Lex was currently on the phone in his study, talking seriously to one of his father's business partners, even though he would have much preferred to tell the man what he really thought of him.
He was his father's son in this, at least.
Lex hung up finally and shook his head, giving a quiet sigh. What he really needed was something to do today other than sit around talking to people who, quite frankly, couldn't care less about trying to work with him.
Clark made it to the mansion, and asked one of the staff if Lex was home. He was directed to Lex’s upstairs office. He went up and knocked on the doorframe as he walked through the open door. “Hey Lex, I’m glad I caught you at home.”
"Clark." Lex smiled as he saw his friend and stood, coming round the side of the desk. "What can I do for you?"
“Chloe did some research on Donna,” Clark said. “She found out that Donna’s stepfather is a chemist. He works for Admire
Lex frowned as he realized which company Clark was referring to. "You think maybe it's the product? But there would have been plenty of tests and no one else was affected."
“I don’t know,” Clark said. “I doubt the perfume itself is a problem, because no one else has had issues. Maybe this guy, Wade Howell, is taking work home or doing some kind of experiments that he shouldn’t. I was hoping you could take me over to the facility where he works, and we could check things out.”
Lex nodded. "I can do that." He only had a few more phone calls to make, but they weren't very important and they could wait. He walked towards the door of his office.
Clark followed him out to Lex’s Porsche, and they both got in. Once they were on the road, headed to the perfume factory, Clark said, “Do we have a game plan for when we get there? Are you going to ask to talk to Mr. Howell?”
"I was thinking we can see if there's anything obviously wrong with the perfume first," Lex replied. "Then I can worry about speaking to him."
"Sounds good." Clark said. "I'll let you take the lead."
Lex pulled up outside the company's building and parked the car. He then got out.Clark got out and followed Lex towards the building. As he got close to the front door, he began to feel odd. Frowning in concentration, he went through the front door after Lex. A wave of weakness hit him, and he had to grab the door handle to keep his knees from buckling. All over the lobby, there were tiny green jars of perfume, and Clark knew without having to ask that either the glass bottles or the perfume itself had to have some meteor rock in it. Unable to take another step without falling, he watched Lex’s back as he continued into the office. Clark’s normally strong voice was strained, and held a sense of urgency when he called to his friend. “Lex…”
It was the tone of voice as much as his name being called that alerted Lex and he turned round to see Clark about to fall. He immediately moved to help his friend stay upright, watching him worriedly. "Clark?" Lex didn't know what had caused this, but he figured it would be better to get his friend out of the office and he began steering Clark towards the door, still looking concerned.
Once Clark was out of the building, he felt immediately better, and was able to stand without assistance. He said, “That perfume either has bits of meteor rock in it, or the glass bottles have meteor rock in them.”
"Meteor rock?" Lex frowned. "It affects you like this?" Actually, now that he thought about it, that made a certain kind of sense.
“They make me very weak,” Clark said. “If you hadn’t helped me, I would have had to crawl out of there. They can cause humans to have odd reactions too, but not just from touching it. Now that I know what probably triggered it, I should go talk to Donna again and ask her if she’s been in contact with the perfume.”
"I'll come with you," Lex offered. "You might need help."
Clark shook his head. “No, it’s too dangerous. You could get seriously hurt if she gets out of control again. You stay here get us a copy of the chemical compound for the perfume so we can be sure that’s the problem.”
"All right," Lex said reluctantly. "Call me if you run into any trouble."“I will.” Clark looked around the parking lot to make sure they were alone, and then dashed off towards Donna’s house.
It only took Lex a moment or two to decide he really didn't want to just wait around here and so he headed towards his car and got in, driving towards Donna's house. He wouldn't be as fast as Clark, but hopefully, it wouldn't take him too long to get there.
Clark was in front of Donna’s house, seconds after leaving Lex. He knocked on the front door, and waited for someone to answer. Donna’s mother answered with a frown. She whispered, “You shouldn’t be here Go home.”
“Please, Mrs. Howell, I only want to help.”
“You really upset Donna the last time you came over. I don’t want you upsetting her again.” She started to shut the door on him.
“I just have one…” The door clicked shut. “…question.”
Not wanting to give up on talking to Donna, Clark walked around the side of the house to take a peek in the windows. He could see Donna eating lunch with her parents. He walked around the house looking in windows until he found a room that looked like Donna’s bedroom. He decided to wait until she was alone in her room to try and get her attention.
Lex parked along the street and headed to the house, hiding in the shadows as he saw Clark moving round the house. He wasn't sure how well Clark's advanced vision worked and didn't want to risk being seen.It was tempting to knock on the door and offer to have his team of scientists work with Donna to figure out what was wrong with her, but Lex figured he'd let things play out for now, and just be there in case Clark ran into any trouble. Which was possible, given that the perfume's origin was meteor rock.
Clark didn’t have long to wait. Ten minutes after talking to Mrs. Howell, he saw Donna walk into her bedroom and shut the door behind her. Feeling a little like a stalker, Clark waved at Donna to get her attention.
After getting over her initial shock, Donna opened her window and whispered, “Clark? What are you doing looking in my window?”
Keeping his voice low, he said, “I needed to ask you something, but your mom wouldn’t let me.”
“I want to know if have a bottle of perfume from your step dad’s company.”
Donna put her hand over her mouth, and her eyes opened wide.
Knowing he’d guessed right, Clark said, “Tell me what happened. Maybe I can help.”
She looked behind her, not wanting her parents to hear, and waved at Clark to get away from the window. She opened it wider, and started to climb out. He put a hand on her arm to stead her as she climbed out onto the grass. She waved him forward, so they were standing by the corner of her house by the front porch.
“How did you know it was the perfume?” she asked.
“What happened?” He said again, not willing to tell her yet.
“Last week I was playing truth or dare with a couple of friends, and my friend Marcia dared me to drink the perfume. I knew it wouldn’t be good for me. I even thought it might make me sick to my stomach. But I didn’t think it would actually do any damage. I took three big gulps of it with my nose plugged. At first nothing happened. I didn’t even feel ill, but then the next day…” She looked away, wandered to the porch steps, and sat down. “I can’t control myself when I get angry. I get mad, and this feeling of power mixed with rage surges through me, and I can’t stop myself from lashing out.” She looked up at Clark and said, “And I’m really strong. Unnaturally strong.”
Clark said gently, “The perfume had bits of meteor rock in it. You should go to the hospital and get a x-ray. See if there are bits of meteor stuck inside you.”
An expression of terror crossed her face. She jumped to her feet, and shook her head no. “No!” she hissed. “If I go to the hospital, they’re going to do all kids of tests on me! I’ll be their guinea pig! I could get stuck there for weeks, maybe months!”
Lex had been listening intently from his hiding place, not wanting to interrupt while it looked like Clark might be getting somewhere. Since, however, Donna was clearly scared of being turned into an experiment, Lex figured it would make things easier if he attempted to ally her fears.
Lex stepped out of his hiding place, into full view of both Donna and Clark. "That won't happen to you. I won't let it."
“Lex?” Clark said. His surprise quickly turned to anger, when he realized his friend had followed him yet again. He held up his hand to ward Lex off and said, “Just stay there.”
Donna looked back and forth between Lex and Clark and asked, “Why is Lex Luthor at my house?”
Lex ignored Clark and spoke to Donna, taking a step closer to her. "Look, it's true that it was my company that developed the perfume, but if you come in, I'll have specialists work with you and figure out how to help you and reverse the effects."
“Your company?” Donna asked with confusion.
“Lex…” Clark said with worry, and gestured for him to stay put again.
“Your company!” Donna’s confusion had lasted for less than a second, before it turned to full blown fury. “This is your fault!” She rushed up the porch stairs, yanked the porch swing off its chains, and hurled it at Lex.
Using his abilities, Clark sped to stand in front of Lex, and easily caught the porch swing before it could crash into the older man.
Lex flinched, but relaxed quickly when Clark stopped the swing. He quickly realized that talking wasn't going to work, so he held his tongue, though it was a struggle for him to hold back and let someone else protect him.
Clark let the porch swing crash to the ground in front of him, hoping Donna was too upset to notice that he’d caught it in the first place. She ripped a piece of the railing off the porch, and threw it at them.
Clark batted it to the side with one hand so that it landed to their left. While Donna was looking for something else to throw, Clark darted his eyes to Lex, gripped a fist full of the older man’s suit jacket, and said, “Stay behind me, and back up to your car.” Still holding Lex’s jacket, he turned back to face Donna, and started backing up.
Donna hurled the front door towards Clark and Lex while her parents tried to calm her down from inside the house.
Lex didn't speak; didn't react other than to give a nod in acknowledgment. He began backing up to the car, staying calm, but already planning how to deal with this.
The front door Donna had thrown at them went wide, missing them without Clark’s help. The two men backed away as quickly as possible without taking their eyes off Donna. She threw a piece of door molding at them while her parents tried to calm her down without success.
Within seconds the two men were in front of Lex’s car. Clark let go of Lex’s jacket, gave him a nudge towards the car, and said urgently, “We need to get out of here fast so she can calm down.”
Lex nodded, quickly unlocking the door and getting in the driver's side. He moved urgently, but without showing fear.
Clark got in the passenger side, and said, “Go,” as he was shutting his door.
As soon as the door was closed, Lex immediately began driving - fairly fast, but careful not to go exceedingly fast.
The relief Clark felt about getting his friend out of harms way was short lived. Anger took over seconds after the car started moving. Trying, and failing not to let some anger show in his voice, Clark glared at Lex and said, “What the hell, Lex?”
"The perfume made you weak. I thought you might need help." That wasn't the only reason, of course, but Lex's concern for his friend was real, particularly since he'd seen that Clark had some weaknesses, even if they weren't many.
“I told you it was too dangerous, and you agreed to stay at the factory!” Clark said with exasperation. “How did ‘sure I’ll stay here’ turn into ‘I’m going to go behind Clark’s back and do the exact thing he asked me not to do’?”
"Clark, be reasonable. I would have had to be involved at some point. It was one of my companies responsible for the production of the perfume. My scientists can work with Donna and figure out a way to safely help her, without turning her into a guinea pig."
“I am being reasonable. I’m just also telling you that you did something wrong, and I’m angry about it. Yes you would have had to get involved at some point, but you shouldn’t have shown up to talk to Donna just now. Especially after telling me you wouldn’t.”
Lex sighed. "Can we talk about this back at the mansion, Clark? I need to call Donna's stepfather and ask him to come in with her on Monday when she's calmed down."
Thinking he could use some time to calm down himself, Clark nodded. “Yeah, go ahead.”
As he drove back to the mansion, Lex made a call to Donna's stepfather, explaining the situation quickly and directing him to bring her on Monday, by which time, she should have hopefully calmed down.
Clark listened to the first few moments of Lex’s conversation with Mr. Howell, and then tuned it out. He couldn’t believe Lex had shown up at Donna’s house. He’d assumed that telling Lex about his abilities would make him less likely to follow him into danger, but if telling him had the opposite effect, then Clark had made a huge mistake. He’d never be able to live with himself if Lex got himself hurt trying to help him.
Clark’s first instinct was to shut Lex out. Simply not tell him about any of the wall of weird things he and Chloe sometimes investigated. But after taking a second to consider it, he realized that would be cruel. After the things Lex had told him about his father, Clark refused to give his friend a cold shoulder when he did something to that made him angry. But he had to do something to make Lex listen to him, so the older man wouldn’t get hurt. With a little wince, Clark thought about Lex’s reaction to hearing that Pete had gotten spanked.
It certainly wasn’t something he wanted to do. It wasn’t something he’d ever imagined himself doing. Lex was older, more sophisticated, richer, and more confident than he was. Clark darted his eyes over to the older man for a moment, when he heard him saying good bye to Mr. Howell. Clark sighed and looked back out his window, still thinking things over.
After hanging up, Lex didn't try speaking to Clark. He realized why his friend was angry and he could kind of understand why. At the same time, though, he was used to doing his own thing. He was happy that Clark had chosen to trust him with his secret, but that didn't stop him from being concerned.
And, yes, that was one of the main things that had driven his actions. Lex wasn't his father. His father would exploit Clark... would only see the benefit to himself. To Lex, Clark was probably his closest friend. And he did feel somewhat guilty for breaking his word to his friend.
Lex found himself pulled out of his thoughts as he pulled up outside the mansion and parked the car.
As soon as the car parked, Clark got out, and followed Lex into the mansion. He kept trying to think of a better solution for keeping Lex safe, but so far nothing else had come to mind. Before he’d made any final decisions, they were in Lex’s study. Clark sat on the couch, and looked up at Lex with an earnest expression. “Ready to talk?”
Lex nodded, taking a seat on the couch next to Clark. "I'm sorry I came after you, Clark, but I did feel I could help. As I said, I'd need to be involved at some point in any case - and I was concerned after having seen how you reacted to the meteor rock and knowing that there was some in the perfume. I didn't know Donna had drunk it, but I knew she had had some and possibly still did."
Clark shook his head. “Yeah you would have had to get involved at some point, but it didn’t have to be today at her house, especially since you told me you’d stay where I left you. It’s nice that you were concerned about me, but my body is virtually indestructible, and yours isn’t. You could have been killed today, Lex. It can’t happen again.”
"It won't happen again," Lex said, used to placating people with words.
Clark sighed and looked down at his hands for a moment. He wanted to believe Lex. He truly did. But he just couldn’t take the chance that this was just Lex saying whatever he needed to say to get off the hook. Clark made eye contact with his friend again and said, “I need you to understand that I’ve never told my secret to anyone else. My parents are the only other people in the world that know. I told you because I care about you, and I thought you could handle it, but maybe that was selfish of me.”
Lex frowned a little, holding eye contact with Clark. "I'm worthy of your trust, Clark," he said with as much sincerity as possible - truly meaning it and not just saying it because he didn't want Clark upset with him. Well... he didn't want that anyway, but even so.
Clark put a hand on his friend’s shoulder and squeezed it gently. “I know you’re worthy, that’s not the issue. You’re a good person, Lex, but because you’re a good person, you’re going to want to help me, even if you’ve promised not to. I need more than your word to make sure you won’t put yourself in danger again. After the things you told me about your father, it would be cruel for me to try and shut you out when I’m investigating something weird, and well… I’m sorry, but I’ve decided a spanking would be a good deterrent.”
Lex's first thought was that Clark had to be joking. A spanking? Putting aside the fact that he wasn't a child, there were a whole host of other issues with that. He shook his head, disbelief radiating from him. "You're not serious, Clark."
“Yeah, I am,” he said with some sympathy.
Lex just shook his head, still disbelieving. "I'm older than you," he pointed out.
Clark nodded. “Older, richer, and way more sophisticated than I’ll ever be, but that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that we’re friends, and after hearing about your dad, I think it’s past time someone proved that they care enough to make sure you keep yourself safe.”
There wasn't much Lex could say to that, but he tried anyway. "You don't even believe that spanking's a good thing."
“You’re right, I don’t,” He wrapped his hand around Lex’s wrist. “But you do.” He tugged the older man face down across his lap.
Lex was startled, but not enough to stop him from struggling to get free. Even though, logically, he knew it was useless - Clark was much stronger than him after all - it didn't stop Lex from trying.
Clark made sure his grip around the older man’s waist was strong enough to hold him in place without causing him harm. After years of roughhousing with Pete, Clark was confident that he could use the right amount of strength to cause pain without causing actual damage. He raised his hand about a foot in the air, before swatting the behind over his knee.
The first swat was enough to still Lex's struggles, at least temporarily. Up until that point, everything had felt almost surreal and he'd been confident he could talk his way out of this, in the same way he could talk his way out of almost everything else. Now, that confidence was splintering.
Clark’s hand moved up and down in a steady rhythm of firm spanks. Lex was quiet and still for the first few, prompting Clark to say, “You could have gotten killed today Lex. I’m not okay with that. When I tell you something is dangerous, I need to trust that you’re going to listen to me.”
Lex drew in a slightly ragged breath. So far, the sting was pronounced but bearable. Maybe he could still get out of this with his dignity intact. Or as much as it could be. "I... know."
“You know?” Clark’s eyebrows creased together in a frown. He thought Lex sounded entirely too calm. Moving with super speed, he undid Lex’s slacks and pushed them down to his knees, leaving the boxer briefs as the only layer of protection between his hand and the older man’s butt. He started smacking at a faster pace, hitting a little harder than before. He made sure not to hit the same spot twice in a row, covering every inch of the older man’s butt and upper thighs with sharp smacks.
Lex winced and gasped, unable to hold in his reactions now. He started squirming a little, in reaction to the pain rather than an attempt to get away. He was horrified to actually feel his eyes beginning to dampen and struggled to hold his emotions in. How many times had he been told that a Luthor didn't cry?
When Clark felt his friend’s squirming, he knew Lex was trying to keep his emotional and physical reactions bottled up. Clark kept raining down smacks and said gently, “I know you like to pretend that nothing in the world affects you. I can understand why since your dad was so cold. But this spanking…” he gave Lex an extra hard swat, “…is personal. I’m your friend, and I’m disappointed in the decisions you made today. That should affect you.”
It did affect Lex. He wasn't used to having people care about him and a part of him always expected that any person who was friendly towards him just wanted something from him. But not Clark. Lex had begun to trust that Clark wasn't looking for something from him... that he really did care. And Clark's disappointment hurt. It was that, more than the pain from the spanking, that caused the first tears to slip out of his eyes.
After a few more seconds of steady swats, Clark felt his friend’s body tremble, and heard a hitched breath. A wave of guilt hit him. He’d been expecting Lex to cry, but he hadn’t expected that sound to make him feel so awful. Determined to see it through, even though he seriously hated hurting his friend, Clark kept spanking and said, “What do you have to say for yourself, Lex? What’s gonna happen the next time I tell you something is dangerous?”
It took a few seconds for Lex to be able to catch his breath enough to make an answer, though it was a struggle to get the words out through his tears. "I'm... sorry. I'll do better next time..."
Hearing his friend’s voice break over the words made Clark’s arm halt in mid strike. He believed the words were sincere, and decided the spanking was done. He used his spanking hand to gently pat Lex on the back, and said softly, “I’m gonna hold you to that.”
Lex gave a jerky half nod, struggling to calm himself down and stop crying.
Clark reached down and pulled his friend’s slacks back into place, hoping to make him feel less exposed. He carefully moved Lex off his lap, and sat the older man on the couch next to him, keeping an arm around his shoulders.
Almost automatically, Lex relaxed into the touch. Tears still slipped down his cheeks, but he struggled to calm himself down.
Clark listened to his friend’s soft sniffling, and wondered how things were going to play out over the next few days. Would Lex become angry about what had happened after having some time to think it over? Would he start to avoid Clark? Would he try to get some kind of revenge? He knew that Lex often hated his own father for the way he’d treated him, and hoped that this experience had been different enough that his friend wouldn’t start to hate him, too.
Frowning, Clark thought about his own father, and how he felt towards him after being grounded. He was sometimes resentful and often frustrated, but he never hated his father, and he was never truly angry about a punishment after the fact. Needing Lex to understand, Clark decided to be blunt about everything.
Clark gently squeezed Lex’s shoulders and said, “I’m not sure how things work between you and your dad, but I know I don’t want you to end up hating me, so I’m going to tell you how things work between me and my dad. After my dad punishes me for something, it’s over and done with. He doesn’t stay angry, and he doesn’t make me feel bad or guilty about the things I’ve done once the punishment is over. He expects me to learn from my mistakes, and trusts that I won’t make them again. So I want you to know that I’m not angry, I won’t hold this over your head, and I forgive you, because I trust that you won’t do it again.”
It hadn't actually occurred to Lex to even think about hating Clark. He might have just been spanked to tears, but he couldn't feel angry or resentful towards his friend. Besides, his father had never taken the time to comfort him. Right from an early age, the only way Lionel had shown his displeasure had been through silent and cold treatment.
The one fear that Lex had was that he'd turn into his father.
"I don't hate you," Lex said quietly. He was still trying to figure out exactly how he did feel, but he knew that he didn't hate Clark.
Relieved to hear those words, Clark smiled. “Good. It would really suck if the only friend who knew my secret hated me.” He sighed, thinking about what his own father was going to have to say about discussing his secret with his friend. “After you’ve had a chance to calm down, I think you should come to dinner at my house tonight.”
Lex frowned and shook his head. "I shouldn't do that. Your father hates me."
“He doesn’t know you well enough to hate you,” Clark said, “and I’d really like to give him a chance to get to know you before he finds out I told you my secret.”
Lex still wasn't sure about the whole thing, but he nodded slowly. "All right."
Clark patted his arm, and said, “Why don’t you go get cleaned up, and we’ll head over to my house as soon as you’re ready.”
"Getting cleaned up sounds like a good idea." Lex gently extricated himself from Clark, aware that he needed a few minutes to calm himself down and get himself away from a place where he felt so emotionally vulnerable.
“Take all the time you need. I’ll wait here.” Clark leaned back and got comfortable on the couch.
Lex nodded and stepped through to the bathroom. Checking his reflection in the mirror, he splashed cold water on his face and took advantage of the opportunity to give a quick rub to his backside. He was somewhat surprised that he wasn't really mad at Clark, but he reflected that Clark had made it clear that he cared about him... something Lex's father seemed incapable of doing.
After checking his reflection again in the mirror, Lex wasn't completely happy with how he looked, but at least it looked less like he'd been crying. Taking a deep breath, he stepped back into the other room.
“Ready to go?” Clark asked as soon as he saw Lex.
Lex nodded. "As ready as I'll ever be," he said, somewhat wryly.
The two men were soon back in Lex’s car headed to the Kent farm. The closer they got, the more nervous Clark became. He knew his father was going to be unhappy about his decision to tell Lex his secret, but there was no turning back now. He glanced over at his friend, and decided it was worth any amount of trouble to have someone he didn’t have to constantly lie to.
Lex drove in silence, thoughts turning over in his mind. It seemed to take an age to get to the Kent farm, but once he stopped outside, the journey seemed to be over all too quickly. He still wasn't sure this was a good idea.
“Just follow my lead,” Clark said as he got out of the car, and headed up the porch stairs. He opened the front door and stepped inside, leaving it open for Lex. He saw his mother in the kitchen and said with a bright smile, “Hey Mom, guess who decided to give me a ride home?”
Martha turned to the open door, and saw Lex standing just outside the threshold. With a warm smile she said, “Hello Lex, it’s nice to see you again.”
Lex smiled in return, even though he was feeling a bit awkward. "Hello, Mrs. Kent," he said politely.
"Hey Mom," Clark said, "Lex really helped me and Chloe today and I was hoping we could have him stay for dinner, and we could tell you and Dad all about it."
Martha frowned for an instant, thinking about her husband's feelings on the young man standing in her kitchen, but her frown quickly turned into a welcoming smile when she saw Clark's hopeful expression. "Of course he can." She turned to Lex and said, "Please come in, Lex, and have a seat," Martha said, gesturing to the kitchen bar stools. "I hope you like fried chicken."
"Anything's fine." Lex took a seat, a little cautiously. If it wasn't for Clark, he would have politely excused himself and left. But, well, he was already committed.
“It will be ready in just a few minutes,” Martha said. She checked the pans on the stove, and then got another plate out of the cupboard. She handed it to Clark with some silverware and said, “Set another place at the table please.”
“Sure.” Clark took the plate, and said, “Where’s Dad?”
“He’s washing up. He’ll be down in a second,” Martha turned to Lex and said, “Would you like something to drink? We have milk, water, or soda.”
"Water's fine, Mrs. Kent, thank you," Lex answered politely.
While Martha was pouring him a glass of water, Jonathan came down the stairs. He had a smile on his face, until he saw Lex sitting at his kitchen counter. He scowled at the young man, and then turned his displeased look towards his son.
Ignoring the frown, Clark smiled and said, “Hey Dad, Mom said Lex could stay for dinner.”
Jonathan turned his scowl towards his wife, who gave him one back. After seeing her expression, he sighed loudly, and resigned himself to spending the evening with the younger Luthor. “Lex,” he muttered in greeting.
Aware of Jonathan's bad feelings towards him, Lex nevertheless stayed polite. "It's nice to see you again, Mr. Kent."
Jonathan made a nose that almost sounded like a scoff. He opened his mouth to say more, but Martha put a serving dish with potatoes in his hands and said, “Put these on the table, please.”
She handed a couple of dishes to Clark as well, and then gestured to a spot at the table. “Come and sit down, Lex.”
Lex nodded. "Is there anything I can take over?"
“Sure.” With a smile, she handed him a bowl with dinner rolls, before picking up the plate with chicken, and heading over to the table herself.
Once they were all sitting down and putting food on their plates, Clark said, “Remember I told you guys about Donna picking up that table last night?”
“Yes,” Martha said, “and you were going to help Chloe do some research today right?”
“Right…” Clark said, “Well, we found out that Donna’s step-father is a chemist, and that he works for the company that makes that new perfume Admire
… which just happens to be one of the companies Lex owns.”
Both Martha and Jonathan turned their gaze to the young man.
"It seems the perfume has some adverse side effects if it's swallowed," Lex said. "I've spoken to Donna's father. My scientists are going to work with her to find a way to help her."
“Don’t you think that’s kind of too little, too late?” Jonathan asked with a scowl. He barreled on without leaving room for Lex to answer. “Why the hell would you have something like that on the market? Doesn’t your company do testing for Christ sake?”
“That’s not fair, Dad…” Clark said, trying to calm the man down.
Jonathan held a hand up to stop Clark. “No son, let the man speak for himself.”
"You're right, Mr. Kent," Lex said calmly. "As I understand, the perfume was tested to make sure it had no negative effects, but no one thought to check how safe the perfume was to consume. There were warnings against drinking the perfume, of course, but I have ensured that the people working in that company - and other companies where it's applicable - will test the effects of items when they're consumed."
“Hm.” Jonathan grunted, sounding unconvinced, and put another bite in his mouth.
“Come on Dad,” Clark said, with irritation, “You wouldn’t blame the gas station owner if someone went home and drank some gasoline. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to swallow perfume. You can’t blame Lex for Donna’s bad decisions.”
“Wait a minute,” Martha said, “Swallowing perfume might make someone ill, but it wouldn’t make them suddenly stronger, that doesn’t make any sense.”
“The perfume has bits of the meteor rock ground up in it,” Clark said quietly, hoping his father wouldn’t fly off the handle at the news.
“What!” Jonathan shouted, glaring at Lex even harder than before. “You let them put meteor rock in your product? What were you thinking!”
"As I said, Mr. Kent, the perfume was tested as thoroughly as possible before being released," Lex answered. "There was nothing to indicate that using the meteor rock was dangerous." Of course, knowing now that they had an adverse effect on Clark, Lex had already decided to have the products removed from sale. He could afford the loss in profits.
Pulling one side of his lip up in disgust, Jonathan said, “You’ve always got a smug answer for everything, don’t you. Just like your father.”
“Jonathan,” Martha said quietly with reproof.
Clark saw the hurt expression that crossed Lex’s face, and knew he couldn’t wait any longer to tell his parents what he’d done. Not only would that switch the focus of his father’s ire, but it would also force his parents to work with
Lex instead of against him.
“You know what, Dad?” Clark said, raising his voice. “Lex is nothing like his father, and you’d better get used to giving him the benefit of the doubt, because I told him all about my abilities.”
Even though he knew that would come out sooner or later, Lex hadn't expected Clark to tell his parents this soon, with him there in the room. His appetite had already dropped due to the conversation so far and this wasn't helping. He wanted to say something, but for once, he couldn't think of a single thing that might help this situation, rather than make it worse.
Martha gasped and put a hand over her mouth.
Jonathan stood up and shouted, “You what!”
Flinching at his father’s reaction, Clark swallowed hard, and said with a shaky voice, “I uh… told him about my abilities, and um… gave him a little demonstration.”
“Oh Clark, you didn’t,” Martha said with dismay.
Clark’s face flushed bright red. “I did.”
Jonathan stepped away from the table and paced back and forth in the dining area. He rubbed a hand down is face, while trying to calm his fear and worry.
After several extremely tense seconds of silence, Clark said quietly, “I had to tell someone, Dad, and I...”
Jonathan slapped his hand down on the table, making everyone jump. “Don’t you dare lie to me, Clark!” With effort, he lowered his voice. “You didn’t have
to tell anyone, you wanted
to tell Lex, and you know
your mother and I would have said no.”
“Okay, you’re right,” Clark said, and looked over at his friend. “I wanted to tell Lex. I trust him to keep my secret, more than I’d trust any of my other friends.”
"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Clark," Lex said. "I would never do anything to harm him or give away his secrets. I know you don't think much of me, Mr. Kent, but I have the resources needed to stop anyone else from finding out about this."
Jonathan’s glare went back and forth between the two young men, before settling on Clark. “You’re grounded. For a month.”
“A month?” Clark said with dismay.
Jonathan put his hands on the table, and leaned in towards his son. “Yes a month. I want you home every day five minutes after school lets out. There will be no going to the Talon with your friends before or after school. There will be no going over to the mansion to hang out with Lex and play pool. What there will be, is a lot of you doing the chores around the farm at regular speed while I’m keeping my eye on you. Do you understand me?”
Clark slouched in his chair, and scowled at his plate. “Yes Sir.”
Jonathan continued, “You should thank your lucky stars that I can’t spank you, because I’ve never felt like you deserved it more.”
Clark’s face turned bright red for a second time that evening, and he kept his eyes on his plate, unwilling to see how Lex might have reacted to that news.
Jonathan turned his focus to Lex, “As for you, if I ever find out that you’ve used my son’s secret against him in any way, I’ll…”
Martha put a hand on Jonathan’s arm and said, “Jonathan, that’s enough.” She turned to Lex with a serious expression and said, “Lex says he’ll keep Clark’s secret, and I believe he’s sincere.” She turned her focus back to her husband and added, “Threatening the boy is not going to help this situation.”
"Clark is my friend," Lex said. "I won't betray him." He'd actually flinched a little at the mention of spanking and hoped that that hadn't been noticed. He was still a little sore from earlier - the last thing he wanted was more reminding.
Martha smiled at the young man and said, “Thank you, Lex. We appreciate that more than we can say. My biggest fear is that the general public will discover my son’s secret. I’ve always been terrified of having Clark taken from us. I can’t help but picture…” Tears formed in her eyes, and she had to clear her throat and wipe her eyes before continuing, “…some scientist performing horrible experiments on him.”
Jonathan sat down and grasped one of his wife’s hands in both of his to comfort her.
“Mom,” Clark said softly, “That’s never going to happen.”
She turned to her son long enough to say, “You can’t guarantee that, Clark, and your decision to tell Lex without our consent doesn’t help quell my fears.” She turned back to Lex and said, “What will help me not to worry, is getting to know you better.”
Lex nodded. "I can understand that - and I understand your fears. If it helps at all, after I saw the way the meteorite in the perfume affected Clark, I made the call to have the product recalled and no more sold."
Clark looked over at his friend with some surprise, but before he could say thank you, his mother spoke.
“Thank you, Lex, we’re grateful. I know you’ll be losing money on that, so it was very selfless of you to recall all those bottles just for Clark.” Martha turned to her husband and added, “Isn’t it Jonathan.”
Begrudgingly, Jonathan gave him a tight lipped nod, and said, “Yes it was.” He sighed and said, “I may have… judged you too harshly in the past.”
“And…” Martha said while looking at her husband expectantly.
He stifled the urge to roll his eyes at her, and said, “And I’ll try to give you the benefit of the doubt in the future, instead of assuming you’re guilty by association with your father.”
"I appreciate that, Mr. Kent," Lex said politely. "I'm not my father. I'd do anything to avoid becoming him."
Jonathan nodded in approval, and said, “Good.”
Martha smiled, and said, “I guess there’s not much left to say, other than welcome to the family, Lex. You’re welcome in our home anytime, and you have a standing invitation to dinner any night you can make it. Sunday night I always make something special for desert, so it would be especially nice if you could make an effort to come on that day, and I know while Clark is grounded, he’d appreciate the company more often than that.”
“Yes Lex,” Clark chimed in excitedly, “please say you’ll come to dinner at least twice a week. You have no idea how boring
this next month is going to be for me.”
Lex nodded, reflecting on the fact that he didn't know just how boring being grounded would be - it's not like his father would have cared enough to bother doing that. "I'm sure I can manage that." It might mean changing a few things around, but that was something he could do.
“Great,” Clark said with a grin. Other than being grounded, which sucked, telling Lex was turning out to be a good thing. He was positive that his dad would come around once he got to know Lex, and his mother now had excuse to force the issue, and make his father give Lex a chance. “And hey, I wanted to say thank you too, for recalling the perfume. I didn’t know you’d done that.” He gently clapped Lex on the shoulder and said, “That’s a real nice thing for you do to for me.”
Lex smiled at Clark. "You're my friend. It was an easy decision to make." And he wanted to prove that Clarkhad made the right choice in trusting him with his secrets. After all, he had very few true friends - and Lex had already resolved that he would do anything within his power to protect his closest.
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