"Night on the Farm" by MyrnaLynne
Smallville fanfic, Lex and Clark
After Lionel Luthor aligns with his son Lucas, freezes Lex's assets and tosses him out of the mansion, Lex goes to stay with the Kents.
Superman characters belong to DC Comics, Smallville to WB, etc, not me. Just writing about them. Thanks to Rubykate for her help and advice.
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The antique bedsprings squeaked and groaned as he tried to get comfortable on the lumpy mattress, but sleep eluded him. Briefly, Lex Luthor wondered whether Mr. Kent had purposely sneaked upstairs and stuffed the mattress with corncobs to teach him some sort of obscure lesson. But then he realized that the Kents were poor, the farm was old, and this was probably the best they had, for company they entertained so rarely.
"Beggars can't be choosers," he thought bitterly, amazed that his fortunes could so quickly be reversed from prince to pauper. What would it be like, to have nothing, when he had always had everything? --
Everything, that is, except a normal life or parents to love him.
He sat up, giving up any hope of sleep, and stared into the darkness. The whirling vortex of plans and counter schemes, ceaselessly moving inside his brain, would not let him go tonight.
Easing carefully off the bed, he slid his feet into his brocade slippers, not trusting his bare feet to the old wooden floorboards. The house had a strangely comforting smell entirely missing from the mansion, scoured away by his industrious army of hired help. Perhaps a glass of water, some air... his thoughts were vague about his destination but his feet led him down the hall and through the half closed door as if they had a will of their own -
Clark lay sprawled in sleep, his gangly frame somehow curled into the childishly small twin bed; one large foot stuck out of the covers, hanging over the edge of the mattress. He had probably slept in that bed since he was little and nobody had noticed that he'd long since outgrown it. Lex thought about the broad oversized beds at the mansion, covered in the finest sheets that caressed his skin when he slid between them. How accustomed one became to elegance!
He wondered how Clark would like to stretch out in one of those beds. Lex pictured Clark tucked under the elegant duvet, giving him one of his happy boyish grins. That was the amazing thing about Clark -- he could ride in a Masserati or a pick-up truck, and seem equally happy and equally at home.
He sat in the small chair by the desk - Clark's jeans hung over the back of them. A pair of tan work boots sat neatly side by side on the floor in front of the chair. Lex marveled at the size of them. They didn't look quite so big when Clark was wearing them. Big paws, he thought affectionately, like a puppy. He wondered if Clark was finished growing yet. He hoped so, or he'd be craning his neck to look up at him.
Lex studied the sleeping boy. The dark hair was tousled; the planes of his face less angular when relaxed in sleep, looking even more innocent than when he was awake, if that could be possible. He was touched by how beautiful Clark looked in sleep, like the finest statue of an ancient hero. Only this statue was not cold marble, but warm and breathing. He watched the even rise and fall of the strong chest. Farm work certainly did more than any number of hours in a gym.
"The sleep of the innocent," he thought, with a bit of envy. His friend didn't have a care in the world except to worry about some meaningless assignment for high school and whether or not he would get the girl of his dreams. The body was the body of a man, but the heart was as naive and pure as that of a child.
Maybe that's why he always enjoyed having Clark around so much. He was something clean and good, and being near him gave Lex a bit of hope that some of that cleanliness and goodness might rub off, if only momentarily. When he rushed into the mansion to ask a favor, or with his brow furrowed in worry and confusion, cheeks flushed red in that charming way they did - it was like someone had opened the window and let in a fresh breeze that blew away the stench of intrigue and distrust always hanging around the Luthor family. Lex had long ago learned never to completely lower his guard, but around Clark, he was always comfortable.
Lex shook his head, scolding himself for idealizing and oversimplifying his friend. Clark was no more a simple childlike innocent than were the slaves on his forebear's plantations. "Never underestimate your enemy," Lionel had drilled into him. But also, Lex realized, never underestimate your friend either. There were so many things that didn't quite add up - that tantalizing hint of mystery that always hung around Clark Kent. It was a delicate balancing act, to trying to unravel the mystery without destroying the friendship.
"We always kill that which we love." Was that really true, or did that only apply to his own unique and twisted family? Surely love could not be incompatible with life. Although he had loved his mother and she had died and left him alone - so... maybe there was some truth in it.
Then again, there were those times when Lex had seen flashes of Clark when he wasn't quite himself, in the grip of some atypical teenage rebellion - a different side of Clark, bolder, rasher, more confident, that hinted of things to come. He had some falling out with his father and boldly came by the mansion demanding to borrow a car, with big plans to head to Metropolis. Lex smiled, thinking about the adventure that might have awaited them if they'd actually taken the trip. He would have enjoyed showing the city to Clark, taking him to the penthouse and letting him see what it was like on top of the world.
"Lex?" The sleepy grey/green eyes were open, looking at him, shaking him from his reverie. "What's the matter? Can't sleep?"
He wondered why he felt this odd sense of panic. He felt exposed, like a voyeur caught in the act. "Sorry, Clark, I didn't mean to wake you..." They kept their voices soft. Nobody wanted to disturb Mrs. Kent, and especially not Mr. Kent. Lex had a sudden amusing vision of how similar Clark's gruff, fair-haired father was to a lion. Then he thought about his own father's flowing mane - a pair of lions. It's no wonder they fought.
"No, no.... that's okay." Clark pulled himself upright in bed, resting against the headboard. "You probably have a lot on your mind. It's okay, if you want to talk about it. If my folks ever kicked me out, I don't know how I'd ever be able to sleep. Or where...."
Lex grinned, touched by Clark's understanding and willingness to listen, even to be disturbed in the middle of the night, but he didn't show it, he kept his tone light. "Well, in the unlikely event that our circumstances are ever reversed, you are welcome to come to the mansion and stay with me. As you know, we have plenty of room."
Clark looked at Lex earnestly, leaning forward slightly. "Things will get better, Lex. I know sometimes my dad blows up, but he always cools off again. Your dad will come around. It's all just some big misunderstanding."
"I wish it were that simple, Clark. But you're right - we Luthors are nothing if resilient. I view this as just a temporary set back." Like losing your hair - like losing your mother - like losing everything.
"I don't trust Lucas," Clark announced suddenly, looking apologetic to speak ill of his friend's half-brother. "If he hadn't come to Smallville, come between you and your father, none of this would have happened. I got a bad feeling about him as soon as I met him. I don't know what it was about him... he brought out a side of me I didn't like."
"Really? What happened?" Lex leaned forward slightly. This was interesting.
Clark's cheeks burned. "Well, it was nothing really. It's just that... when you dropped him off that day, we started playing basketball, Lucas, Pete and I. I don't know what happened, but I suddenly got really... angry... competitive. I had to beat him." He laughed at himself and shook his head. "Sounds crazy."
"Interesting..." Lex murmured. Could Clark have been jealous of his new brother? Or did Lucas just bring out the worst in everyone - even Clark Kent? "Well, with my father as his sire and that criminally insane woman as his mother - I think your worries about him are certainly justified. But I can't blame Lucas completely - I brought it on myself. I was the one who tracked him down and brought him to Smallville and delivered him into the lion's den. I just should have realized he was another hungry young lion."
Clark shook his head back and forth sadly. "I still can't believe that woman thought I was her son. She was so positive about it. It was... scary."
"Nothing is as fierce as a mother's love." Lex said quietly, thinking about how close she'd come to murdering him. "It was a nice thought, though, the possibility that we might be brothers," Lex said with a smile, remembering how excited he'd felt at that prospect.
"Hey, best friends are kind of like brothers anyway. Only they don't fight quite so much," Clark said, smiling shyly. "I guess every only-child secretly wishes to have a brother. "
"Well, I got my wish and look what happened to me. 'Be careful what you wish for.' At least friends generally don't betray you as easily as brothers," Lex agreed, trying not to sound too bitter. "It's a story as old as Cain and Abel, Clark. Brother against brother."
"You know I'd never betray you, Lex," Clark said earnestly.
Lex smiled, his heart touched by Clark's sincerity. Then he thought cynically: "Not unless you had a good reason to" - but didn't bother saying it out loud. Looking into those eyes, he almost believed it.
Clark looked down, his hand picking at the bed covers. "But... I guess I betrayed Ryan," he said slowly, his face suddenly sad. "I let him down." He looked up at Lex, as if to explain. "When Ryan lived with us, he was kind of like a little brother. It was great having him around."
"He was definitely interesting - an old soul. He seemed to be wise beyond his years," Lex observed, sorry he'd somehow brought up such a tender subject. "But you didn't betray him, Clark. What are you talking about? You and your family took him in. You did everything you could for him. He couldn't have asked for a better brother."
"I just wish we'd never let him leave," Clark said bleakly, his hands gripped the blanket. "We thought we were doing the right thing... We thought he'd be okay..." Clark trailed off, his eyes dark with pain.
Lex wanted to reach out to his friend, but he didn't have much skill in giving - or receiving - comfort. His father always resorted to platitudes, historical analogies, or a cheerful hearty, "Buck up, Lex." None of those applied here. "You didn't know Ryan would get sick, Clark. Nobody could know that," Lex said gently.
Clark leaned forward, his hands stretched out as if waiting to be handed the answer. "But, why did he have to die, Lex? Why couldn't I save him?" he whispered. Clark's hurt innocent eyes pleaded for an answer Lex didn't have.
"Nobody could save him, Clark. Some things can't be fixed. You know that. Some things are just beyond our powers."
"But," his voice broke, "he was just a kid," Clark said.
"Why did my mother die, and my evil father prosper? The good die young. The suffering of the innocent. Philosophers have grappled with those questions for centuries, Clark. Wiser minds than ours don't have the answers."
"He was a great little brother." Clark let out a sigh.
"I'm truly sorry, Clark," Lex said simply.
They were both quiet for a while, not knowing what else to say.
Clark finally cleared his throat. "Hey, we were talking about your troubles... how did we get onto the topic of my troubles?" he asked, apologetically.
"I didn't even think you had any troubles, Clark. But losing Ryan is a lot heavier than my dad kicking me out of the mansion."
"I guess brothers share their troubles?" Clark asked, and gave an uncertain smile.
Like David and Jonathan, Lex thought, nodding. With my father cast in the role of the angry king.
Clark glanced down and then up, a look of mischief back in his eyes. "You, on the other hand, would have been a great older brother," he teased, emphasizing the 'older' part.
"Yes," Lex agreed, picking up the bantering tone, "older... wiser... wealthier... better looking. You missed out, Clark, not having me for a brother. Although I think you're lucky in the long run, not being related to the Luthors."
"Well... now you can come and be part of the Kent family instead," Clark said enthusiastically. "I think it's great, having you live with us for awhile. Maybe my dad will finally get to know you... Who knows, he might even make a farmer out of you!" he added playfully.
"Yes, instead of just looking at me and always seeing my father, he might actually stop and see me for myself. It's really nice of your folks to take me in, Clark. I half expected to have the door slammed in my face." Especially after he had so recently told Clark's father off, finally giving up on his childish wish for Jonathan Kent's acceptance or approval. When you are no longer a child, you give up childish things.
"I know how hard it must have been for you to ask for help. I know my dad can be a little... intimidating sometimes." His face had a rueful expression at the understatement.
Lex smiled. "Believe me, I've studied for years under the master of intimidation. But... yeh, I was a little nervous coming to your door, hat in hand so to speak."
Clark nodded. It must have taken a lot of courage for Lex to ask for a favor. "But you can always count on my folks to do the right thing. And besides - you're my friend."
Lex was amazed by how simple, how and black and white things were in Clark's world. Kids should never die young. When a friend comes to the door, you always take them in. "Hey, have you ever thought about getting a bigger bed?" he asked, changing the subject before his feelings betrayed him. He gave Clark's bare foot, still sticking out from the covers, a playful poke with his slipper.
Clark laughed and pulled his foot back under the covers. "What for?" he shrugged, "There's only me. It's my bed - I'm used to it."
"Ah, like me - 'I've made my bed and now I have to lie in it.' But you might opt for something bigger someday - when you win that woman of your dreams," he teased, and was rewarded with Clark's cheeks burning scarlet again.
Clark started to answer but his jaw suddenly stretched open in a huge yawn instead.
"I'd better get back to bed and let you get some sleep." Lex stood up.
"A farmer's day does start awfully early," Clark agreed cheerfully. "Are you sure I can't get you anything..." he asked, trying to be the good host. He yawned again.
"No, no thanks, Clark. I think I can get to sleep now. I'm sorry I woke you up but... it was good talking with you."
"No problem Lex. That's what friends are for. I got to talk about some things too"
Lex nodded and started for the door. When he glanced back, Clark was already snuggling his way back under his covers, heading back to sleep. "G'nite Lex," he murmured.
He looked down at Clark another moment and then quietly headed back to his room, his resolve forming: tomorrow he would prove his worth; he would show Jonathan Kent what Lex Luthor was made of. As he sat back down on the creaking springs of the guest room bed, he thought of a line from another man who knew something about farmers, Robert Frost: "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." Lex smiled, looking forward to morning.
- End -