Authors Note: This story is an Alternate Universe of Smallville the TV show. In my story Clark and Lex meet much earlier in life when Clark is 12, and Lex is 18. Written - March 8, 2004. (Revised September 2009)
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, and I am not making any money from these stories.
Warning: Non consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult by a parental figure.



Friendship Chapter 2


Jonathan muttered to himself the whole way to the barn. He couldn't believe how fast his whole summer was shot. He loved Martha, and most of the time she let him run their lives, but not always, and he accepted it as part of what he loved about her. But he was not looking forward to the next two and a half months. When he got to the barn he heard Clark telling Lex about the horses and their names, and how to take care of them. Jonathan came in and said, "All done Clark?"

"Yes Sir."

"Good. Your mom wants to talk to all of us in the house."

As they walked back to the house Lex thought about it, but couldn't guess what they were going to talk about. Soon they were all sitting at the empty kitchen table. Martha said, "Well Lex, we've talked to your father and made an agreement. Jonathan and I would like it very much if you would stay here and help us out on the farm for the summer."

For a few minutes, Lex was laughing too hard to talk. Eventually he was able to ask, "How much did he pay you to say that?"

"Nothing,"

"I don't get it."

"Well, we wanted some assurance that you weren't going to go out drinking and driving tomorrow, and your father didn't want us to call the police. He appears to be too busy with his work to keep an eye on you, so we thought we'd help him out, and at the same time you could help us," said Martha.

With a look or horror on his face, Lex muttered; "Dad finally found a way to put me in prison without the press finding out."

Wanting him to see the situation in a better light, she asked, "If we'd called the police when we found you, instead of taking you into our house, where do you think you'd be?"

"At home listening to my father rant about the money he just wasted."

Jonathan and Martha exchanged a look. Jonathan said, "Your father is going to have someone bring over some clothes for you today or tomorrow."

With a big grin Clark said, "This will be awesome. We can have lots of fun Lex! I can show you how to do all the stuff here, and you…."

Jonathan interrupted, "Now son, it won't all be fun. I'm expecting Lex to work as hard as you and me. Don't think this is an excuse to get out of your chores."

"I know Dad. Honest."

Feeling like he had to wake up from this nightmare he was in, Lex shook his head and said, "You're talking about this like it's been decided already. Like I'm going to agree to this."

"It has been decided son." Jonathan said. "You can relax today, but tomorrow we'll start you on a routine."

Lex stood up, not sure if he was going to yell or run, but Martha started talking before he could do either. "I think Lex needs some time to absorb all this new information. Jonathan, why don't you and Clark go out and do something else, while Lex helps me in the house today."

Happy to let Martha deal with the boy, Jonathan stood and walked out. Clark was more reluctant, but after getting a look from his mother, he headed out the door to see where his dad was going.

Martha said, "Let me show you around the house Lex. You'll be staying in the spare bedroom. It's right across the hall from Clark's room, and our room is down the hall."

Lex felt like this was all a dream, but found himself following her anyway. The tour didn't take long, and soon he'd seen the entire house.

Martha wondered if Lex was in some kind of shock, because he was just following her around and nodding as she gave him general information about the farm. When they got back down to the kitchen she said, "That's it for the house. You're welcome to come get snacks for yourself whenever you want. You're expected to rinse your dishes and put them in the sink. Is there anything you're allergic to? Anything you hate to eat?"

"No."

She touched his arm and said, "Are you okay?"

Jumping at the touch, Lex answered, "I don't know."

"You can talk to me anytime, about anything, and I'll always listen to you."

More confused then he had before, he said, "Okay."

Lex went through the day in a daze, not understanding why he wasn't arguing about the situation, or why he was being so docile. Martha showed him how the dishwasher worked, and how the washer and dryer worked before it was time to start making dinner. She kept up enough conversation for the both of them talking about the routines on the farm, and about what she was doing so he could pick it up quickly. She decided to have him help her make dinner. She explained they would be having fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Then she went to the pantry to get the potatoes and beans, and when she came back, she was more than shocked to see Lex cleaning, and cutting up the chicken to fry. Lex could tell that she was surprised, and he mumbled, "Cooking classes."

"Well that's wonderful Lex. You can be a big help to me in the kitchen. Jonathan and Clark are lost when it comes to fending for themselves in here."

Hearing that statement made Lex felt good for the first time that day.

During dinner, Martha told them that Lex had helped cook dinner. Clark said, "You can cook? I can't cook at all."

"That's because you've never tried to learn," said Martha.

"Yeah, that's true," Clark said with a grin.

They were just finishing up dinner when there was a knock at the door. Jonathan got up to see who it was, but didn't recognize the man. "Can I help you?"

"I'm here to drop off things for Mr. Luther."

Jonathan nodded and said, "Hey Lex, let's look through the clothes your father sent to see if there's anything you can actually work in."

Lex got up and went outside with Jonathan. Jonathan had to roll his eyes when he saw five suitcases sitting on the driveway next to a limo. Lex picked one up to take it to the house, but Jonathan stopped him. "You can't keep all this. It won't even fit in your room, and you're only going to be here for a couple of months. Let's look through them, and then we'll send some back with…. I'm sorry what was your name?"

The man said, "James sir."

"We'll send some back with James."

Seeing the sense in that, Lex nodded. They took all the suitcases into the living room with the help of James, and Martha helped Lex go through the clothes to pick out things that would be appropriate for working on the farm. When they were done, he didn't have that many clothes to keep. Most of his clothes were not meant to be worn while doing physical labor. The last suitcase was full of other things. It had Lex's toothbrush, shampoo, and other toiletries. It had a few books and the picture of his mother that had been on his nightstand. It also had his X-box with quite a few games. Clark had been watching everything quietly until he saw that. He jumped up from the couch and said, "Wow! You have an X-Box! That is so cool! I can't believe you have one!"

Lex shrugged. "It's pretty fun. I'll show you some games tonight if you want."

Martha and Jonathan looked at each other. Jonathan gave a slight shake of his head, and Martha sighed before she said, "I'm sorry Lex, but the X-Box has to go back."

Not understanding, Lex said, "I'm sure I can make it work, even if your TV is pretty old."

"Pleeease Mom. Please let us keep it here," Clark begged.

"No," said Jonathan.

Clark's face fell, and he wanted to cry. Lex asked, "Is there a problem?"

Nodding, Jonathan answered, "I don't want Clark, or you, playing video games all summer. You can find other things to do, or I can find things for you to do."

Frustrated and angry, Clark yelled, "That sucks! It isn't even like we have to pay for it! It's already here, and you won't let us keep it. You just don't want me to have a good summer!"

Jonathan bent down so his face was close to Clark's, and said in a quiet voice, "Should we go into detail with Lex about why you can't have one this summer? Have you forgotten yesterday so soon?"

Close to tears, Clark said, "No, but it's not the same. It's here and…. and I want to keep it."

"No Clark."

Clark yelled, "FINE!" before running to his room and slamming the door.

Lex was watching all of this and trying to make sense of it. He wasn't sure if he felt like trying to argue about it or not. He didn't like the thought of not having any video games to play when he was bored, but he'd played them all so often it wasn't all that exciting for him either. He didn't want to get in the middle of things with Jonathan, so he put it back in the suitcase without another word. He didn't expect to be staying with the Kents for more than a day or two anyway.

Martha said to her husband, "I'll go."

He nodded, and started to help Lex zip up the four suitcases that they weren't going to keep.

Martha walked up to her son's room and knocked on the door. Getting no response, Martha went in anyway. Clark was sitting on the bed with his arms crossed, glaring at his mother. She said, "I'm sorry that you're angry about our decision Clark, but that's not an excuse to yell or slam doors in this house. Do you need to spend the rest of the night in your room to remember that, or can you be pleasant?"

Clark wanted to yell at his mom. He wanted to tell her how unfair the whole situation was, but he also wanted to spend time with Lex. "I don't need to stay in my room."

Not quite trusting that answer, she crossed her arms and said, "You're gonna have to do better than that. You need to go apologize to your father for yelling and slamming the door. If you don't want to apologize, then you can just stay here."

Glaring at his bed spread, he didn't respond. Martha said, "Okay, it's your choice. If you change your mind, you can come downstairs with us."

She walked out and shut the door behind her. As she was walking down the stairs, Lex was walking up with his suitcase. She smiled and said, "I wanted to thank you for not making a big deal about the video games. Clark has been really wanting one, but he made some bad choices about it, and now Jonathan and I have decided he can't have one this summer."

"Um… Okay."

She patted his shoulder and said, "Once you're done unpacking, come back down to have some desert, and talk about tomorrow with us."

While Lex unpacked, he thought about how strange his day had been. He wasn't quite sure why he hadn't just walked out and headed for home. He stood and thought about it for a while, and realized there was really no reason to go home. There was no one waiting for him, and there was nothing at home that he was attached to. The only reason to go home was to get away from the Kents, and he didn't think it had been too bad to stay with them so far. The more he thought about it, the more he thought it might be okay to spend a few days learning what it was like to be on a farm. He'd always enjoyed horses, and could ride fairly well. As long as Jonathan didn't try to get too bossy with him, he was sure he could last a week, or maybe even two before he had to get away.

Once he was done unpacking he went downstairs, and Jonathan motioned for him to come and sit on the couch with him. Jonathan said, "Tomorrow I'll wake you up about five, and you can follow me around to see what we do here, and we can talk about what I need you to help me with."

"Five is pretty early. How about eight?"

With a smile Jonathan said, "You'll get used to it after a week or so."

"I doubt it," Lex frowned.

"Either way, that's when the day starts here. I would suggest that you try to go to sleep around ten, or it'll be harder the next day."

Lex was about to argue, when Clark came down the stairs. He went over to Jonathan and looked at the floor when he muttered, "I'm sorry I yelled and slammed the door."

Jonathan didn't say anything for a few seconds until Clark looked at him. Then he said, "Okay son. I accept you apology, but there better not be any more arguments about this subject."

Clark blushed at his father's tone, mostly because Lex was sitting right there. "Okay Dad."

Lex was amazed that Jonathan was making such a big deal about a slammed door, and he hadn't even noticed the yelling. He felt sorry for Clark until Jonathan got up and gave his son a big hug. Clark looked even more embarrassed and pushed at his dad while he said, "Jeez Dad."

Laughing, Jonathan said, "Get over it."

Clark wasn't sure if he should be happy, or more embarrassed when Jonathan started to tickle him. After a few minutes of shrieking and laughter Martha said, "Okay you guys, if you want some ice cream come and get it."

Lex was dumbstruck. He didn't understand why Jonathan wasn't still mad. His father stayed angry about things for days. Now it looked like things were back to normal for Clark. He didn't feel sorry for Clark anymore, he felt sorry for himself. Not wanting to acknowledge that feeling, he quickly told himself that these people were beneath him. He found it easier to look down on them, than to wish he could be like them.

The rest of the evening went by quickly for Lex. Clark tried to get Lex into a conversation a few times, but gave up when Lex gave him one-word answers. Then about 9:30 Martha patted Lex's knee and said, "We're all going to go to bed now, and you should too."

Having been consumed with thoughts of his family, Lex knew sleep would not be on his list of things to do tonight, but he nodded and headed up the stairs anyway. He lay on top of his bed trying to think of anything besides his father, and how much he hated him, but he couldn't get it out of his mind. An hour later when he thought everyone should be asleep, he went down to the kitchen to find some alcohol. He searched the entire kitchen, the pantry, and even some of the living room, but he was extremely disappointed to only find one bottle of wine, and half a bottle of peppermint schnapps. He knew there was some beer in the fridge, but he was sure they would notice if that went missing. He couldn't believe there was so little alcohol in the house. He put the schnapps back, and opened the wine. He sat on the couch in the dark, and drank the whole bottle in half an hour. He buried the bottle in the trash under some paper towels, and went upstairs to hopefully pass out.

# # #

The next morning at 5am, Jonathan had a hard time waking up Lex. He thought it would be a little difficult, but this seemed more difficult than he had expected. He shook Lex again, and Lex pulled the covers up over his head without saying anything. Jonathan thought about it and decided to investigate his kitchen. He soon found the wine bottle in the trash. Martha had been watching him, and when she saw the bottle her expression turned grim, and she shook her head. Jonathan looked at her with his eyebrows raised, and without having to hear the question, she nodded to him in agreement. He got out the schnapps and the four beers, and emptied them all in the sink before throwing the bottles away.

Walking back upstairs, Jonathan pulled the covers off the bed. Lex groaned, and Jonathan shook him a little harder than before. Lex opened his eyes, and tried to remember where he was. He looked at Jonathan who smiled and said, "Time to get up Lex. We have work to do."

"Oh God…. What time is it?" he asked with a groan.

"Five. Remember I told you that's when we get started around here."

Lex wanted desperately to go back to sleep, but he was still too intimidated by Jonathan to protest. He sat up and muttered, "Okay."

By lunchtime Lex could tell he was going to be sore all over from using muscles he didn't normally use and he really wanted to just sit down and watch TV for the rest of the day. He couldn't believe how much energy Jonathan and Clark seemed to have. He found he was enjoying Clark's company more than he thought he would. Clark always seemed to be happy, and ready to talk to him about anything and everything. Lex found himself liking Jonathan too, even though he didn't really want to. Jonathan was very patient and explained things to him so he would know how to do them, and he didn't get angry like Lionel would when Lex made a mistake. Lex remembered milking the cows early that morning, and how Jonathan had kept encouraging him to try again when he didn't get it right at first. Clark was helpful too, and didn't make fun of him when he messed up.

After lunch, Jonathan told Lex that he had a couple of hours to do whatever he wanted before they would start the afternoon chores. Lex sat on the couch with relief. Clark sat next to him and said, "Do you want to play basketball?"

"No thanks. I'm kind of tired, and I just want to relax for a while."

With obvious disappointment, Clark said, "Okay."

Lex wasn't used to being around younger kids, and Clark's look of disappointment reminded Lex of his own childhood. "Hey, how about we play cards or something."

Smiling Clark said, "Great," and ran upstairs to get the cards.

From the kitchen, Martha said, "You don't have to entertain him Lex. He can do his own thing if you're too tired."

Thinking about it, Lex said, "No, it's really okay."

That night Lex was physically exhausted, and fell asleep without the help of any substances.

# # #

Things went well for everyone over the next four days. Lex got used to the routines on the farm, and he was surprised to realize that he actually enjoyed some of the work. Doing physical labor, and learning new things at the same time kept his mind occupied and his body tired, which meant he was sleeping better than he had in quite a while.

Clark was constantly asking Lex questions about the things he owned, the things he had done, and the places he had been. Lex was used to bragging about things he had done, and he was used to people being in awe of them, but he wasn't used to having a friend who didn't ask him for money or favors. He kept expecting Clark to ask him for something, but it hadn't happened yet.

Lex enjoyed talking to Martha about cooking, and usually helped to make dinner. He found it refreshing to talk to her about the different places he had eaten, and dishes he had tried to recreate, because she wasn't shocked at the places he had been, or the things he had eaten. He enjoyed listening to her talk about meals you could make with very little money.

Lex hadn't talked to Jonathan about anything other than chores on the farm and how to do them, but he enjoyed the fact that Jonathan was still patient with him. He respected the relationship that Jonathan had with Clark, and tried not to let his jealousy about that show.

Sunday morning he was surprised when he woke up by himself at five thirty. He got up to see if there was anything wrong. Martha was in the kitchen drinking coffee and looking at the paper in her pajamas. She said, "Morning Lex. Ready for some coffee?"

Lex looked confused and said, "Where's Mr. Kent?"

"Out feeding the animals."

"Why didn't he get me up?"

"Oh, it's Sunday, so you and Clark get the day off. Jonathan only does what needs to be done, and then takes most of the day off. We usually do something together. We were thinking about a picnic later today."

Smiling, Lex sat down to relax with some coffee and part of the paper. His mood turned sour when he read the business section, and found an article about his father. The reporter went on about all the donations Lionel had made over the years, and how wonderful he was. Lex knew that his father did make those donations, and that the money went to a good cause, but he also knew that his father didn't do it out of the goodness of his heart. His father did it because it was a good political move and tax write off.

Soon Clark came down and ate breakfast while looking at the comics. He looked at Lex who was starring off into space and asked, "What's wrong?"

Brought out of his musing, he said, "What?"

"What's wrong? You look like you're mad or something."

"Oh, it's nothing."

Later that morning after everyone had gotten ready for the day; Clark talked Lex into playing basketball with him. Lex hadn't played much, so even though Clark was shorter than him, it was a pretty even match.

While they were playing Lionel called. Jonathan picked up the phone with, "Kent residence."

"Hello Mr. Kent this is Lionel Luthor."

"What can I do for you Mr. Luthor?"

"I called to see how my son was getting along, and to see if you were tired of him yet."

Frowning at Lionel's statment, Jonathan said, "We've enjoyed having him here to help us out. Did you want to talk to him?"

Lionel was silent for a few minutes. He couldn't believe that Lex hadn't caused them trouble all week. He had been sure that they would want to send Lex home a couple of days after they got him. He said, "Well, I'm happy to hear that he hasn't caused you any problems."

"None at all."

"Good. May I speak with him?"

"Hold on, I'll go get him."

Jonathan went to the door and called for Lex. Lex came to the door, and Jonathan handed him the phone and said, "It's your dad."

Lex lost his smile, and put the phone to his ear. "Hi Dad."

"Hello son. How are you doing?"

"Fine."

"I'm very pleased to hear that you haven't caused the Kents any problems. Surprised, but pleased."

Rolling his eyes Lex said, "Surprising things happen all the time Dad."

"Did you want to come home son? I'm sure I could persuade Mr. Kent to…"

Lex cut him off. "No! I'm fine."

Lionel was silent for a few seconds before he said, "Okay then. I'll call again in a few days and see how you're doing."

"Don't bother."

Lionel smiled. "Now that's the son I know. Talk to you soon."

Lex slammed the phone down and glared at it. He nearly jumped out of his shoes when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Jonathan said, "Hey Lex, are you alright? What did your father say?"

With an empty smile Lex said, "He said he'll call back in a few days."

Martha came over and asked, "What else did he say?"

"Nothing."

Jonathan squeezed Lex's shoulder and said, "It's okay if you don't want to talk about it Lex, but if you want to talk, both Martha and I will listen to you."

Shrugging off the hand, Lex muttered, "I'm gonna go finish the game with Clark."

He tried to get back into the game, but his heart wasn't in it, and Clark soon won.

Pleased with himself, Clark gloated, "Ha! Beat you! Wanna play again?"

Pissed that a twelve-year-old kid had beaten him, Lex tossed the basketball as far as he could into the field next the house and said, "No thanks."

Clark stared at Lex wide eyed, but didn't know what to say. Lex saw the look, and knew he was being a jerk but didn't care. He walked back into the house, and up to his room.

After retrieving the ball, Clark went into the house. Jonathan asked, "Hey Clark, is everything okay?"

"I think I made Lex mad, but I don't know why."

"Lex was upset about talking to his dad. I doubt it was anything you did."

Clark nodded, but didn't look sure. Jonathan said, "I think we're about ready for the picnic, why don't you go saddle up the horses."

While Clark headed to the barn, Jonathan went to get Lex. He knocked on the door, and Lex demanded, "What?"

Jonathan opened the door and said, "Everything's ready for the picnic, are you ready to go?"

Keeping his eyes on the book he was trying to get lost in, Lex said; "I'll pass."

Shaking his head Jonathan said, "Maybe after you've been here for a few weeks, but for now you need to come with us. Especially since you're in a bad mood."

Lex had been angry before, but after hearing that comment he was livid. In a deceptively calm voice he said, "So Mr. Kent, you're telling me that I can't sit here and read my book for the afternoon? You're telling me that I have to come with you on your pathetic little picnic, and pretend to give a shit about whatever moronic things you and your family has to talk about. Do I have that correct?"

Surprised to see such a sudden change in Lex, Jonathan got angry too. He walked right up to the bed where Lex was sitting, and stood over him as he said, "Yeah, that sounds about right, and I think you need to add pretending to be a pleasant person, especially to the people who have been nothing but nice to you. Are you going to have a problem with that?"

It was Lex's turn to be surprised. He'd been expecting Jonathan to back down. Jonathan had been so patient with him the whole time they'd been working together on the farm, that Lex had almost forgotten how angry Jonathan had been that first day. He knew that Jonathan was much stronger than he was, and could overpower him with no trouble. Feeling very uncomfortable with Jonathan standing so close, Lex said in a quiet voice, "No."

"Good. Then I'll expect to see you downstairs in a couple of minutes."

As soon as Jonathan left, Lex tossed the book on the floor, and tried to get his temper under control. After a few minutes, he went down stairs. Everyone was outside waiting for him. He was pleased to see they were going to be riding to the picnic spot, because the horses tended to calm him down.

By the time they got to the picnic area, Lex had himself under control, and even felt slightly bad about the way he'd talked to Jonathan. But he was still annoyed about having to come with them. He didn't like not being trusted in the house alone. He sat with them while they had the picnic, but he didn't join in the conversations unless he was asked a direct question, and when he did have to say something, he kept it as short as possible. He didn't have the guts to make any snide comments, but they kept going through his head.

After lunch, Jonathan and Clark went for a short hike around the lake. They asked Lex to come, but he declined. Once they were alone, Martha said, "Do you want to talk about what's bugging you today Lex?"

Automatically he said, "No. I'm fine."

"We can all tell that you're not fine, and we want to help you, but if you don't want to talk about it, I'll respect that for now."

He stared out into the lake without responding, so Martha got out a book and started to read. When Jonathan and Clark got back, they spent some time playing catch with the baseball that Clark had brought, and then Jonathan tried to show Clark the best way to skip stones. The more Lex watched Jonathan and Clark together the more jealous he became. By the time everyone was ready to head back, Lex was in a worse mood than when they arrived.

When they got back Martha asked Lex to help her make dinner, and Lex lied, "I don't feel well Mrs. Kent. I really just want to call it an early night and go to bed."

She looked at him for a few minutes, considering his statement. She knew he wasn't actually sick, but she also knew he didn't want to talk about his problems. She said quietly, "Okay Lex, but if you change your mind, you can come eat with us. And remember, Jonathan and I are always here if you want to tell us what's wrong."

Lex hated the way she kept bringing up the fact that something was wrong. He turned and walked upstairs without another word. He just hoped that they would all go to sleep early, becuase there was half a bottle of schnapps with his name on it. He hoped it would be enough to help him sleep if he didn't eat any dinner.

Once Jonathan and Clark were done getting the horses settled for the night they came in for dinner. Clark asked, "Where's Lex?"

Martha said, "He said he wasn't feeling well, so he's in his room resting."

"Should we let him do that?" Jonathan asked.

"I think so. I'm not sure if it's the right thing to do, but maybe giving him some space will help."

Clark asked, "Why was Lex so upset today?"

Jonathan answered, "I think it was the phone call from his father. They obviously don't have a good relationship, and I don't think Lex knows how to handle his emotions very well."

After thinking about it Clark asked, "What can we do to help?"

Jonathan looked to Martha who said, "I think the best thing we can do for him right now, is let him know we're his friends, and that if he needs to tell someone about how he's feeling that we'll listen."

Lex had time to finish his book while he was waiting for everyone to go to sleep. About ten o'clock that night Lex knew everyone was in bed, and thought they were all probably asleep. He went downstairs to find the last bit of alcohol in the house. He was very unhappy to find it was gone. He hadn't seen anyone drink it, but it wasn't where he had put it back that first night he went searching for alcohol. He looked through all the cupboards again, but didn't find anything. He didn't know what to do. He had been looking forward to having a drink all afternoon and evening. The thought of getting that buzz was the only thing that had kept him under control. He knew he would never fall asleep without it, and then the next day would start out badly too. He eventually went back upstairs and tried to lie down anyway.

At 2am when he was still tossing and turning, he decided it was time to go home. He thought, 'I stuck it out for a week. That's longer than my father thought I could do it. The Kents will be happy to see me gone.'

He quietly walked down the stairs and went outside. He thought, 'Town is too far away to walk to, and home is farther away from the town then the Kent's farm. I guess I'll have to take the truck. It's the only vehicle they have, but I'll have someone bring it back tomorrow. Hell, I'll have someone bring them a new truck since they were pretty nice to me for a week.'

Lex knew where they kept the truck keys, so he went and got them. He got in the truck and headed for home. Then he remembered that his father had taken all the alcohol out of the house, so he decided to make a stop in town first. He decided to try the bar that he'd been to the night before ending up at the Kent farm, figuring that would give him a kind of closure. He got to the bar, and let himself in by picking the lock. He went behind the bar and got himself a new bottle of scotch. He sat at the bar and poured himself the first drink.

# # #

Jonathan had woken up immediately at the sound of his truck starting. He stood up and looked out the window in time to see the taillights of his truck as it went down the driveway. He swore, and woke Martha up. He said, "Someone just stole our truck."

Martha asked, "Why would anyone want it?"

Looking hurt Jonathan said, "It's a good truck."

"We think it's a good truck, and it's perfect for us, but why would someone else want to come all the way out here to take our truck."

Jonathan and Martha both said, "Lex," at the same time.

Jonathan went to Lex's room and knocked softly. He opened the door, and found the room empty. He also went to check on Clark who was sound asleep. He went back to his room and said, "It was Lex."

"I guess leaving him alone wasn't the right thing to do. At least we'll know for next time."

Getting dressed, Jonathan said, "We'll probably be home by five, but if not could you have Clark do the morning chores please."

"Sure honey. Be careful."

He rolled his eyes. He knew Martha hated it when he rode his motorcycle, but he thought it was kind of silly. Soon he was ready to go and he kissed her goodbye on the way out. "Don't worry. I'll be careful. Try to get some more sleep."

Walking out to the shed, Jonathan uncovered the motorcycle. He hadn't ridden it in a few months, so he was pleased when it started right up without any trouble. He figured Lex would either head for town or for home so he headed for town first.

The town wasn't very big, and he didn't have any trouble spotting his truck in one of the bar's parking lots. He drove up and parked the bike next to the truck.

Lex was on his second drink when he heard a vehicle pull up close to the bar. He thought, 'Crap. Someone saw the truck.'
Thinking it would be best to sneak out the back, Lex grabbed the bottle of scotch and headed to the back door. He opened it to find Jonathan standing on the other side. He was so startled that he nearly dropped his scotch. Jonathan, who had planed on trying the back door first to see if it was unlocked, was also a little surprised to see Lex at the door. Lex backed up a few steps, and Jonathan stepped in. He shut the door behind him, and glared at Lex. Lex stammered, "What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you."

Lex panicked and said, "I swear I was going to have someone bring the truck back to you in the morning. I wouldn't just take it, because I know…"

Jonathan interrupted. "Slow down Lex. I didn't think you were stealing the truck. I came to find you, and bring you home."

He wasn't sure what to say to that, but all that came out was, "Oh…."

Noticing the the bottle of scotch, Jonathan asked, "How much have you had?"

Lex followed Jonathan's line of sight and sighed, "Not enough."

With grim expression, Jonathan took the bottle from Lex. He ignored Lex's yell of 'Hey', and walked behind the bar, putting the bottle back where it belonged. He turned back to Lex who had followed him and said, "How much have you had?"

"Definitely not enough!"

Putting his hands on his hips Jonathan said, "You better change your attitude pretty quick."

Lex glared, but didn't have the courage to not answer. "Two shots, but I need a lot more."

Jonathan glared back. "Too bad. You aren't having any more tonight."

Lex decided to try and reason with Jonathan. "Look Mr. Kent I really appreciate you letting me stay with you this past week, and I want to thank you for teaching me all about farming, but I think we both know it's about time for me to be going back home."

Jonathan took Lex by the arm and led him to a table. He pushed him down into a chair, and sat down next to him. "We need to talk about a few things Lex. First off, you're staying with us for the rest of the summer like it or not. Second, when you're staying with me, you don't just run off in the middle of the night. In fact you don't go anywhere without telling me where you're going. And third, when you're upset, you tell us what's wrong, so we can help. Alcohol may make you feel better for a little while, but it doesn't solve your problems. You were obviously upset most of the day today, and I think it would really help you to tell me what you were upset about."

Lex rolled his eyes. "I was upset about being kept prisoner at your farm."

Disappointment was written on Jonathan's face, and Lex was unable to keep eye contact. After a pause, Jonathan said, "I don't believe that. I think you were upset about the conversation you had with your father."

"Well, my father and I don't have the best relationship, but I don't see how telling you about it is going to help me. It's not going to change anything."

"It may not change your relationship, but it may help you to cope with the relationship."

"I'm not in the mood to talk. I'm in the mood to drink and go home."

Getting impatient, Jonathan said, "So let me get this right. Your plan for making yourself feel better this evening was, to take my truck without asking, break into a bar and get drunk, and then to drive back to your house while intoxicated. Is that right? That will make you feel better, but talking won't."

With defiance Lex answered, "Yeah, that's right."

Jonathan shook his head and said quietly, "Even after you almost killed Clark the last time you were driving drunk, you still think that it's an acceptable thing to do?"

Blushing, Lex looked down and said, "I'll be more careful from now on. I would never hurt Clark."

Jonathan wished he could tell Lex that he would have killed Clark if Clark was a normal human, but he couldn't. "Okay Lex, I can see that you're not being realistic, so I'm just going to make things easy for both of us. We're gonna go home, and for the next two months, you aren't going to go anywhere without letting me know first. You aren't going to have any alcohol, because you obviously aren't responsible about it. And there will be no more breaking and entering. Is all of that clear to you?"

Anger pulsed through Lex as he listened to Jonathan. He answered with venom; "It's clear to me that you're a small town farmer who doesn't know his place in the world. Do you really think you can keep me at your farm if I don't want to be there? My father will have me out of there within an hour of me making a phone call."

With an expression of pity Jonathan said, "You're father is a powerful man, and you will be too one day. But most of the people I know don't respect your father. They fear him, but they don't like him or respect him. I think it's sad that you're following in his footsteps."

Lex yelled, "I'm not following in his footsteps! I'll never be like him! I don't have to sit here and listen to this shit. See you never, I hope."

Lex got up and headed for the back door, but only made it three steps, before he felt Jonathan grab his upper arm again. Lex was expecting it this time, and tried to punch him in the face. Lex stumbled as he was let go, and his fist connected with nothing but air.

Jonathan grabbed the boy's upper arm again, and was close enough to a chair to be able to sit, and pull Lex face down across his lap. He wasn't surprised when Lex flailed, tried to get up, and let out a stream of cursing that would make a sailor proud. Jonathan soon got both of Lex's legs trapped under his right leg, which left the boy's butt over his left leg. Jonathan said, "I'm sorry it had to come to this Lex, but I'm not about to let you just walk away." Jonathan brought his hand down and smacked Lex's butt hard.

Lex yelled, "You bastard! My father will have you killed for this!"

Shaking his head Jonathan kept going and said, "Well, at least I'll die knowing I did the right thing for you."

Horrified at the situation, Lex hurled every obscenity he could think of at the man. When the spanking continued, he was very unhappy to notice that it hurt, and his yelling died down. He was wishing he'd worn jeans instead of his regular cotton pants, and started to think about revenge. He was finding it harder to think, and he noticed that his body was starting to make involuntary movements. Soon after that he knew he wasn't going to be able to say silent for long. "Okay Mr. Kent, I'm sorry I took off, but don't you think this is a little ridiculous?"

"Nope."

"This isn't going to change anything!" Lex yelled.

"We'll see," Jonathan answered, knowing it already had changed things between them.

Lex growled with frustration, "I'm done with this now!"

Jonathan stopped and chuckled at the absurdity of that statement. "Lex, this is one time that you don't get a say in when we stop."

Jonathan's hand was hurting, so he took off his belt. He doubled it over and brought it down on Lex's butt with a loud 'Thwack'.

Lex let out a loud and angry, "Owwww!"

Jonathan brought it down five more times while Lex was yelling and trying pretty hard to get away. Jonathan stopped again and waited for Lex to calm down. He said, "Okay Lex, we can be done with this if you give me the right answers to some questions. If you give me the wrong answers, we're going to be here for a while. Are you going to come home with me tonight without any more arguments?"

Lex couldn't believe how much his butt hurt now. He really wanted to get up and get away from Jonathan, but he didn't want to give in either. After a few seconds of thought he answered quietly, "Yes."

"Good. Are you going to take my truck without asking again?"

"No."

"Very good. Are you going to leave the farm without telling me where you're going for the next two months?"

Lex thought 'No, because I'm not going to be there that long.' But he said, "No."

"Okay. Now for the hard part, what were you upset about today," Jonathan asked.

Refusing to answer that question, Lex yelled, "None of you're damn business!"

Jonathan brought the belt down four more times in answer, and listened to Lex yell. He waited for Lex to stop squirming and said, "Sorry Lex, but that isn't good enough now. What was going through your mind today after you were done talking to your dad?"

Lex found he was close to tears, and squirmed uncomfortably as he demanded, "Let me go!"

Jonathan rubbed Lex's back in soothing circles and said, "I know this is hard for you Lex, but I'm trying to help you, and you aren't going anywhere until I am satisfied that you've gotten this out in the open."

"You're sick if you think this is helping me!"

With a sigh, Jonathan brought the belt down six more times. Lex started to cry softly, and Jonathan said, "Let's try again. Why were you upset today?"

Lex yelled, "Because I hate my father!"

"Why do you hate him?"

"Because he doesn't love me." Lex was startled by his own words. He'd just said the first thing that came to his mouth, but the more he thought about it the more he knew it was true.

Jonathan put his belt back on and helped Lex to stand up. He stood up with Lex and pulled him into a hug. Lex was a little wobbly from the awkward position he'd been in, and because he'd used up so much energy struggling to get away. He didn't hug Jonathan back, but he didn't struggle to get away either. Jonathan said, "What does your dad do to make you think he doesn't love you?"

Many conflicting emotions were going through Lex. He was angry with Jonathan for what he'd done, but at the same time he felt secure and almost cared for now that Jonathan was holding him. He knew he should push Jonathan away and run, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead he answered, "Dad doesn't trust me, and he always thinks the worst of me."

"What did he say to you on the phone today that upset you?"

"He… he said he was surprised that I hadn't caused you problems yet." After thinking about that statement, Lex let out a dry and emotionless laugh and said, "I guess he was justified."

Letting go of the boy, Jonathan stepped back to look into his eyes. "I don't think so. You've been very helpful at the farm. You've been polite, and you haven't argued about any of the work that I've asked you to do. You've been friendly with Clark even though he's much younger than you are. Your father should have believed in you."

Lex looked away, "He knows me better than you."

Jonathan put a hand on Lex's chin and made him look him in the eye. "I don't think he knows you very well. I think you're worth believing in."

Shrugging Lex said, "I think you'll change your mind."

"I think I should warn you that if you plan to be horrible just to make me toss you out, or loose faith in you, you won't succeed. The only thing it will do, is get you another spanking."

Not liking the sound of that Lex said, "I think you should just let me go home. I'm sure your family will be happier without….."

Jonathan cut him off by turning him to the side and giving him ten hard swats. Lex broke down into tears again, so Jonathan pulled him into another hug and said, "No more arguing about it Lex. Martha, Clark, and I want you to stay with us. We like having you around. We don't want you to be home alone with nothing productive to do."

Patting Lex on the back, Jonathan let him go and said, "Come on kid. Let's go home."

Lex wiped off his face and nodded. Jonathan went behind the bar and found a napkin and a pen. Lex asked, "What are you writing?"

Without looking up, Jonathan answered, "I'm leaving a note for Bill the owner."

Shaking his head no Lex said, "That's not a good idea. He won't even know we were here, and if he does find out someone broke in, he won't know it was me."

Jonathan looked Lex in the eyes and said, "I don't think your father has done a good job of teaching you how to be a responsible adult, so I'm gonna help you with that. When you've done something wrong, like breaking into someone's business and stealing his things, you have to make up for it. So I'm leaving a note for Bill telling him that you broke in, and that we'll be coming in tomorrow to see what you can do to make it up to him."

Looking pale Lex said; "You're insane."

Smiling, Jonathan finished up the note and said, "You aren't the first person to tell me that."

"You're going to get me arrested, and then my father will have to bail me out again."

Jonathan got out ten bucks and put it down with the note. Looking relieved Lex said, "Ten bucks isn't a big enough bribe."

"It's to pay for the scotch," Jonathan explained.

He took Lex by the upper arm and started to walk to the back door. Lex protested, "But it's not a good idea…"

Jonathan cut him off. "It's not a good idea to try and hide your mistakes, or to bribe people Lex."

Once they got to the front of the building Lex said, "I didn't know you had a motorcycle."

"It was in the shed. Martha worries when I ride it, so I don't do it much. She's a good bike though. We'll leave her here tonight, and get her tomorrow." Jonathan opened the passenger side of the truck, and held out his hand in front of Lex's face. "Keys."

Lex handed them over and got in the truck. He didn't think sitting down would be fun, but he was surprised at how much it hurt. Once his door was shut, he leaned against the door to help relieve the pressure. Jonathan got in and drove them home in silence. When they arrived, Jonathan said, "Go to bed and stay there. You have an hour to sleep before it's time to get up."

Lex went to his room, and flopped face down onto his bed. He thought he would have too much to think about to sleep, but he was asleep within five minutes.

Jonathan went to his room and lay down with his clothes still on, to nap for an hour. Martha woke up when she felt the bed move. "Is he okay?"

"I think so. He's in bed now."

"Did you get him to talk about what was bugging him yesterday?"

"Yeah. His father sounds worse than we'd thought," Jonathan said.

"Poor boy. Where did you find him?" Martha asked.

"He'd broken into Bill's bar, and he was drinking. He planned to get drunk and then drive himself home. He said he was going to have someone bring the truck back to us."

"How did you convince him to come home?"

Jonathan opened his eyes to look at her and said, "I spanked him."

"Wow," she said with surprise.

"I think it worked pretty well, but we'll see."

Martha yawned and said, "Tomorrow will be interesting. Night honey."

"Night," he said, and they both drifted off to sleep.

Lex woke up to see Jonathan smiling down at him. "Time to get up," Jonathan said.

Groaning, he rolled onto his back, but as soon as his butt hit the mattress, he rolled back over to his stomach, and groaned even louder.

"I know you don't feel very good today, but you're still gonna have to get up and help me."

"I'll give you a thousand bucks to let me sleep for an hour." Lex said.

Laughing out loud, Jonathan said, "No deal. Come on, get up. You'll feel better once you get up and start moving."

He slowly sat up, and then quickly stood up. He muttered, "I didn't drink enough to feel this bad."

Patting the boy's shoulder, Jonathan said, "Looks like you slept in your clothes too, so we can just get started."

As they walked out to the barn, Lex was amazed at how stiff and sore he was all over. He'd expected his butt to be sore after last night, but he hadn't expected his whole body hurt. He supposed it was from all the struggling to get away.

Clark was already in the barn. "Morning."

Lex smiled weakly at him. Clark frowned. "You don't look so good."

"I don't feel so good either."

"Why not?"

Lex looked at Jonathan, who said, "Lex had trouble sleeping."

Clark waited for more of an explanation but didn't get one.

By the time breakfast was ready Lex did feel less sore, but he didn't really want to sit down either. He thought about skipping breakfast, but he was really hungry after not having had any dinner the night before. He was glad the kitchen chairs were padded as he sat down to eat. He would have rather stood, but he didn't want Martha or Clark to know what Jonathan had done.

Lex was wary of Jonathan for most of the morning. He kept expecting to get yelled at, or worse laughed at. He expected Jonathan to bring up what had happened last night, and he could even picture Jonathan telling Clark about it. Lex thought it would be unbearable to see Jonathan and Clark laughing together about it, but that was the image that kept popping into his head. As the morning turned into afternoon, and none of these things had happened, Lex started to relax again.

After lunch while Martha was clearing the table, Clark asked Lex if he wanted to play a game of basketball. Before Lex could answer, Martha said, "Hey Clark, I was hoping you would ride with me to the lake today. You and I haven't spent any time together, just the two of us, this summer."

Clark grabbed the chance. "You bet! You want me to go get the horses ready?"

"You bet," she said back to him.

Once Clark was out the door, Martha turned to Lex and patted his hand, "Good luck today Lex. Hopefully next time you can come with us."

She put the last of the dishes in the sink, and walked out to see how Clark was doing. Confused for a second by the 'good luck' remark, Lex wondered what she'd meant. Jonathan said, "As soon as they're on their way, we'll be going to town. You can apologize to Bill, and then you'll drive the truck back while I drive the bike."

Turning bright red, Lex realized that Martha knew what had happened last night. He whispered, "You told her?"

"Sorry Lex, but she's my wife. I don't leave the house in the middle of the night without telling her where I'm going, and I don't lie to her."

Lex understood Jonathan's perspective, but that didn't make it less embarrassing.

Soon they were in the truck and headed to town. To pass the time Lex asked Jonathan when he had gotten the motorcycle. "I got it when I was eighteen. I knew my parents would never have the money for it, so I worked for two summers and saved up my money. That bike was my only vehicle for five years. Martha used to love riding with me, but that was a long time ago."

"It's in pretty good shape still."

"I enjoy working on it, and keeping it in good condition. But even if it were worn down, it would still have sentimental value for me. I took Martha out for our first date on it. I think that cemented her father's hatred for me."

Lex wouldn't have thought that the Kents could have any kind of family problem. "Does he still hate you?"

Jonathan laughed, "Oh yeah. I really shouldn't laugh. Martha hasn't spoken to her father for years. Sometimes I feel bad that Clark won't get to know his only living grandfather very well. How about you? Do you ever visit your grandparents?"

"No, they're all dead. I never met my father's parents; they died long before I was born. My mom's mom died when I was still a baby, and her dad died when I was three."

"That's a shame. How old were you when your mom died?"

Lex looked out his window. "Thirteen."

"Martha's mom died when she was twelve. She still can't understand why she doesn't have a better relationship with her father. She says that her mother's death pushed them apart."

That sounded very similar to his own situation, and Lex found it hard to believe that Martha had gone through the same thing.

When they pulled up to the bar, Lex felt sick to his stomach, thinking about confronting the bar's owner Bill. He put on his best look of indifference, before getting out of the truck. The bar hadn't opened for business yet, but Jonathan knocked at the door anyway. When the door opened, Jonathan stuck out his hand and said, "Bill, good to see you."

Bill shook his hand and said, "It's good to see you too." Then he turned to Lex and said, "Too bad it isn't under better circumstances."

Tilting his chin up a touch, Lex looked past Bill into the bar, and tried to appear bored.

"Yes it is," Jonathan said.

"Come on in."

Once they were in, Jonathan said, "How's Sally?"

"Not so good. Her arthritis is acting up, so she can't do as much as she used to. How are Martha and Clark?"

"They're both doing well. Clark was pretty bored at the beginning of the summer, but since Lex has been staying with us, Clark's been much happier."

Lex was surprised to hear that. He'd been having a good time getting to know Clark. They had fun playing basketball and talking, but he hadn't realized that Clark was having a better summer because of him. He just figured Clark was always a happy kid.

Smiling Bill asked, "So how is it that Lex Luthor ended up staying with you? I mean it isn't like you walk in the same circles."

Panicked at the thought of what Jonathan would say, Lex butted in with, "None of you're business."

"Lex!" Jonathan reprimanded, before turning to Bill. "Sorry about that. He isn't feeling that great today from lack of sleep."

"That's all right," Bill said.

"Lex is staying with us because had the misfortune to end up at our place one day, and Martha decided to keep him."

Lex took a breath of relief, happy that Jonathan wasn't going into detail about what had happened.

Laughing out loud, Bill said, "Your Martha always did have a stubborn streak."

"It's part of why I love her. But we should get back to why we're here today."

Getting serious, Bill turned to Lex, and said, "Okay Lex, what's the story."

Shrugging, Lex said, "I came in the back and drank some scotch. You should really get an alarm."

Jonathan opened his mouth to chastise Lex about his attitude, but Bill beat him to it. "By came in, you mean you broke in, and by drank some scotch, you mean you stole my scotch."

"Semantics," Lex muttered.

Bill said, "You have no business drinking my alcohol. Your dad paid me, and the other two bar owners here in town, not to serve you. And you're under age so it's illegal anyway."

With what he hoped was a menacing glare, Lex said, "I see, so my father paid you off, and Mr. Kent left you money last night. Sounds to me like you have nothing to be mad about. In fact, it sounds to me like you should be thanking me for the profit."

Jonathan grabbed Lex by the upper arm, and turned him so they were eye to eye. He said, "We came here so that you could apologize to Bill for breaking in, and stealing what wasn't yours."

Lex's anger turned to worry. He stammered, "But… But I shouldn't…….'

Giving Lex a small shake, Jonathan tried to clear things up for the boy, "I don't care what your father did or didn't do. It doesn't matter at all. The only thing I care about is you, and what you do. Breaking in here was wrong, and you need to apologize to Bill for it. Now."

No one had ever told him that his father didn't matter. He believed that Jonathan was sincere in what he was saying, but found it confusing. He looked at Bill for a few seconds, and eventually said quietly, "I'm sorry I broke in."

As soon as he said it, Jonathan let go of his arm, and put a comforting arm around his shoulders.

"Okay," Bill said with a nod.

Jonathan gave Bill a look of disapproval, but Bill just shrugged and smiled. "Sorry Jonathan. I know you think I should be angry about it, but Lex is right. His dad paid me, and you paid me. It's more than enough to cover for the scotch. And there was no damage to the door. If you hadn't left a note, I wouldn't have even noticed someone had broken in."

"That's great. Just great," Jonathan said to himself.

Bill understood where Jonathan was coming from, and fixed Lex with a look. "Listen up boy. If I had caught you in here stealing my stuff I would have called your dad to complain and get more money out of him, but now that I know you're staying with the Kents, I'll call Jonathan if I find out you've done it again. Mostly because I know Jonathan would never forgive me if I did anything else."

"You're right about that," Jonathan agreed.

Lex wasn't sure what to think of that, but nodded his head to show he was listening.

Jonathan said, "I guess if there's nothing else you want to say to Lex, we'll be on our way."

"Why don't you stay and visit for a while?" Bill said. "The bar won't open for half an hour yet."

"Sure," Jonathan said.

"If you wanna sit down, I'll get you both some soda."

Lex thought the car ride over was bad enough, and he really didn't want to sit down. Thinking quickly, he nodded to the pool table and said, "I think I'll practice my game while you two visit." He practiced shots at the pool table, and listened to Jonathan and Bill talking. While they were talking about the farm, Lex heard Jonathan say, "Things are going better this year. Now with Lex and Clark helping me, we've almost finished putting the new fence up. And Lex is really a good kid. He's been helping me with the farm work, he's been helping Martha in the kitchen, and he's a good friend to Clark."

Lex smiled and thought it was odd to overhear someone saying something nice about him. It was much more familiar to overhear people, especially his father, saying what a problem he was.

Soon it was time to go. Once they were in the parking lot Jonathan handed the truck keys to Lex and said, "I'll ride behind you on the bike. See you at home."

Lex had an uncomfortable ride back. He thought about Jonathan, and the things he had said and done last night and wondered, 'Why haven't I called my father yet? He would be able to get me out of here. Why haven't I put up more of a fight? Why don't I want to get revenge? I don't even think I want to leave. It doesn't make sense.'

He wasn't sure how it happened, but Lex easily fell back into the routine of the day, and soon it was time for bed. He got ready for bed when everyone else did, and lay down on his bed thinking about things. He went over what had happened during the day, and asked himself, "Why am I still here? I should just walk out. I could make it home even if I had to walk all night. But Jonathan would try to come to get me if I did. And I don't really want to go anyway. Why don't I want to go?" He fell asleep before he could answer that question.

Lex went through the next few days, still asking himself the same questions. He told himself he should want to leave and go home, but he found it much easier to stay. It felt to him like the routines on the farm got in the way of his plans to leave. His spare time seemed to be filled with things like talking with Martha and playing basketball with Clark. Before he knew it, it was Friday, and the week had passed.

Friday night after dinner the phone rang, and Martha answered. "Hello?"

"Hello, this is Lionel Luthor. May I please speak with Lex."

"Of course. Hold on." She handed the phone to Lex. "It's your father."

He took it with a frown. "Hi Dad."

"Well son, you really have surprised me this time. I can't believe you're still there. I don't know if I should be proud of you for sticking it out so long, or if I should be ashamed that the people you're finally connecting with are backwater, hillbilly, poor, illiterate, rednecks."

Taking a deep breath to stay calm, Lex said, "I don't know dad. If you were ever proud of me for something, we might have to reevaluate our entire relationship."

"If only you would do something I could be proud of."

Lex said, "What did you want Dad?"

"I want you to finish out the summer working for me here at Luthorcorp."

"No."

"Lex son, I don't know why you keep fighting me. You will eventually work for me whether you like it or not. You could make it easier on yourself and do it now."

Lex was getting more and more angry. He said with clenched teeth, "I'll never work for you. Why don't you make it easier for yourself, and get that through your head. And anyway you told Mr. Kent that I was staying here for the whole summer. Why are you changing your mind about that?"

"Why in the world do you want to stay?" Lionel asked.

"Well, right now I'd have to say, just to piss you off."

Lex slammed down the phone before his father could respond. He stood there staring at the phone. Martha walked up and put her hand on his shoulder. He jumped, and then smiled a fake smile. "Dad says hi."

Martha said, "I can see you're angry. Tell me what he said."

"It's not important."

Jonathan walked up to Lex, and said quietly, "Sorry Lex, but you need to tell us about it. You're upset, and you need to let that out, or I suspect it will be another sleepless night for you."

Lex thought about it. He really didn't want another sleepless night, or another confrontation with the man standing in front of him. He said, "Dad says he's ashamed that I'm still here with you poor, illiterate, rednecks, and that I should finish the summer working with him."

Jonathan smiled at his wife, and said, "It's nice to know Mr. Luthor has such a high opinion of us."

She laughed, and said, "It's amazing how he can know us so well when he's never even met us."

Frowning, Clark said, "How can you guys make jokes about it? If Mr. Luthor wants Lex to leave, I'm sure it won't take much for him to make that happen. I don't want Lex to go."

Lex didn't know what to say. He'd been expecting the Kents to get upset about the things his father had said, but they seemed to be blowing it off. Just the fact of them laughing about it, and not taking his father's comments seriously, made him look at things differently, and some of his anger went away. And it was really nice to hear that Clark at least didn't want him to leave. Lex said, "Don't worry Clark. I'm not going to work for my father this summer." He smirked and added, "He knows that if he tries to make me, I'll make him sorry."

Putting an arm around Clark, Jonathan said, "All of us want Lex to stay, and we'll do everything we can to make sure he does."

"Anything else he had to say?" Martha asked, and put a comforting hand on Lex's shoulder.

"No. I hung up on him before he could say much else."

Martha said gently, "Don't let your dad's opinion of us bug you Lex, because it doesn't bother us. He doesn't know us. He's just trying to get a rise out of you. Don't let him."

"You're right."

That night, after he had gone to bed, Lex found himself thinking about Lionel's phone call. Usually when his father had said things to piss him off, he would replay the conversation in his head again and again, deciding what he could have or should have said to make the conversation sway his way. This usually only served to frustrate him, but he couldn't stop himself from going over it.

But right now the thing that kept going through his mind, was the Kents' reaction. Lex started replaying many of the conversations that he'd had with his father, and tried to imagine Lionel's reaction if he'd laughed and stayed calm during an argument. The more he thought about it, the happier he was. He decided for the first time, that the best way to beat his dad, was not to play the game. He stayed awake long into the night, but wasn't angry, and did eventually fall asleep.


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