Repaid As Friendship

Jonathan Kent studied the gold-framed painting on the dark-paneled wall. It was most likely an original and cost more than the Kent holdings were worth. The landscape was beautiful, Jon had to admit, though it should be hanging in an art museum and not in the foyer of Luthor Manor. Jon himself would rather be in an art museum than Luthor Manor, but after his earlier confrontation with the Master of the manor about the farm, the bank loan, and ensuring Clark's future, Jon needed to have a different sort of conversation with Lex Luthor.

"Mr. Kent." Lex's expensive black wingtips clicked on the marble tiled floor as he joined Jon in the foyer. "I truly didn't expect to see you so soon. Changed your mind already?"

Lex's arrogant demeanor made Jon's teeth itch, as usual. He reminded himself why he was at the manor and that he was nearly twice Lex's age. Punching the smug son-of-a-gun wouldn't accomplish anything.

"No, I haven't changed my mind." Jon put his hands on Lex's shoulders, mentally noting the small flinch, and firmly pushed him down onto an ornate wood chair. He leaned down, hands still on Lex's shoulders, and looked the younger man in his startled eyes. "I'm not here to see Lex Luthor, entrepreneur, or the current head of the LuthorCorp plant, or the heir to the Luthor throne. I'm here to see the twenty-one year old kid who thinks he's Clark's friend."

"I am Clark's friend," Lex said, a calculating wariness replacing the surprise in his blue-grey gaze.

"Are you?" Jon asked bluntly. He released Lex and took a step back.

A cold mask descended over Lex's features. "You think I'm using Clark to get your farm," he said, anger lacing his icy tone. "I am not my father, and I don't want your property. I only want to make certain Clark will never have to worry about his future. It's the least I can do to repay him for saving my life."

Jon folded his arms and looked dispassionately at Lex. "So, you're friends with Clark only because you owe him?"

"No!" Lex practically exclaimed, shooting to his feet. "Clark's my friend because I like him. Yes, I owe him my life, and I keep trying to repay him but you keep making him return my gifts. I'd still want to be friends with him, though, even if he hadn't saved me, because he's... he's..." Lex shrugged, his features softening, and an amused smile curved his lips. "Well, he's Clark."

Jon sighed. He hated when Martha was right. Lex wasn't a bad kid, just a shrewd, arrogant businessman. "Lex, you're not responsible for supporting Clark or ensuring his future. I am," Jon said, unfolding his arms. "If you feel the need to repay Clark for helping you, do it by sharing your experiences. You have six years worth of them over Clark, and he's more likely to listen to you than me when it comes to girls, school, and problems with other kids."

"You're actually giving me your blessing to corrupt your child?" Lex said skeptically, though he appeared thoughtful.

"I wouldn't say that," Jon replied, "but I won't dissuade Clark from being friends with you, if that's what he wants."

Lex tucked his hands in his pockets, a slight frown creasing his brow. "I don't..." He paused, and met Jon's gaze squarely. "I have money, Mr. Kent, and I spend it without thought and, believe it or not, without ulterior motives... most of the time," he clarified with a dry half-smirk.

"I don't want you giving gifts or tokens of friendship to Clark," Jon stated clearly.

"Does that include birthdays and Christmas?"

Arrogant Lex had returned, replacing the twenty-one year old kid Jon had been speaking to moments ago. It was time to leave. "If you insist on spending money on Clark, I'll okay it if you invite him to a museum, or concert, or other event... but not if you give him tickets to take someone else -- like Lana," Jon said pointedly.

"Understood." Lex smiled with false politeness. "Is there anything else?"

"Yes." Jon held out his hand and when Lex took it, he finished with a promise. "If you hurt my son, your name and money won't protect you."

"Yes, sir." Lex accepted the warning with cool aplomb. He glanced at his watch after releasing Jon's hand. "I hate to cut our little tete-a-tete short, but I have a conference call in five minutes."

"Well, don't let me keep you," Jon said. "I can see myself out."

Lex nodded politely, but didn't move as Jon headed out the tall oak front doors. Jon wasn't surprised.


"Mom! Dad!" Clark burst through the kitchen door of the Kent residence with the enthusiasm of an excited teenager. "Lex invited me to go with him to the Krimenheimer Astronomy Center this weekend. Can I go? Please?"

Jon passed Martha the rinsed dinner dish as he glanced over his shoulder. From his place at the sink, he could see Lex lounging just outside the kitchen door, looking arrogantly calm and collected as usual. "The Krimenheimer, huh?"

"I promise I'll do all my chores and homework on Friday," Clark begged. "Please, can I go?"

"Jon?" Martha deferred to her husband.

After a moment, Jon nodded. "All right, you can go."

Clark whooped, blushed, grinned, and thanked his parents as he rushed back out of the house.

Martha and Jon watched from the window above the sink as Clark dragged Lex towards the barn, babbling excitedly and gesturing with his free hand towards the night sky. Jon chuckled at the baffled expression on Lex's face. "You know, Martha, I really dislike Lex Luthor."

"Then why on earth did you say Clark could go with him this weekend?" Martha questioned.

"Because maybe Clark will influence Lex instead of the other way around," Jon answered with a wink to her. He looked back out the kitchen window at the two young men looking up at the stars. "Or, if we're lucky, Clark will drive Lex crazy, and he'll go away and never come back."



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