Author's Note: This chapter is for Sandy and Jenna. Thank you both for the friendship and inspiration. Lex is 19, and Clark is 13. 4/6/05 (Revised September 2009)
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, and I am not making any money from these stories.
Warning: Non consensual disciplinary spanking of a teen by a parent. Non consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult by a parental figure.



Friendship Chapter 7


Lex felt his father's private jet take off and sighed. He'd completed his first year of college, and summer break had just begun. He'd wanted to spend all three months with the Kent's, but Lionel had said no. Lionel had agreed to let Lex spend half the summer at the Kent farm if, and only if, Lex completed an internship at Luthorcorp for the first half of the summer. Lex had agreed, because even when he wanted to deny it, he knew he would someday run the company. He wasn't sure what horrid job his father had lined up for him, but as long as he didn't have to see Lionel on a daily basis, he was pretty sure he could handle it.

Lex looked out the window and thought about the last conversation he had with his father. It had been a few weeks ago, right before the end of the term. Lionel had called him to ask about his summer plans. Lex had been surprised that Lionel had called him in the first place, because they hadn't had contact since the Christmas incident, other then messages passed through their assistants. Lex had even avoided him when he paid for his spring term tuition.

Lex gave a small shudder as he thought about the fall out from the Christmas incident, and remembered 'hell week'. Even if it was really more like 'hell month and a half'; the most vivid part of the whole thing, was the week that Jonathan had stayed with him. As usual when his mind started thinking about that week, all other thoughts went away until he had gone over the entire week in his head. It went something like, 'God, I still can't believe I called him and confessed. Stupid. Then he was there, and so pissed. But he made me go to class, and talk to my teachers. That was good. And he believed in my innocence when no one else did. And now I can believe it myself. But then that night…'

That was where the shudder came again. Lex thought, 'Don't lie, and it won't be a problem. Then sitting in classes the next day was awful. At least the T.A.'s all agreed to meet at the deli where they have cushioned booths. Except for Professor Bennett.'

Lex smiled because he'd grown quite fond of Professor Bennett, who was now his faculty advisor. Lex thought, 'He always has to be difficult. But then coming home and having Mr. Kent there to give me a hug, and ask how the day was…that made everything else worth while. Except for Wednesday.' Lex gave another shudder as he remembered that.

Trying to shake those thoughts off, Lex looked out the window of the plane. That had been six months ago, and now he usually called Martha 'Mom', and Jonathan 'Pop'. Today he was spending the night at the Kent farm, and tomorrow he was heading to Metropolis to start work at Luthorcorp. When the plane landed, Lex got in his Porsche that was waiting for him, and drove to the Kent farm.

# # #

On the Kent farm, everyone was anxiously awaiting Lex's arrival. Clark said, "I still think it sucks that Lex has to work at Luthorcorp for half the summer. I want him to stay here the whole summer."

Martha smiled and said, "Us too honey, but Lex is getting to be an adult, and if he's going to run the company one day, he has to start getting to know about it."

Darting glances at his parents, Clark brought up something he'd been thinking about for a while now. "Mom…..Dad…..I was thinking."

They waited, and when he didn't say anything else Martha said, "What about?"

"Maybe we could tell Lex…..about me."

His parents exchanged a look, and Martha said, "Well, I've been thinking about that too. What do you think Jonathan?"

Frowning, Jonathan said, "I've thought about it more then once. On the one hand I think we should tell him since he's part of the family now, but then I have to wonder if I'm thinking about telling him to make myself happy, or because it's the right thing to do. Is the real reason I want to tell him because I don't want to feel guilty about lying to him? Is this a burden he can handle with all his other problems? Lex has a ton of his own issues to work through, and would this just be another burden for him to deal with? I just don't think he's ready yet. I was thinking maybe after he's done with college, and a little more settled."

"But Dad, it's wrong to lie to him all the time! You're always telling me not to lie, except really I have to lie to everyone every day. If he's my brother now, then he should know."

Agreeing with Clark, Martha said, "I think it could be helpful for both Clark and Lex. Clark could really use some one else to confide in, and I think Lex will feel that his place in our lives is more concrete when we tell him about it."

Jonathan said, "I'll think about it. Maybe when he comes home for the summer after his internship. But definitely not tonight, because he's only got the one day, and he's going to need a few days to process the information. And if he takes it badly, I don't want him off on his own for the next month doing God knows what."

"Thanks dad."

Jonathan pinned Clark with a look and said, "I didn't say yes Clark, I said I'd think about it. I may still decide that it needs to stay a secret until Lex is done with college. I want to be 100 percent sure that we are doing it because it's the right thing for him, and not because it's what we want to do."

Clark was pretty sure that his mom would talk his dad into it over the next month. "Okay Dad. I understand."

They heard a horn honking in the driveway. Clark dashed out yelling, "It's Lex!"

Lex was barely able to get out of his car before Clark was hugging him. Lex hugged him back and said, "Man, you're getting tall."

Pleased with himself, Clark said, "The clothes I got for my birthday don't fit anymore."

Letting go of him, Lex smiled and said, "By the time you're fifteen, you'll probably be as tall as me."

Turning towards his mom who'd come out to the porch, Clark said, "I'm already an inch taller then mom."

Martha smiled at Clark and said, "Who thought I'd be looking up to my thirteen year old son? I suppose that's what I get for marrying a man who's over a foot taller then me."

Walking up the stairs to give her a hug, Lex said, "Hi Mom. How have you been?"

"I've been good."

Lex looked over at Jonathan and said, "Hey Pop, do you have some horrid chores set up for me today?"

"You bet," he said.

Lex laughed and went to get his over night bag out of the passenger seat. He took it up to his room with Clark following and asking things like, "How was your flight? Do you think your grades are going to be good this time? What do you think your dad is going to have you do at Luthorcorp?"

Lex dutifully answered as he changed into some work clothes, and soon both boys were out helping Jonathan in the field.

The rest of the day went well, for everyone. The next day Lex helped with the morning chores, and ate some breakfast before heading to the mansion to pack for Metropolis. He hugged everyone goodbye and told them he would see them in late July. He smiled when Martha said, "I'm calling you every night this first week, and you'd better not even think of lying to me about how things are going young man."

"Okay Mom."

Martha could tell Lex thought it was funny. She said, "I'm serious Lex. If something goes wrong, you call us and tell us. No covering it up, no matter what."

Blushing he nodded and said, "I know Mrs. Kent."

She went up to him and gave him a hug and a kiss. Jonathan said, "I hope you learn a lot about the company, but don't forget to work out now and then. A month from now when you come home, you'll feel better if you're still in shape."

"I'll try to keep that in mind," he said.

Clark gave him a quick hug and said, "I wish you didn't have to go."

"Me too. But I'll see you soon, and maybe I'll bring you a new game."

"Awesome."

Lex got in his Porsche and drove towards the mansion.

After Lex was gone, Jonathan sighed and said, "Come on Clark. I need you to help me work on the tractor today."

Clark muttered something about wishing it was a school day, but dutifully headed out to the tractor, which had died in the field again. Jonathan went to get his toolbox and followed Clark.

# # #

Halfway back to the mansion Lex blew a tire. He screeched to a stop on the side of the road and said, "Crap!"

He sighed and got out of the car to change the tire. He got out the spare, and after a few minutes he was sweaty, and dirty, but had the tire changed. Then as soon as he lowered the car down from the jack he noticed that the spare tire was flat too. He lost his temper, kicked the tire, and yelled several obscenities. He opened the driver's door and looked around for his cell phone. When he got it, he found that it was beeping low battery at him. He tossed the phone on the floor of the car in frustration. He was still miles from the main town of Smallville, and this road didn't get much traffic. He slammed the car door shut, and said to himself, "Just fucking great. Now I'll have to walk."

It was about the same distance to Smallville as it was to the Kent farm. Because he was having a bad day, he decided to head to the farm, knowing the comfort of his family would make him feel better. He had to walk for almost an hour to get back to the farm, and by the time he was there, he was hot, thirsty, and tired. He walked up the driveway and caught some movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned and looked out to the field where Jonathan and Clark were working on the tractor. Then try as he might, his feet wouldn't move, and his mouth wouldn't close. There in front of him was thirteen-year-old, skinny, Clark picking up the tractor, and holding it above his head as he walked towards the barn with Jonathan following him.

Lex shook his head a couple of times trying to get the image to change, or at least to look more real. He couldn't hear them yet, but he could tell they were talking, and apparently having a perfectly normal conversation. They got closer, and Lex still couldn't move. He watched as Jonathan guided Clark into the barn so the tractor didn't hit the sides of the door as Clark brought it in. Once they were in the barn, Lex couldn't see them anymore. He looked around to see if there were any other witnesses to this shocking event. Finally able to move again, he walked up to the barn, but didn't go in. He stood plastered against the wall, next to the open door instead. He heard Jonathan explaining what he was doing, and how that was hopefully going to fix the tractor. Then he heard Jonathan say, "Could you go into the house and see if I left my wrench set under the sink?"

Lex thought maybe he should hide, but before he could blink Clark appeared in front of him holding the wrench set. Lex gave a startled yell, and then they just stared at each other for a second. Clark had a look of horror on his face, and so did Lex. Lex was the first to speak. "What just happened? How did you carry that tractor?"

Clark stammered, "I….I…."

Having heard Lex's voice, Jonathan came running out of the barn. He stood next to Lex and said in a calm voice, "It's okay Lex. Let's just go into the house and talk about things."

Shaking his head no, Lex backed away from both of them. Jonathan took a step towards Lex, but Lex took a few more steps away, and held his hands up defensively. With panic in his voice, Lex said, "Stay the fuck away from me."

Jonathan backed up a step and held his hands up in surrender. "Okay. I wont come any closer. Will you at least listen to me?"

Lex nodded. and Jonathan said, "Clark is adopted. We found him."

Shaking his head, Lex said, "What? What do you mean found him? This doesn't make any fucking sense!"

"Do you remember the meteor shower?" Jonathan asked.

Nodding, Lex reached up to touch his bald head. He couldn't forget the day that had happened. Jonathan said, "We found Clark out in the field that day. We think he was about three."

Pausing, Jonathan chose his next words carfully. He hadn't even told Clark the whole truth about the space ship, and he didn't want to yet. He wanted Clark to get a little older before he had to be burdened with that, and he thought Clark deserved to hear that alone for the first time. Jonathan said, "Actually he found us. My truck had rolled over when I was trying to dodge a meteor rock, and Martha and I had crawled out the windows. We were sitting on the side of the road when we saw our truck lifted up off the ground. Clark was there in front of us, holding our truck over his head. He couldn't speak a word of English, he was completely naked, and there was no one around for miles. Martha and I searched the immediate area for any other people, or any clue as to what had happened. When we didn't find anything, so we brought Clark home with us."

Looking down, Jonathan hoped Lex would believe this next part, and not think it through too carefully. "I know it was wrong, but….Martha and I had wanted children for a long time, and Clark obviously had no one…..and we didn't want him ending up in some lab with people experimenting on him…..so we kept him."

Lex shook his head again, unable to accept what he was hearing. The silence lingered, so Jonathan said, "Clark, why don't you go get your Mom."

Clark disappeared, and a surprised Lex sucked in some air. Jonathan said, "Clark's speed didn't show up until a few years later."

Martha and Clark came running out of the house. Stopping a few feet away from lex, Martha said, "Oh honey, we didn't want you to find out this way. We wanted to wait until we thought you were ready."

Looking at Clark, Lex whispered, "You're not even human….."

Hating the way Lex was looking at him, Clark started to cry. His parents had always told him that if someone found out about his abilities, they would see him differently, but he'd never experienced that first hand. He said, "I… I'm still me."

Not liking where this was going, Jonathan said, "Those meteor rocks have changed more then one person Lex. Clark is stronger and quicker then you or me, but he still has the same feelings, hopes, and dreams. He's the same kid you've gotten to know over the past year."

Clark was wiping his eyes, and Lex could tell that his reaction had hurt the kid. He said, "I'm just going to need a few minutes to take this in. I….I'm going to go get a glass of water."

Walking around the Kents, Lex walked to the house. Martha and Jonathan looked at each other helplessly, and Clark moved closer to his mom. He said, "He hates me now."

Pulling him into a hug, Martha said, "No honey. We just need to give him some time. Eventually he'll see that you're the same person he knows and loves."

"You didn't see the way he looked at me, Mom. Like I was some kind of…..monster."

Jonathan said, "Lex can't help but be shocked. He'll come around after a while."

In the house, Lex mechanically got out a glass and poured himself some water. He downed it, and stood looking out the window at the Kents. He could see that Martha and Jonathan were both comforting a distraught Clark. He thought, 'What the hell is he? Could the meteors really do that to someone? How can he hide it so well? All this time I've thought he was normal. It's amazing. The things he could do! But then like Pop said, people would want to lock him away and experiment on him. I can see why they would hide it to protect him. I wonder how strong he really is.'

Lex thought back to the last summer when he first stayed with the Kents. He tried to remember any times when he saw Clark doing something that seemed unusual. He thought, 'All those times we were unloading hay, he never even lifted one. Jonathan and I did all the hard work, because they were pretending that he was normal. In fact I never saw Clark even try to lift a bail of hay. He could have had the whole truck unloaded in a second, and we could have been doing something else. In fact, he could have probably dug that hole for the septic tank in half an hour or less instead of the week that it took us to do it in the hot sun.'

Then Lex had an epiphany. His mind screamed out at him, "They LIED to me!"

His heart rate went up, and he started breathing hard. His anger built and his mind raced, 'They fucking lied to me, every fucking second of every fucking day! How many times did Pop spank me for lying? What a fucking hypocrite!!! Family my ass. I can't believe how blind I've been. They've just been pretending to care. Pretending to include me in their fucking family, but the whole time they had this huge secret. My father was right! We were just playing house. None of it is real.'

Lex was too angry for tears at that point. He picked up his empty water glass and hurled it against the far wall. The Kents had been heading towards the house and heard the smash. Jonathan raced up the steps and into the house. He saw Lex and said, "Are you okay son?"

Lex yelled, "Don't fucking call me son. Don't you call me son ever again."

Taking a few steps forward, Jonathan said, "Hey, I think you need to calm down."

Lex almost laughed, but glared instead. "You know what, I'm perfectly calm now. I see things clearly. You and YOUR family have proved to me that I don't belong here, Jonathan."

Martha said, "Lex, no…"

Taking another step towards Lex, Jonathan said, "It's not like that at all."

Backing up a few steps, Lex yelled, "DON'T FUCKING TOUCH ME!"

Jonathan stopped and held his hands up in surrender. He said, "I wasn't going to, we're just talking."

Shaking his head Lex said, "Don't fucking touch me ever again. All those times you hit me, and told me not to lie to you, and you were all lying to me every day! Were you all laughing about it behind my back?"

Jonathan felt like someone had punched him in the stomach.

Raising her voice Martha said, "No Lex! We never laughed at you, we love you. We hated lying to you, but we were trying to protect you…and Clark."

Glaring, Lex yelled, "I don't believe you anymore!"

Clark was standing in the doorway, crying and feeling sick.

Lex said, "I need to get out of here. I can't look at you people any more."

Martha said, "No Lex, please stay."

Dashing past them, Lex went to the door. Seeing Clark's miserable expression, Lex paused and said, "I don't hate you Clark. I know you were doing what your parents told you to do, but I need to be alone for a while."

He pushed past Clark, jumped down the stairs, and broke into a run down the driveway. Turning to Jonathan, Martha said, "What are we going to do?"

Jonathan said, "I don't know. He feels betrayed, and he has a right to feel that way. You guys were right, and I was wrong. We should have told him."

"Don't just stand there Dad! Go after him!" Clark said.

Sitting down at the kitchen table, Jonathan said, "I don't think so Clark. He's an adult, and no matter how much we may want him to be, he's not legally our child. I can't just run after him, and force him to come home."

Clark yelled, "Yes you can! You have to!"

Jonathan beckoned Clark over to him. Once he was close enough, Jonathan pull him into a hug and said, "It's gonna be okay Clark. We're not going to let Lex go without a fight. I just think he's gonna need a day or two to think about what he's seen. It's going to take a while to really sink in. I'll call him tonight, and if he doesn't answer I'll leave a message. Then tomorrow I'll try to go see him."

Sniffing, Clark said, "But what if he won't see you?"

"Then I'll try to make him."

Putting a comforting arm around each of them, Martha said, "I feel so bad that he found out the way he did. It's going to take a while to get the trust back."

Jonathan said, "Wait. Why was he here?"

"What do you mean?" Clark asked.

"He was on his way to the mansion. Why was he here and on foot?"

"Car trouble?" Martha guessed.

Jonathan nodded, and Martha said, "Then I guess we have to go get him."

Getting up to use the phone, Jonathan called the mansion. The butler James answered, and Jonathan said, "Hello, this is Jonathan Kent. Lex's car broke down on the way to the mansion. He is going to need someone to pick him up."

Once Jonathan hung up, Martha glared at him and said, "Are you doing what's best for Lex, or what's best for you?"

Surprised, Jonathan said, "What do you mean?"

"I think you feel guilty for lying to him, but you shouldn't. I know he was comparing our lies to his, but they are not equitable. We were protecting both of our boys, and the lying Lex had done was a completely different situation."

Looking away for a second, Jonathan said, "Maybe. When I spanked him for lying, I didn't really think about the fact that we were lying to him too. I believed that lying to him was the right thing to do at the time. But now that he's made the connection, it makes me question what I did. Maybe I am a hypocrite. Maybe I'm the one who needs a day to think about things."

Shaking her head, Martha said, "Jonathan, we both were doing what we thought was right, and I still think we were right to keep it from him. You're not a hypocrite."

Without responding, Jonathan walked out of the house towards the barn. When Jonathan was half way to the barn, Clark said, "Should I go after Lex? Ask him to come back home?"

Martha watched her husband retreating to the barn, and said, "No. We'll wait a day."

# # #

Lex was running as if he were being chased by demons. He went at full speed for as long as his lungs would let him. As he was running, he would look behind him every few minutes, as if he expected someone to be following him. Then as suddenly as he had started running he stopped, and collapsed on the ground at the side of the road. He lay in the dirt breathing hard. A few minutes later when his breathing was more under control, he sat up and looked down the road towards the Kent farm. He wasn't sure why, but he kept expecting one of them to come after him, no matter what he'd said. A few minutes later the empty road blurred, and Lex was soon sobbing with his head in his hands. He wasn't sure how long he sat there crying. He couldn't think about much besides the fact that they had all lied to him, and that no one was coming after him. When the sobs tapered off, he wiped at his tears and snot with his shirt and got up on very shaky legs. He headed towards his car, still thinking the same things.

As he was walking, a car he recognized pulled up beside him. James stopped the car and got out. "Mr. Luthor?"

"James?"

"Mr. Kent called to tell us you would be needing assistance. He said you had car troubles."

Lex thought he was going to be sick for a minute, but the nausea passed. He said, "Okay."

Lex got in the backseat of the car James was driving and said, "Take me to the mansion. Take me home. Have someone else get the Porsche later. It has a flat."

"Very good sir."

James got in and started driving. Lex pulled the compass that Jonathan had given him out of his pocket. Since the day it had been given to him, he'd kept it with him. He often looked at it, and thought about what it meant to him, but now that meaning had changed. He put it on the seat beside him and said, "Please stop at the post office in Smallville on the way home."

"Yes sir."

Lex asked, "Do we have any paper in the car? Maybe in the glove box?"

James looked in the glove box, but only found a paper napkin. Lex took it and scribbled something on it. When they got to the post office, Lex handed the compass and the napkin to James. He said, "Have this delivered to the Kent farm by 10am tomorrow."

As soon as James walked into the post office, Lex opened the car door, but kept himself from running after him. Instead he shut the door, leaned back to rest his head, and closed his eyes. When James got back and started driving again, Lex regretted not keeping the compass to at least remind him of what had been. He watched the scenery go by, and wondered how he was going to cope without a family.

As soon as they got to the mansion Lex poured himself a stiff drink. Then as he was about to take a swig he stopped and looked at the liquid. He took a deep breath and put the drink down on the table. He walked up to his room and started tossing clothes into a suitcase. He finished as quickly as possible and went to the garage to get a car. He put his things in the back and took off for Metropolis. He went as fast as the car could go on the freeway, and barley had the patients to pull over long enough to get the speeding ticket from a cop before taking off again. He made it to his father's hotel in record time, and got himself a room. Hiring a driver, he went straight to Luthorcorp. Once there, he walked into his father's office, ignoring the protests of the secretary.

Turning to the man he was having a meeting with, Lionel said, "It looks like our meeting is finished. I'll call you tomorrow."

Once the man was gone, and the door was shut, Lionel said, "Lex, I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow."

He knew he wouldn't get the response he wanted from his father, but Lex couldn't help himself. "You were right."

"Excuse me?"

"The Kents were just pretending," Lex admitted, trying not to cry again.

"Oh. I see."

The room was silent while both men thought. Over the past six months, Lionel had been able to put the past back in the past. Now he was ready to have some kind of relationship with his son again. He said, "I'm sorry if they hurt you, but I told you that would happen."

Lex nodded, and Lionel said, "You are a Luthor son, like it or not. You have to start acting like one. You have to keep yourself distanced from everyone, because in the end, blood relatives are the only ones you can count on."

Unable to refute this, Lex nodded again. Considering the conversation over, Lionel said, "I have a busy schedule set up for you this summer here at Luthorcorp. Are you up for the challenge?"

Lost for a few seconds, Lex slowly nodded and said, "Sure Dad."

Lionel smiled and said, "Wonderful. If you'd like to have a seat, I'll get my notes, and we can go over what you'll be doing together."

Lex sat on the couch in a daze. Lionel got his notes, but before he sat down he said, "It's good to have you back Lex."

"Thanks Dad."

As they went over the plans, Lionel was more and more pleased with how agreeable Lex was. Old Lex surely would have balked at the plans. Lionel had him working at the bottom level of each department for a week, and then moving to the next department to start again. But this new Lex was passive, agreeable, and malleable. By the time the talk was over Lionel asked Lex if he would like to have dinner together. Lex agreed to meet him at a restaurant in a few hours. Lex went back to his hotel room, and sat on a chair by the window. He had a beautiful view of the city. He watched the people walking by way down below him, and tried to think about the jobs he would be doing for Luthorcorp over the next month.

That night at dinner, Lionel bought a very expensive bottle of wine to celebrate. He didn't notice that Lex's glass stayed full, or that he pushed the food around on his plate instead of eating. Lionel kept up a constant stream of conversation about the company, and Lex tried very hard to focus on everything his father said.

When they got back to the hotel, the front desk clerk stopped Lex and said, "You have several urgent messages from a Mr. Kent sir."

Lex took the papers from the clerk and said, "Thank you."

Lionel watched with disbelief as Lex walked over to a trash can and tossed them in without looking at them. Lex turned to his father and said, "I'm going to need a prescription for sleeping pills. Starting tonight."

Lionel immediately got on his phone, and called his personal physician. Half an hour later Lex had taken two pills and was in bed waiting for them to take effect.

# # #

Jonathan had spent most of the evening making phone calls, just trying to find out where Lex was. Once he found out, he left a message asking Lex to call. An hour later he left a message telling Lex that he was sorry about everything, and that he would really like for him to call. An hour after that he'd left a message saying that Martha and Clark were very upset about the whole thing, and that they really needed to talk to him. An hour after that he left a message saying that if Lex didn't call he was going to drive to Metropolis and see him in person.

None of the Kents had eaten much dinner that night, and they'd all stayed up waiting for a call. As it got later, they all started to worry that Lex just wasn't going to call. At 11pm Martha and Clark had gone to bed. Martha had tried to coax Jonathan to bed too, but it didn't work. Jonathan spent the next half an hour nervously pacing the living room, and wondering why Lex hadn't called. Looking down at his hands, Jonathan's mind replayed Lex calling him a hypocrite for 'hitting' him, again and again. Jonathan decided that he had to go to Metropolis in the morning, to try and explain things to Lex. Once that was settled, he went upstairs and tried to get some sleep.

# # #

The next day the phone woke Lex up. His head was foggy when he answered, "Lo?"

Jonathan's voice said, "Lex? Is that you?"

Shaking his head to clear it, Lex said, "Mr. Kent?"

"Did you get my messages? I've been trying to get a hold of you since early last night."

Remembering everything Lex frowned and asked, "Why?"

"What do you mean why? Because you're hurt, and unhappy, and I want to talk to you and try to explain."

"I told you before, I understand perfectly. Please don't call again." Lex hung up before Jonathan could respond. He looked at the clock. It was 7am. The phone was ringing again, but Lex didn't answer. Instead, he got in the shower. As he was washing, he thought about the Kents, and Clark in particular. He thought about what he'd seen, and what Clark was capable of. Once he was dressed, he called his father and asked if he would like to have breakfast together. Lionel invited Lex up to his room for breakfast.

Before he went to his father's room he called the front desk, and told them he did not want to talk to or see Mr. or Mrs. Kent at all. He said didn't want phone calls, messages, or letters from them, and if they showed up, he didn't want to see them. The hotel clerk made some notes for all the other staff to see.

At breakfast Lionel talked about the mailroom where Lex would be spending the next week, and Lex tried to get the Kents out of his head by concentrating on his father's words. Once they got to Luthorcorp, Lex told the security desk that he didn't want contact with the Kents.

His first day on the job went pretty well as far as Lex could tell. His boss for the week was Mr. Webber. Max Webber had been with the company for over ten years, and Lex didn't remember him, but he remembered Lex. Lex had been to the mailroom both on his own, and while following his father more then once. Max had always disliked him. The first day Lex sorted the mail. Mr. Webber yelled at him to go faster a couple of times, and Lex simply nodded, apologized, and tried to be faster but still accurate. Lex found it easy to put the Kents in the back of his mind while he was concentrating on a new job.

# # #

Once Jonathan realized that Lex wasn't going to answer again, he slammed the phone down. Martha jumped at the sound. She went over to him and said, "I take it the conversation didn't go well."

Jonathan snorted and said, "There was no conversation. He hung up on me, and wouldn't answer again." Then he said, "I should have gone after him the second he ran out of the house."

She hugged him and said, "Enough regret. Let's decide what we're going to do now."

"I'm going to Metropolis to see him."

"What if he won't see you?" she asked.

"Then I guess I'll come home depressed, and we'll keep trying to get in touch with him every day until something works."

Clark asked, "Can I come with you to Metropolis?"

Jonathan thought about it but shook his head no. "I don't think so son."

Clark whined, "Why not? It's summer break, and I'm the reason this whole thing is happening anyway."

Jonathan let go of Martha and put an arm over Clark's shoulders. "No, you're not the reason it's happening Clark. Your mother and I were the ones who decided to keep it a secret from Lex this whole time, not you. He's not having a problem with your abilities, he's feeling like he's not part of the family now, because we lied to him."

"I still don't see why I can't go."

Patting his son's shoulder, Jonathan said, "Because I said so."

Rolling his eyes, Clark said, "That's not a reason."

Jonathan pinned him with a look and said, "Wanna bet?"

Glaring at the floor, Clark said, "Fine. I'll stay home."

"I'm sure your mother can find plenty of things to keep you busy while I'm gone."

Clark's voice dripped with sarcasm as he said, "Great. That'll be fun,"

Martha said, "You won't be having much fun if you don't drop your attitude."

Clark fumed silently, while Jonathan went to pack an overnight bag.

Jonathan had a quiet trip to Metropolis. He went to Lex's hotel, and went to the front desk. The front desk clerk smiled and said, "How can I help you sir."

"I would like to speak with Mr. Lex Luthor. Could you call up to him, and let him know Jonathan Kent is here to see him?"

The clerk nodded and then looked through some papers on the desk. When the clerk looked back up at Jonathan, his friendly smile was gone, and had been replaced with a look of disdain. The clerk said, "Mr. Luthor does not wish to speak with you sir. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

Jonathan didn't know what to do. He said, "Could you please just call up to him. Tell him it's very important."

The clerk picked up the phone and said, "Security to the front desk please."

Holding up his hands, Jonathan said, "No need. I'm leaving."

Security guards followed Jonathan until he was out the door of the hotel. Getting back in his truck, he tried to decide what to do. He drove to Luthorcorp, and got the same basic reaction from their security guards. Discouraged, he called Martha to see if she had any other ideas before he headed for home.

Martha and Clark were weeding her garden together, when the mailman came up to their house. Taking her gardening gloves off, Martha smiled and asked, "Where's Sam? Is he sick today?"

The man smiled and said, "No, he should be by later. I have a special delivery for a Mr. Kent."

Surprised, Martha said, "Did you need me to sign for it?"

Nodding, he handed her a clipboard and pointed to a blank line. Once she'd signed it, he gave her a small padded envelope. "Thanks."

The envelope was made out to Jonathan, but had no return address. She went into the house, and put it on the kitchen table for him. As she set it down, the phone rang. Martha answered, "Hello?"

Jonathan said, "It's me. Lex won't see me. He actually left word with the front desk about me. They wouldn't let him know I was there at the hotel or at Luthorcorp."

"Oh no."

"I don't know what else to do. I was already escorted out by security, I don't know what else to try."

Martha felt like crying, and had to sit down. She said, "Do you want me to try and call?"

"I don't think it will do any good. I'm on my way home. We'll keep calling, sending letters, and emails, until hopefully he agrees to see us."

"Okay. I'll see you soon." After she hung up, she started to cry.

Coming in, Clark saw that she was crying and said, "Mom?"

Martha wiped at her eyes and said, "Your dad couldn't get in to see Lex, but we'll keep trying with phone calls, letter, and emails."

Clark hated it when his mom cried, and found himself getting angry at Lex for not talking to his dad. He went and gave his mom a hug and hoped Lex would come to his senses soon.

Later that night, after Jonathan had gotten home and finished the chores, he noticed the package for him on the kitchen table. He opened it and found the compass that he'd given Lex, along with a napkin. The napkin had Lex's handwriting on it. 'I can't find a home that isn't there.'

Jonathan sat down hard in one of the kitchen chairs. Martha saw him and asked, "Is something wrong?"

He held onto the compass and whispered, "He sent it back."

Seeing what Jonathan had in his hands, she gasped and put her hand over her mouth. After getting over her initial surprise, she slowly took her hand down, and put it on Jonathan's shoulder. She said with conviction, "Then you'll have to give it back to him the next time he comes home."

Shaking his head, Jonathan said, "I don't know if he'll come home Martha. Maybe he's gone for good."

"No. We're not giving up. We'll keep trying until something works."

After taking a deep breath, Jonathan nodded in agreement. He put the compass away before Clark came in.

That night at dinner, no one ate much, and the table was unusually quiet for the Kent household.

# # #

Over the next few days Lex got into the rhythm of the mailroom. Mr. Webber's yelling got on his nerves, because it seemed to only be directed at him, but for the most part it didn't phase him. Lex would have never put up with it a week ago, but now he couldn't bring himself to care. The Kents occupied his mind at all hours. Even when he was concentrating as hard as he could on the job he was doing, thoughts of them would sneak in. He missed them. He knew he would miss them if they ever kicked him out, and even though he was the one who had walked away, he still felt the loss deep in his soul. Going thorough the motions of the day was just something to do while he thought about them.

By Thursday, Lex knew how to do the job, and found it harder to concentrate. The more time he had to think about the Kents, the more preoccupied he became. He ended up sorting the mail incorrectly for two different departments. The mailroom grew silent, and people stared, as Mr. Webber yelled at Lex for a good five minutes, before making him sort the mail again, and deliver it all personally. At lunchtime, one of the women who had been working in the mailroom for over a year caught Lex as he was headed out to have lunch with his father. She said, "Excuse me, Lex?"

He turned to her and said, "Hey Sally. What's up?"

Looking a little embarrassed, she said, "I know it's not really my place to say or anything, but…..Max is being unreasonable. He has some kind of personal grudge against you. I've never seen him yell like that, and I've made worse mistakes then you did. You should tell your dad what's going on. I'm pretty sure you could have a harassment case against him for the way he's treating you."

"You think so?" Lex hadn't thought about it.

When she realized he wasn't kidding, she nodded and said, "Yes I do."

Lex shrugged. "I don't really care. Tomorrow will be my last day in that department."

With a smile Sally said, "Okay then. I'll see you in an hour."

Lex left, but before Sally went to lunch, she went to see Joe. He was the front desk security guard, and had been with the company for a long time. He'd always been nice to her, and had even walked her to her car one night when she worked late. She said, "Hi Joe, you got a minute?"

He looked at her and smiled. "Sure Sally. What's on your mind."

She explained what had been going on, and finished up with, "I guess I just wanted to get that off my chest. Thanks for listening to me."

Smiling again, Joe said, "Any time you need to talk to someone, you come see me."

She nodded and went to lunch feeling better. Joe had been there a long time, and everyone liked and respected him. He had no trouble getting another security guard to cover his spot while he went to the monitor room. It received the feed from all the surveillance cameras in Luthorcorp. He had them play back the last hour of surveillance from the mailroom while he watched. He couldn't hear what was going on, but it was clear enough with the visual. He sighed and wondered what to do. Sally had told him that Lex didn't really care, but he knew that Lionel would. He called up to Lionel's secretary and asked to speak with Mr. Luthor. Lionel answered with, "This is Mr. Luthor, how can I help you."

"This is Joe in security Mr. Luthor."

"Yes Joe, what seems to be the problem?"

"I have a tape down here I think you should see."

Lionel didn't know most of the people who worked for him, but he did know Joe, because he'd done the night shift for many years, and was often the only person left in the building when Lionel left. Lionel trusted Joe as much as he trusted anyone, so he said, "I'll be right down."

When Lionel got there he shook hands with Joe, and Joe said, "Thanks for coming down Mr. Luthor."

He indicated a screen for Lionel to watch, and then played the part of the tape with Mr. Webber yelling at Lex. Lionel saw right away that everyone in the room thought the situation was odd. He couldn't believe it when Lex just nodded, and got back to work. When that part was over Joe said, "I hear tell it's been going on all week. I just thought you would like to know."

Lionel said, "Thank you Joe. I'll see that you get a bonus."

Joe shook his head. "No need for that Mr. Luthor."

"Nonsense. It will be on your next check."

Joe didn't say anything else as he headed back out to the front desk. Lionel turned to his head of security who had been watching and said, "I want video and audio surveillance of the mailroom in my office within the hour, and I don't want anyone to know it's happening besides me and you."

By the end of the day Lionel had gone from angry to confused, and then back to angry again. He had been having dinner with Lex every night that week, and Lex hadn't said a word about it to him. Lionel had been enjoying the way his son seemed to hang on his every word lately. He'd been thinking it was a positive thing that Lex seemed to be so agreeable and passive. He'd even noticed that Lex wasn't taking any drugs or drinking except for the prescribed sleeping pills. But the thought that Lex was being that way to other people disturbed him.

When Lex got off work he went to his father's office and said, "Hey Dad, do you want to go to dinner again today?"

"That would be nice, but could you come in and sit down for a minute first?"

Lex nodded and shut the door behind him. He sat down and looked at his father expectantly. Lionel said, "You've been working in the mail room for almost a week now, and you haven't told me much about it. How do you like it?"

"It's fine."

"What have you been doing?"

With a puzzled expression on his face Lex said, "Sorting the mail."

"And how do you like the people you work with?"

Lex shrugged. "They're okay."

"Has anything unusual been happening?"

Leaning back, Lex said, "If there's something specific you're trying to get at, just say it."

Getting to the point, Lionel said, "I've heard that your boss is singling you out to harass, and being unprofessional in front of the other staff."

"So what?"

Lionel got up and sat next to his son on the couch. He said, "Lex, you already own part of this company, and some day you will own the majority of the shares. You can't let some low ranking manager walk all over you while people watch. It's unbecoming to your actual position in the company, and in life."

With a sigh Lex said, "I'm tired. Maybe let's not go to dinner."

Getting angry Lionel said, "We don't have to go to dinner, but tomorrow, you will fire Mr. Webber in front of the mailroom staff."

With a frown Lex said, "No I won't."

"You will. I don't know where your spine or your pride went, but you need to get them back. Since you've been here, you've been less then a Luthor, and it needs to stop."

Lex was torn. On the one hand, he had been having a pretty good time with his dad this week. It was nice to feel like his father approved. But his last comment sounded very familiar, and his automatic response was to rebel. He leaned back, closed his eyes and said, "Fine. I'm going to bed."

Lionel was silent as he watched Lex get up and leave.

Lex went back to the hotel, and up to his room. He didn't feel like eating. He didn't feel like drinking or getting high. What he really wanted to do was talk to the Kents, but that was out of the question. And since he couldn't do that, what he really wanted to do was sleep and forget. He looked over at his sleeping pills on the nightstand. He went to sit on the bed and just stared at the innocent looking bottle. He got up and walked to his window. He knew he should try to go out and eat some dinner. He even thought that going out to drink would be better then what he was doing, but he just didn't have the energy. As he was standing there he felt something on his cheek, and wiped at it. He realized he was crying again, as he did every night now. He went back to the bed, and picked up the bottle of sleeping pills. He carefully poured them all out on his hand and counted them up. He usually took two a night, and he had thirty left. He thought about taking all of them, but knew that would be wrong. He took a deep breath, and shook his head. He put twenty-six of them back, keeping four in his hand. He decided a double dose would help him sleep from now until morning, and then maybe he could get up the energy to eat something and go to work.

# # #

The Kents had all sent letters to Lex every day, and Clark had sent a ton of emails. They stopped trying to call after three days, but they kept up with the rest of it. Nothing had worked.

Thursday night at the Kent farm, Martha started crying as she was washing the dishes. This had been happening a lot since Lex had left, and Clark was getting more and more angry about it. Jonathan was out in the barn, so Clark decided to go talk to him. On his way to the barn, Clark thought about what he was going to say to his dad. He wanted to convince his father to drive him to Metropolis, because he knew he could get in to see Lex, whether Lex wanted him to or not. He didn't think his dad would go for him using his abilities, but he had to try something. As he got to the barn, he heard his dad talking to the horse Lex usually road, and stopped.

As Jonathan brushed the horse down, he said, "……good girl. Does that feel good? Maybe when we're done here I'll get you an apple." The horse whinnied. Jonathan said, "You miss him too don't you. I know Martha and Clark do. I do too. If I had just gone after him that day…..That's something I'll regret for the rest of my life. I don't know what else to do now. We've tried everything we can think of. All I can think about now is…..what if he doesn't come home…..ever again…."

Clark was standing right outside the barn when he heard his dad talking. He wasn't sure why, but it seemed like a privet moment. But then it got very quiet, and a few seconds later he heard a sob. He realized that his father was crying. He'd never heard his father cry before, not even when one of the cows had kicked him and broken his arm. Clark quietly walked away, not wanting to hear or see it.

Walking back to the porch, Clark sat down on the stairs. He thought about Lex and what was happening to his family. He thought about his abilities, and how they had caused all of this. Whether his parents wanted to believe it or not, Clark knew that was true. Standing up, Clark said quietly to himself, "That's enough. I'll bring him home tomorrow….no matter what."

Clark walked into the house, and saw that his mom had finished the dishes. Now she was just staring out the window towards barn. Clark said, "Mom?"

"Yes honey?"

"Can I go fishing at the covered bridge tomorrow?"

Martha was slightly surprised, because Clark hadn't wanted to do much of anything since Lex had left. Martha nodded and said, "I suppose that would be alright, if your dad can spare the time."

"No, I mean just me."

Martha considered this. Clark was thirteen now, and she thought he probably needed some time alone, since they were all still upset about Lex. She said, "Okay, but later in the afternoon. I have to take some eggs and vegetables to the market tomorrow, and I was hoping you could come with me and help."

Clark would have rather gone first thing, but nodded and said, "Okay."

# # #

Lex had a hard time waking up when the front desk gave him his wake up call. He took a shower and ordered some breakfast from room service. After it came he ate half a piece of toast and three bites of omelet before he couldn't stomach any more. He looked at the clock and thought he would be late for work, but didn't care. He went and looked out the window for a few minutes before dragging his feet to his car. He drove to Luthorcorp and parked next to his father's. He didn't get out right away. He seriously thought about getting back on the road and just driving. He didn't care which direction, or where he would end up, as long as it wasn't there. He sighed and got out of the car. He went in the front and walked to the mailroom.

The second he walked in, Mr. Webber started yelling at him for being late. Lex stood and listened to it. He thought about what his father had said, but he just didn't have the energy. He nodded when Max was done, and got to work.

At noon Max got a call. He said, 'Yes sir.' a few times, and then hung up. Then he yelled out with a slight sneer, "Lex, your daddy wants to see you."

Lex shook his head, and before he left the office he muttered, "You're really not very bright Mr. Webber." Lex took the elevator up to his father's office.

His dad was standing at the door waiting for him. As Lex walked in, Lionel told his secretary, "We are not to be disturbed."

She nodded, and Lionel closed his door. He spun on Lex, grabbed both of his upper arms, and shook him roughly a few times. "I told you to fire him!"

Lex put his hands on his father's arms to try and steady himself after the shake. Lionel let go and walked a few steps away. He said, "I don't understand you Lex. When you arrived to work here for the summer, I thought you were more mature. I thought you were becoming a man. I thought that at the very least I wouldn't have to be ashamed of you quite as often. But I can see I was wrong."

"I guess so," Lex said.

Walking back to his son, Lionel said, "What happened to you Lex? It's like you are someone else entirely. It's like all the fight just went out of you."

Looking up at his father, Lex said honestly, "I just don't care."

Lionel had a sense of deja vu. He could remember his wife saying that right before the doctor prescribed her medication for depression. He looked closely at Lex, and realized he didn't look good. Lex had dark circles under his eyes, and he looked pale. Lionel wasn't about to go thorough that again, and backhanded his son.

Not expecting the blow, Lex stumbled, but caught himself before he felt to the ground. He put his hand up to his face and looked at his dad again. Lionel had a very familiar look of hate on his face. Lionel said, "You'd better start caring. If you don't go down there and fire him right now, I'm cutting you off. You can forget about college. You can forget about owning this company. You can live out of garbage cans for all I care. You decide."

Lex stared at the floor, trying to make up his mind. He didn't think he cared about college anymore. He knew he didn't care about the company. But the thought of living out of garbage cans was too much for him. He nodded and quietly said, "I'll fire him."

"Do it now, and then take his place until we find his replacement."

"Okay Dad."

"Go!" Lionel said with disgust.

Lex left the office and went back down to the mailroom. Sally came up to him and asked, "What happened?"

"What do you mean?"

"The side of your face is all red," She said.

Trying to think up some excuse, Lex failed and said, "Oh….I….It's nothing. I've got to talk to Mr. Webber. I'll be right back."

Lex knocked on the door and Max said, "Yeah?"

He went in and closed the door behind him. Before Max could say anything, Lex said, "You're fired Mr. Webber."

"Excuse me?"

"You're fired. You have until the end of the day to clean out your desk, and you can pick up your last check in accounting."

Max's face turned bright red, and he yelled, "You can't fire me!"

Lex sat down on a chair, looked Max in the eyes, and said, "My father can make things very unpleasant for you Mr. Webber. I would advise you to be grateful that you're only fired."

"Is that a threat?!" Max hissed.

"No. It's the truth."

Max got up, and as he was walking out the door he said, "You'll be hearing from my lawyer."

Lex leaned back in the chair, and willed his headache to go away. A few seconds later, he heard a tentative knock on the door. He opened his eyes and saw Sally standing in the doorway. She said, "Is everything okay in here?"

He gave her a weak smile and nodded. Standing up, he walked out to the mailroom, and said, "Can I have everyone's attention please?"

Everyone looked at him. He said, "Mr. Webber is gone. I'll be taking his place until we find a replacement. If anyone is interested in the position, please give your resume to human resources. I'll be in the office if anyone has questions."

He went back to the office, hoping that no one had questions, because he probably wouldn't know the answers. He noticed Sally standing in the doorway again, and said, "Hey Sally, I'd be grateful for any help you could give me over the next week or so."

She smiled and said, "Sure."

# # #

Clark and Martha got home from town around three o'clock, and Clark asked, "Can I please go fishing now?"

She said, "Sure. Thanks for coming with me today, I'm sorry it took so long. Make sure you're home by five, so you can help your dad with chores."

Clark nodded and super sped out of the house. Martha smiled at the empty spot in front of her, and hoped Clark was able to have a good time.

Clark was in Metropolis and in front of Luthorcorp twenty minutes later. He fixed his hair and went inside. Clark thought the security guard at the front desk looked like Pete's grandpa, and liked him right away. He said, "Hi, I was hoping you could help me."

The guy smiled and said, "Sure thing kiddo. What do you need."

"I want to see Lex Luthor. Is he working here today?"

With a nod, the man said, "Yes he is. Can I ask why you want to see him?"

"It's kind of personal."

"Okay, can I tell him who is here to see him?"

"Well…..that might not be a great idea," Clark said.

"Why not?"

"We kind of had a fight, and he's mad at me."

"I see. Well, I have to tell him something to get him down here."

Clark couldn't come up with anything other then the truth. "Okay. You can tell him it's Clark."

"Okay, hang on just a minute," the man said, as he picked up the phone. "Mr. Luthor? There's a boy here who would like to see you. He says his name is Clark." After some silence, the man said, "Yes sir……Yes sir." He hung up, and smiled at Clark. He indicated a chair in the lobby and said, "If you just take a seat, Mr. Luthor will be with you in a few minutes."

Pleased that it had been so easy, Clark smiled and said, "Thanks."

Lionel had been putting off his normal duties most of the day, so that he could keep an eye on his son. He wanted to make sure Lex was following his orders, and that he wasn't doing anything unseemly. While he was looking at some papers on his desk he heard Lex's voice over the monitor say, "Clark's here?….That can't be good. I guess I'll have to see him. Shit. I'll be down in a few Joe."

Now that Lex was actually following his orders, Lionel didn't want the Kents messing it up. He called down to the front desk and said, "Joe? Toss that Clark boy out. I don't want Lex to see him."

The line was quiet for a few seconds, and Lionel said, "Joe, did you hear me."

"Yes sir." Joe put the phone down and sighed. Some days he hated his job, but it paid well. He was putting his granddaughter through college, so he kept the job, even when he had to do things he didn't like. Standing up he went over to Clark, and said, "I'm sorry son, but I'm gonna have to ask you to leave."

With confusion Clark said, "But I thought you said Lex was coming."

"He is, but you can't see him. If you won't leave, I'm gonna have to make you, and I really don't want to do that. Please just go, and see Lex another time."

Clark felt like crying. He said, "You don't understand, I have to see him today….right now. It's really important. Please."

Towering over the boy, Joe said, "No. You go now, or I toss you out by the time I get to three."

Clark stayed in his seat. "One….Two…."

Clark shook his head, and stayed put. "Three. Sorry about this kid."

Joe put his hand on Clark's upper arm and started to pull him out of the chair. But to Joe's amazement, the boy didn't budge. Joe said, "Now I don't want to get rough and hurt you boy. You come on with me."

Joe pulled harder, and got the same results. The boy didn't even look like he was having a hard time staying in place. Shaking his head at the stubborn kid, Joe used both hands to pull him up, and ended up picking up Clark and the chair at the same time. Getting angry, Joe said, "Fine. If that's the way you want it, we'll do it your way."

Joe set the chair down long enough to get behind it, and picked it up. He lifted the chair, with Clark in it, and started carrying both to the front door. Before they got there, Clark jumped out, and ran back to the front desk. Joe yelled, "You get back here." and set the chair down as he went after him.

Clark was thinking that he had to stay and see Lex, no matter what. Joe was on him in a second and tried to pick him up, but Clark pushed Joe away, using a little of his strength to do it. Joe was tossed a few feet back, and landed on his side on the floor. Clark immediately felt guilty for hurting the guy.

Lex got in the elevator and went to the lobby. He didn't really want to see Clark, but he didn't think Jonathan would let Clark go to Luthorcorp by himself, which meant he shouldn't be there. As the elevator doors opened, he saw Clark shove Joe. His eyes got wide when Joe sailed a few feet through the air. His first thought was, 'Please don't let my dad see that.' Raising his voice Lex said, "Clark!"

Clark jumped at the sound of his name, and saw Lex rushing towards him. Lex could tell that Clark felt guilty about what he'd just done, but that only lasted for a second. By the time Lex got to his side, Clark's face only showed anger. With anger of his own, Lex leaned down, and whispered fiercely in Clark's ear, "I don't care how angry you are with me, it's not an excuse to expose yourself in public."

Clark wasn't sure what he'd been expecting Lex to say, but that wasn't it. Lex quickly walked over to Joe and helped him stand. Joe was rubbing his shoulder. Lex asked, "Are you okay?"

Joe looked at Clark with fear and said, "I'm okay."

Clark saw the look, and as the reality of what he'd done hit him, a blush crept up his face.

Lex also saw the look, said quietly, "Joe…"

Joe turned to Lex, who whispered with desperation, "Please, I'll give you anything you want. I'll pay you any amount of money you ask for. Just please if anyone asks, especially my father, you tell them you slipped and fell. Clark just wants to see me, and you'll never have to see him again."

Looking back at Clark, Joe could see that the boy was ashamed, and that was enough for him. He said, "I don't need anything. I did slip and fall."

Feeling gratitude for the older man, Lex couldn't think of anything to say that would adequately explain how he felt. All that came out was, "Thank you."

Turning to Clark, Lex let his irritation show as he said, "Come on. We're going."

Clark walked towards Lex, and as he passed Joe he muttered, "Sorry."

Lex walked out the front door to the sidewalk, and Clark followed. As soon as the door closed behind them, Lex turned to Clark, and leaned down so that they were eye to eye. He asked, "Where is your father?"

Clark glared and said, "At home."

"What?!" Lex yelled.

"I came by myself."

Straightening up, Lex looked up at the sky, as if it would have some answers. Looking back at Clark he said, "How did you get here?"

"I ran."

With a pause to think that over, Lex said, "Really?"

Clark nodded. "It took me about fifteen minutes, and then another five to find this place."

"Wow," was all Lex could say.

After a few seconds, Clark said, "You need to come home."

Turning back to the front door, Lex said, "We can't talk here. Let's go to my place." He walked back into the building, and made sure Clark stayed beside him. He went straight to the elevator, and took it to the parking garage. Once they were in the car, and on their way to his hotel, Lex said, "Do your parents know you're here?"

Looking out the window, Clark refused to answer. Lex tried again. "Clark, are your parents going to be worried, and wondering where you are?"

Clark shook his head. Getting tired of Clark's unresponsiveness, Lex said, "You wanted to see me bad enough to come all this way, so tell me why."

"Because you need to come home."

With a sigh, Lex said, "I know you want me to be there Clark, but I can't go back. Things can't go back to the way they were. I…..I put my trust in your folks, and I hadn't done that since I was really little. I can't just pretend like they didn't betray me."

Clark said, "I can't believe you Lex. How many times did Dad forgive you? How many times did you lie to them? Now Mom and Dad make one mistake, and you can't forgive them. And besides that, they were only lying to protect me. And it probably doesn't seem like it to you, but they really were trying to protect you too. We all sat around the table talking about wanting to tell you the same day you found out. Mom and I wanted to tell you, and so did Dad, but he wanted to make sure it was really the best thing for you. He was trying to protect you, because he thought you had enough to deal with already."

Needing time to think about all of that, Lex was quiet all the way back to the hotel. He parked and Clark followed him up to his room. Once they were behind closed doors Lex ordered, "Call your parents and tell them where you are."

"No." Clark crossed his arms.

Lex was more then a little irritated, and said, "I may not want to call your folks, but I'm not about to let them sit around and worry about where you are, so you call them, or I will."

"Great, so call them. Or better yet, drive me home, because I'm not going back without you."

Staring at Clark, Lex tried to determine if he was serious or not. He said, "And what do you think your father is going to say about this when I tell him what you're doing?"

"I don't care. Neither one of you can make me go home if I don't want to, but if you don't come home with me, I can make you."

Lex glared. "So you're a bully now? Just because you're stronger then me, you're gonna force me to do something I don't want to do."

"Yes," Clark said with conviction.

Crossing his arms too, Lex said, "I don't buy it Clark."

Clark yelled, "Well you better believe it, because you are coming home with me, and you are going to talk to our parents! Mom has been crying on and off all week, and last night you made Dad cry too! You owe it to them to at least let them explain."

Lex wanted to believe everything that Clark had said, but found it difficult. Clark was the most honest person he knew, but he still had doubts. He said, "They're really upset about it? You're not just saying it to trick me into going back?"

Clark had been trying to hold his temper in check, but that last comment made him lose it. He went up to Lex, and shoved him backwards. Lex flew a couple of feet through the air and landed on his back on the bed. Clark yelled, "You are so stupid! How do you think they would feel if I ran off for a week and wouldn't talk to them? It's the same thing when you do it!"

Looking warily at Clark, Lex said, "It's not the same thing Clark, even if you want it to be."

Before Lex could blink, Clark was in front of him. He barely had time to register the fist coming at him, before he passed out.

Clark watched as Lex fell back onto the bed. He looked at his own fist, not quite believing that he'd just punched Lex in the jaw. After a couple of seconds Clark said, "Lex? Lex! Lex are you okay?" Starting to panic, Clark checked to make sure Lex was breathing. Clark hadn't expected Lex to get knocked unconscious, and realized too late, that he'd hit him too hard. Clark said, "Crap. Sorry Lex."

He thought about calling his dad, and telling him what had happened. He was sure his dad would help, but he was also sure that his dad was going to be royally pissed off at what he had done. As he thought about all the things he had done that day, Clark started to shake. Feeling sick to his stomach, he said to himself, "What should I do? If I call Dad, it'll take him a couple of hours to get here. Damn."

Clark looked at Lex and thought, 'I could carry him. We could be home in less then twenty minutes. I wonder if I'd get more tired carrying him. But maybe that's not such a good idea with him hurt. Maybe I should take him to the hospital, but then tell them what? Damn, damn, damn!'

Knowing it probably wasn't the best idea, Clark decided to carry Lex home. All he really wanted, was for Lex and his parents to have a chance to talk, and he thought this would be the best way to accomplish that. He picked Lex up, and made sure Lex's head was resting against his shoulder, but when he got to the door, he realized he was going to need his hands. Shifting Lex, Clark put him up over his shoulder and let his head and arms dangle. Then he super sped out of the hotel using the stairs. Once he was on the sidewalk, he shifted Lex back to the original position and headed for the freeway.

Even with the extra wait of Lex, Clark ran faster on the way home then he had on the way there. Lex still hadn't woken up, and Clark was getting scared. It took him a total of ten minutes to get from the hotel to his front porch, but by the time he got there he was breathing hard, and sweating. Both of which were rare occurrences for him. He took a deep breath, and opened the front door.

Martha was baking cookies, and Jonathan was taking a break from working to have a couple. They both stopped what they were doing and stared. Clark was damp and out of breath holding Lex in his arms. Jonathan said, "Clark?"

Clark walked to the couch, and lay Lex down. Martha and Jonathan quickly followed. Martha knelt down by Lex. "What happened?"

Clark took a few gulping breaths and said, "I went to Metropolis and brought Lex home."

Both his parents yelled, "What?!!"

Martha turned to Lex and rubbed his shoulder. "Lex honey, can you hear me?"

Clark walked into the kitchen to get himself some water. Jonathan followed and asked, "What's wrong with Lex?"

Stalling, Clark drank some water. He really didn't want to admit what he'd done, but he also knew there was no avoiding it. He set the empty glass down, looked his father in the eye, and said, "I punched him."

Jonathan was too surprised to respond. Looking at her son with genuine anger, Martha said, "How dare you hit your brother! With your strength you could kill someone. How long has he been out?"

Having seen his mother's expression, Clark looked down at the floor and muttered, "Ten or eleven minutes."

Jonathan went to Lex and checked his pulse and breathing rate. He saw a bruise forming on Lex's jaw and asked, "Where did you hit him Clark?"

Slowly walking to his parents side, Clark spoke so softly they almost couldn't hear him. "On the jaw. The left side. I pushed him in the chest too."

Looking at Clark, Jonathan said, "Then while he was out, you ran all the way home with him? Bouncing him around after he was already injured?"

Unable to meet his father's eyes, he nodded at the floor. Jonathan looked at his wife and said, "We'll have to take him to the hospital."

She nodded in agreement, and said, "Let me get a bucket in case he wakes up sick from shock. And I'll get a wet washcloth with some ice to put on his jaw. That should help with the swelling."

Feeling sick himself, and not fully understanding the reality of what he had done until now, Clark said, "He's gonna be okay though….right Dad?"

Jonathan could tell Clark was on the verge of tears. He wanted to reassure him, but didn't want to give him false hope. "I don't know son. I hope so. Let's get him in the truck, so the doctors can have a look."

Leaning down to pick up Lex, Jonathan felt him moving. He put the boy back down and said, "Lex?"

Lex's eyes fluttered open for a second, and he winced in pain. He said, "My head."

Jonathan said, "We're going to take you to the hospital. Do you think you can stand to walk to the truck?"

"Mr. Kent?" Lex's eyes flew open. Looking around frantically, Lex realized he was at the farm. He saw Clark standing next to him, quietly crying, and winced again as pain shot through his neck. "How long have I been out?" he asked.

Martha was back at his side with an ice pack, and said, "About ten minutes. Here, hold this to your jaw."

"But then how….." Turning to Clark with awe, he said, "You brought me here that quick?"

Clark said nothing, and kept his eyes on the floor as he cried. Jonathan said, "Lex, we need to get you checked out. You took a hard blow to the jaw, and we need to see if you have a concussion or whiplash."

Lex took the ice pack from Martha, and held it to his jaw gently. Then he said to Jonathan, "I'll be fine after I rest for a few minutes. and take some aspirin."

"You can walk, or I can carry you, but we are going to the hospital," Jonathan said in a firm voice.

His head and neck were throbbing, and he didn't have the energy to argue. "Okay. I'll walk." Lex tried to get up, but immediately felt nauseous, and had to sit still while the feeling passed.

Jonathan bent down and picked him up, while Lex concentrated on not vomiting. Jonathan said, "Let's go."

Everyone got in the truck, with Clark sitting in the back, and Lex sitting between Martha and Jonathan. It was half an hour drive to the hospital. Four minutes into the ride. Martha pulled Lex down to rest his head on her shoulder. She took the ice pack from him, and held it to his jaw for him. Lex was in too much pain to argue, and let her. The longer he lay there against Martha, the more he thought about all the things Clark had said and done. He could tell that Martha and Jonathan were honestly worried about him, and that Martha was doing her best to comfort him. She was humming and rubbing his back in slow circles. He wasn't sure what started it, but he found himself crying. Martha heard it, and set the ice pack down on the seat. She put both her arms around him, and said, "We missed you so much Lex. I'm glad you're home, even if I don't like the way you got here."

Lex put his arms around her too, and cried the rest of the way to the hospital. Jonathan parked the truck at the E/R entrance, turned to Lex, and said, "Can you walk in?"

Wiping at his face, Lex said, "What are we going to say?"

"What do you mean?" Jonathan asked.

"Well, we can't tell them that Clark knocked me out. So what are we going to say happened?"

Jonathan said, "No matter what else happens between us Lex, I'll always be grateful to you for keeping Clark's secret."

With a glare, Lex asked, "Did you really think I wouldn't?"

Jonathan shrugged. "We haven't exactly talked about it, so I wasn't sure. We'll tell them the cow kicked you when you were cleaning out her stall. Can you walk?"

Lex nodded, but ended up with his arm around Jonathan's shoulders to help steady him as he walked.

Clark had also spent a good portion of the trip crying. He felt excruciatingly guilty about hurting Lex. When they stopped, he jumped out of the back, and waited by the side of the truck. He watched his Dad helping Lex, and jumped when he felt his Mom put her hand on his shoulder. She patted him and said, "Let's go see what the doctor says."

The E/R was surprisingly empty, and they got in to see the doctor in record time. They were all relieved to know that Lex didn't have a concussion, a broken jaw, or whiplash. He would have a nasty bruise, and a headache, but that was about it. The doctor prescribed a strong painkiller for the next two days, and sent them home. They got the prescription filled at the hospital's pharmacy, and Lex took one before they headed back.

The trip back was quiet. Lex leaned his head back on the seat and tried not to let the pain in his head and neck overpower him. By the time they got back to the farm the painkiller had started working, and Lex was able to think a little more clearly. They got out, and Lex was able to walk by himself to the house. As soon as they got in the house, Jonathan said, "Let's sit down at the table and talk."

Noticing the time, Martha said, "It's almost six, so I'm going to start some dinner while you guys talk. I'll still be able to hear."

Jonathan nodded. First he looked at Clark and said, "You told your mom you were going fishing. How did you end up in Metropolis?"

Clark muttered to the table, "I had it planned since last night. I decided I had to bring Lex home, so I ran to Metropolis and went to Luthorcorp to get him."

"Since when did it become your job to decide what was best for Lex?" Jonathan asked.

Clark muttered again, "Since he started being stupid."

Martha stopped what she was doing to stare at her son. The entire house was silent, while Jonathan counted to ten in his head, and then counted to ten again. Clark squirmed. Jonathan finally said, "Clark, if you don't drop the attitude and start showing some respect, I can spank you now, and then again after we've gone over things."

Lex snorted with disgust. Jonathan turned to him and said, "You have something to say Lex?"

"I don't understand what you're trying to do, but I already know about Clark. I don't see how you spanking him can have much effect, when he can lift a few tons of tractor over his head."

Glaring at Clark, Lex added, "I have to give you credit for a good act though. I only overheard your supposed spankings twice, and I believed you were actually getting hurt."

Shaking his head, Jonathan said, "I know we hid things from you Lex, but we would never put on such an elaborate act. Clark was getting spanked, and he was feeling it too."

Turning away, Lex said, "Sure. Whatever."

Thinking Lex would have to wait, Jonathan turned back to Clark and said, "Since when did it become your job to decide what was best for Lex?"

Clark couldn't believe that Lex thought they would be so deceitful. Not wanting to make things any worse, Clark gave the answer he knew his father wanted to hear. "It's not my job."

"And what did I say to you the last time you ran to Metropolis by yourself?"

"That it better not happen again," Clark admitted.

"How did you get Lex to see you?"

"I only gave the guard my first name, and asked him to call Lex. Then Lex came down to see me," Clark's eyes darted to Lex, hoping he wouldn't add to that statement.

Jonathan continued, "So then how did you get from seeing Lex to hitting him?"

"He drove me to his hotel room so we could talk, and when…"

Lex interrupted. "You left something out Clark."

Shaking his head, Clark gave Lex his best 'please don't' look.

"Sorry Clark, but I have to.": Turning to Jonathan, Lex said, "When I got to the lobby, the security guard was trying to throw Clark out. Clark pushed him away…..a few feet away."

The house was silent again, while Martha stopped what she was doing to stare at her son. Clark glared at Lex, wishing in that moment, that he hadn't brought him home. Lex saw the glare, and tried to explain why he'd ratted him out, "Hitting me wasn't very nice Clark, but we were brothers, and brothers sometimes fight. Exposing yourself in the lobby of my father's building was just plain…..stupid. It was by far the worst thing you did tonight."

Looking back down at the table, Clark tried to stay mad at Lex, but found he couldn't.

"You still are brothers Lex." Jonathan said.

Turning away, Lex didn't respond. Jonathan asked, "Was the guard hurt? Did Lionel see it?"

Lex said with confidence, "I know the guard. He's a good man, and he's worked for my father for a long time. He'll keep his mouth shut. I don't know if my father saw it or not. I hope to God he didn't."

Turning back to Clark, Jonathan said, "You were going to leave this part of the story out, weren't you."

"You're already so mad….." Clark started crying again.

Putting his hand over Clark's, he said, "Yes I am, but you know that no matter what you do, I'll always love you. Leaving part of the story out is the same as lying. Don't do it again."

Clark nodded in understanding. Jonathan said, "So you pushed the security guard, and then what?"

While crying, Clark said, "Lex took me to his place. We argued, and I……I hit him."

Jonathan looked at Lex, who confirmed this with a nod. Jonathan asked, "And then while he was passed out you carried him home?"

Clark nodded again, and Jonathan said, "Why didn't you call me and tell me what was going on as soon as you realized Lex was unconscious?"

"Because he wasn't gonna come home, and it's my fault, and I couldn't stand it anymore!"

Lex hadn't given much thought to how Clark was dealing with him leaving, and now realized he should have. Lex said, "Why do you think it's your fault?"

"If I wasn't the way I am, none of this would have happened!"

Coming out of the kitchen, Martha put her hand on Clark's shoulder and said, "But if you didn't have your abilities, Lex would have killed you that day on the bridge when he crashed into you. And he'd be dead too, if you hadn't been able to pull him out of the car."

Both boys were quiet while they considered what she'd said. Lex realized for the first time, what had actually happened that day. While Clark remembered that he usually used his abilities for good.

Now that he'd gotten the story, Jonathan knew what had to be done. He went to the cupboard, and took out the small dreaded box. Turning to Clark he said, "Go to your room."

Clark disappeared from the table. Startled, Lex jumped and said, "Jeez, do you ever get used to that?"

Martha said, "Not entirely."

Jonathan sat down and opened the box for Lex to see. He said, "This is what makes Clark feel it when I spank him. It's a tiny piece of the meteor rock. When Clark gets close to it, he becomes weak. If I tried to spank him without this, he wouldn't feel any pain. But with it, he's as vulnerable as you and me."

"The day of the meteor shower, when we first brought Clark home, we found a chunk of meteor rock the size of my fist on our kitchen floor, and a small hole in our roof. Martha thought the green rock was pretty, and put it in the kitchen window. The first week Clark was here, we all had a lot of adjusting to do. He broke a lot of furnature without meaning to, and we found out regular toys just weren't going to work for him. His favorite toy was an old tractor wheel that was so heavy I had trouble lifting it. But it was a good toy for him because he didn't break it after four minutes of playing with it. At first we were worried that he'd get hurt, but after watching him drop it on his feet a few times, with a smile on his face, we calmed down."

"In the second week, Martha noticed that Clark didn't go in the kitchen, even though that was where she spent a lot of her time. When she tried to coax him into the kitchen, he would use his new favorite word 'no', and run the opposite direction. One day after she'd baked cookies, she held one out to him, and he went to the kitchen to get it. He was holding the tractor wheel in one hand, and as he walked towards Martha, she saw him falter and drop it. It landed on his bare foot, and broke it. Clark screamed so loud, I heard him out in the field and came running. Martha had picked him up, and was looking at the foot when I got to the house. It was clearly broken in several places, and swelling by the second. Over Clark's screaming I said the word 'hospital', and we both rushed towards the front door. The screaming stopped when we got to the front door, and when we got to the truck, instead of getting in, Martha stood there staring at Clark's foot. It was completely healed. It took some trial and error, but eventually we figured out it was the rock."

After a pause, Lex said, "Okay, so let's say I believe this story of yours. How did that turn into using the rock against him to spank him."

Sighing, Jonathan said, "I know the trust you had with us has been broken, and I hope someday it can be repaired. As for using the rock to spank him, well I doubt our house would still be standing, if I couldn't have enforced a 'no' with an occasional slap to the hand during those first few months. But the point is, that Clark is getting spanked, and I don't think you'll believe that until you see it for yourself, so you should come upstairs with me."

Lex wasn't sure what to do. The thought of watching Clark get spanked was unpleasant at best, but at the same time, he really didn't trust Jonathan anymore. He stood and followed him up the stairs.

Jonathan knocked on Clark's door and went in. Clark was sitting on his bed, and trying not to cry. When he saw Lex was with his dad he shook his head. Jonathan ignored that, opened the box, and set it down on the nightstand. He sat down next to Clark, who could already feel the effects of the meteor, and said, "I am ashamed of what you did today Clark. You lied, you went to Metropolis without telling us where you were going, you exposed your abilities in front of people, and worst of all you bullied Lex into coming home and hit him. I'm going to spank you tonight for what you did to Lex. Then I'm going to spank you again tomorrow for lying."

Clark had never been spanked two days in a row, and the thought of it made him turn pale. In fact, the last time he'd been spanked, was the first time he'd run to Metropolis, and that had been almost a year ago. In his own defense Clark said, "But he wasn't gonna come home, I had to."

"No Clark you didn't. If you had told me your plan, I might have driven you to Metropolis, and we could have tried to see Lex together. None of us were giving up on Lex. We all sent him letters and emails every day, and we would have kept trying to see him and make contact with him until it happened. What you did was wrong Clark. Just because you're stronger then your brother, it doesn't give you the right to make him do things he doesn't want to do."

Lex didn't know that the Kents had been sending letters or emails. He'd put a filter on his emails, and he'd told the hotel that he didn't want contact with them. But he figured they would have given up after a couple of days.

Jonathan continued, "You're also grounded for two weeks. See if staying at the farm and in your room helps you appreciate the trust we put in you when we let you do things by yourself like go fishing."

Clark didn't say anything, knowing it was futile. Jonathan said, "Stand up."

Shooting a look in Lex's direction, Clark said, "In front of Lex?"

"I think he deserves to see your punishment after the things you did to him today."

Thinking about how much worse it was to have someone watching, Clark darted his eyes to Lex one more time before standing up. Lex wasn't sure if Clark was angry with him or not, but he could tell the kid was miserable.

Jonathan unsnapped Clark's jeans, yanked the boy over his lap, and pulled down the pants and underwear together. Clark had been expecting the pants to come down this time, but he hadn't expected to have an audiance. He tried not to yell out when the spanking started, because Lex was watching, but after the third swat, he couldn't stop himself. As the swats continued, his legs started kicking, and his yelling got louder.

Lex stood transfixed for the first few swats. He could clearly see that Clark's skin was getting pink, and that his body was twitching and jumping in response to the swats. Then when Clark's yells got louder, Lex had to turn away. He didn't want to see it. He felt conflicted because he was both distressed that Clark was in obvious pain, but at the same time relieved and even happy that the Kents hadn't lied to him about this too. After the first ten swats Jonathan paused and said, "Listen up Clark, because if I have to go over this with you again, I'll be using my belt. You are not going to be a bully. You don't force people to do things they don't want to do just because you're stronger. Do you understand me?"

"Yes Sir! I won't do it again! I swear!"

Jonathan started spanking again even harder then before. Lex jumped at the noise, and his eyes went back to the spanking going on in front of him. Clark yelled as his whole body jerked in response to the resumed spanking. Lex really wanted to not be there, and didn't see how Jonathan could do it. He took a close look at Jonathan's face, and saw determination mixed with sadness.

Clark was crying and trying to get out apologies at the same time. Jonathan knew that Clark felt pretty guilty about hitting Lex, because he hadn't asked him to stop, and he always had before. Clark had been trying not to, but a couple of seconds after the spanking started again he reached his hand back to cover his butt. Jonathan was expecting it, and caught the hand as he kept spanking. When Jonathan got to twenty swats he slowed down and increased the force of the swats for the last few. In between swats he said, "You…..don't…..hit…..your……brother."

Lex had tried to turn away after seeing Jonathan's face, but couldn't. He watched and his mind raced. When it was over, Lex let out a breath that he didn't know he'd been holding. He watched while Jonathan let go of Clark's hand, and rubbed his back. Jonathan said, "All over Clark. I forgive you, and I'm sure Lex does too."

Lex could see that Jonathan's face showed uncertainty and worry about what had just happened, even though his words sounded confident. A few seconds later Jonathan reached down to pull up Clark's clothes. Then stopped and looked at Lex as if realizing again that he was still in the room. Jonathan let go of the clothes and closed the lid to the box that held the meteor. Lex watched Clark's butt change from a slightly red color, back to his normal skin tone in seconds. Then Jonathan pulled Clark's clothes back up. He picked Clark up and held him on his lap. He didn't say anything, but rocked him slightly and rubbed his back while he cried. Lex stepped out of the room as quietly as he could.

Lex stood in the hallway for a few seconds letting himself calm down. Then he walked downstairs and found Martha finishing up dinner. Lex could tell she was upset too. He asked, "Need any help?"

She shook her head. "No thanks. You should be sitting down and relaxing anyway."

He sat down at the kitchen table and thought about everything. A few minutes later he felt Martha patting his shoulder. "How's your jaw?" she asked.

"Not bad. The medication is working. How does it look?"

"Not good. It's gonna be a big bruise." Martha went back to cooking, and ten minutes later, she was putting food on the table. She looked towards the stairs and said, "Let's eat. They might be a while, and they can warm it up when they're ready."

Lex hadn't been eating much since the day he left the Kent farm, but tonight he found he was starving. He finished everything on his plate before Martha had eaten half of hers, but then was too stuffed for seconds. As Martha was finishing up, Jonathan came down the stairs followed by Clark. Martha got their plates ready and heated them up in the microwave. The table was quiet, and Clark wouldn't make eye contact with anything except his plate. When Jonathan was done eating he noticed that Clark was done too. He said, "Clark, go take a shower and get ready for bed."

Clark didn't argue, he just kept his head down, and went up the stairs. When he was out of the room, Jonathan looked at Martha and said, "He's grounded for two weeks, and I'm going to spank him again tomorrow for lying."

Lex watched Martha, and could tell she wasn't one hundred percent in agreement with the prescribed punishment, but she nodded her head anyway and said, "Okay."

Turning to Lex, Jonathan said, "I guess we should talk."

"I guess we should."

"I'm sorry you found out the way you did, and I'm even more sorry that I didn't go after you when you ran out of here. If I could do it again, I would do things differently."

Lex held up his hand and said, "Let me say something first." Taking a deep breath he said, "I never want to watch you spank Clark again, but I'm glad I saw it tonight, because it made me realize something important."

"What did you realize?" Martha asked.

Lex turned to Jonathan and said, "You just spanked Clark for being a bully. For bringing me home when he was stronger then me."

When Lex paused again, Jonathan said, "And…."

"But if you look at it from another perspective, you could say that you were the bully. You're forcing Clark to do what you think is right, by spanking him when you're bigger and stronger then him. So, I guess when you spanked me for lying, you really were treating me the same way you would your son."

With an expression of shock and sadness, Jonathan sat back in his chair. He'd been questioning himself since the day Lex left, and now he found he couldn't argue.

Seeing her husband's reaction, Martha knew this one was up to her. She said, "Lex, look at me."

Once he did, she said, "You haven't been part of a stable family for a long time, and I know that sometimes it's hard for you to understand things. But trust me when I tell you there are different sets of rules, and different realities, for parents and their kids. Jonathan and I lied to you about Clark, but it was the right thing to do at the time. Most parents lie to their children once in a while, especially when they think it's in the child's best interest. As adults, we have more experience, and a better understanding of the world around us then our children do. Then add that to the fact that we have a strong need to protect our children, and it means that the rules we set up for our kids, are not always exactly the same as the rules we live by. It doesn't make us hypocrites. It makes us parents. Some parents lie to their kids about how their pets died. Lots of parents lie to their kids about Santa Claus. Some parents lie to their kids about things they have done in their past to protect them. The list could go on and on."

"You say Jonathan is bullying Clark into behaving. I say Jonathan understands that especially because of Clark's abilities, he needs to learn how to control his temper, and Jonathan is helping him learn how to do that. Clark hauled off and punched you because he was angry. That's not the same thing as Jonathan calmly explaining to Clark what he's done wrong, and then spanking him to make him change his behavior."

The love Jonathan felt for his wife swelled, as he listened to her say the words he hadn't been able to come up with. He smiled at her and put his hand over hers.

After a few seconds to think this over, Lex slowly nodded. When she saw this, Martha said, "And the same is true about us hiding Clark's abilities from you. It's just not the same as you lying to us about how Christmas was with your father, or about how much you had to drink, or about leaving the farm when you were told to stay here. We didn't lie to you because it was the best thing for us, we lied to you because it was what was best for you and for Clark at the time."

Lex had been looking at the table while Martha was talking, but now that she was done, he looked up and said, "I…..I didn't see it like that. When Clark came to see me, he said that I should forgive you, because of all the times that you had forgiven me, and I could see the logic in that, and I was ready to do that……but……now I think that maybe you didn't do anything that needs to be forgiven. Sometimes it is hard for me to understand the way a family should work, because……well you know what my dad is like."

She said, "I think it shows a lot of maturity that you can understand my perspective. And you're right, that I don't think we did anything wrong. We were going to tell you about Clark as soon as you came home for the summer a month and a half from now."

Jonathan said, "We hadn't decided that yet."

"I had," Martha said.

Jonathan didn't exactly like that statement, but accepted it. He turned to Lex and said, "But we both felt horrible about the way you found out. When we see either of you boys hurting we hurt for you. And I was too caught up in second guessing myself to go after you and help you see things our way. Then when I couldn't get in to see you and explain….."

Lex asked quietly, "Were you really still trying to get in touch with me?"

"Come into the living room with me," Martha said.

Turning on the computer that Lex had bought her for her birthday, Martha opened her email, and clicked the sent file. She said, "Sit down and read it for yourself."

He sat and started to read, while Jonathan and Martha cleared the table. A few minutes later, Jonathan went to stand next to Lex and said, "We have some returned letters too if you'd like to see them."

Standing up, Lex shook his head no and hugged Jonathan. Surprised at the sudden affection, Jonathan put his arms around Lex too. He could tell he was crying, and said, "It's gonna be okay Lex. We still love you, and you're still a part of the family. I hope you never have a reason to question that again."

Martha came over to them, and Jonathan let her hug Lex too. After he'd calmed down, Lex wiped at his face and muttered, "It seems like I'm crying all the damn time now."

Jonathan patted his shoulder and said, "We all cry sometimes. It's nothing to be ashamed of son."

Lex felt a rush of happiness at Jonathan calling him son again. Martha said, "Come tell us what you've been doing this week."

They all sat on the couch, and Lex told them everything. Martha and Jonathan exchanged more then one look when Lex told them about the things his father had said and done. By the time Lex was done telling his story, Jonathan had a hard time restraining himself from going to beat up Lionel. Jonathan put an arm around Lex and said, "I'm so proud of you Lex."

"Why?" Lex asked.

"You didn't go out and take any drugs while you were upset. You didn't even get drunk. That's a huge step forward for you."

"I suppose that's true."

Martha said, "But it sounds like you were pretty depressed Lex. If there's ever another time when you don't think you can talk to us, you need to consider therapy."

Lex had to agree. "That would probably be good. I felt lost and hopeless. I don't know what would have happened if Clark hadn't come by. My father would have tried to make sure I didn't……Shit."

Both parents gave him a look of mild disaproval. Knowing that Martha especially didn't approve of him swearing, Lex said, "Sorry. I have to call my dad and tell him something."

Jonathan said, "Tell him I had driven Clark there to see you, and that you decided to come home to spend the weekend with us."

Feeling ill while thinking about going back to Luthorcorp, Lex said, "I don't want to go back…..but I think I'll have to. I already promised Dad I would do this internship, and he won't let me get out of it. And I'm too chicken shit to go without his money."

Martha said firmly, "I've heard enough language for the night, and I don't want you putting yourself down either. Not many people can go without money, I don't think less of you because of it."

Blushing at the reprimand, Lex said, "Okay…..sorry."

Jonathan asked, "Do you want to call him down here or in our room?"

"Down here."

"Go ahead whenever you're ready."

Lex didn't think he would be ready any time, but dialed anyway. When Lionel answered, Lex said, "Hi Dad."

"Where are you? You can't just walk off the job. It's very unprofessional."

"I know. I'm sorry. Clark showed up at the office, and I talked to him for a little bit. Then I had to make sure he got back to the truck with Mr. Kent, and then I started talking to him. And I know it was wrong, but I just had to see them, so I let them bring me here for the weekend. I promise I'll be back to work on Monday morning, and I'll probably even be there with my spine."

After a short pause, Lionel surprised his son by saying, "Don't be late."

Lex heard his father hang up, and just stared at the phone, trying to make sense of it. Jonathan came over, and put an arm around his shoulders. He said, "What did he say."

"He told me not to be late and hung up. I guess that means he's okay with me being here," Lex said with surprise.

"Good. Then you can come home next weekend too."

With a big smile, Lex said, "I guess I can."

Martha said, "It's been a very long and emotional day for all of us. Why don't you take another of your pills, and get some sleep. I know I'm ready for bed."

Lex agreed and hugged them both before heading up to his room.

# # #

The next day Jonathan let both the boys sleep in. Lex came down the stairs a few minutes after Jonathan had gone out. He went straight for the painkillers which had been left on the kitchen counter and took one with some water. Martha put her coffee down and said, "Come over here and let me see how your face is."

Lex put a hand on his neck as he walked over and said, "My head must have really snapped back hard, because I think my neck hurts more then my jaw."

Martha held his face in her hands, and examined the large purple bruise that covered a most of the left side of his jaw.

She shook her head and said, "That's gonna take a while to heal up." She turned his face to the other side and kissed his cheek. Letting him go, she asked, "What do you want for breakfast?"

He smiled, even though his neck was killing him and said, "Hmm….coffee and toast."

She laughed. "And then you'll be hungry in an hour. How about biscuits and gravy?"

"Sounds good."

He sat down with a cup of coffee, closed his eyes, and waited for the medication to work. Fifteen minutes later, Clark came down. His mom saw him coming and went over to give him a hug. She said, "How did you sleep?"

"Okay."

"Do you want some juice?"

"Sure……does Dad need some help?"

Martha said, "Not right now."

She handed him a glass of juice, and started getting things ready to make breakfast. Clark sat as far away from Lex as he could. Lex heard the chair move when Clark sat down, and turned to look at him. Clark kept his eyes on his juice. Lex said, "Morning."

Clark muttered, "Morning." and kept looking at his glass.

Having thought about Clark a lot the night before, Lex said, "Thanks for bringing me home."

Clark's head shot up. He saw the bruise and cringed in sympathy. "I'm really sorry I punched you Lex. I didn't mean to….well, I meant to, but I didn't mean for it to be so bad, I just wanted you to believe me."

"I know. I'm not mad about it. In fact I feel better today then I have since I ran out of here a week ago. Even with pain shooting up and down my neck."

Clark looked back down in shame. Lex said, "I took another painkiller, and I should feel better in a few minutes, so don't look so depressed little brother."

With uncertainty, Clark looked back up, and said, "Little brother?"

Lex nodded, and the two of them smiled at each other. Lex said, "I know Pop doesn't think it was the right thing to do, and I may not like the way you did it, but I think it took a lot of guts, and I'm glad you brought me home."

"Lex," Martha warned.

Trying to sound innocent, Lex said, "What?" even though he knew exactly what she wasn't happy about.

She gave him a look of disapproval, but didn't say anything else. Turning back to Clark, Lex was quietly serious when he said, "But I guess I should tell you, that I was planning to drive you home and talk to our folks before you knocked me out, because the things you said to me were really convincing."

Clark nodded in understanding, and almost started to cry again. Lex waited a few minutes and asked, "So, can we go back to some kind of normal now?"

"I am sorry Lex."

"I know Clark, you already told me. And in case you don't remember, I know you've already been punished for it too, so stop feeling so guilty."

Turning bright red, Clark didn't say anything else. The room fell into a slightly uncomfortable silence. A few minutes later Martha said, "Lex spent last week learning all about the mailroom at Luthorcorp."

With a laugh, Lex said, "Who knew there was so much mail to sort."

Clark asked, "Is that what you spent most of your time doing?"

They talked about the mailroom until breakfast was ready. When it was ready Martha said, "Lex, could you go tell Jonathan that it's time to eat please?"

Lex found Jonathan in the barn, and said, "Mom says it's time to eat."

Jonathan smiled when he heard Lex call Martha 'mom' again. He said, "Okay, but I want to give you something first." Jonathan pulled the compass out of his shirt pocket, and handed it to Lex. He said, "I thought you might like to have this back."

Lex hadn't exactly forgotten about the compass, but he hadn't thought about it for the past few days either. Taking the compass, Lex wasn't sure what to say. Getting choked up, he said, "Thanks." He wanted to say more, but he wasn't sure how to tell Jonathan how much it meant to him, but he suspected that Jonathan already knew. Jonathan put his arm around Lex's shoulders and started them towards the house. "What's for breakfast."

"Biscuits and gravy."

"Well now I know your mom is happy you're back, because it's been cold cereal for days now."

Lex wasn't sure if he should laugh at that or not. He muttered, "Sorry."

Jonathan squeezed Lex's shoulder and laughed, "Not as sorry as I was."

Lex smiled as they walked into the house. Breakfast was a little less somber then dinner the night before, but not much. Clark kept darting glances at his father, and didn't do much eating. Lex on the other hand was too busy stuffing himself to say much. When Jonathan was done he said, "Wonderful breakfast sweetheart."

Martha smiled at him, and rubbed his shoulder when she picked up his plate. Jonathan looked over at Clark, who quickly looked down at his mostly full plate. With a sigh, Jonathan said, "Okay Clark, I can see the wait is killing you, so let's get it over with."

Looking at him with big sad eyes, Clark said, "No, I can wait……really."

"Upstairs," Jonathan ordered.

Clark vanished, and Jonathan rubbed his temples. Then with a grim expression, he went to get the box out of the cupboard. Lex watched him head up the stairs, and then turned to Martha, who was also watching the stairs. Lex got up and said, "Hey Mom, it's a really nice day outside. Why don't you go take a walk, and I'll do the dishes."

Taking her eyes off the stairs, she said, "The dishes can wait. Why don't you take a walk with me."

Lex shook his head. "No thanks. I want to do the dishes for you. You go."

Martha thought about it for a second, and then went out the door, while Lex started putting dishes in the dishwasher. As he was finishing up, the sounds of what was happening upstairs filtered down to him. He grimaced in sympathy for Clark, and decided that maybe he did want to go for a walk after all. He wiped off his hands and went outside to find Martha.

# # #

The following week Lex was back to work, managing the mailroom. True to his word, he did have his spine, and his pride back. He wasn't nasty to anyone, but he also didn't let anyone walk on him. Lionel was pleased, and Lex was a little pleased with himself. He called the Kents every night to tell them about his day, and things went back to 'normal' for him. Thursday night he went to dinner with his father for the first time since being back, and Lionel noticed the Lex actually ate his food and had three glasses of wine. Lionel didn't like the idea of Lex spending time with the Kents, but he had to admit, he did like the results.

The next Friday night, Lex drove to the Kent farm for the weekend. He noticed that while Clark was still grounded, his parents had lightened up a little bit, and Clark wasn't in misery the way he was the previous weekend. All in all, Lex was happy again and back on track.

On Saturday night right before dinner Lex said, "Oh hold on, I brought something for you guys."

He went up to his room, and got an expensive bottle of wine out of his overnight bag. He took it back to Martha and said, "It's just to say thanks for not giving up on me when I was gone."

With a smile, Martha said, "Thank you Lex, that's very sweet of you."

Jonathan smiled too and asked Martha, "Should we have some with dinner?"

She nodded, and he opened it. Lex got out three glasses, and handed them to Martha. She looked at him and paused. "I'm sorry Lex, but you're still under age."

He starred at her for a few seconds, not understanding that statement. He said, "I drink all the time Mrs. Kent."

Jonathan stepped in and said, "Not when you're home you don't, and you shouldn't drink at all."

Lex wasn't sure exactly why, but that comment made him livid. With an angry laugh he said, "I've been drinking myself stupid since I was twelve. I'm almost twenty. I think I can handle a glass of fucking wine."

Clark gasped, and wondered what Lex was thinking.

Grabbing Lex's arm, Jonathan swatted him hard. "There's no need for your attitude. I've made it perfectly clear to you, many times, that I don't like you drinking. Why do you think that would be any different today."

Glaring at the man he'd come to think of as a father, Lex said, "I'm not hungry. I'm going to bed." He stormed out of the kitchen, and stompped up the stairs.

Martha and Jonathan exchanged a look, When Lex was out of earshot Martha said, "What was that about?"

"I don't know, but I don't like it."

"Are you gonna bring him back down?" she asked.

Jonathan thought about it, and shook his head. He said, "Let him be hungry tonight. He worked hard on the farm today. He'll regret his outburst pretty quick."

The dinner table was a little more quiet then usual, but not much, and even though they felt slightly bad about it, Jonathan and Martha drank some wine, not wanting to let it go to waste. After dinner Martha put the cork back in the bottle to save the rest. Jonathan said, "Better keep it in our room. He'll be hungry tonight, and I don't want to put the temptation in front of him."

That night, Lex was tossing and turning, and his stomach was growling. He kept thinking that Jonathan had no right to tell him he couldn't have a glass of wine. He clearly remembered Martha telling him that there were different rules for adults then there were for kids, but that just made him more angry. He had plenty of adult responsibilities at Luthorcorp. At two in the morning, he couldn't take it any more. He snuck downstairs and had some cold leftovers out of the fridge. As he was eating, he got more and more angry about the wine. He looked around for it, and didn't see it. He looked even harder and couldn't find it. Then he realized that they must have hidden it from him, so that he couldn't have any. He was livid, and tossed the rest of his leftovers in the garbage. Without too much forethought, he grabbed the keys to the truck and walked out the door.

Upstairs Martha and Jonathan both woke up to the sound of their truck taking off. Jonathan said, "What the hell?"

"Lex?" she asked.

Jonathan shook his head and went to go check Lex's room. He came back and said, "He's running off over a glass of wine? It's like we're back to step one."

While Jonathan started to get dressed, Martha said, "He's testing you."

"You think?" he asked.

"He probably doesn't even know he's doing it, but he had to know when he brought that wine home, that we wouldn't let him have any. He set himself up, because he want's to see if you'll go get him. Or at least that's my theory."

Walking back over to the bed, he kissed his wife and said, "You are the smartest woman I know, and I love you. I'll be home with the boy in an hour or two."

"Be careful, and don't be too hard on him."

She had no trouble falling back to sleep as Jonathan got the motorcycle out.

Jonathan decided that if Martha was right, Lex was probably headed to a bar to find himself a drink. Thinking it was absurd of Lex to be doing this, Jonathan shook his head. But after what had happened two weeks ago, he could see where Lex might need to be reassured that Jonathan would come after him. Then he thought, 'Maybe that's not why he left. Maybe it's something else I don't know about. Well, I'll just have to find him either way, and figure it out.'

Lex drove to town with angry thoughts going through his head. 'I drink all the damn time. Dad never has a problem with it. I can't believe Mom and Pop think that I can't handle a glass of wine with dinner. I could drink the whole fucking bottle. Just because I'm not twenty-one is the stupidest reason I've ever heard for not drinking. Then they were going to sit there and drink it in front of me, like they were throwing it in my face that they could and I couldn't. Different rules for kids and adults……what a load of shit. And I'm not a kid anyway. I'm an adult. Dad treats me like an adult, and I'm fucking tired of the Kents treating me like a kid.'

Lex pulled up to Billy's bar and parked in the deserted parking lot. He thought, 'Who needs wine, when I can have scotch.'

Getting out of the truck, he tried the front door and found it locked. He went to the back door, but it was locked too. When he realized he didn't carry his lock picking set with him anymore, he kicked the door in anger. Then yelped in pain, and held his foot while cursing. Looking down at himself, he realized he was still in his pajamas and slippers. In fact he didn't even have his wallet with him. This made him even angrier, and he went around the building looking for windows. He found one on the side of the building and tried it. It was closed, but not locked, and as the window slid open, Lex smiled in satisfaction. He climbed in the window, and went straight to the bar. He got the most expensive scotch Billy kept, and poured himself a double.

After downing that and pouring himself another, he heard the sound of a motorcycle outside. Lex felt his stomach turning and panicked. He put the lid on the scotch, and quickly put it away. He thought about pouring the scotch out, but instead quickly choked it down, and put the glass away where he had found it. He wiped his face off, and tried to make his hand stop shaking, as he looked around for someplace to hide. Or at least for some way to make it look like he wasn't there just to drink.

A few seconds later he jumped at the sound of someone knocking at the back door. He stood still thinking, 'Shit, shit, shit.'

A loud voice from the other side said, "Lex, I know you're in there. Come open this door right now."

Shaking his head, Lex thought, 'What the hell am I doing?'

Jonathan waited a few seconds and then knocked again. "Lex! Open the door!"

Lex walked to the door, and fumbled with the lock before he got it open. Looking at Jonathan, he said, "Umm…..Hi?"

Jonathan took one look at Lex, and knew Martha had been right. Jonathan almost smiled at the sight in front of him. Lex looked pretty young, standing in his pajamas looking guilty. But knowing a smile wasn't what Lex needed, Lex gave him a glare instead. He stepped in and Lex stepped back. Jonathan closed the door behind him and said, "What do you think you're doing?"

Looking at the bar, Lex said, "Umm…..Nothing?"

Jonathan turned him to the side, and swatted him twice. "Try again."

Once he was let go, Lex took a few steps backwards. His anger came back full force, and he yelled, "I can drink if I want to!"

Jonathan thought to himself, 'Okay, so you're having a tantrum. That I can fix.'

He grabbed Lex's upper arm, and pulled him over to one of the tables. He pulled a chair out, while Lex pulled back, trying to get away. As soon as Lex realized what Jonathan was doing he said, "No! You can't!"

Jonathan had to work very hard at not rolling his eyes. He sat down and pulled Lex over his lap. He started spanking hard and fast, while Lex yelled loudly, and tried to get up. It was hard work keeping Lex in place for the first ten swats, but after that he calmed down some.

Lex yelled, "This is ridiculous!"

Jonathan couldn't have agreed more. He paused long enough to pull the pajama bottoms down, and then resumed spanking. Lex screeched indignantly, and started struggling again. But he didn't struggle very long, because soon the pain got to be too much. He gave a few involuntary 'ow's' and some 'ah's' before Jonathan paused. Jonathan rested his hand on Lex's back and said, "Let's try this again. What do you think you are doing here, in your pajamas, in the middle of the night?"

Lex didn't have a good answer to that. He was pretty sure that whatever answer he gave, he was going to get spanked some more, so after a few seconds he muttered, "I was having a drink."

"I told you just a few hours ago that you couldn't drink when you were home."

Lex had nothing to say to that. Jonathan gave him a few hard swats and Lex 'owed' through them. Jonathan said, "And you know you aren't supposed to be going anywhere without telling me where you're going, and I'm pretty sure I remember going over breaking and entering. Does any of this sound familiar to you?"

Lex muttered, "Yeah."

"Then I guess you know what to expect."

Before Lex could respond, Jonathan had brought his hand down again. For the next few seconds the only sounds in the bar were loud smacks, with a few grunts and exclamations of pain. Lex yelled, "Mr. Kent…Ow…I'm sorry…..Mmmff….Please stop….Ow!….Pop, I'm sorry!"

Very soon, Lex lost the struggle, and started to cry. Jonathan gave him a few more swats and stopped. Jonathan decided it was enough, since Lex was obviously more interested in testing Jonathan's commitment to him, then he was interested in actual drinking. He patted Lex on the back and said, "Okay son. All over."

Jonathan helped Lex to stand, and fixed his pajamas for him, before pulling him down to sit on his lap. Jonathan pushed Lex's head down, so that it was resting on his shoulder. Rubbing his back, Jonathan waited for quite a few minutes until Lex had calmed down to sniffles. Jonathan patiently asked, "How much did you have to drink?"

"Two shots of scotch….but they were doubles," Lex said with a sniff.

Jonathan smiled at the honesty. "Okay. Let's go leave Billy a note, and some money for the drinks. Then tomorrow you can apologize when we come back to get my bike."

Lex wasn't looking forward to that, but nodded and got up. Jonathan stood and put the chair back, before going to the bar and writing a quick note. He put a ten on the counter, and then Lex said, "Um…..it was the Glenlivit."

Sighing, he got out a twenty to add to it, and said, "Okay, let's go home."

Following Jonathan out to the truck, Lex got in and tried to find a comfortable way to sit, but couldn't. A few minutes into the trip Jonathan said, "Lex, I hope you know that I'll always come after you, no matter what, because I love you. You'll always have a home with us."

Lex felt himself start to cry again. He was really tired of crying so much, but he was so relieved by Jonathan's words, that he couldn't help himself. Jonathan said, "And I know some of the rules we have for you seem silly or unfair to you, but they're there because we think it's what you need right now."

Jonathan noticed that Lex was crying again and pulled over. Hugging the boy, he said, "It's gonna be okay. You'll feel better tomorrow."

A few minutes later Lex let go, and Jonathan started driving again. Lex berated himself for the night's activities for the rest of the trip home. Once they got there Jonathan walked him up to his room and tucked him into bed. He kissed Lex on the forehead and said, "Sleep good."

Lex didn't find that difficult at all.


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