Clark saw Lex enfolded in a faux embrace by his father. Lex
stood stiffly, an expression of longing on his face as he looked in Kent
family’s direction. The hugs Clark received from his parents were warm and
real, but he felt bad about them.
Clark told his parents that he’d meet them later and waited until he caught Lex alone. Standing near the ambulance, Clark enfolded Lex in his arms and whispered against the side of his head, “I’m glad you’re okay.”
Lex clutched Clark like a lifeline in return, and murmured, “I am now.”
Clark held him tighter.
Clark’s eyelids fluttered open and it took him a moment to recognize where he was: in Lex’s bed. Sunlight spilled through the tall, gauzy curtained French doors that lead out onto a small stone balcony. He could hear morning birds twittering outside. A smile spread across his lips and he buried his suddenly heated face into the pillow.
A hand settled on his lower back beneath the sheet and bashfulness warmed by happiness filled him. Sprawled on his stomach, he turned his head and peered through half-lowered lashes at Lex. “Hi.”
“Hi.” The corners of Lex’s lips curved, one side higher than the other, and he had a soft look in his blue eyes. “How did you sleep?”
“Wonderfully,” Clark admitted shyly.
“Are you sore?” Lex asked, his hand sliding lower over the swell of Clark’s buttocks.
Clark shook his head minutely. Tingles raised where Lex’s hand ran over his bare skin. His morning erection pulsed, trapped between the bedding and his abdomen.
“You might be when you move.” Lex shifted further onto his side, smoothing his hand upwards. “Most virgins hurt for a day or two after their first time.”
“If I am, I won’t complain.”
Lex’s smile grew. “I won’t apologize, either.”
Clark laughed lightly and snuggled into the pillow. “Are things supposed to be this easy the morning after?”
“I’ll admit I was worried.” Lex tugged on the hair at the base of Clark’s neck. “You’re my best friend. I don’t want anything to screw that up, including any six-beer-queer moments.”
“We were drinking some zillion-dollar wine,” Clark corrected.
“You know what I mean, Clark.”
“Yeah.” Clark inhaled slowly and sighed. “Let’s make a promise not to get weird with each other.”
“Promise made,” Lex said softly.
Clark found Lex’s other hand and squeezed it with his own. “Promise made.”
Making a Choice
"Shouldn't you be packing?"
Lex hid his startled reaction to his father's sudden question. He hadn't realized Lionel was at the castle. "I'm not going back to Metropolis," he said.
Lionel chuckled. "Come on, Lex. That's all you've wanted since I assigned you to what you so eloquently refer to as 'the crap factory'."
That was before he'd gained a friend that he valued more than anything. Lex tossed his magazine on the desk and tried to turn the conversation around, getting himself out of the defensive position. "I know why you want me back. I'm driving you crazy, aren't I? I'm not clubbing till six a.m., not getting arrested. I'm on track. That's what scares you. You want me back where you can keep an eye on me."
Lionel's face remained impassive. "You're making a mistake, Lex."
"You know what those emperors you're so fond of talking about were really afraid of? That their sons would become successful and return to Rome at the head of their own army."
"You think you can find your future in Smallville?" Lionel scoffed. "I'm your future. Join me, Lex. Join me in Metropolis. How long have you been waiting to hear me say those words?"
Lex folded his arms. "I've waited to hear other things from you for a lot longer. I'll return to Metropolis when I'm ready."
Lionel smirked. "At the head of an army?"
"I'd think you'd revel in the challenge," Lex said.
"Perhaps." Lionel stroked his beard, eyeing Lex thoughtfully. "But I know you're ready now."
Lex grew wary. "Your selective listening is faultless, as always. I said I'd return to Metropolis on my own terms."
"And what terms would those be?"
"I…" Lex thought fast. He had goals and dreams that only Clark knew about. Voicing them to his father would be an invitation to destroy them. But it was the perfect chance to test the waters. "I'd like to challenge my own skills at building a corporation outside of LuthorCorp."
"Interesting." Lionel tapped his finger against his lips. "Your efforts would be better used in strengthening LuthorCorp's holdings. After all, one day it will be yours."
"How will I know that I can maintain and build on it once you retire, if you held my hand the entire time before that?" Lex said.
"You have a point," Lionel said, surprising Lex. Lionel rarely ceded anything to him. "What if I allowed you to build your little corporation on the side, while you worked for me?"
"And the catch?" Lex said, suddenly feeling like he was standing on the edge of a precipice.
"You must complete all the work I assign to you without fail, or complaint." Lionel gazed shrewdly at Lex. "It's a fair offer. Unless you don't think you could handle the pressure of doing both…?"
Lex knew Lionel was dangling the challenge like bait on a hook. But if he played things right, he could eat the bait without being caught. "You know I can, or you wouldn't be daring me into accepting."
"Then, should I proceed in clearing an office for you?" Lionel said, extending his hand.
Lex hesitated, knowing if he said yes, he'd be leaving Smallville. He thought of Clark, who'd wished he would stay; but Clark would also be the one who'd urge him to go after his dreams. It wasn't as if he and Clark wouldn't see each other again, if he went. They were best friends and nothing would ever change that. Metropolis was merely a helicopter ride away.
He clasped his father's hand, making his choice. He could only hope that it was the right one.
Lex sat in his darkened office, a mug of hot cider at his
elbow, listening to the soft strains of Vivaldi’s Christmas compositions
playing on the stereo. A tall pine tree stood in the corner, colored lights sparkling,
painting rainbows on all the furnishings. Handmade ornaments cut out of
construction paper and doused liberally in glitter hung from the branches,
draped with silver strands of tinsel that clung to everything and was found in
the most onerous places. It was the first Christmas tree he’d had since he was
thirteen, decorated with smiles and laughter and a precise schematic by his two
favorite people in the world.
Clark and Sam were with their own family, where they belonged, but Lex didn’t mind being alone. It had been a very long while since he’d felt at home for the holidays and he was going to savor it, giving silent thanks for having Clark once more as a friend.
Clark knew it would happen, expected it really, but seeing it with his own eyes still shocked him.
LEX LUTHOR'S GAY TRYST.
A picture of Clark and Lex sitting together at the zoo yesterday graced the third page of The Inquisitor under that headline. Clark supposed by the way he had his arm along the bench behind Lex's shoulders for comfort and the tilt of his head so close to Lex in order to hear him over the noise gave the impression of more than friendship between them. There wasn't, though, and Clark didn't appreciate the truth being distorted. The article speculated on a relationship that tainted the one they actually had, as if two men couldn't be as close as he and Lex were without sex being involved.
Of course, sex had been involved at one point and they had a precious son to prove it. But their love wasn't the romantic kind and anyone who'd take the time to ask would know that. Clark dug out a pair of scissors and snipped the photograph from the tabloids. Away from the implied context, the picture was a nice shot of the two of them. He pasted it into Sam's baby book and jotted underneath the real story of a day of family, friendship, and platonic love.
An awkward silence hung in the bedroom. Sam had banged on
the locked door moments ago, waking them from their post-coital doze, informing
them it was time for dinner. After answering that they would be out soon, Clark
and Lex had untangled and sat up separately in bed.
Clark plucked at the sheet pooled over his waist, fighting the urge to pull it up to his neck. He was naked and in bed with Lex. Yes, Lex had seen him unclothed on occasion, considering they lived together, but it was totally different. Clark was naked and in bed with Lex. They’d touched – more than touched – each other’s naked bodies for the first time in years. Four years, six months, and eight days, to be exact: the night Sam was conceived.
Clark glanced out of the corner of his eye at Lex. Lex didn’t appear too comfortable, either. It was a huge step they’d just taken, changing their relationship permanently. Things would never be the same again.
Lex pushed the sheets off suddenly and rose from the bed. Clark’s cheeks heated and he dropped his eyes as Lex strode nakedly towards the bathroom. The intimacy of such a simple act as walking nude in front of another person nearly overwhelmed Clark.
Lex paused in the doorway of the en suite bathroom. “I’m taking a shower.” He didn’t sound too sure of himself when he offered, “You can join me, if you’d like.”
Clark’s body liked that idea, even as his face flamed hotter. Lex vanished into the bathroom, shutting the door partway.
“Oh, geez,” Clark mumbled to himself. He dragged a hand through his hair and rubbed the back of his neck. He was acting like a timid virgin. Which he was, sort of. It was only the second time he’d had sex in his life.
But it was Lex: the person who’d taken his actual virginity nearly five years ago. The person who was in love with him and he loved in return. The only person he’d be with for the rest of his life.
Clark heard the shower go on, gathered his courage, and got out of bed. He was an adult, was as married as he could get, and already had a child with the man in the shower. There was no reason to be shy over being naked together.
The glimpse of Lex behind the frosted glass shower doors caused Clark to gulp and hurry into the water closet. He shut the door and leaned his forehead against it with his eyes closed.
“Moron,” he called himself, took a deep breath, and blew it out. He did his business in the toilet and left the water closet. At the sink, he found a wrapped toothbrush lying out beside the basin and his lips curved. Looking in the fogging mirror, he could see Lex behind him through the shower doors. Lex was being so obvious in his not-watching Clark that Clark felt himself relax. He wasn’t the only one nervous.
Clark brushed his teeth to get rid of nap-mouth, checked that two towels were at the ready, and then went over to the shower door. Lex stopped washing, his body still behind the blurred glass door. Squaring his shoulders, Clark opened the shower door and stepped inside.
Steam rolled upwards from the hot water. The shower spray rained down on the hard cubicle floor. Lex’s skin had pinked from the heat. Droplets clung to his fair eyelashes. He didn’t move, watching Clark with timidity in his eyes.
“Hi,” Clark said hesitantly.
“Hi.” Lex had a white-knuckled grip on the washrag in his hands. “I’m glad you chose to join me.”
“It’s faster this way,” Clark took a step closer, “Sam’s waiting for us.”
“We don’t want him to starve,” Lex said, extending a hand towards Clark.
Clark took Lex’s hand and walked into an embrace. The washrag fell heedlessly to the floor. The shower spray rained on them both. Clark held Lex’s wet, naked body in his arms and wondered why he’d hesitated at all.
“I love you,” Lex murmured against Clark’s shoulder.
Clark’s arms tightened around Lex, amazed by how perfectly they fit together. Then again, they always had, it just had taken Clark a while to realize it. “Love you back.”
Lex leaned back, their lower bodies still pressed together, and grinned with crooked bashfulness. “We’d better get cleaned up. We have a kid to feed.”
“Yes, we should do that,” Clark agreed, and lowered his head to kiss that beautiful smile.
It ended up being the dirtiest shower Clark had ever taken.
“Papa Lex!” Sam burst into the office, all bright red hair
and vibrant smiles. Lex pushed back from the desk and caught Sam up in his
arms. “Do you like my Hallowe’en costume?”
Sam wore a black jacket and trousers, white shirt, purple tie and a purple handkerchief sticking from the breast pocket. His dress shoes shined in the overhead light. “It’s very nice,” Lex said, straightening Sam’s tie. “Are you supposed to be someone in particular?”
“I’m a corprit ‘zecutive,” Sam stated, puffing up his chest. “Just like you.”
And Lex had thought he couldn’t love Sam any greater.
“Sam stuck his hands down the front of Jimmy Westin’s pants
today.” Mrs. Kritchfield’s disapproval was obvious. “When I asked why, he said
that he was happy and that was what people did when they were happy.”
Clark groaned and sunk his face into his hands. Lex gave his blushing partner a look. “I take it you know why he did it?”
“Remember when you came home from Hong Kong and Sam caught us saying hello in the study?” Clark peeked sideways through his fingers at Lex.
Lex pinched the bridge of his nose. “What, exactly, did you tell him?”
“After you escaped, he asked why my hands had been… er,” Clark glanced at the teacher, “…occupied, and I told him that’s what adults did sometimes when they were happy with each other.”
Lex groaned silently. He was somewhat mollified to see that Mrs. Kritchfield appeared more amused than disgusted. “Mrs. Kritchfield, my apologies. We’ll talk with Sam about improper touching.”
“Thank you,” Mrs. Kritchfield said. “We’ve had no other problems with Sam so far this school term. He’s an exemplary student and seems to be interacting well with the others."
“Good. We’re glad,” Lex said. “Is there anything else?”
“No, nothing else.” Mrs. Kritchfield rose. “Thank you for coming down.”
“Sorry about this, ma’am,” Clark apologized.
“It’s all right, Mr. Kent. Sam is four, after all,” Mrs. Kritchfield said with a smile.
“Good night.” Clark put his hand on Lex’s lower back and guided the way out of the classroom.
In the school hallway, Lex ran his hand over his scalp. “I am very embarrassed.”
“Look on the bright side,” Clark said, as they headed out towards the doors. “It was only his hands down someone’s pants.”
“How is that the bright side?”
“He could’ve been ‘playing puppies,’ instead.”
“Sam admitted it?”
“He said that it was against the law to interrogate him without a parent present,” Mrs. Kritchfield said.
Lex schooled his features, hiding his amusement. Clark sighed wearily. “We’ve been teaching him the difference between reality and fictional television.”
“In your lessons, you’ve obviously neglected to teach him the difference between right and wrong.” Mrs. Krichfield’s face pinched in censure. “The students saw Sam pour the solution over Christopher’s head.”
“Why would he do such a thing?” Clark said.
Lex looked at the picture of a completely bald, sob-eyed child. “I think we can hazard a guess.”
“I don’t think people were meant to bend like this.”
“You’re not people.”
“Thanks a lot—oh. Oh.”
“Glad you’re not people now?”
“Oh, god. Shut up and hurt me some more.”
“Don’t tear a hole in the seat.”
“Can’t. It’s the only thing stopping me from coming.”
“Not yet. Not yet.”
“Oh god, Clark.”
“Talk to me. Talk, talk, talk.”
“If the car’s a-rocking, don’t come.”
“It’s ‘don’t come knocking’—ohjeezdoesthatfeelgood.”
“I think ‘don’t come’ is more appropriate in this instance. Fuck, Clark.”
“You came knocking.”
“Don’t drool on me.”
“Snotdrl, sm’rain leakin’.”
“My brain is still hard.”
“Sex. Yes. Want more now, please.”
“Horny. Shut up and fix it.”
“Quiet. I want cuddles now.”
“If I must.”
“We fogged the windows.”
“Would you rather people see us?”
“And who prompted us into the back seat?”
“It’s a drive-in. The back seat is, like, a requirement.”
“I think that’s a myth.”
“Lex, it’s… January first. It’s freezing outside. How do you think everyone is keeping warm in their cars?”
“It’s the first?”
“Five after midnight.”
“We missed New Years.”
“They say that you have to kiss those dearest to you at midnight, to ensure those affections and ties last through the next twelve months.”
“Now who’s quoting myths?”
“We should probably get dressed. My ass is freezing.”
“Lex, you were coming at the stroke of midnight. I think that will ensure a lot more than a kiss would.”
“Don’t patronize me, Clark.”
“I’m not. You did! I heard the fireworks just as you came.”
“Silly? Hot? Appropriate for His Royal Highness’s orgasm?”
“There’s usually a full orchestra for my orgasms.”
“I think there was a marching band. Will that do?”
“I guess it’ll have to, but next year…”
“Next year, I’m going to be the one coming at midnight.”
“I don’t forgive you.”
Lex lowered the glass of iced tea slowly, staring at Martha in shock and confusion. “Pardon me?”
“I’ve never forgiven you for what you did to Clark,” Martha said calmly, as if she was commenting on the weather. “I still don’t.”
Lex waited for her to go on. She continued folding towels across from him. “Martha, I’m afraid I don’t know as to what you’re referring to,” he said finally. “I’m sure if you give me a reference, I can explain—”
Martha’s gaze lifted from her task and Lex felt like he’d been slapped without her raising a hand. “You had sex with my underage child. I don’t care that it was five years ago, there’s no excuse or explanation you could ever give to appease me.”
Lex averted his eyes, a wave of self-loathing washing over him. He’d known things with Clark were going too good and had been waiting for the backlash. Well, he’d gotten it. “You won’t be happy that Clark’s pregnant, then.”
Martha was silent. Lex wished he’d gone with Clark outside to help Jonathan while Sam was napping. He rubbed the condensation on the side of the glass and tried not to shift uncomfortably in his chair. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, knowing that the apology would never be accepted. She deserved one anyway.
“You’re a good father, Lex, and you’re a good partner to Clark,” Martha said, folding her towels. “You keep being both and there won’t be any problems between us.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Lex said, keeping his heated face lowered. He rose and picked up his glass. “If you’ll excuse me.” He didn’t wait for her response, making his escape outside.
Clark and Jonathan’s laughter rolled through the open doors of the cow barn. Lex hesitated joining them. His inclusion into the Kent family was a false one. He didn’t belong.
“Lex!” Jonathan boomed, startling him. The iced tea sloshed from the glass onto Lex’s hand. “Get in here.”
Lex put on a polite, bland smile and wandered into the cow barn. The stalls were empty, the cows out in the pasture. He managed not to wrinkle his nose at the smell. Clark and Jonathan were shoveling old hay and manure into wheelbarrows halfway down the row of stalls.
“Should I grab a shovel?” Lex asked, setting his glass on a gatepost. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his damp fingers.
“There are boots by the door,” Jonathan replied, then clamped a heavy hand on Lex’s shoulder. “But first, I think we ought to have a talk.”
Lex felt nauseated. Jonathan was going to berate him, too. He glanced at Clark, who was finishing Lex’s glass of tea with noisy gulps, apparently oblivious to the fact Lex was about to be decimated.
“I’ve been told that you and Clark are expecting again,” Jonathan said, guiding Lex towards the door.
“Yes, sir.” Lex shoved his hands in his pockets and walked with his head bowed repentantly. “I’m sorry, sir.”
“As much as I don’t want to hear about it, I never expected you two not to engage in partnerly relations.” Jonathan stopped near the open doorway of the barn. “Now, Clark says he wants to give this child the Luthor name.”
“He does?” Lex looked back at Clark, who had returned to shoveling. Love filled his chest and then was quashed by the weight of the Kents’ disappointment and disapproval of him.
“I guess I let the cat out of the bag.” Jonathan chuckled. “Sorry ‘bout that, but I wanted to tell you that it’s fine with me before you started fretting over it. In fact, I’d be proud to have a Kent take on the Luthor name. You’ve more than proved its respectability and value, and I don’t mean with money.”
Lex was completely taken aback. “I- I …”
Jonathan squeezed Lex’s shoulder, a broad smile creasing his sun-weathered face. “Congratulations, son. Now, grab a pair of boots and a shovel. This barn won’t clean itself.”
Lex stared agape as Jonathan walked back to the stalls. Clark beamed at him across the barn. Lex blinked a couple times and rubbed his forehead. Left was right, up was down, and he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to feel.
Dropping his hand, he looked in Clark and Jonathan’s direction. Both had returned to work. Lex decided to figure it out later, pulled on a pair of boots, and picked up a shovel. Cows didn’t have in-law troubles and, for the next hour, neither did he.
The scream stopped abruptly and Lex’s heart lurched. He ran
through the halls, rushed into the study, and nearly gagged at the stench.
Clark was curled in blood and feces on the floor.
Lex hurried to him. “Clark…”
“Hey,” Clark said weakly, with a weary smile. “There’s someone I want you to meet.”
Lex stared wide-eyed at the squirming infant Clark held. With trembling hands, he accepted her from Clark and cradled her tenderly in his arms. Tears fell when she let out her first cry.
He was never so glad that the storm caused him to cancel his flight.
They had painted the two-storey house pale yellow and a
white picket fence surrounded the yard. The green grass tickled the back of his
neck as he lay dozing under the clear blue sky and warm summer sun. His
month-old baby girl slept on his chest, her tiny body hidden in the shade of a
lightweight purple blanket. He could hear his love teaching his son about
vibration and pitch, and smiled when a shrill hum filled the air, breath blown
against a sharp blade of grass trapped between two thumbs, followed by amazed
and gleeful laughter.
He was home.
Lionel scowled briefly, as the door to his office burst open without warning or permission. He'd have to fire another secretary. Not such a loss, as he was tired of her in bed already, anyway. He smoothed his features as Sam ran into the room.
"Gentlemen walk, Sam. They never show they are in a rush," Lionel said, "and they never shout."
Sam stumbled to a stop and lowered his head. "Sorry."
"Dad, he's only five." Lex followed Sam into the office, carrying something in his arms that immediately peaked Lionel's interest.
"That means it's not too late to teach him proper manners. He is a Luthor, thanks to your emotional idiocy." Lionel rose and came around the desk. He smoothed his hand over Sam's unruly hair with affection. Despite his country bumpkin upbringing, Sam was an enjoyable child that reminded him of Lex at that age. "What brings you here in the middle of a work day?"
"I'm on vacation," Lex said, and smiled down at the bundle in his arms. "And I have someone I'd like to introduce to you."
Lionel should've known this was coming. "Are we at that stage of playing house already?"
"Dad—." Lex shook his head, changing his mind about whatever he'd been going to say. Instead, he closed the space between them and offered the bundle in his arms. "Would you like to hold your new granddaughter?"
"A girl? How surprising." Lionel took the child carefully, cradling her in the crook of his elbow. Memories came back, both painful and fond, of holding two other infants in his arms. She was smaller than his forearm, premature size, with a wrinkled face and a sprinkling of dark hair on her head. He hoped Lex had the foresight to check the surrogate's pedigree. "And whose folly is this? Or did you open your hearts to adoption like the Kents?"
"Does it matter?"
"Of course it matters. You need to know if she comes from good stock."
"She's Clark's daughter, so that makes it the best in the world." Lex held out his hand to Sam. "Come on, Sam. I'll walk you to the restroom."
"But I don't have to go," Sam said, though he took Lex's hand.
"Well, I do." Lex lead him to the door, pausing on the threshold to look back at Lionel. "Her name is Pamela Jean Luthor. We call her PJ. I'll be back shortly." He shut the door behind them with a click.
Alone in the office, Lionel looked down at the baby in his arms. She made sleepy noises and clutched Lionel's finger when he rubbed it against her tiny knuckles. "Pamela Jean Luthor, eh?" he said, affection already taking hold. He was a grandfather again.
Lex may be an overly emotional fool, but sometimes he did things right.
It was the forty-first day PJ woke up crying.
Lex sat bolt upright in bed. Clark barely shifted, although he had woken, too. Having super-hearing sometimes stunk, especially when his newborn daughter wanted to be fed in the middle of the night. Instead of getting up, though, he feigned sleep and waited. A moment later, Lex left the bed to answer PJ’s call.
“Shh, shh, shh. Daddy’s here,” came over the baby monitor. Clark rolled onto his side, snuggled Lex’s pillow, and listened with secret pleasure as Lex began talking to PJ about his hopes and dreams for her future.
Forty-one nights of PJ’s cries and Lex’s heart still leapt fearfully into his throat. He hurried down the hall to her bedroom, where he found PJ, safe and sound, in her crib.
“Shh, shh, shh. Daddy’s here.” Lex picked her up and cradled her against his chest. He grabbed the prepared bottle and settled into the rocking chair.
Lex relaxed as he watched her eat. He would never admit it, but even with the scare and his sleep suffering, this was his favorite time with his daughter – when he didn’t have to share her with anyone. “How’s my beautiful girl…”
Flying Over the Moon
It wasn’t that he didn’t know Clark was an alien. Clark had told him point blank the same night he’d told Lex that Sam was their child. Sam was a walking, always talking product of Clark’s alienness. But he, like Clark, looked and acted so ordinarily human all the time that Lex just didn’t really think about it.
For their first anniversary together, Clark took him flying, and everything changed.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Clark whispered into his ear, as they soared high above the checkerboard farm fields.
“Yes,” Lex agreed, his answer tossed into the wind. Clark held him around his torso, his feet hooked over the backs of Clark’s ankles. The layers of clothing kept him warm and goggles protected his eyes at high altitude.
The sun was a sliver on the horizon, a deep orange ball setting in the dusk. Below, farms looked tiny, divided by lines of road. Miniature homes and businesses populated the area over which they flew.
No plane or helicopter surrounded him. No hang glider or parachute kept him safe. It was only Clark’s arms holding him aloft, protecting him and sharing with him something he’d once dreamed. It was like dying all over again, sailing on a heavenly breeze. It was freedom.
And Clark had given it to him.
Lex blinked the moisture from his eyes and clasped Clark’s arms a little tighter. “Are you okay?” Clark asked almost immediately, with concern.
“I’m perfect,” Lex said in a slightly roughened tone. “Fly me over the moon?”
“Anywhere, Lex,” Clark kissed the edge of his ear, “Always.”
Elena Mrozinski tilted her head back, exposing her swan-like
throat, as her tinkling laughter filled the office. Lex’s lips curved and he
sipped his drink. They sat side-by-side on the small sofa in his office,
reminiscing. Elena had “stopped by to wish the birthday boy a happy one.” Lex
hadn’t seen her in over seven years, when she had rejected his marriage
proposal with a kiss and a laugh, and her appearance was a definite surprise.
“Lex, you haven’t changed,” Elena said, laying her hand on his thigh.
“I think you’d be surprised.”
Elena slid her hand higher on his leg. “I doubt it.”
Ah, so that was it. Lex stopped her hand, lifted it from his leg, and placed it on her own leg. “I’m in a committed relationship.”
“That’s never stopped you before,” Elena said coyly.
“I’ve never been in love before.” Lex watched the hurt flash across her eyes. He stood and moved away from her. “It’s nice that you dropped by, but what you want I won’t be able to give you.”
Elena held her poise as she rose and gathered her clutch. “I’ve wasted enough of your time, then.” Her companionable mood changed to one of ice.
“Goodbye, Elena. It was lovely seeing you again.”
“Oh, and Elena?” She glanced back at Lex from the open doorway. Lex gave her a chilly smile. “Tell my father I find his birthday gift highly inappropriate.”
Faint color infused Elena’s cheeks. She sniffed haughtily and waltzed out of the office.
Lex shook his head, set his drink on the desk, and picked up the phone. Two rings later, and a familiar voice spoke in his ear. “Daily Planet, Kent speaking.”
“My father sent me an old flame for my birthday.”
“Was she beautiful?”
“Yes.” Lex wouldn’t lie, not to Clark.
“Did you do anything that deserves a spanking?”
Lex went to say no, paused, and instead replied, “Could I get one anyway?”
A deep chuckle rolled over the line, through Lex’s ear, and straight to his groin. “I think that can be arranged. It’s a birthday tradition, after all.”
“The speleothem rate of growth is only about one cubic inch every one hundred to one hundred and fifty years, depending on the chemistry of the water and the amount of water flowing through cracks in the cave walls, the types of rock, the humidity and temperature, and the air circulation.”
“Don’t forget surface evaporation,” Lex said, lifting PJ out of the car seat. He closed the sedan door with his hip.
“Oh, yeah.” Sam thumped his forehead with the heel of his palm. “D’oh.”
Clark stared at his son, as he hooked the diaper bag across his chest. Obviously, Sam had enjoyed watching The Simpsons at the hotel last night.
Lex deposited PJ in the Snugli Carrier strapped over his shoulders. Facing forward, she kicked her chubby legs, bouncing in the frontpack, and made motorboat noises. Barely any parking spots in the lot at Ruby Falls remained. Families trudged through the sweltering heat towards the main building and the entrance to the cave. Clark and Lex joined the procession, with Sam between them, the soles of their shoes sticking to the asphalt.
“What kind of speleothems will we be seeing?” Lex asked Sam.
“Stalactites, stalagmites, columns, drapes, and flowstone,” Sam ticked each off his finger, then took Lex’s hand. They passed another couple with two children and Clark’s features darkened at the disgusted look they received. “I think the drapes are the most interesting. I understand that it’s the minerals that form the bands of color in the calcite, but why are do they look alike? How do the minerals know where to go? Shouldn’t there be stripes or plaids or spots, too?”
“I would hypothesize that the weight of the minerals has something to do with it,” Lex said. He glanced over at Clark and his brow furrowed in question at the scowl. Clark shook his head.
“Hm, I’d have to research about that,” Sam said. “I’ve read about the types of rock and minerals we’ll be seeing, but not their specific properties.”
“Maybe there’ll be a book in the gift shop,” Clark said, opening the door of the main building. A gust of cool air from the air conditioning hit him before he stepped aside, holding the door open for Sam and Lex. He caught sight of the other family nearing the entrance and grabbed Lex’s arm.
Lex half-turned and looked up at Clark. “Wha-nnmmm,” his question was cut off with Clark’s kiss. Clark didn’t make it a passionate one, though he was tempted. It was simply a short, meaningful kiss on the lips.
“Love you,” Clark said clearly. He felt satisfied to see the horrified expressions on the other couples’ faces.
“Papa Lex, come on,” Sam tugged at Lex’s hand, trying to pull him through the door. Lex gave Clark a curious look and allowed himself to be pulled inside.
Clark gave the couple a sneer and followed.
“What was that about?” Lex cornered Clark while Sam was skimming through the geology books in the gift shop a few minutes later. PJ squealed and reached for Clark from the frontpack resting against Lex’s chest.
“Homophobes,” Clark said, offering his fingers to PJ. PJ latched onto them and immediately stuck one in her mouth. He bent and kissed her head.
“Ah.” Lex slid his hands in his pockets, which Clark knew was a sign that he was hiding his emotions. “Unfortunately, we are in the Bible belt. They probably won’t be the only ones.”
“I know,” Clark sighed. “I just hate that people think it’s wrong that I love you.”
“The only opinions that matter are mine and yours.” Lex took a hand from his pocket and nudged Clark’s chin up. “And you know how I feel about you.”
Clark smiled slightly. “Yeah, I do.”
“Good,” Lex said, dropping his hand. “Try and put them out of your mind for now. Later, after the kids are asleep, we’ll lock ourselves in the bathroom and do all the nasty stuff they’re imagining we do.”
Clark’s smile widened and he snickered maliciously. “Too bad we can’t videotape it and send it to them.”
Lex smirked. “Who says we can’t?”
Lex stared incredulously at the bright yellow package on the bed. HAPPY ‘END’-INGS was scrawled across the top in gaudy red letters.
Clark slipped his arms around Lex from behind and nosed Lex’s ear. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s a vibrating anal probe,” Lex said, “with a smiley face at the tip.”
“Mn-hmm.” Clark mouthed kisses along the side of Lex’s neck.
Clark slid his hand downward and covered Lex’s rapidly growing erection. “You like perverse.”
“Clark…” Lex gasped as Clark squeezed and bit at a sensitive spot at the same time.
“Colleen has the kids for another hour,” Clark murmured against the curve of his neck. “Want to fool around?”
Lex half-moaned, half-chuckled, dropping his head back on Clark’s shoulder. “I have to take a shower first.”
“Shower fast.” Clark pressed his erection against Lex’s ass, arms tightening around Lex’s middle. “I want to see you get your Happy End-ing.”
Lex turned in Clark’s arms and brushed a kiss against his lips. “That, I already have.”
Clark snorted softly, resting his forehead against Lex’s. “Sap.”
“Don’t let it get out.” Lex rubbed his nose against Clark’s, which wrinkled with Clark’s smile. “I’ll be right back. Feel free to start without me.”
Clark’s smile turned sultry, his eyes twinkling devilishly. “What makes you think I haven’t?”
“Your son—,” Clark began, and Lex paused in unknotting his tie to hear the rest. Sam became ‘his’ son whenever the six year old had done something ingenius or destructive, or both simultaneously. “—has invented a Pooinator.”
Lex stared at Clark in the reflection of the mirror above the dresser. “A what?”
“A Pooinator.” Frown lines etched Clark’s face as he leaned against the bedpost. Baby food dotted his sleeve and a pacifier bulged the pocket of his flannel shirt. “Apparently, PJ’s diapers stink worse than your feet, so he built a Pooinator to fix it.”
Lex ignored the comment about his feet – they weren’t as bad as being in a room with Clark after cabbage roll night – and finished loosening his tie. “By your tone, I take it this isn’t one of his better inventions.”
“No. It’s pretty cool. You drop a dirty diaper into the container and poof, no more diaper.”
“Poof?” Lex repeated with a questioning lift of his brow.
“Poof.” Clark folded his arms and gave Lex a Look. “The diaper vaporized.”
“Ah.” Lex made an abrupt beeline for the walk-in closet, but he couldn’t escape the tongue-lashing that followed.
“I thought we’d agreed no more laser-based equipment, Lex,” Clark said. “There are scorch marks on the front porch and the civil suit is pending still. Not to mention the fact that we have a little girl who pulls herself up on everything. Do you want her to accidentally vaporize herself?”
“He isn’t supposed to use the material without permission,” Lex said, though it wasn’t an excuse and he knew it.
“Well, you’d better explain that part to your son again. And then you can dismantle the Pooinator and get those parts out of my house."
Clark left the bedroom with a forceful slam of the door. Lex hung his suit coat on the rack and leaned his head against the back of his forearm. He tried not to laugh, because Clark would hear it and he’d be in the doghouse even worse, and it really was a serious situation with the lasers – but, the Pooinator?
Sam might be ‘his’ son when it came to inventing, but he definitely was Clark’s child when it came to picking names.
Sitting on the floor beside her parents’ bed, dressed in a yellow outfit with tiny bees, PJ Luthor gummed the rounded tip of a realistically shaped, purple dildo.
“Oh. My. God. Lex!” Clark’s face burned as he rushed to take PJs chew-toy away from her. Immediately, she began to howl, reaching her chubby hands up. “Lex!”
Lex came running into the bedroom. “Is PJ okay? I just left her for a minute—”
Clark threw the slobbered-on dildo at Lex’s head. It hit him with a resounding thwak and fell to the floor. “You let her chew on a dildo!”
Lex picked up the purple dildo in wide-eyed dismay. “I did not! I would never give her this!”
“Then why does she have it?!” Clark’s yell competed with PJ’s shrieking.
“I don’t know! I didn’t give it to her!”
“Do you know where that’s been?!”
“Of course I know where it’s been! I’m intimately familiar with where it’s been!”
“And now it’s been in our daughter’s mouth.” Clark stabbed a finger in Lex’s direction. “It’s all your fault.”
“My fault? You’re the one who bought this.” Lex waved the dildo around in emphasis. “I just laid there and took it.”
“What’s happening?” Sam entered the bedroom, yawning, his hair sleep mussed. His reddish brows furrowed when he saw what Lex held. “What’s that?”
“Oh. My. God.” Clark buried his face in his hands with mortification.
Lex hid the dildo behind his back. “Nothing. Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
“I can’t sleep. It’s too loud,” Sam said, as PJ’s cries hit glass-shattering notes. Sam tried to peek around Lex, tugging at his arm. “What is that? Is it a candle?”
“Yes! A candle!” Lex switched hands, keeping the dildo away from Sam. “It’s a candle. For when the power goes out.”
“I’ve never seen a purple candle,” Sam said. “Why is it curved like that?”
“It’s a special candle,” Lex said desperately. “To cast light around corners.” Clark made a choking noise. PJ’s sobbing trickled off.
“Neat!” Sam hung from Lex’s arm, as Lex raised the dildo high above his head. “Can we try it?”
“‘May we’ and no we cannot. Clark!” Lex threw the dildo at Clark. Clark looked up in time for it to smack him between the eyes. He lobbed and caught it. Spinning around, he opened the nightstand drawer, shoved it inside, and shoved the drawer shut.
“Please? I want to see how it works,” Sam begged.
“No,” Lex said firmly. “It’s time for you to go back to bed.”
“That’s not fair,” Sam whined. “Why does PJ get to play with toys and I have to go to bed?”
“It’s time for PJ to g—” Lex stopped mid-word and stared in horror. “Clark,” he gurgled.
Clark looked down. An open Tupperware box of sex toys peeked from beneath the bed, which PJ was pulling out one by one. She looked up, a vibrating anal probe in her chubby fist, and blew him a bubbly kiss.
It was after ten when Lex pulled the SUV to a stop outside the automatic doors to the Holiday Inn. In the passenger seat, Clark rubbed his hand over his face, a yawn cracking his jaw. A sleepy voice piped up from the back seat. “Are we there yet?”
“Yes, Sam, we are,” Lex answered. He glanced in the rearview mirror. PJ was asleep in her car seat behind him. Sam barely had his eyes open as he looked out the side window. “I’ll go check in.”
“Okay,” Clark said. He started packing things up strewn on the floor around his feet.
Heat and humidity slapped Lex in the face the moment he left the vehicle. Summertime in Kentucky was about as pleasant as summertime in Kansas. Lex’s cotton shirt was already sticking to him by the time he entered the lobby. The Holiday Inn wasn’t his first choice of hotels, but they were in the middle of Nowhere, Kentucky, and it was the nicest hotel they’d seen off the highway.
The carpet in the lobby was blue, the walls a cheery yellow, and the television hummed in the background. A young man around Clark’s age was behind the desk in a blue polo shirt that matched the carpet, the hotel’s name emblazoned where a logo would be. His gold nametag said his name was Chris, Front Desk Clerk.
“Hi, checking in?” Chris asked, rising from his chair behind the curving wood counter.
“Yes, please,” Lex said, taking his wallet from his pocket and took out his driver’s license and credit card. He doubted anyone in this part of Kentucky knew who he was, let alone someone at a Holiday Inn.
“All right. How many in your party?” Chris typed something into the computer on the desk behind the counter.
“Four. Two adults, two children.”
“Will you be needing a crib?”
“No.” They’d packed the port-a-crib and every other item a two-year-old could conceivably need in the back of the SUV.
“Okay. Smoking or non-smoking?”
“All right. We have two rooms available: one with a king-sized bed and a foldout sofa, or a standard room with two double beds.”
“King-sized, please.” Lex rubbed his neck as he rolled out the kinks. He’d need the room to stretch out after the drive. He couldn’t believe he’d let Clark talk him into driving to Tennessee instead of flying. He couldn’t believe he’d let Clark talk him into driving to Tennessee, but Clark had wanted to go on another family vacation like the few he’d taken with his parents and thus it was done.
“All right. If I could have your credit card and driver’s license, please.”
Lex handed them over as the automatic doors swished open. Sam wandered inside, looking rumpled and tired. “Papa Lex, I have to go to the bathroom.”
Lex glanced around the lobby, but didn’t see a men’s room door. “Do you have a restroom?” he asked Chris.
“It’s down that hall to the left,” Chris said.
Lex looked where Chris pointed and frowned. He couldn’t see down the hall from where he stood and wasn’t about to let his seven-year-old go off alone. “Can you hold it a minute, Sam?”
“No.” Sam fidgeted at Lex’s side, his own version of the potty dance.
“Clark,” Lex said under his breath. He couldn’t leave his credit card and license with Chris, either. “Little help.”
Clark came inside carrying PJ almost immediately. He looked just as rumpled as Sam, wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
“I’m glad you came in,” Lex said. “Sam needs to use the bathroom. It’s down that hall to the left.”
“Okay.” Clark passed off PJ and held out his hand to Sam. “C’mon, squirt. I’ll take you.”
Lex watched as they walked out of sight and adjusted PJ in his arms. She hung like a ragdoll over his bicep, blowing bubbles in her sleep. He turned back to Chris and found the desk clerk staring contemptuously at him. “Yes?”
“Nothing, sir. If you’ll just sign here.” Chris put a printer receipt on the counter along with a pen. Lex scrawled his signature. Chris gave back his license and credit card, as well as two key cards in a small flap folder. “Your room number is 118. If you drive around to the side of the building, you’ll see another door that your key card will open, and your room will be first on the right. Check out is at 11:00 a.m. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No thanks.” Lex took the key cards and headed for the automatic doors. He was almost to them when he heard the words he knew had been forthcoming.
“Fucking fags,” Chris muttered, but not quietly enough.
Lex’s step didn’t falter. He re-adjusted his hold on the perfect baby girl that he’d made with Clark and stepped outside into the hot Kentucky night.
“Papa Lex, what are you doing in the closet?”
“Regrouping,” Lex said, relaxing once more. Sam had surprised him, catching him sitting in the coat closet like a child. He had a throbbing headache, though, and his patience had worn thin dealing with his father’s cronies. He’d ducked into the closet for a ten-minute respite, knowing it was the one place he wouldn’t be found.
Except he had been found, but since it was Sam, he didn’t mind. However, it did raise questions. “What about you? What brings you in here?”
“PJ’s playing with Grandpa Lionel and Dad told me to go find something to do, because he had to talk to some people.” Sam crawled onto Lex’s lap without invitation – not that Lex ever minded – and leaned back against Lex’s chest with a dramatic sigh. “I’m so bored. Why can’t I stay home?”
“If I have to come, you have to come,” Lex said, smiling into Sam’s vibrant curls. He folded his hands on Sam’s stomach. “Besides, your Grandpa Lionel would be unhappy if we weren’t here.”
“Yeah, right,” Sam scoffed. “Grandpa Lionel wouldn’t care. He only likes PJ, anyway.”
Lex frowned deeply. “Why do you think that?”
“He told me I was too big for my britches and to stay off his computer. I tried to tell him I was only fixing his math, but he yelled at me.” Sam burrowed back against Lex. “PJ was playing with his computer before and he didn’t yell at her.”
“I’m sorry, Sam. Sometimes your Grandpa can be a real dick…-ibird.” Lex hugged Sam and scowled at the wall of coats. He was going to have a few choice words with dear old dad.
“You don’t like PJ better than me, right?”
Lex’s heart clenched and he hugged Sam even tighter. “I love you both, very much.”
“That’s not an answer,” Sam said mulishly. He pushed at Lex’s hands, trying to move away. “If you don’t like me, just say so. I’m seven. I can take the disappointment.”
The tone was Sam’s, but the words were all Lionel. Lex suppressed the flash of fury and trapped Sam with unyielding arms. “Sam, listen to me: you and your sister are the best things I’ve ever done in my life. But remember, I chose to be your dad. I wanted you to be my son, even before Clark said you were… -allowed to be,” Lex tacked on quickly. “I hhad to sign a lot of papers and pay lawyers a lot of money just to be your dad, and you know how much I hate signing papers.”
“As much as I hate carrots?”
“As much as you hate carrots.” Sam stopped trying to escape and Lex rested his chin on the top of Sam’s head. “You’re special, Sam. Without you, your dad and I wouldn’t be together and PJ never would’ve been born.”
“Oh.” Sam seemed thoughtful. “You signed all those papers, so that means you can’t give me back, right?”
“No, I can’t give you back. I wouldn’t want to,” Lex assured him.
“Could you give PJ back?”
“No, I can’t give PJ back, either.”
Lex chuckled and tickled Sam’s tummy as he taunted, “You’re stuck with PJ forever, and ever, and ever!”
“Nooooooo!” Sam squirmed and laughed. “Give her back! Give her back!”
“She’s not going anywhere. In fact, we’re going to make you share your bedroom with her.”
“She can’t! She’ll eat all my electronic parts, and I need them for my new project,” Sam protested between giggles. “Please don’t make me share with her!”
“Hmm.” Lex stopped tickling. “All right. You don’t have to share. But you do have to tell me about your project.”
“I’m going to make a locking system to keep Miss Lois out of Dad’s desk at work,” Sam said, tugging at his shirt and suit coat before settling back against Lex’s chest again. “Dad says she can’t keep her nose to herself and she likes to pick locks, which is wrong…”
Lex smiled at Sam’s suddenly carefree voice, a benefit of being a child, and glanced at his watch. He really should be returning to the party and the confrontation with Lionel also awaited him.
“Miss Laura says that Miss Lois is just jealous, because you get to be my other parent and not her. But don’t worry, Papa Lex. I don’t want her as my mom. Having two dads is so much cooler and she smells like stinky cigarettes,” Sam continued, and Lex closed his eyes, listening as one of the most important persons in his life rambled on.
Maybe they’d stay hidden a while longer.
Lex sat on the back porch of their two-storey home in the suburbs of Metropolis. He sipped from a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade, ice clinking in his glass, condensation dampening his hand. A green table umbrella overhead shaded him from the hot mid-day summer sun. Sweat made his pale linen shirt cling to him, but he did not move inside. Instead, he smiled as Sam shouted directions at PJ, who tumbled end over end in the grassy yard, and silently thanked the Fates that sent Clark somewhere Lex would meet him and bless him with such perfect, beautiful children.
When Clark said he wanted to go camping, Lex imagined throwing a tent up in the woods somewhere and suffering through a weekend of uncomfortable sleeping bags, mosquitoes, and charred food cooked over a fire. He didn't expect this.
"The Minnie Winnie has seven floor plans you can choose from, which include a rear bedroom and a cabover bunk. Good for the kids," Jeff, their squat, balding salesman said, crowding into the small Class C Winnebago camper along with Clark, Lex, Sam and PJ. Lex tried not to let the horror show on his face as Clark listened intently to Jeff's exuberant recitation of the various configurations and Sam and PJ did their best to try and reach the ladderless, beige bunk four feet above the floor.
The interior of the Minnie Winnie was so small. Three feet separated the pale beige pleather couch (pleather!) from the dual bench-seated, beige booth with faux wood laminate table, the entirety of their living area. A tiny kitchen with small stove, small double sink, and skinny refrigerator filled the rest of the space - a word Lex used generously. Beige faux wood flooring spanned the interior. A narrow hallway, barely two feet wide, separated the front of the camper from the rear, where a double bed (a double!) nearly took up the entire bedroom.
Lex ventured cautiously to peek into the bathroom, as his eight year old argued with his three year old about who should boost whom up into the bunk. Clark had taken a seat with Jeff on the cozy couch, as Jeff extolled the virtues of the twenty-inch (twenty!) flat screen television affixed high on the wall above the dining table.
The plebian bathroom made Lex cry internally. Granted, their house in the suburbs of Metropolis didn't have the grandiosity of the penthouse, but at least the master bathroom had a double sink and he wouldn't hit his elbows taking a shower. And everything was so beige.
Lex also found, to his dismay, barely any storage space and no full length closets. Where was he going to hang his pressed clothes? How were they going to fit all of Sam's, PJ's, and Clark's things as well as Lex's own? Would Lex be forced to bring only a single pair of shoes?
Lex shuddered. Wearing hiking boots on a tent-camping weekend was one thing, but this camper was made for week or more-long trips, and Lex prided himself on his sartorial choices. He had an image to uphold. The tabloids would have a field day if they snapped a picture of him in the same clothing twice.
Lex wanted to dive out the nearest window, but he wouldn't fit through it. Instead, he returned the few steps to the front of the camper to find Clark watching him warily, even as he continued chatting with Jeff. Sam and PJ had made it onto the bunk and were now both attempting to touch the ceiling with their feet.
"Well, Lex, what do you think?" Clark ventured. Lex could hear the hope lacing Clark's voice. Their children stopped playing to look at Lex with expectant smiles.
Lex sighed inwardly, resigned himself to one pair of shoes, and turned to Jeff. "Does it come in any other colors?"
“I’m running for office because of the children.” Lex stood behind a podium, microphones curved over the wood to record his speech. The rented hall was filled with constituents and reporters – though not Clark, due to reasons of conflicts of interest. Behind him, a banner proclaiming Lex Luthor for Mayor draped from the rafters. “Let me amend that so it doesn’t sound like just a line: I’m running for office because of my children.”
He glanced down and received a toothy grin from PJ, clinging to his leg, hidden by the podium. The ribbons he’d put in her hair had come undone, one hanging lopsidedly, the other being used as floss. “I want to be able to take my daughter to the park, knowing that she doesn’t have to remain in a dirty diaper all day because there’s no changing table in the men’s restroom.” He looked up at his audience again. “I want my son to be able to ride his bike down the street without falling into a pothole. I want to know that PJ will be as protected at Washington Public School as Sam is at Maplethorpe Private School.”
Lex picked up the newspaper from the podium and held it visible to the crowd. His picture was splashed across the front page of The Inquisitor, looking harried and carrying a plastic bag full of bottles of grain alcohol. “I’m sure you’ve all seen this by now. One of The Inquisitor’s photojournalists snapped it last night outside the Sav-Mart. The photographer surprised me, popping out of the dark to take the picture of me buying supplies for Sam’s economics project, which, naturally, he waited until the night before it was due to tell me about it.”
Chuckles from knowing parents rose from the audience. Lex put the newspaper down and rested his hands on the edges of the podium. “It wasn’t until as I was going to bed, dwelling over the fact that I’d been wearing a hideous shirt when my picture was taken, that I realized how lucky I’d been. There had been no working streetlights in front of the store. What if it had been another father out that late, on an errand to help his son? Would it have been a photographer stalking the darkness?
“I live in an affluent suburb,” Lex went on. “I own a lot of land and pay enough in property taxes to buy all the houses in Kings Row. Which begs the question, where is my city tax money going? Two out of five city streetlights are out in my neighborhood. And if two of five lights are out in my area, how many are out in the less fortunate areas of Metropolis?
“St. Francis of Assisi once said that ‘all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light from a single candle’. What would happen to the darkness if every streetlight in Metropolis were working?” Lex said. “As Mayor, I plan to find out. I want to know where our tax money is going and reallocate it into making our city a safe place for my children and yours.”
Applause filled the hall. He smiled and waited for it to die down again. “I would normally leave you with that sound bite, but I seem to have developed a growth on my leg preventing me from moving.” He lifted his leg past the side of the podium, to the squealing delight of PJ, riding on his foot. Her laughter joined that of the audience. “I’d be happy to answer a few questions until I have to leave to pick up Sam from school.”
“Do you normally pick up your son from school?” someone asked immediately, and by his tone, he thought it was a political ploy.
It wasn’t, though, and Lex answered truthfully, “We have a nanny who usually looks after the kids. She had a family emergency, however, and since I own my own company, the boss isn’t going to complain if I take the day off.”
Titters were received in response, as a reporter in the front row spoke up. “Mr. Luthor, there are concerns among the conservative party that you’d use the position as Mayor to advocate a homosexual agenda.”
“The answer to that would be ‘no’,” Lex said, earning surprised murmurs from the audience. “As I said before, my goal is to turn this city into a safe, welcoming place for families to raise their children. Now, I will not tolerate anti-gay legislation during my term, the same as I wouldn’t tolerate ethnic, religious, racial or gender discrimination, but I will save my homosexual agenda when I run for senate.”
“So, the Mayor’s office is just a stepping stone?” another reporter asked.
“No matter where I go in the future, Metropolis is my home,” Lex said. “I grew up here, and I want my children and my grandchildren to grow up here. And like any other parent and grandparent, I want the best for them. As Mayor, I can make that happen.”
He glanced at his watch, bent, and picked up PJ. Immediately, she tried to stuff the ribbon in his mouth. Capturing her hand, he gave the reporters a photo-op. “I need to get going. I want to find out if Sam got an A on his econ project about the marketability of using grain alcohol as a fuel source. My campaign manager, Angie Dickenson, will be arranging further interviews, so please contact her if you’re interested. Thank you for coming today. Say goodbye, PJ.”
“Tell them cookies,” PJ said, with a puckered frown. “Cookies!”
Lex’s smile wasn’t faked for the cameras, as he was reminded of what he’d said to a pesky PJ during his earlier meeting with Angie. “I forgot. As I told PJ this morning, a vote for me is a vote for cookies, so—”
“Vote cookies!” PJ demanded, her voice ringing loud and clear. Lex left the stage with a half-wave under a volley of laughter.
VOTE COOKIES read the headlines of all the major Metropolis newspapers the next day. It became the campaign slogan that won him the election.
“This is Kaylee Watts with Action Five News speaking to you live from LuthorCorp Tower. We just learned that Mayoral candidate Lex Luthor and his two children are being held hostage in the lobby.
“According to inside sources, Luthor had been visiting his father, multi-billionaire Lionel Luthor, in the penthouse suite at the top of the Tower. There is no information as to what happened to security and the cleaning crews in the otherwise empty building.”
Kalyee pressed her fingers over her earpiece to hear better, as one of her crew, Rob, from the news van reported over the wire. She spoke into her microphone, looking into the television camera. “I have been told we’ve been able to tap into the live security cameras inside LuthorCorp Tower. We’ll switch over to them now.”
Her cameraman panned the police and rescue officers surrounding the Tower, zooming in towards the glass doors of the lobby. Red and blue lights flashed and voices shouted orders on the streets outside the building. In the van, Rod cut to the security feed and said over her earpiece, “We’re in.”
Kaylee hurried to the open side door of the Action Five News van and climbed inside.
Hovering behind Rod, Kaylee studied the black and white feed playing on the control monitor. Her mic was still live. “We’re looking at the lobby of LuthorCorp Tower. There’s Lex Luthor, standing with his children, Sam and PJ, near the elevators, along with an unidentified man. There is no sign of the security guards that man the front desk after hours.”
“We have sound,” Rod whispered, fingers flying over the control board keys.
“I’ve been told we have sound,” Kaylee repeated into her mic. “This is live feed directly from the security cameras in the lobby of LuthorCorp Tower.”
The monitor buzzed and Lex Luthor’s tinny voice came out of a speaker in the control panel. “—em go, Mxyzptlk. You don’t need them.”
Kaylee flipped the off switch on her mic and watched the screen intently.
“On the contrary, Lex, it is you I do not need,” Mxyzptlk said in a heavily accented voice. His back was to the security camera. “Lionel Luthor cares for his grandchildren more than you, especially the younger one. Pamela Jean, I think is her name.”
“Don’t you even look at them,” Lex hissed, leaning forward threateningly with narrowed eyes and clenched fists.
“She is my ticket home.” Mxyzptlk held out a hand. “Come here, Pamela Jean.”
PJ pulled out of her brother’s grip and started for him. “Papa Lex!” Sam shouted, grabbing for her.
“No!” Lex charged towards Mxyzptlk.
Kaylee’s eyes widened as Lex froze mid-step, one foot in the air. The cords in his neck strained as he fought whatever invisible hold had him. “Don’t you touch her,” Lex growled. “Don’t—”
Lex’s mouth still moved, but his voice cut off abruptly.
“Jesus,” Rob breathed in a stunned tone in the van. “That guy has some kind of powers.”
“Come here, Pamela Jean,” Mxyzptlk said again. “Release her, Samuel.”
Sam let go immediately, face twisted in fear. PJ walked directly to Mxyzptlk. Lex fought against his invisible bonds, screaming silently at Mxyzptlk.
“Leave her alone!” Sam burst forward and shoved Mxyzptlk. Mxzyptlk staggered a step, then drew back his arm and punched Sam in the face.
Sam’s head snapped sharply to the side and he collapsed to the floor in a heap.
Kaylee covered her mouth with a gasp. Rob cursed.
Lex made a sound like a wounded lion, face and neck corded tensely, sweat visible on his brow.
Mxyzptlk extended his hand to the little girl. “Take my hand.”
PJ walked closer and reached for him.
“NNEEEEAAAAAHHHRRR.” The roar of rage echoed in the lobby and over the speakers, as Lex broke free of whatever held him. He tackled Mxyzptlk, sending them crashing to the floor, away from PJ and out of camera range.
“Switch cameras!” Kaylee exclaimed. “Hurry!”
Rob’s fingers flew over the control keyboard. “I’m hurrying.”
Kaylee flipped on her mic. “Lex Luthor has taken down a man named Mix-eez-pittle-ick, who was attempting to possibly kidnap PJ Luthor, daughter of Lex and granddaughter of Lionel Luthor.
“You can see that the police have finally entered the building. Several surround the children. The remainder secure the lobby and move in to apprehend Mix-eex-pittle-ick.
“And there’s Lex Luthor, on camera again. He has scratches visible on his face and hands, but otherwise appears uninjured. He has picked up PJ and rushes over to his adopted son, who remains on the floor. Rescue EMTs have entered the building with two stretchers.”
Kaylee saw movement on the screen and relief swept through her. “Sam looks to be all right. The left side of his face appears only to be bruised.”
Lex knelt on the floor, PJ clutched with one arm and Sam clutched in the other. Sam had both arms around Lex’s neck, tears streaming down his scrunched, bruised face. PJ flopped over Lex’s other arm, looking bored.
Garbled voices of officers and EMTs came over the security camera speaker. Kaylee watched as Mxyzptlk was wheeled into sight on a stretcher. His face was an unrecognizable, bloody pulp. Cuffed and strapped to the stretcher, the EMTs pushed him out of the building.
The other EMTs attempted to check out Sam, but a fierce glare from Lex made them back off.
A tall man in a rumpled suit and glasses fought his way through the police line at the lobby doors. “Lex! Lex!”
“Clark Kent, Lex’s partner, has arrived on scene,” Kaylee reported. “It looks like the police will let him pass—yes. He’s running through the lobby to where Lex, PJ, and Sam are. Let’s see if we can hear what they’re saying.”
PJ broke from Lex’s hold and raised her arms to her other father. Clark scooped her up, touching her head, her shoulders, and her back, checking for injury. Lex stood, picking up Sam as he did so.
“Is he all right?” Clark’s worried tones were barely audible over the other noises coming through the speaker.
“He will be,” Lex said.
“What about you?” Clark laid a hand on Sam’s head. Sam clung tighter to Lex.
“I’m fine.” Lex appeared anything but fine, his face wrought with emotion.
Clark looked pained. “I heard you, but I couldn’t…”
Lex’s lips tilted in a small, sad smile. “It’s okay, Clark. You know that.”
“I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you. Any of you.” Clark curved his arm around Lex’s shoulder and pulled him into a partial embrace.
Lex dropped his forehead to Clark’s shoulder. Clark rested his cheek on the bow of Lex’s head, the two children held back to back in their other arms. They stood like that in the middle of the chaos as the police did their jobs.
Kaylee put her hand on Rob’s shoulder, squeezed, and lifted her microphone. “I’m glad to report that the hostage situation is over, Mxyzptlk is in custody, and Mayoral candidate Lex Luthor and his family appear all right. This is Kaylee Watts with Action Five News, live from LuthorCorp Tower. Back to you in the studio, John.”
“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.”
“I know. It’ll only sting for a moment.” Martha knelt in front of her granddaughter and blew lightly on the disinfectant sprayed onto PJ’s scrapped knees. “Do you want to tell me how you got hurt?”
PJ looked exactly like Clark once did as she eyed Martha, debating on whether to confess or not. Martha felt her heart swell. She'd been blessed with two beautiful grandchildren that she loved to pieces.
“I was just following the cat,” PJ said finally, her shaggy dark hair falling over her eyes.
“And where did the cat lead you?” Martha prompted.
“All over the place! In the garden, under the porch, in the barn, up in the loft, down in the hay, and back outside.”
Martha read between the lines. “From up in the loft down in the hay, huh? Did he jump?”
“Did you follow?”
PJ shrugged. Martha took that as an affirmative. “Do you want to know why the cats can jump without getting hurt?” She waited until PJ peered up at her. “That’s because they have four legs. Humans only have two, so we have to be very careful how high we jump from. There’s a rule about it.”
“What’s the rule?” PJ said, sounding a bit skeptical.
“You can jump from as high as you are tall,” Martha said, smoothing PJ’s hair back from her face. She needed a haircut. “That’s the rule. Promise me you’ll follow it?”
“Yeah,” PJ sighed the word, kicking her feet lightly. “Can I go back outside now?”
“Of course you may.” Martha rose and watched as PJ bolted for the door. The kitchen screen door slammed behind her. Her voice floated through the window on the summertime breeze. “Cat! Hey cat! I’m coming to get you!”
Martha shook her head with amusement and put away the disinfectant. The boys were certainly going to have their hands full.
Rebirth of Femininity
“What time’s your Court appearance?” Clark asked when he saw Lois. The bullpen buzzed around them with Perry bellowing in the background, as usual.
Lois smoothed her skirt before taking a seat at her desk. “You know I haven’t been arrested lately.”
“Then, what’s with the outfit?”
“It’s the rebirth of femininity.”
Clark’s brows rose over the rims of his glasses. “You know what femininity means?”
Lois shot a rubberband at him. “I learned from the expert.”
“Ha-ha.” Clark let the rubberband dangle from his ear, where it had landed. “Seriously, why are you dressed up?”
“Because I felt like it,” Lois snapped. “My wearing a skirt is not A-1 news.”
“Lane! Whoever it is that died, I want to be the first to print it on the cover!” Perry demanded as he swooped past their desks. “Olsen! Where is that damn kid? I need pictures!”
Clark smirked at Lois. Lois glowered. “I just wanted to wear a skirt! I have an important interview later.”
The pieces clicked immediately. “Superman is gay.”
“What?!” Lois wiped the shock off her face quickly. “I mean, no he’s not. You think everyone is gay because you are.”
“No, but I know gay men when I see them, and Superman is gay.”
“What proof do you have?” Lois said, folding her arms. The top of her shirt gaped, giving Clark a view of her racy red bra. She’d gone all out.
Speaking of clothing choices. “Have you seen his costume? He may as well be wearing a rainbow triangle on his chest.”
“Wearing spandex doesn’t mean he’s gay.” Lois paused and corrected herself. “A superhero wearing spandex doesn’t mean he’s gay.”
Clark leaned forward, lowering his voice in secrecy, the rubberband swinging from his ear. He was having fun. “I hate to tell you, Lois, but superheroes are notoriously flaming.”
“You are so full of shit.”
Clark grinned and began ticking people off his fingers. “Batman, Robin, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Arsenal—”
“Ha! Caught you,” Lois interrupted, thumping her fist on her desk. “Arsenal was last known to be cavorting with that villainess Cheshire.”
“That’s because Robin broke his heart by picking Batman over him.”
“What are you: the gossip queen of the superhero set?” Lois huffed and began shoving things in her purse. “I bet you subscribe to US Weekly.”
“No. Lex does.” Clark continued grinning at her disbelieving look. Lex said the subscription was for Colleen, but he’d been caught numerous times reading it himself.
“I bet he’ll be thrilled to hear that you’re spreading the word around.” Lois’s chair banged into the desk behind her with its usual force. “I’m going to the Police Commissioner’s office about the Maximillian case.”
“Flash him some knee. Maybe you’ll get more out of him,” Clark teased. “In fact, you’ll probably give him a heart attack when he sees you in that skirt, period.”
“Good. Then, I’ll get a chance to ransack his office.”
Clark watched her march out of the bullpen with all the femininity of a drill sergeant. Snickering, he picked up the phone and dialed an outside line. “Hey, Wally, remember that favor I owe you? Well, Lois is in a skirt and wanting to prove not all superheroes are gay…”
Seated on a blanket on the back lawn on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Lex wore a crown of yellow dandelions that matched the crown slowly coming unwoven on PJ's head. A tea set was spread on the blanket between them, the miniature pink teacups filled with water. Stuffed animals and dolls were the other guests at the tea party.
"We need to hire more effishes people," PJ said, sitting on her knees. Grass stains marred her ruffled yellow dress. "The kingdom is falling to pieces because they can't do their jobs."
"'Efficient' people, and I agree," Lex said with a lofty accent. "A kingdom is only as good as its workers."
"It's settled, then." PJ turned to Horace Worthington III, a stuffed bear dressed in a three-piece suit. "Mr. Worthington, fire everyone but Grandpa Lionel."
"Is there a reason we're keeping on Grandpa Lionel?" Lex said. "Poor management is a key contributor to poor work quality."
"Grandpa Lionel is independsable," PJ replied primly. "He stays because I said so."
Lex's left eye twitched, as he tried not to laugh. "I'll be sure to let him know you think he's in Depends already."
"Good." PJ picked up the teapot. "More tea?"
"You may top mine off, thank you," Lex said, moving the teacup and saucer closer to her. Her brow furrowed in concentration as she tried not to spill and Lex couldn't help but smile. Wearing weeds on his head was a small price to pay for afternoons like this.
"There. Now, we have to toast." PJ put aside the teapot and picked up her own teacup. "To King Daddy and Queen PJ, the bestest rulers in the world!"
Lex looked up from the ordinance he was reviewing and smothered a laugh. His daughter was dressed in a purple bathing suit, white cowboy boots, a sparkly belt, and a towel tied around her neck like a cape. “Yes, PJ?”
“You hafta come with me.” PJ tugged at Lex’s arm. Lex put down his work and allowed himself to be dragged from the office. Colleen, the nanny, was gone on family emergency and Clark had other obligations to attend, leaving Lex in charge. As Mayor, he was extremely busy, but he would never say no to his children.
“Where are we going?” Lex asked, as PJ led him from his penthouse office into the family room next door.
“To the abandondid warehouse,” PJ told him with all the seriousness of a five-year-old.
“‘Abandoned’,” Lex corrected. The coffee table had been pushed away from in front of the sofa and one of the dining chairs stood in the middle of the throw rug. “Why are we going there?”
“Because you’ve been kidnapped by the evil, stinky Betta Splensive.”
“I am not stinky!” Sam popped up from behind the couch and Lex… didn’t want to know how he got the fishbowl upside down on his head, or how he could speak while the blue beta fish continued to swim around in water. The ten-year-old also wore what looked like Lex’s good winter coat turned inside out, elbow-length bright yellow gloves, and black cowboy boots. “And my name is Betta Splendens, from the Belontiidae family, the Siamese Fighting Fish mob that rules the undersea.”
“Ah.” Lex bit the inside of his cheek to keep his mirth in check. Where was his video camera when he needed it?
“Sit,” PJ demanded, yanking his arm downward when they reached the chair.
Lex sat. “If Sam is the bad guy, who are you?”
“I am SuperLuthor!” PJ plopped her fists on her hips and puffed up her chest. She looked exactly like Clark when he posed as Superman. Lex’s nostrils flared, his chest hitched, and eyes watered as he fought his laughter. Luckily, PJ began tying him to the chair with a jumprope and was distracted. She hated being laughed at and he didn’t want to ruin his children’s fun.
Once under control, Lex glanced at Sam and almost lost it again, as the fish hovered between Sam’s walleyed stare. “Aren’t you supposed to be tying me up?”
“Can’t.” Sam held up his gloved hands. “It’s too hard with these on. Besides, PJ ties better knots.”
“Done.” PJ came around the front of the chair and looked seriously at Lex. “Now, you hafta scream for help or I can’t come to your rescue. Betta Splendorina is going to try and stop me from saving you.”
“Betta Splendens,” Sam corrected with exasperation.
“Okay, Dad?” PJ said, ignoring Sam. “Scream loud. I’m gonna be far away.”
“Okay,” Lex agreed.
PJ clomped out of the room and Sam ducked behind the couch again. Lex tugged carefully at his ropes. They were tight. PJ did know how to tie good knots.
“Okay, Dad!” he heard PJ yell from somewhere in the penthouse.
Lex cleared his throat and thought terrified. He didn’t want to risk getting scolded for not doing it right. “Help! Help! SuperLu—”
The air whooshed and Lex was jerked hard. He blinked and found himself in Superman’s arms on the opposite end of the penthouse, near the front doors. The jumprope slithered to the floor. “Superman?”
“Where are the kids?” Clark, wearing Superman’s uniform but Clark’s frantic face, set Lex on his feet and gave him a fast once-over, undoubtedly using his x-ray vision. “Are they safe?”
“Clark, they’re fine,” Lex reassured quickly, laying his hand on the Superman symbol on Clark’s chest. He could feel Clark’s heart pounding hard. He heard PJ and Sam’s boots echoing on the hardwood floor as they ran in the hall. “We’re playing a game. Here they come, now.”
“Oh.” Clark closed his eyes and his shoulders slumped in relief. “I heard you scream…”
“Superman!” PJ exclaimed in delight. “Sam, it’s Superman!”
Clark vanished beneath Superman’s stern face and he turned. Only Lex would have ever seen the hitch of Superman’s shoulders in prevented laughter when he first laid eyes on Sam and PJ. “SuperLuthor and Betta Splendens,” Lex whispered evilly and danced out of the way of the hand that swatted at him behind Clark’s back.
“Hello,” Superman said, parking his closed fists on his hips. The red cape swirled around his calves. “Who have we here?”
“I’m PJ. This is my brother, Sam,” PJ said. Sam waved with a yellow rubber glove, fish swimming around his head. PJ pointed at Lex. “And that’s my dad.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Superman said. “I’m sorry for interrupting your game. I had heard your dad shouting and thought he needed help for real.”
“That’s okay. I can tie him up again,” PJ said. Her face brightened with an idea. “Do you want to play with us?”
“Yeah!” Sam exclaimed in agreement. “Please?”
Superman tilted his head, most likely listening to something, and then nodded. “I can play for a little while.”
“YAY!” PJ clapped and Sam pumped a fist in the air.
“Give me a minute to talk to your dad, okay?” Superman said.
“Okay.” PJ grabbed Sam by the arm and dragged him down the hall, their excited voices drifting behind them. “Superman! This is so cool!” “I’m gonna tell everyone Superman played with me!”
Superman turned to Lex with a laugh-filled, questioning expression. Lex smirked. “They’re your children.”
“Mine? I think you had a hand in making them.”
“The creativity and scheming, yes,” Lex said, resting his hands on the front of Clark’s chest. “But they got their horrid dress sense from you.”
“Be careful. I might not rescue you this time.” Clark grinned sheepishly. “You really had me scared. I thought… well, you know what I thought.”
“Yeah.” Lex slid his hand up and around Clark’s neck. He tugged Clark downward and brushed a soft kiss on his lips. “My hero.”
Clark’s cheeks colored and he blustered, “I’m not- you- I-”
“Come on.” Lex slipped his hand down and into Clark’s. He squeezed. “Let’s go earn you the Greatest Dad Ever award.”
“They don’t know Superman is their father.”
“Does it matter?”
Clark smiled. “No. But I think the Greatest Dad Ever award has already been won.”
Lex pretended the sappy sentiment didn’t make him feel gooey inside and picked up the jumprope. “We’d better get moving before they start yelling.”
Clark nodded and pressed quick kiss on Lex’s lips. Lex gave him a smile and they headed for the family room.
“How did Sam get the fishbowl on his head with the fish still in it?”
“I’m more concerned with how he’s going to get it off.”
“Maybe I’ll stick around longer.”
“That’s probably a good idea.”
“Dad! Dad! Superman! Hurry up!”
“Our presence is demanded,” Clark said.
Lex gave Clark a light push towards the open doors of the family room. “A Superhero’s work is never done.”
Clark looked over his shoulder with a grin. “Neither is a Superdad’s.”
“What is this one supposed to do again?”
“It makes chocolate chip pancakes.”
Lex watched dubiously as his son set the alarm clock on the counter. Sam’s tongue stuck out the corner of his mouth as he connected the wire with the clock and turned on the alarm. He stepped back and tucked his hands into his front pockets in a mimic of Lex’s pose. “Are you ready?”
“As I ever am.” Lex had an EMT on staff now and stock in several aspirin companies.
The tick-tick-tick of the alarm clock echoed like a death knell in the vast kitchen. Wires stretched between metal stands from which robotic arms with pinchers hung. Ingredients for pancakes were laid out in assembly-line formation beneath the arms.
Lex jumped when the alarm rang and Sam’s face lit up with glee. The attached wire sparked and the robots flickered to life. The arms moved to the hum of electricity, lights winking on the plate above them. Pincers took an egg from the carton, cracked it, and empted it into a bowl. The shell went into the empty spot from the carton. The bowl passed down the line on what looked like a conveyor belt.
Sam’s robot added milk, pancake mix, and chocolate chips, the robotic arms moving in perfect synchronicity. The next robotic arm had a whisk instead of pinchers and mixed the contents in the bowl.
The conveyor stopped at the edge of the stove, the bowl hitting a sensor to shut off the moving belt. The robotic arm above it had a ladle, which scooped batter and poured it onto a non-stick pan. The arm that stretched above the stove flipped the pancakes once with a spatula hand and then dished them onto a plate on the opposite side of the stove.
The robotic ladler and flipper kept repeating their tasks even after the pancake mix bowl was empty, until Sam shut off a switch. He picked up the plate of pancakes, went over to his father, and held them up for inspection.
Lex tore off a corner and stuck it in his mouth. A little undercooked and over chocolatey, but it tasted like a pancake. “I’m impressed.”
Sam beamed. “Just wait until you see the shaving robots in the bathroom!”
“I think you save that demonstration for your other father,” Lex said, ruffling Sam’s hair. Clark, at least, had invulnerable skin.
Lex hung his robe on the back of the bathroom door, took a deep breath, and squared off against the shower cubicle. It looked innocuous from the outside, if a little soap-scummed. At passing glance, one would never know that behind the frosted glass door laid a chamber of torture.
Setting his jaw, Lex opened the shower door and entered the cubicle. With a twist of his wrist and the push of a button, he turned on the Samuel David Kent Shower Efficiency Unit and braced for impact.
The water came first, freezing cold and at high pressure, shooting from nozzles set at various heights on the metal framework that fitted into the cubicle. The water stopped as abruptly as it started and Lex squeezed his eyelids shut tighter, as hot, goopy soap squirted him from all directions through a new set of nozzles. Metal arms shot out and attacked him with squishy sponges and despite expecting it, he yelped when one got mighty personal. He sputtered a mouthful of icy water, as he was power-washed clean.
The water shut off, leaving Lex with goosebumps and reddened skin. He left the shower cubicle as quickly as possible and stepped right into the towel Clark held open for him. "How much longer before we can take it down?" he asked, shivering.
"At least another month," Clark replied, rubbing Lex's arms dry.
Lex groaned. "I'm going to die of frostbite before then."
Clark enfolded him in a heavenly, warm embrace. "But it'll read 'Best Dad Ever' on your headstone."
"Don't you go pulling the wounded partner card on me. You're gone nearly every night at some meeting or banquet or function."
"But not until all hours of the morning."
"I'm only gone as long as it takes me and Lois to get the story."
"Right. You and Lois are 'getting a story'."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means whatever you want it to mean."
"You think I'm having an affair? With Lois?"
"I didn't say that, but a guilty mind always fills in the blanks."
"I can't believe you!"
"Sam?" Sam jumped away from his parents' bedroom door and spun around. PJ stood behind him with wide eyes, looking between him and the closed door. The shouting got louder and her lower lip trembled.
Sam put on his adult face, as Colleen called it, and petted PJ's shoulder. "Don't worry, PJ. Dad and Papa Lex are just having a misunderstanding."
"They're very loud," PJ said, sounding upset.
"Why don't we go to my workshop, where we can't hear them? You can help me finish putting together the new dog."
"I want to make a cat," PJ said, taking Sam's hand and tugging him down the hall.
Sam followed her, away from the fighting. "But it's halfway done already, as a dog."
"I want to make a cat!"
"Well, I guess I can change the shape of the ears and tail…"
Sam winced as PJ kicked Billy.
“You big poopy-head!” Billy lay in the dirt at PJ’s feet, the soccer ball having rolled a few feet away. He cowered under her wrath, covering his head with his arms. “Stealing is wrong.”
Sam really should stop PJ from pummeling Billy. The Dads were going to lecture him for not doing anything, but PJ was mean and had sharp teeth.
“I’m telling everyone that you’ve got booger breath and that you wear diapers because you wet your pants like a baby.” PJ kicked dirt at Billy. “You’re never coming into my room again.”
With that, PJ scooped up the soccer ball, stomped through the backyard and into the house. The door slammed shut behind her.
“Are you alive?” Sam asked Billy.
Billy groaned and unfurled. “Your sister is evil.”
“You should see her when she’s angry.”
Billy looked incredulously at Sam. “That wasn’t angry?”
“Nah. I think she likes you.”
“Definitely.” Sam glanced towards the house. “She also took our ball.”
“I’m not going to ask for it back,” Billy stated.
“Wanna go play with my robots?”
“Can we program one to attack her?”
“Only if you have a death wish.”
Father Knows Best
“Maple Leafs!” Green eyes and blue eyes both narrowed, centimeters away from each other, mouths screwed into tight frowns. A freckled hand shot out and yanked on a dark pigtail. A pink sneaker-clad foot kicked a shin.
A hard shove from PJ and Sam stumbled back. “You’re so stupid!”
“Am not! My IQ is higher than you can count!”
“But you still like the Maple Leafs!”
“They’re better than your stupid Ducks!”
“You’re both wrong,” Lex said knowingly, leaning against the doorjamb, interrupting his children’s fight. “The Rangers are best.”
Minnie Winnie stood silently in a dark garage in Metropolis, her doors locked, her tanks empty, and her wheels covered; her only company being the family of mice that had taken up residence in her insulation. She was lonely, and sad.
She'd been so excited when she'd been presented to her charges. A family of four, two parents, two children. She was sleek and polished, her white and silver exterior gleaming. Her lavender and gray interior smelled fresh and new. She couldn't wait to take them on adventures and see the world.
And she had, at first. They'd traveled extensively that first summer, sometimes with the purple father, sometimes without. (He was running for office. She didn't understand why she couldn't drive him instead.) She took the family to caves and mountains. They visited lakes and grand rivers. She keep them safe and warm, and her insides were filled with laughter and love.
But then winter came, and school started. She'd been told that she'd only been in the garage until the next summer, when they'd be off again on more merry travels. True to the blue father's word, he came for her when the weather warmed, and he and the children went on a few trips, but not very far from home. The purple father never came. He had an illness called "Mayor", and she worried for his well being.
Minnie did her best to entertain the blue father and the children in the purple father's absence. Laughter and love filled her insides once more as she carried them to the woods and streams. When winter came, she did not fret at being placed in the garage once again, to wait for her family's return when the weather warmed.
But the weather had warmed, and cooled, and warmed again, and she was still waiting. She hoped nothing had happened to them. She hoped they were happy and well, and simply too busy to go on trips. She hoped that one day, morning would dawn, the garage door would open, and there they would be.
She hoped she hadn't been forgotten.
Lex braced his forearms on the balcony rail, rolling a glass between his palms. Metropolis stretched before him, the setting sun glinting orange off the skyscrapers. Far below, automobiles drove the streets, looking tiny and insignificant, just like Lex felt.
Lex sighed. Behind him, the penthouse was an empty, silent tomb, like it had been for weeks. Every time he returned from work, his family would be out somewhere, enjoying themselves. They’d come home late, sleepy bundles worn from the excitement and fun they’d had without him.
Something had to change, and he had a feeling that it was him.
He’d lost sight of his priorities in his desire for a senate seat. He was already parent to hundreds of thousands as Mayor, moved from the suburbs back to the city for them, worked long and hard to meet their every need. Clark, Sam and PJ suffered his absences as it was; did he really want to put an entire state before them?
Sipping his scotch, Lex listened to the sounds of the city and to the silence of his family. He knew what his decision would be.
Dreams didn’t mean much without someone with which to share them.
“What are you doing?”
“Ah!” Sam jumped a foot and spun around. PJ stood behind him, an overcoat over her pajamas. Their breaths were visible under the moonlight. “Shit, PJ, you startled me.”
“You said a bad word. I’m telling.” PJ stood on her toes and tried to see over the edge of the graph in Sam’s hands. “What are you doing?”
“Testing my new robot.” Sam turned around and crouched. He spread the graph on the ground and pulled an RC controller from his coat pocket.
“Can I try?” PJ said, squatting next to him.
“Let me go first,” Sam said. He pressed the power button on the controller. Up ahead, between the dead cornstalks, he heard a series of beeps as his robot came online. He glanced at the graph, pressed down the forward button, and nudged the short control joystick north. He counted until he reached the calculated number of feet and toggled the joystick left.
“I can’t see. What’s it doing?” PJ said, squinting in the robot’s direction.
“Making crop circles without leaving evidence.” The sound of cornstalks being flattened drifted to them. “People will think that aliens did it.”
“Aliens did do it.” PJ tried to take the controller from Sam. “Let me try.”
Sam looked at PJ in shock. “What do you mean, aliens did it?”
“We’re aliens. Duh.” PJ wrested the controller away, studied the graph, and then went the wrong way with the robot.
“You’re not supposed to know that yet!” Sam panicked. “You’re not allowed to know until you’re a teenager, like me. How did you find out?” Was it his fault? Dad and Papa Lex were going to kill him.
PJ shrugged. “Daddy and Papa Lex were yelling at each other about it. They didn’t think you were resonpaple enough to know.”
Sam frowned. “I am too responsible enough.” He grabbed the controller away from PJ. “You’re ruining my design.”
“Your design is stupid,” PJ stated, snatching for the controller again. They began tugging it back and forth between them. “I want to make a cat.”
“It’s my robot. I get to decide what we’re going to do.”
“I’ll tell Grandma and Grandpa you won’t share.”
“I’ll tell them you were outside in the middle of the night in your pajamas.”
“I’ll tell them you squished all the corn.”
“The corn’s already been picked, dummy.”
“I’m not a dummy. You’re a dummy.”
“I’m smarter than you.”
“Liar. Grandpa Lionel says I’m the smartest, most bestest girl in the world. Then, he gives me a dollar to tell Papa Lex that brandy tastes better than bourbon after I dump the bottles out.
“I’m gonna tell Papa Lex what you just said.”
“I’m gonna tell Dad what you do in the shower for so long.”
“PJ! That’s private!” Sam flushed and shoved the controller at her. “You steer, I’ll direct. Okay?”
PJ beamed. “Okay. I want to make a cat.”
“Fine.” Sam sighed, dug out a pen, and began sketching a new design on the back of the graph paper. “But it has to be an alien cat…”
Lex felt strange as he moved from room to room of the house,
touching pictures and knickknacks. Everything was familiar, yet seemed
different. It was as if he were seeing things with new eyes; eyes that told him
‘this is what you chose, this is what was meant to be.’
Arms wrapped around him from behind and a kiss pressed against his neck. “Hello, Mr. Ex-Mayor,” Clark murmured in his ear. “I’m glad you’re home.”
A content smile spread across Lex’s lips, as he leaned into the embrace. He had his answer. “So am I, Clark. So am I.”
Clark, PJ, and Sam stood in front of Lex, arms folded, stern expressions on their faces.
“This is an intervention,” Clark stated. “We’re cutting you off. No more remodeling, refurbishing, or redecorating.”
Sam continued, “No more landscaping, laminating, or lathing…”
“…Or boxing, or baking, or buying stupid things,” PJ said.
Clark’s face softened. “I know you’re at loose ends, but this has to stop.”
“We’re going bonkers!” PJ said. “It’s worse than having Sam’s gadgets everywhere!”
“Until you can restrain yourself, I’m afraid we have no choice.” Clark plucked the remote from Lex’s hands. “No more reality television for you.”
The sofa was the color of warm toffee, her cushions soft and worn with age. For years, she sat in front of the entertainment center, holding her family day after day. She held change, nuts and bolts, and pens for safekeeping. She could fit ten jumping, giggling girls or two full-sized adult males stretched out together. She created a perfect corner for a genius to formulate dreams.
“We need a new couch.” A familiar hand ran along her back, tracing over her wrinkles and age-spots.
“Why? I like this one.”
“It’s old and falling apart.”
“So are you.”
The sofa squeaked when two men tumbled over her arm. She supported the bodies sprawled on her cushions, adjusting with each movement between them. “Mmm. I like this couch.”
“Stop it. The kids are home.”
“Then we’d better be quick.”
The sofa held her ground as her cushions began to undulate. She provided areas to grasp and to find purchase. She hid them from prying eyes in her protective clutch and then embraced them tenderly when they relaxed finally upon her.
“Maybe I like this couch, too.”
Folded in her arms, she nestled them as they drifted off to sleep.
Sam stood in the doorway of PJ's bedroom, staring in confusion. PJ sat on her open windowsill, using an antique fireplace air bellows. Smoke blew from the tip as she compressed the handles.
"Close the door, dorkus!"
Sam stepped into the room and shut the door behind him. "What are you doing?"
"I'm smoking cigars." On the floor by her feet was an open box of cigars Sam recognized from Papa Lex's office. The crystal ashtray that had never been used, as far as Sam recalled, was filled with ashes and cigar stubs.
"Why?" Sam watched as PJ held the bellows compressed, stuck the tip of a half-burned cigar into the tip, and released the handles. The cigar burned orange-red around the paper as the bellows breathed in air.
"I want to see Papa Lex's hair turn gray," PJ said, as she took the cigar out of the tip, balanced it on the windowsill's edge, and blew the smoke outside again.
"Papa Lex doesn't have hair."
"Grandpa Lionel says it'll grow in just to turn gray because of me. I want to see it do that." PJ motioned for Sam. "Come here and help me."
"You're going to get in trouble," Sam said, even as he took the cigar handed to him. "I should tell."
"You're an accomplished now and you'll get in trouble, too, if you tell."
"The word's accomplice, and I would not."
"Would too." PJ held the bellows closed as Sam stuck the cigar in the tip. "How many do you think we need to smoke to make it work?"
"I don't think we can." Sam unwrapped a new cigar as PJ stubbed out the used one. "But we might be able to turn Dad's hair gray."
The Birds and the Bees
“Sex.” Lex folded his arms and loomed over his eleven-year-old daughter. “Aside from the fact that you’re not allowed to have it until you’re married, and even then it’s iffy, it is my job to give you the Talk.”
“Did you lose a bet?”
“Don’t smart off,” Lex said. He had, in fact, lost the coin toss, not a bet. “Despite being a woman, Colleen feels it’s a parents’ duty to speak to their children about the birds and the bees.”
“I already know all that stuff, Dad,” PJ said, sprawling into the corner of the worn leather couch in the family room. “I learned it at school.”
PJ rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right. Gray’s sister, Leeza, got knocked up. She was puking in the bathroom at school.”
Lex was shocked. “Leeza’s only thirteen.”
“She got her period when she was twelve,” PJ said. “Once you have that, a baby is just a sperm away.”
Lex’s own baby just said the word “sperm.” He might need to sit down for this one. “Thirteen is too young to be having sex.”
PJ shrugged. “It’s no big deal.”
“No big deal.” Lex sunk down on the edge of the coffee table. “Sex is a very big deal.”
“Cammie’s mother said that you used to sleep with anything that walked on two legs when you were a teenager.”
Cammie’s mother was in for a world of pain. “It was wrong of me to do that. Sex is supposed to be special. Something you share with the person you love.”
“Oh, please.” PJ scoffed. “You didn’t even love Dad when you got him pregnant with Sam.”
Lex’s mouth fell open. “How do you know about that?”
“Sam told me ages ago when he was freaking out about being gay,” PJ said, examining her blue painted nails. “You know, he’s got about a hundred boxes of condoms in his dresser drawer in hopes that he doesn’t get pregnant. I told him that he actually has to have sex for that to happen.
Lex didn’t know whether to be relieved or not. “You do know you can’t tell anyone.”
“Because I really want the world to know that my dad pooped me out his butt.”
“PJ, I’m serious.”
“I know, I know, geez.” PJ sighed heavily. “I promise won’t tell anyone.”
“Good. Now, back to the topic at hand.”
“If I swear to use the condoms from Sam’s drawer, can we declare this conversation over?”
Lex rubbed his hand over his bare scalp. Next time, he was using the trick coin.
"PJ Luthor! Apologize this minute."
PJ made a sullen face at Lex's scolding and grumbled, "Sorry I called you a
four-eyed spazoid who'd only get laid if you had a hamster."
Lex hadn't overheard that last part.
Sam shoved at his magnifying work-glasses and pretended to be unaffected. "Fine. Whatever.
"Good," PJ said. "Now, don't make me buy you a hamster. Kurt won't be here
Sam's face turned as red as his hair, before squaring his shoulders and
shoving past PJ out of the room.
PJ grinned at Lex. "Thanks, Dad. Maybe Sam will finally get a date."
Sam lay flat on the bed, hiding his head beneath the pillow. “G’way.”
Clark didn’t listen. He shifted schematics out of the way and sat down on the bed. He touched Sam’s back comfortingly. “I know break ups suck.”
“You don’t know anything!”
“Sam, there’ll be others—”
“How do you know? You’ve been with Papa Lex all your life.”
“True. But Lex hasn’t only been with me. He went out with a lot of people before he became your Papa.”
Sam sat up abruptly, red hair askew. “This is different, Dad! I love Kurt. It’s not just sex!”
Clark blinked and tried to formulate a response. “You had sex with Kurt?”
Sam looked away, blushing. “That’s not the point.”
“You’re too young to have sex.”
“You were younger than me when you had sex.” Sam set his chin defiantly. “And you had a baby.”
“This isn’t about me. This is about you and Kurt.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because Kurt dumped me!” Sam flopped down and pulled the pillow over his head again. “I want to die.”
Clark scrubbed his face with his hand and vowed to cheat next time he and Lex flipped the parenting coin.
Lex dimmed the lights and checked to make sure everything was set. The house was empty of children and staff. The telephone was unplugged and his cell phone left downstairs. He’d put clean sheets on the bed and a new bottle of lube sat open on the nightstand along with several strips of condoms. He’d showered, moisturized, trimmed his nails, brushed his teeth, checked his appearance in the mirror and then pretended he hadn’t seen any sagging.
Lex climbed onto the bed and sprawled wantonly across the sheets. He spread his legs, one knee bent, the other foot flat on the mattress, exposing the erection curving on his abdomen, his heavy balls, and the bump of the plug stretching his asshole. His heart beat rapidly in anticipation. He licked his lips, took a deep breath, and started yelling as loud as he could. “Clark! Help m—”
Superman appeared with a snap of his cape and crashed headfirst into the wall above the bed. Lex grinned puckishly up at him after he’d extracted himself and moved back a few inches. Plaster dust stuck in his hair. “You’d think someone with superspeed would be able to stop before they hit the wall.”
“Your porn-star impression threw me.” Floating above Lex, Clark’s gaze traced languidly down his naked form. “I thought you needed help.”
“Oh, I do. You see, I haven’t had sex in months and I need you to fix that.”
“It hasn’t been months.”
“If I have to trick you in order to have sex, it’s been way too long.” Lex stroked his fingers teasingly over his erection. His body tightened when Clark’s nostrils flared, his eyes focused on Lex’s hand. “Are you going to come down here and help me?”
Clark’s lips curved seductively and he floated a little higher above Lex. “No. I’m going to watch. For now.”
No matter how long they'd worked together, Lois still didn't get Clark Kent. He had numerous awards and two Pulitzers – none of which she was bitter about – and he'd had an A-1 byline for ten years straight. But what had him puffed up and strutting around the bullpen? A tacky, hand-pressed button, sporting a rabbit-eared and cross-eyed picture of his children, with "#1 Dad" in stickers along the top.
Parenthood obviously resulted in loss of brain cells and fashion sense. None of which she was bitter about, either.
Clark leaned against the bedpost and looked at Lex's tense back. "It'll be okay."
"No, it won't." Lex's removed his cufflinks with stunted, jerky motions. "Sam can fly."
"We knew it was a possibility—"
"That didn't mean I wanted it to happen." Lex braced stiffly against the dresser. Intense emotion reflected in his eyes, visible in the mirror. "I can barely stand you putting yourself in danger daily because of your Boy Scout need to help everyone. Sam is my child, I can't- I won't—"
"Hey, now." Clark shushed Lex comfortingly when Lex bit off his words with a clenched jaw. Clark wrapped his arms around Lex from behind and held him close. "You know I'd never let anything happen to Sam. Besides, he hasn't shown any desire to be a superhero."
"Neither did you, at his age," Lex said.
"I was saving plenty of people by then, including a certain bald best friend of mine repeatedly."
Clark's attempt at levity fell flat. Lex clenched his fists, knuckles white where they pressed against the dressertop. "This is my son."
"I know," Clark said solemnly.
Lex inhaled shakily, lowered his head, and closed his eyes. Clark rested his forehead against the back of Lex's neck and tightened his arms around Lex's waist. They didn't move for a long time.
“I hate you.”
Despite knowing that PJ didn’t mean it, the words still stung. “What did I supposedly do this time?” Clark asked, as his thirteen-year-old climbed into the car.
PJ shoved a folder at him.
Nonplussed, Clark opened the folder and found a Perfect Attendance Award inside. “PJ, this is wonderful.”
“No, it’s not,” PJ grumped. “That’s my seventh one.”
“And that’s not a good thing?”
PJ rolled her eyes and sighed like only a teenager could. “I’ve had perfect attendance at school. Only nerds like Sam get perfect attendance. Everyone thinks I’m a freak for not getting sick.”
“You’re not a freak,” Clark said immediately. “Lex had perfect attendance for many years.”
“I hate to break it to you, but Papa Lex is a nerd, too.”
Clark smothered a chuckle. “PJ, it’s not a bad thing to go to school everyday.”
“Yes, it is! Everyone else gets sick, and gets to stay home and watch TV and not be at school, but me.” PJ scowled. “It’s unfair. Why do I have to be punished for you and Dad having non-sick genes?”
“Because we love you, honey.”
PJ crossed her arms and slumped in her seat. “I hate you.”
Clark watched Sam stare at the stars in wonder and
remembered when he’d first demonstrated how to use the telescope, giving his
three-year-old his first view of the universe. Fifteen years later, he was
sharing another first with Sam, floating high above the atmosphere of earth,
giving him the universe once again, but in a way no other could understand.
Sam looked at Clark with a watery sheen in his eyes, and Clark returned the tight embrace he suddenly received. In the silence of space, he could still hear the words of love and thanks from his son, and smiled.
“Ow! Watch where you’re going, Freakenstein.”
“Kinda hard to when the power’s out.”
“Why isn’t the generator coming on? I was watching something.”
“And I was reading something. Let’s go tell Dad. He’ll fix it.”
The two teenagers stumbled along, shoving each other in the dark, until they reached their parents’ bedroom. The door opened easily. In the pitch-black room, they couldn’t see anything, but they could certainly hear.
Sam closed the door. “Maybe we’ll tell them later.”
“Eew! Gross! Our parents are having sex!” PJ shuddered.
“Y’know, most babies are conceived when the power is out.”
“You don’t think…”
If You Had Wings
Clark stared at the shelves upon shelves of bright pink and blue boxes and wondered how in the world he got roped into doing this. Didn’t they have a personal shopper? He could’ve sworn they had a nanny, too. Unless this was some sort of fatherly right-of-passage no one had told him about.
“Smallville! What are you doing here?”
Clark cringed when he heard Lois Lane’s bellow at the other end of the aisle. He pushed his fake glasses up his nose and turned in her direction. “Oh. Hi, Lois.”
Lois’s shopping cart clanked as she wheeled it up to him. Inside the cart were a box of cereal, milk, and ten cans of instant coffee. She glanced at the shelves and grinned. “Having a heavy flow day?”
“Something like that,” Clark said. “Colleen called. PJ got her first period.”
Lois squawked with what was possibly glee. “That’s precious. Your little girl, all grown up.”
“Don’t remind me.” Clark gazed over the many selections again. “I’m supposed to bring home supplies for her, but…” He gestured helplessly at the boxes.
“Here. Let Aunty Lois help Daddy out.”
“That is very disturbing. Don’t ever say it again.”
Lois waved her hand dismissively and then plucked three boxes off the shelf. She held them out to him. “One box of ultra-thin maxis with wings, one box of night time maxis with wings, and one box of slender unscented easy-glide tampons. There are instructions inside as to how to use the tampons, so you won’t have to explain it to her, Mr. Mom. She can decide on her own if she wants to use them or not. Not all women like the feel of tampons.”
“Thanks.” Clark took the boxes. “Do I need to explain to her about these wing-things?”
“They’re pretty self-explanatory, Clark,” Lois said.
“Oh, good.” Clark was relieved.
Lois cackled. “Bad enough she’s bleeding out her twat, huh?”
“Lois! This is my daughter you’re being crude about.”
“Don’t be such an old man.” Lois smacked him on the arm and returned to her cart. “Congratulate PJ for me on becoming a woman, and remind her to use condoms so she doesn’t get knocked up.”
Horror washed over Clark, as Lois clanked down the aisle. He looked at the boxes in his hands that proved his daughter was now a woman. But maybe if he put them back…
PJ returned to her bedroom to find her friends gathered in front of the windows. “What are you guys—”
“Shhh!” Collectively, they shushed her and Carly motioned her over. PJ joined them, wondering what could be so fascinating in her backyard.
One of the windows was open a crack, letting soft music drift in from the outside. The moon hung low, nearly full, casting a pale glow on the two men dancing on the back porch.
“It’s only my dads,” PJ said.
“Yeah, but isn’t it the most romantic thing you’ve ever seen?” Heather said. The other girls sighed.
PJ gave them strange looks and focused out the window again. She supposed it was romantic. Papa Lex’s head was tucked against Daddy Clark’s shoulder, their hands clasped and held between them. They swayed in small circles to the music.
PJ saw her Dad’s mouth moving, speaking. Papa Lex lifted his head, a happy smile spreading across his face. Daddy Clark looked like his usual goofy self when he grinned back and then kissed Papa Lex.
PJ’s friends sighed, and she might have sighed a little, too. Even though they were old, her Dads still loved each other a lot.
“Your dads are adorable,” Jessica said. “Mine would never dance like that for no reason.”
“I’ll trade you,” Carly said. “You can have my parents if I can have yours?”
“Nah.” PJ watched her Dads sway gently under the moonlight. “I think I’ll keep them.”
My love must be a kind of blind love
I can't see anyone but you.
Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright
I only have eyes for you, dear.
The moon maybe high
but I can't see a thing in the sky,
'Cause I only have eyes for you.
Clark collapsed face-first onto the bed beside Lex and pulled
a pillow over his head. “My ate dildin.”
“You ate a dildo?” Lex glanced at Clark’s back, brow furrowed.
“Mo.” Clark raised the pillow to mutter, “I hate children. Specifically yours.”
“Now what did they do?”
“Sam stole your credit card and bought an actuator, even after we told him it was too expensive.”
Lex sighed and slid down beside Clark. “And PJ?”
“Remember that tattoo we told PJ she couldn’t have? She got it anyway. On her face.”
Lex groaned, stole Clark’s pillow, and smothered himself with it. Teenagers.
Lex pinched the bridge of his nose when he saw PJ. The shackles trapping her hands at her waist and connecting her ankles together rattled as the Detention Center officer escorted her into the courtroom. Her bright orange jumpsuit brought out her freckles. Her contrite expression clashed with the shine of her bald head.
The Magistrate’s amusement was palpable across the courtroom. Lex wanted to crawl under the table, not so much because PJ had shaved her head while carousing, but because the Magistrate was the same woman Lex had been in front of regularly when he was a teenager.
“Sorry,” PJ whispered as she took the seat beside him.
“Sorry for what you did?” Lex glared at her pointedly. “Or sorry that you got caught?”
The Little Girl Look she adopted told Lex it was the latter.
“This is in the matter of Pamela Jean Luthor, a child alleged to be a delinquent child,” the Magistrate began the proceedings. “We’re here today for a detention hearing. Present is the child and her father, Alexander Luthor. Mr. Luthor, it’s been a while.”
Lex smiled thinly. “Yes, it has. I can’t say that it’s good to see you again, Your Honor.”
The Magistrate’s amusement grew. “Your father said the same thing to me many, many times.”
PJ turned an astonished gaze on Lex. “You were a delinquent, too?”
“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep your mouth shut, Pamela Jean,” Lex said icily.
PJ faced forward and sulked. Lex pinched the bridge of his nose again. He could just hear what Jonathan Kent would say: What goes around comes around. And PJ was only fourteen, which meant Lex had four more years to look forward to of this type of behavior.
Lionel laughed in the background of his mind.
Clark paused on his way down the stairs, jolted for a moment at the sight of his daughter’s shiny bald head. No matter how many times he’d seen her the past few days, it still shocked him speechless when he laid eyes on her shaved scalp. He knew not to believe she was emulating Lex, especially not with the LuthorCorp logo tattooed on her cheek.
He shifted his gaze from the discombobulating sight and sighed irritably when he saw their visitor. Wally leaned casually against the doorjamb of the living room at the bottom, flirting obviously with PJ with an occasionally leering smile. PJ clasped her hands behind her, thrusting out her barely existent (thank God) breasts. Clark was going to have to smack Wally hard for looking.
Continuing downstairs, out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of Sam hovering in a doorway further up the hall. Sam appeared as if he were gearing up to storm the castle, an expression he got when he was fighting insecurity, usually when it came to approaching guys…
Clark’s nearly stumbled down the steps and his head whipped back and forth as he followed Sam’s line of sight. Sam was looking at Wally. Sam was looking at Wally.
Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no.
Clark barreled the rest of the way down the stairs, grabbed Wally by the neck, and dragged him out the front door. Wally gurgled and kicked his dangling feet.
“Dad!” PJ exclaimed. “What are you—”
Clark slammed the door, cutting her off, and dropped Wally on the front steps. He aimed a finger at Wally. “Keep your hormones away from my children.”
Wally rubbed his neck with a wince. “It was just harmless flirting. Peej knows I’m not being serious.”
“But Sam wouldn’t.” Clark glowered at Wally. “He’d think you were interested in him.”
“Gross.” Wally took a step back, holding up his hands at the acidic glare he received. “Not that being gay is gross. Gay is good. I have a PFLAG button. But I’m straight.”
“Then take your ass off my doorstep and go find some straight people your own age to flirt with.” Clark jabbed his finger against Wally’s chest. “My children are. Off. Limits.”
“Okay, okay. Bruised point taken.”
Clark scowled, went inside, and slammed the door again. He immediately reopened it and growled at Wally, “And stay away from my partner, too!”
The windowpanes rattled as he slammed the door once more. He folded his arms and leveled a parental glare at PJ. “You’re supposed to be grounded. Get to your room.”
PJ rolled her eyes and stomped up the stairs. The ankle monitor clacked against the decorative steel on her boot.
Clark’s glare shifted and pinpointed Sam. “And you. There are thousands of guys out there who don’t have a Shaggin’ Wagon or call themselves the Ho Herder. Date one of them.”
Sam stared, mouth agape. Clark stalked past him to the end of the hall and into the kitchen. Lex was coming into the door from the garage, briefcase in hand, with his suit slightly rumpled and his tie loosened around his neck. He saw Clark and his shoulders slumped. “Now what did she do—mmnnph.”
Clark kissed Lex hard, holding him pinioned in his arms, the briefcase caught between them. Lex stumbled when he was released, gasping for breath. “Clark, what—?”
“Wally West,” Clark answered succinctly, grinding his teeth.
“Ah.” Understanding crossed Lex’s features. Then, his eyes narrowed. “He didn’t come onto you, did he?”
“No, but he’s sucked both PJ and Sam in with his evil horny vibes.” Clark stomped over to the refrigerator, grabbed the milk, and guzzled half from the container. He capped the milk again and stuck it back in the fridge. “He needs to be neutered.”
“I can arrange for a little accident.”
Clark lit up with hope. “Really?”
“Just tell me the time and place.” Lex dropped his briefcase on the counter and stepped into Clark’s personal space. He pressed against Clark, sliding his hand behind Clark’s neck. Clark could feel Lex’s burgeoning erection rub against his thigh. “I’d be happy to oblige.”
“Is that because of me, or because we’re plotting to do bad things?” Clark said, slipping his arms around Lex’s back.
“Depends on which will get me into your pants faster.”
“Hnm.” Clark bent his head and kissed Lex again before whisking him upstairs behind a locked bedroom door.
He sent Wally a thank you card the next day.
(It didn’t blow up.)
“…improper and disrespectful for a Luthor…”
Fifteen-year-old PJ Luthor kept her head bowed with suitable shame as her dad droned on with Appropriate Luthor Behavior Lecture #17, Young Lady Remix. She knew all the cues by heart, when to nod and when to apologize, without having to listen. She also knew this particular lecture led to grounding and would have to adjust her plans accordingly. Luckily, it didn’t put a much of a crimp in her life. She got grounded every week and had learned to get around that annoyance quickly.
“…for a young lady to do such a thing…”
PJ would have to call Troy and have him pick her up down the block. The Dads would check on her at 10:17 precisely, then she was free. Sam had disabled the alarm on her window (by blackmail) and with her levitation ability she’d have no trouble getting in and out of her room.
“…certain level of decorum…”
She wondered if her silver pants had returned from the dry-cleaner. She’d gotten a new onyx stretch turtleneck that would go perfectly with them.
PJ said her line. “Yes, sir.”
“Good. Luthors do not…”
Eight more minutes of lecturing to go.
"…on the front page looking like a tweaked-out whore. Don't you have any respect for yourself? Or for your family? Everything you do not only reflects on you, but on the two biggest companies in this city. Your actions are bringing shame and disgrace to the Luthor name. It is unacceptable…"
"Lionel." Clark disrupted Lionel's shameless eavesdropping by coming downstairs. "I didn't know you were here."
"Your son let me in." Lionel stood in the foyer of the Luthor-Kent home, his coat draped over his arm. "I am here for Lex. However, he is occupied at the moment."
"So, you figured while you waited, you'd spy on him through the door," Clark said, folding his arms in his usual accusatory stance.
"I would never be so crass." Lionel smiled, as a particular turn of phrase drifted through the study door. "I'm merely enjoying being a grandfather."
Clark opened his Favorites folder, clicked on the link
labeled My Happy Place, and stared longingly at the screen. It wouldn’t take
much: a click of the mouse and his trouble would belong to someone else, very
far away. There, his trouble would fall under discipline that he couldn’t seem
to accomplish and be molded into something better. He’d have no more worries,
frustration, or false comforting of a rightfully paranoid partner. Life would
become much simpler and easy.
Clark closed the browser before temptation became too great. Miss Hall’s School for Girls was safe from PJ for another day.
“PJ? Is that you?” Sam sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes, his cell phone pressed to his ear. “I can barely hear you.”
“Sam, I need you to come get me.” PJ’s voice was practically drowned out by the background noise from wherever she was calling.
“Why are you calling me? Call David to send the car,” Sam groused tiredly. He glanced at the clock. “It’s past your curfew, you know. You’re going to be grounded.”
“Shut up and just come get me,” PJ said, a pleading note in her voice. “I don’t want to be here any more.”
“Where are you?”
“At a party on K Street.”
“K Street!” Sam lost all tiredness and scrambled from his bed to get dressed. “You’re at a party in Suicide Slums?! Jesus, Peej, are you insane?”
“Now you know why I didn’t call David to send the car. I would like to live to see my seventeenth birthday.”
“What makes you think I won’t tell?” Sam yanked on gray sweatpants, shoved his feet in his sneakers, and ducked into his closet for a shirt.
“Because you’re already in your closet getting a shirt,” PJ said matter-of-factly. The background noise became muffled.
Sam scowled as he drew on a royal purple plaid flannel. He switched ears with the phone. “You’d better be waiting for me by the door.”
“And you owe me.”
“The next time you’re out past curfew at a party in the bad side of town, I won’t tell The Dads,” PJ drawled. “Oops. That’s right. You’ve never broken curfew in your life.”
“I’ve cut it close,” Sam defended himself. “But I’m twenty-one. I don’t have a curfew any more.”
“You also don’t go out anywhere to require one.”
Sam grabbed his wallet and keys. “I do, too! I went out yesterday and didn’t make it home until ten-thirty!”
“That’s because the electronics store kicked you out when they closed,” PJ said. “Face it, Spazstastic, you don’t have a life.”
“Just because I don’t find parties in Suicide Slums to be fun, doesn’t mean I don’t do fun things.”
Sam opened his mouth—
“—that does not involve electronics, animatronics, or any other kind of –tronic parts.”
—and shut it with a snap.
“That’s what I thought.”
“I hate you,” Sam muttered, pulling the car out of the garage. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“Good. There’s some creepy guy eyeing me like I’m dinner.”
“Shit. I’m hurrying.” Sam shifted gears and peeled out. “Keep talking to me.”
“We need to find you a steady lay.”
“On second thought, don’t talk.”
“Come on. You haven’t had a boyfriend since Kurt and that was forever ago. That’s pretty pathetic.”
“It’s too bad you inherited the gay gene. I know tons of girls that want to go out with you.” PJ paused. “Well, maybe one. Two if I begged.”
“I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy.”
“No, you don’t,” PJ said. “But I know I want something like The Dads have together. Though, without the gross noises that comes from their bedroom.”
“Oh, sick. I don’t want to think about them having sex.”
“I know. It’s really ick. But I think they’re trying to make another baby.”
“Yeah, too. I heard them talking about it.”
“You were eavesdropping.”
“Do you want to hear this or not?”
Sam checked his radar detector and ran through the stoplight. “Go on, I’m listening.”
“Well, they were talking about Papa Lex’s vasectomy—”
“I changed my mind. Don’t tell me anymore.”
PJ went on anyway. “—and they were worried that it had healed itself, because of Papa’s whacked physiology, because Daddy Clark thought he’d seen semen swimming around in his egg sac—”
“I’m going to barf now.”
“—and they had this weird argument about kinks, which I so did not want to learn about. Like, did you know, Dad really likes it when Papa Lex sticks his big toe—”
“I don’t want to hear that!”
“Oh, yeah, sorry. Anyway, then they got into a discussion about if it would be so bad if Daddy Clark got pregnant.”
“The answer was no, and then they started talking about maybe making one on purpose and how they’re so old and that Papa Lex would have to go get unvasectomied and they’d have to rehire Colleen and break the news to Grandma and Grandpa, which would be Daddy Clark’s job…”
“It sounds like they’ve already decided.”
“Yeah,” PJ agreed with a sigh. “We’ll have a little brother or sister soon.”
“You don’t want one?” Sam turned the corner. “I’m on K Street.”
“As long as he or she’s not like you, I don’t mind.”
“The feeling’s mutual. I’m here.”
Sam saw PJ come outside of a decrepit building and he stopped the car. Broken down vehicles lined the street, graffiti desecrated any surface, and scary-looking men eyed Sam’s Bentley from the corner. He thumbed off the cell phone, as PJ hurriedly got into the car. “Buckle up.”
“Drive, moron, before they shoot us,” PJ said, snapping on her seatbelt.
Sam did as told, peeling out of the neighborhood. He glanced at PJ. She looked okay, if tired and frazzled. The streetlamp caught a shiny strip of skin where she’d once had a tattoo on her face. “You all right?”
“I’m fine. You didn’t wake The Dads up, did you?”
“No. Even though I should have,” Sam said, driving for home. “It’s literally suicide for you to be in the slums.”
“Save the ‘You’re a Luthor’ sermon. I get enough of that from Papa Lex.”
“He wouldn’t sermonize if you didn’t do stupid things like this.”
“Yes, he would, because I’m not perfect like you.”
“I’m not perfect.”
“To Papa you are.” PJ grumped. “‘Sam didn’t get suspended’, ‘Sam doesn’t dress like a prostitute’, ‘Sam is making something of himself’, ‘Why can’t you be more like Sam?’ I hate it.”
Sam wasn’t sure what to say. “Grandpa Lionel likes you the way you are. He’s always snickering at Papa Lex whenever you do something crazy like this.”
“True. He gives me money to go out, too.” PJ set her jaw. “But I’ll show Papa that I’m better than you. After I graduate from college, I’m taking over LuthorCorp and I’m going to make a gajillion dollars, leaving LexCorp in the dust.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “You won’t get into college if you don’t stop getting suspended.”
“Shut up. We’re home.” PJ was out of the car before it fully stopped.
“You’re welcome!” Sam called after her, from behind the closed passenger door. He shook his head, shut off the car, and headed inside the house, to find PJ caught by their fathers. Papa Lex and Dad stood in the doorway of the kitchen, wearing matched, faded plaid bathrobes over their pajamas.
“Sam,” Papa Lex said, Dad looming behind him with sleep-mussed hair. “PJ says she was out with you tonight. Is that true?”
Sam replied without hesitation, not needing a cue. “Yeah. I picked her up from her friend’s earlier and she made me take her to a late movie.”
Papa Lex looked between them and then stepped out of the doorway. “Get to bed, PJ. You have school tomorrow.”
“Okay. ‘Night. ‘Night, Daddy.” PJ kissed both Dads on the cheek and scurried out of the kitchen.
When she was gone, Papa Lex turned his attention to Sam again. “Where was she?”
“With me,” Sam lied. PJ so owed him.
“Why would she want to go to a movie with you?” Dad asked.
“It was rated R.” Sam changed the subject so he could stop lying. “Dad, are you gaining weight?”
Dad’s hands went to stomach and he patted himself. Papa Lex turned immediately, with hope written all over his face. “Are you, Clark? Does that mean—”
“No.” Dad shook his head, apologetic. Papa Lex’s shoulders slumped.
Sam felt like a heel. “I’m going to bed.”
“Good night,” Dad said, even though he was looking at Papa Lex compassionately. He took Papa Lex’s hands.
Sam scooted past them and paused over the threshold of the doorway. “Uh, Peej and I wouldn’t mind having another sibling, just so you know.”
“Thanks, Sam,” Papa Lex shot a half-smile at Sam. “Have a good night. Tell your sister to stop eavesdropping.”
“I will,” Sam promised. He watched a moment as Dad kissed Papa’s Lex on the forehead before making his way to his bedroom.
PJ sat on his unmade bed. “Am I caught?”
Sam shook his head. “Nah. I took you to a rated R movie. Let me know which one we saw and how it ended.”
“Everyone died. It was tragic. You wept. I laughed at you.”
Sam shoved her playfully. “Get out.”
PJ bounced off the bed and out of the bedroom. “’Night, freakazoid.”
“I heard that!”
Sam laughed, shut the door, and went back to bed.
Clark sat beside Lex in the gallery of the Courtroom. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit with MJSC printed on the back, her shaved head gleaming in the fluorescent overhead lights, PJ sat beside her defense attorney at the table in front of them.
Clark leaned closer to Lex, lowering his voice. "Why can't she be more like Sam?"
Lex checked his watch and readjusted his cuff. "The same Sam who is twenty-two years old, blew off the back wall of the house, destroyed the rear fence, and irradiated the neighbor's pool last week?"
Clark cringed. They'd had a hard time fixing that mess. He was still crossing his fingers that the radiation report would come back negative in a month. "Okay. Then why not more like you?"
"At her age, I was always high on coke and spent more time in lockup than at home."
"Never mind," Clark said quickly. He looked at PJ. She sat straight and tall, as if proud, in spite of her situation. Clark opened his mouth to say more, but Lex beat him to it.
"You had a two-year-old at her age."
"PJ!" Clark got PJ's attention. She looked back at him. Clark gave her two thumbs up. "Don't ever change."
PJ's expression was one of bewilderment. Then she rolled her eyes and returned her attention to her attorney.
Lex patted Clark's knee. "Good Dad."
“There are some things that are more important.”
“So strangers are more important than your own family? Nice to know where we rank.”
“It was just dinner.”
“Like yesterday it was just dinner, and the day before that, and the month before that.”
“I don’t have a choice!”
“Bullshit. I gave up my dreams for this family and all your children are asking for is dinner.”
“And the martyr makes his appearance.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Tell me what you meant.”
“I meant that you not being a senator doesn’t compare with my not saving someone’s life.”
“No, it doesn’t compare, but I could’ve done as much good as a senator as you do as Superman.”
“Ha! You only wanted to be senator to line your own pockets.”
“You did not just say that.”
“Who were all the tax deferrals and the more lenient transportation codes for? What company’s subsidies got the contracts when you were Mayor? You can’t tell me it’s not true.”
“Why didn’t you have me arrested, then? Why didn’t you villainize me in that muckraking newspaper of yours? Oh, I know, it’s because you don’t mind reaping the benefits, like a whore.”
“Did you just call me a whore?”
“Do you not let me fuck you in exchange for living here?”
“Not anymore, I don’t.”
“You’re leaving. What a surprise.”
“Screw you. I’ll be at the Tower.”
“I’ll be sure to tell the kids you’d rather be with the Spandex Patrol than them.”
“That’s not true and you know it.”
“It doesn’t look that way from my perspective.”
“Yeah, well maybe you need glasses.”
When Lex and Clark fought, they didn’t do it half-assed. After eighteen years together, they knew all of each other’s buttons and pushed them every time. But Clark had never been gone for so long, no matter how badly they’d fought.
Ten nights had gone past, and number eleven was moments away. Lex sat on the edge of their bed, staring out the open window, the only illumination from the clock on the bedside table. Ice clinked as he raised his glass to his lips.
The warm wash of scotch did nothing to soothe the cold ache in his chest.
Lex lay on his side, staring at the glowing red numbers of
the alarm clock on the night table as they changed to midnight. The bed dipped
behind Lex and a warm body curled around his. “Clark…”
“Shh.” Clark’s arm slid over his waist and a soft kiss was brushed against the back of his head. Lex clasped Clark’s left hand over his heart, nestling into Clark’s embrace. He blinked away the sting in his eyes.
“I miss you,” Lex whispered into the dark. He rolled over and laid his hand on the vacant pillow beside his in the bed.
“It would be a marvelous investment opportunity…” The words faded, becoming a buzzing noise in the background, when Lex saw Superman enter the charity reception. Lex’s heart gave a lurch. It was the first time he’d seen Clark in person in twenty-eight days.
Superman’s bright red cape twisted around his ankles when he stopped to shake hands with the current Mayor. Lex couldn’t take his eyes off Clark, drinking in the familiar face like a man dying of thirst. He knew Clark had seen him even if he wouldn’t look in Lex’s direction.
Lex took a gulp of his drink, eyes following Clark around the room as Superman greeted everyone but him. It hurt badly. He excused himself, not knowing or caring if he’d interrupted the sales pitch he wasn’t listening to anyway, and retreated to the restroom.
The men’s room was empty, thankfully, and Lex set his empty glass on the sink before leaning heavily on the faux marble countertop. He looked at his reflection in the mirror. The fluorescent lighting made his skin appear sallow and emphasized the lavender circles under his pained eyes that the concealor couldn’t fully hide.
“Clark,” Lex said quietly, staring at himself in the mirror. “I know you can hear me. I’ve made an appointment with Dr. Mathers for tomorrow at ten. Please, be there. My apologies don’t seem to mean anything to you and I- I- ” His throat tightened and he swallowed past the painful lump roughening his voice. “We have to fix this, Clark. I don’t want lose you. I can’t—”
The restroom door opened and Lex cut off abruptly. He turned on the water and lowered his head, blinking rapidly. He washed his hands as whoever entered went over to the urinals. When he was sure his face wouldn’t give away his inner turmoil, he dried his hands and returned to the reception.
The Mayor was on the raised platform behind the freestanding microphone, giving his speech. Superman stood slightly to the side, behind him. Lex tried to catch Clark’s eye, but he still wouldn’t look at him. His heart twisted painfully. Please, he thought. Please, Clark, don’t let our partnership end.
“…and Superman has stopped by to say a few words, so I’ll turn the microphone over to him. Superman—” The Mayor moved aside as those present clapped politely.
Superman stepped up to the microphone and graced them with a small smile. “Thank you, Mayor Overton. And thank you, everyone, who has donated your time or money to the Metropolis Safe Haven program. Ten years ago, I helped my first person, a fifteen-year-old named Claudia, from being raped in an alley in the Slums. She had been living on the streets for months, with no money and no safe place to go. The first time she’d run away from home, the police took her right back to her abusive mother. The second time landed her in the juvenile justice system and child services placed her in a foster home just as abusive as the one she though she’d escaped from. Running away again landed her in that alley.
“I remember, after taking care of the would-be rapists, I had wanted to fly her home. She told me that she was home. She thanked me and disappeared down the alley,” Superman said. “It wasn’t until later that I realized I may have stopped the crime, but I hadn’t rescued her at all.”
Lex remembered that first night, too, and the silence the pervaded the penthouse. He’d found Clark at three in the morning sitting on the floor in PJs room, watching her sleep. He’d sat down beside Clark and quietly held his hand the remainder of the night.
“The next morning, I went to someone I thought could help, someone who had the resources and who I’d seen fight viciously in protection of his own children. Within days, the Metropolis Safe Haven program opened its first set of doors to runaways and abandoned children,” Superman said. “Lex Luthor, will you come up here?”
Lex took a shaky breath and forced his feet to move. The crowd murmured around him. He hadn’t expected this. He climbed the steps onto the platform and kept his features carefully blank as Clark looked at him for the first time in nearly a month. Emotions churned inside him, but he couldn’t let them show.
“Mr. Luthor is the driving force behind the Metropolis Safe Haven program,” Superman said, facing the microphone again. “His efforts and donations have not only kept the program alive, there are now twenty-two Safe Haven homes open in Metropolis with full time staffs of social workers, psychiatrists, and lawyers working to protect our city’s children. Please, give your recognition to Lex Luthor.”
Those present began clapping as Superman stepped back from the microphone. Lex glanced at him, but could see nothing but polite appreciation on his face. Lex fixed his expression into a gracious smile. He didn’t offer his hand to shake, because if he touched Clark, he might not let go. Instead, he stepped up to the freestanding microphone, clasping his hands behind his back.
“Thank you,” Lex said into the microphone. “It’s nice to be picked out of the crowd, but if it hadn’t been for your continued donations, the program wouldn’t be the success it is today. So give yourselves a hand.”
The well-dressed crowd clapped again, as Lex stepped back and the Mayor took his place in front of the microphone. Standing right next to Clark, Lex kept a smile plastered on his lips, facing forward.
The smile faltered when he felt a familiar broad hand caress from his shoulders down his back. Clark tugged lightly at Lex’s hands until they unclasped and entwined his fingers with Lex’s behind Lex’s back. The lump returned to Lex’s throat for an entirely different reason. He knew, then, that everything would work out all right.
The Truth Unexpected
“I know that you both said some nasty things to one another. Most couples do when they fight,” Dr. Mathers said, attempting to get to the root of the problem. He’d counseled them successfully in the past and knew he’d succeed again. They were a couple who wanted to stay together and only needed assistance getting over a bump in their long-term relationship, rather than making a last-ditch effort to save something both had already ended in their minds. “Now, Clark, do you think that Lex believes you are a whore?”
Seated across from the psychologist on the love seat, Clark glanced at Lex and shook his head. “Not really.”
“Not really,” Dr. Mathers repeated, studying their non-verbal reactions. “You seem to be unsure.”
Lex tensed. Clark looked down at his hands. “I don’t mind living off his money.”
“You pool your paychecks, do you not?”
“Yeah, but mine doesn’t matter much,” Clark said. “I could quit if I wanted to and not have to worry about anything changing.”
“Anything changing with your lifestyle, or anything changing with your relationship?” Dr. Mathers asked.
“Both, I guess.”
“Would you like your lifestyle to change?”
“It’s fine,” Clark said. “Lex’s money has never meant anything to me.”
Dr. Mathers saw Lex nod slightly to himself. He made a note on his pad of paper that neither perceived Lex’s wealth as a problem. “Would you like your relationship to change, then?”
“I love Lex,” Clark said defensively, immediately. “I don’t want our relationship to end.”
“But perhaps I am right in you wanting it to change?” Dr. Mathers pushed gently.
Clark clammed up, looking towards the window in the office. Lex’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, focusing intently at a point somewhere past Dr. Mathers’ shoulder. Dr. Mathers circled one of the words on his paper. “Lex indicated before that he was unhappy with your working all of the time. As money isn’t the problem, could you be using work to avoid being at home?”
Clark was silent for a long moment before mumbling, “Maybe. I don’t know.”
“Subconsciously, perhaps, then,” Dr. Mathers said. “If you’re not at home, you don’t have to face the fact that you’re unhappy with the way things are between yourself and Lex.”
Pain splashed vividly across Lex’s face, though he continued to stare at one spot. Clark shrugged. Dr. Mathers skimmed his notes. “Lex mentioned that it was approximately seven months ago when he noticed that you were gone a lot. I want you to think back, Clark, and try to remember if something happened that could’ve caused this dissatisfaction. Did you have a fight with Lex? Or perhaps one with your parents or Lex’s father? Maybe one of your co-workers mentioned something about your relationship.”
Clark looked down at his hands again. Dr. Mathers noticed him rubbing his empty ring finger. He glanced at Lex’s hands, but noticed he wore no rings. Losing a ring was mostly likely not the problem. However, it meant something to Clark by his non-verbal cue. He changed tracks. “How long have you and Lex been married?”
“We’re not married.”
Lex turned sharply, an incredulously look on his face. “We’ve been together for eighteen years.”
“He didn’t ask me that,” Clark said with bite. “He asked how long we’ve been married.”
“Clark, we’re as close to married as two gay people can be.”
Clark glowered. “No, we’re not. The closest to married two gay people can be is married.”
“Is that what you want? A commitment ceremony after all this time?” Lex said. “I don’t see why, but—”
Clark let out a small yell, shifting to face Lex on the small couch. “I want you to marry me, you moron!”
Lex appeared taken aback. “Are you proposing?”
“No! Yes! Gah!” Clark threw his hands in the air. “I thought you would ask me the same day the news came out, and I waited and waited, thinking you had some sneaky way of doing it, just like you tricked me into signing the Domestic Partnership Agreement all those years ago, but you did nothing. You didn’t even mention it. It took me a week to realize that you weren’t playing around and didn’t want to marry me.”
“Clark, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why would I ask you to marry me? Not that I wouldn’t love to in a heartbeat,” Lex added quickly, “but there’s no reason to do so. It’s not like we can actually legally get married.”
Clark’s mouth fell open. Dr. Mathers spoke up, since Clark seemed too stunned to continue. “Lex, the Kansas legislature passed the bill allowing homosexuals to legally marry last February.”
Lex stared blankly at him. It was obviously Lex hadn’t expected that answer at all. “What?”
“You didn’t know?” Clark started to laugh. “You didn’t know? Mr. I-Only-Watch-CNN didn’t know his own state finally gave us the same rights as everyone else?”
“Stop laughing at me.” Lex glared briefly at Clark before his brows furrowed in confusion. “How did I miss this? It had to be front page news.”
“It was, for a day,” Clark said, wiping the corners of his eyes. “Then, the Sentinals attacked and the news became all about them.”
“I don’t remember. February was very busy for me at LexCorp and PJ or Sam must’ve taken the newspaper again.” Lex shook his head. “Unbelievable. You’d think someone would’ve said something.” He gave Clark a look. Clark cracked up again, and Lex’s mouth curved into a bright smile.
Dr. Mathers drew a happy face on his pad of paper and penciled in a reminder to shop for a wedding gift.
“Dad’s back!” PJ careened around the corner, using the
doorjamb to catapult herself down the hall. “Sam! Dad’s back!”
Sam poked his head out of his lab and nearly got clipped by the seventeen-year-old running past. He glanced back at his experiment in progress, but the pull of seeing his dad at home, finally, was too great. He took off after PJ, his white lab coat flapping behind him. “I didn’t see him.”
“He flew in through the window with Papa Lex,” PJ said. “I saw them when I was outside in the back yard.”
They thundered up the stairs to the second floor of the large house and down the hallway to their parents’ bedroom. PJ reached the door first and flung it open wide. “Dad—”
Sam’s dad and Papa Lex were naked, Papa Lex lying on top of Dad, having sex on the bed. They scrambled to yank covers over them at the intrusion. “PJ! Knock first!” Papa Lex yelped.
“Like I wanted to be mooned by you. Eew!” PJ covered her eyes with her hands and stumbled out of the master bedroom. “I’m going to need therapy! I saw my dad’s butt!”
Sam blushed. He gave them an embarrassed smile. “Sorry. Glad your home, Dad. Bye.”
He left the room, closing the door behind him, and went to find PJ to commiserate with her, because eew was right.
Lex stepped out onto the snowy back porch and pulled his robe closed tighter against the early March chill. “Clark, what are you doing out here?”
Resting his forearms against the porch rail, Clark glanced over his shoulder at Lex before turning his gaze back to the night sky with a shrug. “Just thinking.”
“About?” Lex’s slippered feet crunched on the snow. He suppressed a shiver as he studied the downcast turn of Clark’s lips.
“Babies.” Clark sighed heavily. “Am I ever going to get pregnant? It’s been more than a year since you had your vasectomy reversed and still nothing.”
“We weren’t exactly overly intimate last year,” Lex said, casting a somber look towards the sky.
“I know.” Lex looked back at Clark, who played with a string on his robe sleeve. “But we’ve since made up – a lot. And I really want…”
Lex slid his arm around Clark’s shoulders. “You really want another child.”
Clark nodded and gave Lex a misery-laced smile. “I’ve taken to wishing on falling stars in order to get pregnant. Stupid, huh?”
“No.” Lex tugged Clark until they stood in a loose embrace. “I’ll make your wish come true, Clark. You’ll get pregnant. I promise.”
Clark rested his forehead against Lex’s and chuckled quietly. “You just want an excuse to have lots of sex.”
“Maybe I want an excuse to be close to you.” The smile the bloomed in response warmed Lex’s heart. He tilted his chin and kissed Clark tenderly. “Let’s go inside.”
“Okay,” Clark said, took Lex’s hand, and led the way back into each other’s arms.
Lex stepped out onto the snowy back porch and pulled his robe closed tighter against the early March chill. “Clark, what are you doing out here?”
Resting his forearms against the porch rail, Clark glanced over his shoulder at Lex before turning his gaze back to the night sky with a shrug. “Just thinking.”
“About?” Lex’s slippered feet crunched on the snow. He suppressed a shiver as he studied the downcast turn of Clark’s lips.
“Babies.” Clark sighed heavily. “Am I ever going to get pregnant? It’s been more than a year since you had your vasectomy reversed and still nothing.”
“We weren’t exactly overly intimate last year,” Lex said, casting a somber look towards the sky.
“I know.” Lex looked back at Clark, who played with a string on his robe sleeve. “But we’ve since made up – a lot. And I really want…”
Lex slid his arm around Clark’s shoulders. “You really want another child.”
Clark nodded and gave Lex a misery-laced smile. “I’ve taken to wishing on falling stars in order to get pregnant. Stupid, huh?”
“No.” Lex tugged Clark until they stood in a loose embrace. “I’ll make your wish come true, Clark. You’ll get pregnant. I promise.”
Clark rested his forehead against Lex’s and chuckled quietly. “You just want an excuse to have lots of sex.”
“Maybe I want an excuse to be close to you.” The smile the bloomed in response warmed Lex’s heart. He tilted his chin and kissed Clark tenderly. “Let’s go inside.”
“Okay,” Clark said, took Lex’s hand, and led the way back into each other’s arms.
Lex had retrieved the changing table, crib, and rocking chair out of storage. Clark had gotten yelled at for inhaling the fumes while painting the nursery. Jonathan had made them a new cradle, with Martha’s quilted baby blanket tucked inside. Sam and PJ had bought out a store’s worth of stuffed animals and toys. Lionel had drawn up the paperwork to add the new Luthor heir as beneficiary of his fortunes.
Daniel Elias Luthor came into the world on sunny afternoon at the tail end of July.
Clark watched hollowly as they lowered the tiny casket into the grave.
Hush, little baby, don’t say a word.
“Clark- Clark- oh god, Clark. He’s not breathing. He’s not breathing!”
“Shh. Don’t wake the baby. He’s sleeping.”
Papa’s gonna buy you a mocking bird.
“No-no-no-no-no-no. Don’t do this. Don’t take him from us. Don’t—”
“Mom? Mom? What did you do?”
And if that mocking bird don’t sing.
“Daniel. Daniel, wake up. Please, Daniel. Wake up. Wake up for daddy.”
“Shh. Dad has nothing to worry about, sweetheart. Julian’s happy now.”
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
“Nooohhh. Clark, nooohhh. It’s our baby. Our baby. Noohhhh.”
And if that—
“Hey, little brother,” PJ said, crouching in front of Daniel’s grave. She took a small teddy bear from her coat pocket and rattled the bell inside. “Look what I brought you for Christmas.”
Other small baby gifts sat at the base of the slate gray headstone. The bear snuggled between a stuffed bunny and a mechanical reindeer. She grinned when the reindeer’s nose began glowing red under the shade of her arm.
Her grin faded, as she brushed the snow clinging to the letters beneath her brother’s name. “I’m sorry our Dads didn’t come, but it would’ve been your first Christmas and they’re not coping too well.”
Depression hung along with the garland around the house. Home for college on winter break, PJ was witness to the daily grief her parents still felt by Daniel’s death. Daddy Clark was gone playing Superman more than he was home, and Papa Lex surfaced from the bottom of his liquor bottles only to work himself to exhaustion. They didn’t touch, slept apart, and barely spoke to each other or their family. It hurt PJ to see them that way.
Grandpa Lionel told her that only time would heal their pain, but it would never vanish completely. They’d carry the emotional scars forever. PJ could only pray that they’d turn to one another for comfort and eventually stop pushing everyone away.
“They do love you, though,” PJ said, her fingers tracing the words carved into the marble: Child of the Angels. “And we’re all hoping you’re having the best Christmas imaginable up in heaven.”
The December wind kicked up, blowing coldly, and PJ adjusted her hat over her ears. She rose from her crouch and stuffed her hands into her pockets. She looked at the gifts piled at the base of the headstone and smiled sadly. “Merry Christmas, Dan,” she said.
She turned and headed home.
"This will be my bedroom," Sam said, leading the way into another room in the unfurnished farmhouse.
"Dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad!" Sam ran as fast as his chubby little legs could carry him over to Clark and held his arms up in the air. "Up-up-up-up-up-up-up!"
"I'm not sure if I like the color, though." Sam brushed his fingers along the wall, then over the dark wood of the windowsill, wiping away a spiderweb in the corner. "Maybe I'll paint it blue, like my room at your house."
"Why don't lobsters make webs, Dad?" Sam stood on his toes and peered into the lobster tank at the grocery store. "They're from the same phylum as arachnids."
"The property spreads over four hundred acres." Sam looked out the sashed window. "I'll probably rent out the crop fields. The yard's big enough as it is, for me to maintain on my own."
"Daaad, I'm seven now. I can do it myself." Sam scowled and went back to work knotting a real tie, the clip on discarded on the floor.
"So, what do you think?" Sam asked, anxiousness for approval evident despite his feigned casualness.
"I love you, Dad. I'm gonna live with you forever and ever and ever!"
Clark tucked his sadness behind a smile and clasped Sam's shoulder affectionately. "It's a great house, Sam. I can tell that you'll be very happy living here."
Cold air buffeted Lex’s face as he peered into the freezer. Goosebumps rose on his skin under his t-shirt and pajama bottoms. The ice cream called to him, a late night snack to soothe his stress from the day. But he’d seen himself in the mirror that morning, wearing just his underwear. There had been spillage. His forty-seven year old ass wasn’t as taut as it used to be, no matter how much he exercised, and ice cream wouldn’t help stop the middle-aged spread.
Big feet slapped on the kitchen tile, familiar arms encircled his waist, and he leaned back against Clark’s chest. He received a kiss half on his ear, half on his cheek. “You’re home late,” Lex said.
“Yeah,” Clark agreed without explanation, which meant Superman had been busy. “Ice cream?”
“I was contemplating it,” Lex said. “My ass doesn’t think it’s a good idea.”
Lex wiggled his ass against Clark. “This rapidly fattening thing.”
The hands crossed over his stomach pulled him tighter against Clark’s body. “I like it big.”
Lex didn’t know whether to laugh or be offended. “Big?!”
“Hmm.” Clark turned him around suddenly, pushed him against the refrigerator, and waggled his eyebrows. “Gives me more to grab onto when I do this.”
Clark’s knees thumped on the tile floor as he dropped to the ground, bringing Lex’s pajama bottoms with him. Lex stared at Clark incredulously and then looked towards the swinging door to the kitchen. “Clark, PJ could come in at anyoohhhfuck.”
Clark chuckled around his mouthful. Lex cursed again, grabbed a fistful of Clark’s hair, and held onto the bobbing head. Cold encased his bare scalp from the open freezer, contrasting greatly with the inferno surrounding his dick. Clark hadn’t done this in a long time, which was horrible, because it felt so very good. He felt Clark’s hands on his naked ass, groping and squeezing. Clark’s tongue did something a human’s couldn’t do and Lex’s brain melted and exploded out his dick into Clark’s waiting mouth.
Clark slurped off Lex’s dick with an obscene amount of noise and smirked as he swallowed. Lex yanked him upright by his hair and panted into a kiss. Broad hands cupped Lex’s ass, holding him tight against Clark’s body. He could feel Clark’s erection straining against his suit trousers.
Clark broke the kiss, eyes darkened with arousal. “Upstairs. I want to demonstrate why else I love your ass.”
Lex’s spent dick twitched. Clark released him and with a seductive smile, left the kitchen. Quickly, Lex pulled up his pajama bottoms and made to follow. He paused halfway to the door, turned around, and fetched the ice cream from the freezer and a spoon.
He supposed he could live with the middle-aged spread.
Lex stood at the balustrade on the patio, overlooking the tented back yard, shirt-buttons open at the collar and tie in his pocket. Flowers wilted and streamers sagged above empty tables and chairs. The cleaners swept stray programs, wedding favors, and lost items off the dance floor. The deejay packed his equipment and the bartender boxed half-empty bottles. The last of the guests had left, Clark had flown off to help the Justice League with some emergency, and PJ’s plane would be taxing down the runway, taking her and her husband on their honeymoon and embarking their new life together.
Lex looked at his son, as Sam joined him on the patio. “I thought you’d gone home.”
“I figured I’d see if you needed help.” Sam leaned his forearms on the balustrade. His wedding tuxedo was still neat; his short red hair artfully gelled by PJ’s hairstylist. “I was thinking of going to the lab, anyway.”
“It’s not like someone’s waiting for me at home,” Sam said frankly.
Lex studied Sam. He didn’t see his elder child much anymore. Sam was thirty-two, an adult, and his own person. He didn’t share his private life with his parents.
Lex wasn’t sure how to ask if Sam was okay. Clark was the nurturing one. Lex helped with the work-type things and in protecting his children. What Lex did know he’d gleaned from PJ, and that was that Sam would spend twenty-four/seven in his lab if he didn’t have his sister bothering him all the time.
“Do you think I’ll ever have this?” Sam spoke quietly, looking out into the decorated backyard.
Lex heard two layers to Sam’s inquiry. He mimicked Sam’s pose and answered the deeper question. “If PJ can find someone to put up with her, anyone can.”
“I think she beat Mark until he gave in.”
“She’ll hogtie someone for you, if you’d want.”
“I’m not that desperate.” Sam pushed off the balustrade. “You sure you don’t need me?”
“No. Everything’s covered,” Lex said.
“Then, I’m taking off,” Sam said. “Tell Dad I said goodnight.”
“I will.” Lex turned to watch Sam walk towards the house. “Sam?”
Sam stopped and looked back.
“You tell me when, and I’ll make it happen,” Lex said, motioning to the wedding cleanup behind him.
Sam gave him a smile that was pure Clark. “What makes you think I’ll be the bride?”
PJ’s First Thanksgiving
“PJ, it’s okay.”
“It’s not okay! What about this can possibly be okay, Mark? My parents and Sam are going to be here any minute and I burned the turkey!”
“We can order something.”
“Order something from where? It’s Thanksgiving. Nobody’s open on Thanksgiving.”
“Somebody’s bound to be for reasons just like this. Why don’t you call Lionel? He’d probably know. Didn’t you say he never celebrates Thanksgiving when you invited him.”
“Yes. Yes, he did. Good plan. I knew I married you for a reason. I’ll go call him. Where’s my cell phone?”
“Bedroom. Doorbell. Oh God, please let there be a restaurant open on Thanksgiving.”
Seated on soft pillows on the floor around a low, rectangular table, PJ leaned against her newly wedded husband and smiled, as the laughter from her family filled the paper-screened room. Sushi wasn’t exactly the same as turkey-and-stuffing, but it wasn’t the food that mattered anyway.
“Happy Thanksgiving, everyone,” Mark said, raising his saki in a toast.
“I’d rather them believe that than Dad following through on his threat of castration.”
“He might anyway; this is Papa Lex we’re talking about.”
“They’re the ones who had me moved in with Mark before the ink dried on our marriage certificate. What did they think was going to happen?”
“Ha. True. You’d think they’d stop believing that after the eight times they caught me having sex.”
“Dad kept flying over to my dorm unannounced.”
“He never did that to me.”
“That’s because he doesn’t think you have sex.”
“It’s true. I was listening to them argue after I told them about the baby—”
“You shouldn’t eavesdrop through the walls.”
“How else am I supposed to know anything? Anyway, Dad said that at least you were male and then Daddy Clark reminded him that you could still get pregnant, and after Papa Lex stopped hyperventilating, Dad said it still shouldn’t be an issue because you’re an eunuch.”
“He did not call me an eunuch.”
“Close enough. They’re reassured that you never leave the lab and are too nerdy to pick up guys.”
“Oh, really? Tell you what: when they start in on Mark at dinner next Saturday, I’ll make sure to mention the orgy I attended last week in celebration of completing another project.”
“You did not attend an orgy.”
“Six dicks make an orgy, Peej.”
“Only if they’re real, not rubber.”
“Do you want me to go into detail about the tightness—”
“Eew! Shut up. I don’t want to picture you having sex.”
“You’re the one who says I need to get laid all the time.”
“Yes, but I don’t want to hear the details. You’re my brother. You only have immaculate consextion.”
“I guess it’s better than being an eunuch.”
Lex unhooked his watch as he came out of the bathroom, dressed in his pajamas pants. Bare-chested, Clark sat in bed, propped against a pillow, an open book in his hands. The lurid cover drew Lex’s attention. “What in the world are you reading?” he asked, dropping his watch on the dresser.
“Bedtime Stories: 101 Ways to Spice Up Your Relationship.”
Lex walked over to the bed and tilted the book cover so he could see it better. A man and a woman, either in the throes of passion or having thrown their backs, tangled together on deep red sheets. “Where did you get this?”
“Wally,” Clark replied, eyes flicking back and forth as he continued reading. “Apparently, I must be having trouble getting laid, since I’ve been ‘too tense’ lately. Now I have a hundred and one ways to fix that problem.”
Lex’s brow creased. “It’s a problem?”
Clark didn’t lower the book. “Not really.”
Lex pressed his lips together and looked at the book cover again. They hadn’t been the most intimate recently, but they’d been extremely busy with their respective jobs, not to mention the slate of emergencies needing Superman’s attention that took him away at night. So, Lex no longer wore silk pajamas and the worn-cotton ones didn’t hide the fact that he was fifty-six. It wasn’t as if he’d become inadequate at sex because he’d grown older. At least, he didn’t think he was inadequate, but what if Clark—
“Whatever it is you’re thinking, it’s not true.”
“I’m not thinking anything, Cla—aah!” Lex was tumbled onto the bed without warning. He shifted and scowled up at Clark. “Don’t do that. You know I hate it. You’re knee’s digging into my back.”
Clark shifted his knee and tossed the book aside. Half-hovering over Lex, he smiled devilishly. “Do you want to know what spicy things I’ve learned?”
“Don’t be huffy.”
“I’m not huffy.” Lex was put out; there was a difference.
Clark contorted in a way no fifty-year-old human would be able to, sliding his arm behind Lex’s shoulder and cupping Lex’s head with his other hand. His legs stretched underneath Lex. “I promise it’ll be good spice,” he said, and lowered his mouth.
“What if I like vanilla?” Lex mumbled against Clark’s lips. Clark rose up slightly, with a questioning lift of his brow. Lex felt defensive. “I don’t appreciate your assumptions that I’m willing to do anything. Maybe I prefer plain, old, boring sex.”
“Flat on your back, with your legs in the air, thinking about England?”
Lex’s face darkened and he shoved at Clark. “Get off.”
“I’m kidding,” Clark said, though he released Lex.
Lex moved to his own side of the bed. A sharp edge poked his ass and he pulled the book out from under him. He contained his desire to throw it at the wall and, instead, dropped it on Clark’s lap with a glare that hopefully hid his hurt. He shut off the lamp on the night table, curled on his side with his back to Clark, and glowered sullenly at the far wall. He hadn’t known Clark was that dissatisfied with their sex life. He’d thought they were fine. Married people did it less; it was a simple fact. They had old toys in the closet to show that they’d tried spicy already, and that they were boxed away proved his and Clark’s sexual preferences.
He heard Clark sigh heavily behind him and the other lamp clicked off. He tensed when the familiar body curved against his, fitting to him like a jigsaw piece. “Love you,” Clark murmured, lips brushing the bare skin of Lex’s head.
Lex grunted and didn’t move into or out of the embrace. Darkness enshrouded them.
Clark sighed again, breath hot against Lex’s scalp. “I didn’t mean to imply our sex life was bad. The book was a joke. What I read, I’d thought you’d enjoy, that’s all. It had nothing to do with your prowess.”
So, it did have to do with his skill. Lex’s eyes narrowed. We’ll see about that. In one smooth move, he had Clark pinned on his back, and with a feral smile, plundered Clark’s surprised mouth. He pressed his hips flush to Clark’s and rubbed in slow circles. Clark hardened beneath his boxers. A soft sound emitted from his throat as Lex stole his breath away.
Lex dragged his lips from Clark’s and mouthed sharp kisses down his jawline. He shifted, bringing their erections into alignment, side by side. Clark’s hips rose to meet Lex’s firm thrusts. The thin layers of cotton between them didn’t hinder their falling into rhythm with ease.
Lex lifted his head and stared down at Clark. His eyes had adjusted to the darkness and he watched as passion built, flushing Clark’s cheeks, short pants coming from between slackened lips. He grit his teeth as his balls lifted, his body racing towards climax. He drove harder against Clark, trying to push Clark over the edge first.
Clark’s breath hitched and his eyes slammed shut, but Lex had already lost. Lex’s neck strained, his hands tightening around Clark’s wrists, his heart hammering in his chest. Sweat curved behind his ears. Dots swam behind his tightly squeezed eyelids as his orgasm rushed through him, stealing the air from his lungs. His body shook, cock pulsing, staining his pajamas with come.
Mouth dry and chest heaving, Lex opened his eyes, his lower body bouncing as Clark continued thrusting against him. Clark’s lips were pulled back in a snarl, his face red with the strain of reaching for the end. Lex dug his toes in the bed, shoring up his body, and the firm surface sent Clark into a frenetic pace.
With a couple hard knocks of their hips, Clark came with a wordless cry. Lex kept his smug smile inward and waited for Clark to catch his breath. He ended up on his back with a surprised squawk that was cut off by a messy kiss.
“Was that plain, old, boring sex?” Clark murmured in a roughened voice, affection shining clearly in his gaze. “If so, I kind of like it.”
“Kind of?” Lex almost got defensive again, but then Clark licked a droplet of sweat trailing down his neck and his arousal stirred again, instead.
“Mmn,” Clark hummed against Lex’s skin and rubbed his still semi-hard cock against Lex’s thigh. “I’m going to have to do it a bunch of times to see if I really like it or not.”
“Experimentation is the key to good science,” Lex agreed, tilting his head to give Clark more access. His hands slid around Clark’s shoulders, tugging him closer.
Clark settled over him like a warm blanket. Lex could feel his semen-damp pajamas sticking to him, but didn’t care. “Love you,” Clark said again, and Lex sighed contentedly into a kiss. There was a reason he liked vanilla sex, and it had nothing to do with the sex itself. He’d burn the book in the morning.
After he read it, of course. There could be few spices he may like to try…
Lex came in through the kitchen door attached to the garage after work. "Hey," he said, hanging his car keys on a peg-board with a lopsided cat painted on it in rainbow colors, a gift from their granddaughter Allison.
"Hi," Clark said, standing by the stove. Steam rose from the pots on the burner. "Dinner will be ready in a half-hour."
"Okay." Lex picked up the mail off the kitchen table and headed upstairs. He flipped through the mail and, not seeing anything important, tossed it on the dresser in the master bedroom. His briefcase went in the corner and he went into the walk-in closet to change out of his suit.
Dressed comfortably in loose trousers and a long-sleeved shirt, Lex freshened up, then went back downstairs and set the table. "How was work?" he asked, pouring himself a glass of wine.
"Work-like." Clark carried dinner over to the table. "Lois is going nuts over the new tollway lease proposal. Everyone, including the Mayor's dog, is supposedly getting kickbacks from it."
"Am I for or against the lease?"
Clark shrugged. "Too early to say. I'll let you know."
After dinner, Lex did the dishes and joined Clark in the den. He settled into the corner of the worn leather sofa, propped his sock-clad feet on the coffee table, and watched the images flicker past on the screen as Clark channel surfed. "Want to watch One to One?" Clark said.
Clark brought up the pre-recorded show, turned up the volume, and dropped the remote on the seat between them. Lex was lulled by the drama on the screen and he slipped into a doze. Clark woke him up when it was time for bed, and Lex followed him tiredly upstairs. He changed into his pajamas, brushed his teeth, and slid into bed.
Clark finished getting ready for bed, shut off the light, and climbed in beside him. "Night."
"Night," Lex said, snuggling into the pillow.
"Love you, too."
Clark shifted in the bed beside him, the covers rustling. When he settled, Lex moved his foot until it was touching Clark's ankle, exhaled slowly, and slipped off to sleep.
A Match Made With Pasta
Sam looked at his watch and sighed in defeat. He’d been stood up. Again. He rose, dug out his wallet, and dropped a ten on the table for his coffee. He knew it had been a mistake to say yes. He really needed to stop allowing PJ to set him up on blind dates; they never worked out, anyway. He snagged his coat off the back of the chair and turned to go.
And, promptly, smacked into the waiter carrying a tray full of food.
Sam’s lightening reflexes caught the waiter and steadied him before he fell, but it was too late to stop the forward momentum of the dishes. He watched as a plate of pasta with dark red sauce executed a twirl and a flip, and landed face down in someone’s lap.
“Oh, geez.” Sam’s face flamed. The din of the lunch crowd quieted as all eyes focused on the spectacle he’d caused. The victim of his klutziness lifted the plate from his lap and set it on the table. Noodles and red sauce clung to the front of his dress shirt, tie, and trousers.
Sam grabbed a napkin from the table and began wiping the guy’s shirt. “I’m so sorry.” He was such a spazzoid, as his sister still called him at age thirty-eight. The pasta sauce smeared further, staining the white shirt bright red, undoubtedly matching his heated cheeks.
A strong hand enclosed his wrist and he looked up into eyes the color of polished amber. The guy had blond hair cropped in a business cut and dimples in his cheeks caused by his smile. “It’s okay. It was an accident.”
Sam didn’t think he could be more embarrassed, but then he realized he was cleaning off a stranger’s lap. “Sorry.”
The guy let go of his wrist. “I said it’s okay.”
“Yeah, but… oh, geez.” Sam put the dirty napkin on the table, got out his wallet, and gave the guy one of his business cards. “Here. Just send me the cleaning bill for your suit. I’ll pay for lunch, too.”
The manager came up to the table, looking horrified. He addressed the pasta-stained man. “Sir, my apologies. If there is anything we can do—”
“I’m taking care of it,” Sam said. “If you’ll total up his bill for me, plus anything else they’d like for lunch, I’d appreciate it.”
“Very good. Charles,” the manager indicated to the waiter, “if you’d please.”
The waiter set the surviving dishes on the table and prepared to take another order. Sam followed the manager. He glanced over his shoulder and saw the blond guy watching after him. He blushed furiously in embarrassment.
Sam settled up with the bill, apologizing profusely to the manager the entire time. Finally, he escaped the restaurant. He ducked into the alley between buildings, leaned against the wall, and buried his face in his hands with a loud groan of despair. “You are such a strawberry fruit chew,” he mumbled to himself.
He dropped his hands, glanced out the alley, and saw Rick Swanson saunter past. He knew immediately that was whom his sister had set him up with; Rick had been trying to get into his pants for months. He pressed against the brick wall, trying to make himself invisible. He thanked his lucky stars that Rick had been late. He wasn’t that desperate.
Making sure no one was watching, Sam took flight and landed nimbly on the rooftop of LexCorp Tower a few seconds later. He entered through the hidden door on the roof and rode the private elevator down to the labs in the sub-basement level. He exchanged weak hellos with his coworkers as he walked down the halls to his office. He barricaded himself inside, exchanged his winter coat for his lab coat, and picked up the phone.
“I take it the date didn’t go well,” PJ said over the phone line.
“It didn’t go at all,” Sam said, dropping into his swivel chair behind the desk. “Rick was late, and it’s good thing, too, or I’d have to take a contract out on you.”
“Shut up. Why the hell did you set me up with him?”
“You need to get laid, Sam, and Rick is a sure thing.”
Sam sputtered. “I can’t believe you, you- you pimp!”
“I was doing you a favor. You’re wound too tight again. The Dads are worried about you. No, I don’t care what excuses Gigerton gives, I want the final project data in my hands before six tonight.”
Sam scrubbed his hand through his short, red hair as PJ spouted more orders to her secretary. “They don’t need to be worried. I’m fine,” he interjected when she paused for a breath.
“Last time you said that, you blew up your lab with you still in it.”
Sam felt his cheeks heating at the humiliating reminder. “It was an accident.”
“One that wouldn’t have happened if you went home at night like normal people do,” PJ said. He could hear her fingers clacking on a keyboard. “Speaking of normal people, I need to go. Rebecca and Allie have a half-day at school and I promised we’d go ice skating.”
“Promise me you won’t stay in the lab all night?”
“Peej, I have a lot of work—”
“I’m CEO of LuthorCorp and even I can make time to leave the office.”
Yeah, but she had a husband and two kids waiting for her at home. Sam had a dead fish.
“Sam,” PJ drew out his name in her mother-voice. “Promise?”
“Fine. I’ll leave at ten.”
“Seven.” Sam sighed. “I hate you.”
“The feeling’s mutual, nerd-boy.” PJ made kissing sounds and disconnected without a goodbye.
Sam hung up, dropped his head back, and stared at the ceiling. Talking to PJ always made him feel both happy and sad at the same time. She cheered him up, but never failed to remind him that he was alone. It wasn’t as if it were his fault; he hadn’t planned on being single still at his age. He just got overly involved in his work and time passed before he knew it. Besides, it wasn’t like he was all that attractive. He was nerd-boy, after all: pale, skinny, with clown-red hair and freckles. It wasn’t as if he could show off his alien-inherited abilities, either, to gain the interest of other gay men, and there was a difference between casual sex and being in a relationship, so he had to be picky.
Sam pretended he wasn’t lying to himself and then gave his chair a push. He wheeled over to his drafting table and went to work on the schematics for his current project.
The buzz of the intercom startled him and he scratched a line on the blueprint. Scowling, he used the erasing plate to remove the pencil mark. The intercom buzzed again. With a nudge of the chair, he rolled over to his desk and picked up the phone. “Sam Kent.”
“Mr. Kent, there’s a visitor here to see you. A Mr. Andrew Elliott.”
Sam recognized the front desk security officer’s voice. He didn’t recognize the visitor’s name, though. “I’ll be right up,” he said. It wasn’t wise to let unknown people into the labs, Papa Lex had drilled that into his head. Corporate espionage was a common threat (though usually the person worked for PJ).
A glance at his watch made him wince. It was already past seven. He’d bet this person did work for PJ and was checking up to see if he’d left like he’d promised her. He rode the elevator up to the lobby level, prepared to have security throw the guy out on his ear. He saw the back of a tall man, wearing jeans and a lambs wool jacket, standing near the front desk in the otherwise empty lobby, when he got off the elevator. He nodded to the security officer as he approached. “Hello, I’m Sam Kent. You wanted to see me?”
The man turned around and, promptly, Sam tripped over his feet. He was caught and steadied by the guy, whose dimples caught the shadows when he grinned. “Hello again.”
It was the guy from the restaurant. Sam flushed in embarrassment. “Um, sorry to fall into you like that. At least there was no pasta.” Sam tugged on the lapels of his lab coat. “Uh… do you have a cleaning bill for me?”
“No need for one. I didn’t like that suit anyway.” Andrew Elliott held out his hand. “I’m Drew, by the way.”
Sam shook Drew’s hand. “I’m Sam, which you know already. I gave you my card. Which you also know already and why you’re here.” He was such a dork! However, he was a confused dork. “Actually, why are you here? If you don’t have a cleaning bill, that is.”
“Since my lunch was ruined, I thought you’d might like to make it up to me by taking me to dinner,” Drew said.
“Sure. Of course. I should’ve offered to do that myself.” Sam glanced around the lobby. “Is the other person here, too? I owe them a meal, as well.”
“I usually don’t invite my brother to come on dates with me,” Drew said with a smile.
Sam jerked his gaze back to Drew. “Date?”
“Yes, a date.” Drew’s smile faded. “Unless you’re not interested—”
“No! Yes! No. No, I mean…” Sam took a breath and stopped stammering. “I’m interested.”
Drew’s smile returned. “Good. I was hoping you’d say that.”
“Really?” Sam refrained from smacking himself in the face at how pathetic he sounded. “Never mind. I just didn’t expect… I spilled pasta on you and ruined your suit and otherwise made a fool of myself, just like I am right now.”
“I don’t know. I think you’re doing just fine,” Drew said, dimples deepening.
Despite what PJ said, Sam didn’t need to get hit with a brick to understand when someone was interested in him. Drew was definitely interested. “Um, okay. Let me get my coat. I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll be right here,” Drew said.
Sam smiled tentatively and headed back to the elevators. He saw Drew watching him as he stepped inside and pressed the button. Drew winked right as the doors slid closed.
Sam felt his stomach flip. He had a date. A real date, not something PJ pimped. An actual date with someone who was really interested in him, even after he’d acted like a complete klutz and a total spaz.
Maybe he should throw pasta at guys more often.
Sucker for You
“So, this is my house.” Sam led Drew inside the two-storey farm home thirty miles east of Metropolis. It was the first time Drew had been to Sam’s place; they usually went to Drew’s apartment since it was closer to everything.
“It’s nice,” Drew said, tossing his coat on the arm of the couch in the living room.
“My grandma decorated it.” Sam hung up his coat and looked around, hoping not to see anything embarrassing lying out.
Drew peered into the fifty-gallon fish tank set up beside the bookshelf. “Did you know you have a dead oscar in here?”
“Yeah.” Sam bent to look in the tank. The astronotus ocellatus floated on the surface of the murky water, decomposing slowly. “He’s been dead for a while.”
“And he’s still in there?”
Sam shrugged, their shoulders brushing. “I didn’t know what to do with him. He’s too big to flush and he was a gift from my sister, so I wouldn’t be alone.”
“I doubt she wanted a fish corpse to keep you company.”
Sam’s cheeks heated. “Probably not.”
Drew straightened. “Do you have a net?”
Sam retrieved the fish net and gave it to Drew. “What are you doing?”
“We’re going to bury your fish.”
Outside, Sam dug a shallow hole with a garden shovel he’d taken from the garage. Drew dropped the fish inside and Sam covered him up with dirt. Sam dusted his hands off on his jeans and pretended he didn’t feel badly for his dead fish. “Now what?”
“It’s usually appropriate to say a few words.” In the fading twilight, Drew folded his hands, the green net dripping onto his skin. “Tonight, we pay our last respects to our dearly departed friend…” He leaned closer and staged whispered to Sam, “What was the fish’s name?”
“Oscar,” Sam said.
Drew continued solemnly. “Oscar, the Oscar Fish. He was a grouchy fish, who loved to talk trash and live in it—”
Sam smothered a laugh.
“—but he was still a friend,” Drew said. “Now, sadly, we must say goodbye to you, as you have gone to that giant fish-tank in the sky. Swim in peace, Oscar.”
“Swim in peace,” Sam echoed.
They were both silent a moment. Sam glanced at Drew, whose lips were pressed tight and shoulders shaking. Sam broke out in a grin. “Swim in peace?”
Drew threw his head back and laughed.
Sam jumped when the doorbell rang, sloshing water onto the floor. He was cleaning the empty fish tank and wasn’t expecting anyone, especially at this late hour. Opening the front door, he was surprised, and pleased, to see Drew standing on his porch with his hands behind his back. “Hey! What are you doing here?”
“Can’t a man come and visit his lover whenever he wants?” Drew flashed his dimples, leaned in, and pressed a kiss to Sam’s lips.
“Of course,” Sam murmured, returning the kiss. He stepped back, allowing Drew inside. “I just wasn’t expecting to see you tonight.”
“I happened to be in the neighborhood,” Drew said. It was a lie; Sam didn’t live anywhere close to anything. He usually flew into work. “I also have something for you.”
“You do?” Sam said.
Drew moved his hands from behind his back. Gripped in one fist was a clear, water-filled bag with two hypostmus plecostomi floating at the bottom. “Meet Burt and Ernie.”
A grin spread across Sam’s face and his cheeks warmed in pleasure. “Sucker fish? Are you trying to tell me something?”
“I suppose I am,” Drew drawled, his dimples deepening. “I’m a complete sucker for you.”
“What does he do again?”
“He’s the girls baskeball coach at Met U.”
“Sam’s not into sports. Or girls.”
“I’m sure neither are a problem.”
“He never comes out of the lab, and yet he finds a way to meet this guy who has nothing in common with him.”
“It’s called serendipity.”
“It’s called gold-digging.”
“How? Sam hasn't brought anyone home to meet us in ten years. This is serious.”
“Yes, it is. Which means he wouldn’t pick someone untrustworthy.”
“So, you’re saying this Drew guy is probably a good person and I should quit fretting.”
“Fine. I’ll try.”
“Did you complete the background investigation on him?”
“It’s on the nightstand.”
“I’ve changed my mind. Let’s do something fun. I hear Suicide Slums is lovely this time of night.”
“Your parents are expecting us.”
“My parents are insane.”
“You’re being melodramatic.”
“I’m being truthful.”
“They can’t be that bad.”
“They seem normal on the outside, but they’re really Spanish Inquisitors in disguise.”
“Not the comfy chair!”
“I’m serious. The last time I brought someone he home excused himself to use the bathroom and I never saw him again.”
“And exactly how many other men have you brought home to meet the folks?”
“One. Ten years ago. It was a disaster, just like tonight will be.”
“Sam, I’ll be okay. I promise. I coach pms-ing girls for a living. I can handle whatever your parents throw at me.”
“Just… always tell the truth, because Papa Lex will have done a background check on you and won’t ask questions he doesn’t know the answer to already. And if he says to call him Lex, call him Lex or he’ll think you’re sucking up. But if Dad says to call him Clark, call him Mr. Kent, because it’s a sign of respect for your elders.”
“What if it’s Lex who says to call Clark by his first name?”
“Stop smiling like I’m a cute puppy and listen. Papa Lex will, at some point, try to pay you to go away.”
“Now that’s just not on.”
“You’d be surprised at how many of PJ's suitors took the money and left. Then again, it’s PJ. I’d run without being paid if I could.”
“I’m gonna tell her you said that.”
“You won’t if you value our sex life.”
“Good point. Any other warnings you’d like to give before we beard the lions in their den?”
“It’s not too late to leave.”
“It was too late the moment you threw pasta on my favorite shirt.”
“I guess we should go in.”
“Okay. But one more thing: if my Dad brings out apple pie for dessert, I’ll say something about PJ to distract them while you run for the car.”
“The wholesomeness is a trick to get your guard down. Trust me and run.”
“All right, but I’m taking you with me.”
“I hope you always do.”
Samuel Kent, Mr. Andrew Elliott came to learn, did not see the world like other people. Objects were defined by measurements and schematics, not function and color. Categorizing people was more difficult, assigning numbers to personality not as accurate as shape and design, and thus the reason why Sam spent most of his time alone in his lab. Intangible things, like romantic feelings, defied scientific logic completely and made Sam anxious, unknowingly causing him to sabotage his relationships.
But Drew caught on, and all it took was a single scrawled equation for Sam to fully comprehend:
SK + AE = ♥
PJ found Sam and Drew in the kitchen pantry, kissing passionately, with Drew's hand down the front of Sam's tuxedo pants. She grossed herself out by finding it kind of hot. Seeing two men kissing was hot, but this was her brother and she'd have to dunk her head in acid when she got home. She cleared her throat loudly and forgave them a little bit for causing her trauma when they both blushed at being caught. "They're setting up for you guys to cut the cake."
"Oh. Okay," Sam said, pulling Drew's hand out of his pants with as much finesse as possible. "We'll be right out."
"Just make sure you wash your hands, first." PJ laughed as Drew turned even pinker with discomfort and she closed the pantry door again. She'd tell the wedding coordinator to give them ten more minutes before making any announcements.
A muffled moan drifted past her ears.
She'd better make it twenty.
"It's not funny." Sam whapped his new husband with the pillow, as Drew rolled with laughter beside him. The bed they were on was tilted at a crazy angle. "This is our honeymoon! Everything's supposed to be perfect and sexy and so satiating that we can no longer move. There's not supposed to be Montezuma's Revenge, or overflowing toilets, or bugs in our room!"
"Don't forget the showerhead you broke that flooded the bathroom," Drew said between snickers.
"Thank you very much for reminding me," Sam sniped. "While you're at it, let's rub in my humiliating trip-and-fall routine that broke the bed." He smacked Drew with the pillow again.
The pillow exploded.
There was a second of disbelieving silence before Drew bellowed in laughter. Sam slumped in defeat. White eiderdown feathers floated around them, caught up in the overhead whirr of the ceiling fan. "This honeymoon sucks," Sam said.
Drew wiped the tears of mirth from his reddened face, stray chuckles still escaping as he tried to calm down. "It’ll definitely be something we won't forget."
"But we're supposed to remember it for the sex. Honeymoon sex is supposed to be the best sex we'll ever have."
"Anytime we have sex, it's the best sex I've ever had." Drew sat up, bits of feathers clinging to his skin and hair. "Stop winding yourself up over nothing." He started picking the feathers off his chest.
Sam went abnormally silent and when Drew looked up, he saw a soppy, lopsided smile gracing Sam's lips. "What?" Drew said.
"Nothing." Sam crawled over, straddled Drew's legs, and wrapped his arms around Drew's neck. Drew's hands came automatically around him. "Just love you, that's all."
"The feelings quite mutual." Drew sank back onto the remaining pillows, pulling Sam down with him. "Now, why don't we see if we can break this bed some more?"
Thirty-seven years. Clark stood at the bathroom sink in his pajama shorts, brushing his teeth, looking at his reflection in the mirror. He’d woken up at the alarm to the beginning of his thirty-seventh year with Lex. Thirty-seven years with the same person, loving, laughing, fighting, fornicating, and facing life together. It was hard to believe it had been so long, yet it felt like it had been only yesterday he was sitting in a theater, telling Lex that he loved him.
Clark couldn’t picture his life being anything but how it was, with Lex and their children and grandchildren. Sometimes, he’d fantasize about having sex with someone else. Occasionally, he developed crushes and basked in their attention. But he never allowed it to go further, never really thought seriously about having an affair. Lex had his heart, and that far outstripped any physical needs.
“Morning,” Lex grunted, eyes barely open, pillow creases lining his aging face. He knocked into Clark as he walked by, yawn cracking his jaw and scratching his cotton-clad ass, as he schlepped tiredly towards the toilet.
Clark grinned around his toothbrush at the mirror.
Thirty-seven years, and all he could think of was wanting more.
“Did you ever regret it?” Sam floated beside his dad, watching the colors of the sky change in the breaking dawn. Checkered fields of corn and wheat spread before them. “Do you wish you could go back and make a different choice?”
“No,” Clark said firmly, immediately. “No matter how much it hurt to lose Dan, it was love that created him to begin with and I can’t ever regret that.”
Sam rubbed his lower lip, staring off into the horizon. “I don’t think I could handle what you and Papa Lex went through. I’m already older than you were when Dan—”
“Sam.” Clark floated in front of Sam and laid his hands on Sam’s shoulders. “I won’t lie and say everything will be fine. We both know that you’re half-human and that makes you having a child a big risk as it is. But don’t use your age or what happened with Dan as an excuse. You don’t have to have children.”
“I know.” Sam looked down at his and Drew’s house, far below. “But it feels like I’m wasting this great gift. Almost any gay person would give their right arm to be able to have biological children with their spouses.”
“And there are people out there who have children that shouldn’t, but did because it’s expected of them or believe they were mistakes.”
“Wasn’t I one of those mistakes?”
“Never,” Clark replied fiercely, his hands tightening on Sam’s shoulders. “An accident, yes. A surprise, definitely. But you were made with love and I’ve never once regretted you, either.”
The corners of Sam’s eyes stung. “Dad…”
Clark blinked his eyes several times and cleared his throat. “You and Drew need to decide if you want a child, not me, or your dad, or your grandparents, or friends, or anybody else. Your happiness is what matters most.”
Sam took a deep breath and let it out slowly, with a smile. “Thanks, Dad.”
Clark squeezed his shoulders with an answering smile and drifted beside him again.
The sun rose over the horizon, painting the world with its radiant glow as a new day was born.
Lex didn't deserve the praise he was getting from the newspapers, television, and radio reporters. It had been more of a senior moment than a heroic one. He'd forgotten his briefcase again (Sam kept threatening to put legs on it to follow Lex out the door, which Lex was seriously pondering taking him up on) and had gone back to get it. He'd stumbled upon the terrorist completely by accident on the way out the door, cracked the guy over the head with his retrieved briefcase, and called the police. So, he might have unintentionally saved upwards of 25,000 people who worked in LexCorp Tower I, but then so did the police who arrested the guy and the bomb squad who'd defused the bomb.
"Should I be fitting you for a superhero uniform?" Clark teased mercilessly, sitting in the deck chair beside Lex, watching the sun sink lower in the horizon.
"You may still look good in spandex, but I'd blind people that way."
"Oh, I don't know." Clark waggled his graying brows over the rim of his lemonade glass. "Maybe you should try it out and see."
Later, a naked Lex tied a makeshift cape around his neck and tackled a laughing Clark on the bed. He kissed Clark silent and demonstrated that he was nothing more than a man wearing a sheet.
But the praise he received after that was well deserved.
Clark was surprised to find Lex on his knees, sorting through a storage container. “I thought one of the kids got up here,” he said, crossing the finished attic to the area where old toys were stored. “What are you looking for?”
“The Warrior Angel Intergalactic Federation playset,” Lex replied. He indicated to a small pile of action figures on the floor with an age-roughened hand. “I’ve found all of the action figures, but not the station. I wanted to let Marcus play with it.”
“Um, Marcus may not be interested.” Clark crouched beside Lex, knees creaking. He brushed a strand of gray hair off his trouser leg and picked up one of the action figures. “These guys don’t do anything.”
“That’s the point, Clark,” Lex said, tugging at something in the storage container. His bifocals slid to the tip of his nose. “He’ll have to use his imagination. I won’t have my great grandchild become an uncreative lump.”
“Matthew isn’t a lump.”
“Matthew needs to return to the hell dimension from which he was spawned.”
“I’m going to tell Rebecca you said that,” Clark teased.
“You don’t think she agrees with me?” Lex yanked out a latched playset with a triumphant smile. “Got you.”
Clark closed the lid of the storage container and pushed it onto the shelf. He helped Lex to his feet and then gathered the action figures to take with them downstairs. “If Marcus won’t play with you, I will.”
A corner of Lex’s mouth quirked, as he pushed his glasses into place. “I might take you up on that.”
Clark curved an arm around Lex’s shoulders and whispered in his ear. “And maybe later, we can play in our bedroom.”
“Maybe,” Lex said with a twinkle in his eye. “Depends on if you wear the uniform or not.”
Clark rubbed an age-spotted hand over his pudgy middle. “I’m not so much the Man of Steel anymore.”
“Some places you are.”
Clark felt a pinch on his butt and squeaked.
Lex’s laughter escorted them downstairs to where their family await.
Sam watched his dad move around the bedroom, looking far older than he remembered. White hair graced Clark’s head and deep lines made from sorrow, worry, love, and laughter carved his face. Sam couldn’t talk, though; his own once-vibrant red hair was now a dull gray and his freckles blended with age spots. “I think it’s great that you’re going on a trip. You haven’t gone anywhere since Papa Lex died.”
“I’ve had a lot to do to get ready,” Clark said, attaching the cape to his Superman costume. The faded costume sagged in places and wore tight in others, showing its age.
I’m sorry that I deceived you, but you probably knew what I was planning before I even left. You are part-Luthor, after all
“Where are you going?” Sam asked. “How long will you be gone?”
“Hey, aren’t I supposed to be the parent?” Clark smiled and picked up a slip of paper off the dresser. “Here’s the password from the safe. I left money in there for the paperboy. He should be by after school.”
Don’t be sad, or angry, that I chose to take this path. Lex helped me plan it and now it’s time for me to go.
Clark gave Sam the slip of paper and then tugged him into a tight hug that set off alarm bells in Sam’s mind. “What’s going on, Dad?”
“Nothing.” Clark pulled back and clapped Sam on the shoulder. “Tell Drew I said goodbye.”
Everything is in order, so you shouldn’t have any trouble with the Will. Watch out for Rebecca’s ex appearing out of the woodwork. She’ll need help dealing with him.
Sam tucked the password in his plaid shirt pocket and followed Clark out the sliding glass door onto the small porch. The sun shone brightly overhead, coloring the yard in vibrant hues.
Clark looked up at the clear blue sky, a serene smile on his lips. “It’s a good day for a fly.”
“That it is,” Sam agreed.
I love you, Sam. With my abilities and everything that I did during this life, having you was the greatest thing of all. Take care of everyone for me.
Clark glanced at Sam with suspiciously damp eyes and lifted his fist towards the sky. “Goodbye,” he said, and launched into the air.
Sam tilted his head back and watched his father fly higher and higher until he disappeared into the ocean of the sky. A tear rolled down his cheek. “Goodbye, Dad.”