by The Spike

summary: Martha cleans house.
disclaimer: if I owned them, no hearts would be broken. Ever. notes: thanks to Te and Livia for beta.

On a sunny Sunday morning while Jonathan reads about carburetors, Martha Kent decides it's time for a little pre-spring cleaning. She puts on her rubber gloves, fills a bucket with hot water and vinegar and sets to the baseboards. The housework is only incidental though. The real problem is in her head.

Lex Luthor has lately been a source of some... disquietude... in Martha's mind. The surface reasons are clear to her. He's a source of friction in their household, he's a source of friction in the community. He's the human equivalent of sand in an oyster shell.

One thing that disturbs Martha is how easily thoughts of Lex turn to things sexual. Or simply turned things sexual.

Oysters. She rolls her eyes, regretting every English course and Psych course she took in college. Metaphors and symbolism annoy her. Thank God Lex doesn't smoke cigars. Not that she knows for a fact he doesn't. She doesn't think about him that much.

It's not...

There are so many things it's not. It's not straightforward attraction. Martha has never been afraid of the occasional crush. She was married, not dead and she'd never been so unrealistic as to think that married people didn't notice other people. Didn't daydream, however idly. She's had passing fancies before. Dr. Landsburg, the new vet being the most recent. Handsome, handsome man. Lovely hands. Lovely line to his neck when he's bending to look at an animal . Dark hair. Just looking at him had made her smile and want sex.

With her husband.

She'd told Jonathan about her crush very matter-of-factly. Jonathan had raised an eyebrow and asked if he needed to prove anything. Half-jokingly. Maybe more than half. She really hadn't needed him to. Or maybe just by asking, by giving her that mock possessive glare, he somehow had.

She hasn't shared her Lex Luthor unease with Jonathan. That being, obviously an uneasiness all its own. But she doesn't have a crush on Lex. Seeing Lex doesn't make her smile or want to have sex. It does make her think about sex though. And wonder.

Ponder uncomfortable questions: Is he hairless everywhere? Is he really as sexually ambiguous as he projects? Is he lusting after her son?

Is he flirting with her?

And how would she feel about that?

Flattered, yes. But also, irritated. The Lord of the Manor should have better manners than that.

And yet... she likes him. Arrogance and all. The 'all' being an underlying sweetness she's sure he'd be horrified to think she sees. Not so much his strengths but his obvious vulnerability. He awakens a motherliness in her that is both like and unlike what she feels for Clark.

It's that that makes her feel, well... uneasy.

Sometimes, catching him gazing hungrily at something of hers -- her family, her son, her... fine ripe tomatoes --

Down on her knees, scrubbing the baseboards, Martha has to laugh. Jonathan looks up from his catalogue and raises an eyebrow. She shakes her head, the laughter falling off into a sigh.

The thought demands she follow it even though she's positive she won't like the answer.

The truth is that sometimes when she catches Lex looking like he wants she has the urge to pull him into a hug. It makes her want to hold him like that, feel the weight of his head on her shoulder, damp breath against her throat. His arms around her, clinging while she strokes his neck. His bare scalp.

She wants to murmur words of comfort into the shell of one of his translucent little ears.

She wants to push his face down to her breasts. Feel him harden against her hip

And there it is. The true heart of the uneasiness.

Her desire to mother Lex is real but it's not pure. Her attraction to Lex is real but it's not pure either.

It's part of her dark side. That other Martha that prowls through her brain. That she will never cage because it is part of what makes her strong. That she will never free because strength without wisdom is...

Well, if you looked it up in the dictionary, chances are Lionel Luthor's picture would be there beside the blurb.

The associations there are... horrifying.

And completely unsupported.

Which makes no difference at all to her conscience.

She realizes she's stopped cleaning, dips her rag back in the water. Tepid water. Brackish and sickeningly vinegar-y. Gets up and pours the bucket into the sink. Is about to refill it when she realizes that in fact there really isn't anything left to do, baseboard-wise. If she wants to do more cleaning, she'll have to start on something else. The floors maybe, or the walls.

"Mom," Clark comes pounding down the stairs pulling on his jacket. "I'm going over to Lex's." She catches Jonathan's questioning look and nods reluctantly. Yes, it's still within the bounds of appropriate. Jonathan trusts her to have been keeping track.

"Be home for dinner," Jonathan says.

"Will do!" Clark grins and zooms away. She rinses out the bucket, takes off her gloves and when she looks up Jonathan is watching her with hot, dreamy eyes.

Martha looks around at the floors and walls. Big jobs -- necessary jobs but not quite necessary yet. For the moment it is maybe enough just to know where the dirt lies. To be clear on where not to step.

Martha's pretty sure she's clear now. She can turn her mind to the strategy of fixing it later. For the moment she just needs a little reminder of what she's fighting for.

"You finished your chores Missus Kent?" Jonathan asks.

Martha smiles. She's pretty sure she knows who can help with that.


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