Authors Note: This story is set in an Alternate Universe of Smallville, where Clark and Lex meet much earlier in life. Clark is 12, and Lex is 18. Written January 28th 2005 (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. One scene showing physical and emotional abuse of an adult by a parent.



Friendship Chapter 6


Lex was home for Christmas break. He couldn't believe how much he'd missed the Kents over the past three months while he was away at school. He'd seen them a few times, staying the weekend twice, and flying in to join them at a couple of the football games that Jonathan had season tickets to. But it still felt good to be home for an entire week.

He'd arrived yesterday late in the evening. Now was morning, and he was helping Clark feed the animals while Clark was telling him all about Pete, and school, and how excited he was about Christmas. Soon after, the whole family was sitting down for breakfast and Jonathan asked, "So Lex, how do you think you did on your finals?"

"Good I think," Lex said with a smile.

Martha smiled too, "Now that the first term is over, and you have an idea of what it's like, do you think it's something you're gonna want to do for the next four years?"

"Yeah. Some of it was boring, but for the most part I liked it. My History class was actually fun."

Martha beamed. "I'm so glad."

"Have you made any friends?" Jonathan asked.

"I've met a few people in class that I talk to sometimes, but no one that I've hung out with outside of class… well, I guess I've talked to some of them outside of class, but it was about class. Does that count?"

"It's a start. A good start."

Lex smiled, and Martha asked, "What about the parties? I know you told us about two of them. Did you meet anyone at either of those…. Or at any others?"

Darting his eyes over to Jonathan, Lex wondered if he should confess to going to the other parties or not. Jonathan saw the look and chuckled. "As long as you passed your classes, and didn't do anything dangerous, I'm not gonna be upset about partying after the fact."

With a sheepish smile Lex said, "There were a total of five, but that really isn't very many for me during a three month span."

He turned to Martha and continued, "As for meeting people, there were a few nice girls, but no one I wanted to talk to more then one night." That was a close as Lex could get to telling her he'd had a few one night stands that didn't lead to anything else.

"Well that's okay," she said.

"So was there like a ton of homework every night?" Clark asked.

"Pretty much, and most of it was reading." Lex laughed at Clark's discouraged expression.

Jonathan asked, "When do you get your grades?"

"Should be this week or next. I asked my personal assistant in New York to have it faxed to the mansion when she gets it. One of my dad's employees will give me a call here when it arrives."

"So tell us about each of your classes and what you learned," Martha said with excitement.

He spent the rest of breakfast telling them about his classes.

# # #

The week passed happily for everyone. On Friday Lex got a call from the mansion telling him his grades were in. He drove over and picked them up. When he saw them, he was both pleased and surprised by how good they were. He had two A's and three B's. He did a double take and looked at the name again, to make sure it was his. It was the best report card he'd ever gotten. On the ride back to the farm, he wondered how different high school would have been if he had known the Kents back then. He arrived right after lunch, found Jonathan on the porch, and handed the report card to him. After looking it over, Jonathan smiled, hugged him, and murmured, "I'm so proud of you Lex. You did such a good job."

Lex couldn't help but grin as he felt his eyes tearing up. Jonathan let him go, and called to Martha and Clark who were both in the kitchen. Once Martha looked at the grades, she also hugged Lex and told him she was proud of him. Clark smiled and said, "That's cool Lex. Not as good as mine's gonna be but pretty good."

Laughing, Lex punched Clark lightly on the shoulder and said, "Shut up show off. Not everyone can get straight A's."

Clark smirked, and was going to make a remark, but it died on his lips when he saw his dad shake his head and give him a serious frown. Instead, he looked up at Lex and said, "Yeah, well I'm sure your classes are harder then mine too."

Lex felt himself smiling throughout the rest of the day for no particular reason.

Sunday was Christmas, and Lex was spending the morning with the Kents, and then going back to the mansion to spend the second half of the day with his father. The following week he was going to be spending time with his father in Metropolis. He had wanted to spend both weeks of vacation with the Kents, but his father had flat out refused, and told him he could kiss his college money goodbye if he didn't spend at least one of the weeks with him. Lex had begrudgingly agreed.

Christmas morning Lex woke up at six, and was happy to note that he wasn't as sore as he had been the rest of the week. He was amazed that three months away had left him so out of shape for farm work. Heading downstairs, he found Martha at the table sipping coffee, and an anxious looking Clark not eating his cereal. Lex smiled, and as he poured himself some coffee and asked Clark, "Having trouble waiting?"

Glaring at his breakfast, Clark said, "I don't see why the animals can't wait to be fed for a few hours one day a year."

Martha put a hand over his and gave him a sympathetic smile. "That wouldn't be a very good Christmas for them now would it?"

"I guess not."

"Your dad will be done in a few minutes, and the presents aren't going anywhere."

Clark put a bite in his mouth so he would have an excuse not to talk.

The second Jonathan walked through the door Clark jumped up and said, "Can we go in the living room now? Can we please?"

With a laugh Jonathan nodded. Martha handed him a cup of coffee and a muffin to take with him. Lex took his coffee with him as well, and smiled as he thought about what Clark had told him last night.

# # #

A few minutes after Lex got into bed, he heard a timid knock at his door. "Yeah?" he asked sitting up.

Clark opened the door, and shut it behind him. With concern Lex asked, "Is something wrong?"

Standing at the foot of the bed Clark said, "No…not really…I….I just don't want you to think I'm a baby or something tomorrow."

"What do you mean?" Lex asked.

"I had a talk with Dad last year about….about Santa,…..and we agreed that I wouldn't tell Mom that I didn't really believe in him until next summer. Dad says it will make Mom happy…like a Christmas present for her."

Clark darted a worried glance at Lex. Understanding, Lex said seriously, "I would have done that for my mom too Clark. It's okay."

Smiling with relief Clark said, "Thanks Lex."

Lex waved him off. "Go to bed, or Santa will never come."

"Okay," Clark smirked as he left.

# # #

Now Lex had to smile into his coffee cup as Clark talked animatedly about what Santa had left for him in his stocking. Then Clark turned to Lex and asked, "Aren't you gonna look in yours?"

"My what?"

"You're stocking."

Looking over at the fireplace with confusion, Lex saw that there was a second stocking full of things. He turned to Martha who gave him a smile and a wink. He said honestly, "I thought it was just up for decoration."

With surprise Clark asked, "Don't you usually have one on Christmas morning?"

Before Lex could answer Clark said, "Hey, do you get two?! Is there gonna be another one for you at your house?"

Lex just shook his head 'no' slowly as he tried to block out the memory of his last stocking. Jonathan and Martha exchanged a look of concern for Lex, but before either one could comment, he put his empty coffee mug down and said, "Be right back….too much coffee."

In the bathroom, he looked at himself in the mirror and whispered fiercely, "Don't think about it. This is going to be a good Christmas for the first time in six years, and you aren't going to ruin it for yourself or them." Jabbing his finger at himself for good measure he said, "So just drop it God damn it." Forcing a smile, he flushed the toilet on his way out the door.

Back in the living room, Lex looked at Clark and asked, "So what do you think Santa brought me?"

Clark ran over and handed him his stocking. Lex chuckled when he found school supplies like pens, highlighters, and a stapler in his stocking. Clark frowned and put a possessive hand over his chocolate, hoping that he wouldn't get that kind of crap once he told his Mom he didn't believe in Santa.

Jonathan had made Lex promise a month in advance that he wouldn't spend more then fifty bucks on any of them for Christmas, and Lex had stuck to it even though he'd found it excruciating. When his stocking was empty Lex said, "Hey Clark, why don't you open the one from me?"

Clark opened it and found the newest and most popular game for his X-box. He exclaimed, "Cool!"

With a sheepish expression Clark handed Lex a gift and said, "It's dumb, I know…..but it's all I could afford, and I thought you could take it with you to school and it would remind you of me….or something….you can take it back if you want….or if you have one."

He opened it to find a new basketball and said honestly, "Thanks, Clark. It will remind me of you, and I don't have one, so thanks."

"Okay," Clark said, pleased that Lex seemed to like it.

Clark opened a few from Santa, and then handed Lex one that said it was from Santa too. Lex opened it and found a handmade quilt with a spiral pattern in various shades of blue with an off white background. He took it out of the box and stood up to hold it up so he could see the whole thing. He looked over at Martha who was smiling. "It's beautiful. Thank you," he said.

"Don't thank me, it's from Santa," Martha insisted.

He folded it and sat with it on his lap so he could admire it, while Jonathan and Martha opened a few things from each other.

Clark opened some clothes from his parents and said, "Thanks." without much enthusiasm.

Martha handed one to Lex that was from her. It was a large journal with hand written recipes. When he opened it she said, "Those are my absolute favorites, along with the ones I know you like, but the second half is blank so you can put your favorites in it as the years go by. But you have to promise to share if you find a really good one."

"Thanks Mrs. Kent, I promise I will," he said with a smile.

Clark handed his mom the gift Lex had gotten her. She opened it and found a new carving knife. She smiled and said, "Thank you Lex. Now I won't have to listen to you complain about my old one that's been sharpened too many times to count, and wasn't a very good knife to start with."

He smiled at her, but gave Jonathan a slight glare as he said, "I wanted to get you a whole set."

Purposely ignoring that comment, Jonathan said, "We'll put it to use with the Turkey we're having for lunch."

Clark handed his father the gift Lex had gotten him. Jonathan opened it and said, "Wow Lex, thanks. I needed a new set of wrenches. Did you have a flashback of working on the tractor when you bought them?"

"Actually I did," Lex laughed.

Standing up, Jonathan handed Lex a small box. He opened it and found an old compass. He wasn't sure why Jonathan had given it to him, but he smiled and said, "Thanks."

Jonathan explained, "It was my grandfather's. He gave it to my dad, and my dad gave it to me when I was eighteen. I thought you should have it. It's so you can always find your way home. No matter where you go or what life brings you, you can always come home if you need to."

Holding the compass tighter, he looked over at Jonathan. Desperately wanting to keep it, but feeling like it would be wrong, Lex said, "Wow….that's…are you sure you want to give it to me? I mean shouldn't Clark have it?"

Jonathan patted Lex's shoulder gently. "I talked to Clark about it first. We both think you should have it."

Still not quite believing it, Lex turned to Clark who smiled and nodded. Looking down at the compass Lex whispered, "Okay. Thank you."

Jonathan could tell that Lex needed a minute, and asked Clark, "Anything else under the tree?"

"One for me, and one for Mom."

Once the presents were all open, Clark talked Jonathan into playing one of his video games with him, while Martha and Lex started cooking for the big lunch.

A couple of hours after lunch Lex couldn't help but look at his watch every few minutes. He didn't want to go see his dad at all, but he knew he would be waiting, and Lionel didn't like people being late. Eventually Lex reluctantly said, "I'm gonna have to go pack up my stuff and head to the mansion. Dad will be waiting."

Everyone helped Lex gather up his stuff and packed it into his car. Finally he gave each of them a hug and said goodbye. When he hugged Martha he whispered, "Thank you for the quilt. It will be nice to have something to remind me of home when I'm in New York. This was the best Christmas I've had in over nine years, so thank you for that too."

Martha squeezed him tight. "It's been one of my favorites too."

She let him go and patted his cheek. "Just remember that we love you if things get bad next week with your dad okay?"

After giving her a nod, Lex walked to his car, and gave everyone a wave before driving off.

# # #

The closer Lex got to the mansion, the more nervous he became. He'd talked to his dad a few times over the past three months, but not much. He pulled up to the mansion, and went looking for his father. He found Lionel in his office doing paperwork. Lex shook his head and said, "It's Christmas Dad. Are you working?"

Looking up Lionel said, "Ah Lex, how wonderful to see you. I'll just finish this up, and then we can visit."

Shaking his head, Lex said with irritation, "You know Dad, when you have your own company, you really ought to be able to take a day off when you want to."

With a condescending smile Lionel said, "If you want to make sure the company is run well, you don't take any time off."

Lex rolled his eyes. "Whatever."

Lionel waved his son away. "I'll meet you in the main living room in half an hour."

Walking to the main living room, Lex admired the tree that someone had put up. As he was looking at it, one of the ornaments caught his eye. He couldn't breath for a second when he realized what it was. It was a white porcelain ornament of a Santa that said at the bottom 'Baby's First Christmas'. Touching it gently, Lex took it off the tree and said, "I thought this was gone." He'd been trying to block it out all day, but seeing the ornament was too much. He was tossed back into the memory of his last happy Christmas, when he was 12 years old.

# # #

Lex woke up and checked his clock to make sure it was morning. It said seven AM, so he ran down the hall to his parent's bedroom. He went to his Mom's side of the bed and said, "Mom?"

Opening her eyes, she gave him a small smile. Lex whispered, "Can we go open presents?"

She whispered, "You're brother just went back to sleep. You want to climb in bed with us for a little while first?"

"Okay." His mom had a weak heart, and he often laid in bed with her to visit.

He climbed into bed between his mother and father, waking Lionel up in the process. Lionel gave his son a smile and rolled over to sleep some more. Lex lay still and watched his mom sleep. Looking at her closely, he noticed that she was thin, and there were dark circles under her eyes. His thoughts turned to his brother, Julian. Lex thought his brother was the best Christmas present he could have. He couldn't wait for Julian to get a little older so he would have someone to play with. He wasn't at all popular in school, and he kept thinking that having a brother to stick by his side would make him feel less alone. He promised himself that he would always be there for Julian when he needed a friend. His dad was working most of the time, and his mom was sick all the time, so Lex knew that Julian would be lonely too if he didn't help.

Half an hour later Julian cried, and Lex watched as his mom stumbled over to the bassinet half-awake. She picked the baby up and held him. Lex thought there was something wrong with the way she held the baby, and Julian didn't stop crying. Lionel woke up and got out of bed too. He walked over to his wife and rearranged the baby in her arms. Lex smiled when Julian stopped his full blown crying and went to whimpering. Lionel turned to Lex and said, "Let's go see the tree."

Getting out of bed, Lex said, "Come on mom."

Lionel looked at his wife, who was staring out the window. He put an arm around her shoulders to steer her towards the door. "Come darling, you can feed the baby while Lex opens his gifts."

She followed him docilely with a blank expression. In the living room, the servants brought out some breakfast and coffee for everyone, and a warm bottle for Julian. Lex opened gifts and handed gifts to both his parents and his brother. Lex watched when his mom opened a gift from Lionel. It was a porcelain ornament of a Santa that said Baby's first Christmas. Lex was confused when his mom started crying and let the baby fall from her arms. Julian landed half on her lap and half on the couch. Julian started screaming, and after glaring at his wife, Lionel picked the baby up to sooth him. Lionel caught Lex looking at his mom and said, "Your mother is just very happy about the gift. Sometimes women cry when they're very happy."

Staring at his mother, Lex decided she didn't look happy to him. He went to her and said, "Mom?"

Focusing on his face, she pulled him to her and hugged him tight. "Oh Lex, I'm sorry. Look at me, crying on Christmas. Don't worry honey, I'm fine. Why don't you open another gift."

Comforted by her words, Lex went and opened some more gifts.

# # #

Looking at the ornament in his hand again Lex asked it, "Have you been in with the Christmas stuff all this time, but no one put you on the tree before? I wonder why?"

Lost in thought, Lex hadn't realized his father was now in the room with him. He heard a voice directly behind him ask, "What are you doing?"

Still holding the ornament, Lex spun around and said, "Sorry, I didn't hear you. Look what was on the tree."

Seeing the ornament, Lionel snatched it out of his son's hands. Before either one of them realized what was going on, Lionel had backhanded Lex. He went flying back and hit his head against the fireplace bricks. Too stunned to do much besides lay where he had fallen, Lex stared up at his dad. With a look of hatred Lionel hissed, "Don't touch it again."

Lionel turned and left the room as quickly as he could without running. Sitting up, Lex felt his head where it had hit the bricks. He pulled his hand away to see blood, and stared at it until it blurred. Crying quietly, Lex picked himself up and walked to his room. He lay down on his bed and curled up into the fetal position while holding a pillow to his stomach and thought about that night. The night that had changed everything, a few months after that last happy Christmas.

# # #

Lex couldn't remember the actual event, although he often tried. He could only remember the aftermath. He was standing next to the bassinet with a pillow in his hands, and his father was looking at him with disbelief. Lionel said, "What did you just do?"

Lionel looked in the bassinet and picked up baby Julian, who wasn't making any noise. Lex was frozen in place not sure what had happened. Once he realized Julian was dead, Lionel started to cry. He gently put Julian back in the bassinet, and then turned on Lex with hatred. He slapped Lex as hard as he could. Falling backwards, Lex dropped the pillow, and blacked out when he landed.

The rest of the night was a blur for Lex. He could remember seeing his mother sitting in the dark staring out the window, with a disconcerting smile on her face while she cried. He remembered the police, and the ambulance. He heard the emergency people tell his father it was most likely SIDS, and that they were very sorry. He remembered his father had gone into his study and refused to come out for two days. And he clearly remembered being sent to boarding school the following week even though he had cried and begged his father and mother not to send him away.

# # #

Lex was still curled up on his bed crying, when he started to hear the baby cry. He sat up and wiped at his eyes. "Julian?" he called.

The baby's cries got louder, so Lex got up to find him. He walked down the hall towards the nursery, which hadn't been changed since that day. He looked in the crib, and there was his brother crying. He picked Julian up and rocked back and forth with him saying, "It's okay. Don't cry."

He sat in the rocking chair and rocked with the baby until he fell asleep.

# # #

Two hours later Lionel had finished firing the woman who had put up the Christmas tree, and felt calm enough to talk to his son. He went upstairs, but couldn't find him anywhere, until he saw the door to the nursery ajar. He walked in to find Lex sitting in the rocking chair with a wadded up blanket in his arms. Lionel knew what had happened, and shook his head. It hadn't happened for years, but this wasn't the first time Lex had a hallucination about Julian. With a sigh, he walked over to Lex. Taking the blanket out of his arms, Lionel noticed that Lex had a wound on the back of his head. The blood had dried, and the wound wasn't still leaking, but there was blood all over the back of his head, and some had leaked down into his shirt. With a twinge of guilt, he knelt down and put a hand on Lex's arm. Shaking him gently, he said, "Lex?"

"Dad?" Lex woke up and looked around. "What am I doing in the nursery?"

"I'm not sure, but we need to get you cleaned up. Come on." Lionel headed for the door, and Lex followed him with confusion. They went to the bathroom and Lionel said, "Take a shower and change your clothes. I'm going to call Dr. Schmidt to come take a look at you."

"Why?" Lex asked, feeling nervous.

"Your head is bleeding. We need to make sure it's not a concussion."

Putting his hand up to the wound, Lex felt it and remembered what had happened. He berated himself for touching the ornament and whispered, "I'm sorry."

Without sincerity, Lionel answered, "It's okay. Come to the kitchen when you're cleaned up." Handing his son a washcloth he added, "Hold that to your head if it starts to bleed again."

Once Lionel left and shut the door, Lex looked at himself in the mirror. His skin seemed very pale against the dried blood. He couldn't look at himself for long, and stripped to take a shower. The whole time he was rinsing off, he felt the same crushing guilt that he had felt for the first few years after he had killed Julian. He wasn't sure why he'd done it, and couldn't remember doing it, but he knew he had smothered his baby brother to death with the pillow. He asked himself the same unanswered question again and again. Why? He loved his brother. He wanted a brother more then anything else in the world, so why had he killed him? He didn't know the answer and probably never would. But he knew his father was right to hate him for it.

Getting out of the shower, he dried off, and wrapped a towel around his waist to walk down the hall to his room. Halfway there he scratched his neck, and found it was sticky. Remembering the head wound, Lex went back to the bathroom to get the washcloth. A few minutes later Lex met his father in the kitchen. Motioning for Lex to come sit in the chair next to his, Lionel lifted the washcloth and looked at the boy's head. "It will probably need a couple of stitches. Dr. Schmidt should be here in twenty minutes or so."

Lex nodded, and Lionel gave him back the washcloth to hold to his head. They sat in uncomfortable silence until the doctor arrived, and gave Lex four stitches. Dr. Schmidt was on Lionel's payroll, and didn't ask Lex what had happened, but did assure the both of them that Lex didn't have a concussion. Lionel walked the doctor to the door, and told him about Lex's episode. The doctor gave Lionel some pills to help Lex sleep for the next few days.

When they were alone again Lionel said, "Why don't we go in the living room, and open a few gifts?"

Walking to the room in a daze, Lex sat on the couch and stared at the floor. Lionel went to the tree, pulled out a gift, and gave it to Lex. "Merry Christmas son."

Lex opened it and found a new electronic personal day planner. "Thanks," he said mechanically. Lionel handed him another, and another, but Lex found no joy in opening the gifts. By the time he was done there was a few thousand dollars worth of stuff around him, but he couldn't bring himself to care. His father looked at him expectantly for a minute and then said, "Well, I guess that's it then."

"Oh, wait. I'll go get your gift." Lex went to his room, got the box, and headed back to the living room.

Lionel opened it, took out the watch, and said sincerely, "Thank you. It's very nice."

Thinking it was dumb now, Lex couldn't stop himself from saying, "There's something else in the box."

Taking out the tissue paper, Lex found a folded piece of paper at the bottom. It was Lex's report card. Lex shrugged and said, "I know it's stupid, but I thought you might like to know that I'm doing better with college then I did with high school."

With a frown, Lionel said, "I hardly think a report card, which clearly shows that you've been bribing people to take your tests, is a good gift Lex. Although I am glad you've learned the value of good grades well enough to pay the right people."

"But I….." Lex trailed off, knowing his father wouldn't believe that the grades were his anyway. And after thinking about what he'd done to his brother, he didn't think he deserved praise for anything. He said, "Your right. I'm sorry."

Lionel took a bottle of pills out of his pocket and said, "Lex, you look tired, and Dr. Schmidt said you should get plenty of rest for the next few days. He left these for you. Why don't you head up to your room and call it an early night?"

Lex reached out to take the bottle of pills, but Lionel pulled it back out of his reach. Lionel opened the bottle himself, gave Lex two pills, and put the bottle back in his own pocket. Pissed at his father's lack of trust, Lex smiled as he took the pills from his hand. "It's good to be home Dad." He started to laugh, almost hysterically, as he walked off to his room. He put the pills in his mouth and swallowed, praying that they would take effect quickly. He lay down on his bed and waited for the darkness to take him.

# # #

The next week, Lex stayed with Lionel in Metropolis. Lionel worked all day every day, while Lex filled his time with sleep, TV, drugs, and alcohol. Both men said very little to each other during the week, and sometimes their only contact was when Lex got his sleeping pills from Lionel at night.

When Lionel had originally forced Lex stay with him for a week, he'd planned on taking him to Luthorcorp each day. He'd envisioned showing him around, to try and get him interested in working there. But after the Christmas incident, Lionel couldn't stand to be around his son for any length of time. Lionel also didn't want to have to explain Lex's head wound, or his face, which had turned a bluish color where he'd been hit.

On the last night before Lex was supposed to go back to school, Lionel got home from work later then usual. Lex was waiting for him. Holding out his hand Lex said, "I'm really tired dad. Could I have the meds please?"

When Lionel handed him the bottle, Lex raised his eyebrows. Lionel said, "Last two."

Lionel sighed at Lex's obvious disappointment. "The jet is set to take us both to New York tomorrow at 10am."

"You don't have to come. Just write me a blank check," Lex said.

Lionel shook his head no. Lex shrugged, took his pills, and went to his room.

The next day Lex slept for part of the trip, and pretended to sleep for the rest of it. They both went to the school, where they had a meeting with the Dean. Lionel wrote a hefty check. The very happy Dean turned to Lex and said, "If you give me a list of the classes you want to take this term, I'll make sure you're signed up before registration tomorrow."

Lex said, "Thank you." as the Dean handed him a class list to look over. Lex didn't much care about classes at that point, but it helped him block out his father, so he looked it over and picked some classes.

Once business was done, and they were out of the office Lionel turned to Lex and said, "I've made sure you have enough in your account for books and living expenses. Is there anything else you need?"

Lex shook his head no, willing his father to leave. Lionel said, "Very well. Do you want a ride back to your place?"

"No I'll call Laura and she'll have a car sent for me. I'm pretty sure I told her this was the day I was coming back."

"Yes, I gave your assistant a call yesterday. She'll be expecting you."

"Okay."

Lionel turned and got in his car. As he watched his father leave, Lex felt relief wash over him. He called his assistant and got a ride home.

The rest of the day Lex looked thorough the mail that had piled up, and talked to his assistant about his daily schedule for the term. She said she would have the cook and the housekeeper start the following day. After she left, Lex sat alone on the couch in his living room and stared at the empty fireplace. He wasn't sure what he was going to do. He'd spent the past week avoiding thoughts of Christmas day with his father, but now here he was back at school.

He thought, 'What the Fuck are you doing Lex? Wallowing in guilt over something that happened six years ago is fucking stupid. But how can I not? Am I gonna go to school still? Pretend like nothing happened, and then Mr. Kent will give me that look that says he's proud of me and I did a good job, when really I'm a murderer on the inside. But if I don't go to school he's gonna find out, and he's gonna want to know why. So I tell him what I did, and then he'll give me the same look my father gave me. Then he'll walk out the door and never come back. But I'm a murderer, so that's what I deserve. I shouldn't have love. But God I want it so bad. Can I stand to have Mr. and Mrs. Kent love me after what I did? Fuck! Why am I thinking about this so much after all these years! I haven't had problems with this for at least two years. Goddamn ornament! Does this mean I'll have to spend the next four or five years high or drunk to forget about it again? Shit. What the Fuck are you going to do Lex?"

While he was thinking, the phone rang. He answered, and heard Martha on the other end. "Hi Lex honey, I was just calling to see how you were. How was the week with your dad?"

Unable to talk about any of it, Lex said, "It was fine, how was your week?"

"We had a pretty good time. Jonathan got sucked into that new game you got Clark, and he played it almost every day this past week. Clark actually complained to me about it." She laughed.

With a smile Lex said, "Maybe next year I should get one for Mr. Kent."

"Don't you dare. So what did you do with your dad?"

Avoiding the question, Lex said, "Not much. He was working most of the time."

"Well knowing how he is, maybe it's good he didn't have a lot of contact with you," she said.

"Yeah, probably."

"So are you all signed up for classes?"

"Yes."

"What are you taking?"

Lex went through the list of the classes that the Dean had signed him up for. When he was done, Martha said, "Sounds like a full load of classes, but I'm sure you'll enjoy the second part of that History class you took. Is it the same teacher?"

"Yeah."

"When do classes start?"

"In two days."

She asked, "Are you looking forward to it?"

The longer they talked, the more Lex found himself wanting to blurt out what had really happened at Christmas. His fear of her reaction got the better of him, and he said, "I have to get going. I need to go buy my books."

"Oh, sure no problem. Clark was wanting to talk to you, but he can say hi next time."

"Okay sounds good."

"Bye. I love you."

"I love you too," Lex said with desperation, before quickly hanging up. He said to himself, "Just stop. The Kents love you whether you deserve it or not, and you aren't going to let them down and disappoint them just because you're a waste of human space. Go to your classes and be serious about it."

Lex nodded to himself and then looked at the time. It was late afternoon, and he didn't have anything planned for the rest of the day, so he decided he would go buy his books.

Three hours later he had his books in his car and was driving home. He passed a bar on the way, and thought about going in to have a few drinks. Then he said to himself, "Yeah, then you can drive yourself home and murder someone else along the way. Perfect."

He went home and cooked himself some dinner, but didn't have any appetite. Fifteen minutes and three bites later he pushed his plate away and yelled, "Fuck this!" He called a cab, and was soon at the bar drinking and forgetting.

# # #

The day school started, Lex was hung over, and so was his hooker. They were both woken up by Lex's personal assistant. He'd arranged for her to call him on that first day, and now he regretted it. He told the prostitute to go home, and paid her a little extra for having to get up early. He showered and tried not to throw up. He had no idea what he was doing, or why, but his headache made it easier to just go through the motions.

He was only slightly late to his first class, and he went to all of his classes. He actually enjoyed a couple of them. By the time he was done for the day he had four text book chapters to read. He went to the campus library to study, but half an hour into it, he realized he had been on the same two pages for the entire time. Shaking his head, he closed his book, and put his head in his hands. He told himself to stop going over Christmas again and again in his head. He opened the book and tried again, but half an hour later he slammed it shut. When one of the librarians gave him a frown, he yelled, "Don't give me a look, my father probably paid for this whole fucking wing!"

She raised her eyebrows at him, and he was immediately embarrassed about what he'd said. He gathered his stuff and left. Half an hour later he was at the bar again.

The next day, after his wake up call, he did go to class, but this time he was half an hour late, and didn't even try to go to the library after. The next day he told his personal assistant not to call him in the mornings anymore. He sat in bed and said to himself, "I quit. No more school, just parties and drinking and forgetting. Sounds good right about now. Some vodka will get rid of this hangover. If Jonathan Kent doesn't like it, he can fuck himself."

The next three weeks went quickly for Lex. He spent most of it at bars, and tried to stay perpetually high or drunk. He avoided all calls from the Kents with the help of his personal assistant. He did take one call at the end of the second week. But then he'd mostly listened to Clark, talking about fishing with Pete.

On Sunday, at the end of the third week, Lex arrived home from the bar and paid the cab driver way too much. He stumbled into his condo, and went to his bedroom to lay on his bed. He ended up thinking about the Kents. He missed them more then he would have thought possible, and eventually decided he should call them just to say hi. He dialed their number successfully after the third try. A sleepy Jonathan answered with, "Hello?"

Lex slurred out, "Mis'er. Kent?"

"Lex?"

Lex smiled happily and said, "I miss you."

Now fully awake, Jonathan said, "What's wrong Lex? Have you been drinking?"

Nodding to himself Lex said, "Yep."

"Where are you Lex?"

Confused by this question, Lex said, "Home, why?"

"That's good. Make sure you don't go anywhere tonight okay?"

Lex was laughing hysterically for a few minutes. When he could talk again he said, "I jus' got home."

"By cab?" Jonathan asked.

"Yep. Smelled bad. Shoulda had a driver."

"Okay, good. So, what's wrong?"

"Nothin'….jus' sayin' hi…. but we shouldn' do the deal."

Jonathan said, "What deal? Our deal for school?"

"Tha's right."

"Sorry Lex, that's not gonna happen. Part of the agreement we made is that we don't call it off in the middle of a term. Remember? Once the term is over we can talk about ending the deal, but not before that."

With a sigh, Lex said, "But tha's su'pid Mis'er. Kent."

Smiling to himself Jonathan said, "Well that's the way it is."

Lex shook his head violently. "You don' un'ers'an. I'm…I'm… no' worth the time."

Glaring at the nightstand Jonathan said, "Yes you are Lex."

"No…. I'm jus'…. It's jus'…. I gave up. Haven' gone in weeks. I'm jus' fuc'ed up," he finally admitted.

In a soothing voice, Jonathan said, "Lex listen to me. Are you listening?"

"Yeah."

"Go to bed, and I'll see you in the morning."

Lex smiled. "You'll see me? Tha's nice. Tha'll be nice."

"See you then."

"M'kay." Lex hung up the phone and lay down. He pulled the quilt Martha had made him into his arms, like he had every night since arriving in New York, and passed out.

Jonathan turned to Martha who was awake and looking at him with concern. He said, "I'm gonna need to use the emergency credit card."

# # #

The next day at noon, Jonathan banged on Lex's door. He had been there for five minutes banging. Eventually a sleepy, and disheveled looking Lex yanked the door open and yelled, "Go the fuck away…. Mr. Kent?"

With a stern expression Jonathan said, "You've got ten minutes to get your butt ready for class, and if you aren't ready, I'm gonna spank you right now."

Sucking in some air Lex said, "Oh God! I really called you? I thought that was a dream!" Looking down he muttered loudly to himself, "Stupid! Fuck!"

Making a show of looking at his watch, Jonathan said, "Nine minutes and forty five seconds."

Lex just stood there, trying to understand how he had been so dumb, and trying to decide what to do about it. The longer he stood there, the more he panicked, wondering how much Jonathan knew.

Seeing the lost look on Lex, Jonathan took pity on him. He pulled the boy into a hug and said, "It's good to see you Lex. I've missed you." Jonathan let him go and said, "Now go get ready, and do it quick."

Numbly nodding, Lex walked back to his bedroom. He gathered up some clothes, and went into his bathroom. As he was taking off yesterday's clothes he thought, 'What am I doing? I'm not going back to school. I quit.'

He got in the shower and rinsed off wondering how to convince Jonathan that quitting was the right thing to do. But it was hard to think with a massive headache and a nauseated stomach. By the time he got dressed in his clean clothes, he had put together what he hoped was a convincing argument. He walked back out to the living room and saw Jonathan sitting with one leg on the edge of his couch and the other balanced on the floor. Jonathan looked at his watch and smiled as he said, "One minute still to go. That's good, it gives us a couple of minutes to talk since I told the cab driver to wait for fifteen."

Lex took a deep breath and said, "Mr. Kent, I really appreciate you coming all this way to see me but…."

Standing, Jonathan took the two steps that separated him from Lex. He took Lex by the upper arm and dragged him over to the couch with him. On the way there Lex said, "Wait!… If you just let me explain… No!"

Jonathan had sat back down on the arm of the couch and tossed Lex over his one leg. He brought his hand down on Lex's behind with a loud 'smack', which made Lex shut up fast. He brought his hand down five more times and then paused to ask, "Do you know what I did this morning Lex?"

Not having been in this position for quite some time, Lex was a swirl of emotions. All he could get out was "N.. No?"

"I had a nice little chat with three of your five teachers."

Lex groaned and put his head down on the couch cushion. Jonathan continued, "And I made us appointments with the other two."

Jonathan gave Lex two more hard swats and said, "Are you listening?"

Jumpping at the unexpected swats, Lex spat out, "Yes Damn it!"

Shaking his head Jonathan said, "Good, lets see if we can do something about that attitude, because we have a long day ahead of us, and I'm not putting up with it."

Lex shook his head no, but Jonathan started spanking in earnest. After twenty swats he stopped and said, "Are you finished with your attitude?"

Quickly remembering how unpleasant this situation could be, Lex nodded and said, "Yes…. Yes sir."

"Good. Okay let me tell you our plans for the day. You are going to the one class you didn't miss today, and then we will be going to see your two teachers that I haven't already talked to. Then we'll come back here and discuss the things you need to do to catch up with your classes. And before you go to bed, you'll be right back here, over my lap, explaining what the hell you think you've been doing for the past three weeks. If you are anything less then compliant before then, we can always stop at a bathroom for some attitude adjustment. Have I made myself clear?"

Lex's stomach was in knots. "Crystal clear."

Jonathan helped Lex stand up, and stood up himself. After giving Lex another hug he said, "Get whatever you usually take to school, and let's get in the cab."

The first thing that came to Lex's mind was, 'But I quit.' After looking into Jonathan's eyes, Lex simply nodded and went to get his notebook.

Once they were in the cab and on their way to the campus Jonathan asked, "What happened Lex?"

He looked out the window and said, "It doesn't matter."

"Yes it does."

With a sigh, Lex said, "I'm a fucked up looser Mr. Kent. Don't waste your time."

Jonathan looked out the window, and said to the cab driver, "Excuse me, could you pull into that McDonald's please?"

Turning back to Lex he added, "I'm sure they have a public restroom."

Lex was quick to say, "No! I mean…. Let's just….talk. I'll talk."

With a nod of approval, Jonathan said to the cab driver, "Never mind."

Taking a deep breath, Lex could feel his heart rate going back down to a more reasonable level. Turning away from Jonathan he said, "Things didn't go well with my father at Christmas."

Feeling bad that he'd come down so hard on the boy, Jonathan put an arm around his shoulders, and said, "Why didn't you call us son?"

Shaking his head, Lex begged, "Not here. Please."

Squeezing his shoulder, Jonathan said, "Okay. But tonight we will talk about it."

Lex nodded, and then Jonathan tried to cheer him up by talking about the farm. When they arrived on campus, Jonathan started to pay for the cab, but Lex held out some money and said, "Let me."

Accepting the offer, Jonathan put his money away. He looked at his watch and said, "Let's head to class. It starts in ten minutes."

Lex led the way, and as they walked Jonathan said, "Your teacher agreed to meet with us immediately after class, and then we have a meeting with your history teacher an hour after that."

"Okay." Now that he was over the initial shock of seeing Jonathan, Lex couldn't decide if he was happy or sad that he was there. He kept wondering what to tell Jonathan that night, and every scenario in his head ended with Jonathan hating him for what he had done to his brother, and walking out of his life for good. Lex didn't want their relationship to end, but believed it was inevitable. As they were walking Lex suddenly had a thought and stopped walking. He turned to Jonathan and asked, "How did you get here?"

"I took the first flight I could find after you called me last night."

"But….but you can't afford that." Lex said, trying to understand.

"I know, but I won't let a little thing like money stand in my way when I know you need me."

Lex was overjoyed that Jonathan cared so much, but at the same time he felt guilty that he'd made Jonathan disrupt his life. Looking at the ground he said, "I'm so sorry I called you like that. Please let me pay for the ticket."

Jonathan tilted Lex's head back up so he could look in his face. "Don't be sorry that you called me Lex. I'm glad you called me. You obviously need help right now, and I want to be the one to help you. And even though my pride my not like it, I'll let you pay for the ticket, because it would probably take me a year to pay it off. Thanks for the offer."

Nodding, Lex wiped at his eyes. The two of them continued on, and soon they were at the classroom door. Jonathan said, "Do you mind if I come in with you, or should I meet you back here in an hour?"

"It's a big class. No one will notice if there's an extra person."

The two of them listened to the lecture together. When class was over, and most of the students had cleared out, they headed down to the teacher. Jonathan held out his hand and said, "Professor Randall?"

The professor shook his hand and said, "Yes, are you Mr. Kent?"

"Yes, nice to meet you. This here is Lex."

The professor held out his hand to Lex too and they shook. He said, "So what can I do for you?"

Jonathan said, "Lex here has missed all of your classes except for the first one. He had some family problems, but he's back to school full time now."

The professor nodded in understanding. Jonathan continued, "I was hoping that you could give us a list of all the homework he's missed, and maybe some short outlines of the lectures. Maybe if you have a teachers aid for this class we could set up a couple of tutoring sessions to help Lex get caught up."

"Of course," the professor said with a smile.

Lex couldn't believe how agreeable the professor was. He'd been expecting a big embarrassing meeting that would require a bunch of explanations on his part. But instead, the professor got a slip of paper, wrote down homework assignments, and the name and number of his teaching assistant. Jonathan took the paper and the professor said, "My T.A. is Tammy. She has all the outlines for my lectures so far, and I'm sure you can set up a meeting with her tomorrow if you give her a call today."

Jonathan said, "Thank you very much Professor Randall. It's very nice of you to help us out like this."

The professor nodded and said, "I have to go to my next class." He turned to look at Lex as he said; "I'll see you Wednesday in class Lex."

"Okay."

Once they got outside, Jonathan looked at his watch and said, "Let's get some lunch in you before we meet with your history professor."

"I can't believe it was so easy," Lex said.

"It went better than I was expecting. Your professor seems like a nice guy, and I thought the lecture was interesting." Getting back on track, Jonathan asked, "Is there someplace to eat here on campus?"

"There is a café two blocks that way."

With a nod, Jonathan headed that direction, and Lex followed. When they got close, Lex said, "I don't know if I can eat yet."

"Too bad. You're going to try anyway."

Lex frowned and thought, 'Why do I let him do that? He just says eat, and I do it? What if I don't want to eat?…….Then he'll probably take me into the bathroom and swat me until I agree to eat.'

Jonathan heard Lex sigh as they were walking. He put an arm around Lex's shoulders, knowing it was hard for him to get back into the mode of doing what he was told instead of what he wanted to do. "I would venture a guess that you haven't been eating very well the past few weeks. Am I right?"

Remembering the beer nuts and nachos he'd eaten at the bar last night, Lex had to nod in agreement. Jonathan said, "How about some scrambled eggs and dry toast?"

"Everything sounds like it will come back up."

Jonathan didn't say anything else until they got to the café. He ordered a sandwich for himself for lunch and some dry toast and plain tea for Lex. Lex sat at a table and rested his head on his arms. Soon the food was there and he was able to eat it without much trouble. When he was done Jonathan said, "Do you think you can keep something else down too? Maybe some eggs or half a sandwich?"

Lex had half a sandwich, and felt much better after he'd eaten it. While Lex ate, Jonathan looked over the notes he'd gotten from the other professors. When Lex was done, Jonathan said, "You have a lot ot catch up on Lex. You're going to have to work really hard for the next few weeks to catch up, but I think it's doable. Especially if we set you up with some tutoring sessions with each of the T.A.'s."

Lex didn't want to think about it yet. Jonathan continued, "As soon as we're done with our next meeting we'll go back to your place and call each of them to set up appointments."

Putting the papers away, Jonathan said, "We still have half an hour left, why don't you show me around campus?"

Perking up at that idea, Lex said, "Okay."

After an enjoyable walk around the campus , they went to the history professor's office. Jonathan knocked and someone said, "Come in."

Jonathan went in and held out his hand to the professor. The professor stood and shook. Jonathan said, "Hello, I'm Jonathan Kent, and this is Lex."

The professor nodded and said, "I'm Gene Bennett. Nice to meet you Mr. Kent, please have a seat."

They all sat, and Jonathan said, "Thanks for setting up this meeting to see us."

"No problem."

"Lex has had some family problems, and he's missed all but the first one of your classes this semester. We were hoping that you could give us a list of the homework he needs to catch up on, and maybe an overview of your lectures. It would also be helpful if you could get us the name of your T.A. if you have one, and we can talk to him or her about what Lex needs to do to catch up."

Leaning back in his chair, Professor Bennett looked at Lex and said, "I don't know."

Confused, Jonathan asked, "What don't you know?"

"I don't know if I should help Lex catch up or not."

Getting irritated, Jonathan asked, "And why is that?"

Professor Bennett looked at Jonathan and then back at Lex. He said, "I remember you from class last year Lex. I remember when the Dean came to me and told me I had to let you in my class because your father was giving the school a ton of money, and it made me angry. I didn't get into teaching to play politics or to see who could get the most money from who, so I found it offensive when the Dean asked me to do it. But I tried not to blame you for it, and I was pleased when you actually came to class, and seemed to be enjoying yourself. I was impressed with that paper you did about Roman politics. Then when the Dean forced me to put you in my class again this semester, I was okay with it because I thought you were serious about it. But the first day you came to class you were late, and you looked hung over. You haven't been to class since, and I don't really see why I should be helping you out now."

After a moment of silence, Jonathan said, "I understand your reluctance, but as I said, Lex has had some family problems, and it would mean a great deal to both of us if you would consider helping him out."

Professor Bennett turned to Jonathan and said in a condescending voice, "Did Lex pay you to come here and talk for him?"

Jumping out of his seat, Lex yelled, "No I didn't, and don't talk to him like that!"

Jonathan said calmly but firmly, "Sit down Lex."

"We don't have to sit here and listen to him if he's gonna be an ass."

Standing up too, Jonathan said, "Yes we do, now sit down."

Lex refused to sit, until Jonathan's calm look turned into a glare. Sitting down, Lex crossed his arms and glared at the floor, fuming. Professor Bennett observed all this with surprise. Jonathan sat down as well, and Professor Bennett said, "I'm sorry, that was rude of me, how is it you know Lex?"

Without hesitation Jonathan said, "He's been unofficially adopted by me and my family, and he spent last summer with us."

Professor Bennett said, "I see. Well then I only have one more question before I agree to help."

"Shoot."

"If Lex missed class because he had family problems, then why did I see him three days ago completely wasted at the bar where my T.A. works part time? And why is it that Pete, my T.A., said that Lex is there most days?"

Lex yelled, "None of your God damn business! What are you, a spy or something?"

Addressing the professor, Jonathan said, "Will you excuse us for just a minute? I need to talk to Lex outside."

Slouching lower in his chair, Lex didn't look up. Professor Bennett waved them off and said, "Of course. Go ahead."

Jonathan stood, and when Lex didn't follow he said, "Now Lex."

Still obviously angry, Lex got up and followed Jonathan out the door even though he didn't want to. As soon as they were out of the office, Jonathan closed the door behind them. He didn't say anything, just took Lex by the upper arm and started towing him down the hall. Lex stumbled, but then caught up and said, "He's an ass! I'll just drop his stupid class. How dare he talk to us like that! The audacity!……..Where are we going?"

Jonathan stopped half way down the hall and looked up. Following the line of sight, Lex saw a sign that said, 'Boys'.

Suddenly aware of Jonathan's intentions, Lex shook his head violently. Jonathan said firmly, "I did warn you Lex. Come on."

He pulled Lex into the small bathroom. There was only one urinal and one stall, and the stall door was open, so they knew no one else was in the bathroom. Jonathan quickly bent Lex over and tucked his torso under his left arm. Using his right hand, he give Lex six hard and fast swats. Lex bit the inside of his cheek to stay quiet. It was over before Lex had time to think much about it, but when Jonathan let go of him, Lex realized that anyone who'd been in the hall would have heard it. Lex caught a glimps of his bright red face in the mirror, and quickly averted his eyes. Putting his hand's on Lex's shoulders, Jonathan said, "I expect you to behave for the rest of the meeting. You are the one at fault. You missed all of his classes, and you need to keep that in mind when he's talking to you. Do you understand me?"

Lex whispered, "Yes sir."

"We're going to go back, and you're going to apologize. You'd best keep your temper in check for the rest of the meeting."

Lex desperately wanted to stay in the bathroom for the next few hours, to make sure everyone was out of the building before showing his face. But Jonathan put an arm around his shoulders and steered them back out. Lex was grateful not to see anyone in the hall, and kept his head down until they got to the professor's door. Jonathan knocked before going in.

When they went in, Lex went straight to his chair and sat down without looking at anything but the floor. The professor could see that he was blushing and obviously embarrassed about whatever Jonathan had said to him.

"Lex," Jonathan prompted.

Lex mumbled, "I'm sorry I yelled at you."

The professor made a noise of uncertainty. Jonathan said, "Professor Bennett, I can understand that you might think Lex has just been screwing off and partying the past three weeks, but believe me when I tell you that is not the case. He has had serious family problems that I'm not willing to discuss with you. If you are willing to help us that's great, but if not, I'm sure Lex will pass your class anyway."

The professor was impressed with Jonathan, and eventually nodded in agreement. "Alright Mr. Kent. I'll give you the list of homework, and the outlines of my lectures. My T.A. is already tutoring two students in upper level classes and has a job, so I'm pretty sure he doesn't have time to help you out. However, I would be willing to tutor Lex for one hour two times a week until he catches up."

With a smile, Jonathan said, "That's very generous of you, and I appreciate it. What time works for you?"

Lex shook his head, but neither of the men paid attention to him, as they made arrangements for the tutoring sessions.

Once all the arrangements were done, Jonathan shook hands with the professor, and Lex stood to go. The professor said, "I expect I will be seeing you in class tomorrow?"

Lex grit his teeth and thought to himself, 'This would be the one class I have five days a week wouldn't it.' He said, "I'll be there."

# # #

Before Lex was ready for it, they were back at his condo. He paid the cab driver, and dragged his feet to the door, with Jonathan following. Walking in, Lex noticed two duffel bags behind the couch. "That's odd."

Jonathan saw what Lex was looking at and said, "They're mine. I got them out of the cab while you were taking a shower earlier." He could tell Lex was confused and said, "I'm going to stay with you for a week to make sure you're back on track before I go home."

Not quite believing it, Lex asked, "What about the farm?"

"Remember my friend Charles who lives in town?"

Lex nodded. "He agreed to come by the farm and help Martha and Clark with anything they can't get done."

Sitting on the couch, Lex said, "I can't believe you're so willing to turn your life upside down just…….for me."

Jonathan walked to the kitchen and started looking in the refrigerator. "Is there anything in the house to eat?"

"I'm really not sure. I told the cook I didn't need him to come by again until I called him, and I don't know if he had the place stocked or not. Seems like there was stuff there a couple of weeks ago."

Looking in the cupboards Jonathan said, "There's not much. We'll have to go out or order in. Tomorrow when you're in class I'll pick up some food." Jonathan came back into the living room and said, "Come and sit with me at the kitchen table, and bring your class schedule."

Lex did as he was told. Jonathan spread out all the stuff they had, and got a clean sheet of paper to write stuff down on. He started a chart with five days and broke each day into hours. First he put down the classes. Then he added the tutoring sessions with Professor Bennett. Then he said, "Do you want me to call the T.A.'s, or are you going to do it?"

"I will," Lex said quietly.

Half an hour later he had some more blocks of time assigned to more tutoring sessions. When that was done, Jonathan took the paper and looked at the list of homework Lex had to catch up on. He wrote out times to study for each class on the chart. When he was done he said, "I hope you're a quick reader Lex. It doesn't look like you're going to have any free time for the next few weeks."

Shrugging, Lex said, "It doesn't matter."

Jonathan put the paper down and turned his full attention to Lex. "And why do you think that?"

Looking out the kitchen window, he said, "Because you're going to leave as soon as you hear about Christmas."

Shaking his head, Jonathan stood up and said, "Come on Lex. Let's go sit on the couch and talk about it. But I'm telling you now there is nothing you could have done that will make me walk out on you."

With despair written on his face, Lex said, "You will."

Pulling Lex up, Jonathan took him to the couch. He sat Lex down next to him, and kept his arm around the boy's shoulders. "Tell me what happened."

Without emotion, Lex said, "When I was twelve, I smothered my baby brother to death."

The house was silent for a few minutes. Then Jonathan said, "I don't believe you're capable of that Lex."

Turning to look at Jonathan, Lex could tell he was serious. With irritation, Lex said, "What are you talking about? I'm telling you I did it."

Jonathan squeezed Lex's shoulder and said, "I've seen you with Clark, and with the animals on the farm Lex. You don't have it in you."

Tossing the arm off his shoulders, Lex stood up and yelled, "Jesus Mr. Kent! Don't you think it's hard enough for me to tell you about it without having to prove it to you?! I was there! I did it!"

"Why?" Jonathan asked calmly.

"What?"

"You're telling me you did it, so I want to know why you did it."

Throwing his arms in the air, Lex yelled, "How the fuck should I know!"

Shaking his head, Jonathan said, "Now I really don't believe it. If you'd killed someone, you'd remember why."

"I don't believe this!" Lex said.

"Okay, I want you to calm down and sit down. You tell me the whole story. Every detail that you remember, and then tell me how it relates to this Christmas."

Lex sat on the loveseat that was across from the couch, and looked at the empty fireplace while talking. He didn't make eye contact throughout the story. Jonathan thought that Lex sounded like he was talking about things that had happened to someone else. When Lex told Jonathan about the ornament and his father's reaction, Jonathan had a hard time not getting up to call Lionel and shout some obscenities at him. He was concerned when Lex said that he had gone upstairs and fallen asleep in his room, but then had woken up in the nursery and didn't know how he had gotten there or why he was there. He was glad to hear Lionel had at least had a doctor come check Lex out. He was shocked when Lex told him about all the drugs and alcohol he had taken while staying with his dad in Metropolis. He wasn't surprised when Lex told him he couldn't concentrate on his classes after starting the semester. Lex finished up by telling Jonathan that he'd spent the past three weeks perpetually drunk or high.

The room was silent for a few minutes while Jonathan absorbed the information. Then Lex said, "See, now aren't you glad you haven't unpacked?"

Ignoring that statement, Jonathan said, "So why didn't you call me? If not the day that it happened, then the next one, or the one after that? I know you talked to Martha and you told her the week with your dad was fine. Why didn't you tell her what had happened?"

Unshed tears filled his eyes as he said, "I just couldn't take it. My father hating me is normal, but to see you or Mrs. Kent look at me like that……I just…..I wanted to avoid it for as long as I could."

"Look at me Lex,"

Lex shook his head and refused to look up.

"Yes," Jonathan demanded.

Lex darted a glance at Jonathan, expecting to see hate in his eyes, but it wasn't there. Jonathan said, "Come sit over here with me."

Now Lex couldn't take his eyes off Jonathan's. Going to the couch, Lex sat down a couple of feet away, and Jonathan put a hand on Lex's knee. He said, "You don't remember killing your brother, and you didn't have a good reason to do it. Did it ever occur to you that maybe you didn't kill him?"

Shaking his head no Lex stammered, "But I did……Dad said I did."

"If you're remembering the events of that night correctly, then I would say your father assumed you did it without knowing the truth. How do you know your brother didn't die from SIDS?"

"But the pillow."

"Clark used to carry his pillow with him when he came to our room after a nightmare, and wanted to sleep with us. Maybe you were just holding it."

Lex wanted so badly to believe that, but he shook his head and said, "I wish I could believe that Mr. Kent. You can't even understand how much I want to believe it, but it's too much of a coincidence. I just happened to be standing there with the pillow when he died? I doubt it."

Jonathan smiled and said gently, "Well it sure as hell sounds more reasonable to me then believing you killed the brother that you loved for no reason."

Lex had no response. Jonathan patted his knee and said, "I'm gonna go order us some dinner. I'll see if I can find something better than pizza that will deliver."

Nodding absently, Lex leaned back on the couch, and closed his eyes while he thought about what Jonathan had said. 'Maybe I didn't kill Julian. I don't remember it. I loved him. I never could understand why I did it. Why didn't I ever consider the possibility that I hadn't done it? Maybe that would just be me lying to myself. Maybe Mr. Kent is just too blind to see how horrible I really am. How could it have happened like he said? Why would Dad assume I did it? He assumed I did it without ever even asking me. Fucking bastard! But what if he's right? Why can't I remember?'

Jonathan stayed in the kitchen and let Lex have some time to process this new perspective. He ordered some Chinese food, and then called Martha to talk to her about his day. He told her everything, and he could tell by her reactions that she was getting more and more angry as he told her about it. He wasn't surprised when she said, "Put him on the phone right now."

Jonathan put the phone down and walked to the living room. Lex was still sitting on the couch with his head back, and Jonathan wondered if he'd fallen asleep. Jonathan said, "Martha's on the phone, and she wants to talk to you."

Opening his eyes, Lex went to the kitchen and put the phone to his ear. "Hello?"

"Alexander Luthor, how dare you lie to me! I specifically asked you how the week went with your father, and you said it went fine. FINE you said! You are so lucky that I'm not there."

Completely unprepared for her anger, Lex had no idea how to respond. "I'm sorry?" he tried.

Martha was in mid rant and continued, "Then, you spent the next three weeks doing horrible things to your body, when all you needed to do was pick up the phone and talk to us. I though we had gone over that, and made it clear that you were supposed to call us no matter what the problem was. Were we not clear?"

Starting to tear up Lex said, "Yes, I mean no, I mean it was clear."

"How could you possibly believe that you'd killed your own brother? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Why would you let yourself drown in misery when you have a family that loves you and wants to help you?"

Lex was crying and didn't know what to say. When Martha didn't get a response she said, "Well, I think you need a big reminder about family mister! I don't care what else Jonathan does or says, you are going to come home every weekend for a whole month, and maybe longer. You fly here every Friday night, and you don't go home until late on Sunday. Do you hear me Lex?!"

"Yes…..yes Ma'am."

"And don't even think you're going to have fun while you're here. You are going to spend all your time studying or doing chores. I can't believe that you let yourself be miserable for three long weeks, when all you had to do was call us and tell us the truth!"

Sitting down in a chair, Lex said again, "I'm sorry."

This time Martha could tell he was crying. Her anger drained, and she wished she were there to hug him. With a gental voice, she said, "Lex, are you still listening to me?"

"Yes," he said with a loud sniff.

"Lex honey, I'm sorry I was so mad. Sometimes my temper gets the best of me. Do you know why I was angry?"

"Because…..'cause I didn't tell you about it?" Lex guessed.

"Because I love you so much, I can't stand the thought of you suffering. I don't like that you lied to me, and I'm sure Jonathan will be talking to you about it, but I'm mostly sad that you didn't feel comfortable enough in our relationship to confide in us. You're part of this family forever Lex. There's no getting out of it, no matter what you do. You're my son now, just like Clark, so you can just get used to it."

Lex cried harder and Martha said, "I love you sweetie. Put Jonathan back on the phone please."

Looking around with blurry eyes, Lex saw that Jonathan was standing close with a worried expression. Lex just handed the phone to him and put his head down on his arms. Jonathan said, "Martha?"

Sounding embarrassed, she said, "I lost my temper and yelled at him."

Jonathan knew that while it was rare, his wife did sometimes lose her temper. "I can tell."

"Give him an extra hug for me."

"I'll give him two."

"He's going to come home every weekend for a month no matter what," she said.

"Sounds good to me."

"I love you. Go take care of our boy."

"Love you too." Jonathan said before he hung up. He felt bad for Lex, having been on the receiving end of Martha yelling a couple of times, he knew how bad it could be. He pulled Lex up, sat down in the vacated chair, and pulled Lex back down to sit in his lap. Lex didn't fight it. Instead, he rested his head on Jonathan's shoulder and cried.

Ten minutes later the doorbell rang and Lex got up. Jonathan said, "Stay put. I'll be right back."

His crying had tapered off. and now Lex wasn't sure what he was feeling except tired. A few minutes later Jonathan brought in some food. He got out two plates, put some food on them, and set one in front of Lex. "Eat."

Lex ate without tasting it. When they were both done, Jonathan picked up the plates, washed them, and put the leftovers in the refrigerator. Lex sat still and stared at the table. Once he was done cleaning up, Jonathan said, "So, do I get a room, or am I crashing on the couch?"

Coming out of his daze, Lex said, "Oh, sorry, you can stay in the guest room."

Jonathan got his bags, and Lex showed him to the room. Lex said, "The place came with the furniture, so I don't know if that bed is comfortable or not."

"I'm sure it will be fine, thanks."

Focusing on mundane things for a few minutes, Lex said, "I'll leave a note for the housekeeper, so she knows you're staying here too."

Jonathan nodded and started to put his clothes in the drawers. Lex continued, "She comes by every day around ten. I'm not sure what all she does besides the dishes and laundry, but things always seem to be clean."

For a few mintues, the only sounds in the room were of Jonathan unpacking. Sitting on the bed, Lex said in a quiet voice, "Mrs. Kent said I was her son now, just like Clark."

Having finished unpacking, Jonathan turned and said, "I'm not surprised. I know that's how she feels about you. That's how I feel about you too."

Lex just shook his head. "I don't understand why."

Sitting next to Lex on the bed, Jonathan shrugged and said, "You don't have to understand it. Just accept it."

"Just like that?"

"Yes."

Lex was quiet, not able to get his head around it all. Jonathan said, "I know you have a lot to think about right now Lex. Why don't you go take a long shower, or take a bath? Then get ready for bed. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, and I want you well rested."

Nodding, Lex got up and went to take a bath. He wouldn't have decided to take a bath if Jonathan hadn't said something, but it did sound nice. He spent the next half an hour soaking and thinking about his brother, his father, and the Kents. He was thinking about how much happier he was now that Jonathan was there, and everything was out in the open, when a though hit him. Water sloshed over the sides as Lex sat up abruptly. He thought, 'Fuck! Mr. Kent said I would be back over his lap tonight. Shit, shit, shit! But then he said to get ready for bed, and that he wanted me well rested, so maybe he changed his mind. Well, at least about the tonight part. Maybe he won't do it at all since I….no, I lied, he will. Maybe he'll wait till tomorrow to do it. But what if he's just waiting for me to get out? Fuck. You should have fucking called them Lex.'

Lex thought maybe he should say in the bath for as long as possible, but the water was cooling off. He decided to let some cool water out, and put more hot water in. Two minutes after he started the water back up he heard a knock on his bathroom door. Startled, he turned the water off and said, "Yeah?"

"That's long enough, now get ready for bed, and meet me in the living room please."

Lex closed his eyes and swallowed hard. Jonathan said, "Did you hear me Lex?"

"Yes." he said. and then muttered, "Unfortunately."

Lex let all the water out, and dried off. He wiped the steam off the mirror and looked at himself. He said quietly, "I guess that means it's tonight."

Looking at himself he asked, "Are you a murderer? All this time I thought you were, but maybe you're not. Maybe I'm not."

He brushed his teeth, and put on a pair of boxers and tee shirt to sleep in. He opened the door, trying to resist the urge to run to his room, climb in bed, and hide. He swallowed a few times, and walked slowly out to the living room. He saw Jonathan sitting on the couch, and immediately noticed that Jonathan's belt was sitting on the couch beside him. Lex shook his head and took a step back.

Walking over to Lex, Jonathan took him by the arm and said, "I'm sorry Lex, but it's going to happen."

Lex resisted slightly, but didn't try to pull his arm out of Jonathan's grip. Jonathan sat on the couch, and pulled Lex over his lap. He pulled the boxers down to mid thigh and said, "This spanking is for lying. You flat out lied to Martha when you told her everything was fine over Christmas break. Then on top of that, you've been having your staff help you avoid our phone calls by lying for you. They told us you were in class or studying. You know how I feel about lying."

With that Jonathan brought his hand down. Lex knew it was coming but still jumped at the first swat. Jonathan smacked the same spot twice before moving to the next, and very soon Lex was squirming around trying to get away from the swats. Lex was crying after the first ten swats, but Jonathan knew it was from emotional overload rather than pain. After twenty swats Jonathan stopped, and picked up the belt. Lex was able to get out the words, "Please don't! I'm sorry!"

Jonathan said, "We've gone over lying more then once Lex, and this time you lied to us for three weeks. This is a lesson that you need to learn, so that you can avoid pain and suffering in the future."

Jonathan brought the belt down. It left a darker line on Lex's already pink butt. Lex yelled, and Jonathan brought the belt down again. Lex thrashed around on Jonathan's lap, and Jonathan got a tighter grip on his waist before bringing the belt down again. Lex couldn't think about anything besides the pain and wanting it to stop. Jonathan gave him a total of twelve with the belt, and then set it on the couch beside him. When Lex had some control of his body back, he stopped kicking his legs, and let go of the couch cushion. He couldn't stop crying, and didn't even try. Jonathan rubbed his back, and pulled the boxers back up. Lex pushed himself up, and Jonathan stood up too. "Let's get you in bed."

Jonathan led Lex, who was still crying, to his room. Pulling back the covers on the bed, Jonathan said, "Climb in."

Lex lay on his stomach, and Jonathan covered him up. Walking around the bed, Jonathan sat on top of the blankets, and propped himself up with a few pillows. He pulled Lex over so he could rest his head on Jonathan's chest, and Jonathan wrapped his arms around him while he cried. Jonathan rubbed Lex's back and murmured things like, 'It's okay now.' and 'You're going to be fine.'

Twenty minutes later, Lex was asleep and Jonathan was easing himself out from under him. He made sure Lex was covered up, and then went to his room to get some sleep too.

# # #

The next morning Jonathan woke up first and made some coffee. He went into Lex's room and woke him up. Lex groaned at having to wake up, and then as he rolled over, groaned again when his butt hit the mattress. Jonathan said, "Time to get up Lex. Go take a shower and get dressed please. Be quick, I'm making some breakfast."

Lex got up and looked at the clock. It said it was 6am. Lex shook his head and looked at it again. It still said 6am. Lex almost lay back down, but the smell of coffee wafting in made him want to get up. He took a shower and half way through he realized he was humming. He stopped, shook his head, and laughed as he thought, 'Great. Getting spanked and being too sore to sit down comfortably makes me happy for the first time in weeks. How fucked up am I?'

Getting serious he thought, 'But then that isn't the real reason is it? It's because the Kents didn't leave me, and because they don't think I killed Julian. And maybe I'm starting to believe that too.'

He finished up and got dressed for the day. Walking to the kitchen, he smelled something burning. Jonathan was at the stove with his back to Lex. "Damn it!"

Lex said, "Is there a problem?"

Turning, Jonathan said with embarrassment, "I think we should go out for breakfast."

Lex went and looked in the frying pan. It was full of scrambled eggs, but they were still runny in spots and burnt in others. Lex said, "Mrs. Kent wasn't kidding when she said you couldn't cook was she?"

Sounding defensive, Jonathan said; "I can cook. It's just that….Oh, all right I don't cook very well."

Lex took the frying pan away, and tossed the eggs in the trash. He said, "Sit down, I'll make us something."

Jonathan poured himself some more coffee and got a cup for Lex, while Lex looked through the cupboards. Jonathan sat down and watched Lex start to cut potatoes. He thought Lex seemed to be happier now than he had been yesterday. Then Lex started to hum to himself, and Jonathan was sure Lex was doing better. He thought, 'It's gonna be a hard week, but we'll get through it okay, and Lex will feel better about himself when he's back on track with school. I wonder if I should tell him he has another spanking coming. No, that would be mean. I'll wait until Wednesday night, right before I do it. I still can't believe he just told me about all the cocaine and ecstasy he's been doing the past four weeks as if it was nothing unusual. Poor kid. Probably thought it didn't matter because he thought I was gonna walk out on him. After yesterday that thought should be out of his head for good.'

Lex interrupted his thoughts by saying, "There's some cheese in the fridge. You want some melted on your fried potatoes?"

"Sure. Sounds good."

Lex started to hum again as he continued cooking.

# # #

On Wednesday after classes, Lex was tired, but it was a good kind of tired. He parked his car, and walked into the condo, knowing Jonathan would be there. "Hello?"

Coming out of the kitchen, Jonathan smiled at Lex, and gave him a hug. "How was the day?"

Hugging him back, Lex said, "It was okay. I met with Professor Bennett today after class. He was actually a good tutor, even if I don't want to admit it. And today was better then yesterday, because I could at least sit down without having to shift positions every few seconds."

Not commenting on that, Jonathan asked, "So what are you working on tonight?"

"History, since it's fresh in my mind."

"Go ahead and get to it. I'll start dinner."

Lex smiled at that. They'd decided that Lex didn't have time to cook for the both of them, so Jonathan had gone to the store and practically bought out the frozen food isle. Jonathan wasn't a good cook, but he could read the directions and put something in the oven without burning it. Lex had offered to have the cook come back, but Jonathan wanted as few distractions for Lex as possible. Lex went to the couch, and got out his history book. He started reading the next chapter while Jonathan looked through the frozen dinners.

When dinner was ready they both sat at the kitchen table, and Jonathan asked Lex what he had learned that day. Lex dutifully told him all about his classes and tutoring sessions. When he was done Jonathan said, "You've been studying none stop yesterday and today, and you're catching up nicely. I think you can have a little break tonight if you want."

Lex was surprised, but nodded in agreement. Jonathan said, "I was watching a football game right before you got home. It's probably more then half over, but if you want, we can watch the end together before you finish studying for the night."

"That sounds great. Thanks Mr. Kent."

"You're welcome, But you have to call Martha first."

Remembering their last conversation, Lex wasn't sure he was ready for another talk, but said, "Um…Okay."

"She called, and wants you to call." Noticing Lex's expression, Jonathan said, "Don't look so worried son, she's not gonna yell."

Looking down at his plate Lex muttered, "Yeah, but is she gonna make me cry?"

Jonathan put his hand over Lex's and said, "I doubt it, but the only way to find out is to call her."

After they were finished eating, Lex went to the phone, while Jonathan went to the living room and turned on the game. Clark answered the phone. "Hello?"

"Hi Clark, it's Lex."

With concern, Clark said, "How are you Lex?"

Lex was pretty sure that even if Clark didn't know the whole story, he knew Lex was in serious trouble. Trying to sound reassuring Lex said, "I've been better, but I'm really okay now."

"I'm glad. Mom's been worried, and….I guess that makes me worry too."

Lex wasn't sure if he should apologize for making him worry, or thank him for caring. After an awkward pause he simply said, "Um, your dad told me to call and talk to your mom."

"Okay, hold on."

A few seconds later Martha said, "Lex?"

"Hello Mrs. Kent."

"How are you doing today?"

"Better then yesterday," he said.

"Good. How were your classes?"

He told her about history class and his tutoring session. When he was done Martha said, "Good. It sounds like you're starting to catch up at least. Do you have your flight arranged to come home this Friday evening?"

"Um….not yet?" He frowned, wishing he'd already done it, and hoping she wouldn't be angry that he hadn't.

"I expect that to be done by tomorrow," she said in a firm voice.

"Yes Ma'am."

"I have to go do the dishes, so I'll let you go. I'll expect a call tomorrow, and an update on the flight."

"Okay, I will," Lex said.

"Bye sweetie."

"Bye."

He hung up and went to find Jonathan. Jonathan was watching the game and said, "There's ten minutes left on the score board."

Lex sat next to Jonathan and they had a good time watching the game together. When it was over Jonathan turned it off and said, "Okay, back to studying."

Lex nodded and opened his history book back up. Jonathan went to clean up the kitchen, and then brought out a novel to read on the couch next to Lex. Jonathan kept an eye on the clock, and when there was half an hour left before he usually went to bed, he put his book down and said, "Finish up Lex, I want to talk to you about something."

Thinking that was strange, Lex put the book down. Jonathan sighed, he didn't really want to bring it up again, but he believed it was the right thing to do. "We need to talk about the things you were putting in your body for the three weeks that you were lying to us."

Lex immediately stood up and backed a few steps away. With a fair amount of nervousness, and a touch of anger, he said, "And when you say talk, do you mean with words?"

Pointing to the couch Jonathan ordered, "Sit."

Lex glared but did sit down. Jonathan had been thinking about how to explain this to Lex for most of the day. He said, "I know we haven't had a serious talk about illegal substances, but I have told you I don't approve, and that I don't want you to do it. Besides the fact that it's illegal, it does horrible things to your body. And worse then that, because it's illegal, you never know exactly where it came from, or when you're going to get something different then what you asked for. So I'm telling you now, I don't want you taking anything that you can't buy over the counter, or get with a prescription ever again."

Lex opened his mouth to say something but Jonathan held up his hand and said, "Just wait, I'll let you have a say in a minute. Now I know our arrangement is for school, and you're probably thinking that if you go to a party and want to get high on the weekend, I shouldn't have anything to say about it as long as it doesn't interfere with school. And you're probably thinking that in four years when school is over I shouldn't have any say in it at all. But I just don't care."

Lex's eyebrows raised at that. Jonathan smiled without apology and said, "Like Martha said, you're our son now, and my son isn't going to take drugs while I'm around to prevent it. That's all there is to it, so just get used to it."

Lex didn't know what to say. Too many thoughts were racing around in his head. 'How dare he try to tell me what I can do in my life. We have an arrangement for school and that's it……He can't control my life ten years from now. Of course my dad will still be trying to run my life, so why not Mr. Kent too…..Oh. I guess because he says we're family now too. So maybe in ten years I'll still be going to the Kent farm for holidays and spending time with them. That would be nice.'

After a few seconds of silence, Jonathan said, "Lex." Once they had eye contact, Jonathan said, "I hope that in a few years you won't want to take any drugs. I hope that you're happy enough in your life, that the thought won't even cross your mind. But I think to get to that point, you need some help."

Unable to stop himself, Lex whispered, "Okay."

Jonathan said, "Good, so let's talk about those three weeks when you were spinning out of control. We both know it was wrong of you to take those drugs, but I think we also know that you were trying to drown out your emotional pain. And you were up front and extremely honest with me about what you had done, which I'll give you credit for, even if it was because you thought I was walking out. But given all that, I'm still going to spank you."

Jumping up again, Lex backed away, and begged, "No, please don't. I'm still sore from last time."

Jonathan said, "I know you are, and I'll go much easier on you this time because of that, and because of the extenuating circumstances. But if there's a next time, I won't."

Shaking his head no, Lex could feel the tears starting already. Jonathan beckoned Lex to him, by crooking his index finger towards him. Staying where he was, Lex shook his head again. Standing up, Jonathan walked over to Lex. He pulled Lex to the couch and had him over his lap in short order. Lex wailed, "Nooooo!"

Jonathan didn't waste any time, and brought his hand down over the slacks twenty times hard and fast. Lex was in tears before it started, and was sobbing by the time it was over. Jonathan picked up Lex's upper half, and pulled him into a hug, shifting his legs, so that Lex was sitting in his lap. Clinging to the man, Lex cried into his chest. Jonathan held onto him, and after the crying tapered off he murmured, "All done. I know that hurt, and I know you didn't want me to do it, but I don't want to lose you. I don't want to read in the paper one morning, that you were found dead on the bathroom floor in some sleazy bar from an overdose. Ever since you told me about those three weeks, I can't get that picture out of my head. Martha and I love you, and it would kill us if something like that happened to you, so you aren't going to do it any more. This is a nonnegotiable, absolute, black and white rule. Are we clear on this?"

With a nod and a sniff, Lex said, "Yes Sir."

Starting to feel uncomfortable with the realization that he was sitting in Jonathan's lap, Lex pushed to get up. Jonathan let him go and said quietly, "Time for bed."

Lex nodded and headed down the hall to brush his teeth and climb in bed. Jonathan sat on the couch for a little while longer feeling old and tired. When he heard Lex come out of the bathroom, he went to say good night. Finding Lex already in bed, he said, "I'm going to bed too. I just wanted to say good night first. If you have bad dreams or can't get to sleep tonight, you come get me okay?"

"Okay. Good night."

"Night."

# # #

The rest of the week had gotten steadily better, and by Friday, Lex was half way caught up in all of his classes. He'd arranged for the flight home to the Kent farm for both himself and Jonathan. When they arrived home, Lex was hesitant to go up the steps of the porch. He wasn't sure what kind of reception Martha was going to give him. Before he got half way up the stairs, Clark rushed out the door, and launched himself at Lex. Not expecting it, Lex almost fell back down the three steps. Once he got his balance, he hugged Clark back and said, "Jeez Clark, I just saw you a month ago at Christmas."

With a smile, Clark said, "I'm just happy to see you."

Patting Clark's back, Lex let him go and said, "Me too."

Turning to the porch, he saw that Martha had come out too. With a tentative smile, Lex said, "Hi Mrs. Kent."

"You know Lex honey, now that I've decided you're my son too, you'll have to think of something else to call me," she said.

Lex was at a loss for words. He wasn't sure if she meant what he hoped she meant, so he ventured a guess, "So should it be Aunt Martha?"

"Try again."

"Um….just Martha?"

"No, and if your next guess has anything like 'Grandma' in it, I'm gonna swat you myself."

Lex tried to make himself say it, but it wouldn't come out. Instead he stammered, "Do you mean….you want me to…I mean you'd be okay with me calling you….."

"Mom," she said it for him.

His breath caught in his throat for a few seconds. Then he said, "I…..I…."

Martha could see how emotional Lex was, and was quick to reassure him. "It's okay if you don't want to Lex. If it makes you think about your mom, or if it brings up bad memories for you, then you don't have to. But I wanted you to know, that it would make me happy if you did want to."

He whispered, "Okay."

Jonathan had been behind Lex, and at that point walked around him and up the steps to pick up Clark in a big bear hug. Putting Clark down, Jonathan turned to Lex and said, "It would be fine with me too if you want to call me Dad, but since you already have one, I'll understand if you don't."

Lex just nodded, unable to speak. Grinning, Clark said, "Wanna come in and play the new game you got me?"

Martha answered before Lex could. "Clark, we talked about this. Lex is going to be spending his time studying and doing chores. No fun for him this weekend, and actually for the next few weeks until he's caught up."

Blushing, Lex said, "Sorry Clark."

With a shrug he said, "It's okay. It's good to see you anyway."

Martha opened the door, and they all headed into the house together.

That night after dinner, Lex did homework, while Clark played solitaire on the foor. When it was ten o'clock, Martha said, "Okay boys, bedtime."

Clark groaned and said, "Just a little while longer, pleeeease Mom. It's Friday."

Lex could tell Martha was considering it. Taking a deep breath for courage, he used the exact same tone that Clark had used, and said, "Yeah, Pleeeease Mom?"

Clark looked back and forth between Lex and his mom, and smiled. Jonathan, knowing this was a pivotal moment in his family, put a hand on Martha's and smiled too.

Martha felt her eyes start to water. With a smile, she said, "I guess another half an hour wouldn't hurt."

With a grin, Clark said, "Awesome!"

Jonathan added, "Okay guys, but just half an hour."

As soon as his parents were upstairs getting ready for bed, Clark picked up his cards and sat down next to Lex. Lex could tell Clark wanted to talk, so he put his homework away and said, "What's up?"

"Dad and Mom won't tell me what happened. Will you tell me? Why did Dad go stay with you for a week? Did your dad do something to make you….unhappy?"

Lex considered it for a few seconds. On the one hand, he didn't want Clark to know. He was ashamed of what he'd done, and he found it excruciatingly embarrassing just thinking about the things Jonathan had done to put him back on track. But on the other hand, he really did think of Clark as a younger brother now, and wanted to foster that relationship. Eventually, he nodded and said "Okay, I'll tell you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone else."

"I promise."

Half an hour later Lex had come clean about everything. Clark didn't ask many questions, he just sat and listened. When Lex was done, Clark felt really sorry for him, but doubted Lex wanted to hear that. Instead Clark said, "Thanks for telling me Lex, it means a lot to me. I'm glad you're part of our family now."

Wondering how Clark felt about it, Lex asked, "Will it bother you if I……"

"What?"

"If I call your mom 'Mom'?"

With a genuine smile, Clark said, "Nope. Mom would love it, and I like having you for a brother. You should call Dad 'Dad' too."

Lex was amazed and relieved that Clark really didn't seem to mind sharing his parents. Shaking his head, Lex said, "I don't think I could say 'Dad' without it being snide. Too many years with my real father."

Clark bounced up and down on the couch as he said, "I know! Call him something like Pa, or Pop."

While Lex was thinking about that, Clark laughed and said, "Better yet, call him your old man!"

Rolling his eyes Lex said, "Are you trying to get me smacked?"

Laughing again Clark said, "Dad would think it was funny."

"Then you try it."

"No way," Clark shook his head, but kept the smile on his face.

Looking at the clock, Lex said, "It's been a little longer then half an hour. Let's go to bed."

With a groan, Clark said, "How about just one more game of solitaire?"

Lex shook his head and said, "You're just full of bright ideas tonight aren't you. I'm going to bed. You feel free to take your chances if you wanna stay up."

Clark was disappointed, but headed up the stairs with Lex.


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