Family, Friendship, and Love
Lex Luthor's office was located on the fifty-fourth floor of LuthorCorp Towers. The executive office was decorated in sterile grays and polished chrome. A wall of tinted windows looked out onto the city of Metropolis.
With one hand in the pocket of his tailored black trousers, Lex stood behind the glass-topped desk, looking out the window without seeing anything. Young, bald, with blue-gray eyes the color of steel, Lex's thoughts were focused inward as he debated the merits of purchasing Windsor Technologies as LuthorCorp or as a personal holding for his fledgling company, LexCorp.
To date, LexCorp had five scientific technological holdings, including Cadmus Labs, and had an estimated net worth of $470-million dollars. Not bad for two years of work, in Lex's opinion. LexCorp was slowly shaping into a contender in the world business market, and Lex had planned and developed the company on his own, completely free of Lionel Luthor's control. Lionel knew of LexCorp and "pretended" to let Lex play businessman, but he underestimated his son, and that would be the old man's downfall.
Lex was looking forward to that day.
The special buzzer Lex had installed for his secretary to warn him when his father was about to intrude buzzed, and Lex turned from the window as the oak doors were thrown open and Lionel Luthor strode into the office like he owned it. Technically, he did own it and the whole building, but that wouldn't be for long if Lex had his way.
"Dad," Lex greeted flatly, not moving from his spot by the window.
"Lex," Lionel intoned, seating himself royally on one of the matching black chairs on the opposite side of the glass-topped desk. "Tell me: did you spawn when you were in Smallville and fail to inform me about it?"
Lex did not allow his confusion to show. "No. Why?"
"Hmm." Lionel steepled his fingers under his chin. "I met this remarkable little boy earlier, bright red hair and mouthy attitude to match. It was like seeing you as a child all over again, back when you still did what I told you to do."
Lex did frown now. "A child that looks like me? How old?"
"Nearly three," Lionel answered, watching Lex intently.
Lex did the calculations in his head, subtracting roughly nine months for a pregnancy term. "I only slept with two women while I was in Smallville and both would have been demanding money if I would have knocked up either of them." He looked questioningly at Lionel. "Who does the kid say his father is?"
Lionel smiled like a shark. "Clark Kent."
Lex stilled, not a flicker of an eyelash revealing the sudden whirlwind of emotion the name invoked. "Clark?" he repeated without inflection. "Clark has a son?"
"Apparently, your innocent young friend isn't very innocent." Lionel narrowed his eyes. "You're certain the child cannot be yours?"
"Positive," Lex said, his thoughts in turmoil. Clark had a son?
"Very good." Lionel rose. "I'm off to Singapore in a few hours. I'll be back on Friday. I expect the buyout proposal for Windsor Tech to be in my hands the moment I walk through the door." He nodded. "Have a pleasant week."
Lionel left as officiously as he'd arrived. Lex turned to the window once more and stared out without seeing anything.
Clark Kent had a son. A nearly three-year-old son. It was a mind-boggling revelation.
Three years had passed since Lex had returned to Metropolis, with barely any communication between Lex and Clark. Lex had thrown himself headlong into business upon arriving in the city, wanting to show Lionel a thing or two. During his free time, he'd started LexCorp and concentrated on making the corporation a success. His social life was actually all business, with the occasional date to take care of his physical needs.
Lex was man enough to admit that he missed Clark's presence in his life. He missed Clark's curiosity and actual desire to want to know Lex better. He missed watching and aiding in the juvenile soap opera that was Clark's relationship with Lana Lang. He missed Clark's bright smile that never failed to coax a smile out of Lex in return. He missed the comfortable sense of rightness he felt whenever Clark was hanging around.
But that was in the past. Clark was a virtual stranger again and a father, no less, if Lionel was to be believed. Lex had to see the child for himself, because if Lionel was telling the truth, it would alter Lex's entire perspective of Clark Kent; for good or for bad, that was up in the air yet.
"Laura, prep the helicopter and cancel my appointments for the afternoon," Lex told his secretary as he passed her on the way to the elevator. "I want to leave for Smallville within ten minutes."
The forty-five minute helicopter flight gave Lex ample time to compartmentalize his thoughts and emotions. He hadn't set foot in Smallville since he left three years ago. He hadn't seen Clark Kent for that long. The same Clark Kent who had been Lex's closest friend and yet never told Lex that he'd had sex with someone. Someone who'd had Clark's child.
Lex wasn't sure which bothered him more: the fact that Clark hadn't told Lex about his sexual encounter, or the fact that Clark had sex with someone other than Lex.
Jealousy was a petty emotion and Lex refused to succumb to it. His feelings for Clark had never been of a romantic nature, just a deeply rooted sense of... belonging, almost. When they'd surrendered to drunken passion that one night, it didn't make things awkward between them. Rather, it had simply felt right, like a logical addition to strengthening their friendship.
And it had strengthened their friendship, until Lex's past came back to haunt him and hurt Clark in the process. Amanda's brother's machinations followed by Dr. Hamilton's Nicodemus experiment had caused Clark to be wary of Lex, which had hurt tremendously. When Lionel requested Lex's return to the fold soon after, Lex had accepted despite Clark's asking him to stay in Smallville. They hadn't seen each other since.
The helicopter landed at the LuthorCorp Plant No. 3 at 3:15 PM. A car was waiting for Lex as pre-arranged by his secretary.
Fifteen minutes after he landed in Smallville, Lex pulled into the gravel driveway of the Kent Farm. He stopped his Porsche behind a slightly rusty mid-sized Ford Taurus, which was parked behind the familiar blue Kent truck.
Lex smoothed his tie and buttoned his jacket after he emerged from the car. He looked through his sunglasses as the bright yellow house. He heard the back screen door bang on its hinges. Inhaling slowly, he fought the sudden desire to smile genuinely when Clark walked into view.
Clark looked the same. Tall, broad-shouldered, and model-handsome, wearing a checkered red shirt, faded jeans and workboots. He carried a lunch bucket and a white hard hat in one hand, combing back his longish black hair with the fingers of his other hand.
His step faltered when he saw Lex, before a wholly false, polite smile graced his lips. "Lex, hello," he greeted in a subdued tone, joining Lex by the vehicles. "Long time, no see."
"Yes, it has been a long time." Lex mimicked Clark's false smile, tucking his hands casually in his trouser pockets. "How are you?"
"Fine," Clark answered automatically. "What brings you to town?"
"My father," Lex said. "He told me something earlier today that I wanted to verify."
"You mean, Sam." Clark glanced back at the house as the screen door slammed again. "I guessed you'd be coming to see him for yourself, only I didn't think it would be so soon. Lionel was just here this morning."
"So, it's true?" Lex's fists balled in his pockets. "You have a son?"
"Dad! Hey, Dad, wait!" A red-haired, lightly freckled-faced little boy came barreling around the corner of the house, following the shout.
Lex was glad he was wearing sunglasses, because they hid his reaction upon seeing Sam. Lex felt as though he'd been sucker-punched. Clark Kent had a son.
Sam skidded to a halt beside Clark, completely unwinded, and peered curiously up at Lex with slanted green-blue eyes that were identical to Clark's. "Hi. I'm Sam," he said. "Who are you?"
"Sam, this is your dad's old friend, Mr. Lex," Clark made the introductions. "Lex, my son, Sam Kent."
Sam thrust out his small hand. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Lex. My dad talks about you all the time."
"Oh, he does, does he?" Lex crouched awkwardly and accepted the handshake. "And just what does your dad say?"
"Mostly that it's all your fa-mmph." A giant hand suddenly covered half of Sam's face, cutting him off.
Clark smiled tightly. "Sam, I have to get to work. Was there something that you wanted?"
Lex straightened, allowing for the change of subject. He'd find out what Clark said about him soon enough.
Clark removed his hand from over Sam's mouth and Sam pulled a face. "Grandma says I can't watch Nova unless I eat my carrots."
"Then I guess you'll have to eat your carrots."
"But carrots are yucky!"
"They're also good for you," Clark said.
"How so?" Sam demanded with disbelief.
"They help your eyesight," Clark replied. At Sam's continued skeptical look, he added, "Go look it up if you don't believe me."
"Okay." Sam turned and ran back towards the house.
Clark called after him. "Bye, Sam! I'll see you in the morning." He turned to Lex, who had watched the exchanged in silence. "I have to go to work."
"When do you get off?"
"Tomorrow, then. I'm not leaving until we've had a chance to talk." And they definitely needed to talk. While Lex was almost certain Sam wasn't his child, despite the fair skin and red hair, he wanted to know exactly how Sam came into being.
"You'll be at the castle?" Clark asked. Lex nodded. "I'll be over around 9:30 AM."
"All right." Lex accepted the dismissal and opened his car door. "I'll expect you then." He climbed into the car without a further word, started her up, and drove away.
Lex spent his evening learning everything he could about Clark and Sam Kent. With his connections, he had all the information available from a surface search within a few hours.
Samuel David Kent, son of Clark, had a date of birth of August eighth, the same year Clark had turned sixteen, according to the official paternity papers on file at the Lowell County Clerk's Office. The mother was listed as Jane Doe and there was no birth certificate. Curious, but not exceptionally so. What was more interesting to learn was Sam's IQ scores. It was no wonder he'd made an impression on Lionel.
Clark, Lex learned, dropped out of high school before his sophomore year and completed his GED when he was seventeen. He started working full-time, second shift, at LuthorCorp a month after Sam had been born and had been working there at a pitiful wage ever since. He still lived at home, owned the Ford Taurus Lex had seen in the driveway, and had close to $50,000.00 in a savings account at the bank.
By the time Clark arrived with Sam the next morning, Lex had a mental list of blanks to fill. As the caretaker was the only other person in residence, Lex let the Kents into the castle himself, with a genial welcome.
"Hello, Mr. Lex!" Sam said enthusiastically, all eyes and bright smile. "I've never been to a castle before. Does your castle have ghosts? I looked up castles on the ‘puter this morning, and almost all of them had ghosts."
"I don't think there are any ghosts, but you can look for them if you want," Lex said.
"Can I?" Sam looked pleadingly up at Clark. "Huh, Dad, can I go look for the ghosts?"
Clark addressed Sam, but continued looking at Lex. "We'll have to follow you, if Lex doesn't mind..."
"That's fine," Lex agreed readily.
"Okay, Sam. You can look for ghosts."
Instead of whooping for glee, Sam put his serious face and held a finger to his lips. "You got to be quiet so you don't scare the ghosts away, all right?"
"We promise," Clark said solemnly, and released Sam's hand. He and Lex stayed put near the front door as Sam began to creep along the foyer to the first room.
"I'm sorry I had to bring Sam," Clark said quietly, once Sam was out of immediate earshot. "My babysitters weren't available on such short notice."
"What about his mother? I believe her name is ‘Jane Doe.'"
Clark reared back slightly. "Boy, you don't pull any punches."
"Is there a reason I should?" Lex tucked his hands in his pockets and fell into step beside Clark, as they followed after Sam. "We were friends. I think that allows me to ask certain things."
"We were friends, Lex," Clark said. "Were."
Lex's lips drew tightly together, as a hurt he hadn't felt in years flared in his chest. "Now who's not pulling punches?"
Clark blew out a tense breath. "Sorry. It's just... it's been three years, Lex. A lot changes in three years."
"I'll say." Lex looked over at Sam, who was peering under dust-covers on the furnishings in the semi-dark parlor. "Clark Kent, teen father. I never would have believed it."
"You and everybody else," Clark said. "I was pretty surprised, too."
"Will you bite my head off again if I ask what happened?"
Clark leaned against the doorjamb, his focus on Sam. "I had unprotected sex, Sam was born, and now I'm a father. That's pretty much it."
"Who's the mother?" Lex pressed. "And how do you know he's yours?"
"There's no question that Sam is mine," Clark replied. "Who the mother is doesn't matter. It was a one-night thing that resulted in pregnancy. I haven't seen that person in years."
Lex was mostly satisfied with the answer. He'd be more so with a name, but it was obvious Clark was not going to reveal it.
Sam opened the connecting door to the lounge and crept stealthily into the next room. Clark and Lex moved to the doorway of the lounge to continue supervising.
Clark was quiet and somewhat tense, uncomfortable being at the castle. Lex knew they couldn't slide right back into the friendship they'd had, but he was saddened by Clark's discomfort. They had been best friends — Lex's only close friend, in fact. He should have tried harder to keep in touch.
"Tell me about you," Lex ventured, desiring suddenly to reconnect, to have the surface information he'd read fleshed out. "What have you been doing for the last three years?"
"Taking care of Sam. Working." Clark shrugged. "That's about it."
Clark's bark of laughter was not nice. Sam frowned over in his direction. "Dad, you're supposed to be quiet."
"Sorry, sport," Clark apologized. He looked at Lex, wearing an ugly smile. "Mr. Lex just said something really funny."
"Mr. Lex, don't tell jokes," Sam scolded, before heading out of the lounge into the main hall.
"I didn't intend it as a joke," Lex said seriously, to Clark. "Things with Lana never panned out?"
"Lana's my friend, the only one I still have, but she's nothing more," Clark said. "No one wants to date a kid with a kid, Lex."
Lex followed Clark across the hall to the open doorway of the War Room. He felt like he should be apologizing because Clark couldn't get a date. "I'm sure that's not true. I've heard men with children are chick-magnets."
"What planet are you living on?" Clark scoffed.
"Apparently the one where I say ‘chick-magnet' with a straight face," Lex said, shaking his head in self-deprecation. "There's bound to be someone interested in you, Clark."
"Lex, the last person who showed even an inkling of wanting me was you," Clark told him flatly, "and we both know that only happened because we were drunk."
Lex liked to think it was because of a little more than that, but refrained from saying so. "Consider the subject dropped."
An uncomfortable silence stretched between them, as they both focused solely on Sam. Lex hated the emotion churning inside him, things he hadn't felt since leaving Smallville. Things that only came with caring about another person's opinions and beliefs.
"I missed you." The words came out of the blue. Clark glanced over at Lex, before dropped his chin and continuing. "I miss the friendship we had and that we don't have it anymore."
Lex responded without thought. "Same here." It was the truth, anyway. He was seriously questioning why he'd allowed their friendship to fade in the first place.
Clark gave him a shy, sideways smile. Lex found himself echoing it before he could prevent it. It was the right thing to do, even if it wasn't purposeful. Clark relaxed perceptively.
"Dad, come see! Mr. Lex has a ghost!"
Clark's brows shot up and he exchanged a surprised look with Lex. He hustled to where his son was standing. Lex was right behind him.
Sam was near the far corner of the War Room, looking up towards the ceiling. Clark came up on one side of him, Lex on the other. They both looked up. Lex saw nothing but cobwebs. He'd have to say something about that to his caretaker.
"Where, Sam?" Clark asked.
"Right there." Sam pointed.
Lex squinted. "I don't see it."
"It's right there."
Clark crouched and followed Sam's finger. "Where?"
"Holy—" Clark swallowed the oath. He reached over Sam's head, snagged Lex's arm, and tugged him down.
Lex caught his balance and shot a questioning look at Clark. Clark was staring up towards the ceiling, where Sam was still pointing. Lex got the hint, sighted along Sam's arm, and jerked in alarm.
A slightly blurry figure in a long black cloak floated near the upper corner of the room.
"There's a ghost in your War Room."
"There's no such thing as ghosts."
"Shh! Sam, keep your voice down. You'll scare away the ghost."
Lex would adamantly deny that he squawked like a chicken and fell on his butt, at the call of his name from behind. Clark yelped, also startled, and spun and rose to a standing position, blocking Sam from any danger.
The black-cloaked caretaker stood on the second floor balcony, staring questionably down at them. "Is there a problem, Mr. Luthor?"
Lex looked at his caretaker, glanced up at where the ghost was, and instructed, "Raise your left arm, Enrique."
The "ghost" raised its right arm, while Enrique raised his left.
Lex mentally slapped himself for his gullibility. "It's a mirror, Clark," he said, climbing to his feet. "A security mirror."
The dusty mirror was fitted seamlessly in the corner near the ceiling. Lex bet there used to be furniture approximately where Sam had stood, and whoever had sat there could see the balcony behind him, to prevent someone from sneaking up on him.
"It's not a ghost?" Sam sounded extremely disappointed.
"Sorry, Sam. It's a reflection," Clark said. He pointed to Enrique. "You're seeing Enrique in a dirty mirror."
"How?" Sam asked. "In-reek-ay is all the way up there."
"It's the angle of the mirror," Lex told Sam.
Sam turned expectant, demanding eyes on Lex. "Explain, please."
Clark hid his smile with a bite of ice cream. In spite of the early hour, the three boys were in the kitchen, sitting at the servants' table and eating chocolate fudge ice cream, a consolation for the lack of ghosts.
Lex had completely geeked-out, as soon as it became evident Sam could comprehend Lex's answer, when Sam asked for an explanation on mirrors. He was currently using his spoon to demonstrate convex and concave refractions. At most, Clark could hang the spoon off his nose. Science was not Clark's strong point and he was usually left floundering when Sam questioned certain things. Lex, obviously, had been a total science nerd when he was in school. Clark got a mental image of a pocket protector-wearing Lex, with his sweater-vest tucked into his high-water corduroys, and gave up fighting the grin.
Lex caught the smile and arched a brow, but Clark shook his head, indicating it was nothing.
Clark focused on his diminishing ice cream and listened to Lex and Sam. Clark had been so worried about the two of them ever meeting, worried that Lex would immediately know Sam was his son. Lex's appearance in Smallville meant Lionel had seen the resemblance between Lex and Sam, but Lex had apparently dismissed the probability that Sam was his child and Clark was able to relax. The truth would remain hidden unless Clark chose to reveal it.
Seeing Lex interact with Sam, however, made Clark feel guilty, too. Without getting into the alien pregnancy part, was it right of Clark to keep Lex from knowing he was a father? Was it right to keep Sam from having two parents, from knowing the other half of his heritage?
Then again, did Lex even want to be a father? Yeah, sure, Lex and Sam were getting along at the moment, but Sam was well-rested and being entertained. Would Lex be so patient when Sam was screaming his lungs out because he had to take a nap rather than being allowed to watch a rerun on TV? Would Lex have the patience to answer Sam's never-endings string of questions, even while he was trying to work? Would Lex be able to stop everything and go to Sam, when he received a call that Sam was ill? Would Lex be able to put aside all work at least one full day a week to spend the time solely with Sam?
Clark would be nineteen in a month; a year over the age that he could chose to tell whom he wished about his alien origins. "Lex," he interrupted, "how long will you be in Smallville?"
Lex studied Clark a moment. "I can arrange to remain through the weekend." He paused minutely before adding, "If you wish me to stay."
Clark refrained from admitting that he never wanted Lex to leave in the first place. Instead, he asked Sam, "What do you say, sport? Do you want Mr. Lex to stay in Smallville for the weekend?"
"Yeah!" Sam replied enthusiastically.
Clark gave Lex a crooked smile. "I think that answers for the both of us."
Lex nodded in acceptance. "I'll stay, then."
Lex could hide his emotions better than anyone Clark knew, but Clark could still see the happiness in Lex's eyes.
Clark made his choice then and there. He would fight to rebuild their friendship and trust, for both Sam and himself.
He caught the look in Lex's eyes again and amended his self-promise. Rebuilding the friendship was for Lex, too.