Jonathan had valiantly protested when she initially suggested the trip but in the end she knew she would get her way. Martha knew her husband's protest was only due to his own dislike of big city life and most importantly, Metropolis. He had valid reasons but instead of stating those, he used their son as an excuse citing: "It's too dangerous." "What if he gets lost?" "What if he's not careful?" And those were only a handful of the excuses he gave. Martha's response to him was, "And those are fears all parents have." Martha won the debate.
Clark had been with them barely 10 months and it still amazed her that he was part of their lives. In that short time, his vocabulary had improved greatly from those first days when all he could communicate with was looks, smiles, laughs, frowns and touches. He was an amazingly gifted boy (in more ways than one) and by the rate he was learning the general basics of a toddler, there was no fear of holding him back from school next year.
So in the end, Jonathan gave in and she got what she wanted. She told him that he didn't need to come along with them but he insisted that he wouldn't miss his son's first trip to the big city. He also added that he wanted to be there in case something happened and she needed his help with Clark. It wasn't that he didn't trust Clark, because he did. Jonathan just didn't trust the rest of the world outside of the farm.
Gazing over at her husband, Martha smiled. As if connected by thought-waves, Jonathan turned and smiled back before returning his attention to the road. She loved him more everyday.
Looking down, Martha smiled at the small face between them and her heart brimmed with emotion. Clark was smiling up at her, anticipation glittering in his wide, hazel eyes. It was his first trip outside of Smallville and while he was still too young to understand the enormity of the trip, she could still see the excitement in his eyes.
"Happy," Clark said touching her cheek.
Martha placed her hand over Clark's smaller one and nodded.
"Yes Clark, I am very happy."
Clark gave her a toothy grin. "I'm happy too!"
Next to them, Jonathan chuckled and reached to ruffle Clark's dark curls. When he returned his hand to the steering wheel, Clark leaned into his father's side with a sigh.
"Happy," Clark's small voice repeated before yawning and appropriately falling asleep.
Martha absently fingered Clark's curls. A year ago this wouldn't have been a possibility. Sure, Martha and Jonathan had been to Metropolis a number of times since they married and moved permanently to Smallville. Normally, those trips were either farm related or made on the rare occasion when her husband realized she was missing the tall buildings and bright city lights, but this one was different. It wasn't only Clark's first trip outside of Smallville, but their first major trip as a family.
Martha was a mom, Jonathan was a father and Clark was their amazingly special son. She loved her family more than life itself and would do anything to protect them. She would move Heaven and Earth to provided Clark with a safe, happy and as normal as possible life and this trip was normal. They were mother and father showing their son the world that was his to have and enjoy. Life didn't exist in Smallville alone and it was important that Clark learned that truth. He was destined for greater things than farming and nothing should ever stand in his way.
Eyes volleying between father and son, Lillian Luthor offered them a smile, praying that the gesture would be infectious. Her husband sat across from her and their only child, Alexander, who sat next to her in their luxurious limousine. Her son was nearly scrunched up against her side much to his father's dismay. She watched Lionel give their son a reprimanding gaze before returning his attention to his newspaper.
Lex, as her son preferred to be addressed, attempted to scoot away from her but before he could get too far, she put her arm around him and pulled his smaller body back. He was only a 10 year-old boy and cuddling with his mother was still allowed, no matter what Lionel believed. Lex would be growing up faster than she liked, as all children do, but more so than others because he was the Luthor heir.
Lillian lightly traced her fingertips over her son's bare scalp. The gesture elicited a contented sigh as she felt him relax against her. Whenever Lex was having a bad day, a quick cuddle in the penthouse study always did the trick. The soothing gesture of rubbing her fingers over his sensitive scalp was the only balm he required. She loved Lex with her heart and soul, her entire being and had she known she could love one person so much, she would have had a child sooner in life.
Lately she began wondering if Lionel felt the same intense love for their son as she did. There was no doubt in her mind that Lionel loved Lex. He beamed with pride the day he was born and vowed to move Heaven and Earth to secure his son's future. The scariest part about that proclamation was that Lionel Luthor was powerful enough to pull the vow off.
The power her husband wielded was comforting and terrifying all in the same breath. Lillian and Lex would never want for anything in life, that was a comfort, but what Lionel was capable of terrified her down to her bones. She learned early on that asking simple questions like who was that, or what is going on, or even what did you do, only caused tension and pain between them. They lived a "you don't ask and I don't have to lie" life. It was difficult in the beginning to mind the unspoken agreement but once Lex was born, her attention toward Lionel's business was averted to their son.
Perhaps Lex was part of Lionel's master plan to distract her, but Lillian didn't care to question it anymore. She devoted her life to Lex and to making their family look the part of the happy and successful family. That was her job as the wife of a Luthor and Lionel welcomed the change. On the surface, their home life improved, but nothing really changed.
Looking down at her son, Lillian frowned sadly. He used to have beautiful and vibrant red hair, much the same color as her own. It had marked him as her son and stood as a reminder for Lionel of who bore his heir. Lillian ran her fingers over the bare skin again. Her mark was no longer there, taken away nearly a year ago during an event no one ever could have predicted. If only she hadn't insisted on her son accompanying his father that fateful day . . .
Lillian looked down, smiling. "Yes dear?"
"Why do we have to go?" Lex questioned in a quiet voice.
Before she could answer, her husband did.
"Because you are a Luthor, Son. It would be in poor taste not to be present at the dedication of Luthor Hall at the Museum, wouldn't you agree?"
Lex stared back at his father, offering no answer to the question asked. Even if Lex had tried to answer, nothing said would have been the correct response.
"Lex, Lex Lex," Lionel began, folding up his paper. "We are not like everyone else. We are considered the first family of Metropolis. We are above all and we are expected to be there and that, simply is that. With power comes sacrifice and this is one of the sacrifices we must make. But always remember that within any sacrifice, greatness can be gained. In time you will learn this."
Lillian watched her husband turn to look out the tinted window in a silent dismissal of their son. If she could, she would have cried for Lex, but she couldn't. She was a Luthor even if by marriage alone and weeping would only show her weakness, even in the company of family. It would set a precedence that Lex couldn't afford the luxury of if only to make his relationship with his father stronger. No, she wouldn't cry now but that didn't stop her from tightening her hold of Lex, offering what little visible comfort she could.
He hated this: the large gathering of strangers that knew him more then he liked; the spotlight and multitude of photos that were required because he was his father's son; the boredom endured when all he really wanted was to be at home reading comics in his bedroom. He hated this and he hated being a Luthor, but being a Luthor did have its perks . . . like being able to disappear because anyone will let you go anywhere because they knew you were Lionel Luthor's son.
Next to his bedroom, this was Lex's favorite place to hide. Granted, this wasn't one of the penthouse's grand closets but the cloakroom at the Metropolis Museum would serve its purpose this day.
Lex was tucked away in the back corner of the room with a plate of cookies on one side, a glass of milk on the other and a lap full of Warrior Angel comics. He thought it was going to be another less than mundane day, until his mother handed him the plate of cookies (which hid the comics she had brought for him) and a glass of milk.
"Go enjoy yourself," she whispered before kissing his forehead and offering him a wink. "I'll find you when it's over."
He truly loved his mother. She knew him better than anyone and she always knew where to find him. And, she always seemed to know the right issues of Warrior Angel to bring along. With knees drawn up, cookies and milk forgotten, Lex lost himself in the world where a bald man was the hero and not a freak.
Lex was a freak. For the most part, children and people were polite to his face. The circle his family rotated around wouldn't act any other way but when his back was turned, he heard the comments. "Poor Boy." "What a shame." "If that ever happened to my child . . . I don't think I could handle it." And those were only the adults. The children were even worse. "Why didn't your daddy buy you a wig, Freak?" "Haven't you ever heard of the hair club for men, Baldy?" Not to mention the numerous "Curly" references made daily. He didn't even want to think about returning to school the following month.
His mother, bless her heart, tried her best to make things better, but they were only ever temporary fixes. He could forget for the night, but being back out with the same kids the following day always brought on the same cruelty. He wondered if there would be a time when he would no longer even hear their words, but doubted that would ever be the case. How long would it take for his heart to turn cold where he would simply not care?
Lex turned the page of his comic, mainly paying attention to the artwork rather than the words this time through. His mother was the person who started the collection for him, to prove that being bald wasn't the end of the world. She would always spout that his lack of hair was a regal look and that there were many famous and powerful people that were bald. The more she tried to make him feel normal, the more he loved her. She never looked at him with disgust, not even on the first day she had seen him after the accident. Her reaction was nothing like his father's had been. His father couldn't even look him in the eye when they talked, but when his mother showed up in that small town hospital all she did was scoop him up, hug him and kissed the top of his head. He never wanted to leave that embrace.
Lex's eyes flicked up in a glare at a rustling sound near the front of the cloakroom. He met smiling, hazel eyes and an equally wide grin that was peering around a long fur coat. He gave the kid a bored look before returning to his comic.
"What do you want?" Lex asked, praying that his lack of manners would scare the boy away.
There was no response, nor was there any sound of retreating feet.
Lex closed his comic book with an annoyed sigh and looked back up at the boy.
The kid was four, maybe five years old and showed no fear. They were locked in a staring standoff and Lex couldn't help feeling a sense of familiarity. The younger boy slowly came out from his hiding place to reveal blue jean overalls and a red plaid shirt. His hair was dark brown, curling slightly in its shaggy state and seemed to lack discipline. His skin was golden in color, much darker than his own pale complexion, and perfect where it could be seen. On the boy's feet were hiking boots and Lex couldn't help thinking the kid was a long way from home.
"Can I help you?" Lex asked, attempting conversation again.
The boy kept staring at him and Lex began to get uncomfortable.
"What? You've never seen a bald kid before? Yeah, well me neither so join the club."
He must have spoken with more anger than necessary because the boy's bottom lip started to tremble as he began stepping back. That one step set in motion something that Lex never expected to happen and would never be able to explain how it happened in the first place. All he knew was that the boy got tangled up in the fur coat behind him and the next thing Lex saw was the whole row of coats falling to the floor, the unnamed boy being buried by half of them.
Out of guilt Lex jumped to his feet, disregarding his books and headed toward the thrashing lump and muffled squealing voice. One by one he removed coats and furs until he found the helpless boy beneath. The boy stared up at him, fear and panic heating his eyes, still trashing to get out of his confines.
"Hey, hey, it's okay," Lex soothed as he slowly untangled the boy. "I'll have you out . . . "
The moment Lex had him free, the boy quickly stood up and backed away from Lex, his lip still quivering. He shouldn't have been so hard on the kid.
"Hey, it's okay. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm not mad. I'm sorry," Lex said, trying to calm the spooked kid.
The boy stopped his retreat but still didn't utter a word.
Lex didn't know what to say or do. They continued staring at each other, neither flickering out of embarrassment.
"Hey," Lex began, regaining his bearings. "Do you want a cookie?"
The hazel-green eyes brightened immediately. Kids were so easy.
Lex couldn't help smiling at the sound of the timid voice.
"Yes, come here," Lex instructed as he stood up and walked back to his little corner of the world, even if it was only temporary.
Lex sat down and picked up the plate of cookies his mother had given him.
"Mmm-mmm," Lex feigned with a sniff of the offerings.
The boy made his way to Lex without a thought, dropping to his knees in front of him. He offered questioning eyes and licked his cherub lips.
"Can I?" The boy asked meekly.
"I'm offering it, aren't I?" Lex returned without thought.
The boy in front of him cocked his head to one side, obviously not understanding sarcasm.
"Yes," Lex restated, correcting his tone. "You can have a cookie."
Reaching out, the boy snatched a cookie from the plate, chocolate chip, and holding it with both hands, he promptly began devouring it.
The boy was cute, Lex admitted. He wasn't like the kids from Metropolis that he had been exposed to. This boy seemed almost otherworldly, but perhaps it was because Lex was jaded and he thought he knew it all. Apparently there were still some good people out there aside from his mother.
Cookie eaten and crumbs all over the place, the boy eyed the glass of milk. Lex laughed out loud.
"Would you like some milk?"
A nod was the reply he received and Lex handed the glass over.
Two hands took the glass and it was greedily drained. The boy wiped his mouth with his sleeve and handed the glass back to Lex.
Lex smiled at the politeness extended.
"You're welcome. What is your name?" Lex asked relaxing back against the wall.
"Clark," the boy replied with a wide smile. "My name is Clark."
Lex chuckled. "Hello Clark. My name is Lex."
"Lex," Clark repeated with glee, scooting on his knees a little closer.
"How old are you, Clark?"
Clark looked down at his hands and after counting out the appropriate number of digits he held them up and replied, "I'm four years-old."
"Where are your parents?"
Clark just looked back at Lex blankly.
"Your Mom and Dad? Do you know where they are?"
Clark shook his head.
"Are you lost?"
Clark shook his head again.
A smile quirked the corners of Lex's lips and he shook his own head.
"Come on, I'll read you some Warrior Angel until your mom comes looking for you," Lex suggested, picking up his comics.
"War your angel?"
"No, no, Warrior Angel," Lex enunciated, pointing out to the cover of one of his books.
Clark scooted closer to get a better look at the cover, seeming to understand but probably not. It didn't matter really, Lex just enjoyed the company.
"Here, sit next to me," Lex said, pointing to the spot next to him. "I'll read you a little, okay?"
Clark nodded his head enthusiastically, taking up a position pressed up against Lex's side. The only person Lex ever sat that close to was his mother and that was in the privacy of their own home. He felt uncomfortable at first but slowly he adjusted to the warmth and trust offered. Settling back against the wall, he started to read.
After three pages, Clark reached out to a larger picture of Warrior Angel, tracing the hero's head. He seemed fascinated with Lex's favorite comic book character, and Lex couldn't help thinking that the kid had taste.
Clark then looked up at Lex with wide and observant eyes. He looked back down at the image of Warrior Angel and then back up at Lex. Clark climbed up onto his knees, eyes now level with Lex's own. Clark reached out, touching the top of Lex's head.
Lex snorted. "Yeah, I wish."
Clark's small fingers traced from the top of his head down the side of his face, causing a shiver to pass down Lex's spine. A sense of Deja vu settled over him and he couldn't take his eyes off Clark's. He never let anyone outside of his family touch him like that, but it didn't seem to matter with this boy who was but a stranger.
A wide and happy smile broke the connection as Clark turned and settled next to Lex again.
"Read more please."
Lex shook his head. Looking down at the dark head bowed over the book in his lap, Lex sighed and continued with the story.
Her heart was pounding. This wasn't supposed to happen. He was one boy and they were two adults. How do two adults lose a four-year-old? How do parents lose their own child? If this was a test, it wasn't one she wanted to repeat again in the near future.
Maybe Jonathan was right. Maybe they shouldn't have made the trip to the city. If they had stayed at home, Clark wouldn't be lost. Clark wouldn't be wandering around God only knows where, scared and alone. The fact that Clark was lost hurt. What hurt more was that she allowed it to happen. She was supposed to protect him at all cost and she couldn't even do that. What kind of mother was she?
Hands shaking, she reached her husband who was talking to the one of many security officers.
"Did you find him? Did you find my baby?"
"No honey . . . no, they're . . . they're still looking," Jonathan replied.
"Oh Jonathan . . . " Martha began, breaking out into a sob. "What . . . what are we going to do . . . He's all alone . . . He could be anywhere . . . . Anyone . . ."
"Shhh," Jonathan hushed, taking her into his arms. "We will find him, don't you worry. Everything is going to be all right, I promise. We will find him."
"Excuse me, I couldn't help overhearing."
Martha looked up to see another red headed woman who was dressed the part of a socialite. She looked familiar but Martha couldn't place a name on her but then again, she wasn't up to thinking about anything but the location of her only child.
"I'm sorry," the woman added. "I just . . . has anyone checked the cloakroom? I know my son hides in the closets when he wants to be alone and I thought maybe . . . "
Martha wiped her eyes. "No . . . no we haven't . . . where?"
The woman smiled. "Come, I'll take you there. I need to round up my son anyway. His father is getting a little impatient."
Martha and Jonathan followed the woman through the atrium and down a small hallway. All the way Martha was praying her son be there. If he wasn't, she didn't know what she would do. She couldn't lose him after all the trouble they went through to get him.
They slowed their pace down as they approached the room in question. The woman held out a hand to slow them even more.
When Martha could see into the room, she noticed a rack of coats scattered along the floor and back in one of its corners was her son, curled up on his side with his head resting on this woman's son's lap.
Martha knew this boy and now that she could think clearly, she knew this woman too. Lillian Luthor, wife of Lionel Luthor and the mother of the other boy she and her husband had found in a cornfield that fateful day back in October. Her breath caught in the irony of their situation. Had she realized the afternoon dedication was taking place this day, she wouldn't have suggested a stop at the museum, but looking at the boys together made her second guess that initial thought.
The boy referred to in the papers as Lex was watching her son sleep, his fingers lightly twirling dark locks. Lex looked healthier than the last time they had seen him but still there was no hair to be seen. Martha's heart went out to the boy and his mother.
"Excuse me," Martha said passing Lillian and making her way towards the boys.
At the sound of her footsteps, Lex looked up with a warning glare. She had read the meaning of this boy's name somewhere and found it quite fitting. The name Alexander, Greek in origin, meant great protector.
He could see his mother at the entrance of the room and relaxed, looking back at the other red head. The woman smiled at him without flinching. There was no sign of pity or disgust. There was no reaction other then pure happiness at seeing him and whom he assumed was her son.
"Hello Lex," the woman greeted, stooping down to their level.
"Do I know you?"
She smiled and laughed. "No, not really. My name is Martha Kent. We met once . . . almost a year ago but I don't think you would remember me. I see you found my son."
Lex looked down at Clark and then back up at the boy's mother.
"He sort of found me," Lex corrected.
Martha nodded and whispered to him with a wink. "He does that a lot."
Lex offered Martha a genuine smile. She reminded him of his mother and it went far beyond the color of her hair. Her politeness wasn't an act and he could see it through the honesty in her eyes.
"Clark, honey?" Martha said, reaching down to stroke the hair out of her son's eyes. "Honey, it's time to get up."
Clark blinked sleepy eyes open and it was like someone had thrown the on switch because his face lit up brighter than the sun at the sight of his mother.
"Mamma!" Clark exclaimed, scrambling to his feet. He rushed towards his mother's embrace and was promptly scooped up.
"Oh Clark we were so worried," Martha said, kissing her son's cheeks and swaying with him. "Don't you ever, ever, ever go off like that again, do you here me?"
Clark nodded his head at his mother with a frown. "I'm sorry."
A blonde man joined Martha and Lex assumed he was Clark's father. He looked familiar too, but nothing was connecting. The man wrapped his arms around his wife and son, kissing both on the top of their heads.
"Come on, let's get this little guy home. I think he's had enough excitement for one day, don't you?" He smiled at his wife and son. When he looked down at Lex, there was a moment of hesitation but after a short pause, he offered a smile and wink.
"Yes Jonathan, I think I would have to agree with you," Martha said. "What about you Clark? Are you ready to go home?"
Clark nodded wordlessly.
The couple turned to take their son home, but stopped at the door. Martha turned back to look at him and smiled.
"Thank you, Lex," Martha said sincerely.
"Thank you, Warrior Angel," Clark joined in, mimicking his mother but using another name.
Lex couldn't contain his laughter, but it felt good to let it out. He waved goodbye and the happy family was soon gone, leaving Lex and his mother alone.
"Come on, Lex. Your father is waiting," his mother said, reaching out a hand to him.
Lex stood up and gathered his things along with the empty plate and glass. When he reached his mother's side, she placed her hand on his shoulder.
"I'm very proud of you Lex," she said, squeezing his shoulder.
Lex shrugged as they made their way back to Luthor Hall. "I didn't do anything."
"Yes, you did," she challenged, winking down at him when he looked up. "Yes you did."
Lex smiled up at his mother.
"Do you know Mr. and Mrs. Kent?"
His mother shook her head. "No, no I don't. Maybe your father does."
Lex nodded, accepting his mother's assumption but not questioning any further. He understood the rules of the family and rule number one was to never question his father's association with anyone. Perhaps someday he would learn the answer and until that day, he would be patient.
"Mom, do you believe in fate?"
"What do you mean dear," his mother asked as they approach an empty table where they set his plate and glass down.
"Do you believe there is a reason why we meet certain people, like it's destined to be, no matter what?"
She looked down at him, contemplating her answer. Her index finger traced down the side of his face. "Some days you seem far older than your age. I suppose I do. Everything happens for a reason, don't you agree?"
Lex thought a moment before responding. "Yes, yes I do."
Also, why not join
Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?