Certificate of Heroism

"Show him in," Lex Luthor instructed his houseman, who acknowledged the direction and left Lex's bedroom. Lex set his laptop computer aside and pushed himself into a more comfortable position. It was difficult, considering his entire body was one big bruise from the previous day's Level Three fiasco.

Lex's father had left at 8:00 a.m. that morning with a warning to have the plant back online by noon. Lex had it re-opened by 11:30 a.m., in spite of the fact that he could barely move his arms. The doctor who'd examined him after Lionel Luthor had left (Lex refused to show any more weakness in his father's eyes) had diagnosed Lex with having a torn rotator cuff, bruised muscles, and a semi-concussion from the pistol-whipping Earl Jenkins had given him. Lex's pale skin was mottled blue, green, and yellow in the chest, neck, and shoulder areas. He also had a goose egg on the back of the neck that throbbed in rhythm with his pounding headache. He was not in fit shape to have visitors, but it was Clark Kent and Lex could not say no to him.

"Lex, hey," Clark greeted as he entered the bedroom, carrying a green folder in his hands. He whistled softly. "Wow. You don't look so good."

"Your statement of the obvious is uncanny," Lex said dryly, still trying to shift into a more comfortable position.

Clark set the folder on the night-stand and adjusted the pillows behind Lex. "My parents are here, too," he said with worry in his tone. "If you're not up to seeing them..."

Truthfully, Lex wasn't up to seeing the elder Kents, but considering how rare it was for them to visit, he said, "As long as they don't mind my appearance." He gave Clark a pained self-deprecating smile. "I'm afraid putting a shirt on is beyond my abilities at this time."

"I'm sorry," Clark said, a frown creasing his brow.

"What in the world do you have to be sorry for?" Lex said.

"For not preventing you from getting hurt," Clark replied seriously, fingers ghosting over the bruises on Lex's chest.

Lex stared incredulously at him. "You have got to be joking."

Clark bit his lower lip, briefly met Lex's eyes, and turned away, but not before Lex saw the guilt in the blue gaze. Lex couldn't believe it.

"You guys can come in," Clark called to his parents, who apparently were in the hall.

Lex put on his polite company mask, silently promising Clark that they'd talk more later. He had a bone to pick with the teen, anyway, for putting himself in danger after Lex had traded himself for Clark and the other kids.

"Lex, my word!" Martha Kent gasped as she and Jonathan entered the bedroom. Before Lex could utter a bland greeting, she was at his side, checking him over with motherly concern, seeming to forget the fact that he was Lex Luthor, Town Bad Guy.

"I'm fine, Mrs. Kent." Lex protested her gentle examination, suddenly feeling very exposed. "Cleared by the doctor and everything."

"Hmph." Martha collected the warm ice packs piled on the bed where Lex had tossed them and headed for the door. "I'll be right back."

Lex stared after her a moment before looking at Clark. The raven-haired teen shrugged, an embarrassed grin playing on his lips. "She's a mom."

"Ah," Lex said without really understanding. He couldn't remember if his mother had acted like Mrs. Kent or not when he was injured. Then again, an ocean had separated them from the age of ten until she'd died, so he doubted it.

Jonathan Kent cleared his throat, drawing Lex's attention. The elder Kent looked extremely uncomfortable. "While Martha is gone, I want to say something to you," he began.

Lex was instantly on edge. "Oh? And what's that, Mr. Kent?"

Jonathan crossed to the bed and extended his hand, low enough so Lex didn't have to move much to grip it for a handshake. Jonathan didn't release Lex's hand after the single pump, however. Instead, he held firm and met Lex's gaze squarely.

"What you did yesterday was stupid, reckless, and foolish," he said, making Lex wince internally. But then he continued, "And at this moment, I couldn't be prouder to know you. You're more of a man than your father ever was."

Lex was stunned. He glanced over at Clark, who was smiling like a loon. "Uh, thank you," Lex said in faint disbelief.

Jonathan nodded, released Lex's hand, and retreated as Martha re-entered the room.

"Here we are." Martha walked with purpose to Lex's side and gently arranged a new ice pack on his neck. Lex hissed at the cold. "You are to keep that bump iced, young man. Javier will refresh the ice pack every few hours. I'll send Clark back later with some heat rub for your bruised muscles."

"Okay," Lex said, deciding that was the safest response.

"Let's go, boys, and allow Lex to rest." Martha ushered the Kent men towards the door. "Goodbye, Lex, and thank you."

"I'll be back later," Clark called over his shoulder.

And the Kents were gone.

Lex slumped against the pillows and blinked several times as his mind tried to catch on to what just happened. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the green folder that Clark had brought. Curious, Lex forced his protesting arm to move, picked up the folder, and opened it. Inside was a vellum parchment with a green and gold border and black calligraphy writing.

Certificate of Heroism

This is to certify that on December 11, 2001,
Lex Luthor
did perform acts of heroism and bravery
as recognized and appreciated by the undersigned.

The certificate was signed by Gabe Sullivan and the students from yesterday's field trip. Lex had a list of the students on the field trip for insurance purposes, and he saw that every student who had been held hostage had signed the certificate. Clark's signature was the last, and Lex would bet all his money his ebony-haired friend was the initiator of the faux award.

Fake award or not, though, Lex was touched. Even if Clark had twisted arms to get signatures, it was more than Lex ever expected from anyone.

Lex propped the certificate on the night-stand, retrieved his laptop, and settled in to work.

His injuries seemed a lot less painful all of a sudden.


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