Clark. He patted Clark’s shoulder and said, “Okay son, let’s go get washed up and eat some breakfast.”
Once Jonathan and Clark got into the bathroom and started washing their hands Lex turned to Martha and whispered, “Maybe I shouldn’t go if he’s that upset.”
Martha shook her head and said, “No. He needs to learn that trying to force people to do what he wants them to do doesn’t work. You go and have a good time. Clark will be fine.”
Lex nodded but still felt bad.
In the bathroom Jonathan was drying his hands, and Clark was drying his face and then blowing his nose. When Clark was done, he darted an uncertain look at his dad. Jonathan pulled Clark into a hug and said, “I’m not mad anymore, but if I ever find you hurting someone on purpose like that again, you are going to be a very sorry boy.”
Clark started crying again and nodded into Jonathan’s shirt. They stood that way for a few minutes until Clark calmed down.
Breakfast was fairly uncomfortable and mostly filled with sounds of eating. Once Lex was done he said, “I’m going to go take a shower and get ready to go.”
Once Lex was in the shower Martha looked to Jonathan questioningly. He said, “Clark used his strength to push a bail of hay at Lex. It was hard enough to make him fall to the floor dazed.”
Martha turned to Clark and said, “Oh Clark, you didn’t.”
Clark nodded to his mostly full plate. Martha shook her head and said, “That’s very disappointing.”
Clark started to cry again. Martha got up and started clearing the table. Jonathan said, “If you’re done eating, go finish the hay.”
Clark nodded and practically ran out the door. Jonathan and Martha looked at each other. Martha sighed and said, “Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair. If he were normal, we wouldn’t have to be nearly so hard on him.”
Jonathan stood up and hugged Martha. He said, “He’s not normal, and fair or not, that’s just the way it is.”

An hour later Lex had one of his nicer suits on, and was on the road and headed to Metropolis. When he arrived, he got his usual room at The Palace and called Jonathan with the room number. Then as he was about to leave to run some errands, one of the hotel clerks waved him down. She said, “Mr. Luthor. This letter just came for you.”
Lex thought it was odd, but took the letter and opened it on the way out the door. It said:


I can’t meet you at Marie’s. It isn’t safe. Meet me at the warehouse on 24th and Jefferson at 4pm.

Lex stood by his car looking at the letter and wondering how this person knew where he would be to get the letter to him. He felt a shiver go though him, as he got in the Porsche. He looked at the letter again and wondered what he should do. He knew going to a warehouse where there wouldn’t be any people around to meet a stranger wasn’t a good idea, but he really wanted to know what was going on. And when he really thought about it, he realized that if his father really was looking for this person, Marie’s probably wasn’t a safe place for him.
He put the letter in his suit pocket, and decided to think about it while he did his errands. He went to the bank, and once he had checked his accounts and gotten some money he went shopping. He knew he only had one week left with the Kents, and he wanted to get each of them something. He knew Jonathan wouldn’t really want anything, but he was at least hoping that Jonathan wouldn’t be offended by the gesture.

Back on the farm Clark and Jonathan were working together amiably when Martha came out looking worried. They both stopped what they were doing and Martha said, “Bill’s wife, Sally, had a stroke.”
“Oh no. When did it happen?”
“Bill said it was yesterday afternoon. I guess she’s gonna be in the hospital for the next two days, and he was hoping we could come visit. He says she does better with people around.”
Jonathan nodded and said, “Sure, Clark and I will be done here in about an hour, and we can all go see her.”
Martha nodded and went to go bake some cookies to take to them. A few minutes after Martha had left, Clark said, “Dad?”
“I was wondering….if maybe I could stay home? I really hate the hospital. It’s so creepy, and it’s gonna be so boring with all the adults around…..I mean I know I wasn’t very good today….but I really don’t want to go.”
Jonathan nodded and said, “I’ll check with your mom, but I think it will be fine if you want to stay home. I know hospitals aren’t much fun.”
“Thanks Dad.”

Three hours later Clark was watching some TV and eating cookies enjoying his time alone when the phone rang. He answered with, “Hello.”
A male voice said, “May I please speak to Lex Luthor?”
“Sorry, he isn’t here right now. Can I take a message?”
“Do you know how to get in touch with him? It’s very urgent.”
Clark thought the man sounded worried, he said, “He’s in Metropolis. He’s staying at The Palace tonight.”
“I already tried there, and he’s not there. Doesn’t he have a cell phone where he could be reached?”
“No he doesn’t.”
The man sounded exasperated and yelled, “Who doesn’t have a cell phone nowadays?”
Clark knew Lex didn’t carry one because he was paranoid about his father being able to track him with it. He said, “Um…sorry.”
“Is there any adult there?”
“No….They should be home in an hour or two.”
“Christ! Look kid, Lex is in danger. If he calls you, I need you to give him a message, and have him call me.”
“What kind of danger? Who are you?”
“Do you have something to write with?”
“Hold on.” Clark got some paper and a pencil and said, “Okay.”
“My name is Mr. Miller. I’m a private investigator. My cell phone number is 555-2603. He needs to call me immediately.”
Clark wrote it all down and said, “Why is Lex in danger?”
“Just have him call me.”
Clark said, “But…”
Clark heard a click as Mr. Miller hung up. Clark wasn’t sure what to do, but he knew he had to try and help. He looked in the phone book for the number to Smallville’s hospital. A few minutes later he had his dad on the phone.
Jonathan said, “Clark, what’s wrong?”
“I’m not sure, but a guy just called me and told me Lex was in danger. He said that he was a private investigator, but he wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. He sounded really worried, and I told him where Lex was staying, but he said he already tried there, and Lex wasn’t there, and so he told me to have Lex call him as soon as we heard from him. I think something bad is gonna happen Dad! I don’t know what to do!”
Jonathan could tell Clark was starting to panic. He said, “Calm down Clark, I’m sure it’s going to be fine, and it’s not going to help anything if you’re panicking. Now did this guy leave a name or number?”
“Okay, give it to me, and I’ll give him a call and find out what is going on.”
Clark gave Jonathan the information, and then Jonathan said, “Okay Clark you sit there by the phone, and I’ll call you back as soon as I’ve talked to Mr. Miller.”
“Okay Dad. Hurry.”
Clark hung up.
Fifteen minutes later Jonathan called back. Clark said, “Dad?”
“Yes. Listen Clark, Billy’s son is going to bring your mom home right now, and I’m going to drive to Metropolis.”
“What’s wrong?”
“From what Mr. Miller says, Lex hired him to investigate the death of a man named Rick who used to work for Lionel. Lex was going to meet an eyewitness tonight to get the story, but Mr. Miller has just found another eyewitness who says that Rick is still alive. Mr. Miller is worried that Lex is walking into a trap of some kind.”
“Oh no. Are you gonna get there in time?”
“I should. The meeting is at 5, and it’s not quite 3 now.”
Clark said, “I’ll run there! I can get there quicker than you, and I’ll stop him and we’ll both wait for you.”
Jonathan said, “What? No. Absolutely not Clark.”
“Why not?”
“You’ve never run that far before. You’ll probably get tired before you get there, and have to stop. And besides that, if it’s dangerous, I don’t want you anywhere near the situation.”
“But Dad, if it’s dangerous I should be there. I’m strong enough and fast enough to help if Lex is in danger. And I….”
“No! Now we’re wasting time son. Your mother will be home soon, and I’ll call from Metropolis as soon as I get there. I’m sure things will work out fine, so try not to worry.”
Clark felt deflated and said, “Okay.”
Jonathan hung up, and Clark sat and stared at the phone. He kept thinking about Lex and worrying that his father wouldn’t get there in time. Or if he did get there in time that something bad would happen to both of them. Clark thought about running to Metropolis. He had never run farther than to school and back, but he could do that without even noticing a change in his breathing or heart rate, and that took about twenty minutes to drive to. He was sure he could make it to Metropolis without any problems, and he thought he could probably do it in less than half an hour.
He thought, ‘I could get there, warn Lex, and get home before Dad even got there. But then how could I explain to Lex how I got there? I could say I hid in his trunk. But what if he looked in it already. I could say I hitched a ride. No that’s dumb. I could say Dad drove me, but we split up to look for him. But he knows Dad wouldn’t let me do that…. There’s no way for Dad not to find out…..but I’d tell him anyway. But if Lex gets hurt and I could have stopped it…..I have to go. Dad’s gonna be pissed, but I have to go anyway. I’ll think about what to tell Lex on the way.’
Clark got out a piece of paper and stuck a note to the refrigerator for his mom. It read:


I ran to Metropolis to help Dad and Lex. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.

Love, Clark

Clark shook his head as he put the note up. He knew his mom would worry about all of them from the minute she got home until she saw them again. He went upstairs and put on a jacket, and got the five dollars he had out of his piggy bank. On his way out he put an apple in his pocket. Then he was off. He had been to Metropolis once with his folks, but he didn’t remember it all that well. He did know that it was visible from the freeway, so he decided that was the way to go.

Lex had a pretty good time shopping. He had even gotten a small gift for Monica. He had everything gift wrapped, and then put it in his car. He looked at his watch and saw that it was 3:30. He pulled the letter out and looked at it again. He thought about his father and about what had happened the last time they had talked. He knew that if he went to his father again, he would get the same run around, and he still wanted to find out what had happened to Steve’s father. He decided to go to the meeting, but before he went he wanted to buy some mace for protection.

Martha arrived home and called out for Clark. When he didn’t come running she went outside and called for him. After a few minutes she went back inside and looked around. She found the note on the refrigerator and felt the breath go out of her. She couldn’t believe that all three of the guys she loved were in serious danger, and none of them knew exactly what was going on with the other.
She thought about what to do for a few minutes. She and Jonathan had talked about calling Lionel when they were in the hospital, but they had decided that would just make things worse. Now that she thought about it, that was mostly Jonathan’s opinion, and he had talked her into not calling him. She thought that he had the resources and the know how to find Lex and keep him safe. She didn’t trust Lionel, and she didn’t think he was a good father, but she did think he would protect his son from getting physically hurt or even killed. She made up her mind and called Luthorcorp. It took her ten minutes of run around to finally get Lionel on the phone. He said, “This is Lionel Luthor, how can I help you Mrs. Kent?”
“Your son is in danger.”
“How so?”
Martha explained what had happened. And the line was silent until Martha said, “Mr. Luthor, are you still there?”
“Yes, sorry, all of this just caught me off guard. I can’t explain to you how grateful I am that you called me Mrs. Kent. I will not forget this. If you ever need anything you just call me.”
“I need you to find Lex and make sure he’s safe, Clark and Jonathan are on their way to Metropolis to try and find him, and I’m worried that they are in danger too. If they find him and call me I’ll call you to let you know where they are, and I would like for you to call me and let me know if you find him first.”
“Of course. Let me give you my cell number so you can call me direct. Don’t worry Mrs. Kent, I will find him and make sure he’s safe.”
Martha took down the number and hung up. She sat and worried for fifteen minutes, and then decided to clean house to keep herself busy while her stomach churned.

Clark arrived in Metropolis without breaking a sweat. He wasn’t even breathing hard after running for fifteen minutes. He was amazed at his own abilities for the first time in a long time. He smiled to himself thinking how powerful he was, but then his smiled faltered when he remembered what he had done to Lex that morning. He shook his head, and tried to decide what to do next.
He stopped on a sidewalk in a less populated area of Metropolis and thought about how he was going to find Lex. He decided his best bet was to run through the city and look for Lex’s car. After circling the city three times, he decided he needed a better plan. He realized there were parking garages all over the city, and he might not be able to see Lex’s car if he were parked somewhere. He decided to go to The Palace and ask if anyone had seen or heard from Lex. He walked in the big doors and looked around at the bright and shiny hotel. He went up to the front desk and looked around for someone to help him. He saw a nice looking woman who was working on a computer behind the front desk, and went up to her. He said, “Um…excuse me.”
The woman looked down at him and smiled. He said, “Is Lex Luthor here?”
The woman said, “Sorry sweetie he isn’t. Did you want to leave a message for him?”
Clark was disappointed and said, “No. That’s okay. Thanks anyway.”
Clark went back out and sat on a bus stop bench and ate his apple while he thought about what to do next. When he was done he decided the only thing he could do was continue to run around the city and look for Lex and his car, and if that didn’t work, he would start looking for his father’s truck in an hour or so.

Lex arrived at the warehouse ten minutes before his appointed time. He didn’t like the area at all. He hadn’t seen anyone besides two homeless people for ten blocks. The warehouse itself was run down, and there wasn’t a window left anywhere on the building. There was graffiti on top of graffiti on the side of the building, and the front door lay on the cement a few feet from the doorway. Lex reached into his pants pocket and felt the little bottle of pepper spray, which was the best thing he could get. He wished that he had thought things out ahead of time and gotten himself a handgun. He was sure he could get one if he had the time to talk to some of the people he had bought drugs from before. He took a deep breath and got out of the car. He locked it, turned on the alarm, and walked into the warehouse doorway.
The warehouse was mostly empty with some large bits of machinery left lying on the floor here and there, and some piles of garbage against one wall. Lex let his eyes get used to the dark, and looked around. He called out, “Hello?”
A man stepped out from behind one of the piles of garbage. He was tall and dressed in clothes that had seen better days. He was in the shadows and Lex couldn’t see him all that well. Lex said, “Hi, are you the eyewitness?”
The man said in a deep voice, “Yes.”
“What can you tell me about Rick Boscco’s death?”
The man chuckled and said, “Well, I can tell you it never really happened.”
“What did happen?”
The man took a couple of steps towards Lex as he said, “Your father was trying to come up with a new way to process steel. He hired Rick to help him conduct some experiments. But they didn’t go well, and there was an explosion.”
The man paused, and Lex tried to get a look at his face, but the man had a hooded jacket on. The man took three more steps forward and brought his hand out from behind his back. Lex saw something catch the light, and realized too late that the man was holding a gun on him. Lex put his hand in his pocket, and the man turned the gun away from Lex and shot a hole in the warehouse wall near the pile of garbage. Lex jumped and put his hands over his ears forgetting about his pepper spray. The man aimed the gun back at Lex, and Lex put his hands in the air. The man yelled, “Nod your head if you can still hear me!”
Lex could mostly hear ringing in his ears, but could make out what the man said so he nodded. The man took a few steps forward and pulled the hood off his head. As the man pulled some earplugs out of his ears, Lex looked at him carefully. The man had what looked like burn scars over half his face, and they looked infected. Lex quickly realized the man was Rick. He had seen a few pictures of him at Steve’s house over the years, and even with the disfigurement, he could tell who it was. Lex said, “Rick?”
Rick nodded and said, “What do you think of the new and not so improved me?”
Lex shook his head and said, “What happened?”
“I guess I’m lucky that the explosion didn’t kill me, I guess I’m even luckier that the stuff we were using didn’t really burn me so much as get mixed in with my skin. Or at least that’s what the doctors say. If it were a true burn I would still be recovering in the hospital, but then I would also have the chance for some reconstructive surgery when I healed. They tell me this is permanent and getting worse. I don’t know what that green stuff we were using was, and apparently neither do the doctors, because they say they aren’t sure what it’s doing to my body. They do know that it was only on my chest when the explosion happened, but now it’s over most of my body and growing.”
Lex didn’t know what to say. He said, “I’m so sorry. I’m sure Dad has the best people he can buy working on finding out how to help you.”
Rick laughed and said, “Come on Lex, do you really believe that? Your father did have his best doctors check me out, and when they said there was nothing to be done he paid me ten million and sent me on my way. Of course it was with the stipulation that I was to wind up in another country, and let all my friends and family think I was dead. Like money makes up for the fact that this stuff is spreading. The doctors say that so far the stuff hasn’t damaged anything on the inside of me, it’s just in my skin, but since they don’t know what it really is, they don’t really know what will happen once it’s engulfed my skin.”
Lex shook his head and said, “So go to the authorities and tell them what my father did.”
Rick laughed and said, “That’s not good enough. I’m gonna make him suffer for what he did, and the only thing he cares about is money, and sometimes you.”
Lex felt himself start to sweat. He said, “What are you going to do?”
“Hold you for ransom. Then once I have a few billion dollars, I’m gonna recreate that explosion and make sure you have a front row seat. We’ll see if his doctors can come up with a cure when it’s your ass on the line.”
Lex shook his head and said, “Don’t do this Rick. Please. What would Steve think?”
Rick shrugged and said, “Steve thinks I’m dead, and it’s gonna stay that way. We were never close anyway, and I don’t want him to see me like this. I probably should send him an anonymous gift to thank him for having you look into my death though. I was ready to commit suicide when I got the word you were looking into my death, and then it all became clear to me.”
Lex said, “You know my father will kill you if he gets his hands on you. If you come with me, I’ll help you, and together we can make my father help you. We can get hundreds of doctors to work around the clock to look for a cure. I promise I won’t let him just push it aside.”
Rick smiled and said, “So naive. Let’s see, I need to make a call, so you can take a seat on the floor right where you are, and keep your hands on top of your head. Oh, and I won’t have any problem shooting you, so don’t think about trying anything funny.”
Lex sat on the floor and put his hands on his head. Rick walked back to his stuff, which was by the pile of garbage. He got out his cell phone and tried to make a call. He got a no service signal and swore to himself. He walked towards the open door and said to Lex, “Stay on the floor but turn towards me so I can see what you’re doing. Lex turned so he was facing the open door, and watched while Rick stepped just outside the door to try and make the call. Rick still had his gun on Lex, and was darting his eyes back and forth between Lex and his cell phone.
Then Lex saw a blur of movement beside Rick. At the last minute Rick saw it too, and turned in time to see a young boy coming at him holding a large metal pipe. Rick reflexively put his arm up to block the blow that was coming at him. The metal pipe made contact with his arm and there was a loud crunching sound as the bone broke and then a clatter as the gun and cell phone fell to the ground. Rick screamed with pain and fell to the floor. Clark stood there looking from Rick to the metal bar and back to Rick with wide eyes shocked at what he had done. Lex jumped up from the floor and scrambled to get the gun before Rick had time to think about it. As Lex was getting the gun Clark felt his stomach turning, and he felt himself getting weak. He felt the same way he felt around the meteor rocks, but he didn’t see any of them around. He stumbled back from Rick a few steps and held his stomach.
Lex had the gun and looked at Clark. He couldn’t believe Clark was there at all. He yelled, “Clark! Get over here, and away from him.”
Clark jumped a little at the yell, and stumbled over a few feet to Lex. Clark felt a little better once he was a few feet away from Rick, but he could still tell he was weak. Lex got down on both knees in front of Clark and hugged him with one arm while keeping the hand with the gun still pointed at Rick. Clark dropped the metal bar and hugged Lex tight. They stayed that way for a full minute both calming down from the adrenaline rush. Lex let go and stood up while looking at Rick who was moaning and holding his arm with his good hand. Lex said quietly and with more calm then he felt, “Where’s Mr. Kent? Is he calling the cops?”
Clark stammered, “No….I’m not sure where he is.”
Lex whipped his head back to look at Clark when he said, “What do you mean you’re not sure?”
Clark looked over at Rick and said, “Well….He’s here in Metropolis. He told me to stay at the hotel while he went to look for you, but……I had to look for you too.”
“How did you know I was in danger?”
“Mr. Miller called.”
Lex looked back at Rick and said, “Go look beside that pile of garbage against the wall, and see if you can find anything to tie Rick up with.”
Clark walked away and by the time he got to the garbage he felt all the way better. He was sure Rick had a meteor rock in his pocket. He looked through the stuff and found handcuffs and some rope. While Clark was looking for that, Lex said, “Rick, scoot back a few feet, and don’t think that I won’t shoot you, because I will.”
Rick scooted back, and Lex walked up to get the cell phone. He stepped back and Clark walked up to Lex. Clark felt weak again, and wanted to get away from Rick as soon as possible. Clark held up the handcuffs and rope. Lex said to Rick, “Looks like you came prepared to keep me for a while. That’s good.”
Lex looked at Clark and said, “Toss the handcuffs to him.”
Clark did and Lex said, “Put them on.”
Rick yelled, “My fucking arm is broken. I can’t!”
Lex glared and said, “You better figure it out, or I’ll shoot you in the other arm before I try to get near you.”
Rick swore and put the cuffs on his good wrist using his legs and head to snap it on, and then put the other half on his bad wrist. Once the cuffs were on, Lex lowered the gun and held it at his side. He turned to Clark and said, “Explain.”
Clark said, “Shouldn’t we call the cops or something?”
Lex yelled, “Explain how a twelve year old boy from Smallville is out here in the slums of Metropolis without his parent! And while you’re at it explain to me how you thought it was a good idea to attack a full grown man who was holding a gun all by yourself! You scared the shit out of me!”
Clark was expecting his dad to be mad, but not Lex. He was also still feeling weak and slightly nauseous. He gulped and said, “Well….Um….”
Clark wasn’t sure what to say, so he decided to turn the discussion back on Lex and asked in a loud tone of his own, “What are YOU doing here?”
Lex darted a glance at Rick who was completely absorbed by his broken arm. Lex stuck the gun in the back of his pants and took the step forward that was separating him and Clark. He grabbed Clark’s upper arm and turned him to the side, and swatted him four times. Clark wasn’t ready for or expecting the pain, and yelled loudly with each swat. Lex hadn’t thought much about it before doing it, but when he heard Clark yell he felt bad. Lex let go of Clark and said, “I’m sorry.”
Clark burst into tears and Lex pulled him into another hug. While he was holding Clark, he kept an eye on Rick to make sure he wasn’t moving. He said quietly, “I’m sorry Clark. You probably just saved my life, and I went and smacked you. It’s just that it could have gone so wrong. It could be both of us hurt or dead with Rick still in control if he had seen you a second earlier.”
Clark nodded into Lex’s chest and said, “I heard the gunshot, and I had to try and save you. I just had to.”
After a few minutes of silence Clark said, “I feel sick.”
Lex thought Clark was probably in shock and said, “Let’s get you into my car, and I’ll take care of Rick and call the police.”
Clark nodded. Lex got out the gun and yelled to Rick, “Rick! Scoot your ass back. Get farther away from the door and out in the sun where I can keep an eye on you.”
Rick scooted back, and Lex kept an arm around Clark’s shoulders as he lead him to the Porsche. He unlocked it, and had Clark sit in the passenger seat. Clark’s stomach immediately felt better after getting farther away from Rick, and the slight sting in his backside went away too. Once Clark was sitting Lex said, “You stay there, and relax. Everything is going to be fine. I’m not hurt, and neither are you. We’ll call the cops, and they will take care of Rick, and then we’ll find your dad and explain.”
Clark looked kind of pale to Lex and he said, “Your dad will be mad….really mad at both of us, but he’ll make us both feel safe even if he’s mad.”
Clark nodded and Lex shut the door to the car. Lex went over and stood a few feet away from Rick and called 911 while he held a gun on him. Once he gave the 911 operator the situation and the location he hung up even though he told him to stay on the line. He looked at Rick and said, “Rick.”
Rick looked up. Lex said, “My father will kill you if you try to get away from the cops. Hell, he may even try to kill you in prison. I would strongly encourage you to keep your mouth shut about the experiments, and to confess to trying to kidnap me. I will talk to my father and convince him to have a team of doctors try to find a cure for you.”
Eight minutes later when the police arrived, Lex had finished breaking the news to Steve that his father was still alive.

Jonathan made the drive from Smallville to Metropolis in an hour. He broke every speed limit, and was shocked to find that his truck could do ninety. He breathed a sigh of relief when he made it to the exit for Metropolis without getting stopped by any police. Once he made it to town he checked The Palace for Lex. When he found that Lex was out, he made a quick call to Martha to let her know he was there. Martha answered the phone with, “Jonathan?”
“Yes. I’m here, but I haven’t found Lex yet. He’s not at the Palace. I’m gonna call Mr. Miller and see if he’s found him.”
“Jonathan, Clark is there too.”
“He left a note. He ran to Metropolis…..I don’t know if he made it there or not. He hasn’t called.”
“Damn it! Now I have to worry about both of them.”
“And, I called Lionel Luthor.”
The line was silent for a second, and then Martha said, “Lionel may be an ass, but he doesn’t want to see his son dead or hurt. He deserves to know, whether you like him or not.”
Jonathan shook his head and said, “Okay Martha. I’ll call you as soon as I know anything.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Jonathan called Mr. Miller next, and found another dead end. He looked at his watch and saw that Lex was supposed to meet the eyewitness at the restaurant in less than an hour, and he decided his best bet would be to go there.
He arrived at the restaurant and asked at the front for Lex Luthor. The man at the front said, "Do you mean Lionel Luthor?”
Jonathan took a second to think and then said, “Yes will you please let him know Jonathan Kent is here and I would like to see him.”
The man nodded and went to relay the message. A few seconds later a worried looking Lionel came to the front. He said, “Mr. Kent. Do you know where Lex is?”
“No. Do you?”
“This is where he is supposed to be in half an hour. Would you care to wait with me at my table?”
Jonathan thought about it for a second and said, “I’m not sure. Isn’t there anything else we can do?”
Lionel smiled and said, “I’ve done quite a bit more. Lex isn’t in any danger here. Come and sit, and tell me what you think of my son.”
Jonathan reluctantly nodded and started walking with Lionel to his table. Half way there Lionel got a call on his cell phone. By the time they made it to the table Lionel had hung up. Lionel turned to Jonathan and said, “That was a contact of mine at the police department. Lex and apparently your son are at a warehouse on 24th and Jefferson.”
Jonathan said, “Are they hurt?”
Lionel said, “No. I’m going to ride over there in my limo. Would you like ride with me?”
“No. I’ll follow in my truck. But….could you do me a favor and call my wife to let her know the boys have been found. She’s been very worried.”
“Yes of course.”
Both men headed out towards the warehouse.

Lex was getting pissed. He had been standing there talking to the police for over 40 minutes. He had given his statement. A nervous looking Clark had given his statement. Rick had even confessed, and still the police were asking questions and carefully searching the warehouse. Lex pulled one of the police aside and said, “Look, my young friend over there is not doing very well. I really want to get him home. How much longer is this going to take?”
“Sorry Mr. Luthor, we need to make sure we do everything by the book, because…..well, the press will have this covered in no time. I’m surprised they aren’t already here.”
Lex groaned and let the cop go. He looked over to Clark who was again sitting in his car and looking pale. Then he saw the limo he was dreading pull up, and right behind it was the truck he was both dreading and relieved to see. He shook his head not believing that they were both there, and arriving at the same time. His dad got out first, and Lex was shocked to see some worry on Lionel’s face. He couldn’t quite make himself look at Jonathan. Jonathan got out of the truck and practically ran to Clark. Clark jumped out of the car and the two hugged for a long time. Lex watched and felt jealous. His father came up to him and said, “Lex, I’m so glad you are okay. I was worried about you.”
Lex tore his eyes away from Jonathan and looked at Lionel when he said, “S’okay Dad. I’m fine. No need to worry. Of course if you had just been up front with me about this, I wouldn’t have gone digging.”
Lionel smiled a little and said, “Well son, I will say I’m a little bit pleased with your determination. I though for sure you had let this go. I’m not happy that you came out here with no protection and walked into an obvious trap, but you did end up finding Rick, so I’ll give you credit for that.”
Lex smiled an empty smile and said, “Thanks Dad.”
Lex turned to look back at Jonathan. Lionel followed his gaze and said, “Ah. Still pining for the family Lex? So sad really.”
Lionel patted Lex on the shoulder, and Lex said, “Don’t touch me.”
Lionel chuckled and said, “I’m going to have a little chat with Rick.”
Lex got up and grabbed his father’s arm. He said, “No.”
Lionel looked down at the hand on his arm and then looked back at Lex. Lex said, “No Dad. I want you to leave him alone. Don’t you think you’ve done enough damage to him already? I want you to hire some doctors to try and find a cure for him.”
Lionel laughed out loud and finally said, “Oh, Lex. You’ve been with the Kent’s too long. That was a good one though.”
Lionel pulled out of Lex’s grasp and started towards Rick. Lex said, “I won’t go to college.”
Lionel stopped and turned back to Lex. Lex glared at his father and said, “I won’t go to college, and I’ll get a fucking job at McDonalds.”
Lionel sighed a long suffering sigh and said, “Lex, please don’t make threats you can’t follow through with, it’s just not good business.”
Lex said, “I’ll tell the press what really happened to Rick, and even if you deny it, it will still look suspicious.”
Lionel glared at Lex and said, “This man tried to hurt you Lex. Do you really expect me to let that go?”
Lionel sighed and said, “Okay Lex, if it’s that important to you, I won’t go after him.”
Lex said, “Thank you.”
Lionel nodded and said, “Do you want me to take you home?”
“No. I want to go home with Mr. Kent. I’ll be home next weekend, and then I assume you’ll be coming with me to write a massive check to get me registered for college.”
Lionel looked down and nodded again. He said, “I’ll see you in a week son.”
Lionel went to talk to the police to get things moving along.

When Clark saw his dad he jumped out of the car and ran into his arms. Jonathan hugged Clark tight and they just stayed that way for a few seconds. Then Clark murmured, “I’m sorry Dad.”
“I’m so glad you’re okay. I was so worried about both of you.”
“I told Lex you left me at The Palace, and that I snuck out to find him.”
“Okay. Did you run all the way here?”
“Yeah. It didn’t even make me breath hard, and it only took fifteen minutes.”
“That’s amazing.”
They were still hugging and Clark said, “I….I hurt that man. I broke his arm. It crunched.”
Jonathan could feel Clark starting to cry, and Jonathan said, “It’s gonna be okay Clark. Was the man trying to hurt Lex?”
Clark nodded and Jonathan said, “Well then you saved him.”
Clark nodded again, and Jonathan just held him until he was done crying. Then he said, “I need to go talk to Lex. You stay here in the car. Okay?”
Clark nodded again.

Lex was sitting on an old crate and looking at the dirt when he saw a pair of familiar boots in front of him. He looked up to see Jonathan looking at him. Lex stood up and said, “How’s Clark?”
Jonathan pulled an unsuspecting Lex into a big hug and said, “He’ll be fine. How are you?”
Lex just stood there for a second and then slowly hugged Jonathan back. He said, “I’ve been better.”
“Martha and I have been so worried about you Lex. I’m so thankful that you’re safe.”
Lex felt himself tear up. His shoulders started to shake, and Jonathan held him even tighter. Jonathan said, “It will be okay son. You’re safe, and no one is going to hurt you or Clark. We’re going to go home as soon as the police are done.”
Lex nodded into Jonathan’s chest and tried to get himself under control. Jonathan was holding Lex when he felt someone was watching him. He turned to see Lionel looking at him with a look of pure hate. Jonathan glared back. Lionel shook himself out of it, and continued talking to the police.
Lex was able to stop crying soon and Jonathan let him go. Lionel came over and said, “You’re free to go, the police are done.”
Lex gave his father a genuine smile and said, “Thanks Dad.”
Lionel smiled too and said, “You’re welcome.”
Lionel headed to his limo and it took off. Jonathan put a hand on Lex’s shoulder and said, “Drive your car back to The Palace, and Clark and I will meet you there.”
Lex nodded. On the way Clark and Jonathan got their stories straight, and soon they were all in Lex’s room. Lex said, “I’m supposed to pick up Monica in a couple of hours.”
Jonathan said, “So there really is a Monica? At least that wasn’t a lie. Sorry Lex, you can’t see her tonight after what you did. Call her and cancel.”
Lex got red, but nodded and went to the phone. He called Monica and apologized profusely, telling her that something had come up, and he would have to make their date for the following weekend. She was very understanding. He hung up and stood there wondering what to do next. Jonathan walked over and said, “I’m going to call Martha.”
Both Clark and Lex felt bad all over again when they heard Jonathan tell Martha not to cry after he told her they were both safe and back at the hotel. He talked to her soothingly for a couple of minutes and then told her they would be home in a few hours. He hung up the phone and glared at both boys who quickly looked away. Jonathan said, “Well Martha is worried sick about both of you.”
They both said a meek, “Sorry.”
Jonathan said, “I haven’t had dinner yet, and I’m pretty sure neither one of you has either. Lex, can you afford some room service, or should we check out and go to a burger joint where I can pay.”
Lex mumbled, “I’ll pay. It’s no problem.”
Jonathan looked at the menu and then handed it to each boy to get the order. He called and ordered. As soon as he hung up he said, “As soon as we are done eating, we’ll all go home in the truck.”
Lex said, “But what about my car?”
“Have someone from Luthorcorp pick it up, or have someone from the hotel drive it back to the mansion. I don’t care how it gets home, but I do insist that you ride with me. I have been worried about you all afternoon, and I don’t want to let you out of my sight for that long.”
Lex didn’t know if he felt good or bad about that. He nodded and called the front desk to arrange for the car to be driven back to the mansion. He hung up and said, “I’ll need to give them the key.”
Jonathan nodded and said, “Be back in less then fifteen minutes.”
Lex nodded. He went down to the front desk and made arrangements to have the small bracelet he had bought for Monica to be sent to her house. He also made arrangements for the rest of the gifts to be sent to the Kent residence the following day. He made it back upstairs just in time. The food arrived and they all ate in silence.
When they were done Jonathan said, “Okay Lex, pack up, and let’s go check out.”
Lex nodded and got his overnight bag out of the closet. He looked around and said, “That’s it.”
Jonathan nodded and the three went down to the front desk together. Lex paid the bill and they all went to Jonathan’s truck. Clark sat in the middle, and they started for home. Once they were on the freeway Jonathan said, “Okay Lex, I want the whole story. How did you end up at the warehouse, and how many times have you lied to us the past week or more?”
Lex took a deep breath and tried to stay calm while he talked. He started with Steve’s party, and told Jonathan everything. Once he was done there was silence in the truck for a good five minutes before Jonathan said, “You should have trusted me enough to tell me about it Lex. I may have discouraged you from looking into it, but if you convinced me it was important enough to you, I would have helped you. I could have been back up, and you never would have ended up in the danger you were in. I think you made quiet a few bad decisions.”
Lex nodded in understanding. Jonathan said, “By keeping this a secret from us, you have had to lie pretty often.”
Lex said, “I tried not to as much as possible. I really was going on a date with Monica.”
Jonathan nodded and said, “It’s always a good idea to seat your lies in some truth.”
Lex sounded offended when he said, “It’s not like that.”
Jonathan said, “So you really care about Monica?”
Lex looked out the window and didn’t reply. Jonathan said, “You may be good at lying Lex, but that doesn’t make it right.”
There was more silence for a few minutes and then Jonathan said, “You had to know that going to the warehouse by yourself was a very bad idea, and potentially as dangerous as it turned out to be.”
Lex nodded again and said, “Yeah, but it didn’t seem to matter that much. I just had to know.”
Jonathan said with some pity, “Lex, you matter so much more than any information about your father’s shady business practice.”
Lex mumbled, “I brought some pepper spray.”
Jonathan asked, “And how did that work out for you?”
Lex said nothing. Jonathan then said, “Clark, I distinctly remember telling you to stay put. You suggested going to look for Lex on your own, and I told you absolutely not. Does this ring a bell?”
Clark quietly said, “Yes sir.”
“So tell me why you went off on your own.”
Clark said, “I had to try and help Dad. I’m sorry if you don’t understand it, or accept it, but I just had to. I know it isn’t what you want to hear, but you KNOW why I had to try.”
“So you think you were justified in worrying me, your mother, and Lex, just because you did end up saving Lex?”
There was more silence and then Jonathan said, “I am glad you were there to save Lex. More glad then I’m sure either one of you can realize, but it doesn’t change the fact that I told you not to.”
Clark nodded expecting this and said, “Yes sir.”
“And just because everything turned out okay doesn’t mean that things couldn’t have gone horribly wrong. What if Lex had gotten shot when you tried to attack Rick? What if you had gotten shot? There were lots of things that could have gone wrong, and you were lucky.”
Clark nodded to himself and Jonathan was quiet for the rest of the trip.

When they arrived home it was 8pm. Martha rushed out the front door to see them. Lex got out of the car first, and Martha gave him a crushing hug. She whispered, “Don’t you ever worry me like that again young man.”
Lex whispered back, “I’m so sorry.”
She pulled away and put both her hands on his face and said, “We love you Lex. You can’t put your life on the line like that again.”
Lex nodded and hugged her again as he felt himself getting choked up. He whispered, “I love you too.”
Martha hugged him tighter and then said, “Go on inside.”
Lex let her go and Martha looked over to Clark who was standing beside her waiting his turn. She pulled him into a hug and said, “I’m glad you’re home safe honey.”
Clark hugged her and said, “Sorry you had to wait alone Mom.”
Martha kissed the top of his head and said, “I know.”
The two boys went in and Jonathan and Martha held each other for a few seconds before following them. Martha asked Jonathan, “Have any of you had dinner?”
“Yeah. We ate at the hotel before coming home.”
“Did you get the full story?”
“Yes, and it isn’t pretty. I’ll tell you tonight once the boys are in bed.”
Martha nodded in understanding. She said, “I put the box in Clark’s room…..just in case you needed it tonight.”
Jonathan said, “Thank you sweetheart.”
Jonathan walked in to a spotless house that smelled faintly of cleaning products and he turned to Martha with some humor when he said, “Were you worried?”
Martha let out a short laugh and shrugged her shoulders. Jonathan noticed that both Lex and Clark were just standing there a few feet away from the front door. He took a deep breath and said, “Okay. Both of you go to your rooms right now.”
Neither one looked at the other as they went up the stairs with Clark in the lead. They were both wrapped up in their own thoughts, and dreading what was sure to happen. When Clark got to his room he noticed the little box that held the meteor rock on his nightstand and groaned thinking about how unhelpful his mother was.
Downstairs Jonathan looked at Martha and said, “You should go out to the barn and visit with the horses if you don’t want to hear.”
Martha nodded and said, “Get me when you’re done.”
Jonathan only waited a couple of minutes before going up to see Clark. Clark had left his door open, and Jonathan shut it on his way in. Clark was sitting on the edge of his bed and gave his dad a sorrowful look when he arrived. Jonathan sat next to Clark and put a hand on his knee as he said, “I’ve been thinking about what you did most of the ride home, and you know what I think?”
Clark shook his head no. Jonathan said, “I think because of your abilities, the older you get, the more you’re going to want to save people. And you know what else I think?”
Clark said, “No.”
“I think you’re too young to start now.”
Clark mumbled, “I did save him.”
Jonathan nodded and said, “Yes, you did, but there were a lot of variables, and something could have gone wrong. You seem to think that you’re invincible, but you aren’t, and your mother and I would be devastated if something happened to you.”
Clark didn’t say anything, and after a pause Jonathan said, “But it still comes down to I told you, in no uncertain terms, not to do it. And you disobeyed me.”
Clark nodded. Jonathan said, “Okay son, stand up.”
Clark stood and could feel himself start to tear up before it even started. Jonathan reached over and opened the box, and Clark grunted when he felt the effects of the meteor rock. Jonathan undid Clark’s pants and pulled him over his lap. He pulled the pants and underwear down together, and then he brought down his hand in the center of Clark’s butt with a loud smack. Clark yelped loudly. Jonathan kept spanking until the bottom in front of him was a uniform shade of dark pink. Clark was crying well before it was over. Jonathan knew that even though it hadn’t been more than twenty swats, it was the hardest spanking he had ever given Clark. He wanted to make an impression on Clark. He hoped that Clark was still young enough to believe that the world was full of absolutes instead of gray areas, and that this spanking would help him believe direct disobedience was always a bad idea, at least for the next few years.
When it was over, Jonathan rubbed Clark’s back in soothing circles, for a few seconds, and then pulled Clark’s underwear back up. He helped Clark to stand, and fix his pants before pulling Clark into a hug. He reached over with one hand and closed the box, while still keeping one arm around Clark. Clark continued to cry for quite a while. Jonathan didn’t say anything. He just kept holding Clark and letting him cry. When there were more sniffles, and less sobs Jonathan said, “No more running off to do something after I’ve told you no, right?”
Clark nodded and said, “I’m sorry.”
“I know, and you’re forgiven. Why don’t you go on into the bathroom and get ready for bed. I think an early bedtime will be good for tonight.”
Clark nodded again and let go of his dad to go brush his teeth.
Jonathan took a deep breath, and walked down the hall to Lex’s bedroom door, which was shut. Jonathan knocked, and went in when he heard a ‘Come in.’

Lex had been standing at the window looking out into the night sky while trying not to hear the obvious noises from down the hall. He felt a little responsible for it, since Clark had run off to look for him, but unlike last time he heard Clark getting spanked, he thought this time was justified. His stomach still twisted every time he pictured Clark standing next to Rick with the metal bar. He could see Rick shooting Clark, or at the very least knocking him unconscious. He understood that Jonathan was trying to keep Clark from running off on his own to keep him safe, but he still hated hearing it. Clark sounded very repentant after the first few swats, and Lex wanted Jonathan to stop long before he did.
Lex was very glad when the noises stopped, and he unknowingly stopped clenching his jaw. As the silence lengthened Lex started thinking less about Clark, and more about himself. Before he was ready for it, he heard a knock on the door. He reluctantly said, “Come in.”
Jonathan came in and shut the door behind him. Lex looked over his shoulder at Jonathan and then turned back to the window as he said, “It’s amazing how many more stars you can see out here than you can in the city.”
Jonathan walked up to the window and stood beside Lex to look out also. He said, “It’s a beautiful night.”
Lex nodded and sighed. He said, “So…..I guess it’s my turn?”
Jonathan put an arm around Lex’s shoulders and steered them both back towards the bed. Jonathan said, “You could have been killed today Lex. I don’t think you can even begin to understand how scared I was today.”
They both sat on the edge of Lex’s bed, and Lex said, “I think I have a pretty good idea. When I saw Clark standing there about to attack Rick, all I could think about was that Clark was going to get hurt, and how I couldn’t protect him. Did he tell you that I…..swatted him?”
Jonathan looked surprised and said, “No.”
“As soon as we got the handcuffs on Rick, I asked Clark to tell me how he got there, and what he thought was doing. Instead of answering, he turned to me and asked me what I was doing there. I got mad and swatted him a few times.”
Jonathan chuckled and said, “Sounds like what I would have done.”
After a few seconds of silence Jonathan said, “Okay Lex, let’s get it over with. Stand up, and undo your pants.”
Lex took a deep breath, and stood up. He was still wearing the suit pants and shirt from earlier in the day, and as soon as the pants were undone, they fell all the way to the floor. Jonathan quickly tugged Lex across his lap and yanked his underwear halfway down his legs. Lex quietly swore to himself, and Jonathan brought his hand down fifteen times to start things off. By the time that was done, Lex had gone from stoic to vocal. Jonathan paused and said, “Okay Lex, I want you to tell me why I’m spanking you.”
Lex took a couple of ragged breaths and said, “Because I lied to you and Mrs. Kent, and because I went to the warehouse.”
Jonathan gave Lex five swats and asked, “How many times do you think you lied to us over the past two weeks?”
“I…..I don’t know….a few.”
Jonathan said, “Last weekend you lied about what you went to see your father for.”
Lex nodded and said, “Yes.”
Jonathan started spanking even harder, and gave Lex five more swats. Lex yelled, “Owww.”
Jonathan said, “You had to lie to us at least a few times during the week to get your meeting all arranged.”
Lex was close to tears and quickly said, “Just once, I swear! Just the phone call I told you about on the way home.”
Jonathan gave Lex five more swats and said, “Okay, I believe you. But this morning also counts as a lie, because you didn’t tell us anything about your real plans for the day. I know I’ve told you more than once that not telling me about something, when you know I wouldn’t approve of it, is a lie in my book.”
Jonathan brought his hand down ten more times to express his disapproval. When he was done Lex was quietly crying. Jonathan paused again and said, “By going to meet someone in a deserted warehouse you put yourself in danger. That is completely unacceptable Lex.”
While Jonathan was talking he had unbuckled his belt, and now he took it off from around his waist. Lex heard the noise and looked back to see if it was what he thought it was. He could see Jonathan doubling the belt over in his hand, and Lex managed to get out, “Noooo. Please don’t!” before the first smack fell.
Jonathan gripped Lex tighter around the waist to make sure he wasn’t going anywhere, and continued to spank him. Lex struggled and yelled loudly with each spank. Jonathan stopped at ten, and set the belt down beside him on the bed. Lex was crying loudly, and Jonathan patted his back and said, “Okay, we’re done.”
Lex pushed himself up and pulled up his underwear before wiping his face with his hands. Jonathan stood and held onto Lex for a long time while he cried. Once he was quieter Jonathan said, “You know Lex, your dad has had shady business practices for…..well the rumors have been around since there has been a Luthorcorp. If you try to investigate every incident you hear about, two things are gonna happen. You’re going to make your father angry, and that will make him dangerous, and you’re going to end up in bad situations like today pretty often. You need to think about how important it is to you. Figure out what the truth is worth to you. You know that I think you and your well being is worth much more than finding out what bad things your father has done.”
Lex nodded into Jonathan’s chest. Jonathan let go and said, “I’m gonna go check on Clark and Martha. You get ready for bed.”
Jonathan left and walked back to Clark’s room. He knocked and walked in. The room was dark and Clark was in bed sitting up looking anxious. Jonathan went to the bed and sat next to Clark. He said, “Lay down kiddo, and try to get some sleep.”
“Is Lex okay?”
“He’s gonna be fine. Come on, lay down. It’s been a hard day, and I’m sure you’ll feel better in the morning.”
Clark lay down and said, “Night Dad.”
Jonathan kissed Clark’s forehead and said, “Love you.”
Jonathan got up took the little box with him, and shut the door on his way out. He went downstairs put the box away, and went outside to find Martha. He found her in the barn quietly talking to and petting one of the horses. Jonathan said, “It’s done.”
Martha went to him and hugged him. They walked back to the house holding hands. Martha said, “Everyone doing alright?”
Jonathan nodded and said, “I need to go check on Lex in a few minutes, but I think so.”
Martha said, “How about a quiet evening of snuggling in front of the TV?”
“Sounds wonderful.”
Martha went and sat on the couch, and Jonathan headed upstairs. He knocked on Lex’s door, and went in. He found him wearing pajamas and standing at the window again. Lex didn’t turn around as he said, “I’ve been thinking about what you said….you know, about my father.”
“I think you’re right. I shouldn’t get involved in any of his business dealings….at least for the next four years. Maybe when I work for him he’ll be more forthcoming about what he does.”
Jonathan walked over to Lex and said, “I think that’s a good plan. You should try and get some sleep. I think tomorrow since it’s Sunday, we’ll all go to the lake and spend the day just hanging out together.”
Lex turned to him and said, “Sounds like fun.”
Jonathan patted Lex’s shoulder and said, “Good night.”
Lex stood at the window for the next two hours and thought about things. He thought about the Kents, his father, the farm, school, his love life, and because of his throbbing backside his thoughts often strayed to what he had done to get himself spanked. Eventually, when he heard Jonathan and Martha going to bed, he also climbed in and lay on his side. He was both dreading and looking forward to going to school the following week.

The next day was one of the best Clark or Lex could remember. They both got to sleep in, and didn’t have to do any work on the farm since it was Sunday. Martha packed a huge lunch, and they all road in the truck out to the lake, with Clark and Lex riding in the back. It was a warm late Summer day, and they all enjoyed each other’s company. When they got home from the trip they found some packages on the front porch. Martha was the first to spot them and said, “That’s odd, are you expecting anything in the mail Jonathan?”
Lex turned to see what she was looking at and said, “Oh I had my staff deliver those.”
Lex said to Clark, “Help me bring them in.”
There were three packages all gift wrapped, and soon they were in on the kitchen table. Lex looked to Jonathan, knowing he would be the one to talk to about it. He said, “I know you probably aren’t going to approve Mr. Kent, but I really wanted to get each of you something.”
Jonathan opened his mouth to say something, but Lex held up a hand and said, “Please let me explain before you say anything.”
Jonathan nodded and Lex said, “I can’t tell you what it’s meant to me to be able to stay here with you this summer. I have had more happy times here than I have had since my young childhood.”
Lex paused to gather his thoughts and then said, “I think by staying here I have become more of a man than I would have been working for my father for years. You have shown me what it’s like to be part of a family, and that’s a feeling I haven’t had for so many years I almost forgot what it was like. I….well, I love you all, and I’m going to miss you when I’m away at school. I got these things for you, both to remember me by, and to say thanks for letting me into your family.”
Lex looked at Jonathan with pleading eyes, and Jonathan smiled and said, “Okay. As long as it’s nothing extravagant.”
Lex grinned and gave a large box to Clark. Clark bounced with excitement and said, “Thanks Lex.”
As Clark was opening his gift, Martha quietly went over to Lex and put her arm around his shoulders while they all watched Clark. Clark ripped off the paper and exclaimed, “NO WAY! That’s so awesome!”
Lex grinned almost as big as Clark did and said, “There are five games too.”
Jonathan gave Lex a look and said, “An x-box?”
Lex shrugged and said, “Summer’s over Mr. Kent.”
Jonathan laughed out loud and said, “That it is. Okay Clark, you can keep it.”
Clark said, “Cool. Let’s go plug it in. Do you have any of these games Lex? Can you show me how to set it up?”
Lex chuckled and said, “In a few minutes.”
Lex picked up the second box and handed it to Martha. He said, “I thought for a long time about what to get you….I knew you would probably want something practical….something you could use… a cookbook or something, but I saw this and just thought of you.”
Martha opened the small box and found heart shaped diamond stud earrings. She looked at them for a few seconds and said, “Oh Lex, they’re beautiful, but I…..”
Lex interrupted her and said, “I know you’re going to say something like they’re too expensive, or you don’t have anywhere to wear them, or they’re impractical for a farmer’s wife, but it would really make me happy for you to have them. You know the money means nothing to me, and when I saw them in the store, I thought about how I haven’t felt loved by anyone for years before I lived here. You make me feel like I matter, and that has saved me.”
Martha felt her eyes get watery, and said, “Well, I guess I could wear them to town sometimes. Thank you sweetie.”
She gave him a hug, and then put them on. He smiled and said, “They look good.”
He turned to Jonathan and handed him the last box. He smiled and said, “I almost bought you a new roof, but I didn’t think that would go over well, so you get this instead.”
Jonathan opened the box and saw a book of tickets. He looked closer and said, “Season tickets?”
“Well, I know you like football, and Metropolis isn’t that far away. And anyway, this will be an excuse for all of us to hang out together sometimes….if Mrs. Kent can stand it that is.”
Jonathan smiled and said, “It’s perfect Lex. Thanks. And I expect you to show up and spend some time with us at each of these games.”
Lex smiled and said, “I’ve never been much of a football fan, so you’ll have to explain the finer points of the game to me.”
Jonathan said, “You don’t know about football, and we’ve spent all summer wasting time working on the farm? That’s just wrong.”
Lex laughed and said, “I’d be happy to skip out of work next week.”
“Hmmm….nice try, but no.”
Clark had completely lost all patients and tugged at Lex’s arm as he said, “Pleeeeease show me how to set it up. Please.”
Lex went over to set up the game.

The next week went by fast, and before anyone was ready for it to be Friday, the day arrived. It started out fairly normal with chores and breakfast, but when breakfast was done, Jonathan said, “I guess you should pack up your stuff Lex. We need to get you back to the mansion today.”
Lex nodded and went upstairs. He stood in his room and looked around. He knew he was going to miss it. Ten minutes later he had his suitcase open on the bed with one pair of pants in it, and he was standing there staring at it. Martha quietly knocked on the door frame and walked into the room. She said, “Now why doesn’t it surprise me that you can’t pack. None of my guys can pack.”
She opened the top dresser drawer and handed Lex a shirt. She said, “Here. I’ll help.”
Lex nodded and they packed up his stuff together. When they were done Martha said, “That’s all of it. Carry that down and put it in the truck for me please.”
Lex got the suitcase and put it in the truck. Clark and Jonathan had been standing around on the front porch just waiting. Jonathan said, “Okay, come on Clark, let’s go.”
Jonathan and Clark got in the truck and Lex turned to Martha and said, “You sure you don’t want to come with us?”
Martha shook her head and said, “No. I don’t want you or Clark to have to ride in the back, and…..I’m just going to break down and cry anyway, and none of the people who work for you need to see that.”
Lex went to her and pulled her into a hug. She hugged him tightly and said, “I love you Lex. I’m so glad you stayed with us this summer, and I expect to see you often over the next four years, and even beyond that.”
Lex said, “I love you, and I promise to see you soon. Thank you for letting me stay.”
Martha patted his back and said, “I think you mean making you stay.”
Lex let her go and gave her a grin through blurry eyes and said, “I guess that’s true.”
Martha put a hand on his cheek and said, “I’ll miss you.”
Lex said, “Me too.”
He turned and walked to the truck and got in. Martha stood on the porch and watched them drive away.

The way back to the mansion was filled with a depressed silence.
They arrived and Lex looked up at the big house. He said quietly, “It doesn’t feel much like home.”
Jonathan said, “You’ll always be welcome home with us Lex.”
Lex smiled and said, “That means a lot to me.”
Jonathan got out and lifted the suitcase out of the truck. Lex said, “Come on in and I’ll show you around.”
Jonathan and Clark took a short tour of the mansion, and Clark lingered over Lex’s x-box games. He cajoled Jonathan into letting him borrow three. Once they were done Jonathan said, “We should get home.”
Lex nodded and said, “I’ll walk you out.”
Once they got to the car Clark tossed the games in the truck and then turned to Lex and gave him a hug around the middle. Lex hugged him back and said, “I’m gonna miss you.”
Clark said, “Me too.”
Lex let go and bent down a little so that he could be eye to eye with Clark when he said, “My younger brother died when I was a young boy. I always used to wonder what it would be like if he were around. Now I know.”
Clark smiled and said, “Brothers? That sounds right.”
Lex mussed Clark’s hair and then turned to Jonathan. Jonathan gave Lex a tight hug and said, “Just because you’re going to be thousands of miles away doesn’t mean that you aren’t part of the family.”
Lex nodded and Jonathan let him go. Jonathan said, “When you get to school call us and give us your number, and when you get registered for school call us and let us know what classes you have.”
“And remember our agreement. You aren’t going to be out partying every night, you’re going to be studying right?”
“Yes Sir.”
“Good. And you know you can call us any time day or night if you have any kind of problem, or just to talk if you need to.”
Lex got a small smile and said, “Yes Mr. Kent.”
“And if your father starts getting to you, don’t do anything I wouldn’t approve of. Remember that he doesn’t have any control over your actions, and if you’re thinking about doing something that you know isn’t right, just call us and talk to us about it.”
Lex smiled even bigger and chuckled a little when he said, “Don’t worry so much Mr. Kent. You did a good job of reminding me that I know the difference between right and wrong, and I know you expect me to prove it to you. And I will.”
Jonathan smiled a wry smile and said, “I believe you will Lex. I’ll talk to you soon.”
Jonathan got in the truck and Lex waved goodbye as they drove away.