Author's Notes: This story was written as an RPG between my friend Jenna and me. I'm playing all three of the Kents and she is playing Lex, Chloe, and the 'bad guy'. This story takes place during season one of Smallivlle, while Lex and Clark are still friends. Clark is 16 and Lex is 24.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, and I am not making any money from these stories.
Warning: Non consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult (who is mentally a teen) by an authority figure.



Regressed


Clark walked down the hall wishing his last class were already over so that he could start his weekend. Lex had invited him to go play a game of pool with him over at the mansion, and Clark would much rather be there then in his Social Studies class. He got to class and saw Chloe sitting near the front of the class. He went and sat down in the chair next to her and said, "Is it just me or does it seem like today has been dragging?"

Chloe's eyes lit up upon seeing Clark, and she smiled stating, "You're a little late Clark, but not to worry, so is Mr. Anmisty. Strange; he's never missed a day." She shrugged, "It is the last class of the day thankfully, and if he doesn't show up if fifteen, they'll let us
go home early. That'd be great since it'll give me one more day to refurbish my paper on Thomas Jefferson."

Clark saw Mr. Anmisty walking into the class as Chloe finished her sentence. He kept his voice low and said, "No such luck."

They watched as Mr. Anmisty walked to the back of the classroom and sat in an empty chair. The students all looked at each other wondering what was going on. Clark and Chloe exchanged confused looks. Clark looked back at Mr. Anmisty and said, "What's going on Mr. Anmisty?"

Mr. Anmisty sneered at Clark condescendingly as he said, "I don't know, what's going on with you 'MR.' Kent?"

Clark flushed with embarrassment and looked to Chloe for help, still confused as to what was going on.

Chloe's eyes arched in confusion taken aback by the harsh way their teacher had just responded to Clark. Mr. Anmisty had always been a bit obnoxious but never all out rude like this.

Chloe turned back to face the front of her desk and opened her book as she whispered to Clark, "Okaaaay… Now that's just weird."

Following Chloe's lead, Clark faced the front and opened his book as well, along with quite a few other students. Fifteen uncomfortable minutes later they heard Mr. Anmisty ask a student next to him, "Hey Jason, if the teacher doesn't show up in fifteen minutes we get to leave right?"

Jason seemed wary, but nodded. Mr. Anmisty got up and said, "I'm out of here."

Mr. Anmisty left the classroom, and again the students looked at each other wondering what to do. Clark closed his book and turned to Chloe again. "Does that mean we get to leave?" As he spoke a couple of students from the back got up and headed out the door.

Chloe shook her head amazed at what had just transpired. She shrugged, "I guess. As much as I don't mind the small break from weirdo Mr. Anmisty, something is definitely not right with this picture! Do you think he's testing us to see if we will really leave?" She got out of her seat and walked to the doorway peeking out into the hall. "Nope he's really long gone."

She turned back to Clark and gave him a quirky smile, "I guess that concludes today's Social Studies class. I'm going to go work on my paper, but do you want to come meet me tonight around eight at the Talon? They've got two for one espressos?"

Gathering up his books, Clark said, "That was weird, but I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth. I'm going over to play pool with Lex right now, so I'm not sure if I'll be done with my chores by eight, but if I am, I'll meet you."

Chloe nodded and left. Clark went to his locker, gathered the books he would need for the weekend, and left. He started walking towards home, and once he was alone, he super sped to Lex's mansion. Once there he knocked on the door.

One of the staff members let Clark in and said, "Mr. Luthor is in the study."

Clark headed to the study to find Lex. He walked in, and saw Lex at the pool table practicing shots. Clark smiled and said, "Hey Lex."

Lex finished taking his shot before glancing up with a wide smile, "Hi yourself Clark." Lex laid the pool stick on top of the pool table and strode over to the liquor cabinet. He opened it pulling out a vintage bottle of European scotch and taking out two glasses he poured one for each of them.

He positively beamed as he advanced back across the study to where Clark stood. He held up a glass for Clark to take asking slyly, "Thirsty Clark?"

Clark wasn't sure what to make of that. Lex knew he was sixteen, and while he'd had drinks in front of Clark on several occasions, he'd never offered one to Clark. Without taking the offered glass, Clark said with an unsure smile, "No thanks, I'm underage."

Lex snorted, "Suit yourself; it's not stopping me." With that said he downed both his and Clark's shot before shaking his head as the bitter harsh taste invaded his senses. He glanced back up at Clark triumphantly like he'd just gotten away with murder before heading back over to the liquor cabinet to refill his shot glass. He chuckled at Clark pointing to the pool table, "I believe that's a shot you can take right?"

Not sure what to make of this strange behavior from his friend, Clark nodded and said, "Sure."

He started racking the balls to set up a new game. As he set it up he tried to shrug off the weirdness and asked, "How was work today?"

Lex's eyebrow furrowed, "Work? Don't tell me, let me guess, my dad has been talking to you about me learning the ropes at Luthor Corp? Did he tell you that he wanted me to start off in the mailroom? Work my way up from the bottom he says," Lex scoffed in disbelief as he shot back another glass of scotch before adding, "What a joke."

Lex shook his head in obvious agitation as he poured one more shot before capping the bottle. An idea flashed across his mind as he grinned devilishly at Clark, "Clark, you may not want to drink, but you can dance right? We should grab one of my dad's Lamborghini's and head into Metropolis tonight; I've got plenty connections that could get us into a few of the dance clubs down there. No one will ask us for ID and we can slip in through the back. What do you say?"

With that statement, Clark knew there was something very wrong with Lex. Lex had been working at Luthor Corp for a few years now, and was managing the Smallville branch. Clark thought about his teacher and had to wonder if there was some connection. He also wondered how many people were affected, and what had happened to them. Not wanting to make Lex angry or scare him off before he had the chance to figure out what was wrong, Clark decided to go along with it for now while trying to get as much information as he could.

He said, "What do I say? I say my parents would murder me if they found out I went to Metropolis to go to a dance club. I'd be grounded for the rest of this year. No thanks."

Clark had finished wracking the balls, so he picked up a pool stick and took his shot sinking one ball on the break. As he lined up his next shot he asked Lex, "So if you didn't go to work, then what did you do today?"

Lex shrugged answering, "Not much. I couldn't get a hold of many of my friends, and the ones I did were acting all weird. I'm telling you Clark, I think my dad must be bribing them not to hang out with me. It's his way of trying to control me. At least he hasn't gotten to you; that's something. That reminds me," Lex grabbed the bottle of scotch and brought it over to the drink station popping off the top he took one more swig before putting the lip of the bottle under the facet head and adding a little water. He shook the bottle and chuckled, "I swear I think he measures it sometimes. Like he can't just afford to buy another bottle? I'll have Jason order him another one tomorrow before he notices."

Lex feeling slightly inebriated now from the shots stumbled slightly as he grabbed another pool stick off the wall. He walked back across the study to Clark's side to take the next shot before asking, "So if you don't want to go out dancing, what do you want to do? I just want to be anywhere but here; I've been here most of the day, and I really don't want to deal with him when he gets home in a few hours."

Clark seriously doubted that Lionel would be 'home' in a few hours, since he didn't live at the mansion with Lex. Between that and Lex trying to hide his alcohol consumption, Clark was pretty sure that Lex thought he was under 21 and probably even under 18.

He immediately had two thoughts. The first one was that he needed to help Lex, because if Lionel or any of the members of Luthorcorp found out that Lex's mind had been somehow altered, they could take advantage of him. The second was that he needed to talk to Chloe, because with her 'wall of weird' and her investigative skills, she would be the best candidate to help him solve the problem.

His mind raced to think of a way to do both. He said, "Well if you want to get out of here, why don't you come with me to the farm after the game? One of our mares had a new colt a couple of days ago, and he's a lot of fun to watch. And my mom's making pot roast with home made apple pie for dessert. What do you say?"

Lex smiled in appreciation of the invite, "You know I'd never pass up your mom's cooking especially when it includes dessert." Thinking of the Kent meal to come, Lex grabbed a nice Cuban cigar from the cigar box on the desk to enjoy afterwards.

It wasn't long before the two had finished up their game and headed out in Lex's Porsche. As they pulled into the Kent farm's drive, they saw Jonathan working on one of his tractors. Both of them waved, and Jonathan returned the gesture.

Lex turned the car off stepping out and taking in a deep breath. He always loved coming out to Clark's house. For some reason everything just seemed right. He turned to Clark giving him a broad grin, "So where's this newborn colt you've been bragging about?"

Clark started walking to the barn and Lex followed. The mare and colt were in a stall together, and the colt was drinking some milk from his mother. Clark smiled and turned to Lex, "Looks like he's occupied right now. But as soon as he's done, he'll come over to see who you are and get acquainted. I'm gonna go put my backpack away and let my mom know you're here for dinner. I'll be right back."

Lex said, "Okay." and leaned his arms on the stall door as he watched the horses.

Clark left the barn, and as soon as he was out of Lex's site, he super sped over to his father and said quietly, "I need to talk to you and mom in the kitchen."

"Is something wrong?"

"Yeah."

Clark and Jonathan walked quickly into the house together. Martha was in the kitchen cutting vegetables. She smiled and said, "Hi sweetheart; how was your visit with Lex?"

Clark put his backpack down next to the stairs and said, "It was odd. Something is wrong with him, and it's going to sound unbelievable, but I think someone or something has affected his mind."

Martha's brow creased in confusion. "What would make you think that?"

"When I got there he offered me some scotch, and...."

Jonathan interrupted, "He what?!"

Martha walked over and put a hand on Jonathan's arm and said, "Let him finish before you get upset."

Giving his mom a grateful look Clark said, "He knows I'm sixteen, and he's never offered me alcohol before, so I reminded him that I was underage and said no thanks. But the odd part is that he seemed to think that he was underage too. He had some shots and then put some water in the scotch to fill it back up to the same level as before and mentioned his father monitoring it. Then he wanted to go to a club in Metropolis and said something about the fact that neither one of us would need fake ID's because he knew someone who would let us in the back. And then he said he wanted to get out of the house because he knew his dad would be home soon and wanted to avoid him. Lionel doesn't even live there."

"Oh my! Poor Lex." Martha said.

Scoffing Jonathan said, "Poor Lex? Poor Lex just 'had some shots' and then drove our son home after offering to take him to Metropolis to do God knows what with God knows who!"

Jonathan turned to Clark and said, "How many shots did Lex have? Was he safe to drive?"

Looking away Clark said, "Um... four I think, maybe five. I was in the front seat with him. If I needed to I could have grabbed the wheel. I was watching the road."

Crossing his arms Jonathan said, "He shouldn't have been driving, and you should have told him that."

"I was worried about him, and wanted to get him over here where he would be safe so that we could figure out what was wrong with him before any of his staff found out and word got back to his father or to Luthorcorp."

Jonathan said, "I've warned you about Lex before. I've told you I don't think he's the kind of person you would want for a friend, and this proves my point."

"Lex has always been a good friend to me Dad. The point I'm trying to make is that today was different then usual. He would never be acting this way if he were himself. That's why we need to help him."

Martha spoke up, "I think Clark is right."

Not quite believing it Jonathan said, "What?!"

"Lex has been a good friend to Clark, and we should help him out. Don't get me wrong, I don't think Clark should have let him drive over here after drinking, but I do think we should help him. We need to keep him here until we find out what is wrong, and if there is a way to fix it."

Jonathan sighed, "I can't believe I'm hearing this."

Martha looked up at her husband and said, "Believe it, because we're going to help him. From everything we've heard Lex had a very lonely and unhappy childhood. Now he thinks he's back in that childhood, and he's acting out the same way he did back then. But with a positive influence like Clark and some positive activities to focus his energy into, he'll be just fine."

She turned to Clark and said, "We need to find out what happened to him."

Clark looked over at his father, who now seemed resigned to helping, but still not happy about the situation. He looked back at his mom and said, "I was going to have the two of you watch him while I went to talk to Chloe."

"Why Chloe?" Martha asked.

"Because today in my last class, my teacher was acting very strange, and now I think it must be connected. He came into the class, and sat in the back row. Then after fifteen minutes was up, he got up and left saying something about no teacher showing up. Maybe Chloe can find a connection between the two of them."

Martha snapped her fingers and said, "I hadn't thought much about it, but today at the store, Jamie Peterson was bagging groceries!"

"Isn't he the new manager?" Clark asked.

"Yes. And when someone called over the intercom for a manager he just stood there, chewing gum and bagging my things."

Clark said, "So Chloe and I will look for a connection between all three of them, and try to find out if more people are acting odd. But what if it takes us a few days? We can't let Lex go home the way he is."

Martha looked at Jonathan again. He sighed and said, "He can stay here, but he'll need to help out, and if he starts acting out, I'm going to either kick him out or put a stop to it."

Martha smiled at him and gave him a kiss on the cheek for agreeing to help Lex. Clark said, "Thanks Dad. But I'm not sure how we're going to get him to stay. He's going to want to go home after dinner."

Martha patted Clark's shoulder and said, "Leave that to me. I'll go talk to Lex, and when I'm done you can tell him you forgot a book at school. That will give you time to go talk to Chloe before dinner."

"Good idea. Thanks Mom."

Martha headed out to the barn to find Lex.

Lex had watched the colt feed enjoying the stillness the country offered. It was nice to get away from the mansion; he hated all the feelings that hung over his head when he was in its vicinity. His father was quick to point out any and all short comings Lex possessed. There really was no pleasing the man, and Lex felt he'd never escape his shadow.

He was glad Clark had invited him out for dinner. In all honesty, he really didn't want to go out drinking at the clubs tonight anyway. It just seemed to be what all the other kids wanted to do, with the fact that his family had such notoriety; Lex would often use his status as an excuse to buy friendship. He didn't need to buy Clark though. He was a good friend; a true friend. Lex wished he had more friends of his caliber. Thinking of Clark, Lex looked down at his watch. He had been gone a good fifteen minutes. He was about to start walking up to the house when he saw Martha round the corner with her usual warm smile. He smiled back greeting her, "Afternoon Mrs. Kent."

Martha walked up next to Lex and leaned on the stall gate right beside him. She said, "Hi Lex, it's nice to see you. Clark tells me you're going to stay for dinner. I hope you like pot roast."

Lex grinned responding, "Mrs. Kent, anything I've tasted that you've cooked has been superb. I just hope I'm not too much of a burden eating you out of house and home," he added jokingly.

Smiling Martha said, "That's sweet of you to say. It's not a burden to have another mouth to feed, even if you are a growing boy like Clark. I swear you've both gotten taller in the past month. How old are you again? If either one of you grow much more, I'm going to get a crick in my neck just looking up at you."

Lex beamed proudly, "Well, I'll be seventeen in just two months. That reminds me, I was thinking of going to Europe for the weekend of my birthday. The invitation extends to Clark and you two if you can make it."

Lex wanted to show his appreciation for how nice the family had always been to him, and he figured Clark would make his birthday a lot more fun than taking the trip by himself. Lionel most certainly wouldn't come, not that he really wanted him there anyway. Lex would be surprised if his dad even remembered his birthday.

Last year he'd forgotten and hadn't remembered until a week later when one of the maids that had been on vacation wished him a happy birthday when she'd returned to the household. As the thought crossed his mind he stared back at the colt a small frown playing across his face before he pushed the memory away and turned back to face Martha with a smile.

Martha didn't find it hard to picture Lex at sixteen; that was less then ten years ago, and she'd seen pictures of him in newspapers now and then as he was growing up. She felt a rush of sympathy for him, as she realized he was making his own plans for his birthday because no one was around to make them for him. She put an arm around his shoulders and said, "Europe sounds pretty far for us to travel, but we would love to celebrate your birthday with you before you go or when you get back. We could have a picnic all together out by the lake. Maybe do some swimming."

The colt, interested in the noises coming from the gate went over and stuck his nose between the slats and sniffed at them. Martha squeezed Lex's shoulder and said, "I came out here to ask you a favor. We're going to be doing some planting this weekend, and it would really help us out to have an extra pair of hands. Would you be willing to stay with us for the weekend and help out? Oh, and it includes all the home cooked meals you can eat."

Lex answered, "I'd be more than happy to help you guys out." Thinking that he didn't want to run into his father at the mansion he added, "I'll just head back to the mansion right quick and pack a bag. It shouldn't take me more than half an hour to get there and back. Do you think dinner will be done before then?"

Giving Lex a small frown, Martha turned him towards her and put both hands on his shoulders. She looked him in the eyes and said, "Do you really think driving is the best idea right now? Maybe there's someone at the mansion could pack a bag for you and bring it over."

Then as an after thought she added, "And leave a note for your father letting him know where you are."

Lex couldn't help letting an eye roll escape at Martha's scolding before giving her a quirky smile responding, "I'm really okay to drive Mrs. Kent; but if it'll make you feel better, I guess I could call Louisa and ask her to send a bag over with Gary before he leaves in an hour. I'll give Gary a note to give my dad; I'm sure he'll be just thrilled to have me out of the mansion all weekend so he can entertain his crusty socialite friends in peace."

He shook his head embarrassed that Martha knew about him drinking and driving. He hated to feel he'd disappointed her as he added, "I can't believe Clark told you I was drinking! You're not going to tell my dad about the alcohol bit are you?"

Martha smiled at him and patted his shoulder in approval. "I think having Gary bring your things over is a very good idea."

She started walking towards the house and Lex followed as she continued, "As for Clark telling us about the drinking... well Clark is just a very honest person by nature, and can't help himself sometimes. I hope you don't hold it against him. I have no intention of telling your father about it, and neither does Mr. Kent."

"Thanks," Lex said as he breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the Kent's would keep his secret. His father had often times threatened sending him to military school to straighten him up. And although he doubted Lionel really would send him off; he didn't want to push the matter.

Lex followed Martha back into the kitchen asking for a pen and paper to write his dad a note before heading over to the phone to call Louisa to ask her to send Gary over with a bag of personals.

While Lex was writing the note, Martha smiled and said in a voice loud enough for Lex to overhear, "Lex agreed to stay the weekend and help us with the planting." Then while Lex was on the phone, Martha whispered to both Jonathan and Clark that Lex thought he was sixteen.

Clark found it hard to wrap his head around the idea that Lex thought he was the same age as him. Once Lex was off the phone, Clark looked in his backpack and said, "Darn it, I forgot my Geometry book. I'm going to have to go back to school and get it before they lock the doors for the weekend."

He looked over at Jonathan and said, "Sorry Dad, I'll have to do my chores after dinner."

"As long as you get them done before you go to bed, that's fine with me." Jonathan answered.

Turning to Lex, Clark said, "I'm glad you'll be here for the weekend, should be fun even with the work. I was going to say we could play some basketball after dinner tonight, but looks like I'm gonna be busy. Maybe tomorrow night instead."

Lex nodded in agreement, "That sounds great Clark. And Mr. Kent, I couldn't help over hearing Clark needed to do some chores. Gary will be by in about a half an hour with my stuff, and I'd be more than happy to change and help out any way I can."

Jonathan gave Lex a nod and a genuine smile. "That's very nice of you to offer Lex. Once you get changed, come on out to the barn and I'll show you what needs to be done."

Clark was surprised, but also pleased that Lex had offered. Clark thought that teenage Lex probably let his guard down a little more often then adult Lex did, and hoped that Jonathan would finally be able to see the person Clark was friends with, instead of only seeing Lionel's billionaire son. Clark said, "Are you sure Lex? You don't have to if you don't want to."

Lex smiled waving Clark off, "It's no problem at all Clark; now go on and get your book. I'd hate to see you have to spend most of your free time doing homework when you get home tonight instead of hanging out with me."

Grinning Clark said, "Thanks Lex."

Clark was about to leave and super speed over to the school, but realized at the last second that Lex would notice something was off with the timing if he did that. He turned to Jonathan and asked, "Can I borrow the truck?"

Nodding Jonathan said, "Sure." and dug the keys out of his pocket.

Clark took the keys and headed out. Knowing that he would lose time by driving the truck, he only drove it a couple of miles away and parked it off to the side of the road. He locked it up, and ran to find Chloe. He went to the school first and went to see if she was in the newspaper room. Not finding her, Clark went to the Talon to see if she was there.

He found her sipping a coffee and doing some homework. He walked over, sat next to her and said, "I need your help."

Chloe glanced up from sipping her coffee to see Clark staring down at her asking for her help. She set her cup down responding with a smile, "Well, you're in luck, I just finished the last of my homework. What's up?"

"When I went to see Lex today, he was acting very strange, and the more I talked to him the more I realized something was wrong. You may find this hard to believe, but Lex thinks he's sixteen. And then I got to thinking about Mr. Amnisty today, and wondered if there was a connection."

Chloe listened, letting the facts sink in before replying, "Another case for the wall of weird I'm thinking. I guess the first thing we need to do is find out who in all were affected by this, and why a meteor freak would be going after them… No offense Clark, but your buddy Lex has way too many enemies, so we might want to try to talk to Mr. Amnisty first."

"Unfortunately I agree. My mom said she saw Mr. Peterson in the store today and that he was acting strange too, bagging groceries instead of trying to run the store. Have you seen anyone else acting strange today?"

Chloe's eyes rolled to the ceiling as she went over her day before answering, "Well, coach Gerard was acting kind of weird today, of course he's always kind of weird. I really didn't think anything of it when he got on the track to do our run with us, and when he left shortly after, without saying anything to any of us I thought he had just gotten sick or something. Do you think it could be related?"

"Sounds like it. Now, how do we find a connection between all of them? Two of them are teachers, so maybe a student is getting revenge for something? But that doesn't explain Mr. Peterson or Lex. Maybe they're all connected through another teacher, or one of the school board members. You're the investigator. What's our next step?"

Chloe responded, "I'll head home and do a little research on the net to see if I can find any connections the four might share. If anything pans out, I'll give you a call."

"Okay, I'll be waiting to hear from you. Let me know if there's any leg work you want me to do too. I think I'm going to take a quick look around the town. See if anyone is acting unusual. I'll give you a call if I find anything."
**********************

Jonathan was working on his tractor, and true to his offer, half an hour later Lex showed up in jeans and a tee shirt a few minutes after his bag had been delivered. Jonathan stood up and said, "Ready to help out?"

Lex gave Jonathan a confident nod responding, "Just point me to the right direction."

Jonathan walked to the barn with Lex following. He said, "The chore that takes Clark the longest is mucking out the stalls. We have some shovels over here, and a wheelbarrow here. You shovel up the horse manure and any hay that it's touching and load it into the wheelbarrow. Once you have a full load, come get me and I'll show you where to take it. Then after that we'll put new hay down for them, and refill their water buckets. Think you can handle that while I finish up on the tractor?"

Lex nodded giving Jonathan a small smile, "Will do."

Jonathan left Lex to the tasks he'd assigned, and Lex got to work steadily shoveling out the stalls in quick fashion. It was mere minutes before he'd finished with his first load and was hauling it out of the barn.

Quicker then Jonathan was expecting, Lex had a load of horse manure to empty. He showed Lex where to dump it and watched him go back into the barn to do some more work. Jonathan couldn't help but be impressed with the willingness to do some physical labor. He wouldn't have expected it from Lex, but then he shook his head and realized he had a lot of preconceived notions about who Lex was without ever really getting to know him. Maybe his wife and son were right, and they should be helping Lex out. He went back to the tractor, hoping to finish it before dinner was done.

Lex bustled through the chore of mucking out the stalls and throwing all the hay down, and once finished he took his gloves off reaching into his pocket to wipe the sweat off his brow. As he pulled the rag out of his pocket, his Cuban cigar followed bouncing out of his pocket and on to the barn floor.

Lex bent to pick it up, deciding since he already had his gloves off and was taking a break now anyway, he might as well enjoy a few pulls off of his cigar.

After finishing the repairs to the tractor Jonathan decided to go see how Lex was doing. He had seen Lex take a few trips out of the barn, and knew he'd been working hard. Jonathan planned to offer Lex some iced tea and let him relax a few minutes before dinner, but the sight that greeted him in the barn took those thoughts out of his head. Lex was standing in the middle of the barn lighting a cigar.

Jonathan walked up to Lex with anger clearly written on his face, snatched the cigar out of Lex's mouth, and yelled, "Are you crazy?! You don't smoke in a barn! Did you want to catch the hay on fire and watch the animals panic?!"

Lex's jaw dropped in surprise at Jonathan's reaction. He really hadn't thought about the fact a fire could be caused by his smoking in the barn. But the shock was quickly replaced by irritation at the thought of how Jonathan had snatched his cigar out of his mouth. He expressed his anger quickly, "You just destroyed my really fine cigar!" Realizing he was in the wrong he added sheepishly, "I wasn't trying to burn your barn down, I just wasn't thinking straight. Sorry."

After Lex yelled, Jonathan's first thought was to tell him to get off his property. But before he could voice that, Lex apologized, and Jonathan took a second to think about it. He looked at the man in front of him and tried to imagine what he would say to Clark or Pete in the same situation.

He crossed his arms and said with a new found calm, "I'm sorry too, I didn't mean to fly off the handle like that; it just startled me to see you smoking so close to the hay. I know you would never intentionally try to burn down the barn, and I accept your apology. But..." Jonathan held up the cigar for Lex to see "...you shouldn't be smoking these at all. In fact you shouldn't be smoking anything at your age. I don't want to see you smoking again while you're staying here."

Lex could hear the disappointment in Jonathan's voice, and his eyes fell to the ground as he nodded his compliance. Lex was really embarrassed and felt pretty foolish for yelling at Jonathan and making such a mistake, and so he responded, "I'm a real jerk for yelling at you like that Mr. Kent, and for that, I'm even more sorry. I… I should just probably go." Lex leaned over picking his gloves up off the ground to hand them back to Jonathan before going to grab his things and head home.

Jonathan didn't take the offered gloves. Instead he put a hand on Lex's shoulder and said in all honesty, "I don't think you're a jerk, and I don't think you should leave. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. You're still Clark's friend, and we would still appreciate your help this weekend. I'm impressed with how hard you've been working, and how much you've gotten done already. How about we put this incident behind us, and start over again?"

Lex was surprised at how forgiving Clark's dad was, and that made him smile inwardly and outwardly as he answered, "Thanks. That sounds great Mr. Kent. Are there any other chores that need to be done tonight?"

Jonathan smiled as well and patted Lex once before letting his hand drop. He answered, "Everything else can wait for tomorrow. I think it's time for a break. Dinner should be ready soon."

At that same moment Clark showed up in the doorway of the barn and said with a smile, "Looks like my timing is perfect. Chores are done and dinner's almost ready. I should invite you over more often Lex."

Lex chuckled, "You're welcome Clark; I will say your chores have worked up quite an appetite!"

The three made small chat as they made there way back to the house where Jonathan told Lex he could be the first one to grab a shower. Lex gratefully accepted very ready to get out of his dirty clothes and even more ready to eat some of Martha's home cooking.

When Lex went to take a shower, Clark told Martha and Jonathan about his conversation with Chloe. Once he was done, Martha said, "Let's see if Lex can remember what happened to him today. Maybe someone he came in contact with did this to him"

Half an hour later they were all sitting down to dinner, and a few minutes into it, Martha asked, "How was school today Lex?"

Lex's eyes rose from carving his pot roast, thinking over why he hadn't gone to school today. The more he thought about it, the more confused he became. The last thought he did remember was walking out of the Talon with a cup of coffee around eleven in the morning. He assumed that he must have skipped today for some reason, but he didn't want to say that in front of the Kent's as he responded, "I kind of slept in, so I missed class today."

"Were you feeling sick?" Martha asked with concern.

Lex blushed responding, "As much as I hate to admit it, I don't really have a good excuse for missing school today. It's not something I do very often though."

Martha and Jonathan exchanged a look, not quite knowing what to say. It seemed wrong to berate someone for not being in school when they didn't belong there in the first place. After a few seconds Martha asked, "Did you go somewhere else? Visit with friends?"

Lex shrugged growing uncomfortable with all these invasive questions responding, "I went to the Talon earlier, and for the most part, I stayed at the mansion."

Martha could tell Lex wasn't happy with all the questions, and decided they'd gotten enough information to start with. Not wanting it to look like they were interrogating Lex alone, she turned to Clark and asked, "How about you Clark, how was school today?" even though she already knew the answer.

Clark played along and said, "I had a pop quiz in English about the chapter we read last night. I think I did pretty well."

Then Clark remembered that Chloe was wondering if there was any connection between the people who had been affected, so he decided to mention his teacher's name. He kept an eye on Lex to see his reaction as he said, "Actually something kind of strange happened. Mr. Amnisty didn't teach us anything. He just came in, ignored us all, and then left before time was up. Strange right?"

Lex chewed slowly needing a moment to digest Clark's words. Could Clark's teacher be Tom Amnisty's father? The reminder of that name made him blush slightly. He remembered Tom all too well; what he and the others, Tom Amnisty, Jamie Peterson, Matt Grading and Larry Kingston had done. Poor James Marshall had been their selected target; he was the 'so called' weakest link. What they had done was wrong; it had been a joke, a cruel one, but a joke none the less. Lex shook his head slightly as he quickly
swallowed a drink of Martha's homemade lemonade to gulp down the memory as well as the food.

Martha, Jonathan, and Clark could all tell that Lex recognized the name. Jonathan said, "That is strange. Are you okay Lex? You look a little green around the gills."

Lex glanced up from his plate surprised by the question before smiling sheepishly remarking, "Oh, no. I'm fine. I was just thinking about missing class today; I need to get a hold of one of my classmates to get my homework for Monday."

Clark could tell Lex was lying, and decided that was enough for one night. He said, "Hey Mom, can I have some pie now?"

Martha laughed and said, "Your father and I haven't even eaten half of our dinner yet."

He gave her a big grin and said, "I already had seconds."

Still smiling Martha shook her head and said, "You can wait until everyone is done with dinner."

Clark gave her a good natured, "Okay." and then turned to Lex and said, "You wanna shoot some hoops after dinner tonight?"

Lex was relieved by Clark's question, happy to be talking about anything else that wasn't his day! He grinned responding, "That sounds great Clark; after all I've eaten for dinner, the exercise will help me work up an appetite for pie."

After they had all finished dinner and were rising from the table Lex asked, "Before we go out to play basketball; do you need any help with the dishes and clean up Mrs. Kent?"

Martha smiled and said, "Thank you for the offer, but I've got it covered. You and Clark go play."

The rest of the evening went well. Clark and Lex played some basketball, and once that was done, everyone had some pie. When it was time for bed, Jonathan got a small cot from out of the closet and set it up in Clark's room for Lex.

The next morning all four of them worked hard until lunch time. During lunch the phone rang. Clark answered and heard Chloe on the other end. He said, "Hi Chloe, what's up?"

Chloe responded, "I think I've got a pretty solid lead on our man. Whenever you can get the chance to come down to my house, I'll be waiting here to fill you in on the juicy tid bits."

Hoping that whatever information Chloe had would help Lex, Clark said, "Great. I'll be there in just a little bit."

Clark hung up with Chloe and turned to his parents and Lex. He said, "I need to go over and see Chloe for a few minutes."

He looked at Lex and said, "I'm sorry I keep running off when you're staying over. I just need to... help Chloe with an article for the paper. It shouldn't take more then an hour."

Lex shrugged, "It's not a problem Clark, I'm sure I can occupy myself with something while your gone."

Smiling Clark said, "Thanks for understanding."

Clark started out the door and Jonathan cleared his throat. Clark turned to him with a questioning look. Jonathan said, "Don't you want the keys to the truck?"

"Oh. Right." Jonathan handed them over, and Clark left.

Once Clark was out the door Martha said, "I can't believe how fast the planting went with all four of us working." She turned to Lex and said, "Since we're done, would you be interested in learning to ride a horse? We could all go on a short ride while Clark's gone."

Lex grinned; it had been a couple years since he'd ridden, but he had always loved it. His mother was very fond of horses, and the reminder of her happiness was always a welcome feeling. Lex chuckled responding, "I have to be honest; that sounds like a lot more fun activity than planting."

Martha smiled, "I have to agree. Why don't you and Jonathan get the horses ready while I do the dishes?"

Jonathan stood up and said, "Sounds like a perfect afternoon. Come on Lex, I'll show you how to saddle the horses."

Lex followed Jonathan into the barn and even though he knew how to saddle a horse, he let Jonathan instruct him. Lex found himself wishing that the Kent's were his family. Why did he have to live with Lionel in that cold mansion where he spent most of his time alone contemplating the world? Clark was never alone. The Kent's were good wholesome people that believed in family, and Lex realized that he was just happy to be able to be treated as one of their family even if it was only for a weekend.

Martha came out about the same time the horses were ready to go. She got on her horse and listened while Jonathan went over the basics of riding with Lex. Once Jonathan was done he said, "Are you ready to get on and give it a try?"

Lex nodded his agreement following Jonathan's directions to a tee, and with one fluid motion took control of the horse he was riding, guided it in a circle, and had it back up to line up with Martha's horse as he smiled confidently replying, "I may not have been raised on a farm, but this rich boy has done a little riding."

The surprise was evident on Martha's face. It quickly changed to a smile and finally a laugh. She turned to Jonathan who still looked surprised and said, "Well that's what we get for making assumptions."

Jonathan smiled as well and started chuckling as he got up on his own horse. He said, "Okay rich boy, let's see if you can keep up."

He kicked his horse into a trot, and soon was in a full gallop heading towards the lake.

Lex kept up easily matching Jonathan's horse's stride. The ride was exhilarating, and it got him thinking of the Kent's young stud, Lightening. Now that horse would give him a challenge! The three rode out to the lake, and got off to stretch their legs and let the horses drink and graze while they enjoyed the scenery.

Since the Kent's seemed quite impressed with his riding skills, Lex decided to ask Jonathan, "I was wondering, now that you've seen my riding abilities, do you think I could ride Lightening?"

Smiling Jonathan said, "Your riding abilities are impressive. I wouldn't have expected it out of you, but you've obviously spent some time on the saddle, and know what you're doing. But Lightening isn't broken in yet. It's going to take some time before anyone can ride him like this."

Lex was disappointed, but didn't want to sour the mood as he responded, "Thanks for the compliment on my riding skills Mr. Kent. I guess we should be getting back soon, Clark should be getting home anytime now."

Jonathan nodded and said, "You're welcome. Why don't you lead the way back?"

Lex smiled taking the lead as he responded, "I think I can handle that."
***********

Clark arrived at Chloe's house and knocked on the door. As soon as she opened it Clark said, "What did you find?"

Chloe smirked, "Well hello to you to Clark." She waved him inside and shut the door behind him, "Follow me," she stated as she lead Clark over to her bedroom's computer cluttered with printouts and scribbled notes.

She pointed to the screen; it was a webpage that displayed kayaking teens. The logo read Camp Blanfield. Once Clark had had a moment to look at the page she responded, "All three of our resident adult to teens attended this camp about ten years ago. And what's even more interesting is the fact that these particular three stayed in one cabin with three other kids. Now I got the names of the other kids, and I was able to contact two of the three missing links. They live out of state, and seem to have no issues other than extreme rudeness. The last kid, James Marshall, graduated here at Smallville high. But then I dead-ended. He just kind of dropped off the map. Do you think you can grill Lex for some info on this guy?"

Clark was impressed, "Ten years ago and you found out all this information? I'll ask Lex about James Marshall when I get home, and I'll let you know what he has to say about the whole thing." He gave her a smile and said, "Great investigative work Chloe. What would I do without you?"

Chloe beamed proudly as she responded, "Oh, I don't know, the world might fall apart." She winked jovially. "I'll keep looking for any clues to the whereabouts of our mystery man, and you, give me a call tomorrow and let me know what you find out."

Clark chuckled and said, "I'll let you know."

As Clark headed back to the farm he thought about how to get the information out of Lex. He decided Lex might be more open about what he knew if Clark brought it up to him when they were alone, instead of in front of his parents. When he got home, he saw that Lex and his folks had just gotten back from a ride. They all looked fairly happy, and Clark was glad to know that they were all able to get along, especially Jonathan and Lex.

Clark tried to find time alone with Lex, but as soon as the horses were unsaddled and rubbed down, it was time for chores and dinner. Then after dinner his mom talked them all into playing a game of Monopoly even though Clark tried to talk her out of it. Clark was finally alone with Lex when they were both in Clark's room going to sleep for the night, with Lex on the cot again. A few minutes after laying down Clark said, "Lex, are you awake?"

Lex was on the verge of drifting off to sleep when he heard Clark ask him if he were awake. He responded groggily, "Mmm? Yea Clark, I'm awake; what's up?"

"Remember I told you my teacher was acting odd on Friday? Chloe is investigating it, and she found out that you know him..." Clark realized as he said it, that sixteen year old Lex, couldn't have gone to camp with a teacher, so he said, "...well his son anyway. You went to camp with his son. She was looking up all the people who shared a cabin with you, just out of curiosity, and she found all of them except one. James Marshall seems to have gone off the radar. Do you know him still?"

Lex grew quiet thinking about the name. He didn't need time to recall who he was; that was easy. What wasn't easy was the guilt he felt recalling the name again. Twice in one weekend that memory had pushed its way to the surface. Finally Lex responded, "Yea, I know James. He lives out by the school, by the post office I think. He's a bit of a loner. Me and some of the other kids teased him a little back at camp."

Clark wondered if James could have a hand in what was going on with the others. He said, "You guys teased him? Really? I have a hard time picturing you being mean."

Lex was glad the room was dark and Clark couldn't see his face, feeling it flush in embarrassment; he was sure Clark would have noticed if he could have seen him. He didn't want to really discuss James because he was ashamed of his behavior, and he didn't want Clark to view him as a bully. The prank was meant to be harmless, but it hadn't been harmless, and poor James had walked away with the emotional scars. Lex took a moment thinking over how he could respond to the question Clark had posed. He replied hesitantly, "I didn't picture myself being that mean either; it's no one's fault but my own, but I really wish I hadn't let other people's actions influence me to join in on something I normally wouldn't have done."

Clark didn't like the sound of that, and thought it was likely that James was somehow involved in what was going on. He wanted to get as much information as possible out of Lex, hoping it would help him track down James tomorrow.

"What did you guys do to him?" he asked.

Lex shook his head unwilling to delve into this topic any further, "We were real jerks Clark; it's not something I'm proud of, but it happened last year at camp; there's nothing I can do about it now, and there's no use in crying over spilled milk." Lex gave a fake yawn and added, "Aren't you tired? I'm pretty beat, and it's going to be a long day tomorrow. We really should get some sleep don't you think?"

Clark could tell Lex wanted to avoid the subject, and decided to let him sleep on it. He thought that if he gave Lex a little time to adjust to the idea of talking about it, maybe he'd be more forthcoming in the morning. He'd ask about it again tomorrow before going to see if James' parents knew where he was living now.

"Yeah, I guess I am pretty tired. Night Lex." Clark rolled over and closed his eyes, falling asleep quickly.

Lex closed his eyes, but his thoughts kept drifting back over the conversation Clark and he had had. He drifted on and off for a couple hours before deciding maybe a walk would help him clear his mind.

He dressed and crept down the steps as quietly as he could; the whole house was dark and Lex had bumped into the couch stubbing his toe on the way out. He let out a muffled curse hopping over to the door. He paused listening to see if anyone had heard him, but he didn't sense any movement coming from upstairs. Feeling secure in his aloneness, he exited the house and walked out into the driveway. Crickets and frogs made their own symphony and the stars were shining brightly. It really was another world out here Lex thought to himself as he loafed across the driveway towards the barn.

The barn doors were open on both sides and Lightening's head bobbed over the stall door to grasp stray bits of straw almost out of the horse's reach. Lex meandered up to the stallion and patted him on the neck. The horse's neck rippled and he let out a snort.

Lex smiled at the beautiful animal thinking to himself that he was competent enough to ride this horse, and why shouldn't he be given the chance? He knew where the saddles and other gear were kept, and he could just take Lightening out to the side pasture for a quick ride. No one would ever know.

Lex was able to saddle up Lightening pretty quickly and was growing more excited about the prospect of riding the spirited horse. He led the horse over to the pasture and once the two were inside the gate, he mounted Lightening. The stallion's demeanor instantly changed from docile to irate, and he bolted into a run.

Lex's eyes went wide as he clung to the horse for dear life. Lightening ran 100 yards across the field before whipping back with a shrill whinny and kicking his front legs into the air. Lex was doing well hanging on up until this point and felt his legs slide as he lost his grip. Lightening lunged forward and bucked his hind legs into the air successfully dislodging Lex from his back.

Lex thudded to the ground with a muffled grunt as Lightening jetted across the pasture in a hearty gallop. Lex rolled on his side with a groan. Thankfully the horse had not stepped on him in its mad dash to get away. He shook his head in dismay as he rose off the ground and dusted himself off.

Jonathan woke from a deep sleep feeling like something was wrong. He looked over at his wife, and saw that she was sleeping peacefully. He looked over at the little alarm clock on his nightstand, and the digital display glowed 1:32 at him. His brow furrowed in a frown. He knew his farm inside and out, and something still felt wrong. Then he heard a soft noise coming from the open window. He moved the covers back and got out of bed as quietly as possible so he wouldn't wake up Martha. At the window he couldn't believe the sight that greeted him down in the field under the moonlight. There was Lex getting up on a saddled Lightening.

Jonathan didn't have time to even yell out a warning as Lightning shot across the field. He turned away from the window, grabbed his work jeans off the floor, and slipped them on over his boxers without bothering to zip them or fasten the belt after snapping the top button. He quickly made his way to the front door, shoved his bare feet into his boots on the porch, and ran towards the field.

He saw Lightening running, but Lex wasn't on him anymore. Jonathan sent up a quick hopeful prayer that Lex hadn't been trampled or seriously damaged from the throw, and ran in the direction Lightening was running away from. Before he got half way across the field he saw Lex standing up and brushing himself off. He didn't look seriously damaged, and for that Jonathan was grateful. He stopped running, and walked quickly towards Lex, getting angrier with each step.

Hadn't Lex asked him to ride? Hadn't he told him no? What had Lex been thinking? Jonathan's fists balled up, and thoughts of punching the man went through his mind. As soon as that thought went through his head, Jonathan shook it once and told himself that Lex thought he was sixteen. He knew how he'd handle the situation if it were Pete out here instead of Lex, and thought that would work just as well if not better, since he'd always thought Lex was in need of some discipline.

Jonathan could see the shock and worry in Lex's face once he got close enough, and as he walked closer Jonathan called out, "What the hell do you think you were doing?"

Lex saw Jonathan coming, but was dumbfounded as to how to answer his question. He looked from Jonathan to the ground and mumbled, "I… I just," he shook his head embarrassed that he had put himself in such a position. He took in a deep breath before continuing, "I just had a lot on my mind… and I went for a walk out in the barn… Lightening just seemed so calm at the time, so I thought I could handle riding him… I know I shouldn't have done it. I'm really sorry Mr. Kent."

By the time Lex answered, Jonathan was beside him. He grabbed his upper arm and gave it a light shake as he said, "You could have gotten killed. Lightening could have stepped on you after kicking you off. What did I tell you when you asked me if you could ride him?"

Lex blinked wide eyed at Jonathan's words. He was right of course, and Lex knew what he had done was reckless and stupid. He muttered out a quiet, "You said… not to because he wasn't broken yet. It was really dumb of me; I really don't know what I was thinking."

Jonathan said, "Go wait for me in the barn while I get Lightening calmed down enough to come in. Then after you've unsaddled him, you and I are going to go over some rules that you need to follow while you're staying here." Jonathan gave him a hard swat to get him moving in the direction of the barn, and headed off to get Lightening.

Lex was stunned by the stinging slap and found himself moving a little more quickly in the direction of the barn as he thought, 'What is wrong with me? I just can't seem to stop messing up." He was surprised that Jonathan hadn't told him to get out right then and there.

Lex returned to the barn to lean against Lightening's stall to await Jonathan's return. Time seemed to slow down as he thought about how he was sure he'd never gain Mr. Kent's trust back again.

It took a few minutes to even get close to Lightening, but Jonathan had been talking to the horse every day for a month, and Jonathan was familiar to him. Once Jonathan got a hold of Lightening's reigns, the stud horse was willing to go back to his stall. He led Lightening into the barn where Lex was waiting. Lex opened the door to Lightening's stall, and Jonathan walked him in. He looked over at Lex and said, "Unsaddle him while I make sure he doesn't have any damage."

Jonathan moved his hands down each the horses legs too feel for any swelling, and was happy to note that the horse seemed no worse for the wear. He walked out of the stall, and waited by the stall door for Lex to finish.

Lex silently complied feeling he'd caused enough harm for one day. Once finished with the task of unsaddling Lightening, he wearily walked out of the stall closing and latching the door closed behind him as he exited. He looked up at Jonathan with a clear expression of regret plastered across his face as he offered, "I know saying I'm sorry isn't going to make this all go away, but I did want you to know that I never meant to disrespect you or your property Mr. Kent."

Jonathan put a hand on Lex's shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze as he said, "You're right that saying you're sorry won't make this go away, but I do appreciate you saying it, and I accept your apology. And it wasn't anger that you had shown me disrespect that had me running out to the field tonight, it was fear for your safety."

Taking a deep breath Jonathan moved his hand down to Lex's upper arm and got a tighter grip as he said, "While you're staying with us, you're going to have to follow the same rules that Clark does, and the number one rule is obeying both me and Mrs. Kent. When I tell you no I mean it, and putting yourself in danger while defying me is completely unacceptable. Trying to ride Lightening could have ended up killing you Lex. I'm going to punish you for it to make sure it doesn't happen again."

There was a bail of hay a few feet away from them, and Jonathan walked to it pulling Lex with him. He put his left foot up on the bail, bent Lex over his leg, wrapped his left arm around Lex's waist, and started swatting Lex's butt with his right hand.

Lex gasped in shock as the suddenness that Jonathan had thrown him over his knee and was currently blistering his bottom. His shock turned to anger as he squirmed to get away and shouted, "What do you think you're doing! You can't spank me like some little kid! I'm sixteen damn it!"

Jonathan's grip around Lex's waist got tighter as he tried to hold him in place. He kept swatting and said, "I can, and I am. And if you keep trying to squirm away from me, things are going to get worse for you."

Lex squalled out, "Worse?! How the hell could things get any worse! Let me go this instant!" He bucked and twisted in a renewed effort to evade the stinging blows to no avail. He hadn't really realized just how strong Jonathan was until this point.

Jonathan's grasp was firm, but he knew with Lex struggling so much he'd get loose before the spanking was done. Moving as quickly as possible Jonathan stood Lex up, turned and sat himself down on the bail of hay, and pulled Lex face down over his left leg again. Once Lex was over his knee, Jonathan put his right leg over both of Lex's legs to keep them in place. He reached under Lex's stomach and undid the button of his jeans before pulling the jeans and underwear down with one quick yank, and then started spanking again.

Lex let out an indignant yelp as Jonathan's callused hand reigned down painfully on his now bared ass. Jonathan was right, this was worse, and try as he might, he wasn't going anywhere.

Lex's body collapsed over Jonathan's knee unable to fight anymore as he begged, "Please Mr. Kent… stop!"

Jonathan could hear the change in Lex's tone, and knew he was ready to listen to what he had to say. He paused for a second so that Lex could hear him and said, "Riding Lightening was dangerous. I want you to promise me that it's not going to happen again."

Lex let Jonathan's words sink in as he nodded his compliance and replied softly, "I know it was dangerous… and I won't. I promise." This whole situation was surreal to Lex. His father had never spanked him; he never cared enough to put that much effort forth, but Clark's dad did. Jonathan cared about his well being enough to make sure Lex knew what he did was dangerous, and that fact alone brought tears to prick Lex's eyes. He had disappointed Jonathan enough to make the man feel the need to physically correct his behavior for Lex's own good, which served to embarrass Lex even more than the actual spanking itself.

"Good. Then we're almost done here." Jonathan gave Lex ten more hard swats and said, "Now I want to hear some kind of guarantee that you're going to obey me and Mrs. Kent while you're staying with us."

Lex couldn't help choking back a sob at the prospect that the spanking was not over, and as each hard hit fell the tears poured down until they were uncontrollable. Lex was glad that Jonathan had stopped spanking him and hastily agreed through streaming tears, "I swear! I'll listen! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

Hearing both honesty and repentance in Lex's words and tone, Jonathan pulled Lex's pants and underwear back up over his dark pink rear, and took his leg off Lex's legs so he was free to get up. "Alright son, punishment's over."

Lex was relieved when Jonathan announced the end of the spanking. Jonathan helped him stand up to regain his balance, and although extremely embarrassed by the event, he couldn't help whining out a small, "Ow," as he rubbed his very sore bottom vigorously.

Lex glanced back up at Jonathan fearing that he would see a look of disgust or anger on the man's face, but no traces of either emotion could be found. He returned his gaze to the floor wiping his tear streaked face on his sleeve as he stated sheepishly, "Thanks for letting me stay after everything I've done lately."

In the past Jonathan had disliked Lex on more then one occasion, but over the past two days he'd seen a different side of Lex, and he'd decided his first impressions had been wrong. Now seeing Lex with tears on his face and rubbing at his bottom, Jonathan could picture him as even younger then sixteen.

He pulled Lex into a hug and said, "Thanks for wanting to stay. You've been a lot of help to us over the past couple of days, and I've been impressed with both your willingness to work, and with the quality of your work. From everything Clark tells me, you've been a really good friend to him too. So you can stay with us anytime you like."

Lex's body tensed at the hug not used to this type of human contact before relaxing and hugging back. It felt good on many levels to have a man like Jonathan say that he wanted him to stay as well as him thinking highly of his work ethic. That combined with the hug made fresh tears spill down his cheeks his emotions a bit ragged still. He muttered a soft, "Thanks," before pulling out of the hug.

He looked back up at Jonathan his brow creased with sudden worry as he asked, "You're not going to tell Clark and Mrs. Kent about this are you?"

"No I'm not going to tell anyone. This is between you and me." Jonathan said reassuringly.

Then he patted Lex's shoulder and said, "I don't know about you, but I'm bushed. How about we go in and try to get some more sleep before we have to get up and start today?"

Lex visibly relaxed nodding his agreement, "Thanks Mr. Kent."

The two walked back to the house and were back in their prospective rooms within minutes. Lex was happy he was able to slip back in bed without Clark waking up. He crawled under his sheets to lie on his stomach since his ass still throbbed. He had a lot to think about considering this most recent event, but by this point he was so exhausted sleep overtook him quite readily.

Clark woke early and looked over at Lex who was still asleep. He got up quietly and went to take a shower. As he was showering, he thought about the information Chloe and Lex had both given him yesterday. He also thought about his plans for the day. He wanted to try and talk to Lex one more time before he went to see Chloe. He hoped that Lex would be more willing to talk about what had happened at the camp if Clark gave him a slightly altered version of his worries.

Once he was dressed and ready for the day he went back into his room. He sat on his bed and said, "Hey Lex, wake up. It's morning."

Lex blinked still groggy as he mumbled, "Wha…? Oh hey Clark… is it that time already?" He groaned rolling onto his side and propping himself up on his elbow.

Clark smiled, "Yeah, morning is probably a lot earlier on the farm then you're used to."

He got serious and said, "Yesterday when I went to visit Chloe, she had a theory about James. I didn't tell you about it, because I didn't want to worry you. But I need as much information as possible, so I'm telling you now. We think James may be trying to get revenge for whatever happened to him at camp."

Lex looked down at the blanket taking in a deep breath before looking back up at Clark's serious expression, "You want to know what happened? Okay… James… James was a loner, he was kind of on the puny side, you know… hadn't quite hit a growth spurt yet and all, and we teased him… and we wouldn't let him play any games because he was kind of clumsy and whined a lot." Lex trailed off lowering his eyes uncomfortable with telling the worst part of the story.

While that didn't sound nice, it didn't sound like something someone would want revenge for either. Clark said, "And?"

Lex let a moment of silence hang between them before continuing, "We used to call him a whiny little baby because he also sucked his thumb. As a joke our cabin put a teddy bear under his arm and stuck his hand in warm water. He wet himself, and Jamie Peterson took pictures of it."

Lex shook his head embarrassed he'd been apart of James' humiliation but he continued to tell Clark the rest of the story, "That wasn't even the worst part… Jamie didn't just keep the joke between us; he went around showing the pictures to everyone in camp. The next day was parent's day… and the rumor mill had spread through the whole camp. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how cruel kids can be… the fact that James had wet himself got back to his parents right in the middle of the camp's family luncheon. Everyone laughed, and poor James ran off. His parents had James' things packed up before the luncheon had ended and took him home. That was the last time I really saw him. It was horrible Clark, I feel so bad about what we did, but it's not something you can just say 'I'm sorry' for you know?"

Clark wasn't sure what to say. It was horrible all right, and Clark had a very hard time picturing Lex going along with something so cruel. Clark knew for a fact that if he had been in the same situation he would have stopped it. But then he also believed that if he had been there with Lex and stood up to the other kids, Lex would have backed him up. He looked away from Lex and said, "Thanks for telling me."

There was an awkward silence for a few seconds, and then Clark couldn't help but say something his father had said to him when he was younger. "If you feel bad about something that you did, instead of letting that weigh on your mind, you should think of some way to make up for it."

Feeling slightly uncomfortable about giving that advice to someone older and more experienced in life then himself, Clark looked out the window and said, "I'd better go get started on the morning chores."

Lex nodded, embarrassed that Clark had to give him the good advice he already knew, but he didn't know how to go about making up for such a slighting. Choosing to avoid responding to Clark's comment he only replied, "I guess I'll go grab a shower and meet you down stairs." He rolled onto his ass and winced slightly. He'd forgotten for the moment about last night, but his ass reminded him quickly along with his aching muscles.

Jonathan wasn't the only one to do a number on him, and he was feeling the effects of getting thrown the night before now. Luckily Clark had already walked out and down the stairs. Lex groaned getting up slowly and trudging to the bathroom to start preparations to beginning his day.

Clark went downstairs and found his mom cooking some breakfast, and his dad sipping some coffee and looking at the paper. Martha said, "Morning sweetheart."

"Hey mom. Dad. I just got some information out of Lex."

Jonathan and Martha turned their attention to Clark. He told them what Lex had told him, and what Chloe had told him the day before. Then he said, "I need to go talk to Chloe, and then try to track down James. I'm hoping we can find out how to help Lex today, because tomorrow is Monday. He can't go to school where he thinks he should be, but he can't exactly go to work like this either, so we're going to have to tell him the truth tonight if I can't figure something else out."

Jonathan slowly nodded and said, "We'll tell him tonight if we have to."

Martha added, "I doubt that will go over very well. His emotions have to be in an uproar over remembering what he did to James. Then if we add that information to the mix..."

Martha shook her head. Then with a worried look she said, "You be careful Clark. If James is behind this and you confront him, he could try to do the same thing to you as well."

"I'll be careful, and I'll be back as soon as I can."

**********

Clark went to the Talon first, knowing Chloe often had coffee there in the morning. He found her and sat down at her table. "Hey Chloe, I have news."

Chloe beamed taking a swig of her espresso before replying, "You and me both. I found our mystery man. It turns out he's still here in Smallville, living with his parents I might add, and want to know the kicker? He also happens to be our very own school janitor. What about you? What news do you have?"

Clark was shocked, "Really? That's great. Good work Chloe." He gave her a smile and then turned serious as he said, "Lex told me why James might want to hurt the other members of his cabin from that camp. They all picked on him, and played a prank on him to make him wet the bed the day before parent's day. They took pictures, and everyone in the whole camp laughed at him."

Chloe's eyes creased in sympathy, "Poor guy. I kind of don't blame him for wanting revenge… not that I'm saying it's okay or anything. So I guess our next step would be to find James then. I've got his address right here," Chloe reached into her pocket to pull out a crumpled piece of paper with James' address on it and handed it to Clark.

Clark took the paper and said, "I'll go see if I can find James and talk to him. I'll let you know what I find out."

Chloe grimaced as she watched Clark leave muttering to his retreating form, "Be careful Clark."
**********************

Lex could smell the sausage simmering in the pan all the way upstairs, and his stomach growled in recognition. He packed up most of his bag leaving out his last change of clean clothes for after all the farm work was finished for the day. He was still tired, but luckily Jonathan had said it would only be a half day today since all that was left was weeding Martha's vegetable garden.

He tromped down the stairs to be greeted by Martha and Jonathan's smiles. Martha invited him to a seat at the table. Noticing right away that Clark was absent, Lex queried, "Where's Clark?"

Jonathan answered, "He went to go talk to Chloe this morning. He'll be back a little later this morning."

Martha was standing by the stove and asked, "How do you want your eggs Lex?"

Lex thought maybe it would be best if he went home, but Mrs. Kent's cooking just smelled too good to refuse. He answered, "Oh scrambled is fine Mrs. Kent. Thanks." He sat down, body still aching from the night prior as he added, "I guess after we finish up that last little bit of work in Mrs. Kent's garden, I should head home."

Martha and Jonathan exchanged a look. Martha said, "Oh, I thought you were going to at least stay for dinner. I was going to make some chocolate cake."

Jonathan added, "And since you didn't get much free time to hang out with Clark this weekend, I'm sure he'd like it if you could stay for the afternoon once we're done weeding."

Lex smiled in appreciation that the Kent's wanted him to stay for dinner even though there was only a couple hours at most of work left to do. He replied, "Dinner and chocolate cake? You keep feeding me like this, you might never get rid of me," Lex joked.

Martha smiled and said, "Good, then it's settled."

When Martha turned her focus back on the cooking food, Jonathan leaned over to Lex and said quietly so that Martha couldn't tell what was being said, "How are you feeling this morning? We have some pain medication in the bathroom if you need it. Getting thrown off a horse like that can cause injuries that aren't apparent until a few hours after the fact."

Lex smiled sheepishly responding quietly, "Thanks; I think I'll go grab some now." Jonathan told Lex that the pain meds were on the top shelf, and Lex followed Jonathan's directions grabbing a few to take with breakfast. By the time he'd come back from the bathroom the table was filled with food. It wasn't long before the three had devoured the table's contents and Lex and Jonathan were busy weeding away in Martha's garden.

Half an hour into the weeding Jonathan asked, "Are you feeling better now that you took something for the pain? If you're still sore, we can find something less physical for you to do."

Lex smiled replying, "I'm alright Mr. Kent; the physical work has helped loosen up my muscles. We're almost done now anyway; I couldn't quit on you now." Lex paused in his speech to pull a particularly stubborn weed before adding, "You guys have been so good to me… even after all the trouble I've caused you. I wish I could do more to make it up to you."

Jonathan paused for a minute and looked at Lex. "You didn't cause that much trouble and you've more then made up for it with the help you've given us this weekend."

He paused a second while thinking about how to help Lex get past what he'd done. He smiled as a memory came to him and he said, "I hope you're not still feeling guilty about last night. I know you weren't trying to get yourself or Lightening hurt. In fact I understand your motives completely, because I tried the same thing when I was fifteen."

Lex's eyes lit up as a mischievous smile spread across his face, "You? Really? Did you get thrown or did you tame the beast so to speak?"

After a chuckle Jonathan said, "Neither. I got caught before I could even get on the horse. My father had heard me sneaking out of the house, and followed me. I got the horse saddled, and just as I was about to open the gate to let the horse out, my father stepped out of the shadows. I nearly jumped out of my skin seeing him there."

He shook his head and added, "That was not a good week for me. Not only did I get one of the worst spankings of my life, but then for the next four days I had to spend two hours a day in the saddle learning techniques for breaking a horse."

Lex's brow furrowed in empathy, "That does sound like an unpleasant week and a rather unpleasant way to learn how to break a horse."

Jonathan smiled, "Yes, but my father knew me well enough to know that if he hadn't taught me how to do it, I'd just end up trying it again, and maybe getting myself hurt in the process."

After a pause he said, "But the point I'm trying to make with the story is that you didn't cause that much trouble, and the work you've done around here, more than makes up for things."

Lex grinned appreciatively responding, "Thanks Mr. Kent."

The two continued to chat as they finished weeding Martha's garden; as predicted the work only took a little over an hour. Martha brought them some sweet tea as the two sat on the porch enjoying the Spring morning waiting for Clark to return home.
***********************

After leaving Chloe at the Talon, Clark had sped over to James' parent's house. James mother had seemed completely shocked when Clark asked to see her. She had told him that James was at the school waxing the floors. He had rushed to the school, thinking that it would probably be a good thing to be able to talk to James alone.

He got to the school, and found the front doors locked. He had seen James' car in the lot and knew he was in there working. He walked around to the back of the school to see if one of those doors was open, and saw movement through one of the windows.

Tom Amnisty was red faced, his eyes bulging as he breathed heavy enough to start hyperventilating. James looked up at him and snorted softly, "Who's laughing now huh? Who!" James growled reaching into his toolbox to pull out a fillet knife. His expression changed as his thoughts turned murderous, "It's okay, it won't hurt for long… not like you hurt me. I've been blessed with a power see, a power given to me to exact my revenge on you for all the happy moments of my childhood you stole from me!"

Clark looked in and saw his teacher, Mr. Anmisty, tied to a chair. Then he saw a familiar looking man walking around Mr. Anmisty with a knife in his hand. Clark realized it was James, and that he'd seen him cleaning up before in the school. Feeling a twinge of guilt for breaking school property, he broke the lock on the window and stepped into the room while saying, "James!"

James spun around abruptly at the sound of his name being called. He recoiled momentarily before yelling out, "You just stay back you here! This is none of your concern kid!" James then turned back to Tom to finish the job he'd started.

Clark held his hand up with his palm facing James in a gesture for him to calm down and stop. He said, "I'm sorry, but I can't do that. Why don't you just calm down, and tell me what's going on."

James snorted in disbelief, "You wanna talk? Sure. We can talk kid." He didn't plan on having to kill any innocents, but he'd come too far, crossed too many lines to undo what he'd already set in motion. He glared across the hall at Clark's steadily approaching figure wondering what would happen to the mind of a teen regressed by his special given power. It wouldn't matter, once the element of surprise was unleashed, James planned to eliminate anyone linking him to the murder of his childhood tormentors.

Once Clark was ten feet away from James he stopped. He figured if he could get him to talk about what was going on, maybe he could convince him not to do it. He said, "What's going on? Why are you doing this?"

James gave Clark an incredulous look, "Why? I'll tell you why, because this piece of crap ruined my life! I'm a janitor for Christ's sake; they shattered my confidence… but it doesn't matter now because he won't have a chance to mess up anyone else's life!" James spit at Clark, the spit glowing a florescent green as it flew towards its target.

Clark jumped out of the way of the oncoming spit, shocked at the color. James spit at him a second time and Clark super sped over to the teacher's desk and grabbed the coffee mug off of it. He sped back to his spot and caught James' spit in the cup. Then before James could even register the fact that he had missed, Clark sped to the spot right in front of James and shoved him backwards. James flew a few feet through the air, and slammed up against the wall. He fell to the floor passed out.

Tom looked at Clark in shock and said, "How did you do that?"

Clark untied him and said, "Must have been an adrenaline rush."

As soon as Tom was free, he stood up, got the cell phone out of his back pocket, and called 911. Clark used the distraction to take the cup with James' spit and hide it under a bush next to the window for later.

The police arrived before James woke up, and he was soon in custody. When Tom started to give his statement, and told the police he was sixteen, Clark stepped in and told the cops that James' spit was a very odd color, and that he thought Mr. Amnisty had been spit on. Clark gave his statement while Tom was being taken to the hospital to be checked out.

Once they let him go, Clark ran and got the cup with James' green spit in it, and then ran to go see Chloe. He found her still in the Talon. He held up the cup to her and said, "Are you up for some chemistry?"

Chloe raised an eyebrow her lip curling slightly as she peered into the cup, "Not exactly the chemistry I wanted to study," she took the cup from Clark, "Let's head over to the Torch; there's a couple microscopes in the storage closet."

The two traveled over to the school, and within a few hours Chloe was able to distinguish that the spit did in fact contain meteor rock. "I'll bring this sample to the police; maybe they can get someone more qualified then me to create an antidote. I don't know what to say about Lex Clark, maybe the effects will wear off in time?"

Clark said, "Thanks Chloe... for everything. James spit at me twice, and the police have a sample of the spit that landed on the floor. Hopefully they're already analyzing it, but it can't hurt to take in what you've found as well. Maybe they'll be more likely to tell you when and if they find an antidote. I don't know what to say about Lex either. Do you really think it might wear off, or are you just saying that to make me feel better?"

Chloe gave him a doubtful look, "I'm nowhere near qualified to answer that question, but in my opinion, the people James affected can't remain sixteen forever right?"

Clark gave her an uncertain look and said, "I sure hope not."

After a short pause he said, "I've got to get home and check on Lex. Thanks again Chloe. I'll see you in school tomorrow."

After Chloe said goodbye, Clark rushed home to see how Lex was. He found his parents and Lex in the house cleaning up the lunch dishes. He smiled at everyone and said, "Hey, sorry that took so long. Did the weeding get all done?"

Jonathan nodded and added, "Lex and I did it all. You two can have the afternoon to yourselves to do whatever you want."

Clark turned to Lex with a wide smile and said, "Thanks for doing most of my work for me this weekend."

Lex responded, "Mr. Kent and I had the weeds knocked out in about an hour Clark; you didn't miss out on much work. Your dad was just about to set us up a game of horse shoes," he chuckled adding, "Are you ready to get your butt kicked?"

Clark laughed at that one and said, "Nope. Are you ready to get your butt kicked?"

Lex laughed, "I guess only time will tell."

The three men spent the next hour and a half shooting horse shoes and chatting before Martha called them in for dinner.

Lex was happily basking in the simplicity of visiting on the farm with the Kent's, as he remarked, "Hanging out here with you guys has been a nice break from life at the mansion. I…" Lex trailed off as bits and pieces of memories began to trigger in his mind. All of a sudden the words 'life at the mansion' gave rush to an onslaught of history; Lex now realized that he wasn't sixteen, he was twenty-four.

He shook his head to clear the fog that had begun to lift and now felt extremely awkward at the truth of the situation. He crinkled his brow in dismay feeling an overwhelming need to be alone to process this newfound information. He didn't want to cause alarm, and looked at his watch for a cover as he stood and stretched, "It's almost six; I guess I should probably get back home and let you guys have a little bit of the weekend for yourselves."

Clark knew they couldn't just let Lex leave. They had to either keep him on the farm, or tell him what was going on. He forced a smile and said, "How about you stay and watch a movie with us."

Lex smiled knowingly, appreciative that Clark was trying to protect him. He had figured out that the Kent's knew how old he really was, and had kept it from him to keep him safe. And with all the many people who would have taken advantage of him for being in such a place. "Thanks Clark, but I think I need to go home and prepare for some meetings at Luthor Corp on Monday." It was his subtle way of letting them know he was in fact aware of his real age again.

Clark's brows furrowed in confusion, and he said, "Luthor Corp? But..."

Jonathan had been watching Lex's expression, and understood before Clark did. He put a hand on Clark's shoulder and gave Lex a reassuring smile when he said, "We're glad you could spend the weekend with us Lex. We enjoyed your company."

Martha was unable to stop herself, and gave Lex a fierce hug before saying, "Have a safe drive home, and remember that you're welcome here anytime."

Once Clark understood, he felt strange about the whole thing. He shoved his hands in his pockets and said, "See you later then I guess."

Lex reciprocated Martha's hug responding to Clark's reply, "Yea Clark, come on by on Friday, and we'll set something up for this weekend."

Lex then said his goodbyes, gathered up his belongings and headed out. On the drive back to the mansion, Lex couldn't stop thinking about how all of this could have happened. It didn't take him long to deduce that James must have been at the root of this occurrence. Clark had asked quite a few questions about him, and it couldn't be a coincidence that his memory had been regressed to the point where they had caused James so much torment.

Lex pulled into his driveway letting out a deep sigh. The guilt over his past transgressions began eroding away his good mood that had been instilled at the Kent's farm.

Lex went inside and started to check his mail and messages, but his thoughts kept returning to that day at camp. The more Lex thought about it, the more he wanted to forget about it and poured himself a tall glass of Scotch to drown out his over active conscious.

****************************************************

Once Lex was gone, Clark told his parents everything that had happened with James earlier that morning. Both his parents told Clark they were proud of him for not only protecting his friend, but also for catching James before he could hurt anyone else.

Once they were done talking, Martha asked Clark, "It's been a really busy weekend, do you have any homework that needs to get done for tomorrow morning?"

Clark groaned at that. He'd been so focused on finding out what was wrong with his friend that he'd forgotten how much homework he still had to do for Monday. "I have a ton of it."

Martha smiled at him and said, "Better get started then."

Once Clark headed up to his room Martha turned to Jonathan and said, "What's that serious look about?"

Jonathan had been lost in his own thoughts and said, "What?"

"What are you thinking about?"

"Lex."

Martha waited a few seconds, knowing Jonathan was gathering his thoughts. Once he was ready he said, "You know I've had issues with Lex, and with Clark being friends with Lex. But after seeing what Lex was like a little younger..."

Jonathan wasn't sure how to put it. Martha put a hand over his and said, "After seeing him younger, you've realized he's not such a bad guy?"

He smiled at her and said, "I've realized he's not like his father, and that he's a decent person. And I'm sure all these old memories of James that have resurfaced are eating him alive right now."

Martha nodded in agreement. "I'm sure you're right."

Jonathan thought about it for a few more seconds and then said, "I'm going to go check on him. Make sure he's okay."

Martha leaned in and gave him a quick kiss. "Good idea."

On the drive to the mansion, Jonathan second guessed himself a few times, wondering if Lex would rather be alone. But he felt compelled to see Lex for himself, to make sure he was okay before he could sleep well that night. He pulled up to the mansion and was let in by one of the servants. The man showed him to Lex's study and said, "Mr. Luthor, a Jonathan Kent is here to see you."

Lex was sitting on his sofa lost in thought when Jonathan was escorted in. Lex rose to his feet and gave the man a smile, "Thanks Gerard; you can go now." He turned to Jonathan taking another swig off his now second tall Scotch, "Hey Mr. Kent; to what do I owe such a soon visit? I didn't forget something did I?"

"No, no you didn't forget anything. I just..." Jonathan gave Lex a somewhat sheepish smile and admitted, "I guess I just needed to make sure you were really okay. After you left, Clark told us about James. I don't know how much you remember about having your memory altered, but James is the one who did it to you. He did it to some of the other kids you went to camp with too, and he was trying to kill one of Clark's teachers when Clark found him and called the police. They have James in custody now."

Lex sat down on the couch next to Jonathan while he spoke to let this new information soak in; when Jonathan had finished, Lex took another swallow of his Scotch and set the drink down on the table. He couldn't look at Jonathan embarrassed about what he had done and imagining what Jonathan must think of him now that he knew the truth about what he and the other boys had done.

The silence was uncomfortable, and he had to say something, which was the first thing that came to his mind, "…He was just some outcast kid that we picked on, no tormented into a ball of rage. The worst part is that after that summer was over I'd forgotten about him… like it didn't happen, but he never stopped thinking about us… never stopped hating us. I don't blame him. For all the pain we caused James, I deserved what he did to us. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway. By all rights, James got short changed on his revenge; I feel like it should have been worse. That so called harmless prank destroyed that man's life."

Jonathan was glad he'd come. Lex wasn't okay, he was wallowing in guilt. Jonathan wracked his brain to think of something to say to Lex to make him feel better, but he couldn't come up with anything. Lex had been wrong to help torment James and they both knew it. But there were more constructive things to be doing about guilt then drinking and wishing things had been worse. The first thought that came to Jonathan's mind was to spank Lex again, to help him get rid of some of the guilt. Lex had responded fairly well to the spanking from the night before, but then he'd also thought he was a teenager at that point.

Jonathan looked over at Lex who was looking at the floor apparently unable to make eye contact, and decided it was the right thing to do, even if Lex hated him for it after the fact. He put an arm around Lex's shoulders and said, "Yes you were wrong to help pick on James. But I don't agree that it destroyed his life. Lots of kids get picked on, and don't try to kill their tormentors when they grow up. Other factors had to play a part in James growing up to be who he is today. So I'm not going to sit here and listen to you tell me you wish James had gotten his revenge on you without doing something about it."

With those words Jonathan used the arm that was around Lex's shoulders to push him face down across his lap. He kept that arm across Lex's back to keep him in place, and used his other hand to start swatting Lex's butt.

Lex was taken aback surprised at being currently upended facing the floor, "Wha..! Mr. Kent! What are you doing! I… I'm not mentally a teenager anymore! You can't do this to me!" Lex squirmed to get off Jonathan's lap, but Jonathan had all the leverage, and he was unable to right himself.

Jonathan ignored Lex's protests and concentrated on keeping Lex in place while continuing to swat him. After a few seconds of swatting, he paused and said, "It doesn't matter to me how old you are. And if you keep squirming and trying to get away, this can get worse. Remember what happened last time? Is that what you want again?"

Lex was torn between fighting Jonathan and doing what was best, and in this instance, quitting the fight would mean not getting his bottom bared again like he had in the barn. He planned to do his best not to land himself in that situation again. This was bad enough! Lex settled down as much as he could tolerate while getting his ass blistered as he shouted, "Stop! I'm sorry I said that okay! Just stop already!"

Jonathan could tell Lex was putting some effort into being still. He nodded once to himself in approval. Wanting Lex to get past the shock of the spanking happening, and to concentrate on the reasons behind it, Jonathan said, "I'm sure you are sorry you told me how guilty you felt, but hopefully after this, you won't have to feel so guilty anymore. This spanking is a few years late, but I want to be clear that it is for what you did to James at camp, and not for what you said."

Jonathan started swatting hard and fast again. He said, "Tell me what you and your friends did to James, and why it was the wrong thing to do." knowing Lex would hate it, but also thinking it would help solidify things in Lex's mind.

Lex lost his voice letting out grunts of pain as he listened to Jonathan. It hurt, but he knew that he deserved what he was getting right now, and it was long overdue, but telling Jonathan about what he did? The thought made his stomach turn. He pleaded, "Please Mr. Kent! I… I can't…"

Hearing Lex's earnest pleading made Jonathan want to reconsider. But he'd been in the position enough times while growing up to know that admitting what you'd done while getting spanked made it easier to move past once it was done. "Yes you can, and you're not getting up until you do. You don't have to go into detail, but I want you to give me a basic answer to why you're getting spanked."

Lex felt the tears well in his eyes at the vocal reminder that he was getting spanked. The humiliation was giving way to something worse, overwhelming guilt; and being asked to admit what he'd done only made the pain echoing across his rear feel that much more potent and justified. Unable to stand the stinging swats much longer, Lex gave in, "I'm sorry! I let myself *Ow!* I let myself be influenced by others to do something I knew was wrong! *Ouch!* I could have stopped them! But I didn't! *Ahh!* No more! Mr. Kent! Please!" Lex didn't want to tell the rest, and hoped Jonathan would be satisfied with what he had given.

Jonathan shook his head and put a little more force behind the swats. "Yes that's true, but that's not exactly the answer I was looking for Lex. Try again."

Lex winced at the increase in pain from Jonathan's heavy hand. It didn't take many swats for him to decide the guilt he felt wasn't worth holding back any longer as he strained out, "We played a prank on him! *Ahh!* It… it made him wet the bed! *Ow! Ow!* It got out to the other kids, and James was the laughing stock at the camp! *Ahh!* I never wanted him to get hurt like that!" Lex couldn't hold back the tears any longer and sobbed, "I'm sorry for… for what I did! Stop! Please!"

Jonathan did stop and said, "Thank you for admitting it. Now you've got ten more swats coming before we're done here to help take care of that guilt for you, and they will be harder. I can either take off my belt and give you ten with that, or I can take down your pants and give you ten with my hand. If you have a preference tell me now, or I'll decide for you."

Lex couldn't help but sob harder; he didn't know which would be worse to deal with, but deep down he knew that he needed this to get past the guilt he was feeling. Unable to decide his fate, Lex hung his head to wait uncomfortably for Jonathan's final decision.

Jonathan counted to three in his head, and then unbuckled his belt when Lex didn't respond. He pulled it through the loops and doubled it over in his hand. He got a firm grip on Lex's waist to keep him in place and brought the belt down hard, giving Lex a second to get over the shock of the first swat before giving him another.

Lex's stomach shook as he heard Jonathan unbuckling his belt. The anticipation of waiting for him to situate the belt in his hand was excruciating. Lex couldn't help the whimper that escaped his lips as the belt landed. And after the third hard swat, Lex could no longer contain his movements as he thrashed at each blow crying out in pain. He did not ask for it to stop, but instead just sobbed helplessly as he waited for the allotted ten to be delivered.

Jonathan was a little surprised that Lex didn't ask him to stop as he gave him the ten swats, but that also indicated to him that Lex knew he deserved it. After the tenth swat landed, Jonathan put the belt down beside him on the couch, and rubbed Lex's back.

"Okay Lex, you've paid for what you did, and now you're forgiven." he said quietly, waiting for Lex to calm down.

Lex sucked back his breath involuntarily as he was unable to control the wave of tears that poured down his cheeks. He wiped absently at them to clear his vision and salvage what was left of his battered pride. It took several minutes, but finally he calmed down enough to speak, "May I get up sir?" He mumbled embarrassed that he felt the need to ask.

"Of course." Jonathan put a hand on Lex's arm and helped him stand up, but instead of letting him go once Lex was upright, Jonathan stood as well and pulled him into a hug.

"Once you've calmed down a little bit, we're gonna talk about this."

Lex was surprised that he not only didn't flinch away from hug, but welcomed it. After a long moment he gently pulled away from the hug but was still unable to look Jonathan in the eye or speak, embarrassed and unsure of himself. It was an odd feeling for him that he rarely experienced.

Keeping one hand on Lex's shoulder, Jonathan said, "I know this was a tough weekend for you. I can't even begin to imagine all the ways it would mess with your head to believe you were sixteen again. I hope being out at the farm with all of us helped you get through that fairly unscathed. I also hope that with the punishment I just dished out, and with some time to think things over, you'll be able to put this weekend in the past and move forward."

Lex nodded replying, "I know you mean well, and for what it's worth, I do feel a little less guilty now." Lex paused thinking how he could say what was on his mind before finally looking Jonathan in the eye and adding, "I guess what I'm trying to say is, thanks. Thanks for being there for me when I needed someone. I hate to think what could have happened to me if you and your family weren't there for me…," He smiled, "Although I think I could have passed on the butt warming."

Smiling Jonathan said, "You're welcome, and the butt warming was non-
negotiable."

He squeezed Lex's shoulder once before he let his hand drop. "You know when Clark first decided to be friends with you, I was against it. But now that I've spent some time getting to know you, I've seen the kind of person you really are. And I want you to know you're welcome at the farm anytime. In fact I think you should come over to dinner next Saturday. Let us know you're doing alright."

Lex's smile broadened, "I think I can free up next Saturday for dinner." He didn't voice it, but Lex was elated to hear that Jonathan thought highly of him. He'd spent so long living in the shadow of his father, for once it felt good to be lifted out of the same category.

"Good." Jonathan paused a second and then said, "Well I should probably get home. Are you gonna be okay? Did you want me to stick around for a while? I'm a pretty good listener if you need to talk to someone about James or anything else this weekend brought up for you."

Lex nodded sheepishly, "Yea, yea; I'll be fine Mr. Kent. Thanks for the offer, but I think I've done enough talking and enough reflecting for one day. If it's one thing you've made me realize, it's about time I start looking to the future verses dwelling in the past."

"I think that's a good plan. I'll see myself out, and I'll see you next weekend." Jonathan left and headed for home.

Lex watched him go feeling oddly at ease. The guilt he had felt earlier had dissipated into the recesses of his mind. The guilt wasn't gone, but he no longer was burdened with it. Lex walked out to the balcony to watch Jonathan drive off. He couldn't help the small smile that appeared as he thought about how strange and emotionally trying the weekend had been to still turn out to be memorably good.

***************************
Clark found himself looking at the clock every half hour during his afternoon classes on Monday. When the bell finally rang he gathered his books and left, skipping the bus in favor of running towards the mansion. He'd been waiting to talk to Lex in private since the night before, wanting to make sure for himself that he was back to normal, and that he was okay with Clark's deception over the weekend. Once he arrived, one of the servants let him in and showed him to Lex's study.

Lex looked up from his laptop as Clark entered. He gave him a warm smile and stood to greet him, "Good afternoon Clark. It's good to see you. How was your day?"

Happy that Lex seemed normal; Clark smiled back and said, "Boring. How was your day?"

Lex responded in kind, "Reflective. This past weekend with you and your family was a good change of pace for me."

"Yeah?" Clark asked hopefully. "So you're not like... I don't know... mad about it or anything?"

Lex chuckled to himself at the worried expression his friend gave him, "You can set your mind at ease Clark, I'm not mad, and in fact, I'm grateful. If it weren't for you guys keeping me safe, who knows what kind of trouble I could have found myself in. I was looking in the local paper this morning, and I saw that one of the kids, Jamie, was arrested for spray painting graffiti on the Smallville library." Lex shook his head adding, "I don't even want think of the type of press that would have followed if I'd been caught doing something like that. I discreetly bailed Jamie out, but the damage is still done."

Nodding in agreement Clark said, "When I realized you weren't yourself, one of my first thoughts was that I had to make sure none of the people you worked with would find out. I didn't want someone trying to use it against you. But I could have tried to tell you the truth instead of playing along. I just wasn't sure you'd believe me."

Clark gave Lex a big grin and said, "So I'm glad you're not upset about it."

Lex leaned back in his chair giving Clark a reassuring smile, "You were right, I most likely wouldn't have believed you. It's not quite something anyone fathoms happening to them, and it is pretty hard to believe. I'm not sure I believe it even seeing the truth placed in front of me like an open book." Lex paused for a moment thinking over the weekend at Clark's house with his family. He turned his attention back to Clark continuing, "Some truths were there staring me in the face all along, and I don't think I'd ever have seen them if it wasn't for this weekend Clark. You and your family accepted me for who I am, not my name, and that, kind of honesty and kindness is a rare form for me to experience.

Clark sat down on the little couch that was in the office, finally able to relax for the first time all afternoon. "Well then I guess I'm glad I went along with you and brought you to my house. My parents seemed to really like having you there, and so did I. And not just because you did most of my chores for me either."

Lex laughed highly amused by Clark's chore comment as he responded, "Yea, if my memory hadn't come back, my aching back sure would have had me questioning my youthfulness," he joked before continuing, "You're a good friend Clark, and I'm really looking forward to dinner this weekend. I have to admit your mom's home cooking might have me coming back on a regular basis."

Clark laughed and then said, "I think we'd all like that."

He looked over at the pool table and said, "How about we play a game before I head for home and do my own chores?"

A few minutes later they were both playing pool and enjoying each other's company.

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