This one is for Graciela, who never gave up on this series, even after
years of me not writing it. Lex is 21, and Clark is 15. It takes place
during the summer between Lex’s junior and senior years of college.
Finished March 2019.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, and I’m not making any money from this story.
Warning: Non-consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult by a parental figure.
Lex climbed aboard his father’s private jet, ready to fly home to the Kent farm. Earlier that afternoon, he’d taken the last final of his junior year in college, and knew he’d done well. He was looking forward to getting his grades, knowing that the Kents would be proud of him, and hoping that his father would be too.
As the jet took off, Lex thought about how much easier this year had been then the first two. His classes were more advanced, so the year should have been more difficult, but because he’d been emotionally stable this year, he’d had an easier time getting through all three terms. He’d even made a few friends that were also majoring in history.
He attributed his emotional stability to three things. Firstly, the Kents were there to cheer him on when he did well, and straighten him out if he went astray. But this year he hadn’t needed to be straightened out even once. He wasn’t sure if that was because he knew what would happen if he did go astray, or if it was because he was maturing. Secondly, he wasn’t living with the constant shame of thinking he’d killed his baby brother. And thirdly, his father didn’t hate him anymore, so they’d been able to start building a new relationship together.
Lex was going to spend the first two weeks of the summer at the Kent farm. The rest of the summer, he’d be working with his father at Luthorcorp during the week, and commuting to the Kent farm for the weekends. He could even say that he was looking forward to working at Luthorcorp this time, and that by itself was a testament to how much he’d changed over the past few years.
He thought about his plans for the next few days. Tonight he’d have dinner with the Kents, and on Saturday, the whole family would have dinner with Lionel at the mansion. Clark had gotten his driver’s permit a few months ago, and Lex knew he’d have to set some time aside to let Clark practice driving the Porsche. He wondered if Jonathan had a project planned for the week, or if they were just going to do the usual maintenance and upkeep of the farm. When the jet landed, Lex had a grin on his face, anticipating the week to come.
His Porsche was waiting for him at the airport, and even though he wanted to speed all the way home, he was careful to keep his speed only a few miles above the limit. When he arrived at the farm, Clark was the first one out the door to greet him. When Lex climbed out of the car, he realized he had to tilt his head up a notch to look into Clark’s eyes. Before he could comment, Clark had pulled him into a crushing hug. Lex chuckled and patted his brother’s back. “You’ve grown half a foot in the past couple of months!”
Clark let him go, and said with a grin, “I’m not quite as tall as Dad yet, but it’s getting close.”
Lex grabbed his bag out of the trunk, and the two of them headed towards the porch, where Jonathan and Martha were waiting. He hugged Jonathan first. “Hi, Pop.”
“It’s good to have you home,” he said.
“It’s good to be home.”
Martha pulled him into a hug next, and he gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Dinner will be ready in half an hour,” she said.
After putting his bag away, Lex sat on a kitchen stool next to Clark. Martha was cutting up vegetables in the kitchen and said, “How did your finals go?”
“Well, I don’t want to brag too much before the grades get here, but I’m pretty sure I aced them all.”
Jonathan put a hand on Lex’s shoulder and squeezed it gently. “That’s wonderful, Lex. Your mom and I are so proud of you and how far you’ve come this year in school.”
Blushing, Lex smiled and muttered, “Thanks, Pop.”
Martha wiped her hands off on a towel, and came around the counter to give Lex a kiss on the head. “Good job, Sweetie.”
Lex still couldn’t accept too much praise at one time from them without feeling overwhelmed, so he turned to Clark. “Did your grades come in yet?”
“Four A’s and two B’s.”
“Good for you, little brother. That’s a great start to your high school career.”
With a grin, Clark said, “And I got an A in driver’s ed.”
Lex grinned too. “Is that a not so subtle hint, that you want me to take you for a test drive in the Porsche?”
“Dad took me driving in the truck a bunch of times,” Clark said earnestly, “and he says I won’t have any problems passing my drivers test when I turn sixteen. I’m good with the clutch, and I’m a safe driver.”
“Okay, Clark,” Lex said. “If it’s okay with Mom and Pop, we can go for a short practice drive tonight.”
“Yes!” Clark said. “It’s okay, right Dad?”
“Yes, it’s okay,” Jonathan agreed.
Lex turned his attention to Jonathan, and asked, “What are we going to be working on for the next couple of weeks?”
“I’ve needed to replace the roof for a while now, and we finally have enough money to do it, provided we do most of the work ourselves.”
Lex opened his mouth to offer some financial assistance, but stopped himself, knowing Jonathan wouldn’t take it. Instead he said, “I guess roofing will be another thing I can add to my resume.”
“I’ve got a dumpster scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning, and once it gets here we can start ripping off the old shingles. Then on Monday, the new shingles will be delivered, along with the felt paper for underlayment, and some rolls of nails for my nail gun.”
“My back hurts already,” Lex said with a smile.
“You boys need to be careful up there,” Martha said. “Some areas of that roof are awfully steep, and it’s a long fall to the ground.”
“Don’t worry Martha, we’ll all be careful,” Jonathan said.
# # #
The sun loomed over them as they worked on the roof the next day, heating the black asphalt shingles almost to the point of melting. They’d started at the peak, in the middle of the roof, and worked their way down, with the two boys on the front side of the roof, and Jonathan in the back. After four hours of pulling up the old shingles, they were all ready to stop for the day when they heard Martha call them for lunch.
Lex stood and wiped his forehead with the hem of his tee shirt. Holding his crowbar in one arm, he looked down the expanse of roof, to gauge their progress. One fourth of the roof was exposed wood, and the other three fourths still sported shingles. He sighed, and turned to see Clark smiling.
Lex rolled his eyes and said with mock disgust, “You’re not even sweating.”
Clark’s smile vanished, and his eyes widened, before he looked away. He muttered, “The sun doesn’t make me hot. No matter how long I’m in it, I don’t burn, and I don’t get hot. I just feel better… stronger.”
In the second it took for Lex to figure out that Clark had taken his tease the wrong way, Clark had super sped away, vanishing in front of Lex’s eyes. “Clark I didn’t…”
Jonathan heard Lex’s raised voice, tossed down the shingle he’d pried off, and called out over his shoulder, “What’s wrong?”
Lex started walking up towards the peak of the roof, so he could see Jonathan and said, “I think I hurt Clark’s feelings.”
Jonathan stood and saw Lex’s head bob up over the peak. “What happened?”
“I just commented on the fact that…” Focused on Jonathan’s face, Lex didn’t notice the crowbar Clark had left on the roof, and lost his footing in mid sentence. The crowbar rolled under his foot, and he felt himself falling backwards. Jonathan saw it too, and lunged forward, but couldn’t reach him in time.
Lex’s arms wind milled in the air as he fell back, and rolled towards the edge of the roof. His fingers scrambled to stop his momentum, digging into the rough wood, but he didn’t slow.
Jonathan watched his son slip over the edge of the roof and yelled, “Lex!”
He expected to hear a loud crash, but instead he heard a soft clunk and a yelp.
“Lex!” he yelled again, while making his way as quickly and carefully as he could to the ladder.
“It’s okay Dad,” Clark yelled back, “I caught him.”
Jonathan got to the edge and looked down. Clark was standing in the front yard holding Lex with one arm behind his older brother’s back and the other under his knees.
Grimacing in pain, Lex hissed, “My ankle.”
While Jonathan was climbing down the ladder, Martha came out to the porch, worry creasing her face.
Clark said, “Lex fell off the roof. I caught him before he hit the ground, but he cracked his ankle on the porch railing mid fall.”
“He fell off the roof?” Martha’s voice was panicked. She rushed over and put a hand on Lex’s face. “Are you okay?”
Lex was trying to breathe through the pain, but gave her weak nod.
Jonathan patted Clark’s back and said, “Go put him on the couch, and we’ll have a look at that ankle.”
Lex wasn’t in enough pain to ignore the embarrassment of being carried by his younger brother. He tried squirming and said, “You don’t have to carry me, Clark.”
“Hush,” Martha told him, and then ushered Clark to the couch, where he set Lex down.
Martha sat beside Lex and held his hand, while Jonathan sat on the coffee table and propped Lex’s leg up onto his lap. Tense with the anticipation of more pain, Lex watched Jonathan carefully undo the laces of his work boot, and slip the boot off. Lex held his breath to avoid hissing in pain. Jonathan peeled the sock off, and inspected the ankle.
“Can you wiggle your toes?”
Lex did without much trouble.
“Good. Now try to flex and point your foot,” Jonathan said.
Lex tried, but gasped and stopped before he’d moved his foot more than an inch.
“We’ll have to get it looked at,” Jonathan said.
Lex groaned at the thought of going to the hospital, but nodded in agreement.
“I’ll pack our lunch to go,” Martha said and started bagging the sandwiches she’d made for lunch.
“You don’t have to come, Mom,” Lex said. “There’s no reason you and Clark have to sit in the ER for hours.”
“Nonsense,” Martha said. “If I stay home I’ll just worry about you the whole time.”
“Me too,” Clark added.
Martha handed the bagged lunch to Jonathan, and then went to the freezer. She brought back a bag of frozen peas and handed it to Lex along with a dishtowel. “Once we get you in the truck, those are for your ankle to help with the swelling.”
“Okay,” Lex said, feeling emotional at their obvious concern, even though he’d seen it plenty of times before. “Thanks.”
“Alright, son,” Jonathan said while putting a hand on Lex’s shoulder. “I know you’re not going to like this, but Clark is going to carry you to the truck.”
“Come on, Pop,” Lex whined. “I could just put my arm around Clark’s shoulders, and hop to the truck. You know, like the adult man that I am.”
“Nope,” Jonathan said, and motioned Clark over. “If it’s broken, I don’t want you jostling it around.”
Before Lex had a chance to protest further, Clark had him in his arms.
“Great,” Lex muttered, and looked over Clark’s shoulder to meet Jonathan’s eyes as he said, “He’s not carrying me into the ER when we get there.” When Jonathan’s only response was an unimpressed raised eyebrow, Lex turned to Martha and said, “I mean… that’s what the wheelchairs are there for anyway, right Mom?”
“If there’s a wheelchair available, you can use it,” Martha said, in a placating tone.
Figuring that was the best he was going to get, Lex nodded, and suffered through Clark carrying him to the truck in silence.
# # #
Smallville General turned out to be relatively busy and they all ended up waiting in the lobby for two hours before Lex was taken back for an x-ray. While they waited Martha had suggested calling Lionel, but Lex wanted to wait until the doctor had seen his ankle. Once the x-ray was done, an orderly came out to take them to the back, but announced that only one family member was allowed to go with him. Martha automatically stood and went with him as they took Lex to one of the beds with a curtain for a partition. Lex winced in pain as the orderly helped him move from the wheelchair to the bed.
Once he was settled, Martha sat on the edge of the bed with him, and held his hand. “Not much longer now,” Martha said, “I’m sure they’ll give you some pain medication soon.”
He nodded and closed his eyes for a few moments, worn out from the pain and waiting. He heard the clicking of high heels, and opened his eyes when the curtain partition was slid open. A female doctor with dark brown hair walked in while examining the x-ray and talking.
“Must have been some party for you to get drunk enough to hurt yourself this badly, Mr. Luthor.” When she finally looked up at him, the expression of distain turned to one of shock when she saw Martha there glaring at her.
Lex blushed and muttered, “I see my reputation precedes me, but I haven’t been that drunk in years.”
“He fell off our roof,” Martha snapped.
“Your roof?” the doctor asked, clearly confused.
Lex nodded. “I was helping Mr. Kent re-shingle his roof when I lost my footing and fell. Luckily a big stack of hay broke my fall, but my ankle hit the porch railing on the way down.”
The doctor seemed to finally recover from her surprise, and said, “I’m so sorry for making assumptions.” She held out her hand to shake Martha’s and said, “I’m Dr. Helen Bryce, and you are?”
Appearing somewhat mollified, Martha shook and said, “Martha Kent.”
“My adoptive mother,” Lex offered, and held his hand out to shake as well, “And you obviously already know who I am.” Once he had her hand and some eye contact, he noticed her beautiful brown eyes, and smiled a little bigger. “Please, call me Lex.”
“Is his ankle broken?” Martha asked.
“No,” Helen reassured her, while taking her hand out of Lex’s and focusing back on the x-ray. “It’s sprained and there’s going to be some serious bruising, but to fractures.
“Oh, thank goodness,” Martha squeezed Lex’s hand and gave him an encouraging smile.
“I’m going to put it in a brace and set you up with some crutches. I want you to stay off the ankle completely for the next week, and keep it elevated as often as possible. Then come back in for a checkup in a week, and if everything looks good you can start walking on it again.”
Lex sighed, but nodded.
Martha patted his hand. “A week isn’t so bad.”
“I know, but that means Pop and Clark will have to finish the roof without me.”
Martha rubbed his shoulder. “I’m sure Pop will have another protect at the end of the summer that you can help with.”
Lex sighed again, and looked up at Helen. The woman was clearly trying to reconcile her preconceived notions of Lex with the young man she was seeing in front of her.
“I’ll go get that brace,” she said, sounding flustered. “And I’ll write you a prescription for some pain medications that you can fill in the pharmacy before you go. I’ll be back in just a moment.” With that she closed the curtain, and walked away.
Once the heel clicks could no longer be heard, Martha muttered, “She seems awfully young to be a doctor. Maybe we should get a second opinion.”
Lex chuckled and said, “Just because she assumed I’d been drinking, doesn’t make her a bad doctor. She probably either worked at Metropolis General, or has a friend who works there, and heard the stories about me.”
“Stories?” Martha said.
“My father has several private doctors on retainer, and anytime he’d… well, anytime I’d get hurt, he’d have them look me over to avoid any questions.”
Martha pursed her lips. “You didn’t ‘get hurt’ Lex, your father abused you.”
Lex shrugged and nodded. “Not the point of the story, Mom. The point is that when I started drinking at thirteen, those same doctors would help sober me up, and make sure I didn’t die of alcohol poisoning. But by the time I was sixteen, and doing some other drugs with the alcohol, my father got fed up. That summer he made me go to Metropolis General every time I got drunk or high. I think he assumed that the public hospitals would be so abhorrent to me that I’d stop getting drunk. But it didn’t curb my drinking, and after he’d had to pay off several staff members to keep them quiet, he let his private doctors start sobering me up again.”
Martha leaned down and kissed his forehead. “I’m so sorry we didn’t know you sooner, sweetheart.”
“Me too.” He squeezed her hand. After a short pause, he added, “At any rate, I still have quite the reputation at Metropolis General, so you shouldn’t blame Dr. Bryce for making assumptions. She seemed perfectly capable to me.”
“I suppose everyone deserves a second chance,” Martha reluctantly agreed. “But if I hear one more snide comment from her, I’m going to make a complaint.”
Lex thought about pointing out that he was twenty-one, and perfectly capable of choosing his own doctor, but wisely decided not to. Instead he said, “Okay, Mom.”
They both heard the clicking of heels down the hall, and stopped chatting.
Helen came back in with a professional smile, a small cup two pills, and a plastic foot brace. She handed the pills to Lex and said, “These will help with the pain, and the swelling.” She set the brace on the foot of the bed, and got him a small glass of water from the pitcher beside the bed. Once he’d swallowed the pills, she pulled a slip of paper out of her pocket and handed that to him. “This is your prescription. You’re going to take two pills every six hours for pain. If you’re still having a lot of pain by the end of the week, I’ll write you a new one when you come to get the brace off.”
“Thank you,” he said, as he handed the slip to Martha.
“Okay, let’s see that foot,” Helen said, as she sat on a stool near the foot of the bed.
Lex pulled the covers off his foot, and felt Martha grasp his hand tighter at the sight of the swollen and bruised ankle.
Helen put a gentle hand on his shin and looked him in the eye. “I’m sorry, but this is going to hurt. I need you to tell me your pain levels as I set your foot in the brace. For your ankle to heal properly, the foot needs to be flexed at a ninety-degree angle in the brace. Getting it into position is the part that will hurt. Once it’s in the brace, your pain should return to a tolerable level, but if it doesn’t we’ll have to take another look.”
He nodded in understanding.
“What is your pain level now?” she asked, “With one being almost no pain, and ten being unbearable.”
“Three?” Lex said.
Martha patted his hand. “Are you being honest, sweetheart? It sounded like you were asking Dr. Bryce if that’s how much pain you should be in, instead of telling her how much pain you are in. There’s no wrong answer.”
He scowled at his ankle for a few seconds, and then said decisively, “Three.”
“Okay, good,” Helen said. “Thank you. If it goes up past an eight while I’m doing this, you let me know.”
He nodded, and grabbed the blankets with his free hand in anticipation.
Helen put the brace on the bed beside his foot, stood, picked up his lower leg, and as gently as possible pushed his foot into a ninety-degree angle before setting it into the brace.
Lex grit his teeth, squeezed Martha’s hand as tight as he dared, and panted through the pain.
“Alright,” Helen said in a soothing tone, “now that it’s in place, the pain should slowly go back to a three.” As she spoke, she efficiently buckled the brace onto Lex’s leg.
After the initial jolt of pain subsided, Lex took some deep breaths, and loosened his grip on Martha and the blankets.
Once the brace was fully immobile, Helen focused on Lex and said, “What number is your pain now?”
“Five,” Lex’s voice sounded both strained and tired at the same time. “But when you put it in the brace my pain was at an eight, so it’s going down, just like you said it would.”
“Excellent.” Helen said, as she started typing up things in the computer next to his bed.
While the doctor was busy typing, Martha cupped Lex’s face with her free hand and murmured, “You were very brave, sweetheart.”
Normally Lex enjoyed a little bit of coddling from Martha even though it was a bit childish for someone his age, because he’d missed out on that in his younger years. But he didn’t really appreciate it in front of Helen. “There’s nothing brave about lying in a hospital bed and letting a doctor patch me up,” Lex said while rolling his eyes.
Before Martha could reply, Helen spoke up. “Oh no, Lex, your mom is right. I’ve seen hundreds of people come through this ER, and you took that better than ninety percent of them.”
Blushing at the unexpected praise, Lex stumbled over his reply. “Um… Okay. Thanks?”
Martha patted his shoulder. “Why don’t you lie back, close your eyes, and let Dr. Bryce finish up so we can get you home.”
“Yeah, okay.” Lex closed his eyes and let his body fully relax against the bed.
“What is your pain level now?” Helen asked after a few more minutes of typing.
“Good. We’ll have you out of here within the hour.”
# # #
Once they got home, the medication had fully taken affect, and Lex wasn’t feeling any pain. Martha had encouraged him to call his father to let him know what had happened, and to Lex’s surprise, his father had not only expressed concern, but he’d said he was heading to the Kent farm to check on him since the planned dinner at the mansion was clearly off.
Lex had been asleep on the couch for half an hour when Lionel arrived, but a small argument between Lionel and Martha woke him up.
“…a second opinion!” Lionel said.
“From one of the so-called doctors that kept your abuse under wraps?” Martha asked incredulously.
“Doctor Schmidt is a Harvard educated professional.” Lionel retorted with irritation evident in his tone. “The best in his field with more credentials than any doctor from Smallville could ever hope to have.”
“Credentials mean nothing if a doctor is willing turn their back on their Hippocratic oath for the right price!”
“Clearly you don’t know what the oath actually states. Dr. Schmidt has never broken his oath,” Lionel said calmly. “He will consult with this Dr. Bryce to ensure my son is getting the best treatment possible.”
“The best treatment possible?” Martha asked. “How can you…”
“Mom?” Lex called out, purposely trying to sound slightly pathetic and distract her.
She rushed over to his side. “What is it sweetheart?”
“I’m really thirsty. Could you get me a glass of water?”
“Of course.” Martha glared at Lionel on her way to the kitchen.
Lex waved his father closer, and Lionel went to stand next to the couch. “How are you feeling son?”
“I’m fine.” He lowered his voice, and added, “Please don’t fight with Mrs. Kent. Give me the phone, and I’ll call Smallville General and ask them to release the records to Dr. Schmidt so he can see the x-ray.”
Lionel examined Lex for a few seconds, before sitting down on the coffee table in front of him. “You’re scared.”
“That you’ll hurt mom when she doesn’t agree with you? Hell yes, I’m scared.” Lex shook his head. “Just hand me the phone, and let’s be done with it. I’m tired.”
Martha’s voice coming from behind him startled Lex, and he turned to see a disappointed frown on her face. She handed him the glass of water he asked for and said, “You’re not calling Dr. Schmidt just to protect me from some imagined retaliation from your father.”
Even more afraid than before that things were going to go south, Lex snapped, “I’m an adult, and I can call whoever I damn well please.” He could see from Martha’s expression, that he’d gone too far.
Martha pointed a finger in his face and said, “You’re an adult who’s about to get sent to his room for the evening if you don’t speak to me with respect.”
Lex saw Lionel raise his eyebrows in surprise, and blushed bright red at being scolded and threatened with such a childish punishment in front of his biological father. But he knew better than to push Martha any further than he already had.
“Sorry, Mom,” he muttered sincerely, and then added, “I didn’t mean to say it so rudely, but… my point is still valid. I am legally an adult, and I’m responsible for my own medical care no matter how much that may irk all of my parental figures. So I’d really appreciate it if you could hand me the phone.”
Martha sighed, but did reach for the phone.
“No,” Lionel said. “You don’t have to call, Lex.”
Lex glared at his father. “This is what you wanted!”
Lionel shook his head. “I do want you to get the best medical treatment, but I don’t want you to agree to things because you’re afraid of my reactions. We’ve talked about this before. I’m never going to hurt the Kents.”
“I know, and I want to believe you, but it’s a little hard when I wake up to hear the two of you arguing,” Lex muttered, and held his hand out for the phone.
Instead of handing it over, Martha said, “Lionel and I were having a heated discussion, Lex, but no threats were made. At no point did I think he was going to become violent or take some kind of revenge.”
“Give me the phone, please,” Lex said as calmly as possible.
Lionel snatched it from Martha’s hand when she tried to hand it over to Lex. “You need a five-minute break.”
Lex glared at his father. “I do not.”
“Yes, you do, and so do I.” Lionel stood and took the phone back out of reach as he said to Martha, “How would you feel about a compromise?”
Martha looked over at Lex, who was clearly fuming with his arms crossed and glaring daggers at his father. Then back at Lionel who was purposely not looking in his son’s direction.
“What kind of compromise?” she asked.
“Get a second opinion from a doctor I’ve never used before. Someone from Metropolis who has been practicing for several years, but who has never seen Lex.”
Martha slowly smiled, “Yes, that’s a perfect compromise. I’m thoroughly impressed, Mr. Luther. You’ve come a long way since those first few encounters with Lex.”
“Thank you,” Lionel said. “And I’ve told you time and again to call me Lionel.”
“I’m sitting right here,” Lex muttered as his anger and fear dissipated. On the one hand it was soothing to hear Lionel and Martha getting along, and to have it verbally re-affirmed by both of them that Lionel had no intentions of doing the people he loved harm. But on the other hand he was frustrated with the way they were making decisions about his life as if he were ten instead of twenty-one.
“Yes, and you’re going to continue sitting there for four more minutes, until you and your father have had a chance to calm down.” Martha said. “Drink your water, please.”
Frowning, Lex drank his water and seriously considered calling Dr. Schmidt out of spite, but doubted that would go over well with either Martha or Lionel now that they’d come to a compromise. And once he’d had a moment to think it over, his desire for them to get along was more important than his irritation at being treated like a child.
After looking at his watch, Lionel walked back to Lex with the phone, and handed it over. “I’d like you to get a second opinion about your ankle. Pick any doctor you like.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Lex said with sincerity before making a call to his personal assistant, Laura, to make some calls and get him the name and number of an experienced doctor in Metropolis.
Later that night after dinner, as Lionel was about to head back to Metropolis for the week, the phone rang. Martha handed the call to Lex, who was able to reassure his father that the doctor from Metropolis had agreed with Dr. Bryce’s assessment.
# # #
The first day of forced inactivity wasn’t too bad for Lex. Partially because his ankle did still hurt, and moving around made it throb. But also because Martha had handed him a novel first thing in the morning. It was a fictionalized account of Alexander the Great’s rise to power. She told him that she’d recently finished it, and couldn’t wait to see what he thought of it. He’d spent the day reading, and hearing Clark and Jonathan on the roof had faded into a pleasant background noise instead of upsetting him. Martha had doted on him all day, bringing him snacks and talking with him about the book as he finished each chapter, which made his day almost pleasant.
Day two wasn’t horrible. Lex was a little antsy from sitting on the couch with his foot up for so long, but he spent his time happily enough finishing the novel and visiting with Martha.
On day three, he started to whine. After an arduous morning of getting bathed without getting his brace wet, and getting ‘helped’ down the stairs by Clark because Martha had insisted that crutches and stairs don’t mix, Lex was already in a testy mood. He was ready to be fully healed and back on his feet, so when he saw Martha setting up the blankets and pillows on the couch again, he balked.
“Come on, Mom, do I have to be on the couch all day again?”
“I know it’s not much fun to be stuck in one spot all day, but your ankle will heal much quicker if you keep still. I have another book for you to read.” She saw his expression and added, “Or you could turn on the television.”
“My crutches work really well. I could make lunch for everyone, and you could help Pop and Clark with the roofing.”
Martha thought that over for a few seconds and said, “Tell you what, if you rest on the couch with your foot up for the next hour while I help with the roofing, you can come and sit at the kitchen table to help me make lunch.”
“Lex,” Jonathan butted in as he was putting his work gloves on by the front door. “The doctor told you to stay off the foot and keep it elevated. Do as your mother says.”
Pouting, Lex hobbled to the couch, leaned his crutches against the arm, and flopped down.
“Thank you,” Jonathan said. “Be good for your mom today, and I’ll let you and Clark beat me at video games tonight after dinner.”
“Really?” Clark said with a grin.
“Yep,” Jonathan said.
With a grin of his own, Lex said, “That’s a deal.” The prospect of a good natured laugh at his pop’s expense already had him feeling better.
On day four of his forced inactivity, Lex started to complain. He didn’t argue about being sent to the couch after breakfast, but once he was there, he was grouchy. He flipped channels for a while and complained about everything that was on. He tried reading for a few minutes, and declared the book dull and the writer a hack. He found excuses to get up three separate times, and when Martha admonished him, he complained about the couch being old and lumpy, but did sit back down for her.
Once they all sat down for lunch, Clark and Jonathan were happy to report that all the underlayment had been put up, and they were ready to start nailing up the new shingles after lunch.
Lex knew he should be happy for them, but mostly he was just upset that he’d missed out on the activity. After a few bites of food, Lex pushed his plate away.
“Aren’t you hungry?” Martha asked.
“The potato salad is too salty, the bread tastes stale, and I don’t like lettuce on turkey sandwiches.”
The room grew silent. Lex got a sinking feeling in his stomach.
“Has he been like this all day?” Jonathan asked his wife.
“Like what?” Lex demanded.
“He’s been a little grumpy,” Martha admitted.
“Well, I’m sorry that sitting on my ass all day doing nothing doesn’t make me as giddy as it seems to make all of you,” Lex snapped.
“Keep it up, and sitting on your ass is going to be a lot more unpleasant,” Jonathan snapped back.
Lex blushed bright red, and realized he’d gone a little too far.
“Jonathan,” Martha said softly, “He’s injured. Being a little grumpy is understandable.”
“A little grumpy is fine. Flat out rude is not.” He turned to Lex and said, “Apologize to your mother, and eat the lunch she made you, or you and I are going to go have a little talk about respect.”
“Sorry Mom,” Lex said quickly, while pulling his plate back towards him, and taking a bite.
“Apology accepted sweetheart.”
Jonathan pointed a finger at Lex and said, “You’d better behave yourself for the rest of the day.”
“Jonathan,” Martha chided. “That’s enough.”
“Hm.” Was Jonathan’s only comment, and Lex put another bite in his mouth.
“May I be excused?” Clark asked.
Jonathan wiped his mouth with a napkin and said, “Are you ready to go try out the nail gun?”
“Heck yeah!” the teen said with excitement.
“Alright then, let’s go.”
Lex tried not to pout as he watched his pop and his little brother leave to do something exciting and fun while he was left inside with his half eaten lunch.
Martha put a hand over his and said, “I know it’s no fun to be stuck like this, but it’s only three more days, and then if Dr. Bryce gives you the okay, you’ll be back on your feet.”
“Yeah, I know you’re right.” He put his elbow on the table, and rested his head on his hand. “It’s just a little hard to see them doing all the work while I sit here.”
“Tell you what, if you go rest with your foot up for the next three hours, I’ll let you make dinner for everyone on your crutches. Okay?”
Smiling, he said, “Okay. Thanks, for being so understanding, Mom.”
She leaned over and kissed his cheek.
# # #
Over the next three days, Martha continued to dote on Lex, and Jonathan continued to reprimand him when he got too snarky. He was more than ready to toss the brace under his car and roll over it by the time the seven days were up.
Martha drove him to the Doctor’s office that Saturday morning, and to his surprise, Lionel met them there.
“What are you doing here, Dad?” Lex asked when they saw him in the lobby.
“Waiting for you. I wanted to meet this Dr. Bryce, and hear what she has to say about your ankle.”
“Oh,” Lex said looking back and forth between Martha and Lionel. “You guys realize this is just a follow up appointment, right? I mean it’s a little redundant and embarrassing to have both of you here for this. I seriously doubt most grown men have their parents come with them for this sort of thing.”
Martha patted his hand and said, “If you’d prefer, I can wait in the lobby while you and your father go meet with the doctor. I bet plenty of young men have one parent with them. It’s not like you could have driven here with your ankle still in the brace.”
Lex thought it over, and slowly nodded. “Yeah, okay. Thanks, Mom.”
She kissed the side of his face and went to sit in the lobby while Lex checked in at the front desk.
Soon they were called back to a room. Lex and Lionel discussed Luthorcorp while waiting for the doctor.
As soon as Helen walked in, Lionel smiled and muttered, “Ah, I see.”
Lex frowned at that, but gave Helen a warm ‘hello’ and then introduced them. “Dr. Bryce, this is my father… well, my biological father, Lionel Luthor.”
Lionel gave his son a glare, but then smiled to shake hands with Helen.
“It’s nice to meet you Mr. Luthor,” she said.
“And you, Dr. Bryce.”
She turned back to Lex who was already sitting on the exam table with his foot up, and said, “Let’s take a look at that ankle,” as she started to take the brace off. With a smile she said, “Once I’m done, if you’d like to save yourself the trouble of another appointment, one of my colleagues can come give you a second opinion.”
Lex felt himself blushing, and said, “Oh. There’s no need for that. I didn’t… I mean I wasn’t…”
“That was my fault,” Lionel said. “I insisted on a second opinion, even though Lex said it was unnecessary.”
Helen gave Lex a warm reassuring smile. “It’s okay. I’m just teasing you. I’m not your regular doctor, so it’s perfectly understandable that you might want another opinion.” She’d finished unbuckling the brace, and carefully pulled it off. “Okay, Lex how is your pain right now with one being zero pain, and ten being excruciating?”
“Good. Now I want you to try pointing your toes, and tell me how your pain is.
He slowly pointed his foot and grimaced as he did it. “Six or seven.”
“Okay, now try to flex your foot and tell me what your pain level is.”
He flexed it and sighed with relief. “Two, but I don’t think that’s from flexing it, that’s just residual pain from pointing it.”
“Very good. Now I want you to slowly try to circle your foot.”
He did it, and then said, “It went up to a six when my toe was pointed all the way down, but other than that, it was about a three.”
She patted his knee and said, “That’s great. I think you’re ready to start walking on it with the small brace. I’ll go get it, and once it’s on, I’ll have you try taking a step or two, and see where your pain levels are at.”
“Sounds good. Thank you.”
She nodded, and walked out taking the old brace with her.
As soon as the door was closed, Lionel said, “It makes sense now.”
“What does?” Lex asked.
“Why you wanted to stick with Dr. Bryce for a follow up appointment. With her brown hair, small stature, and brown eyes, she’s definitely your type.”
Lex rolled his eyes and protested. “She’s my doctor, Dad.”
“And quite the looker. That’s the type of woman you should be trying for, son. It’s past time for you to be done with your prostitutes and those one-night stand hit and runs that you do with the women who look like your mother.”
Gritting his teeth, and holding his tongue with serious effort, Lex ground out the words, “I need a five-minute break.”
Lionel’s eyes opened wide, clearly not expecting his words to have had that affect, and then closed his eyes for a moment.
Lex saw regret on his father’s face, but he didn’t care. If the man stayed in the room, Lex was going to lose it and start shouting.
Lionel nodded and went to the door. He stopped with his hand on the handle and said, “I’m sorry Lex. I didn’t mean for that to be so judgmental. I was just trying to say that I approve, and that I’m proud of how far you’ve come. I’ll be in the lobby with Mrs. Kent.”
Once the older man was gone, Lex took a deep breath, and tried to calm down, but it didn’t work very well. His father had no business talking to him about his love life at all, but to bring up his mother in that context was upsetting to the point of putting Lex over the edge. The fact that Lionel said he approved of Helen as a potential partner, immediately made Lex want to sabotage that thought. He decided to ask Helen out simply to prove to his father that he could have a one night stand with a professional woman just as well as he could with a college student.
# # #
Feeling bad about what he’d said, Lionel walked out to the lobby and sat next to Martha.
Martha looked at the door and said, “Where’s Lex?”
“He needed a five-minute break.”
Martha put a hand on top of Lionel’s and said, “What happened?”
“I noticed the way he was looking at Dr. Bryce, and once she’d left the room, I brought up Lex’s propensity for prostitutes and one night stands.” Lionel saw Martha’s eyes grow wide with shock, and he tried to defend himself. “I wasn’t trying to upset him. Just the opposite in fact. I was trying to let him know that I approved of him liking Dr. Bryce, but… he took it badly. I suppose I should have known he would, especially since I brought up his mother.”
Martha shook her head and said softly, “Prostitutes and one night stands?”
Lionel just stared at her for several seconds, not understanding her confusion. “His hit and runs?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Martha said, as her emotions started to swirl.
“How is that even possible?” Lionel asked.
“Please explain yourself,” Martha said.
As Lionel slowly realized that he knew something very significant about his son that she didn’t know, it made him feel like Lex’s actual parent for the first time in a long time. But there was no putting the cat back in the bag now that it was out, so he spent the next fifteen minutes explaining Lex’s complicated love life. He started with the first prostitute Lex had hired back when he was sixteen, and ended with the ‘hit and run’ he’d done just three months ago with a college student. The girl had been pissed about waking up alone, and had returned the diamond stud ear rings with a nasty letter to let Lex know she thought he was garbage.
He could see Martha becoming more and more furious as he spoke, and when he finally got done with the story, he was surprised to realize most of that anger was directed at him.
Glaring, her voice came out as a hissed angry whisper. “Are you telling me that you knowingly let your sixteen-year-old son hire prostitutes, and you did nothing to stop him? Are you seriously telling me that you know he still treats women like expendable toys, and you haven’t tried to show him the error of his ways?”
Lionel immediately started to make excuses. “Back then I couldn’t be in the room with the boy for more than an hour without getting angry enough to lash out. I did try talking to him about it, on more than one occasion. It did not go well.”
“You need to leave,” Martha said.
“Get out,” she said through clenched teeth.
“I understand that you don’t approve, but…”
“Mr. Luthor,” she interrupted, and took a deep breath before continuing. “You just spent the past fifteen minutes telling me about your failings as a father. Jonathan and I will have to spend weeks, if not months, teaching Lex something he should already know. I’m certain it will be a bumpy road at first, so you’re going to need to keep your distance for a solid month, and Lex is going to need to stay on the farm.”
“He’s already agreed to work at Luthorcorp for the summer.” She glared at him, but he glared right back.
“Do you want your son to be at Luthorcorp while he’s emotionally unstable? Or do you want to give us time to fix what you’ve broken?”
Furious, Lionel stood up and said, “You have two weeks, and then I’ll expect him to be at work.” He walked away, and didn’t respond when he heard Martha telling him that two weeks wasn’t enough.
# # #
When Helen came back into the room holding a brace, Lex gave her an extra charming smile.
“Where did your father go?” she asked.
“Back to the lobby. He had to take a call,” Lex lied. “That brace looks much easier to deal with.”
“It will be.” She showed him how to put the brace on, and then told him to hold her shoulder while trying to take a step with the injured foot.
To his surprise, walking on it wasn’t nearly as painful as trying to point his toe had been.
“What’s your pain level?” she asked.
He grinned at her and said, “A two.”
She smiled and had him sit back down as she outlined a schedule for walking with the brace, so that he didn’t over do it right off the bat. Once he’d agreed to the schedule, she said, “If everything goes well, you can stop using the brace in two weeks, and you shouldn’t need a follow up appointment unless your ankle starts to hurt more instead of feeling better.”
“That’s great, thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Helen stood to leave. “I’ll type up the schedule we discussed in your after visit summary and have the nurse bring it to you in just a couple of minutes.”
“Dr Bryce?” Lex said, stopping her when her hand was on the door.
“Since you’re done treating my ankle, and you’re no longer my doctor, I’d like to take you out to dinner next weekend.”
She blinked a couple of times. “Are you asking me on a date Mr. Luthor?”
“Absolutely,” he grinned, “And it’s, Lex.” He saw a small smirk on her face, and thought for sure she’d agree.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” she said.
That gave him pause. Had he slept with her already? Was she one of his one night stands? He couldn’t remember them all, having been drunk for several of them. “Um… I can’t say that I do.”
“It was five years ago when I was an intern at Metropolis General.”
“Five years ago?” Lex asked, thinking back, and still coming up blank. Back then he’d only been with prostitutes, and he certainly didn’t believe she’d been one of them.
“You were sixteen, inebriated to the point of slurring your words, and incapable of walking more than a few feet without assistance.”
He winced, blushed, and said with a self-deprecating smile, “Sixteen wasn’t my finest year.”
“Because I was the low man on the totem pole, I was assigned to sit with you to sober you up and make sure you didn’t die of alcohol poisoning, or choke on your own vomit. Of which there was a lot.”
Cringing, he muttered, “Sorry.”
“After you had nothing left to puke up, I gave you some anti-nausea medication, and once you were feeling better, you propositioned me. Your exact words were: ‘I’ll give you a fifty to blow me.’”
“Oh God,” he muttered, feeling absolutely mortified.
“I really wanted to slap you upside the head at that point, but I refrained.”
“You definitely should have,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”
“You were a child,” she said, clearly giving him a pass for his past bad behavior.
He shook his head. “I might have been underage, but I wasn’t a child, and you should have slapped me.”
“No,” she said with certainty. She walked towards him and put a hand on his knee. “That would have been wrong. After your comment, I got in your personal space, forced you to look me in the eye, and told you in no uncertain terms that I was there as a medical professional assigned to help you get sober, and that you were a child who needed to speak to me with respect.”
“Good for you.” Lex furrowed his eyebrows and said, “Please tell me that I shut up and listened to you after that.”
Helen gave him a sympathetic shake of her head. “You started to cry. You cried on my shoulder for about half an hour, and told me all about your mom who’d passed away three years before that.”
Very suddenly a long buried memory surfaced in Lex’s brain. “I think I remember you,” he said softly. “Was your hair blond back then?”
She nodded. “Bad dye job. I’d let my roommate use me as a guinea pig. Big mistake.”
“You were really nice to me,” he said. “And that was after I’d said something so horrible?”
She squeezed his knee gently. “You were sixteen, and no one showed up for you. Drunk kids come through the ER a couple of times a month, but you’re the only one who was dropped off by a staff member, left there alone all night, and picked up by a different staff member the next day. I don’t know where your biological father, or your adoptive parents were, but no one came to sit with you.”
“I didn’t know my adoptive parents back then.” Lex said softly. “If I had, they would have been there.” He snorted and shook his head. “No, if I’d known them back then, I wouldn’t have been there at all, because they wouldn’t have let me get drunk in the first place. But my biological father… Well he saw it as ridiculous teenage rebellion, and he didn’t have the time or the energy to monitor my outrageous behavior.”
He looked into her eyes, and could tell without words that she didn’t think much of his biological father. After a lingering glance between them, she patted his knee and took a step back.
“Given our history, going out to dinner isn’t really an option. But it was nice to be asked out instead of rudely propositioned. You’ve clearly matured.”
He shook his head. “Given our history, we should absolutely go out to dinner. I need a chance to make up for my awful behavior.”
She chuckled. “That’s not a reason to go on a date, Lex.”
“Sure it is,” he said with a grin. He could tell from her smile that she wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea.
She tilted her head to the side, scrutinized him for a moment, and then said, “If you really want to make it up to me, volunteer at the hospital for at least ten hours over the next month.”
“Ten hours?” He asked, truly surprised by the suggestion.
“That’s how long you held me up that night,” she explained.
“And then you’ll have dinner with me?” he asked.
She scowled. “No. This is about making up for wasting my time and being crass back then, and proving to me that you’ve actually matured as a human being. It’s not about getting me out on a date.”
His eyebrows went up in shock, and he slowly nodded. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”
With a curt nod, she opened the door to his room. “I’ll have the nurse bring you that after visit summary. Be sure to follow the instructions so that you don’t overdo it with your ankle the first few days.”
He nodded, and she walked out, closing the door behind her.
# # #
A few minutes later when he made it to the lobby using his crutches and putting some light pressure on his ankle with each step, he noticed that his father wasn’t there. He also noticed that Martha was quite unhappy.
“What happened?” He asked once he got close enough. “Where’s Dad?”
She stood and held out her hand for the paperwork Lex was awkwardly holding along with his crutch. He handed it over and instead of answering his questions, she asked one of her own. “What did the doctor say?”
“She said my ankle is healing just fine. I’m supposed to start walking on it a little bit at a time. She wrote down a schedule.” He pointed to the paperwork in her hand.
“That’s wonderful,” Martha said, as she glanced at the instructions.
Martha sighed and looked Lex in the eye. “I asked him to leave.”
That was new. Usually Martha tried to smooth things over between Lex and Lionel when Lex wanted the older man to leave. “Why?” he asked.
“We’ll discuss it at home.” She picked up her purse and started walking towards the exit.
Frowning, he hobbled after her. Once they were in the truck, headed home, he tried again. “What happened? Why did you ask Dad to leave?”
“I said we’ll discuss it at home,” she snapped, without looking in his direction.
Lex’s eyebrows went up in shock, and his stomach took a dive. Martha sounded pissed, and it felt like that anger was being directed at him, but he had no idea why that would possibly be. Sure he’d been whiny and hard to deal with over the past week while he’d been laid up, but Martha had been sweeter than usual to him during that time. After all her doting, it was more than a little disconcerting to see her angry.
“Are you mad at me?” he asked, unable to keep the thought to himself.
She took a deep breath, and took one hand off the steering wheel to pat his knee. “Not exactly. It’s complicated, and I’m going to need you to wait until we get home. Can you do that for me?”
That sounded a lot more like Martha’s usual tone, and he calmed down some. “Okay, Mom,” he said quietly, and looked out the window wondering what could have possibly happened.
As soon as they pulled up to the house, they saw Clark and Jonathan on the half completed roof nailing down shingles. They waved, and started to climb down when they saw the truck.
Martha turned to Lex and said, “I want you to go sit on the couch. Your pop and I are going to talk upstairs for a few minutes.”
Lex knew that wasn’t a good sign, and his anxiety went up, but he dutifully said, “Okay.”
Martha stayed beside him as he made his way to the house, to make sure he didn’t have any incidents. Jonathan and Clark met them on the porch.
“How’s the ankle?” Jonathan asked.
“Dr. Bryce said it’s healing nicely.” Lex pointed to the paperwork in Martha’s hand. “She’s got me on a schedule for getting back to normal.”
“That’s great.” Jonathan looked at his wife and added, “Isn’t it?”
Martha nodded in agreement. “It is, but there’s something else we need to discuss.” She turned to Lex. “Go wait on the couch please.”
Still confused and worried, Lex did as she asked.
“Clark,” Martha said, “Please go out to the barn until I come get you.”
Lex’s anxiety doubled with those words. If Clark was being sent out, that almost always meant a spanking, but he hadn’t done anything to deserve it. In fact, it had been over a year since the last one, and in his opinion he’d been exceptionally good all year.
“Okay,” Clark said softly, and gave Lex a sympathetic glance before leaving the house.
“Upstairs,” Martha said softly, and Jonathan followed her without comment.
As Lex was sitting there contemplating his fate, he heard muffled raised voices coming from upstairs. That more than anything so far made his stomach roll. He’d never heard Martha and Jonathan yell at each other. Both of them had raised their voices when Lex was out of line, but that was directed at him, not each other. The yelling stopped after only a few seconds, and soon after, Martha and Jonathan came down the stairs.
“Come sit at the table, Lex,” Jonathan said. “We’re going to have lunch before we talk.”
“Lunch?” Lex asked, hobbling over to them. “How can I possibly eat when I don’t know why you guys are angry?”
Jonathan turned to Martha and said, “Why don’t you go get Clark?”
“So you can tell him I’m over reacting?” Martha snipped.
“I never said you were over reacting, I said you needed to calm down before we talk.”
Martha took a deep breath and crossed her arms defensively. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“I am going to tell Lex what the issue is, and if you want to stay until I’ve done that, that’s fine, but we’re not talking about it until you’ve calmed down and had some lunch.”
She reluctantly shook her head. “I don’t need to stay. I’ll go get Clark.”
As she was walking past him, Jonathan took her hand in his and gave it a small kiss before she left. Once they were alone, Jonathan put a hand on Lex’s shoulder and said, “Your father told Martha about your past with women.”
“My what?” Lex said as he tried to process that. He thought back to the things Lionel had said in the doctor’s office, and started to blush.
Jonathan squeezed his shoulder in comfort. “She knows about the prostitutes, the one night stands, and the ‘hit and runs’ as your father put it.”
“Oh God,” Lex mumbled. “That’s humiliating.” After a few seconds he said, “But… why is she so mad. I mean I know that prostitution is illegal, but it’s been three or four years since I hired one. And so what if I’ve had a few one night stands? A lot of those women came on to me, not the other way around.”
Jonathan shook his head, and said. “Sit down Lex. We’re going to eat first.”
Lex sat and stewed about it, while Jonathan started taking stuff out to make sandwiches. Lex was embarrassed that Martha and to a lesser extent Jonathan knew about the prostitutes. Not only because it was something illegal that he’d done in the past, but also because it showed how insecure he’d been in his younger years. Once he’d realized that plenty of woman would sleep with him without paying for it, he’d stopped hiring them. He was also a little embarrassed that Martha knew about his one night stands, but that wasn’t because he was ashamed of them, it was because he didn’t want his parents thinking about his sex life at all. And he certainly didn’t want to talk to them about it.
When Martha and Clark came back in, Lex kept his eyes focused on the table. He didn’t want to see the anger in Martha’s eyes. Martha quickly shooed Jonathan to the table, and finished making the sandwiches. She put food in front of everyone, and an unusual silence filled the room while everyone ate.
“Dad?” Clark asked.
“After lunch are we going to go back up on the roof, or are you and Mom gonna be… busy?”
“We’ll be busy for a while, but I think we can get back up there in about an hour.”
Lex groaned softly. There was no way he wanted to talk to his parents about sex at all, but an hour of talking about it sounded like torture.
“Um… do you think I could maybe go to Pete’s house for a couple of hours? See if he wants to toss a football around or something?” Clark asked.
“Sure,” Jonathan said, understanding why Clark didn’t want to be around for the upcoming conversation. “Just be home by three so we can get a little more done on the roof tonight.
“Thanks, Dad.” Clark super sped through his lunch, and then rushed out the door at human speed.
Lex looked after his brother, wishing he could leave as well. After a few more minutes of oppressive silence, he pushed his half eaten lunch away, crossed his arms, and slouched back in his chair, waiting for the inevitable humiliating discussion.
Martha and Jonathan shared a look and a nod, and then Jonathan got up to start clearing the table, while Martha moved to sit in the chair right next to Lex.
“Today at the hospital, Lionel gave me a long and detailed list of the women you’ve had sex with,” Martha said.
Lex covered his face with his hands and muttered, “Please can we not talk about this, Mom.”
“We are talking about this Lex. Sit up, and look me in the eyes, please.”
“Look you in the eyes?” he said, keeping his hands on his face. “There’s no way I can look you in the eyes while you’re talking about sex.”
“You can look me in the eyes, or you can look at the floor while you’re over my lap. Which will it be?”
That unexpected threat immediately brought him out of his sulk. He put his hands down and his eyes snapped to hers, trying to gauge how serious that threat had been. Martha had never spanked him, never even threatened. She had given him a token swat once, but that wasn’t what she was talking about, and he knew it.
“You can’t be… I mean… you… you can’t,” he stumbled over his words while trying to let her know how very unacceptable that thought was to him.
“Can’t?” Martha asked. Her lips pressed together in a thin unhappy line. She stood, walked over to the kitchen counter and grabbed a wooden spatula out of the decorative jar that held several wooden cooking utensils.
Lex paled, and shook his head as she walked back. She set the spatula on the table and sat next to Lex again.
“I am your mother, and I can and will spank you if I think you deserve it, and you’re sadly mistaken if you think otherwise. I didn’t start this discussion planning to spank you, but now I’m thinking I probably should.”
“No, you shouldn’t,” Lex said, feeling panicky.
“Because I’m a woman? It’s okay for your pop to spank you because he’s a man, but it’s not okay for me because I’m a woman? Is that what you’re telling me?”
Squirming in his chair, Lex didn’t know how to answer that. In truth, the answer was yes, but he knew that wouldn’t go over well. Instead he shook his head and kept his mouth shut.
“Are you going to physically fight me if I try to put you over my lap?”
“No, of course not,” he said immediately, glancing at Jonathan who was standing by the kitchen counter. He was certain that if he did try to stop Martha, Jonathan would step in. “But… you never have, and you shouldn’t. I haven’t even done anything wrong.” He saw her eyebrows go up in shock, and he quickly amended that statement. “I mean I haven’t done anything wrong today, or for three months. It’s in the past, so you shouldn’t spank me.”
“We’ll see if I agree with you once you’ve come clean. Tell me how many prostitutes you’ve hired over the years,” she ordered.
Lex’s eyes darted between her and the spatula and muttered, “I’m not really sure. But the last time was at least three years ago, maybe four, so I don’t see how it’s relevant.”
“It’s relevant to me. Give me a rough guess.”
“There were a lot that first year,” Lex admitted, and thought numbers for a few seconds. “Probably twenty-five to thirty when I was sixteen, and then another ten or so after that.”
Martha closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “So about forty total?”
Lex nodded and glanced at the spatula again.
“How many one night stands have you had?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Fifteen? Maybe twenty.”
“And how many of those were hit and runs?”
“That’s my father’s term, not mine.”
“How many, Lex?” Martha asked.
“Six,” he answered sullenly.
“I heard your father’s version of a hit and run. Tell me yours.”
“I just… if I spend the night with a girl, and she wants a second date, but I don’t, I send her a note with a nice gift. I don’t see how that’s wrong. It’s not like I’m forcing them.”
Martha’s eyebrows went up in shock. “Did you seriously just insinuate that your behavior was acceptable because you didn’t rape any of them.”
Lex rapidly shook his head. “No! Not at all. I’m just saying they wanted sex just as much as I did, and it’s not my fault that they wanted more than one night and I didn’t.”
Martha leaned forward, pinned Lex with a glare, and said, “You, young man, are going to have rules for dating.” She held up a hand and pointed to a finger for each rule. “Number one, you will never hire another prostitute. Not only is it illegal and unsafe, but nine times out of ten the woman you’re paying doesn’t get to keep that money. Number two, there will be no more one night stands. That shows a massive lack of respect for yourself and for the woman you’re with. Number three, you will have three dates with a woman before having sex.”
Lex frowned and started to shake his head.
“Don’t shake your head at me,” Martha sapped.
Lex crossed his arms and glared at her, but did stop shaking his head.
“If you don’t like a woman enough to have three dates, then you don’t sleep with her, no matter what she says or does to entice you. Number four, if you want to end things with a woman, you do it face to face. No note and certainly no gift, which would make any woman feel like a prostitute.”
Lex’s eyes opened wide with surprise at that thought, and then quickly scowled.
Finished with the rules, Martha put her hand down and said, “These are non-negotiable rules. If you don’t follow them, you’ll be getting spanked.”
“You have no say over my love life!” Lex shouted, unable to hold back his frustration any longer.
Pursing her lips, Martha picked up the spatula, scooted her chair away from the table, and said, “Over my lap, young man.”
He automatically shook his head no, and pressed his body against the chair to move further away from her.
Martha grabbed his chin with her free hand, and got into his personal space. “My son is not going to be a womanizer. My son is going to show respect for himself, and for the women he’s with. I don’t care if you think I have a say in it or not. You follow my rules, or you get spanked.”
“I’m not a womanizer,” Lex protested.
“Not anymore, you’re not,” Martha said decisively. She let go of his chin, pointed to her lap with the spatula, and said, “Over my lap.”
Panicked, Lex shook his head no again. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jonathan moving towards him. His eyes darted back and forth between his parents until Jonathan was standing in front of them.
In a calm, almost playacting tone, Jonathan said, “Do as your mother says, Lex, or I’ll spank you, put you back in that chair, and see if you’re ready to obey her. We can do that as many times as it takes for you to show her the respect she deserves.”
Feeling trapped, and wanting to run, Lex said the only thing he could think of that might get him out of it, “It’s not fair to spank me for something I did in the past!”
“I’m not spanking you for the things you’ve done,” Martha said, “I’m spanking you because you refused to agree to the rules I just gave you.”
“I don’t agree with the rules!” Lex shouted.
Jonathan said, “You usually don’t agree with the rules when we first give them to you. You didn’t agree with us when we told you that you couldn’t drink at our house until you were twenty-one. You didn’t agree with us when we told you that you couldn’t go anywhere without telling us about it that first summer. You didn’t agree with us when we told you that you needed to have supervised visits with your father when you were rebuilding your relationship. But we forced you to stick with all of those rules, because we felt they were in your best interest. And every time you’ve agreed with us after the fact.”
“But… it’s not the same,” Lex said, not sure why this felt different, but it did.
“Last chance to do what your mother told you, Lex,” Jonathan warned.
“I haven’t even slept with anyone in over a month!” he said defensively.
Jonathan reached down and grabbed Lex’s upper arm. As he was pulling the boy up, Lex said, “Okay! Okay! I’ll do it! I’ll follow the rules!”
“Yes you will,” Jonathan agreed. He gave Lex four harsh swats, making Lex yelp with each one, and then sat him back down in the chair. “But you’ve shown your mother too much disrespect to get out of this without a spanking.”
As soon as Lex was seated again, Martha said firmly, “Over my lap.”
A few tears of frustration slid down his cheeks as he slowly got up, took the step that separated them, and carefully leaned down across her lap, holding some of his weight up with his hands on the floor.
“Thank you,” she said, and gently patted his back with her free hand.
Her hand settled at the small of his back, and then he felt the spatula resting on his right ass cheek and squirmed.
“I don’t care if you like these new rules, you’re going to follow them. For the most part you’ve always been respectful towards me, and I’m baffled and ashamed of the level of disrespect you apparently have for women in general.”
He felt the spatula leave his ass, and cringed.
“There will be no more hit and runs,” she said, and snapped the wooden implement down on his behind.
He flinched involuntarily, but as she gave him five more smacks, he realized she wasn’t hitting all that hard. There was an unpleasant surface sting each time it landed, but it wasn’t painful in the way the smacks from Jonathan had been just moments ago.
Martha paused and said, “There will be no more one night stands.”
Six more of the stinging little swats landed, and Lex cringed with humiliation through them. Martha seemed to be hitting the same two spots on the center of each ass cheek again and again, which made the pain start to build, even though each smack wasn’t that painful by itself.
“There will be no more prostitutes,” Martha said and swatted Lex’s behind six more times while he kept himself still and quiet.
“You will have at least three dates with a woman before sleeping with her.”
The next six smacks landing on the same two spots produced little hisses and whines that Lex couldn’t hold in. When Jonathan spanked, the blows were hard enough to hurt not only the surface area of his ass, but the muscles underneath. Martha’s little swats were only hurting the surface, but because of the repeated blows, the surface was building quite a sting.
“If you want to break up with a woman, you do it to her face, and you don’t give her a gift.”
A longer whine came out of him as the next six smacks landed.
“All right, young man, tell me what the rules are, promise me that you’re going to obey them, and then the spanking will be done.”
As he opened his mouth to speak, the spatula smacked down again. A grunt of surprise came out, along with a hiss of pain when the next spank landed. Once he realized she was going to keep spanking until he’d given her the answers she was looking for, he blurted them all out in a rush while his legs twitched in time to the smacks.
“No more prostitutes, one night stands, or hit and runs, and three dates before sex. I got it, and I’ll follow them. Mooom…” he whined when the smacks didn’t stop. “I said I’ll follow the rules.”
“How are you going to break up with a woman?” Martha asked, smacking the spatula down again and again.
“I’ll do it in person!” Lex said. “Please, Mom, I’ll follow the rules. I will!” It was getting very difficult not to put his hand back to shield his rear end.
With those words from him, she stopped spanking, set the spatula on the table, and patted his back again. “Okay, all done. You can get up whenever you’re ready.”
He awkwardly pushed himself up while trying to be careful of her and his ankle at the same time. Jonathan’s hand was on his arm to steady him before he’d even gotten upright. Once he was standing, both hands went to his backside to rub out the sting. Physically, the spanking had been relatively mild, but the embarrassment of being over Martha’s lap was going to stick with him for years, even if the pain would be gone before the night was over.
Martha stood as well, and grasped Lex’s chin to force eye contact. “I’m very serious about this Lex. I expect you to follow the rules, I expect you to be forthcoming about every encounter you have with a woman for the foreseeable future, and I expect you to be upfront about it when you mess up. I don’t expect you to be perfect, and there will be some leniency if I can tell you were trying to obey me and messed up, but you will be very sorry if I find out you’ve lied to me about an encounter. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said as his eyes welled with tears. The spanking hadn’t been painful enough to cause tears, but the fact that she still appeared to be stern and unhappy instead of forgiving was upsetting.
“Martha,” Jonathan chided, when he saw Lex’s tears fall.
After taking a deep breath, Martha pulled Lex into a hug and said softly, “All right, sweetheart, I forgive you, and we’re going to move forward with a clean slate. Okay?”
Lex hugged her tight, tried to stop his tears, and nodded on her shoulder.
Jonathan put his arms around the both of them to add another hug to the mix. After a few moments, he rubbed Lex’s back and said, “Why don’t you go lie down on the couch for a little while, and we can watch some television until Clark gets home.”
Lex nodded, let go of Martha, picked up his crutches, and made his way to the couch. While he was lying down, he heard Martha and Jonathan talking quietly as they cleaned up the lunch dishes, but couldn’t hear what they were saying. Soon Jonathan was sitting on the easy chair next to the couch, and turned on the television, while Martha went outside to do some gardening.
Once they were alone, Jonathan said, “Lex?”
“We should probably have a little talk about safe sex.”
Groaning, Lex said, “Oh, God, please let’s not. Believe me, I know everything there is to know about safe sex.”
“Fine, we won’t call it a talk, we’ll call it an extra rule, to go along with the rules Martha gave you,” Jonathan said. “You use a condom every single time. I don’t care what the girl says or does, you use a condom, or you don’t have sex with her.”
Lex covered his face with his hands, and mumbled, “I know. I always do.”
“Good. And Lex?”
“If you ever want to talk to me about women…” Jonathan saw Lex shaking his head, and held a hand up, “…I don’t mean talking about the mechanics of sex, obviously you understand that. I mean if you ever want to talk about the way you feel towards women in general, or one woman in particular, I’m here to listen. Martha… well this is a sensitive subject for her, but if there are things you want to get off your chest about the women you’ve been with in the past, or if you want to talk about the reasons behind hiring prostitutes instead of dating girls your own age, I’ll listen, and I’ll do my best not to be judgmental about it.”
Lex glanced over at Jonathan for a second, and then looked back at the television. “Thanks, Pop.”
Jonathan nodded and turned his attention back to the television as well.
# # #
That night, Lex and Clark were in the middle of a video game when Jonathan said, “Okay guys, it’s ten o’clock. Time for bed.”
“Can we stay up until this game is over?” Clark asked, giving his father puppy dog eyes.
Jonathan looked over at Martha to get her opinion. She shrugged and said, “It’s summer.”
“Alright,” Jonathan agreed, “but just until the game is over, and then it’s up to bed for both of you, because neither one of you is going to be allowed to sleep in.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Clark said enthusiastically.
About ten minutes after Martha and Jonathan went upstairs, Clark said, “Wanna talk about it?”
Lex glanced at Clark, but the teen didn’t look his way, he just kept playing the game.
“Talk about what?”
“What happened today at the hospital to make Mom so mad, and what happened today when I went to Pete’s house.”
Lex sighed, and set his controller down, even though the game wasn’t over. “I don’t know, Clark. I’m not sure that your parents would want you to hear about my… behavior.”
Clark put his controller down as well, and shut the game down. He turned to face Lex, and said, “First of all, they’re our parents, not my parents. And more importantly, I’m your brother. You know all of my secrets, it’s not fair for you to hide things from me. We’re family.”
“It’s not the same, Clark.” Lex sighed. “Your secrets are about your physical capabilities. My secrets are about what a horrible person I am.”
“I know in my heart that you’re not a horrible person, Lex. No matter what you did.”
“Yeah, you say that now,” Lex muttered, and decided the kid needed a reality check. “Fine. I’ll tell you everything. Mom was angry, because she found out about my love life.”
Clark’s cheeks turned pink, and he looked back at the blank television, but nodded in understanding. “Okay. What about your love life?”
“When I was sixteen, just about six months older than you are now, I hired my first prostitute.”
Clark’s eyes opened very wide, and his eyebrows shot up in shock. He looked directly at Lex and said, “What?”
This time Lex was the one who had to look away. “Between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, I hired about forty different prostitutes. At eighteen I had my first one-night stand with a girl I didn’t pay for. It was actually during that first summer I spent here. When I went to Metropolis for that party. I hooked up with a girl, invited her out on a date, and then never ended up taking her on it. Since then I’ve had probably twenty different one-night stands. I’ve never actually taken a girl on a date where it didn’t end in sex, and I’ve never taken someone on a second date. Sometimes if a girl tries to get me on a second date, I buy her a very expensive gift and send a note telling her it’s over.”
Silence stretched out between them, and after it became awkward, Lex finally darted his eyes to Clark. He could tell the teen was appalled.
“That’s… That’s really wrong, Lex.”
Lex looked down at his lap. “Yeah. Mom and Pop thought so too. Mom gave me some new rules for dating, and when I didn’t agree to them, she followed that up by putting me over her lap and spanking me with that wooden spatula she uses all the time.”
Clark gasped, and his voice cracked as he spoke. “Mom? Mom spanked you?”
“Mom?” he asked again.
Lex grimaced. “It sucked enough when it was happening, Clark, you don’t need to keep repeating it.”
“Was it… I mean… Did it hurt?”
Scowling over at his little brother, Lex said, “She hit me with the spatula, of course it hurt.”
Lex broke eye contact and shrugged. “Well, not that much I guess, I’m not even sore from it now, and I know I would be if Pop had been the one dishing it out, but… it was kind of worse anyway, because it was Mom.”
Clark slowly nodded in understanding. “I’m sorry. I mean, obviously I don’t agree with what you did, but Mom spanking you?” he shook his head, “That’s just…”
“Humiliating,” Lex finished for him.
“I was going to say awful, but yeah, humiliating works too.”
They sat in silence for a few moments, and then Clark said quietly, “What were the new rules?”
“No prostitutes, no one night stands, three dates before sex, and if I want to break things off I have to do it in person.”
After a pause Clark said, “That’s not fair. Sure, no prostitutes, because that’s illegal, but the rest of it…” Clark shook his head. “I don’t think our parents should have any say.”
Lex tilted his head to the side and looked at his little brother for a few seconds before admitting, “Well, that’s what I thought, too, but Mom strongly disagreed, and Pop backed her up.”
Clark thought that over, and shook his head again. “I know we’ve talked about this before, but you are an adult, Lex. You don’t have to follow our parent’s rules.”
“I’m pretty sure I do. If I accept them as my parents, then I have to accept everything that entails. I don’t get to pick and choose which parts of their parenting that I’ll accept. It’s kind of a package deal. Sure I could refuse to come home until they agreed to change the rules, but we both know I don’t do well without your parent’s love and support. I’m… emotionally unstable without them.”
Scowling, Clark shook his head. “But it’s not fair for them to have rules about your sex life.”
Lex rolled his eyes. “Life isn’t fair, Clark. This is a minor blip in the unfairness scale of life. Getting blamed for my brother’s death for years wasn’t fair. Putting up with my father’s abuse for years because of it wasn’t fair. Getting a few smacks from Mom because she’s trying to make me a better person just isn’t that bad in the scheme of things.”
Clark shook his head again, “Just because it’s not as bad as some of the horrible things you’ve gone through doesn’t make it right. If you don’t agree with the rules, you should talk to them about it again. Well, maybe talk to Pop alone since Mom was more upset about it. Don’t start off by saying you’re not going to follow the rules, that won’t end well, but calmly and rationally explain why you think the rule shouldn’t be a rule.”
Groaning, Lex said, “Please drop it Clark. It’s fine. I really don’t want to argue with them about it anymore. Maybe the rules will be good for me. Just because I don’t like them, doesn’t mean they’re a bad idea.”
That gave Clark pause, and while he was thinking it over, Lex patted his shoulder and said, “I really don’t want to talk about it anymore. I think it’s past time for bed. Why don’t you turn everything off down here, and then walk beside me on the stairs to make sure I don’t fall.”
Clark nodded, and soon they were both upstairs in their separate beds thinking about their conversation.
# # #
The following morning after breakfast, Lex started walking short distances on his ankle. Tired of being stuck in the house after his injury, he walked out to the barn with Jonathan and Clark to keep them company while they mucked out the stalls.
Before Clark had even picked up a shovel, he said, “Dad, we need to talk about something serious.”
Jonathan turned his full attention to Clark and said, “Okay, son, go ahead.”
Lex groaned, as he sat on a bale of hay. “You better not be going where I think you are, Clark. I told you to drop it.”
Ignoring Lex, Clark looked Jonathan in the eye and said, “I don’t think you and Mom should have any say over Lex’s love life. As long as it’s not illegal, he should be able to make his own decisions, and I think it was wrong of Mom to spank him when he tried to disagree.”
Jonathan’s eyebrows went up in surprise. “Wrong is a strong word, son.”
Clark nodded. “And I mean it.”
Jonathan looked at Lex and said, “Is that how you feel?”
Lex shook his head. “Not really. I mean I don’t like the rules, but… it’s like you said, I didn’t like any of the rules at first, but they ended up being good for me in the long run.”
Jonathan turned back to Clark, and put a hand on his shoulder. “Listen, son, the way some men treat women is a very sensitive subject for your mother. I’m not going to tell you why, and I’d better not hear either one of you asking her why, but I’m sure you boys are old enough to put two and two together.” He gave each of them a significant look, and saw realization dawning in their eyes before continuing. “You’re both going to have to give your mother a little leeway on this specific topic. It may seem unfair or out of line for us to give Lex rules about dating, because he is biologically an adult, but we do think it’s in his best interest, because emotionally he’s closer to your age. As for the spanking being wrong, I don’t agree. He loudly refused to accept the new rules simply because of his biological age, and your mother and I don’t believe that’s a valid reason for Lex to disagree with our rules. Biologically, he’s been an adult the entire time we’ve known him.”
Both boys quietly contemplated that for a few moments. Jonathan let his hand drop from Clark’s shoulder and said, “Are we done with this topic for now? Because I’ll listen if you have other points to bring up, but if you’re just going to reiterate that you think it’s wrong, then I don’t want to hear it. As your parents, we make decisions ever day with your best interest at heart. You won’t agree with every decision we make, in fact you may strongly disagree with some of them and find them unfair, but every decision is about turning you both into good upstanding human beings.”
“I was done talking about it yesterday,” Lex said, looking at Clark with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah, I guess I’m done, too,” Clark muttered.
“Good.” Jonathan handed Clark a shovel and got one for himself.
# # #
Over the next two weeks, Lex followed the schedule Helen had laid out for him, and by the end of it he was able to walk normally. During his two weeks, he avoided talking about women as often as possible, which was difficult since Martha and Jonathan kept bringing it up. She’d tried to cajole him into going on a few dates while he was home to ‘practice’ dating without sex, but he’d made excuses and turned the subject to something else every time.
Partially due to Martha hounding him about dating, Lex found himself thinking about Helen quite often over those two weeks. He wanted to ask her out again, but he knew he’d need to do those ten hours of volunteer work first if he had any chance of her saying yes. The only problem was that he didn’t want to tell Martha about his infatuation with the doctor. Talking to Martha about someone he actually liked seemed almost more humiliating than talking to her about the prostitutes he’d had over the years. He realized that was irrational, but he couldn’t help the horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach every time he even considered telling Martha or Jonathan about Helen.
At the end of his two weeks on Sunday after dinner, Lex gave everyone a hug, said his goodbyes, and headed out the door.
Martha followed him onto the porch, shut the door behind them, and said, “Tell me your dating rules one more time before you go.”
He had to clench his jaw and take a deep breath before answering, or he would have snapped at her, and he really didn’t want to drive to Metropolis on a sore ass. Once he was calm enough he said, “Mom, we’ve been over this about fifty times over the past two weeks. I don’t need to go over it again. I’m very aware of how you want me to behave around women, and why. That initial ‘discussion’ we had about it was humiliating enough to be seared into my brain for the rest of my life, so could we please stop bringing it up every day? Let’s wait until I actually want to date someone, and then it will be relevant.”
She cocked her head to the side, and scrutinized him for a few seconds, before slowly nodding. “Alright, Lex. I’ll stop bringing it up, as long as you promise that you’ll bring it up once you do ask someone out.”
“I promise,” he said, more than ready to promise anything to get her to stop talking about it.
She pulled him into a strong hug and said, “I love you, sweetheart. Please call us right away if you have any issues with your father.”
“I will.” He hugged her back, and added, “But I think we’ll be okay this year.”
She let go and smiled. “Me too.”
He went down the stairs, got in the Porsche, and waved to her as he drove away. As he drove, he tried to switch focus. The person Lex was on the farm was still much different than the person Lex was in Metropolis. Over the years those two personalities had become more compatible, but they were still distinctly different. Martha had told him once that it was normal to have a professional work persona that was a little different from the person he was at home, but Lex knew his change was more drastic than most. But he hoped that with time those two personalities would merge even more, and maybe one step in that direction would be not sleeping with a variety of women when he was in the city.
He wondered yet again why he didn’t want to tell the Kents about Helen, especially since he didn’t care if his father knew. When the answer suddenly came to him, he scowled. He didn’t want the Kents to know because she might reject him, and if she continued to reject his advances, that would only prove what Lex already knew. That he wasn’t good enough for her. And subconsciously his unworthiness was a fact that he needed to hide from the Kents so that they didn’t come to their senses and reject him as well.
Once that thought was in his head, everything else suddenly fell into place. When he was younger, he’d hired prostitutes, because he’d known he wasn’t good enough for the other girls his age. After years of hatred and continued rejection from his father, he couldn’t bear a rejection from anyone else, because it would prove that his father was right to hate him. He’d never had a second date with a woman, because he’d known that once a woman actually got to know him, they would reject him. And the hit and runs weren’t about blowing a girl off, they were about showing the girl that he understood how unworthy he was of her affections.
Logically he understood that those thoughts and feelings weren’t necessarily true. The Kents truly believed he was worthy of love, and now that his past had been rewritten, his father thought he was worthy of love as well. But intellectually knowing he was worthy, and actually feeling worthy were separate things.
After that glut of self-reflection, self-hatred, and self-recrimination, he really needed a drink. He forced himself to continue driving all the way to Metropolis instead of pulling over at the first bar he saw. An hour later, after he checked into the hotel where he’d be living for the summer, he quickly made his way to the hotel’s bar to the right of the lobby.
Four drinks later, Lex was able to push aside the fact that he wasn’t worthy of a woman’s affection, and flirted with his waitress. After another two drinks, she surprised him by leaning down to whisper in his ear.
“I get off in ten minutes. If you want to get to know me better, we could go someplace a little more private and continue talking.”
With his usual overconfident smile in place, he agreed. “I’d love that. I’m in the presidential suite. I’ll head up and pour us both some champagne.” He pulled three hundred dollar bills out of his wallet and handed them to her. “This should cover my tab.” He winked and added, “Keep the change.”
She grinned as she stuffed two of the hundreds in her bra. “I’ll see you in fifteen minutes.”
He weaved his way towards the elevators, trying to stay upright while also trying not to put too much pressure on his recovering ankle was a challenge after six drinks, even if it had been over a two-hour span of time.
Once he’d successfully made it to his room without falling or injuring himself, he found the complimentary bottle of champagne that was already chilled, and clumsily popped the cork. Some of the bubbly liquid spilled on the carpet, and Lex swore softly, and went to the kitchen area to get a towel and wipe it up. As he was kneeling on the floor blotting up the spill, he thought of Martha and froze. Five years ago, before he met the Kents, it wouldn’t have even occurred to him to clean up a spill, because that’s what servants were for. But now he knew better, because they’d taught him to be a more responsible person.
There was a soft knock at his hotel door, and Lex cringed. The memory of being over Martha’s lap flashed through his mind, and he felt ill. Having this waitress would be breaking the rules. He shook his head and muttered to himself, “You just left home six hours ago, you moron. You’re not breaking the rules already.”
He clumsily walked to the door, and leaned against it without opening it, because if he saw her, smelled her, and felt her, he wouldn’t be able to say no. “I’m sorry,” he said loudly at the door. “I… I’m ill. Trust me, you don’t want to see me like this. We’ll have to get together on another night.”
“Are you sure?” she said, “I could help you feel better.”
She was right in a way. He would feel better temporarily if he let her in, but the next day he’d feel so much worse that it wasn’t worth it. “I’m sorry. Maybe tomorrow,” he lied.
“I’ll be working tomorrow from three until midnight if you want to have drinks again. I hope you feel better.”
“Thanks. See you later.” He listened at the door, and faintly heard her footsteps walking away. Sagging against the wall with relief, he took a few deep breaths and congratulated himself on doing the right thing, because it had been seriously difficult to tell her no.
Scowling at his own weakness, he walked with determination to the phone, and immediately called home before he lost his nerve.
After a few rings, a sleepy sounding Jonathan answered. “Hello?”
“Pop, I… I don’t know if I can do this.”
“Do what, son?”
“I almost slept with someone tonight. I didn’t, but… I almost did, and I just left home a few hours ago. I won’t last the week. I know I won’t.”
“Where are you, Lex?”
“At my hotel.”
“Okay, that’s good. How much have you had to drink?”
That question caught him off guard, and made him feel anxious. “I didn’t drive anywhere,” he said defensively, “And I’m twenty-one.”
“That wasn’t my question. You’re slurring your words. How many drinks did you have?”
“I don’t know. Six or seven.” He couldn’t hide the petulant tone to his voice.
“Thank you for answering,” Jonathan said. “I’m really proud of you for calling us, Lex. You did the right thing. We’re going to help you. I want you to go to bed. No more drinks tonight. Get in bed right now, and go to sleep. Can you do that for me?”
“Yeah, okay. I’ll do that. Night, Pop.” After hanging up the phone, he stumbled to his bed, and fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
# # #
The next morning when his phone rang, Lex groaned and put a hand on his throbbing temple before gently picking up the phone.
“Hello?” He croaked. His throat felt like there was sand in it, and his breath smelled like rotting potatoes.
“This is your six am wakeup call Mr. Luthor.” The front desk woman said cheerfully.
“Thanks,” he muttered and hung up. Pushing himself into a sitting position caused a wave of nausea to go through him, and he stilled until it passed. No stranger to hangovers, Lex slowly stood, walked to the bar, and poured himself a single shot of vodka. Once he’d downed it, he poured himself a full glass of water, and forced that down as well. Then he called room service and ordered some eggs and toast, before making his way to the bathroom to take a long hot shower.
An hour later Lex felt much better physically, but not emotionally. Halfway through his shower, he’d remembered his drunken call to the Kents, and now he kept expecting Jonathan to barge into his hotel room, toss him over his lap, and spank him before sending him to work for the day. Trying to prepare for the inevitable, he mentally catalogued all the things he’d done right last night, as if that would temper the bad. He hadn’t sped while driving to Metropolis. He hadn’t had a drink until he got to his hotel. He was old enough to drink legally now. And he hadn’t actually slept with the waitress.
His musing was put on hold when the phone rang.
“Yes?” he answered.
“Hi, Pop.” Lex’s dejected tone was clear, even to his own ears. He was certain Jonathan was downstairs, and about to come ‘set him straight’.
“How are you feeling this morning?”
“Yeah, I bet,” Jonathan said with sympathy. “No more alcohol for the rest of the week. If you can’t drink responsibly, then you can’t drink.”
Lex perked up for the first time since getting in the shower. If Jonathan was downstairs, he’d wait to give orders until they were face to face, so maybe Lex was going to be getting out of this one without a sore ass.
“Did you hear me, Lex?”
“Yes. Yes, sir. No more drinking this week. I got it.”
“Good. What time do you get off work?” Jonathan asked.
“Six thirty.” Lex’s stomach sank.
“Okay, I’ll be in the lobby of your hotel at six forty-five if that…”
“Are you going to spank me?” Lex couldn’t stop himself from blurting out the question.
The line was silent for a few seconds before Jonathan asked, “Do you think I should?”
“You don’t sound certain.”
“No,” Lex said more forcefully. “Definitely not. I didn’t speed on my way here, I didn’t drink until I got to my hotel, I’m old enough to drink now, and I didn’t sleep with the waitress, even though I wanted to.” He nodded at his own rational even though Jonathan couldn’t see him.
“You… you do?” Lex asked, not quite believing it.
“I’m not driving up there to spank you, Lex. Your mother and I discussed it, and we think I should stay with you at the hotel for the rest of this week.”
Lex couldn’t help but remember the week Jonathan spent with him in college, and that week had certainly been full of painful spankings and emotional turmoil.
“You’re going to stay with me?” Lex asked warily.
“That’s right, son. I doubt you’ll be eager to bring a woman back to your hotel if I’m there.”
Lex snorted. “Very true.”
“And like it or not, you’re going to practice dating while I’m there.”
“You can’t make me go on a date,” Lex said with a scowl.
“Yes I can. I know it’s uncomfortable for you, son, but you need to practice going on a date that doesn’t end in sex, and the best time to do that is when I’m there keeping an eye on you. I won’t be… hold on, your mother wants to speak to you.”
Lex grimaced at the thought of what his mother might have to say.
“Listen sweetheart, I want you to think about something for the rest of the day. When normal teenagers start dating, they’re living with their parents. Their parents know about the dates, half the time they drive them to their dates, and there is no chance for a date to end in sex, because the parents know where they are, what they’re doing, and when they’re expected home. You’ve never had that experience thanks to you father, but it’s an essential part of growing up, and I think it will be very beneficial for you to have that experience now.”
“I’d rather not,” Lex said petulantly.
“Who did you almost sleep with last night?” Martha asked, her tone much more sharp than it had been.
“Mom,” Lex whined, as his face turned red.
“Answer me, young man.”
“One of the waitresses from the hotel’s bar,” he muttered.
“What was her name?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” he admitted. A disappointed sigh came over the line, and Lex cringed. “Sorry.”
“When Pop gets there, you’re going to go to the bar together, find out this woman’s name, and if she’s working, you’re going to ask her to have dinner with you on her next day off.”
“I’m not finished,” Martha snapped. “Then when you take her out, you talk and get to know her, and by the end of the date, you’ll know if you want to ask her out again. If so, ask her to lunch the next day, and if not, then just say you had a nice time, and be on your way. Either way, there will be no sex. If you ask her on a second date, you’re allowed one goodnight kiss.”
“How generous,” he mumbled sarcastically, bristling at the entire situation. The line was silent for a few seconds until Lex quietly apologized. “Sorry.”
“One more sarcastic comment like that, and you can spend your evening sitting on a sore bottom.”
“I’m sorry. No more sarcasm. I promise.”
“Alright. Think about what I said, and I’ll call later tonight to get an update.”
“I love you, sweetheart.”
“Yeah, I know,” Lex said. He certainly wouldn’t let Martha dictate his life if he wasn’t secure in the knowledge that she loved him.
“Lex?” Jonathan’s voice was back.
“Does six forty-five work for you? I’m not sure how far Luthorcorp is from your hotel.”
“Yeah six forty-five will be fine. I’ll meet you in the lobby.”
“Sounds good. I’ll see you then. Try to have a good day.”
“You, too,” Lex answered before hanging up. With a resigned sigh, he put on his suit jacket and left for work.
# # #
That evening Lex was in a decent mood when he got to the hotel. He’d had a productive day with his father at Luthorcorp. They’d spent a good portion of time looking at last year’s profits and losses from various departments, to see how they could improve. The profits far outweighed the losses, which made both of the Luthors happy.
When Lex saw Jonathan in the lobby holding a duffle bag he smiled and gave the older man a hug.
“You’re in a much better mood than you were this morning,” Jonathan noted while hugging back.
Lex let go and shrugged. “The day went well with my father.”
Lex gestured towards the elevators. “Want to put your bag in the room?”
“How was the drive?” Lex asked as they walked.
They made small talk on the ride up. Once Jonathan saw the room he whistled. “This is nice.”
Lex pointed to one of the two bedrooms and said, “That one is yours.”
Jonathan set his bag on the bed, and then said, “Ready to go find out that waitress’ name and ask her out?”
“No,” Lex said sighing. “But let’s go get it over with.”
“Just what every woman wants to hear,” Jonathan said with a raised eyebrow.
Lex raised an eyebrow of his own. “You guys are the ones making me ask her out. She wouldn’t be my choice.”
“But you’d sleep with her?”
Darting his eyes to the floor, Lex muttered, “Yeah, sure.”
“Why?” Lex looked up, not sure he understood the question.
“Why would you want to sleep with someone that you don’t have any emotional connection to?”
Lex shrugged. “Why not?”
Jonathan put a hand on Lex’s shoulder and squeezed it gently. “Because sex is about more than just the physical act. It’s about how you both feel emotionally.”
Scowling, Lex took a step back away from Jonathan and said, “Can we just get this over with, please.”
“No, we’re gonna talk.” Jonathan grabbed Lex’s upper arm and pulled him towards the couch.
Lex rolled his eyes, but didn’t struggle.
Jonathan sat, forced Lex to sit as well, and wrapped his arm around Lex’s shoulders.
“I take it you’ve never had sex with someone you had feelings for.”
Groaning, Lex shook his head.
“Having sex with someone you barely know is one step up from masturbation.”
“Oh God.” Lex turned bright red, and hid his face in his hands.
“Having sex with someone you love is about thirty steps up from a one-night stand.”
“Only if they love you back,” Lex muttered.
Jonathan paused for a moment and then said gently, “Why wouldn’t they love you back, Lex?”
“Hey,” Jonathan squeezed his shoulder. “Look at me.” Once they had eye contact, Jonathan repeated himself. “Why wouldn’t someone love you back, Lex?”
“Why would they? Other than my money that is.”
Scowling, Jonathan said, “You’re a good looking guy, you’re…”
“Most women don’t care.”
“Easy for you to say. You’ve still got a full head of hair.”
“Stop interrupting,” Jonathan said. “You’re kind, you’re generous, you’re smart, and you’re a survivor. When you set your mind to something you see it through no matter how hard it is. All of those things are qualities that any woman would admire. You just have to give someone the chance to get to know you.”
“But that’s part of the problem. I’m somewhat of a public figure, so most women already know who I am, and have some preconceived notions about me and my family. The waitress last night didn’t offer me sex because I was charming. She offered me sex because she knows who I am.”
“Is that what she told you?” Jonathan asked, already knowing the answer.
“Of course not.”
“Then how do you know?”
“Because I’m not stupid, Pop, and I’ve had enough experience with women to know why they come on to me.”
Jonathan frowned, shook his head, and stood up. “Come on. We’re going to the bar to talk to this woman, and you’re going to ask her on a date.”
“Great,” Lex muttered.
They took the elevator in silence, both of them thinking over what was said. Lex lead the way to the bar, and took a seat at the same booth he was in the night before. “We should order drinks, and then once I’m done talking to her, we can go somewhere else for dinner.”
Jonathan nodded in agreement, while Lex looked around the bar. He caught the waitress’ eyes, and smiled. She returned his smile with an even bigger one and came over.
“Hey there,” she said, “I’m glad you came back. How are you feeling?”
“Much better, thank you,” he said. “I’m sorry about last night. I was hoping you would let me make it up to you.”
Her eyes darted to Jonathan’s nervously before landing back on Lex. “What did you have in mind?”
“I’d like to take you out to dinner on your next night off.”
“Dinner?” she asked slowly, as if not quite understanding.
He nodded. “Anywhere you want to go.”
She looked at Jonathan again, and then frowned at Lex. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“No,” Lex said, taken aback by her obvious mistrust. “No joke. I feel bad about last night, and I’m trying to make it up to you.”
“Who’s your friend?” she asked, glaring distrustfully at Jonathan.
“Jonathan Kent,” he said, holding out his hand to shake with a friendly smile in place. Once she put her hand in his, he added, “I’m Lex’s surrogate father, and after I heard about his ungentlemanly behavior from last night, I told him he had to make it up to you by taking you to dinner.”
Lex groaned. “Really, Pop? Ungentlemanly?”
“Absolutely,” he said, giving the waitress a wink. He let go of the woman’s hand and said, “And you are?”
“Susan. Susan Green.”
“So, what do you say, Susan?” Lex asked. “I could take you to that new French restaurant that opened last month, La Grenouille.”
She scrutinized him for several seconds before answering. “Anywhere I want to go?”
“How about the Denny’s down the road?” she said with a raised eyebrow, clearly expecting him to say no.
“Sure,” he answered easily. “Unfortunately for me, Denny’s is Pop’s favorite. According to him they have the best coffee, and no matter how many times I’ve tried to introduce him to better coffee, he maintains his false claim that Denny’s is best.”
Jonathan chuckled and said, “Because it is.”
Lex rolled his eyes with a smile, before focusing back on Susan. “What night are you free?”
“Great.” Lex pulled a business card out of his suit jacket, wrote a phone number on the back, and handed it to her. “Call this number, and my driver will come pick you up tomorrow night at say six o’clock?”
Lex heard the uncertainty in her voice and said, “Or we could meet here in the lobby at six if you’d rather.”
“Yeah, that would be better.”
She tried to hand him back the card, but he didn’t take it. “Keep it. That’s my cell phone on the font. If something comes up and you can’t make it, give me a call. Are you sure I can’t talk you into Le Grenouille?”
She tilted her head to the side, and slowly nodded. “You know what? Why not?”
“Wonderful. I’ll make reservations, and meet you here at six.”
“Sounds good.” Susan slid the business card into her pocket and asked, “Did you guys want to order anything?”
“Sure, I’ll have a scotch and soda,” Lex said.
Jonathan cleared his throat loudly, and gave Lex an expectant look.
Lex blushed, and hoped Susan wouldn’t notice. “You know what, scratch that. After last night I should probably just have a soda, minus the scotch.”
“I’ll have a Miller Light,” Jonathan said, before the waitress could comment on Lex changing his mind.
She looked back and forth between the two men a couple of times. Instead of commenting, she smiled and said, “Coming right up.”
Once Susan was out of ear shot, Jonathan leaned towards Lex and whispered, “Did you forget you were grounded from drinking for the rest of the week?”
Lex darted his eyes around the room to make sure no one was within hearing distance. “Can we not talk about this in public please?”
“Answer the question, Lex.”
“I didn’t exactly forget; it just didn’t come to mind in that moment.”
“You’d best keep it in mind for the rest of the week. I’ll be less than thrilled if I have to go over this with you again before next Monday.”
“Yes, sir,” Lex said quietly, trying to end the embarrassing reprimand that was happening in a semi-public situation, even if no one could hear them.
“Especially not on your date tomorrow.”
“All right then.” After a short pause, Jonathan said, “I don’t know about you, but breakfast for dinner sounds pretty great.”
Groaning, Lex muttered, “I never should have brought up Denny’s.”
Jonathan chuckled. “And since you’re going to a fancy restaurant tomorrow…”
“Fine,” Lex said, “Denny’s it is.”
# # #
The next day at work, Lex was caught off guard when Lionel confronted him before he’d even had a chance to say hello.
“What is Jonathan Kent doing in Metropolis?” Lionel demanded, and shut his office door so they were alone.
Scowling, Lex said, “Good morning to you too, Dad.”
“Answer the question, Lex.”
Scowling at his father’s demanding tone, Lex shrugged. “Why do you care?”
He watched as his father visibly tried to control his temper, and found some dark humor in the fact that the same demand from his surrogate father last night produced a much different response in him. When Jonathan demanded an answer, Lex tended to respond truthfully and respectfully. When Lionel demanded an answer, Lex tended to respond with sarcasm and rudeness. But he supposed when he first was living with the Kents three years ago, he’d been rude and sarcastic to Jonathan as well. It had taken time, patience, love, and firm guidance for Jonathan to break through to him. And Lex simply didn’t trust Lionel enough yet to give a truthful and respectful answer right off the bat.
“I care, because I assume you’re going through a hard time if Jonathan is here in town,” Lionel said earnestly.
Feeling like an ass, Lex muttered, “Sorry. You’re right. He’s here to help me.”
“Help you with what?”
Lionel tilted his head to the side, trying to figure out that answer. “I’m afraid you’ve lost me, son.”
Lex stuck his hands in his pockets and looked out the office window. “Mr. and Mrs. Kent are less than happy about my past with women.” He glared back at his father. “Thanks for that, by the way.” Then he looked back out the window at the city below. “They’re helping me to practice dating a woman without fucking her and treating her like a whore by buying her off the next day.”
After a short pause, Lionel said, “And Jonathan needs to be in town for that to happen?”
Lex shrugged, “I can’t exactly bring a woman home if I know Pop is there waiting for me.”
“You have millions of dollars at your disposal, Lex. You wouldn’t have to go back to your hotel room to fuck someone.”
“Mm,” Lex agreed without comment. Of course his father was right, but he knew from past experience that he wouldn’t be able to lie to Jonathan for very long if he did end up sleeping with Susan. Then there would be the disappointment, the lecture, the spanking, the inevitable call to Martha, and her disappointment and lecture as well. A one-night stand was not worth all that, but if Jonathan wasn’t in town waiting for him to come home, who knows what he’d be able to talk himself into in the moment.
“So why does Jonathan Kent being in your hotel room help?” Lionel pressed.
“How did you know he was here anyway?” Lex asked, changing the subject.
“You know I keep tabs on you, son. That hasn’t changed, and it won’t anytime soon.” Lex glared at Lionel, and opened his mouth to say something, but Lionel held up a hand to stop him and continued, “It’s not because I don’t trust you, Lex. It’s because I’ve made several enemies over the years. It’s a safety precaution. Nothing more.”
Somewhat mollified, Lex nodded, and even answered his father, since the older man was being upfront with him. “Having Pop here helps, because I don’t want to disappoint him, and he’s made it clear that one night stands aren’t acceptable to him.”
“Do you agree?” Lionel asked.
“No, don’t do that,” Lionel said, stepping closer. “Really think about it, son. Jonathan Kent may find your behavior unacceptable, but that doesn’t make him right. I find absolutely nothing wrong with two consenting adults getting together for a one-night stand. You’re an adult, and you have to live by your own moral code. If you think it’s wrong, fine, let Jonathan help. If you don’t think it’s wrong, then tell him you don’t agree.”
Surprised by his father’s sincerity, Lex did think it over. “I don’t exactly think it’s wrong to have a one-night stand, but…” he cringed, and looked away before muttering, “…it’s probably wrong for me to have one.”
“Why? Because of the Kents’ moral code?”
Keeping his eyes focused out the window, Lex admitted something he never would have told his biological father before they started trying to repair their relationship. “No. Because my one-night stands aren’t about having a little fun. I have one-night stands because I don’t think I deserve anything better from a woman. I have them because I don’t believe that I’m worthy of love.”
After a long awkward silence, Lionel said, “I’m sorry if I… that I made you feel that way, son. Of course you’re worthy of love.”
With a smile, Lex turned back to his father and said, “Thanks. That’s pretty much exactly what Pop said, too. So now that we’ve gotten all that emotional bullshit out of the way, can we please focus on work, and forget that Mr. Kent is in town? Because honestly I had a really great day with you yesterday, and I’d like to have another.”
Lionel slowly nodded. “Of course we can. I had a great day with you, too.” He gestured towards his desk and added, “We got that report from our London office. Do you want to go over it with me?”
“I’d love to.” Lex went to look it over with a smile on his face.
# # #
That night, Lex was in a good mood when he came home and found Jonathan waiting for him. They talked for a few minutes about their respective days while Lex got dressed for his date. Just before Lex headed down to the lobby, Jonathan said, “We don’t need to go over the rules, do we?”
“Nope.” Lex pointed to his head. “They’re burned in here forever.”
“And if you slip up, I expect you to tell me about it, even if that means punishment. Got it?”
“Yes, sir. But honestly, I’m not expecting any kind of problem, because I won’t be drinking.”
“That does tend to get you into trouble more often than not,” Jonathan agreed. “Try to have a good time, and be home before midnight.”
“You’re giving me a curfew?” Lex asked, more surprised than offended.
“It’s your first date. You bet you have a curfew. I agree with your mother about giving you the full teenage experience, and a curfew is definitely a part of that.”
Smiling, Lex said, “Are you going to sit up waiting for me?”
“Of course,” the older man smiled as well.
“That’s a little over the top. But sure, why not. I’ll be home before midnight.”
Lex smirked as he took the elevator to the lobby. He found Susan waiting for him in a tiny red dress that showed way too much cleavage, and muttered, “No sex,” to himself before waving to get her attention.
While they were being driven to the restaurant, Lex asked her about her job, her family, and her aspirations. By the time they pulled up in front of Le Grenouille, he already felt uncomfortable. He had nothing in common with this woman. She’d been raised in a middle class suburban neighborhood by two loving parents who were very religious. She wanted to become an actress, and was waiting tables until she got her big break. And worst of all, when he mentioned he was getting his college degree in history, she’d appeared confused and asked why he was going to college if he was already rich.
The rest of the evening wasn’t entirely insufferable, because the food was wonderful, even if he did have to pass up the red wine that would have gone perfectly with his meal. During dinner he carefully kept the conversation on the movie industry to avoid any in-depth conversation with her. And when she tried to slide her hand up his thigh during the ride home, he quickly put his hand over hers to stop it before it could reach his groin.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re very beautiful, and that dress looks amazing on you, but I can’t.”
He’d prepared himself for this possibility, and the lie slipped from his lips without any problem. “After getting so drunk last night, I’ve decided to take a vow of celibacy for the next thirty days.”
“Thirty days?” she asked. “Wow, I don’t think I could do thirty days.”
Nodding, he said, “It’s going to be tough, but I read about the benefits of celibacy online. You should check it out. It’s supposed to give you all kinds of energy and focus.”
She seemed to accept that answer and they spent the rest of the ride talking about some diet she was going to try that supposedly was also good for energy and focus. Lex was more than happy to drop her off for the night, and go home.
When he walked into his hotel room, Jonathan seemed startled. The older man looked at his watch and said, “It’s barely nine o’clock.”
“Yep.” Lex loosened his tie, toed off his shoes, and flopped onto the couch next to Jonathan.
“How did it go?” Jonathan asked, muting the television.
“Honestly? It was pretty awful, but it did make me glad that I didn’t sleep with her yesterday, because we are not compatible. Not compatible at all.”
Jonathan patted his knee, and said, “Tell me all about it.”
By the time Lex was done with his story, Jonathan was chuckling. “She does sound awful. Or at least she sounds awful for you. I’m sure she’s going to make some guy incredibly happy.” After a pause, Jonathan asked, “Is there someone else you’d like to ask out on a date? Someone you know from work maybe?”
Lex thought about Helen but shook his head. “Nope.”
“I think it would be good for you to go on a couple more dates this week while I’m here. Practice makes perfect, and you need the practice.”
Lex almost groaned, but caught himself before letting it out. Going on a couple more dates wasn’t a horrible idea, because he did need the practice. What if he’d liked Susan? Would he have been able to say no to her advances if she’d had a great personality?
“Yeah, okay. I’ll think about it, and see if anyone comes to mind.”
“Good. Since you’re home early, did you want to finish watching the game with me?” Jonathan asked, turning the sound back on.
Lex stared at the screen for the next hour, but his focus was entirely on the women he’d recently met, trying to figure out who he could potentially ask out. He had to actively ignore the fact that Helen’s name kept coming to the forefront of his brain, and by the time the game was over, he’d decided on two women he liked well enough to ask out.
For the rest of the week, Lex took his practice seriously, and went on two more dates before Friday. Neither of those dates were as awful as Susan, but he also didn’t feel a spark with either woman. He’d found it easy to follow the rules, and he was sure he’d be fine without Jonathan the following week. Friday morning Jonathan drove home, and Friday evening after work Lex went home also, to spend the weekend with his family.
# # #
The following week Lex didn’t go on any dates, and he kept his drinking to a minimum while he was in Metropolis. During the week he found himself thinking about Helen quite often, and considered telling the Kents that he liked her several times each day. But the thought of them knowing about her, and then her rejecting him, made him physically ill. So instead of talking to them about his infatuation, he called Smallville General and asked what it took to become a volunteer.
After getting a sobering list of requirements, he took a couple of days to think it over. He didn’t know if it was worth the trouble just to ask Helen out, since she still might turn him down. Friday after work he drove home to the Kent farm. By the time he arrived, he’d decided it was worth the trouble, and came up with a plan to start the list of requirements without the Kents knowing.
Saturday during lunch, Lex said, “If we don’t have any plans for this afternoon, I thought Clark might like to practice driving the Porsche. We could go into town and hang out for a while. Maybe get a coffee, or go see a movie.”
“That would be great!” Clark said. He’d driven the Porsche a few times, but never wanted to pass up an opportunity to do it again.
“It’s fine with me,” Martha said, looking to her husband.
“That sounds like a great idea,” Jonathan agreed. “You boys have fun.”
Clark drove them to town with a smile, and rambled on about his plans to get his driver’s license the day he turned sixteen.
Once they’d parked, Lex said, “Let’s go to The Talon first to get some coffee.” He was banking on the idea that they would run into some of Clark’s friends, and that would give Lex the opportunity that he needed.
Before they even got in line for coffee, Clark’s friend, Chloe, came up to say hi, and invited them to join her and two other friends who were talking about article ideas for the school paper next year.
Clark looked to Lex, who said, “You should join them for a while. I’ll go to the book store, and do some window shopping around town.” He looked at his watch and added, “We could meet back here in about two hours.”
Clark agreed, and within minutes, Lex had made his way to the hospital to fill out paperwork for his background check. The next available mandatory training session for volunteers was being held the following Friday, and he signed himself up.
# # #
By Thursday of the following week, Lex still hadn’t told the Kents about Helen, and he also hadn’t asked his father about taking Friday off. But he thought waiting until the last moment to tell Lionel was going to work in his favor.
Thursday when they were getting ready to leave for the night, Lex asked Lionel to have dinner with him. The Luthors often had dinner together when Lex was in town, so Lionel easily agreed.
After enjoying a meal together, and making pleasant dinner conversation, Lex decided it was time to dive into the real reason he’d asked his father to have dinner with him.
“Hey, Dad, I was wondering if you could help me with something.”
“Probably. What do you need?”
“You remember Dr. Bryce?”
“I’ve been thinking about asking her out, but I don’t want to just awkwardly call her out of the blue, so I was thinking about spending a few hours volunteering at Smallville General. That way I could run into her naturally, but I’ve asked around and she doesn’t work very often on the weekends. So I thought maybe I could take tomorrow off, go to Smallville in the morning, and sign up to volunteer for the day.”
Lionel sipped his wine before answering. “I do approve of you dating Dr. Bryce as opposed to the questionable women you’ve asked out so far, but it sounds a bit juvenile to go to such lengths before even asking her out.”
Frowning, Lex held his tongue until the urge to snap at his father passed. Instead he tried a little bit of honesty, hoping it wasn’t a mistake. “I never dated when I was actually a teenager, and Mom… well that’s why she thinks I need practice, because I probably am a bit juvenile about it.”
Lionel slowly nodded. “Alright, you’ve convinced me. Take Friday off, and go accidentally run into Dr. Bryce.”
Lex smiled. “Thanks, Dad. And could you maybe not mention it to the Kents?”
“Why?” Lionel asked suspiciously. “Last week you had to have Jonathan here specifically because you needed help with dating, and now you don’t want to tell them? That doesn’t make a lot of sense, son, and it makes me think that you’re lying to me.”
Lex rapidly shook his head, even though he had been less than honest. “No, I…” He tried to come up with more lies, but nothing came to mind. With a dejected sigh, he decided a bit more honesty was in order. “Okay, you got me. I’m not being entirely honest with you. I already asked her out once, and she shot me down.”
“Really?” Lionel said with surprise. “Interesting. I like her more already. The ones who play hard to get are the best.”
“She’s not playing hard to get, Dad, she said no because remembers me from when I was sixteen and drunk off my ass in the emergency room here in Metropolis.”
“Ah.” Lionel nodded. “That would be off-putting.”
“But if she sees me volunteering, she’ll see a better side of me.”
A slow smile grew on Lionel’s face. “I’m impressed, son. I take my earlier comment back. That’s not particularly juvenile at all. So I’m even more confused as to why you wouldn’t want the Kents to know.”
Lex looked at his empty plate. “Because she might still say no, and I…” he downed the rest of the wine in his glass. His voice was barely above a whisper as he finished his thought. “I don’t want them to know if she rejects me.”
Lionel shook his head, but agreed. “Okay, Lex. I won’t bring it up if I talk to them, but rejection is a part of dating. Eventually you’ll have to get used to it. Plenty of women have said no to me. That doesn’t make me less desirable to the women who say yes.”
Relieved that his father agreed not to tell the Kents, Lex relaxed his posture, nodded in agreement, and said, “That’s a good point. Thanks for being so understanding.”
“You’re welcome.” The older man held up his hand to wave down the waiter, and asked for the check.
# # #
Friday morning, Lex drove to Smallville with a smile on his face, picturing all the ways he might run into Helen. He’d already cleared his background check, and last night he’d filled out all the online forms they’d sent him once he’d been cleared. The training class he was taking today, was the last thing he needed before he could start volunteering, and he was hopeful that he might be able to do his first five hours of volunteer work directly after the class this afternoon.
Lex found the volunteer training excessively boring and redundant. It taught common sense instead of skills, and repeatedly cautioned against all the things that could get the hospital sued. But he forced himself to stick it out, and once it was thankfully over, he went to the teacher and asked about volunteering that day. The teacher directed Lex to the volunteer coordinator, and within fifteen minutes of speaking to her, he was changing sheets, and taking dirty bedding to the laundry room. He didn’t exactly enjoy the job, but it was better than dealing with bedpans.
Four hours later, he started thinking that he wouldn’t run into Dr. Bryce at all. But as fate would have it, the coordinator sent him to the emergency room to finish out his last hour of volunteering. He was working with admitting, and showing patients to their beds when he heard her voice. He felt his stomach flutter with excitement as he listened to her telling her patient about his or her test results. The fact that he couldn’t see her through the curtain partition was frustrating, but he hoped he’d run into her before his shift was up. He continued to the end of the row of beds, and led a woman with a wheezy asthmatic three-year-old to the last bed. Once the child was situated, he walked back towards the front, hoping to at least hear Helen’s voice again, but heard nothing.
Then, just as he was about to sign out for the day, three bloody patients were brought in on stretchers at the same time. The nurse in charge of admitting paged Dr. Bryce with a code Lex didn’t understand, and he watched in fascination as Helen and several nurses rushed out from the back towards the patients. The EMT started talking about the state of each patient while Helen took a cursory look at all three. She started barking directions and medical jargon that Lex didn’t understand, but clearly everyone around her did. Much too soon, the little group disappeared behind the ER door, and Lex just stood staring at the door for a few seconds.
Lex felt a hand on his shoulder, and he turned to see the admitting nurse looking his way with sympathy. “Are you okay, Lex?”
Coming out of his stupor, he nodded. “Yeah, I’m alright.”
“Seeing the results of a car accident can be unsettling. I hope it didn’t scare you off, because you’ve been a big help today,” the older woman said.
He was glad that she thought his stupor had been due to the injured patients, and not due to seeing Dr. Bryce in full emergency doctor mode. He shook his head. “I don’t scare off that easily. I’ll be back next Friday.”
“That’s good to hear,” she said. “You can clock out, and turn your timecard into the volunteer coordinator up on the second floor where you had your class.”
“Okay, thanks.” He headed towards the elevators, and tried to switch focus since he’d be heading towards the farm as soon as he was clocked out, but his head wouldn’t stop replaying what he’d just seen. Helen was amazing, and now he wanted her even more than before. But he also felt even less worthy than before. She saved people’s lives, and he was a college student majoring in history. He wasn’t sure what exactly they’d have in common.
Scowling, he tried to forcibly shove those thoughts out of his head, because he was even less willing to tell the Kents about his infatuation now, and he had to see them in under an hour. If they asked him why he was distracted, he wasn’t sure what lie would come out of his mouth, but he knew it wouldn’t be the truth, and directly lying to the Kents never ended well for him. Not that lying by omission ended well for him either, but it wasn’t quite as bad. Or at least that’s what he kept telling himself.
After clocking out, he went to the cafeteria to eat some dinner before going home. He knew the food would be awful, but it would be unusual to arrive home on a Friday night without having had some kind of dinner. He got the least offensive looking item on the menu, and ate what he could of it before going home.
His weekend with the Kents went better than expected. Jonathan had them clearing out a new plot of land for farming, which was physically demanding, and left very little downtime for talking.
# # #
Monday morning when Lex got to work, he was in a pretty good mood when he went to his father’s office.
Lionel smiled and shut the door before asking, “How was your weekend son? Were you able to ask Dr. Bryce out?”
Lex shook his head. “I saw her in passing working in the emergency room, but she was too focused on her patient to notice me. I spent most of my time on the upper floors changing bedding, and only got to work in the emergency room for an hour. But if I can have this Friday off, I’m pretty sure they’ll let me do my whole shift in the emergency room.”
Lionel frowned. “Another Friday? You already missed a full week because of your injury. I’m beginning to think that you’re not taking your position in Luthorcorp very seriously.”
Immediately defensive, Lex scowled. “It’s not my fault I fell.”
“I didn’t say it was, and I didn’t begrudge you that week. But taking more time off to meet a girl because you don’t want the Kents to know about her is your fault. I think you need to work on Friday.”
Lex raised his voice, “Seriously Dad? Is that how you want this conversation to go? You’re lucky I’ve agreed to spend the summer here at all!”
“I’m lucky?” Lionel voice went up to match his son’s. “You’re lucky I don’t have you working in the mailroom again!”
Lex glared at his father, remembering that fiasco from two summers ago, and hissed, “Fuck you.”
Lionel took a menacing step towards his son, and Lex automatically flinched. Both men froze, and Lionel muttered, “I need a five-minute break,” before walking swiftly towards his office door.
As soon as Lex was alone, he slowly sat down on the small couch in his father’s office, and took a deep breath. “Shit,” he muttered to himself. He hated to admit it, but as he sat there thinking it over, he realized he’d been in the wrong.
When Lionel came back into the office, Lex stayed seated, looked at his father and said, “I’m sorry. That one was my fault. I was asking for a favor, and then I got defensive when you didn’t automatically agree.”
Lionel nodded. “Apology accepted, son. And I’m sorry I brought up the mailroom. I know that summer was… difficult for you, and I didn’t help matters by yelling insults and… slapping you hard enough to leave you bruised for half a week.”
“Yeah,” Les agreed. “The circumstances surrounding it sucked, but I honestly didn’t mind working in the mailroom, or the other departments that summer. I learned a lot about the company.” Lex stood and said, “And you’re wrong about me not taking my position at Luthorcorp seriously. I love this company, and I fully intend to spend my life keeping it running as smoothly and as profitably as you have. But the one thing we both learned during that summer I worked in the mailroom is that when I’m an emotional mess, my work suffers because of it.”
“Yes,” Lionel agreed. “And since I’m the root cause of your emotional turmoil, I should do everything in my power to help you. So of course you can have Friday off.”
“Thanks, Dad. It will be the last one. And you may be ‘the root cause of my emotional turmoil’ as you put it, but spending time with you here at Luthorcorp is helping to heal all the old scars.”
Lionel slowly walked up to Lex, and tentatively pulled him into a hug. “Having you here helps me, too.”
Lex hugged back for a few seconds, and then said, “Can we get back to work for the day now that we got that out of the way?”
“Absolutely.” Lionel patted him on the back before letting go, and heading to his desk.
# # #
The next Friday, Lex arrived in Smallville in the morning. The volunteer coordinator had no problem assigning him to the emergency room for the day, and about half an hour into his shift, he ran in to Helen. He was showing a patient with a bloody wrapped thumb to his bed as Dr. Bryce was walking out from behind a curtain partition.
“Lex?” she said with confusion.
“Hi Dr. Bryce,” he said, unable to keep the smile from his face as he walked past her. He gestured to the next available bed in line, and the man who’d been following him sat on it. Once the man was settled, Lex turned to go back to the front desk, and found Helen waiting for him just outside the partition.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
He pointed to the volunteer badge that was clipped to his shirt, and said, “Making up those ten hours like you asked me to.”
Her eyes opened wide and she scrutinized him for a few seconds, as if trying to see any hints of insincerity. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“No,” he said trying not to sound offended. “Not at all. I filled out all the forms, did the background check, and took the class. I did my first five hours last Friday.”
“You did?” She still appeared to be surprised and untrusting.
“I did.” He gestured toward the front. “I should get back to it.”
“Oh… yeah, of course.” She stepped aside and let him pass.
As he walked by her he said, “The guy in bed six sliced open his thumb. He’ll need stitches.”
She just stared at him with shock. Once his back was to her, he allowed himself a small smile of satisfaction.
# # #
Over the next two hours, Helen and Lex ran into each other in the hallway several times and smiled while passing along tidbits of pertinent patient information like ‘the woman in bed tree is ready to be discharged’, and ‘the guy in bed four started throwing up.’ Lex found himself grinning in anticipation of each new encounter.
Midway through Lex’s shift, a scrawny kid came in holding his left arm close against his torso. Lex noticed the front desk nurse stiffen when she saw the boy.
“Damn it,” she muttered.
“What’s wrong?” Lex asked, and watched a large man practically shove the boy into one of the waiting room chairs. The kid winced and paled, but didn’t make any noise, and Lex knew without asking why the admitting nurse was upset.
She put on a fake smile as the man walked up to her, and asked, “How can I help you?”
“I think my kid broke his arm.”
“Name?” she asked, but Lex could see her computer screen, and knew she’d already typed it in.
While she asked the routine questions about date of birth and insurance, Lex watched the kid. The computer said his name was Colin and that he was eleven. The kid’s eyes never left the ground, and he sat perfectly still while waiting.
White hot rage started to build in Lex’s chest, and he knew without a doubt that he was going to help this kid, no matter what, even if it meant he’d be asked to leave before his shift was over.
Once Colin’s father had sat back down to wait, Lex leaned over to whisper with the admitting nurse.
“You knew who that kid was before the dad gave you his name.”
The woman nodded. “He’s been here three times already this year, and it’s only June.”
“The father is abusing him.” Lex stated it as a fact instead of asking a question.
“Yes,” the woman agreed.
“Why hasn’t anyone done anything?” Lex demanded with an angry hiss.
She scowled at him. “Don’t you think we’ve tried? We’ve talked to Colin alone several times, and told him again and again to tell us the truth. We’ve promised to protect him, and told him it’s not his fault, but his story never changes. He always says he fell. We called social services this last time, but they couldn’t get Colin to talk either.”
“Oh.” Lex stood up and thought over the problem, while the nurse furiously typed notes in Colin’s file.
Over the next half an hour while they were waiting for a bed to open up for Colin, Lex tried to decide what he was going to do. His first instinct was to beat the shit out of the father, but the man was quite a bit larger than Lex, and none of his parental figures would condone that behavior anyway. His next thought was to talk to the kid, show the boy his own scars and convince him to talk, but he wasn’t sure how much good that would actually do, or if it would even work. Then he thought about his own father and wondered what might have made him stop before finding out that Lex hadn’t killed his baby brother, and the answer came to him almost immediately. Money.
By the time a bed was free for Colin, Lex had a plan. As he was showing Colin and his father to bed number three, he said, “Do you guys recognize me?”
“Should we?” the father asked, clearly already on the defense.
“My picture has been in plenty of newspapers and magazines.”
“You kind of look like that Lex Luthor guy,” the father said.
Lex smirked. “That’s me.”
“Yeah, right,” the man scoffed.
Lex pulled out his wallet and showed the man his driver’s license.
“What the hell are you doing here?” the father asked, after seeing Lex’s name.
“Court ordered community service for being drunk and disorderly on a public sidewalk,” Lex lied smoothly. “Smallville is ridiculous. If I’d done the same thing in Metropolis no one would have batted an eye, but in Smallville I’m stuck doing twenty hours. I don’t know how you can stand to live here.”
They’d made it to the bed, and Lex gestured to it. “Here we are.” He looked at the father and added, “Go ahead and have a seat while I take Colin back to get an x-ray.”
“What do you mean have a seat?” the man asked. “I go where my son goes.”
Lex scowled. “Look man, I’m just trying to get in my hours so I can get out of this hell hole. They told me again and again that only the person getting x-rayed can go back, and I’m not going to anything that might get me sentenced to more hours. If you want some kind of special accommodation, go talk to the nurse at the front desk.”
The man seemed to think that over for a few moments, but then sat on the chair beside the bed and muttered, “Fine, hurry up.”
After forcing out a chuckle, Lex said, “Hurry up? In Smallville? That’s a good one. I had to wait half an hour for the last guy I took to get an x-ray. Metropolis General would have had your kid x-rayed within ten minutes of walking through the door.” He looked down at Colin and said, “Come on kid, this way.”
Colin looked at his father, and once the man gave him a nod, he followed Lex further down the hall. Lex used his badge to get them through the door to the main part of the hospital, and led Colin towards the sign that said ‘imaging’. Once they got to the correct department, Lex and Colin sat side by side in the large waiting area with three other people scattered around the room.
“Do you actually like living in Smallville?” Lex asked.
“I guess,” Colin muttered.
“Maybe you just don’t know any better. Have you ever been to Metropolis?”
“Well, there’s your problem,” Lex said. “Big city living is the only way to go. I bet your family would love it in Metropolis. Is it just you and your dad?”
“No. I have a mom and a baby sister, too.”
“Nice. How’d you hurt your arm?”
After a long pause, Colin said softly, “I fell.”
“Not being honest, huh?” Lex said with a nod. “I used to just keep my mouth shut after my dad hit me.”
Colin visibly tensed and froze in his chair, and Lex continued. “But then my dad had so much money, power, and influence, there was no point in telling anyone. The private doctors he hired never even asked me what had happened, because they knew.”
Lex leaned forward and showed Colin the back of his bald head. He pointed to the one-inch scar that was there and said, “This was the most recent one. I was holding an ornament he didn’t want me to touch, so he slapped me so hard that I fell and hit my head on the fireplace.”
He sat back, lifted his right pant leg, and pointed to a small scar on his shin. “I got this one when I was close to your age. He caught me in a room I wasn’t supposed to be in, so he grabbed my arm, shook me really hard, and shoved me towards the door. But he shoved me so hard that I couldn’t keep my balance and I fell hitting the doorframe as I went down. That seemed to piss him off even more, so he kicked me in the back. I was wearing shorts, and my bare leg scraped against a rough part of the doorframe while I was scrambling to get away, and took some skin off.”
Lex put the pant leg down, and sat back. “But most of the scars my father gave me aren’t on my skin.” He tapped his temple. “They’re up here. Just like the scars that broken arm is going leave in your head.”
Colin just stared at Lex with wide eyes through his explanation. Lex was about to ask him how he hurt his arm again, when they both heard a female voice behind Lex.
Lex turned to see Helen standing beside him.
“How long were you standing there?” Lex asked, as his face heated up. Pity was the expression he was expecting from her, but instead she appeared to be shocked and guilty.
She sat in the empty chair beside him, and took his hand in hers. “I’m sorry.”
“No reason for you to be sorry,” he muttered, wishing he could have kept this part of his life from her.
“Of course there’s a reason for me to be sorry. I sat with you for hours when you were a drunk sixteen-year-old, and it never even occurred to me that your behavior was a cry for help.”
Feeling very uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was going, he said, “Well, don’t worry about it, because it’s not a problem anymore.” He turned to face Colin and said, “It’s not a problem anymore because a year ago my father was forced to take advice from a parenting coach. Since he got help, he hasn’t hit me once, and I’ve given him plenty of opportunities. I’ve said and done things that normally would have made him slap me or worse. He has raised his hand, and he has stepped towards me in the heat of the moment, but then he stopped himself before making contact, and that never would have happened before.”
While Lex was talking, Colin’s eyes filled with tears that spilled down his face.
Lex felt Helen gently squeeze his hand. He put his free hand on Colin’s knee and said gently, “I’m not a social worker, and I’m not a doctor, but that puts me in a unique position to help you. I don’t need to follow any laws about dealing with abuse, and I have more than enough money and power to actually get something useful done. Tell me how your arm got broken, and I’ll help.”
“You can’t help,” Colin whispered, his voice wavering with tears.
Leaning in close so they were at eye level again, Lex said intently, “I can, and I will. I don’t give a shit if you tell me the truth or not, because I know exactly what’s going on, and I’m going to offer your father a lot of money to come clean.”
“What?” Colin asked, clearly confused and nervous.
“Lex, you can’t…”
Lex ignored whatever Helen was starting to say, and kept his focus on Colin. “I’m going to offer your father more money than he makes in three years to tell Dr. Bryce exactly what he’s been doing to you, and then if he agrees to get help I might even offer him a job.”
Colin stared at Lex for a few seconds, and then asked in a tiny voice, “Really?”
“Yes. But I don’t want him lying to me, so it would really help if you told me how your arm got broken.”
Colin’s eyes darted over to Helen’s and he leaned in towards Lex to whisper, “Not in front of the doctor.”
Lex nodded, let go of Helen’s hand and turned to her. “Can we have a minute, please?”
Helen bit her lip and thought about it for a few seconds. Eventually she nodded, stood, and walked to the other side of the room to wait.
Lex leaned in again so Colin could whisper the truth to him.
“Mom gave me twenty dollars and asked me to go buy milk at the store. On the way I ran into some kids from school who don’t like me. They took the money and ran off. That was our last twenty until Dad gets paid again next Friday. When I came home without the milk or the money Dad took off his belt, and I…” Colin shook his head and said with shame, “…I ran instead of taking my whipping. Dad caught me in the yard, and pulled me back to the house.”
“I would have run, too. No one deserves a whipping for losing twenty bucks to a group of thugs, Colin.” Lex said gently. “Your father’s the one who deserves a whipping for blaming you for it.”
When Colin went silent, Lex prompted him. “What happened next?”
“I struggled, and begged him not to whip me as he pulled me up the steps. That made him real mad, so he shoved me against the porch railing, and used his weight to push me into it. My arm was trapped between me and the metal railing, and when he pushed I felt my arm bend around the railing. It hurt so bad I screamed. Mom came out and yelled at Dad. She made him bring me in to get my arm checked. Dad says I’m getting two whippings now. One when we get home tonight, and another when he gets the bill for this visit.”
“That’s not going to happen,” Lex said vehemently. When Colin tensed, Lex gentled his voice, and said, “Sorry, I’m not mad, I’m emotional because I remember how it feels to get hit for things that aren’t your fault. Thank you for telling me. Does your mom hit you, too?”
Colin shook his head. “No.”
“Does your dad hit your little sister?”
“No,” Colin said, sounding horrified. “She’s just a baby. She can’t even walk yet.”
“Does your dad hit your mom?”
“No,” Colin sounded almost offended by that thought.
“Good.” Lex put his hand on Colin’s shoulder and said, “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that your father never hurts you again.” He moved his hand and waved Helen over.
“You’re not going to tell her, are you?” Colin asked with terror.
Lex turned to Colin and thought that over for a few seconds. Once Helen was beside him, Lex said, “I won’t for now, but if your dad refuses my offer, then I might.”
Colin kept eye contact for a few seconds, and then slowly nodded, accepting that answer.
Lex turned to Helen. “Can someone else wait with Colin for the x-ray? I need to go talk to his dad.”
“Can I speak to you in private for a moment?” Helen said.
“Hang tight, kid.” Lex said, and followed Helen to the other side of the room.
“Did Colin tell you what happened?” Helen asked.
She waited expectantly for a few moments, and then when he didn’t offer any further information she said, “We’ve been trying to get this guy put away for months now. If you know what happened, you have to tell me.”
Lex shook his head. “If Colin’s father hasn’t confessed by the end of the
day, I will.”
“You’re not a professional counselor, or a social worker,” she said urgently, “You could make everything worse if you go confront this guy.”
“Maybe, but I have to try. This kid just confided in me after months, maybe years, of silence. I’m not going to break the trust he just showed me five seconds later.” He took her hand in his and said, “If my way doesn’t work, I’ll know soon enough, and then I’ll tell you. Okay?”
Helen reluctantly nodded, “Okay.”
He let go of her hand, and walked back to Colin. “I’m going to go talk to your dad. Stay here until they call your name, okay?”
Colin nodded with fear and worry in his eyes.
Lex went back to the emergency room and walked up to Colin’s father.
“Where’s Colin?” the father demanded.
Lex got out his wallet, and pulled out all his cash. He counted it up, and held out the cash. “I’ll give you seven hundred bucks right now to come talk to me outside.”
“I never got your name.” Lex said impatiently.
“Look, John, I’m going to make you an offer, and it needs to be in private. Your kid is still waiting on an x-ray, and there were three people in front of him. We’ve got time.” He pushed the money closer to the man.
Glaring suspiciously at Lex, John slowly took the money, and stuck it in his own pocket.
Lex nodded, and said, “Follow me.” Once they were standing outside the emergency room doors, Lex said, “What do you do for a living, John?”
“I’m a welder.”
“And where do you work?”
“I got laid off six months ago, and the company I was working for went out of business just last month.”
“About how much did you make in a year when you were working?”
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” John said defensively.
Lex nodded. “When I turned twenty-one a few months ago I got access to my trust fund. I have a few million at my disposal. I told you I want to make you an offer, so it would be in your best interest to answer the question.”
“Last year I made forty-two thousand.”
“And what kind of outstanding debts do you have?”
“My wife’s student loans are over sixty thousand. We’ve got two mortgages on the house that adds up to over two hundred thousand. And I still owe about fifteen thousand on my truck.”
Lex nodded and said, “I’ll give you three hundred thousand dollars to tell Dr. Helen Bryce what actually happened to your kid’s arm.”
“I can have twenty-five thousand transferred into your account right now while we’re talking, and once you make a full confession to Dr. Bryce while I’m in the room to witness it, I’ll pay off all your debts.”
John clenched his jaw and shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes you do,” Lex snapped. “I don’t know much about child abuse laws. You might do some jail time, and I’m sure you’ll have some kind of court appointed counseling, but since this will be your first offence, the courts will probably show you leniency. I’ll hire you one of the best lawyers in Metropolis to make sure you don’t do much time if any. And the lawyer will make sure you are required to get counseling, mandatory parenting classes, and mandatory home checks for your kids. I’m also going to offer you a job.” The man was just staring at him, so Lex asked, “Are you getting all this so far, John?”
John nodded stiffly.
“Good. I’ll call my personal assistant, and she’ll find you a welding job before the day is up, even if it’s contract work that Luthorcorp has to create for you. If you take my offer, you’ll have a job, you’ll have some cash in the bank, and you’ll be debt free before the day is up.”
“And I’ll have a criminal record, for trying to teach my son a lesson,” John added.
Those words made Lex too angry to think rationally. He gave John an unpleasant smile and said, “Yeah, but if you don’t take my offer, I’m going to hire some guys to beat the shit out of you, and I’ll have them do extra damage to your spine in the hopes that you’ll be paralyzed for life.”
“What?” John whispered.
Instantly regretting his threat, and knowing that he’d never actually carry it out, Lex said, “I’m sorry, that’s… that’s not true. I wouldn’t do that. But I will report you, if you don’t confess, because Colin already told me what happened.”
“No he didn’t,” John said uncertainly.
“Yes, he did. Probably because I told him that I was going to give you a lot of money, and he knows you guys need it. Whipping your kid for losing twenty bucks to a bunch of thugs isn’t teaching him a lesson, it’s abuse. And breaking his arm because he’s trying to escape your abuse is criminal.”
The older man paled, and Lex pulled his phone out of his pocket. “So what will it be, John? Should I call my assistant and have twenty-five thousand wired to your account right now, or am I going to go report you?”
After a relatively short pause, John said, “Make the call.”
As Lex dialed the number, he said, “I’ll need your bank account number.”
“I don’t know it off the top of my head.”
“We’ll figure it out,” Lex assured him, and started speaking to his assistant once she answered.
# # #
Half an hour later, Lex and John walked back into the emergency room, and found Colin in his bed. The kid started to tremble when he saw his father walking towards him.
“Hey kid, did you get your x-ray done?” Lex asked.
Colin nodded, but didn’t take his eyes off his father.
“Great. Your dad agreed to my offer.”
Colin’s eyes snapped to Lex, and then went back to his father. John kept his eyes straight ahead, focused on the curtain partition.
“He did?” Colin asked with hope.
“Yep. Take a seat, John,” Lex said, “We’ll all wait here quietly for Dr. Bryce. No talking.”
An awkwardly silent fifteen minutes later, Dr. Bryce came in holding an x-ray. She stilled when she saw everyone in the small partitioned area. Lex gave her a smile and then turned to John expectantly.
The older man said, “Is his arm broken?”
“Yes it is.” Dr. Bryce took the x-ray to a small panel on the wall, clipped it on, and turned the backlight on. They could all clearly see the fracture she pointed to. “His humerus has what we call a stable fracture. That means the two ends of the bone are mostly lined up, and it’s going to be relatively easy to repair. We’ll be administering a hematoma blocker for the pain, and then I’ll set the bone. Once we’ve got it x-rayed again to make sure everything is in alignment, we’ll get a cast put on. The whole process should take about an hour.”
“John,” Lex said with an edge to his voice.
He nodded, looked Dr. Bryce in the eyes, and said, “It was an accident, but the broken arm is my fault. Colin didn’t fall. I was pulling him up the stairs, and he was struggling, so I pushed him against the metal railing. I must have pushed too hard. I would never break his arm on purpose.”
“Tell her why Colin was running from you in the first place,” Lex demanded.
“Because I was going to give him a whipping for losing some money.”
Lex nodded and then waited to see what Helen would say.
“I see. Lex, I’m going to need you to stay here with Colin while I go make a few calls. Mr. Lanford, you’ll need to come with me.”
John turned to Lex and said, “Are you going to keep your end of the bargain?”
Lex pulled his phone out, and started to dial. “I’m calling your wife right now.”
# # #
By the time Lex’s five-hour shift was over, John had been taken in for questioning by the police, Colin’s arm had been set, Colin’s family was debt free, and Lex had gotten one of his father’s staff members from the Smallville mansion to drive Colin’s mother and baby sister to the hospital.
Pleased with himself, Lex clocked out for the day, and then went back to the emergency room, hoping to talk to Helen once more. She was talking to the nurse at the front desk when he arrived.
“Could I talk to you for a minute?” he asked. “I’m about to leave for the day.”
“Sure, come on back to my office.”
The nurse at the front desk buzzed him in to the back, and he followed her down the hall. As they walked she said, “I wanted to talk to you, too. Everyone here appreciates what you did for Colin. I don’t know what you did to get his father to speak up, and I’m not sure I want to know, because I’m guessing it’s not entirely legal. But I’m certain that your motivations were pure, and it’s hard to argue with the results.”
They’d made it to her office, and she closed the door behind them. “So thank you for whatever you did,” she leaned in and kissed his cheek.
Acting on instinct, he leaned forward as she stepped back and touched his lips to hers. When she didn’t immediately pull away, he put his hand on her back, and pressed their bodies together. When he felt her hands clutching his shirt, he deepened the kiss. For several blissful moments they were so caught up in each other, that nothing else mattered. Then he felt her hand on his chest, gently pushing him away.
He let his arms drop, and took a step back.
“We can’t,” she said.
“Yes we can. I’ve done my ten hours, I’m no longer your patient, we’re both adults, and I really like you. Please let me take you to dinner tomorrow night.”
She shook her head. “It’s not that I don’t like you, Lex, because I do. But it feels… unethical to go on a date with you. I treated you when you were sixteen. I can’t just forget that mental image of you.”
He stepped into her personal space again, and looked down at her, because even in her heels she was a good three inches shorter than him. “Spend some time with me, so we can replace that image with new ones.” He brushed his fingers down the side of her face.
She shook her head again, and stepped back. “It’s not just that. You’re still in college, Lex, and I’m in my first year of residency. Neither one of us has time for a serious relationship, and if we go out… it won’t be casual.”
“I’m not looking for casual,” Lex said. “I’ve had my fill of casual over the years. I’m looking for something else.”
“You go to school several states away. It wouldn’t be fair, or even reasonable, to ask you to be exclusive when we wouldn’t even see each other for months at a time. And as I already said, it couldn’t be casual between us.”
“And as I’ve already said, I’ve had my fill of casual relationships. I’m ready and more than willing to be exclusive. I could see you every weekend this summer, and at least twice a month during school next year.”
She bit her lip and thought it over for a few seconds. Then put her hand on the side of his face, leaned up to give him a chaste kiss on the lips, and said, “Ask me out again once you graduate.”
“No,” she said firmly, cutting him off. She side stepped him, opened her office door, and said, “Go home, Lex. Enjoy your last year of college.”
Feeling rejected and hurt, Lex nodded and muttered, “Okay.”
He walked to his car in a daze, and tried to figure out how he felt about everything. Before he had any kind of definitive answer, he was on his way to the Kent farm for the weekend.
# # #
As soon as he parked in front of the farm house and saw Clark’s surprised smile, Lex realized his mistake. He was too early, and now he’d either have to lie, come clean, or do some fancy omitting. He decided on option three, and berated himself for being a coward. He stepped out of the car and gave Clark a hug.
“What are you doing home so early?” Clark asked.
“I was having a crap day, and I just wanted to come home.”
Lex shook his head. “I’d rather not talk about it. At least not right now. I just want to enjoy being home.”
“Okay,” Clark agreed easily. “I was about to get a drink. Mom will be happy to see you.”
They walked to the house together, and after a confused, but warm, welcome from Martha, Lex followed Clark back out to the field to help Jonathan.
A couple of hours later they were all sitting around the dinner table, when Lex’s phone rang. He excused himself from the table and walked to the living room to answer it. It was the lawyer he’d hired for John giving him an update, and asking him for clarification for a few things. Once the call was done, he went back to the table.
“Sorry for the interruption.”
“What was that about?” Martha asked.
“That was one of the many lawyers on retainer for Luthorcorp. He had some questions about a case.” Hoping to change the subject, Lex added, “This spaghetti is really great, Mom.”
“Is this lawyer and the case connected to why you’re home early?” Martha asked.
“Yep,” Lex said, “Could you pass the salad?”
Jonathan and Martha exchanged a glance. Then Jonathan held the salad out towards Lex, but when Lex tried to take it, Jonathan didn’t let go until after he’d said, “I think you should tell us what happened today.”
Lex frowned, took the salad bowl, and put some on his plate while considering it. Keeping his eyes down, he said, “I’d rather not.”
“If you’ve done something we wouldn’t approve of, you know we expect you to tell us about it,” Jonathan said firmly.
Scowling, Lex glared at him. “Just because I don’t want to tell you, doesn’t mean I’ve done something wrong.”
“Lex,” Martha said gently, “You know you can tell us anything, right?”
Lex’s phone rang again, and he muttered, “Excuse me.” He went to the living room again to answer.
Lionel’s voice said, “Please tell me you didn’t actually pay off someone’s mortgage today, son.”
“Exactly how do you know about that, Dad?” Lex demanded. “I know you don’t have access to my trust fund, so either you paid someone to tell you, or I need to hire a new assistant.”
Sighing, Lionel said, “A Mrs. Lanford called asking for you. We ended up having a very enlightening conversation.”
Lex groaned and muttered, “I gave her my fucking cell phone number. Why the hell was she calling Luthorcorp?”
“She lost your number.”
“Fantastic,” Lex said.
“She’s grateful.” When Lex remained silent, Lionel said, “Please tell me this was a simple lapse in judgement on your part, and not what you plan to do with your money in the future. You can’t fix the world one person at a time, and if you try, you’ll simply run out of money.”
Gritting his teeth, Lex told his father what he wanted to hear so that he’d get off his back. “It was a onetime deal, Dad. Won’t happen again. I’m in the middle of dinner, so I’ve got to go.”
“I’m glad to hear it. I’ll see you Monday morning.”
Lex hung up, and walked back to the table where both Jonathan and Martha were staring intently at him.
“What?” he asked, standing behind his chair.
“Tell us about today. It’s not a request,” Jonathan ordered.
“I don’t have to tell you anything!” Lex shouted. “It’s my life, and…”
Glaring, Jonathan stood up as well.
Lex’s voice immediately dropped in volume and anger as he finished his sentence. “…I can make my own decisions.”
As Lex was finishing his sentence, Jonathan took the three steps that separated them. Lex tried to back up a step, but Jonathan caught his upper arm, and gave his backside a solid swat. Lex’s entire face turned bright red with embarrassment at getting swatted in front of Clark and Martha. Speaking calmly, Jonathan said, “If you don’t lower your voice, sit down, and speak to us with respect, I’m going to take you to your room and put you over my knee. Do you understand me?”
Swallowing hard, Lex nodded, and muttered, “Yes, sir.”
Jonathan let go, raised an eyebrow and waited for Lex to sit. Once the younger man was sitting, Jonathan went back to his chair and sat down as well. After clearing his throat, Jonathan said, “We know it’s your life, and we know you can make your own decisions. But your mother and I don’t believe you’re mature enough yet to make those decisions without parental involvement and guidance. You’ve matured quite a bit over the past three years, and we’re proud of your progress, but you’ve still got some maturing to do. When I tell you to do something, I expect you to do it.”
Lex glared at his plate, but nodded.
Martha put a hand over Lex’s hand, and said gently, “It sounded to me like you were speaking to your father about money and a woman. If you’ve had another one of your hit and runs, I expect you to tell us about it, even if it means you’ll be getting spanked.”
A full blown laugh came out of Lex before he could stop it. The situation they were imagining was so much worse than the reality, that he couldn’t help it. Once he got his laughter under control, he shook his head. “It’s nothing like that, Mom. Nothing at all like that. In fact, I think you might even be proud of me.” The words blackmail and bribery went through his mind, and he had second thoughts. “Maybe. Maybe not.” Scowling, he muttered, “Or maybe it is a spanking offence. I don’t fucking know.”
“I’ve heard enough of that language, young man,” Martha said.
Jonathan said, “Tell us the whole story, son. We’ll listen, we’ll give you advice, we’ll give you guidance and possibly a reprimand if it’s warranted, but we’ll love you no matter what.”
Feeling secure in his knowledge that his adoptive parents would be there for him come rain or shine, Lex started in on his story, carefully leaving out names and places.
“There’s this woman that I like, and I wanted to ask her out on a date. She works at a hospital, so I went there today to talk to her. But while I was there, a man brought in this kid with a broken arm.” Lex shook his head. “The kid said he fell, but it was obvious to me that the kid was being abused by his father, so I…” he shifted in his chair, and cleared his throat before continuing, “I offered his father a large sum of money to tell the doctors the truth.”
The room fell silent for a few seconds. Jonathan was the first to speak up. “So you bribed this man into making a confession.”
Lex looked Jonathan in the eyes and said, “Yes I did.”
“Did it work?” Clark asked.
“It did. The guy is in custody, and social services is involved to make sure the kid is in a safe environment.”
Jonathan shared a look with Martha, and she gave him a nod. Lex wasn’t sure if that meant he was in trouble or not, but he was prepared to defend his actions.
Jonathan sighed and said, “Normally your mother and I would not approve of bribery, and if this situation ever comes up again, we expect you to handle it differently, but for today… we understand why you’d do it, and we’re proud of you for trying to help.”
“We are,” Martha said with a smile.
“Oh.” Lex was more than a little relieved and a smile grow on his face. “Okay.”
“But,” Martha said, “you should probably do some research about bribery in court cases. It would defeat the purpose if this guy could get out of the charges because he was bribed.”
Lex nodded. “I’ll ask my lawyer about it, because that would suck.”
“Did you get the chance to ask the woman out?” Clark asked.
“I did, but she turned me down.” Lex shrugged and forced a smile on his face. “You win some, you lose some, I guess.” He tried not to let any real emotion show on his face, and took a bite of his dinner.
“You’re supposed to let us know when you ask someone out,” Martha said. “Do we need to go over your dating rules again?”
“No!” he said a bit too loudly. “I mean, no we don’t. I asked her out
today, and I’m telling you about it today. Plus she said no, so we’re not
going out, which means there’s nothing to report.”
“All right,” Martha said. “I suppose you have a good point. You’ve been good about telling us when you have a date, so I’m sorry for jumping to conclusions earlier.”
Feeling guilty about all the things he wasn’t telling them, Lex forced a smile and said, “That’s okay, Mom.”
For the rest of the weekend, Lex was slightly preoccupied with thoughts of Helen, but it was easy enough to keep that to himself while helping Jonathan and Clark fix miles of fencing for their cattle.
# # #
Monday morning Lex was secretly pleased to find out there had been a major accounting error over the weekend, because it meant his father was too busy to talk to him about their last telephone conversation. And when Lex helped find and solve the error, his father was so pleased that he offered to take Lex out to dinner to celebrate.
Thoughts of Helen kept wandering through Lex’s head all day. The more he thought about her, the more her rejection stung. Logically he told himself that she had very logical reasons behind the rejection, but emotionally he couldn’t help wonder if those were just excuses she was using to let him down gently.
After dinner with his father, Lex went back to his hotel and stewed over Helen’s rejection. An hour later, he couldn’t take it anymore, and went downstairs to get a drink. But then when he saw Susan waitressing, he walked past the bar and out the front door of the hotel. There was a bar three blocks down. It wasn’t as upscale as he normally would pick, but there wouldn’t be any awkward conversations with someone he’d taken on a date.
He could hear the blaring music before he even opened the door to the bar, but when he did open it, the noise level was blissfully ear ringing to the point where he wouldn’t have to worry too much about conversations with his fellow patrons. Relaxing as he stepped into the dimly lit establishment, he handed his ID to the bouncer at the interior door without being asked. The large man handed it back with a nod, and opened the door for Lex. Inside there were at least thirty people on the dance floor, and another thirty spread out around the various tables that surrounded the dancing area. The bar itself was full of people standing around. They were ordering drinks, talking, laughing, and flirting with each other. Over to one side, there were a couple of older guys who were sitting quietly and drinking by themselves. Lex thought about going over to sit between them so he could drink quietly as well, but when the term alcoholic went through his brain, he veered off towards the other side of the bar where the young people were gathered.
He waved at the waiter and ordered a scotch and soda. A tiny blond woman with an extremely revealing silver dress put a hand on his arm and yelled to be heard over the music, “Did you just order a scotch and soda?”
“I did,” Lex yelled back.
“That’s sexy,” she said with a grin. “Most of the guys I know order beer.”
He couldn’t stop his eyes from going to her chest, and noticing the way her shiny dress seemed to accentuate her perky nipples, and the way her hand didn’t leave his arm.
“Thanks,” he said, as his eyes snapped back to hers. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“Sure. I’d love a dirty martini.”
Smirking, he leaned in to be heard, and said, “Now that’s sexy. I thought for sure you’d want something fruity like an appletini.”
She ran her hand up higher up on his arm, and leaned in to whisper in his ear, “I can’t stand fruity drinks. I want my alcohol to taste like alcohol.”
The bartender came back, momentarily interrupting their conversation. Lex ordered her drink as well, while taking out a fifty and telling the guy to keep the change. When he turned back to her, he saw her giving him the once over, and then smiling.
“Everything about you is sexy,” she said. “The suit, the drink, the cash, the confidence, and those piercing green eyes.” She gestured to an empty table and said, “Want to share a table and get to know each other a little better?”
“Absolutely,” Lex said, feeling better about himself than he had since Helen’s rejection. Not only did this beautiful woman just ask him out, but she was blatant about finding him attractive.
“I’ll go save the table,” she said.
He nodded and she went to sit while he waited for her drink. As he waited, he realized that sharing a table would probably make this encounter officially a date. If she came to this bar often, he could meet up with her three different times, have some drinks together, call them dates, and then sleep with her without repercussions. Grinning at his brilliant plan, he took her drink to the table, and sat across from her. She slid her chair over so that they were sitting side by side, and sipped her drink.
“I didn’t catch your name,” he said.
“Nice to meet you, Madison. I’m Lex.”
Over the next hour, Lex found out that Madison just finished her third year at Kansas State University. She planned to become a lawyer someday. Her parents had divorced when she was young, but they had shared custody, and she had good relationships with both of them. He’d shared a little bit of his college life and home life as well. While they talked, they drank, and by the end of the hour, Lex had finished four scotch and sodas, while Madison had finished three martinis.
When he offered to get her a fourth, she shook her head. “I really shouldn’t, but…” she pressed the side of her body against his, and whispered in his ear, “I wouldn’t mind a nightcap if you lived close by.”
He opened his mouth to say yes, but then forced himself not to. “I’d love that, but I…” he tried to come up with some kind of plausible lie, but nothing came to mind. Cringing he muttered, “…but I’d like to get to know you better first.”
Chuckling she ran her hand up his thigh and said, “That’s what the nightcap is for sugar. Getting to know each other better.”
Her hand reached his groin, and he was almost instantly hard. Groaning he blurted out a lie without thinking it through. “I live with my dad. He’s old fashioned. He wouldn’t be okay with me bringing someone home that he’s never even met.”
Frowning, she muttered, “Me too.” She grasped his erection through his clothing and said with a pout, “Are you sure there’s nowhere we could go?”
Desperate, and not giving a crap about rules in the moment, Lex put a hand on her hip, and leaned in to kiss her. After he came up for air, he whispered, “When you went to the bathroom, was it a single room with a locking door?”
Grinning wickedly, she nodded, grasped his hand, and said, “Yes. Come on, I’ll show you.”
He adjusted himself in his pants before getting up to follow her. The second the door to the bathroom was shut and locked, they were kissing and tugging at each other’s clothing.
# # #
The sex itself had been great, and in the moment, Lex didn’t feel even a little bit bad about it. But by the time Madison was pulling her panties back on, and he was throwing the condom away, regret had set in. They both fixed their clothing, and checked their faces in the mirror. She brushed her hair with her fingers, and gave him a smile in the mirror, which he forced himself to return.
When she deemed herself presentable, he opened the door for her, and as she was walking out she said, “I’ve got to head home, but I’ll be here tomorrow night if you want to have drinks again.”
“Great. I don’t know if I’ll be free, but if I am I’ll be here,” he lied. There was no way he was ever coming back to this bar. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Madison, he liked her just fine, but she wasn’t Helen, and Helen was the one he wanted to spend time with.
He stood by the bar for a few minutes, waiting for her to leave, and then headed back to his hotel. His head was full of self-recrimination the whole walk home. He couldn’t believe his own lack of self-control. All he had to do was wait two more days, and he could have had her without breaking the rules. He scowled and blushed at the thought of what his parents were going to say and do once they found out. His father would find his lack of restraint amusing, his pop would find it disappointing, and his mother… He shuddered at the thought of her reaction. He did not want to go over her lap ever again, but he could picture her lecturing him, dragging him to a chair by his ear, and paddling him with that damn spatula until he was bawling.
“Fuck,” he muttered, and hoped it would be Jonathan. But then shook his head, because he never wanted to experience that again either.
He’d made it to his hotel, and soon was back in his room. He paced the floor, and tried to talk himself into calling home and confessing. He knew for certain that immediate confession was what the Kents expected of him, and he also knew it would only get harder to confess the longer he waited. He forced himself to pick up the phone, but lost his nerve before he could dial their number. He slammed the phone down and yelled, “The rules are stupid! I’m a grown man, and if I want to fuck some girl in the bathroom of a bar, then it’s none of their God damn business!”
Feeling marginally better, he nodded at his own logic and tried to come up with a solution to this problem that wouldn’t end with him over someone’s lap. He scowled and wished he’d just held off on fucking her until they’d met up at the bar three times. Suddenly her offer to meet up again tomorrow didn’t just sound appealing, it sounded necessary. If he met her two more times at the bar, he could tell his parents that they’d had three dates, and it wouldn’t be a lie. The order of events might be a bit muddled, but if he could get in two more dates before actually talking to them, he could possibly make that story work.
He looked at the time and realized it was way too late to call the Kents anyway. First thing in the morning when he got to work, he’d send them an email to let them know he’d had a date, and then he’d be ‘busy’ every time they tried to call him that day.
As the plan came together in his head, he let himself believe that he could get out of punishment. With that thought in his head, he was finally able to relax enough to get ready for bed.
# # #
The following morning while he was showering, he decided that the alcohol must have still been affecting him when he’d made his plans to email the Kents. He never emailed them to communicate, he always called. They would know instantly that something was wrong if he emailed them that he’d had a date, and then if he didn’t take their calls on top of that, he was pretty sure Jonathan would show up at Luthorcorp before the day was over.
Once he was ready for work, he stared at his phone for a good ten minutes, trying to build up the courage to confess. Eventually he muttered, “The rules are stupid, and I don’t have to follow them.” With that thought in mind he went to work, and tried to lose himself in the business side of his life.
After working with his father for about two hours, the older man said, “What’s wrong with you today?”
“Nothing,” Lex said defensively.
“You’ve been distracted all morning, and you’re… fidgety.”
“I am not!” Lex pointed to the paperwork they’d been discussing and said, “If these numbers don’t make you fidgety, then maybe the question should be what’s wrong with you today?”
Lionel held his hands up in surrender and said, “Okay, fine. I’m sorry I brought it up.”
Lex grunted, and went back to talking business.
By the time work was over for the day, Lex was drained. He had been distracted and fidgety all day, because the guilt of yesterday’s actions was weighing on him. Just as he was about to leave for the night, Lionel caught up with him in the office that had been assigned to Lex for the summer.
“Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?” Lionel asked.
“No thanks, Dad. Maybe tomorrow.”
Lionel sighed and said, “Do I need to call the Kents?”
“What!? No! What the hell are you talking about?” Lex shut the door to his office to keep their discussion private.
“Something is wrong, and you’re not talking to me about it. I hope that someday you’ll be able to trust me enough to confide in me when you have a problem, but for now I’ll have to rely on the Kents to help you work through whatever the problem seems to be.”
Feeling twice the guilt, Lex shook his head. “It’s not that I don’t trust you Dad. Not at all. In fact, I’ll confess to you right now, if you promise not to tell the Kents.”
Lionel raised an eyebrow and slowly nodded. “Okay son, go ahead.”
“I met a girl at a bar last night, and we had sex.”
Lionel looked at Lex as if expecting more, and then slowly nodded when no more information was forthcoming. “I see. And the Kents don’t approve of you having one night stands, so you’re distracted and nervous, because you know they’ll be disappointed when they find out. Is that right?”
“What about Dr. Bryce?”
Scowling, Lex muttered, “She didn’t want to go out with me.”
“Ah.” Lionel took a moment, and then sighed. “So you had a one night stand last night, because your ego was hurt by Dr. Bryce’s rejection.” Lex shook his head, but Lionel continued, “And you don’t want the Kents to find out not only because they’ll be disappointed, but also because they’ll force you to face the reasons behind your actions.”
“No, that’s not why.” Lex realized his tone sounded whiny instead of confident, and almost blurted out that he didn’t want to be punished, but there was no way in hell he was ever telling his father about that.
“Yes it is.” Lionel said. “If you don’t talk to them you’ll just get worse and worse all week while you worry about their reaction.”
“You promised not to tell them!” Lex said, feeling panicky.
“And I won’t. You will.”
Lex shook his head. “No, I won’t.”
“Yes, son, you will.” Lionel said firmly. “I’m going to have a driver take you to the Kent farm right now, and you’re not allowed back at work until I’ve gotten a call from either Jonathan or Martha telling me in detail that you’ve had a talk about last night’s indiscretion.”
“Fuck you!” Lex yelled and pushed past his father, intending to leave.
“If you walk out that door, I’m going to call the Kents right now,” Lex stopped with his hand on the doorknob, but didn’t turn around as his father continued. “I’ll tell them that you’re having difficulties.” Lionel said, keeping his voice completely calm. “Jonathan will be here two hours later. If he has to go find you, don’t you think that’s going to cause more disappointment rather than less?”
Feeling trapped and close to tears, Lex said, “I hate you.”
“No you don’t, son. You hate that I’m finally acting like a parent.” Lionel pulled out his phone and ordered a driver to take Lex to the Kent farm in Smallville.
Lex’s shoulders sagged, and he rested his forehead against the door, resigned to his fate.
When Lionel hung up, he said, “I’ll be escorting you to the car, and I’m going to tell the driver to wait at the farm until he sees the Kents greet you, and then report back to me.” He walked up to Lex and put a hand on his shoulder.
Lex flinched at first, and almost shrugged the hand off, but stopped himself in time, and let the hand stay where it was.
“I know you don’t like me very much right now, son, but I’m trying to do what’s best for you.”
“It’s not that I don’t like you, Dad,” Lex said quietly. “It’s that I don’t like me.”
Lionel gently pulled at Lex’s shoulder, until the younger man was facing him, and then pulled him into a hug. “I love you, son, and you’re going to like yourself a lot more once you’ve talked this out with the Kents.”
Lex couldn’t deny that, and nodded against his father’s shoulder. Lionel patted his back, and then kept an arm around his shoulders as he opened the office door, and led them towards the elevators. Once he’d hit the button for the garage floor, Lionel said, “If the Kents think you need a day or two off, I’ll allow it, but I expect you to be back to work no later than Thursday.”
“Okay,” Lex said, too busy running scenarios of confessions in his head to pay much attention.
Before he’d had time to process it all, he was in the back of a car, being driven to Smallville.
# # #
In some ways the two-hour car ride felt excruciatingly slow, and in other ways it felt much too fast. He had decided the best way to come clean was to start by telling them about Helen to garner sympathy before ending with last night’s slip up. But having a plan didn’t mean he was actually ready to confess when they pulled into the Kents’ driveway.
“Thanks,” Lex muttered to the driver as he got out of the car, and went to the front door. Normally he would have just walked in while knocking, but today he knocked and waited so that the driver could see someone coming to the door.
“Lex?” Jonathan asked as he opened the door wider for him to come in. “What are you doing here?”
Lex heard the car driving away, and stepped into the house. He let Jonathan give him a hug, and waved at Martha and Clark who were in the living room. When Jonathan let go, Lex said, “We need to talk.”
“Okay,” Jonathan led him into the living room. Martha put down the book she’d been reading, and Clark turned off his video game.
With three sets of eyes on him, Lex sat in one of the easy chairs, kept his eyes on the floor and said, “I wasn’t entirely forthcoming when I told you about my day last Friday. The hospital I was visiting was Smallville General, and the woman I asked out was Dr. Helen Bryce.” He darted his eyes to Martha’s and saw nothing but love an acceptance. She nodded to encourage him to continue.
He looked back at the floor and continued. “I actually asked her out back when she treated me for my sprained ankle. She said no, and pointed out that we’d met once before about five years ago. Back when I was sixteen… well I got drunk a lot back then, and when it got bad one of the staff members would take me to a hospital in Metropolis. Helen happened to be the intern that got assigned to sit with me until I sobered up one night. I don’t remember this, but apparently I propositioned her in an extremely rude way. Then after she said no, I basically spent the rest of the night crying on her shoulder while talking about my dead mom.” Lex shook his head. “Once she told me that part, I did remember her. I remember her being kind to me, and after finding out what an asshole I’d been just before that made me even more interested in asking her out.”
He darted his eyes to Martha again, and she still didn’t appear to be angry, and if anything seemed sympathetic. Lex was able to keep his eyes up for this next part. “I tried to convince her that she should go out with me, so I could make up for treating her so badly back then.” He couldn’t help but smile slightly as he said, “She told me if I really wanted to make it up to her, that I should volunteer at the hospital for ten hours, because that’s how much time she spent with me. So I did.”
“You volunteered at Smallville General?” Jonathan asked.
Lex nodded. “Last Friday, and the Friday before. Five hours each. I was volunteering when I saw that abused kid, and well, you know how that ended.”
“You asked Helen out again after volunteering, and she still said no?” Martha asked.
“Yeah. She said it was because I’m still in college, and told me to ask her out again after I graduate. And logically I get it. A long distance relationship with her in her first year of residency and me in my last year of college would be challenging at best, but I really like her. We kissed when I asked her out, and I can’t get her out of my head.” He closed his eyes to finish his confession. “I didn’t deal with the rejection well. Monday after work I went to a bar. I met a girl and we spent the night flirting and getting drunk together. At the end of the night she propositioned me. I said no once, but when she asked me a second time… I gave in. We had sex in the bathroom.”
“Oh, Lex,” Martha said, voice full of disappointment.
Lex opened his eyes, looked at his mother and nodded. “I know. I’m sorry. I tried to follow the rules. Honestly I did, but…” he shrugged helplessly. “It felt so good to be wanted, that nothing else mattered.”
Jonathan said quietly, “How did you feel after?”
“I felt shitty about it before we were even done fixing our clothes. Not just because I knew you guys would be disappointed, but because… Well because I still like Helen.”
“Why didn’t you tell us yesterday?” Martha asked.
Lex muttered, “I got home really late. I didn’t want to wake you.”
“Lex,” Jonathan’s tone was full of disappointment this time. “Don’t lie.”
Fidgeting in his chair, Lex said, “Because I was a coward, and I didn’t want to get spanked, even though I knew deserved it.”
Nodding, Jonathan said, “Thank you. We’re proud of you for coming to tell us, even if it was a day late.”
Lex shook his head, and looked at Jonathan with tears in his eyes. “You shouldn’t be. I didn’t come here voluntarily. Dad found out I was keeping things from you and had a driver bring me home. He’s expecting a phone call from you or Mom to let him know that I told you about the one-night stand.”
Jonathan sighed and said, “Okay, Lex, I want you to go to your room while your mother and I discuss punishment, and give your father a call.”
“Yes, sir,” Lex mumbled and quietly went upstairs.
# # #
Lex paced his room nervously for the next half an hour. He’d taken off his suit jacket, his tie, and his shoes to get more comfortable while he waited. When someone finally knocked on the door, he wasn’t sure if he should be relieved that the wait was over, or worried that his punishment was about to start.
“Come in,” he said, backing up a little so he was beside the window.
Jonathan came in, shut the door behind him, and went to sit on the edge of Lex’s bed.
“Your mother called Lionel to let him know that you confessed, and they exchanged notes to make sure we’re all on the same page. You’ll be staying here tonight, and then tomorrow after lunch your mother will drive you back to Metropolis.”
Lex nodded in agreement. He knew he wasn’t going to want to sit in the car for two hours after Jonathan was done with him.
“You’re grounded from drinking and dating until next Monday. Your mother will be staying with you until Friday morning to make sure you stick to that.”
“Mom doesn’t have to stay with me,” Lex said quietly, “I’ll stick to it either way.”
“That’s good to hear, but it’s already been decided. On top of being grounded, you’re also getting spanked for breaking the rules.” Jonathan pointed to a spot on the floor by his right foot. “Come here.”
Lex shook his head. “Please, Pop. I didn’t mean to break the rules.”
“I’m sorry, kiddo, but that’s just not true. You lied to us two weekends in a row.” Lex shook his head again, but Jonathan said sternly, “We’ve gone over lying by omission more than once, young man. You purposely hid things from us surrounding your love life when you knew you were supposed to tell us. Then partially because of those lies, you had no one to talk to about your feelings, so you turned to alcohol and sex to make yourself feel better. So you might not have gone to that bar with the intention of breaking the rules, but the only reason you were in the bar at all was because you intentionally broke our long standing rules about honesty. So now you’re getting spanked, and there’s no getting out of it.”
Jonathan pointed at the floor again, and said, “So come here.”
Lex felt a tear slide down his face as he slowly walked to the spot his pop had indicated. When he was within reaching distance, Jonathan grasped Lex’s wrist, and pulled him across his lap. Once Lex was settled with his upper half lying on the bed, and his lower half hanging off Jonathan’s lap, Jonathan said, “This part is for having a one-night stand.”
A harsh slap landed on the center of his ass, and Lex hissed in discomfort. Jonathan’s hand came down on the seat of his slacks again and again, moving side to side until his entire rear end was uncomfortably hot and stinging. Lex whined, squirmed, wiggled and eventually yelped as the sting grew.
“I’m sorry,” he said while trying to keep his struggles and vocalizations to a minimum.
Lex was about to reach a hand back to cover as much of his ass as he could, when the spanking miraculously stopped.
Jonathan patted his back and said, “We’d be done now if the one-night stand was the only issue, but it’s not, is it?”
“No, sir,” Lex said, feeling very sorry for himself.
“No,” Jonathan agreed. “Stand up for a minute.” He helped the younger man stand with a hand on his arm.
Once Lex was upright, both his hands went back to rub out some of the pain.
“We’ve been over lying by omission before, so your pants are coming down for this part.”
That order wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it still made fresh tears spill out as Lex undid his belt and unsnapped his slacks. As soon as they were loose he let go and they fell to his ankles.
“Good boy,” Jonathan said, as he pulled the young man down over his lap a second time. As soon as he was in place, Jonathan pulled the boxers down as well, and immediately started spanking bare skin.
“Ow!” Lex yelped. The fresh burning sting was intolerable on top of skin that was already sore, and he immediately tossed a hand back to try and block the blows. Jonathan paused long enough to grab Lex’s wrist, and pull it to the small of Lex’s back. Then the unbearable smacks started right back up again.
“Ow, Pop!” Lex complained and started kicking his feet in time to the harsh slaps. “I’m sorry!”
“You don’t lie to us, young man,” Jonathan lectured as he spanked. “You don’t lie by omission, you don’t lie to keep yourself out of trouble, and you don’t lie to cover things up. Do you understand me?”
“Yes! Yes, sir! Ow! Pop, I won’t! Ah! I won’t lie again! Ow! I promise!”
“Lying by omission is a form of manipulation, and your mother and I are not going to tolerate it. We don’t lie to you, we don’t manipulate you, and we expect you not to do it to us. Is that clear?”
“Yeeees! Pop please! Owww! Please stop! I’m sorry! Oww! I won’t do it again! Please!”
Jonathan started aiming the smacks a little lower, focusing on Lex’s sit spots. Lex instantly broke down into noisy sobs, and hid his face in the crook of his free elbow. Jonathan nodded and dished out ten more solid smacks while Lex cried.
Once it was done, Jonathan let go of Lex’s captured wrist and rubbed his back. “Okay, kiddo, it’s all done. You’ve paid for your mistakes, and your mother and I forgive you.”
It took a few moments for Lex to calm down enough to stand up. As soon as he was upright, he pulled his boxers up. The slacks had been kicked off a long time ago, and he had no intention of putting them back on tonight, so he just stood in his boxers, rubbed his butt with one hand, and wiped at his tears with the other.
Jonathan got up and handed Lex a box of tissues off the nightstand. After Lex had taken a few, Jonathan pulled him into a strong hug.
“I’m sorry,” Lex said again through his tears, hugging Jonathan back.
“I know you are.”
“I won’t do it again.
“That sucked,” Lex said against Jonathan’s chest, putting both hands back to rub in favor of hugging Jonathan back.
“Yeah, it did.”
After several quiet moments, Jonathan patted Lex’s back and said, “Okay, son, I want you to get ready for bed.”
Lex thought about protesting, because it wasn’t even nine o’clock yet, but he was too tired to argue. He nodded and went to the dresser to find some sleep pants.
“I’m going to go tell your mom and Clark that it’s safe to come in from the barn, and I know your mother is going to want to talk to you before you actually fall asleep.”
“Okay,” Lex agreed as he stepped into his pajama bottoms.
# # #
Lex had used the bathroom, brushed his teeth, and gotten in bed before Martha came in the open door and knocked on the doorframe.
“Hey, Mom.” Lex rolled off of his stomach and onto his side so that he was facing her.
She sat on the edge of his bed, and put a hand on his upper arm. “How are you doing, sweetheart?”
“Sore, but I’ll live.”
“For the past half an hour, I’ve been trying to figure out why you’d go to such lengths to hide things from us. Why not just tell us about Dr. Bryce? Did you think we’d try to stop you from asking her out, or from volunteering?”
“No.” He shook his head, and kept his eyes on the bed.
She gently rubbed his arm. “You what sweetheart?”
“I didn’t want you to know if she rejected me. I really like Helen, and I’ve never felt that way about a woman before. I don’t know how to handle these feelings and not act on them. Back when I was paying for women, it wasn’t an issue, and then when I started having one night stands… well no one ever said no. But Helen had already turned me down once. Then when I thought about telling you guys that I was going to do something so elaborate just so I could ask her out again… I figured if she shot me down, it would prove what I’d always suspected.”
“That I’m not good enough for her. I’m good enough for drunk slutty girls that I meet at bars, but no sober professional woman that I meet at their place of work would ever want me.” He saw her glaring at him, and opening her mouth, so he held a hand up to stop her before continuing, “I know what you’re going to say, Mom. You’re going to tell me it’s not true. You’re going to tell me that I’m very worthy and deserving of love, and that you don’t want to hear me saying otherwise. And logically I agree with you. Emotionally, I’m not there yet, and Pop just got done ‘talking’ to me about the evils of lying, so don’t tell me not to say I’m unworthy of love.”
“Scoot over a little,” Martha said. When Lex was over to one side, Martha laid down on top of the covers with her head on his pillow and held her arms out to him. Once he was snuggled up against her, with his head on her shoulder she kissed the top of his head. “There’s a difference between feeling unworthy and actually being unworthy. You can tell me that youfeel unworthy, but I don’t want to hear you saying that you are unworthy. Do you understand the difference?”
“Semantics,” he said somewhat petulantly.
“No young man, it’s not semantics,” she said sternly. “One is a statement of opinion, the other is a statement of fact. You are not unworthy of love. You may feel that you are, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. I love you, Pop loves you, Clark loves you, and your Dad loves you. Someday you’ll find a woman who loves you, too. If I hear you stating that like a fact again, I’m going to make you write ‘I am worthy of love’ five hundred times tomorrow morning. Is that clear?”
“Yes,” he muttered, clearly not happy about her decree, but unwilling to push his luck.
After several moments of quiet, Martha said, “Back when we first found out about your one night stands, your pop and I had a little argument. He said I should tell you about my past so that you’d understand why I was so upset, but I didn’t agree. Now I wish I had. But I’m going to tell you about it now, because back when I was a freshman in college, there was a boy who made me feel unworthy of love.”
Lex frowned, not quite believing it was possible that Martha Kent ever felt unworthy of love. In his eyes she was the epitome of a person deserving of love. And he suspected that this story was going to be difficult to hear.
“I’d lived a somewhat sheltered life in high school. After my mom died, my dad kept a close eye on me. I’d had a couple of boyfriends, but I’d never done anything more than kissing. Moving into a college dorm was quite the culture shock. My roommate was the polar opposite of me. She’d been wild in high school, and she liked to party. Before we’d even been going to school for a month, she invited me to go with her to a frat house party. I didn’t actually want to go, but I did want to fit in, and I knew she already thought I was a stick in the mud. When we got there, someone handed me a beer. I’d never drank before, but it seemed rude to say no, so I drank it. Once I started to feel it, this tall, incredibly handsome, football player came to talk to me. We flirted for a couple of hours, and he very subtly kept pushing me to drink.”
Lex felt his stomach rolling, because he already knew where this story was going.
“I vaguely remember him asking me to go see his room. Once we were there, he started kissing me, and groping me. I was too startled to know what to do at first. I was a virgin, and so naive. I had no idea until the moment he was touching me that the whole reason he took me upstairs was so that he could have sex with me. I tried to push him off, and he stopped. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he loved me. Told me I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever met. Told me he wanted me to be his wife someday, and that he couldn’t live without me.”
A bitter chuckle came out of her. “I believed every word he said, and even though I certainly had reservations, I didn’t say no when he started kissing me again. Losing my virginity to a big jock who had no interest in my pleasure was physically painful in the moment, and utterly humiliating in retrospect. Once he was done, he helped me get dressed, and said a bunch of sweet nothings to me. Told me he wanted to see me the next day, and that he wanted to take me on a date that weekend. I walked back to my dorm with mixed feelings. I hadn’t enjoyed what we’d done, and I kind of hated myself for what I’d let him do to me, but I was also infatuated with him. I told myself it was okay that I’d let it happen, because he loved me, and was going to date me, and probably marry me.”
Feeling physically ill, Lex didn’t really want to hear the rest of the story, but didn’t try to stop her from telling it.
“The next day I tried to call him. He wouldn’t take my call. Two days after that I showed up at the frat house wanting to see him. His frat buddies called me a needy little slut and told me to get off their property and stop harassing their friend or they were going to call the police. It was soul crushing to find out he’d lied to me so blatantly just to get me in bed. I stopped trying to contact him. I saw him on campus a few times after that. Always with another girl.”
“He date raped you,” Lex said furiously.
“In this day and age that’s called date rape. Back then it was called my fault for putting myself in a bad situation.” She squeezed him for a few seconds in a tight hug, and then continued. “A month and a half later I found out I was pregnant.”
Lex gasped, and picked his head up to look her in the eye.
She gave him a sad smile. “I thought it was the one good thing to come out of a horrible experience.” Turning her eyes to the ceiling she whispered, “I had a miscarriage early in the first trimester, before I’d told any of my family or friends that I was even pregnant.”
“Oh, Mom,” Lex said, tearing up. “That’s… I don’t even know what to say other than I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
“Jonathan is the only other person who knows, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell Clark. He’s just too… innocent still to hear that story.”
“Of course.” Lex said. “I won’t tell anyone.” He put his head back on her shoulder and said, “What was that guy’s name?”
Martha chuckled. “I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Jonathan when he asked that question. I like having you around way too much to tell you that boy’s name. I don’t want vengeance, Lex. I want you to think about how you treat women. Especially those hit and runs. How do you think it feels for a woman to be brushed off the next day after doing something so intimate with you? Were any of these women you slept with virgins?”
“God no!” Lex said, and then second guessed himself. “Well… I don’t think so.” A wave of self-disgust rolled through him at the thought that one of them might have been. He thought he was pretty good at seeing to a woman’s pleasure, because he’d learned a lot from the prostitutes he’d been with. And he was certain none of the women he’d been with had found their time together painful. But if one of them had been a virgin, it would have been emotionally devastating to get brushed off the next day. He’d never asked, he’d just assumed they wouldn’t be jumping into bed with him if they were.
Martha patted his shoulder and said. “It’s just food for thought sweetheart. I hope that hearing my story will help you to control yourself a little better in the future.”
“It will,” he said with certainty.
“Okay, I’m going to get ready for bed. I’m drained.”
Lex moved back so she could get up. Once she was standing, she said, “If you have nightmares, or you can’t sleep, you come wake us up and let us know. Okay?”
She leaned down and kissed his forehead one more time. “I love you, sweetie.”
“I love you too, Mom.”
She turned off his light on the way out.
Once he was alone, Lex rolled back onto his stomach and thought about everything. Usually after a spanking he was so worn out that he fell right to sleep, but tonight he lay awake for a good hour before finally drifting off.
# # #
The rest of the week went fairly well for Lex. Having Martha with him in Metropolis the whole week meant it didn’t even cross his mind to have a drink or go on a date, and it also made him feel loved and accepted to spend time with her after he’d broken the dating rules she’d set up for him. Lex also had a good week, because Martha and Lionel seemed to truly enjoy each other’s company when they were talking about safe subjects like travel or food, so they’d all had dinner together every night.
Friday morning Martha drove herself home while Lex went to work. He’d had a good day with his father, and then he’d taken his Porsche back home to Smallville when work was over.
Lex was humming along to a song on the radio when he arrived, but stopped as soon as he saw an unfamiliar car in the driveway. It wasn’t completely unheard of for the Kents to have someone over for dinner, but it was rare. He parked, went to the house, and opened the door as he knocked, and called out, “I’m home.”
He froze halfway through the door when he saw Helen standing beside Martha in the kitchen with a glass of water in her hand.
“Helen?” he said, too shocked to move still.
“Hi,” she said with a smile.
Jonathan walked over to Lex and said, “Welcome home, son,” as he subtly pushed Lex forward a few steps and shut the door for him.
“What’s going on?” Lex asked, darting panicked eyes to Martha.
“I went to see Dr. Bryce…” Martha started.
“Helen,” the other woman corrected her.
“I went to see Helen at the hospital today, and I invited her to dinner,” Martha said, as if that were normal behavior.
Smiling, Helen set her water down and walked towards him. “Let’s go talk on the porch.”
“Okay,” he said warily, and opened the door for her. He shut the door behind them, and then followed her when she went to sit on the porch swing. He sat on the other end of it and waited for her to explain what was going on.
“Your mom convinced me that I was making a big mistake by not even giving you a chance.”
“She did?” Lex asked, still shell shocked to see Helen there at the farm.
“How?” He asked, hoping to God that Martha hadn’t said anything about the fact that he’d hooked up with Madison earlier in the week.
“She reminded me that the best relationships; the ones that really stand the test of time, are friendships that turn into more. So me being here tonight isn’t a date. This is me getting to know you and your family better. And maybe by the end of the summer,” she shrugged, “I’ll be convinced to go on a date with you.”
“Yeah?” he asked, not quite believing this could be happening.
“Yeah,” she said with a smile, and then stood. “So how about we go back in there, have a nice dinner together with your family, and see what happens.”
“That sounds perfect,” Lex said as he got up as well, and went to open the door for her.
Lex watched with amazement as she went back inside, picked up her water glass, and started chatting with Martha about her flower garden.
Jonathan clapped Lex on the back, startling him out of his musing, and said, “How was work today?”
Soon Lex was chatting about his day, and the awkwardness of the situation soon faded into the background.
During their meal, Lex discovered that he and Helen had more in common than he would have suspected. They’d both been raised in excessively wealthy households, which automatically gave them a common understanding about things that required wealth like exotic travel destinations, fashion lines, and fundraising events. They’d also both had contentious relationships with their fathers in their teen years, and done some rebelling, which for Helen had meant becoming a doctor without her family’s money, since they didn’t approve. By the end of the evening, Lex was even more infatuated with her than he had been before.
When Helen was about to go home, Martha invited her to dinner the next night, and Helen happily agreed. To Lex’s astonished joy, when he offered to walk her to her car, she happily agreed to that as well, and even gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek before getting in her car and going home.
He stood in the driveway long after she was gone, thinking over his evening. Soon he heard someone behind him, and turned to see Martha coming down the porch stairs. She stood with him quietly for a few moments.
“I like her,” she said, linking her arm with Lex’s, and leaning on his shoulder. “I think she’ll be your wife someday.”
Grinning, Lex said, “I think so, too.”
“Come on,” Martha said, steering him towards the house. “I need help with the dishes, and Clark is dying to play his new video game with you.”
They walked back to the house arm in arm, both of them full of hope for the future.Email Author