Family, Friendship, and Love
"Dad, where does the pee go?"
"Into the septic tank buried in the yard."
"Is that why some of the grass is yellow?"
"Uh... no. I don't think so."
"Then why is the grass yellow?"
"Because, um, it's thirsty."
"Why doesn't it drink the pee then?"
Clark looked exasperatedly at his son. "It can't if you don't go potty."
"But I don't have to go." Sam blinked guileless green-blue eyes up at Clark.
"You did two minutes ago."
"I changed my mind."
Clark reminded himself that throttling his child was against the law. There really needed to be a clause excluding parents potty-training their children.
"All right, kiddo." Clark crouched and pulled up the redhead's training pants and trousers. "If you change your mind again, let me or Grandma know."
"Okay." Sam darted out of the bathroom without a by-your-leave. A few seconds later, Clark heard the back screen door open and shut.
Clark straightened, catching sight of his harried expression in the mirror. "Lex, I am never going to forgive you," he muttered, combing his hands through his raven hair.
Clark thought of Lex often, despite the number of years that had passed. Granted, he was usually cursing Lex because of something their son had done, but still, Lex was seldom far from Clark's thoughts. It was hard for Clark not to think of him, when he could see so much of Lex in Sam.
Clark surveyed his appearance in the mirror. Satisfied that he looked more like a normal person and less like the parent of an overly smart two-year-old, Clark left the first floor bathroom and headed outside into the pleasant spring morning.
To find Sam peeing on the yellow grass.
Clark groaned and sank, defeated, onto the back porch step. It was no use scolding Sam. It was Clark's own fault for saying that the yellow grass was thirsty and was waiting for Sam's urine. He blamed Lex for having a toddler who could use applied logic.
"It doesn't look like Sam gets a star today."
"Don't start, Mom."
Martha came outside and sat down beside Clark, laughing lightly. "You did the same thing, Clark, when we were toilet-training you. Why do you think the grass is yellow?"
Clark groaned again and dropped his head in his hands. "You enjoy watching me suffer."
"I'm the grandma. Of course, I do." Martha rubbed a hand on his back. "How are your eyes?"
"A little tired from practicing, but I won't accidentally cut anyone in half." Clark had been blessed with yet another special alien ability earlier in the week, one that had almost killed his child.
Clark had been checking on Sam after work when his vision suddenly went red. Terror unlike anything he'd ever felt filled him as a hole was burned into the crib above Sam's ear. Sam's hair was singed, burned off close to his scalp by Clark's eyes.
Clark had slammed his eyes shut, pressing his palms tightly over them, and screamed for his parents. "Sam! Check Sam! Is he okay? Oh, God, Sam, is he okay?"
Sam had been scared, but fine. Martha had watched him while Jonathan took Clark outside. It was an extremely long forty-eight hours before Clark had been able to control his newfound laser-vision.
Clark sighed, propping his chin on his hands, elbows on his bent knees, and watched as Sam returned to the math flash cards scattered on the back lawn — luckily, well away from the yellow grass. "I hope the laser-vision is the last of it," Clark commented to his mom. "I'm kind of tired of adding new powers to my freak repertoire."
"Clark, you're not a freak," Martha chided gently.
"Mom, how many people do you know that can fly? Or see through walls? Or burn the walls with their eyes? Or can freeze things with their breath? Or can hold their breath indefinitely?" Clark said. "Should I go on?"
"No, honey, you shouldn't." Martha sighed. "I wish I had the magic words to make you feel better about your gifts."
"It's okay, Mom," Clark said, rubbing a weary hand over his face. "I'm just whining because I didn't sleep again last night."
"Still having nightmares?" Martha asked concernedly.
"I almost hurt Sam. I think I'll be having nightmares for a long time."
Clark stood and crossed to where his son sat shuffling the flash cards. He swooped down without warning, scooped Sam into his arms, and pressed a loud, smacking kiss to the back of Sam's neck. Sam squealed, the flash cards scattering to the ground.
It shouldn't be possible, but Clark loved Sam more with each passing day. Everyday was an adventure, too, and chaotic was a simplistic label to life with Sam Kent.
Sam was an exceptionally gifted child. The Stanford-Binet (Form L-M) test placed his IQ at 203 by his second birthday; base genius level IQ was 160. He could already read at a college level, used applied logic, and was learning mathematics at an exceedingly fast rate. Clark wagered that by Sam's third birthday, he'd be starting calculus.
Like Clark, Sam's memory was exceptional, which meant watching what you said was imperative. Sam's curiosity knew no limits and he constantly asked questions. He was fascinated by mechanics and how things worked. The only reason the farm and household appliances weren't dismantled to see their inner workings was because, while Sam had a super-smart brain, his body was still that of a toddler.
Clark set Sam on his feet, fixing his shirt before letting him go. Across the way, a dark pick-up truck pulled to a stop in front of Nell Potter's house. Clark shielded his eyes, and a large smile crossed his face when he saw who emerged from the cab. Spotting Clark in return, Lana Lang waved in greeting and started in his direction.
"Hey, champ, look who's home," Clark said to Sam, pointing.
Sam shaded his eyes like his father and looked where Clark pointed. He yelled in childish delight. "Dad, it's Miss Lana! Miss Lana's back!"
Sam took off running, with Clark following behind at a more leisurely pace. His grin grew when Lana caught Sam up in a hug, ruffling his short red hair.
"Hi, Lana," Clark greeted affectionately when Sam paused in his mile-a-minute speaking to take a breath. "We were wondering when you'd be home."
"Well, here I am, back for the summer." Lana shifted Sam on her hip. "How are you guys holding up?"
"Okay," Clark replied. "It's been kind of quiet with you gone." It had also been very lonely. Clark's friendship with Pete and Chloe had drifted somewhat apart. School, the Torch, and their own internships and employment had cut into the time they had to spend with Clark, as did Clark's working second shift. Clark had also withdrawn into himself, shying away from people once Sam had arrived, focusing all his attention on his son instead of his own friendships.
Lana had been a constant in Clark's life, though. She was always there, next door or at the Talon, with a ready smile and open ears, until she went off to college last fall. She still caused a funny feeling in Clark's stomach, too, but he had given up the idea of pursuing her romantically when she left for school.
Sam squirmed in Lana's arms and she set him down. He pointed at the yellowed grass at her feet. "Miss Lana, the grass is thirsty."
Clark felt his cheeks heat. "Oh, geez."
Lana gave him a questioning look before crouching to Sam's level. "What should we do?" she asked Sam.
"You have to pee on it," Sam told her wisely.
"I do, do I?" Lana shot an amused smile at a wholly embarrassed Clark.
"But I thought grass liked to drink water," Lana said.
Sam's lips pursed slightly, his reddish-blond brows drawing down in thought. Clark felt a pang in his heart. Sam looked so much like Lex at that moment; it was hard to believe that Lana couldn't see it. She wouldn't make the connection, though. Familial recognition in children was almost impossible to determine unless it was assumed or pointed out. Clark had tested the theory at the park. He had been unable to match any of the children running around the playground with their parents, but when a mom or dad picked up their child the family resemblance was obvious.
"I'd better get it a drink of water, then," Sam said finally, before rushing off back to the Kent house.
Lana straightened, still smiling. "He just gets more adorable every time I see him."
Clark snorted, keeping one eye on Sam until he reached Martha, who was still seated on the back step. "That's because you don't have to see him everyday."
"Oh, come on," Lana said knowingly. "You think he's great, too."
"Yeah, great at driving me bananas," Clark said, turning to her. "Don't ever have children if you value your sanity."
"I'll keep that in mind." Lana tucked her hands in her pockets. "So, Mr. Kent, how have you been?"
"Okay, I guess." Clark shrugged. "I got a raise at the plant, of two whole cents. I'm thinking of buying a Ferrari."
Lana laughed. "And here I pictured you as the Porsche type."
"Nah. Not enough leg room."
"You are rather tall," Lana said. "Do you think Sam will be as tall as you?"
"It's possible," Clark said. "He's growing pretty fast. He's sprouted up three inches in the past two months alone."
"Gosh. I remember how tiny he was as a baby," she said. "I can't believe he's going to be three years old already, in August."
"I know." Clark saw Sam come out of the house, with a cup in his hand, and start walking carefully towards them, trying not to spill. Clark's heart filled with emotion. It seemed like it was yesterday that he had held his son for the first time, yet it also seemed like Sam had always been in his life.
"I got the grass a drink of water, Miss Lana," Sam announced.
"I'm sure the grass appreciates it, Sam," Lana said, not talking down to him. Some people found it hard to remember that Sam was smarter than most adults in spite of his age, but Lana never forgot.
Lana helped Sam pour the water over the yellow grass, answering his questions about how grass could drink without having a mouth. She'd make a good mother, Clark thought. He briefly entertained the thought of her being Sam's mother and, consequently, Clark's wife, but it didn't sit right. Lana was destined to be Clark's friend and that was all. Funnily, he had no problems with that.
"Well, the grass is no longer thirsty," Lana said to Sam, "but I bet a certain little boy is. How about you, me, and your dad go down to the Talon and have a Kiddie Cola?"
"Yeah!" Sam exclaimed.
"Clark?" Lana questioned.
Clark glanced at his watch. "We can do that. I don't have to be at work until four, so there's plenty of time. Do you want to take my car?"
"That would be fine," Lana said. "Just let me run inside for a minute and I'll be right over."
Lana adored Sam Kent. She almost adored Clark Kent more, for his courage and tenacity to raise a child on his own at his age. To become a father at sixteen had to have been hard on Clark, harder than he let on during their few talks on her porch swing. She honestly didn't think she could have been as good of a parent as he was to Sam, especially since Sam was not a "normal" child.
Lana wished that she loved Clark. He was the perfect man: kind, caring, handsome, and responsible. No matter how hard she'd tried, though, she just couldn't see him as anything but a brother, or as a quiet, reserved friend.
The Talon was relatively empty due to the early hour of the day. Marlene, the day manager, was doing paperwork at one of the tables. The radio played over the speakers, filling the coffeehouse with country music.
Lana walked behind the Talon's counter, immediately feeling at home. She was majoring in business in college, planning to return to Smallville and run the Talon full-time after she graduated. "Okay, we have one Kiddie Cola and, Clark, you'll have...?"
"A lemonade, please," Clark answered, lifting Sam up and sitting him on a counter stool.
"Coming right up."
"Lana, will you watch Sam for a sec?" Clark asked.
"Of course," Lana replied. Clark thanked her and headed back towards the restrooms.
Sam took one of the menus from the holder on the counter and began to calculate the prices. "Let me see, $1.99 plus $1.99 is $3.98, $3.98 plus $2.99 is $6.97."
"Wow, Sam, that's very good," Lana commented, always impressed by how smart Sam was, as she set his small cola with a curly straw in front of him. Clark had told her in the car that Sam had just started learning math earlier in the week and was already close to memorizing his division tables, after having memorized addition, subtraction, and multiplication.
"Pluses, minuses, and timeses are easy," Sam informed her. "I'm still learning my un-timeses."
"You mean addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division," Lana corrected.
"I know that." Sam sounded annoyed. He went back to his menu.
Lana turned to pour Clark his lemonade, hiding her smile. Sam didn't like to be corrected. It was one of the quirks of being a genius child.
"Miss Lana, what's tax?"
"It's a way for the government to take your hard-earned money and give it to the bums on the street."
Lana turned quickly, almost spilling the lemonade. "Mr. Luthor."
"Miss Lang, how delightful to see you." Lionel Luthor smiled showily, standing on the opposite side of the counter. "I trust you are doing well?"
"I am," Lana said warily. Lionel unnerved her, despite his being a family friend. "What can I do for you today?"
"No need to worry, dear. I'm just passing through town and wanted to see how Lex's little investment had shaped up," Lionel said. He looked around proprietarily. "Not bad."
"I'm glad you approve," she said, with a touch of sarcasm.
"Now, Miss Lang, there's no reason to get snippy." Lionel picked up the menu in front of Sam on the counter.
"Hey, mister! That's my menu! Get your own," Sam protested, climbing onto his knees to reach the menu.
Lionel glanced at Sam and did a subtle double-take. "My apologies," he said, handing Sam the menu. He looked at Lana. "I'll have a number seven, to go."
Lana nodded, and addressed Sam. "Sam, you know the rules, bottom on the seat." She waited until he sat down before filling Lionel's order, keeping an eye on Sam as she did so.
"Number seven costs $3.99 plus tax," Sam read. He looked up at Lionel. "How much do we have to pay the bums?"
Lionel smirked. "Too much."
Sam scowled. "That's not an answer, mister. Paying means a money number."
Lana knew she should give Sam the answer, but she wouldn't mind seeing Lionel try to match wits with a toddler and, hopefully, lose.
"A money number, huh?" Lionel narrowed his eyes at Sam. "How old are you?"
"I'm two and three-quarters. I'll be three on August eighth," Sam said, his face darkening more. "And it's rude not to answer a question."
"You're right, it is rude," Lionel agreed. He sat on the stool beside Sam, leaning an arm on the counter, seeming very interested in Sam. "Sales tax in Kansas is five percent. Do you know how to calculate percentages?"
"No. Will you teach me?"
"I don't know. I think percentages might be too hard for you, young man."
"It would not be too hard. I'm a smarty-pants. My dad says so," Sam declared.
"He does?" Lionel said. "And who is your father?"
Clark came around Lionel and laid a hand on Sam's shoulder, as Lana put Lionel's coffee on the counter. Clark's expression was unfriendly, which was very rare for him. He might be quiet and tended to keep to himself, but he was never discourteous or hostile.
Lionel tapped his fingers on the counter, eyeing Clark. "You're Jonathan Kent's boy. Kevin, right?"
"Clark," Clark corrected flatly.
"Ah, yes, Clark," Lionel said. "I didn't recognize you without your halo."
Sam craned his neck to look up at Clark. "You have a halo? Where? Can I see it?"
Clark's expression softened when he looked down at Sam. "Mr. Luthor is being facetious, Sam."
"Oh." Sam scowled at Lionel. "Grandpa says, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
"Then I'd best keep my lips zipped, eh?" Lionel took his coffee, stood, and nodded to all three of them. "Miss Lang, Mr. Kent, Sam."
Clark relaxed noticeably after Lionel left, though he still seemed tense. He sunk down on Lionel's abandoned stool and asked Lana, "What did he want?"
"Nothing. Just passing through," Lana replied, hoping it was true. The Talon was her baby, and in spite of Lex being the primary investor, Lionel still held sway.
"Dang. I hope this doesn't mean layoffs at the plant." Clark glanced worriedly over his shoulder towards the door. "Jobs are scarce in town, especially with the college kids returning for the summer."
Lana patted Clark's hand. "I'm sure everything's fine, Clark."
An hour later, Clark was still worried about Lionel Luthor's visit, despite Lana's reassurances. A Luthor hadn't stepped foot into Smallville in three years, not since Lex had left. It didn't bode well, on either a professional or personal level.
Lionel was Lex's father, who was Sam's father in turn. The danger of Sam's parentage being discovered was highest with Lionel. Clark had pictures of Lex when he was young for the baby book, printed out from old newspapers and magazine articles, and Sam was nearly identical to little Lex: same bright red hair, same pale freckled skin, same young facial features.
Clark's fear with Lionel was, that he would suspect Sam's father was really Lex and that Clark had somehow adopted the illegitimate child. Lionel could cause all sorts of problems with the paternity, questioning the lack of birth certificate, requesting blood tests, and investigating the nameless mother.
Clark removed Sam's baby book from the table drawer and sat on the worn couch in the Fortress of Solitude. Sam was in the house, eating lunch with Martha and Jonathan. Clark had begged off the meal, needing some time alone to sort out his fears. His parents understood and agreed to watch Sam without question.
Even though Martha and Jonathan were always there, they were the grandparents and Clark had to ask if they'd keep an eye on Sam during the day. The arrangement worked out great. Clark didn't know what he would do without his parents. They had been an unwavering source of support as he traveled the road of fatherhood. They also helped him to decide when and how to tell Sam about Lex, which was why Clark had added as much about Lex as he could to the baby book.
The baby book was divided into sections. The first page was Sam's birth information: birthdate, size, weight, and a newborn photo. The next section was mother's history, followed by father's history. The rest of the book was divided by the child's age, a year per section, with space for photos as well as places to write pertinent information and anecdotal memories.
Clark had put his own history in the ‘mother' section, since he was the parent to physically carry and bear Sam. Clark filled out the information with the Kent family genealogy, but left space to add information on his biological family if he ever learned it. He didn't write down anything about his being an alien or his abilities, but Sam already knew that his father wasn't like other people. With his intelligence, Sam understood the need for secrecy and thought it was great that his dad was special, too. If Sam developed gifts from being half-alien, Clark knew Sam would take it in stride.
He would probably not have a problem with Lex's role in his origins, either. Clark wished he could involve Lex in Sam's life now, but it had been three years since he'd last seen Lex and Clark didn't really know him anymore. Being almost nineteen gave Clark the choice of whom he told about his heritage, but now that he could he found that he didn't trust anyone enough to tell them.
Clark turned to the ‘father' section of the baby book, where he had put all the information he could find on Lex. Clark's features darkened in worry when his gaze alighted on Lionel's picture. He needed to be prepared for anything, including a possible visit from Lex Luthor in the near future.