A Visit Home
Lex stopped at the screen door of the Kent's back porch and called a soft, "Hello".
He saw Martha turn and send a smile in his direction. "Lex come on in honey, how nice to see you."
He walked into the always cozy and warm kitchen closing the door behind him. No matter how many times he walked through that door it never stopped feeling as if he belonged here in this house and with these people. It felt like coming home.
As Martha walked towards him with arms open in her usual welcoming embrace he got a good look at her. He immediately noticed that her beautiful green eyes were swollen from what he could only guess to be crying. He could also see the ravages of tears on her fair red heads complexion. He returned her loving hug and glanced at Jonathon.
Jonathon Kent was standing in front of the sink. His legs were crossed at the ankle and his muscular arms were crossed in front of his chest. Looking at his face Lex could see that his jaw was set in a fierce determination that he remembered well from the summer that he lived with the Kent family when he was eighteen.
"Mom, are you all right?" Lex asked with genuine concern.
He had started calling Martha 'Mom' after he had spent the summer with them and it just felt right, both then and now. While he knew Lillian was his true mother, Martha's love and devotion to him was that of a mother to a son. And truth be told he loved her as much as she loved him.
Martha's response to his question was to pull out of the circle of his arms and look down at the floor. A sense of dread filled every fiber of Lex's being. Once again his gaze fell on Jonathon and the rigid look on his face. It occurred to him that he may have just walked into the middle of an argument. The Kent's rarely fought but they were human and it did occasionally happen. But if they were arguing where was Clark?
Then a terrible thought struck Lex. "Clark is okay isn't he Mom?"
Her answer of, 'yes of course he's okay' was made suspicious by the fact that she exchanged glances immediately with Jonathon. Lex didn't doubt what Mom had said was true but he still felt that there was something going on that he didn't know about and so he walked over to where Jonathon was standing and looked into his eyes.
"Pop, is something wrong?"
Jonathon reached out and put a re-assuring hand on Lex's shoulder. "No everything is all right it's just that
And as Jonathon paused suddenly Lex felt a sense of recognition. It was as if something within him had clicked and he just knew. Martha and the tears and Jonathon with his jaw tight with frustration. It all felt amazingly familiar, both from seeing Clark in this position before and also from being in this position himself before. Before Jonathon could continue with his answer Lex answered his own question. "He's gotten himself into trouble again hasn't he?"
Jonathon valued the truth too much to lie so he merely nodded. "Has he already been punished?"
Martha answered with a sorrowful, "Yes."
It was as if she was the one who had been reprimanded instead of Clark. Jonathon walked over to where Martha stood and wrapped her in a large hug. "You know it was for his own good."
Her returned, "I know" didn't sound as if she believed it.
Jonathon continued to hold her in a loving hug. As always Lex was amazed that when Clark needed to be punished his parents took it as hard as Clark did. But Lex could remember very well being in Clark's large shoes. Many times while living in the Kent household he had been punished. He knew even then that both Jonathon and Martha disliked doling out punishment, using it only as a last resort. And he also knew that if it had been left up to Martha alone she would have just forgiven and forgotten everything without any reprimand.
But as in most households Jonathon was the disciplinarian and though he was tough there was always love and forgiveness at the end of the day. Lex was pretty sure that if it hadn't been for Pop's stern hand his life would be in a totally different place today. In fact he was absolutely positive, and very grateful about that.
Looking to Jonathon Lex asked "Can I go and talk to him at least?"
Jonathon smiled at the person that he truly thought of as his second son. "Why don't you trust us when we say that he's okay?"
Lex smiled back at Jonathon knowing that he was the most trustworthy person that he had ever known. Jonathon hesitated for just a moment and gave Lex a quick nod not really needing an answer to his question. Lex headed for the staircase, taking the stairs two at a time.
His haste to see Clark might have surprised someone else but Martha knew for a fact just how close those two were. The summer that Lex had lived with them had changed them all. They had become a family and Clark and Lex had formed a real bond that only continued to deepen with the passage of time. They were now like brothers in every way.
This pleased both Martha and Jonathon greatly. Jonathon because he knew that long after he and Martha were gone Lex and Clark would still hold on to a part of their family in each other. And it pleased Martha because the two young men that she loved more that anyone or anything also cared deeply for each other.
So knowing this it came as no great surprise that Lex was so protective of Clark. He had gotten himself into hot water many times over the years by telling Jonathon that he had done things that had actually been Clarks doing. And more than once Jonathon had punished not only Clark, but Lex as well. Clark for doing the deed and Lex for lying to take the blame and protect Clark.
Lex knocked on the door to Clark's room and heard him softly reply, "Come in."
He was standing at the window with his back to the door looking up at the sky when Lex entered the room. Upon hearing his footsteps Clark said in a soft voice, "I'm sorry Dad I promise I won't ever do it again."
Lex immediately felt sorry for Clark. He could hear the tears and tremor in his voice. "I hope not you big pain in the
Lex didn't even finish his sentence before Clark whirled around to face him. The grin on Lex's face froze when he saw Clark. 'Jesus,' he thought, 'he looks even worse than Mom and Pop.'
His gaze took in the face stained with tears, the swollen eyes and the absence of the trademark Clark Kent grin. Instantly Lex's big brother instinct kicked in and without so much as a word he opened up his arms to grab Clark in an embrace. Clark responded by stepping into Lex's hug and resting his head on Lex's shoulder while his cried again. And Lex hadn't seen Clark cry for a very long time. Lex did the best job of comforting Clark that he could.
After a few minutes Clark pulled away to look at Lex. "What are you doing here Lex?" he asked in a quiet voice.
Lex shook his head. "Oh no little bro- you first. What in the hell did you do to get into this much trouble?"
Clark didn't answer the question and walked back to the window. Lex knew immediately that what ever Clark had done was going to make him angry as well. Otherwise Clark would have just told him when he asked the question. And then he knew. Lex thought to himself that if he were right that he was going to let Clark have it too. "Let me guess-you went out and did something dangerous again right?" he prodded.
Clark just nodded his head and waited until Lex finished swearing. "How many times do you have to be taught this particular lesson Clark? Do you have a death wish?"
Clark raised his eyes to look at Lex and not feeling particularly sorry for him Lex continued. "Or do you just enjoy the attention from Pop that getting into trouble gets you?"
Lex could see that he had really struck a nerve with his last remark. And while he knew that it was a low blow he still was very upset with both Clark and his choices. Clark took a step towards Lex and he could see the tears shining in his eyes again. "Yea Lex, I love it. - 'You will not put your life in danger.' whack, whack, whack. 'You will not do dangerous things.' whack, whack, whack. 'And most of all we will not allow you to hurt yourself.' whack, whack, whack. - And that was just the special attraction part of the whole thing. That was on top of the regular whacks."
Lex had guessed that Pop had been tough on Clark both by the way Clark looked and by the way Mom and Pop had been. But even knowing this he was still surprised that Clark had been punished so harshly. He could have just kicked himself for his earlier comments. But Lex also knew that this was not the first spanking that Clark had received for this same thing and not even the second. And Lex was living proof of Pop's tenacity. He had refused to give up on Lex no matter what he had thrown at him. And Lex knew that he would continue to do what ever it took to keep Clark safe as well.
Lex walked the few steps to where Clark stood looking mournful. "Ouch, huh?"
Fat tears rolled down Clark's face. "Yeah" he replied.
Lex threw an arm around Clark's broad shoulders. "I'm sorry little bro."
Clark replied with another "Yeah."
"But you got the message right? No more crazy stunts, no more danger?"
Clark shook his head no.
"Good." Lex replied smiling finally and trying to lighten the mood.
"At least you didn't get it bare." As soon as Lex said it he looked to Clark who dropped his head and didn't say a word.
"You didn't, did you?" Lex asked in a shocked voice. What seemed to Lex like at least a full minute passed with still no answer from the teen.
Finally Clark lifted his head up to look at Lex with eyes that were filled with tears. "Yes I did."
Lex's jaw dropped in surprise, and Lex was not often surprised. While Jonathon had used that particular tactic with Lex on several occasions he knew that Clark had never been punished like that. Or at least never before today.
Lex turned his gaze away and felt sick to his stomach. He remembered vividly the times that Pop had punished him like that. What he remembered the most was the pain. It had felt as if his ass was on fire. All he could do was cry and feel, and each time he swore to never repeat the choice which had earned him the punishment in the first place.
"Shit Clark" was all that Lex could say and again Clark felt himself being pulled into another big brothers hug.
"It hurt so bad Lex."
"I know" Lex replied.
Clark continued to tell Lex about how embarrassing it had been, and how helpless he had felt and how disappointed Dad had been. Lex just held onto the boy and occasionally patted him on the back. All the while telling him that it was okay and that it was all over now and anything of comfort that he could think of to say.
Finally it seemed as if Clark was getting calmer and Lex suggested to Clark that he might feel better if he would lie down for a while. Clark agreed to do so because suddenly he felt very tired. The events and emotions of the day had simply worn him out. He stretched out on his bed and Lex sat in the chair next to the bed with his hand on Clark's shoulder and waited and watched until Clark dozed off.
Lex stood up and went back down to the kitchen where Martha was busy preparing dinner. As he entered the room she looked up worry still evident in her face. "How is Clark feeling Lex?" she asked with a concern filled voice.
"He's feeling punished, that's how he's feeling" Lex replied none to kindly. Lex could see from Pop's expression that he didn't care much for Lex's tone with Martha.
Jonathon walked over to where Lex was standing. "That's how he's supposed to be feeling Lex, he was punished."
Part of Lex knew better than to go where this conversation was heading but his ignored the little voice telling him that this was not a good idea. "Yes well you certainly made sure it was something that he won't forget soon- or ever. Didn't you?"
Jonathon could hear the emotion in Lex's voice and he understood it, but still he could not tolerate it. "Lex I can see that you're upset with me. But I am Clark's father and I decide what is necessary in the way of punishment- not you. Punishment isn't supposed to be pleasant son."
Martha not quite understanding what Lex was so upset about walked over to where Lex and Jonathon were standing. "Clark has been spanked before Lex, you know that."
Lex turned to her and in a disgusted voice said "Yea but this time he made sure that it was worse."
Jonathon looked from Martha's confused face to Lex's angry one. "I only did what I needed to do to make Clark understand, and I've heard about enough out of you Lex on this subject and in that tone of voice."
Martha sensing the obvious tension between her husband and Lex stepped in between her two angry men. "What is Lex talking about Jonathon?"
" Lex started to answer but was stopped by an angry glare from Jonathon. Even though Lex was still upset even he knew better than to ignore that look.
"Alexander I suggest you sit down over there and cool off. Then you and I are going to have a serious discussion about respect and your lack of it." Lex was not happy about it but he did as he was told.
Jonathon then turned to his wife. "Martha you are not going to be happy about this but I was about to tell you anyway when Lex came in."
She sent a confused look in his direction. "Tell me what, Jonathon?" she asked.
"When I spanked Clark it was with his jeans down." Martha dropped her head into her hands and began to cry softly.
"You know that I have punished him several times for this same thing. I couldn't take the chance that next week, next month or whenever that he would go right back out and do the same thing again. I had to be harder with him this time. I didn't want to do it but clearly I had no choice."
Jonathon grabbed his still crying wife in a tight hug.
"Is he okay?" she asked in between tears.
"He was one unhappy and sorry young man, but basically he was fine. And as Lex knows I always spend a little time after hugging and forgiving. So it isn't exactly as abusive as Lex has made it sound."
"Did he cry?" Martha asked.
"Clarks a sensitive person Martha I've never punished him when he didn't cry. It's sort of a part of the process."
Martha didn't look to far from tears again herself and she turned around so that she was looking into Lex's eyes. "Was he really okay Lex?"
Lex noticed that Jonathon was now looking at him as well. "Yes Lex tell us honestly how Clark was doing. Did you get the impression that he was planning on running away again? Or maybe reporting his abusive father to the police?"
Neither Martha nor Lex missed the sarcasm in the farmer's comments. Lex knowing that he was on thin ice looked down at his hands before replying in sullen tone. "No, he was
upset and sorry but he was all right."
Jonathon turned to Martha and nodded his head as if to indicate that what he had just said was the truth. And then he turned an angry look towards Lex who had a pretty good idea of just how much trouble he undeniably was in. Suddenly he was dreading the conversation that he knew they would be having. Lex fought back a smile thinking about how he was now a full grown man but still felt like a little boy in this house.
Jonathon didn't miss the smile that Lex was fighting and jumped to the wrong conclusion. "Do you find all this to be funny Lex? Because I'm thinking that Clark getting into trouble and being punished and then your smart ass attitude is really not any thing to laugh about. Or I am wrong about that?"
Lex was uncomfortable to find Jonathon now standing directly in front of him and he was wishing that he had listened to the little voice which told him to just shut up when this all started. "No Sir, I don't find any of this funny at all."
"Good because we still need to get a few things straight between us son."
Martha again stepped in between Jonathon and Lex and placed her hands on Jon's chest. "Honey why don't you go up and check on Clark again and then go back out to the barn to finish up. I would like to have a little talk with Lex."
Jonathon looked surprised but did as she asked. Lex let out a sigh of relief as he would much rather be lectured by Mom than by Pop. Jonathon slowly climbed the stairs to Clark's room and Martha turned back towards Lex. Looking into her face and being a pretty good judge of people Lex suddenly wondered if he wouldn't have been better off taking his chances with Pop. He could tell by the flush on her cheeks that she was angry and he found that to be a surprise.
Martha took a deep breath before she started with Lex giving herself an opportunity to calm down. "Lex I know that you and Clark are like brothers and I also know that you feel very protective towards him as a result of that."
Lex merely nodded at that knowing that it was the truth. "But you must know that his father and I love him and only want the best for him."
Unsure of where this was headed Lex nodded again. "And you have to know that we feel the same way about you too."
Lex allowed himself to relax and smile; this was the Mom he was familiar with. Always kind, loving and gentle Mom. "You of all people know what a good father Jonathon is because he has been a father to you since you first stayed with us- isn't that correct?"
This question was answered with an affirmative nod from Lex. "Isn't it true that on several occasions you have actually lied to attempt to get Clark out of being punished, and have ended up being punished yourself as well.?"
Lex swallowed hard at those memories but again said, "Yes."
"And didn't that teach you that you need to stay out of the relationship between Jonathon and Clark, just as Clark needs to stay out of the relationship between you and Jon?"
Lex was becoming nervous again because he still didn't know just where Martha was headed with this lecture. And she still looked very unhappy with him. "I didn't hear an answer Lex."
Lex was startled out of his thoughts and replied "Yes Ma'am."
Martha walked over to the table and pulled out a chair next to Lex and sat down. She reached over and grasped Lex's hand with her own. "You were very disrespectful to Jonathon today. You implied that he was happy about punishing Clark and that he was much harder on him than he had to be. Punishing either of you is always difficult for him, and he didn't deserve your attitude or disrespect today. At the very least he deserves an apology from you."
Lex responded to her statement by squeezing her hand and using his best little boy voice, he even used the sad eyes that she usually could not resist. "I'm sorry Mom."
Much to his surprise she replied in a very serious voice "I don't need you to be sorry Lex, I need you to make better choices next time."
Lex had never been chastised by Martha before and he honestly meant it when he replied "Yes Ma'am."
Martha let go of Lex's hand and stood up in front of him crossing her arms. He knew just from looking at her that the matter wasn't finished yet. And he was again surprised to find that he genuinely felt bad about the fact that she was so disappointed in him. How she felt about him mattered greatly. And although she had only been in his life since he was eighteen years old she held a very special place in his heart. She was his soft place to fall and he would do whatever it took to assure that she didn't stay upset with him.
As if she knew what he was thinking she fixed him with a direct look. "I love you Lex but
" Lex was uncomfortable to find that he was actually holding his breath. "I'm going to make you a promise son- maybe it will help you make better choices next time. If I ever hear you being disrespectful and hateful to Jonathon again I will punish you."
Lex thought that perhaps he had heard her incorrectly. "Excuse me Mom?"
She shook her head at the astonished look on his face. "You heard me Lex I will punish you, not Jonathon. I will take that big wooden spoon that I use to mix your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough with and bend you over this table and use it to blister your behind. And sweetheart, I don't care if you're twenty two or twenty five or thirty five. Do I make myself perfectly clear Alexander?"
For just a moment Lex couldn't believe what he had just heard and then he looked up to see Pop standing in the hallway with an identical dumbfounded look on his face. Jonathon had obviously also heard what Martha just told Lex and his blue eyes were wide with amazement. "Well young man do you understand what I just said?"
Lex had to actually close his mouth to reply "Yes Ma'am".
Martha stood up and wrapped him in a typical Mom hug and he noticed Jonathon going out the front door to the barn. Lex still couldn't get his mind around the fact that she had just threatened to paddle him. And she didn't seem to care that he was a full grown adult either. She was the kindest, most loving individual he had ever known and he also knew that she was dead serious. While he knew that he had indeed stepped over the line with Pop he also knew that he needed to make amends and fast. He couldn't bear the thought that she might still be angry with him, much less still thinking about punishing him.
He pulled out of the hug and looked down at his feet sincerely repentant. "I am honestly so sorry that I behaved that way towards Pop. I will go out and apologize right now and make a promise not to ever do it again. I will also stay out of it when Clark gets into trouble."
He hesitated and Martha could tell he was having difficulty getting the next sentence out. "But do you forgive me, because I need
Before he could even finish his thought Martha had him in another hug and he was astounded to find himself in tears. So much for the full grown adult thing he thought ruefully. "Lex I forgive you and love you always. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. You know that you and Clark and Jonathon are the most important things in my life. Just because I need to act like a parent on occasion doesn't change the way I feel about you son."
Instead of helping stop the tears her answer just made him feel like crying all the more. As if she sensed this she continued to hold onto him that much tighter. Lex Luthor had not had much love and acceptance in his life and he truly cherished the way the Clark and his parents loved him. He knew in his heart of hearts that he would do just about anything to continue to have their love and acceptance.
He pulled away from her and got a grip on his emotions. "I'll just go out and talk to Pop now and apologize."
Martha nodded her head and gave him a little push in that direction. "That would be just great Lex. I'll just put the finishing touches on dinner then. I appreciate you're being reasonable about this."
Lex looked at her from the doorway and said, "It isn't as if I have a choice."
She rewarded him with a beautiful smile and said, "No Lex it really isn't."
Lex walked out the door and shook his head feeling as if he was having some sort of hallucination. He walked into the barn where Pop was working on the tractor. Jonathon stopped what he was doing and looked up as Lex approached. Lex could have sworn that he was fighting back a smile. "Could I talk to you for a minute please?"
Jonathon nodded yes and Lex suddenly felt emotional again. "I would just like to apologize for what I said and the way that I said it. When I see Clark that upset it just
well good sense goes out the door. I didn't mean to be disrespectful and I hope that you can forgive
Lex stopped again as much to his surprise he felt near tears again. He fought the tears as he continued. "I know that you wouldn't punish Clark or me for that matter if you didn't have too. I also know that you get no joy from it, and what I said in the kitchen was uncalled for."
Jonathon nodded his head and put a hand on his shoulder. "Thank you Lex, I know that you love Clark and feel very protective towards him and I am so glad that he has you. I also know that when he needs to be punished that it is hard for you too. Handing out punishment for either of you boys is not easy for me but I do it because the kind of men you turn out to be matters greatly to me."
Lex then felt himself being pulled into a warm hug and he actually felt tears spill down his cheeks. His own father could care less what kind of a human being he had turned into. But Mom and Pop believed the best of him and honestly loved him no matter what. That made him even more ashamed of his outburst in the kitchen.
Jonathon released his hold on the boy and when he pulled back Lex noticed a rather large smile on his face. Lex couldn't help but smile back and soon they both began to laugh. "I guess I'll just put this afternoon in the category of things I thought I'd never see. My loving wife actually threatened to blister your behind and with a wooden spoon, no less."
Lex nodded his head in agreement. "And she absolutely meant it too. I swear I will never, ever be disrespectful to you again. If all that wasn't bad enough she put an indefinite time limit on it too."
Jonathon smiled again. "After all these years I thought I had a pretty good idea what was going on in her mind. Apparently I didn't have a clue."
Lex became quiet for a moment as if in deep thought. He spoke in a soft voice. "I'm also sorry about getting angry about Clark. He was just so upset and sad and I was going totally on emotion. I realize that you are fair about punishments and every thing else for that matter. Even though we have both had many a lesson given via the seat of our pants, you have been a very loving and kind father. And we should both be thanking you. There aren't too many parents out there like you and Mom."
Jonathon was honestly touched by Lex's words and found himself fighting tears that threatened to fall. He felt as if he and Martha had been given an amazing gift when they had found Clark. And as impossible as it seemed the same connection had happened when Lex had come to them. And even though Lex often had a different way of expressing himself Jonathon knew that he meant every word that he had said.
Lex felt himself being pulled into a large hug again and he could see tears in Jonathon's eyes when they pulled apart. "So I didn't even get to ask you if you stopped by for some special reason or if you just needed some of Mom's cooking."
Lex laughed. "Well yes on the cooking, and actually I wanted to tell you that I got football tickets for you, me and little brother. If he can stay out of trouble long enough to go with us."
He handed Jonathon the tickets. "Wow Lex these are great seats for next Saturday."
Lex nodded "I thought maybe we could make a day of it with dinner and all that. And now I'm thinking a shopping trip too."
Jonathon looked at him with a puzzled expression on his face. "Shopping?"
"Yes I'm thinking that if I buy Mom one of those fancy machines that mix cookie dough maybe we could talk her into getting rid of the wooden spoons."
Jonathon threw back his head and laughed at Lex who was looking as if he didn't find it all that entertaining. "It was just a suggestion."
"I've loved and lived with that woman most of my adult life, and if she has made up her mind, that is that."
Lex leaned against one of the support beams in the barn. "I was afraid of that."
"Well just be glad that you aren't still going through that smart assed teenage stage that you were going through the first summer."
"I wasn't smart assed - just opinionated. You don't think she would smack me for having an opinion do you?" Lex wasn't re-assured by Pop's hearty laugh.
"Come on let's go back inside and see how Clark is doing." Jonathon threw his arm around the shoulders of the man he considered to be his son and they did just that.
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