Authors Notes: This story takes place in an Alternate Universe of Smallville where Clark and Lex meet much earlier in life. Clark is 12, and Lex is 18. Written - November 5, 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 a pre-teen by a parent. Non consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult by a parental figure.



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. "Hello, Kent residence."

"Hello, may I please speak with Lex Luthor?"

"Speaking."

"Hi Mr. Luthor, this is Paul Miller. I have some news about the case."

Lex looked over and saw that Martha was looking his way, obviously wondering who it was. Trying to choose his words carfully, he 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."

Needing time to plan, Lex said, "I'll call you back in fifteen minutes."

He hung up and turned to Martha who was still watching him. She started washing the dishes again and asked, "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. "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."

"Monica."

"That's right. Was that Monica on the phone?"

"No…..my 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?"

He gave her his best charming smile and said, "Yes, and I was hoping you and Mr. Kent would let me go out on a date with her this Saturday."

"I'll have to talk to Jonathan about it, but I'm sure it will be fine," Martha assured him, happy that he had met someone he was interested in.

"Great…could you ask him now, so I could give her a call and make the arrangements?"

With a knowing smile she asked, "A little anxious?"

With a nervous laugh Lex nodded as he thought, 'More than you know.'

Martha stopped what she was doing and went out to see Jonathan. She found her husband in the barn with Clark. "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."

Jumping in before his dad could answer, Clark said, "No fair! This is the last weekend Lex gets to stay with us before school. I want him to stay home."

With patients, 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. "I don't care. He was gone last weekend, so he should stay this weekend."

Jonathan turned to his wife 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."

She smiled and was about to say something, but Clark beat her to it, "He didn't follow the rules last time, so you shouldn't let him go!"

With a frown, his father asked, "How do you know about that Clark?"

Thinking fast, Clark came up with a half truth, "Lex told me."

Jonathan raised his eyebrows, not quite believing Clark but let it slide. "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."

"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. Not liking his son's behavior, Jonathan asked in a warning tone, "Do you understand me Clark?"

Through clenched teeth, Clark ground out, "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."

She 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."

"Great. Thanks." He smiled and then looked down at the phone. "Do you mind if I go use the phone in your room?"

Martha waved him away knowing he wouldn't want to talk to a girl in front of her. "Go ahead."

When Lex got upstairs he went to his room first, got Monica's phone number, and then went to the Kent's room to call the detective. "Mr. Miller?"

"Yes."

"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."

"Okay. Thank you for trying," Lex said before he hung up. Next 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?"

"Yes." Lex smiled, because she sounded genuinly happy to hear from him.

"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." Lex found himself hopeful that she would agree, an not just because he wanted to use her as a cover story.

"Sure, that would be awesome."

"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. "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?"

Shaking his head, Lex 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."

"I hadn't thought about that, good idea. You remember the rules right?"

With a nod 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 and smiled in approval.

Clark blurted out, "I want you to stay home."

Jonathan gave his son a look that clearly said 'stop.'

Surprised, Lex asked, "But I'm here every day. Why do you want me to be here Saturday?"

Keeping his eyes on his plate, Clark 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 care that much 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." Lex could tell that Clark was confused by this statement, and added, "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."

"Well that's better than nothing I guess," Clark said.

Rolling his eyes Lex said, "Isn't Pete coming home next week?"

"Yes."

"You'll be having so much fun with him you'll forget all about me."

Looking Lex in the eyes, Clark 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 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."

"I've missed it," Lex said with an even bigger grin.

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. "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. Now he was standing next to Lex gaping at the car.

Lex could tell Josh was uncomfortable and felt bad about it. He knew he'd been nasty to Josh on more than one occasion, and 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?"

Blushing, Lex said to Josh, "You can call me Lex."

Looking down the empty road, Josh said, "We've had that discussion SIR."

Turing bright red, Lex looked away and 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."

"Can I go sit in it?" Clark begged.

Lex nodded, and Clark got in the driver's seat. A few seconds later the limo pulled up, and the man who'd originally brought Lex's things to the 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?"

"No."

"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."

The man looked at Lex for a few seconds before he said, "Okay, I accept your apology."

Smiling with relief Lex said, "Thanks."

Josh got in the limo and James said, "Goodbye Mr. Luthor."

"Bye."

As soon as they drove off, Jonathan put his arm around Lex again and said, "You wanna tell me about it?"

With his head bowed, Lex 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's voice was thick with shame, "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."

Looking to Jonathan, Lex said, "I was so horrible….so often."

Pulling the kid into a hug, Jonathan 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. I have faith that the older you get, the easier that will be for you to do."

Jonathan let him go and said, "I'm gonna go see what's for lunch."

Feeling somewhat better, Lex turned to Clark, who had heard the entire conversation. After seeing Clark's expression, Lex looked down at the ground again, ashamed of his behavior all over again. Uncomfortable with seeing Lex so vulnerable, Clark got out of the Porsche and changed the subject by saying, "So, after lunch will you pleeeeease give me a ride?"

Lex laughed. "Yeah."

# # #

Saturday morning came, and Lex whistled to himself as he was helping Jonathan and Clark. 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 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 spending 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. Whipping his head around, Jonathan looked at Clark, who was glaring at Lex. Jonathan knew from that glare, that Clark had done it on purpose, and had trouble believing it. Less then a second later Clark's face changed, and Jonathan could tell Clark already regretted what he had done.

As if realizing his father was there for the first time, Clark darted his eyes over to Jonathan, and could tell he was disappointed and angry. Clark jumped down from the truck and pushed the hay off Lex and said, "I'm sorry. Are you okay?"

Shaking his head, Lex sat up and said, "Yeah, I think so. What happened?"

Blushing, Clark looked away when he said, "I guess I slipped and pushed one of the bails all the way off."

Holding out a hand to help Lex up, Jonathan asked, "Are you sure you're okay?"

Lex nodded and asked, "Are you okay Clark? Did you hurt yourself when you slipped?"

With his eyes on the ground, Clark mumbled, "No. I'm fine."

Jonathan directed a glare at his son, and then said to Lex, "Why don't you go relax and get ready for breakfast. Clark and I can finish up here."

There were only a few more bails, so Lex 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."

A wave of shame hit Clark, and he 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 today."

Clark kept crying and after a few seconds Jonathan demanded, "Do you hear me Clark Kent?"

He stammered out, "Y..yes sir."

Walking over to Clark, Jonathan took him by the upper arm, and started walking towards the house. "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 his son. But he knew that if he didn't make a big deal out of it the first time he used his powers to hurt someone, 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. Their smiles 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."

Confused by this statement, Lex 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's grim expression, 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. After taking a few seconds to think about it, Lex 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."

Shaking his head Clark said, "I'm really, really sorry."

Lex pulled Clark into a quick hug and said, "It's okay."

Letting go, Lex 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 patted his 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."

She shook her head. "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."

"Oh Clark, you didn't."

Clark nodded to his mostly full plate. Martha shook her head and said, "That's very disappointing."

He started to cry again. Martha got up and started clearing the table. Jonathan said, "If you're done eating, go finish the hay."

Clark practically ran out the door. With a sigh Martha 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'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:

Lex,

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

Standing by his car, Lex stared at the letter and wondering how this person knew where he would be staying. 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 it was a bad idea to go to a warehouse to meet a stranger, but he really wanted to know what was going on. And when he stopped to think 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 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?"

"Yeah?"

"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."

With a nod Jonathan 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. "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'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. "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?" Clark asked with worry.

"Do you have something to write with?"

"Hold on." Clark got some paper and a pencil and said, "Okay."

"My name is Paul 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."

"But…" Clark heard a click as Mr. Miller hung up. He 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.

"Clark, what's wrong?" Jonathan asked.

"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. "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?"

"Yes."

"Okay, give it to me, and I'll give him a call and find out what is going on."

Once he had the information 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 the phone rang again. "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?" Clark asked with fear.

"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," Jonathan tried to reassure him.

Clark said, "I'll run there! I can get there quicker than you, I can stop him, and then we'll both wait for you."

Caught off guard by his son's idea, 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."

Trying to convince him, Clark said, "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…."

Jonathan interrupted, "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."

Feeling frustrated, Clark gave in. "Okay Dad."

After hanging up, 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:

Mom,

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 good time shopping, and he'd 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're 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. "How can I help you?"

He asked, "Is Lex Luthor here?"

The woman held up some messages and said, "Sorry sweetie he isn't. Did you want to add 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 intact 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. "Well, I can tell you it never really happened."

"Okay, so 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?"

"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's laugh was cold. "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 know what will happen once it's engulfed my skin."

"So go to the authorities and tell them what my father did."

Rick scoffed, "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. "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."

Shaking his head, Lex pleaded, "Don't do this Rick. Please. What would Steve think?"

Rick shrugged, "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."

"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.

Staring at Clark, Lex automatically yelled, "Clark! Get over here, and away from him."

Jumpping at the yell, Clark stumbled over a few feet to Lex. He 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 turning Rick who was moaning and holding his arm with his good hand. Lex said quietly 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."

Whipping his head back around to look at Clark, Lex said, "What do you mean you're not sure?"

"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."

Trying to decide what to do, Lex 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 got his cell phone off the floor. As Lex stepped back, he saw Clark standing beside him holding up the handcuffs and rope. Clark felt weak again, and wanted to get away from Rick as soon as possible. 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."

"My fucking arm is broken. I can't!" Rick yelled.

"You better figure it out, or I'll shoot you in the other arm before I try to get near you," Lex said.

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 ordered, "Explain."

"Shouldn't we call the cops or something?" Clark asked, hoping to distract Lex.

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!"

Still feeling weak and slightly nauseous, Clark gulped once. He'd been expecting anger from his father, but not from Lex, and he wasn't sure what to say. "Well….Um…." Then he decided to try and turn the discussion back on Lex. He tried to sound like an adult and asked, "Well, 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, turned him to the side, and swatted him four times. Clark wasn't ready for or expecting the pain, and yelled loud 'ow's with each swat. Lex hadn't thought much about it before doing it, but when he heard Clark yell he felt bad. Letting go of the boy, he said, "I'm sorry."

Clark burst into tears and Lex pulled him into another hug, feeling bad about what he'd done. 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 seconds of silence Clark said, "I feel sick."

Lex thought the boy was probably in shock and said, "Let's get you into my car, and I'll take care of Rick and call the police."

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'll take care of Rick, and then we'll find your dad and explain."

Clark looked 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 in agreement, and Lex shut the door to the car. Walking back to keep an eye on Rick, Lex called 911. Once he told the operator about the situation and gave him the location, Lex hung up, even though the operator told him to stay on the line. Turning to Rick he said, "Rick."

Rick looked up. "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 a frantic, "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."

"What!?" Jonathan felt his blood pressure go up.

"He left a note. He ran to Metropolis…..I don't know if he made it there or not. He hasn't called." Martha was close to tears.

"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. "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. "Mr. Kent. Do you know where Lex is?"

"No. Do you?"

"No."

"Damn it!" Jonathan swore in frustration.

"This is where he's supposed to be in half an hour. Would you care to wait with me at my table?"

Jonathan didn't think he could tolerate just sitting and waiting. "Isn't there anything else we can do?"

"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 24
th and Jefferson."

"Are they hurt?"

"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…." Jonathan swallowed his pride and continued, "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'd been talking to the police for over 40 minutes. He'd given his statement, Clark had nervously given his statement, and Rick had even confessed. But the police were still 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're 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'd just been up front with me about this, I wouldn't have gone digging."

Lionel smiled. "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."

With an empty smile Lex 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. Lex pulled away and hissed, "Don't touch me."

Lionel chuckled and said, "I'm going to have a little chat with Rick."

Lex grabbed his father's arm and said, "No."

Lionel looked down at the hand on his arm, and then back at Lex who 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."

Laughing out loud Lionel said, "Oh, Lex. You've been with the Kent's too long. That was a good one though."

He pulled out of Lex's grasp and started towards Rick. Lex called out, "I won't go to college."

Lionel stopped and turned back to his son. Lex glared at his father and said, "I won't go to college, and I'll get a fucking job at McDonalds."

With a long suffering sigh Lionel said, "Lex, please don't make threats you can't follow through with, it's just not good business."

Irritated that his father was right, Lex changed his threat, "I'll tell the press what really happened to Rick, and even if you deny it, it will still look suspicious."

With a glare Lionel said, "This man tried to hurt you Lex. Do you really expect me to let that go?"

"Yes."

"Okay Lex, if it's that important to you, I won't go after him," Lionel said with a sigh.

Slightly surprised that his father was giving in, Lex didn't know what to say other then, "Thank you."

"Do you want me to take you home?" Lionel asked.

"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."

"I'll see you in a week son." With a sigh, Lionel went to talk to the police.

When Clark saw his dad he jumped out of the car and ran into his arms. After a long hug, Clark felt better and murmured, "I'm sorry Dad."

"I'm so glad you're okay. I was so worried about both of you," Jonathan admitted.

"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."

Jonathan found that somewhat hard to believe, but knew Clark wouldn't lie about it. "That's amazing son."

They were still hugging when Clark said, "I….I hurt that man. I broke his arm. It crunched."

Jonathan could feel his son shaking, and knew he was crying. "It's gonna be okay Clark. Was the man trying to hurt Lex?"

Clark nodded. "Well then you saved him."

Jonathan held him and rubbed his back until he was done crying, which took a few minutes. Once Clark pulled away and wiped his face, Jonathan said, "I need to go talk to Lex. You stay here in the car. Okay?"

Lex was sitting on an old crate and looking at the dirt when he saw a pair of familiar boots step in front of him. He looked up to see Jonathan's concerned face. Standing up Lex asked, "How's Clark?"

Pulling Lex into a bear hug, Jonathan said, "He'll be fine. How are you?"

Thrown off guard by the sudden and strong hug, Lex was slow to react. After a few seconds, he hugged Jonathan back and said, "I've been better."

"Martha and I have been so worried about you Lex. I'm so thankful that you're safe."

His eyes stung as they started to tear up, and his shoulders started to shake. Jonathan held him even tighter and 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. While Jonathan was holding Lex, he felt someone watching him. He turned to see Lionel staring at him with a look of pure hate. Jonathan simply glared back, and continued to hold the other man's son. Shaking himself out of it, Lionel continued talking to the police. Once Lex was able to stop crying, Jonathan let him go. Lionel came over and said, "You're free to go, the police are done."

With a genuine smile Lex said, "Thanks Dad."

"You're welcome." Lionel headed to his limo and left.

Jonathan put a hand on Lex's shoulder and said, "Drive your car back to The Palace. Clark and I will meet you there."

After making sure Lex was on his way, Jonathan got into his truck with Clark. Jonathan made sure to find out what story Clark had told Lex before they got to the hotel. Once 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."

Turning red Lex 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 still wondering what to do next. Jonathan walked over to the phone said, "I'm going to call Martha."

Both boys felt bad all over again when they heard Jonathan tell Martha not to cry after telling 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 gave him meek apologies.

Trying to keep his anger in check, 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. After calling in the order, he turned to the boys and said, "As soon as we are done eating, we'll all go home in the truck."

"But what about my car?" Lex asked.

"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."

Unable to decide if this made him feel better or worse, Lex called the front desk to arrange for the car to be driven back to the mansion. Once he hung up he said, "I'll need to give them the key."

"Be back in less then fifteen minutes, or I'll come looking for you," Jonathan warned.

With a nod of understanding, Lex went down to the front desk. He made arrangements for the car to be driven back to the manson, and 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 he'd bought 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."

Once Lex was packed, the three went down to the front desk together. After Lex paid the bill, they all headed to Jonathan's truck. Clark sat in the middle, and they started for home. Once they were on the freeway Jonathan decided he was calm enough to talk about things. "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 has it been longer then that?"

Taking a deep breath, Lex 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 found he had to agree, even though he didn't want to. Jonathan continued, "By keeping this a secret from us, you've lied to us repeatedly."

Trying to defend himself, Lex said, "I tried not to as much as possible. I really was going on a date with Monica."

"It's always a good idea to seat your lies in some truth," Jonathan said.

"It's not like that." Lex wasn't sure if he was trying to convince himself or Jonathan.

Jonathan asked, "So you really care about Monica?"

Turning to stare out the window, Lex didn't reply. That was all the answer Jonathan needed. "You may be good at lying Lex, but that doesn't make it right."

After a few more minutes of silence Jonathan said, "You had to know that going to the warehouse by yourself was a bad idea, and potentially as dangerous as it turned out to be."

With a nod Lex said, "Yeah, but it didn't seem to matter that much. I just had to know."

With pity in his voice, Jonathan said, "Lex, you matter so much more than any information about your father's shady business practice."

Lex mumbled, "I brought some pepper spray."

"And how did that work out for you?" Jonathan asked.

Lex refused to answer, so Jonathan turned to his son, "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."

"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?"

"Yes….No…..Maybe?"

Jonathan was quiet for a few minutes, letting Clark think it through. "I'm 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."

"Yes Sir." Clark had been expecting that statement from the second he stepped out the door back in Smallville.

"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." Jonathan decided he'd said all there was to say.

The rest of the trip was uncomfortably silent while the boys thought about what they'd done, and speculated on what was going to happen when they got home.

It was eight o'clock at night when they arrived home. Martha rushed out the front door to greet them. Lex got out of the truck first, and Martha gave him a crushing hug. She whispered, "Don't you ever worry me like that again young man."

He 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."

Getting choked up, he pulled her back into the hug and whispered, "I love you too."

She hugged him tighter before letting him go and saying, "Go on inside."

Clark was standing beside them waiting his turn, and as soon as Martha had her arms free, she pulled him into a hug. "I'm glad you're home safe honey."

"Sorry you had to wait alone Mom."

She kissed the top of his head and said, "I know."

Once the two boys were in the house, Martha hugged her husband and asked, "Have any of you had dinner?"

"Yeah. We ate at the hotel before coming home."

"Did you get the full story?"

He kissed her head and said, "Yes, and it isn't pretty. I'll tell you tonight once the boys are in bed."

Nodding in understanding, she said, "I put the box in Clark's room…..I thought you would need it tonight."

"Thank you sweetheart."

Jonathan walked in to a spotless house that smelled faintly of cleaning products. He turned to Martha and asked with humor, "Were you worried?"

She let out a short laugh and shrugged her shoulders. Jonathan noticed that both boys were just standing there a few feet away from the front door looking lost. 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."

"Get me when you're done," she said as she headed outside.

Watching from the porch, Jonathan waited until his wife got to the barn before going up to see Clark. Clark had left his door open, and Jonathan shut it on his way in. The boy was sitting on the edge of his bed and gave his dad a sorrowful look when he arrived. Jonathan sat next to him 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. "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?"

"No."

"I think you're too young to start now."

Clark mumbled, "I did save him."

"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."

Getting no response from his son, Jonathan added, "But it still comes down to the fact that I told you, in no uncertain terms, not to do it. And you disobeyed me."

Clark nodded, knowing it was true. With regret, Jonathan said, "Okay son, stand up."

Clark felt himself tearing up before it even started. Jonathan reached over and opened the box, and Clark grunted when he felt the effects of the meteor rock.

Having had time to think over what his son had done, Jonathan felt that he needed to make this spanking stand out in Clark's mind. Not wanting to startle him, Jonathan said, "You're pants are coming down for this one,"e; before he reached over and unsnapped Clark's jeans.

Clark couldn't remember ever having been spanked without the protection of clothing, and wailed, "Noooo!"

Ignoring that protest, Jonathan pulled Clark over his lap, and pulled the pants and underwear down together. He brought down his hand in the center of Clark's butt, leaving a light pink mark. Clark wailed, "Ow!" at the top of his lungs.

Jonathan doubted that his son's reaction to the swat had anything do with physical pain. It was about knowing he'd made a big enough mistake to warrent a more serious spanking. Jonathan kept spanking until the bottom in front of him was a uniform shade of dark pink. It hadn't been more than twenty swats, but he was sure that it had made 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 that 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 his son into a hug. He reached over with one hand and closed the box, while still keeping one arm around the boy. Clark continued to cry for quite a while, and Jonathan held him without comment. 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 added, "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."

Letting go of his dad, Clark went to go brush his teeth.

Jonathan took a deep breath, and walked across the hall to Lex's shut bedroom door. 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 across the hall. He felt somewhat responsible for it, since Clark had run off to look for him, but unlike the 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.

When the noises stopped, Lex 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."

Walking up to the window, Jonathan stood beside Lex to look out also. He said, "It's a beautiful night."

Sighing, Lex said, "So…..I guess it's my turn?"

Putting an arm around the boy's shoulders, Jonathan steered them both back towards the bed. "You could have been killed today Lex. I don't think you can even begin to understand how scared I was."

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 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?"

With surprise Jonathan 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. "Sounds like what I would have done." Then with a sigh he said, "Okay Lex, let's get it over with. Stand up, and undo your pants."

Taking a deep breath, Lex stood. 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 the boy across his lap and yanked his underwear halfway down his legs. Lex quietly swore to himself. Jonathan brought his hand down fifteen times, and 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."

After a couple of ragged breaths Lex said, "Because I lied to you and Mrs. Kent, and because I went to the warehouse."

Jonathan gave him 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." Lex didn't want to think about that.

"Last weekend you lied about what you went to see your father for."

"Yes," Lex admitted.

Jonathan brought his hand down harder for the next five swats. Lex yelled, "Owww."

"You had to lie to us at least a few times during the week to get your meeting all arranged."

Close to tears, Lex quickly called out, "Just once, I swear! Just the phone call I told you about on the way home."

After five more swats Jonathan 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."

He brought his hand down ten more times to express his disapproval, and when he was done Lex was quietly crying. Pausing again Jonathan said, "By going to meet someone in a deserted warehouse you put yourself in danger. That's completely unacceptable Lex."

While Jonathan was talking he'd unbuckled his belt. He took it off from around his waist. Lex heard the noise and looked back to see if his suspicions were correct. When he saw Jonathan doubling the belt over in his hand, Lex cried out, "No! Please don't!"

Jonathan gripped Lex tighter around the waist to make sure he wasn't going anywhere, and started to spank him with the belt. Lex struggled and yelled loudly with each spank. After ten swats, Lex was openly crying. Jonathan set the belt down beside him on the bed, and patted Lex's back. "Okay, we're done."

Pushing himself up, Lex 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. I think your well being is worth much more than finding out what bad things your father has done."

Jonathan felt Lex nodding into his chest. Patting the boy's back once, he let go and said, quot;I'm gonna go check on Clark and Martha. You get ready for bed."

"Okay."

Going back to Clark's room, Jonathan knocked and walked in. The room was dark, and Clark was sitting up in bed looking anxious. Sitting on the bed next to Clark, Jonathan said, "Lay down kiddo, and try to get some sleep."

"Is Lex okay?" Clark asked.

Jonathan's voice was soothing as he said, "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. "Night Dad."

Jonathan kissed his forehead and said, "Love you."

Taking the little box with him, Jonathan got up and shut the door on his way out. He went downstairs, put the box away, and went outside to find Martha. She was in the barn quietly talking to the horses when he came in. "It's done," he said.

She hugged him, and they walked back to the house holding hands. "Everyone doing alright?" she asked.

"I need to go check on Lex in a few minutes, but I think so."

"How about a quiet evening of snuggling in front of the TV after we check on the boys?" she suggested.

"Sounds wonderful."

They both headed upstairs together. Martha went to Clark's room, and Jonathan went to see Lex. Clark was almost asleep when his mother came in. After kissing his head, she rubbed his back until he fell asleep.

Jonathan found Lex wearing pajamas and standing at the bedroom window again. Lex didn't turn around but said, "I've been thinking about what you said….you know, about my father."

"And?"

"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 look out the window with Lex. "I think that's a good plan. I think tomorrow since it's Sunday, we'll all go to the lake and spend the day just hanging out together."

"Sounds like fun." Lex found himself looking forward to it.

Jonathan patted his shoulder and said, "Try to get some sleep. Good night."

While Jonathan was walking out, Martha walked in. She gave Lex a long hug, and a kiss on the cheek. "Good night sweetie."

Lex stood at the window for the next two hours to think things through. He thought about the Kents, his father, the farm, school, and his love life. And because of his throbbing backside, his thoughts often strayed to what he had done to get himself spanked. Eventually he climbed in bed and lay on his side. He was both dreading and looking forward to going to school the following week.

# # #

The next day was much better for both Clark and Lex. Since it was Sunday, they both got to sleep in, and didn't have to do any work on the farm. Martha packed a huge lunch, and they went to the lake, with Clark and Lex riding in the back of the truck. 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?"

"No."

When Lex saw the packages he said, "Oh I had my staff deliver those."

Turning to Clark he said, "Help me bring them in."

There were three gift wrapped packages, and soon they were in on the kitchen table. Lex looked to Jonathan, knowing he would be the one to talk to about it. "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."

Jonathn gave him a nod and waited. Lex continued, "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."

Pausing to gather his thoughts Lex 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 turned pleading eyes to Jonathan who smiled and said, "Okay. As long as it's nothing extravagant."

Grinning Lex gave the largest box to Clark. Clark bounced with excitement and said, "Thanks Lex."

As Clark was opening his gift, Martha quietly went to Lex and put her arm around his shoulders. 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."

"An X-box?" Jonathan asked Lex with a hint of disapproval.

Lex shrugged. "Summer's over Mr. Kent."

Jonathan laughed out loud and said, "That it is. Okay Clark, you can keep it."

"Cool! Let's go plug it in. Do you have any of these games Lex? Can you show me how to set it up?"

With a chuckle Lex said, "In a few minutes." He picked up the second box and handed it to Martha. "I thought for a long time about what to get you….I knew you would probably want something practical….something you could use…..like 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….."

He interrupted her. "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 by itself has saved me."

With watery eyes Martha 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. "They look good on you."

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. After closer inspection he 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. "It's perfect Lex. Thanks. And I expect you to show up and spend some time with us at each of these games."

"I've never been much of a football fan, so you'll have to explain the finer points of the game to me."

With false shock 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. "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."

With a laugh, Lex went and helped Clark set it up.

The next week went by quickly, 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."

Going upstairs, Lex stood looked around the room he now thought of as his. When he'd arrived, he never would have thought it possible, but now he knew for certain he was going to miss the little room. Ten minutes later he had his suitcase open on the bed with one pair of pants in it. Martha saw Lex standing still and looking at the mostly empty suitcase. She quietly knocked on the door frame and walked into the room. "Now why doesn't it surprise me that you can't pack. None of my guys can pack."

"Here. I'll help," she said as she opened a drawer and picked up a shrit.

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 did as he was told. Clark and Jonathan had been standing on the front porch just waiting, and once Jonathan saw Lex he said, "Okay, come on Clark, let's go."

Jonathan and Clark got in the truck while Lex turned to Martha and said, "You sure you don't want to come with us?"

She shook her head. "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."

"I love you, and I promise to see you soon. Thank you for letting me stay."

Patting his back Martha corrected, "I think you mean making you stay."

He let her go with a grin and watery eyes. "I guess that's true."

She put a hand on his cheek. "I'll miss you."

"Me too." Turning away, he walked to the truck and got in. Martha stood on the porch wiping her eyes as they drove away.

The drive to the mansion was filled with a depressed silence. When they arrived Lex looked up at the big house and said quietly, "It doesn't feel much like home."

"You'll always have a home with us Lex," Jonathan said.

"That means a lot to me."

Jonathan lifted the suitcase out of the truck, and Lex said, "Come on in and I'll show you around."

Jonathan and Clark got a short tour of the mansion, and Clark lingered over Lex's X-box games. He cajoled Jonathan into letting him borrow three from Lex. Once they were done Jonathan said, "We should get home."

"I'll walk you out," Lex said.

Once they got to the car, Clark tossed the games in the truck, turned to Lex, and gave him a hug around the middle. Lex hugged him back and said, "I'm gonna miss you."

"Me too."

Letting go, Lex bent down so that he could be eye to eye with Clark and 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. "Brothers? That sounds right."

Lex mussed Clark's hair and then turned to Jonathan. Jonathan gave him 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 before adding, "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."

"Okay."

"And remember our agreement. You aren't going to be out partying every night, you're going to be studying right?"

"Right."

"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."

With a small smile Lex 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 chuckled and 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."

With a wry smile Jonathan said, "I believe you will Lex. I'll talk to you soon."

Lex waved goodbye as he watched the truck drive away.


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