Calling It Quits

by a campbell

Many thanks to fajrdrako for the beta. Feedback always welcomed and savored. To my anonymous LJ benefactors. I don't own the Smallville characters, alas.

She had to quit.

Jonathan was jealous. Which was unfortunate, as her husband loved her, and she loved him. She believed in the importance of marriage, commitment. Working for LuthorCorp was taking more time and energy than she could spare. She needed to spend more time at home. She missed baking. But she knew she was deluding herself. Those were all reasons to turn in her notice, but not the main reason.

Martha loved her work It had gotten her off the farm just enough to revitalize her outlook, challenge her mind, make her productive in new areas and see everything with a fresh eye. As though she were making a difference, accomplishing something beyond the parameters of the family produce business. Of course it was exhausting, and difficult as it was to switch gears when she arrived home in the evenings, it had felt good to make the decision to go back to work on her own, and she'd not let the guys make her feel guilty for it over the past couple of months, though Lord knows, they'd tried.

Clark was nearly seventeen, and a lot of help around the farm, but he was entirely capable of doing more around the house for himself. High time he learned to cook, beyond nuking leftover pizza and slapping together bread and a solid inch of peanut butter when he was hungry. And past time for Jonathan to learn the same skills, needless to say, although she wasn't holding her breath on that one. The inevitable response was: "But Mom, (or "Martha") it just tastes better when you fix it," a line she had a history of falling for, however hard she tried to stand firm. She always told them the great flavor was because of the extra love she added during the cooking stage, but she wasn't letting them sway her with that old routine, not any more.

Still, she couldn't continue working for Lionel. Because she couldn't work with Lex any more. Lex had been courteous from the beginning, though she knew he was less than ecstatic about her new position as his father's assistant. Sometimes Lionel was called away on business matters, which left Lex and Martha alone at the manor.

It had happened occasionally over the past few months, and finally it had happened once too often.

Working with the Luthors was professionally stimulating. Martha had been both surprised and dismayed to find it physically stimulating, too. Her senses seemed to be kicked up a few notches too many most days, which embarrassed her, worried her, and made work more interesting, all at the same time. A response to Lionel wouldn't have been unusual. Mature man, five years older than she was: any reasonable woman her age would his daily proximity. And sometimes she was, she had to admit it. When he was on the treadmill, in a t-shirt...


Her attraction to Lex was a different matter.

Since the afternoon Clark had brought Lex Luthor home for his first visit to the farm, her senses had been on alert. Lex was an unreasonably attractive young man. But seeing him for five minutes before he and Clark went to the loft or left for an evening out was one thing. Being around him daily was another.

It may have been his voice. Sometimes he'd be on the telephone for hours when she was working nearby, his crisp, soft tone almost a whisper, lulling her close to a trance. The sound tugged at her heart, made her melt inside. So different from Jonathan's, nice in its own way, too, but plain, gruff...

Still, it never should have happened.

The mellow tone of his voice on the phone, sometimes even, sometimes testy, the sleek line of his body in suits and business casual, the graceful glide when he strode across a room. When he wore the gray sweater, she could see his nipples outlined under the fabric, the ripple of muscles on his neck above the collar, and she knew it would be a bigger challenge than usual to concentrate on business that day.

She caught herself wondering how it would feel to be pressed against his slim body, his hands grasping her hips. She'd shake her head to clear it, and make even more of an effort to concentrate.

What was wrong with her these days?

Lex made it a point to speak with her each morning, no matter how busy he was. Pleasantries about the weather, inquiries about Clark, Jonathan, progress at the farm. She would answer with a smile, share one or two tidbits about Clark's struggles in English Literature class, mention that Jonathan was helping a neighbor plant wheat that day. But even when she made a move to end the conversation, he would continue to watch her, waiting for her to speak further, as though whatever she might say were of prime interest to him. She told herself that he bestowed that same sort of half-aroused, drowsy intensity on everyone, even Clark, for heaven's sake.

She'd bet that someday he could have a career in politics or diplomacy if he wanted one. Maybe even be President. The thought made her chuckle. Sometimes her imagination really worked overtime.

Jonathan and Clark both loved her as wife and mother, but even though they might rhapsodize over her cooking, she'd be lucky to get anything more than a grunt out of her husband if she spoke to him while the evening news was on, and even when Clark wasn't wearing his headphones, he might only answer any comments she made in the course of an evening fifty percent of the time. Otherwise, when prodded, his response was likely to be a dazed expression and "Huh?"

Sometime, she just wanted to be loved for herself. And listened to.

It was disappointing, sometimes, because she'd have enjoyed being able to discuss her work with the two most important people in her life. But whenever she tried, Clark's expression would go dark and accusing. "You shouldn't be working for Lionel," he'd mumble, turning away. "He's always trying to mess things up for Lex." And Jonathan, though he couldn't very well deny the extra income was welcome, simply didn't want to hear about the job at all, much less discuss it. He'd get snippy and sarcastic no matter what she said, or else try to shut her up with a kiss. Which was nice, except on the days he forgot to shave. He was forgetting to shave more and more often.

Mess things up for Lex?

Sometimes she caught herself wondering how Lex would kiss. Smooth skin. Soft, slow, romantic? Hungry and passionate, throwing all else to the winds, and Fates? Maybe both.

Lex. Young, but sophisticated, the perfect foil for Lionel, and how could she help finding it exhilarating when he and his father tried to one-up each other with biting retorts, venom seething beneath the surface of their conversation. Passion, pure and simple. What big business was all about. Sometimes, they'd even take the advice she interjected without fear.

She'd come back to the moment with a start, realizing she was twirling her pencil and daydreaming, and vowed to get back to work at once.

It was impossible to get anything much by a Luthor. But surely Lex couldn't know how she felt when he was around, how he made her feel. Her son's friend, and Lex had been such a mainstay to Clark, to all three of them. So surely there was something shameful about her attraction, surely she was a wicked, ungrateful woman. But she couldn't talk herself out of the fascination. Her body was different these days, and didn't seem to be playing by any sort of regular rules. Her senses were charged, enhanced. Somewhere beyond her control.

One morning late in winter she'd been at the manor perhaps half an hour, gathering and sorting papers left unfiled the day before. It was cold in the library, and there was snow on the grounds, but it probably wouldn't last long. Martha paused to look out the window, spotted a meadowlark perched on a budding shrub, a fluttering blur of black and yellow. She smiled, and felt her heart lift. Spring was on its way. There was proof.

"Good morning." She felt herself start before she even registered the soft sound of his voice. Lex was beside her, lips curving into a smile. She hadn't even heard him enter the room. She felt shy and self-conscious. And a little afraid.

"Nice weather." He looked out the window too, at the garden, his tone casual, barely above a murmur. "My mother's birthday today."

She turned to him suddenly and found him standing even closer than she had expected. His voice had been mild, but the raw pain in his eyes went straight to her heart.

"Lex, I'm sorry," she murmured. And touched his arm.

His eyes darkened, and he swallowed. After a moment's hesitation, he put his hand on hers. His palm felt cool, yet warm, and he was close, so close. She'd often yearned to let her gaze linger on the scar that bisected his upper lip. She had to stop herself from reaching up to touch it.

He leaned over, and she could feel the soft heat of his breath below her ear. "Dad's on his way to Metropolis."

It was all he needed to say. His words, his voice, quiet, intimate, made her knees buckle. One of his hands somehow wandered up to finger a button on her blouse, then touched her breast.

That did it. She could have, should have, stopped it right then. Should have slapped his hand away as though he were a naughty child.

But, God forgive her, she hadn't wanted to. She'd rather have died.

Her eyes widened; she caught her breath. His eyes dropped closed as he leaned down. Lex was shorter than Clark but still taller than she was, and then the shock of his lips on hers, opening, the moist heat of his mouth as his arms slid around her, pulled her in close. His moan, low and tender as she melted into his embrace, and memory made her blush now, as much with delight at the remembered pleasure as with shame. This was madness, sure enough, but if she made him stop, it would never happen again.

She wasn't going to miss it.

His tongue probed her mouth, and at once she was responding, thoughts spinning like a springtime cyclone. Lex's mouth was devouring hers, answering the question of what a kiss from him would be like. He pulled back, a thin string of saliva still connecting their lips, reached up to brush it off with the back of his wrist, his eyes not leaving hers. Martha did the same. Then he bent his head, closed his eyes for a moment as though to gather his thoughts. She waited.

He muttered something under his breath and Martha could have sworn his hands trembled as he reached up to unfasten one button, then another, on her blouse. Her heart began an uneasy thudding in her chest, but her hands rose calmly to undo the clasp on her bra, and almost at once her breasts were free in the cool office air. Lex stared; she heard his quick intake of breath, then the soft, tender groan that escaped his lips, followed by a faint smile of delight. He reached out to cup one breast with his palm and coast a thumb across the nipple. He let his arms glide gently around her, bent his head to tease with his tongue, then suck, softly at first, then harder, kneading the other breast with his right hand as he did so.

Martha was astounded at the low, keening sound that came from her own throat as she pressed herself against him. Lex glanced up at her for a moment with something like surprised amusement, then she felt the flicker of soft lashes against her bare skin as he returned to his task. The gentle tug of warm lips on her nipple, and, she knew she shouldn't, but her hands reached up by themselves to cup his bare head, baby-smooth, and she leaned down to pepper it with almost-chaste kisses. Had anyone ever been kind to him, just loved him? Not Lionel, but what about his mother?

Martha stopped her thoughts from going down that path, just turned them off, let her head fall back and sensation wash through her.

The tender ache between her legs intensified, the cloth crotch of her panties grew damp. She thought crazily, for a flash of a moment, how wise she had been to put on new lingerie that morning instead of the old, torn stuff she usually grabbed when the laundry basket was full. She had to smother an almost hysterical, giddy chuckle. Lex stood up straight, his expression dreamy, intense. "What's funny?" he murmured, pulling her close, his mouth almost on hers.

"Nothing," she replied, "Just..." She pulled him in for another kiss, deeper and even more intense, heard his moan of delight. And surely it couldn't be her own hand that wandered up the front of his slacks, stroking, kneading. If he hadn't been hard, it would have been disappointing, but of course he was, she could feel him through the fabric. Desperately hard, as only a young man could be, needing no coaxing whatsoever. He reached down and, with a muttered moan, unzipped her skirt and she slid out of her hose and kicked off her flats as though it were an agreed-upon understanding between them. A far-off voice was chanting, no, stop, please, this is wrong...

But her body wasn't listening.

She knew he'd have stopped if she asked him to. He wouldn't have made her beg, either, although she'd seen him ruthless and calculating in more than one boardroom. She said nothing, didn't resist as he bent her over till her back was flat against the slick surface of the desk. Letting his hands glide over her hips, one fingertip tracing the thin bronze line of curly hair that ran from the thatch at her crotch up to her navel. His tongue circling her navel, dipping inside. No longer her son's friend, the well-mannered young man who had eaten dutch apple pie in her kitchen as though he were half-starved but politely turned down a second piece.

This was a different kind of hunger.

He bent down, eased her legs apart with one hand and a knee, and the chill air in the room made her even more aware of the wetness between her thighs. As though he could divine her thoughts, he probed gently there with one finger, then put the fingertip to his lips to taste. His eyes narrowed, and she trembled as her own fell shut. However exposed and vulnerable, she couldn't do anything but wait for his touch. She knew before she felt it that the soft point of his tongue would glide lazily up one thigh, then the other, leaving a wet trail, and then circle around the rosebud of her sex, that he would blow gently on the moisture there and suddenly she wasn't cold, but hot, as his mouth engulfed her. She knew spellbound ecstasy when his tongue began thrusting inside her with sharp, neat strokes. She fumbled for a grip on the edge of the desk, then gave up and just tried to brace herself as best she could. Part of her wanted inexplicably to shove him away, the pleasure was so intense; the rest of her just yearned to pull him in tighter, even if it did leave a bruise or two on his bare scalp. She went with the second option.

How easy it would have been to come from this alone. But she had to have him inside her. Martha opened her mouth to stammer out something, but she'd already gone over all this mentally before in the idle time--how many hours?--she'd spent fantasizing about this.

Decided she wouldn't have to, knew instinctively that Lex must know how to satisfy a woman. Not that she should have been thinking about those things. But he'd had countless girl friends after all, been married once, and was practically engaged to Helen Bryce. She knew him well enough to know he did nothing by halves, devoted himself single-mindedly to every task he undertook.

She didn't even have to ask. He sat back and nodded, mouth glistening, breath coming in soft pants, then stood, unbuttoned, unzipped and drew himself out, and Martha caught one fascinated glimpse of cock, smooth, hairless, bigger than she would have thought, considering how slim and slight he was. She raised herself on an elbow, and he reached for her hand and put it on him; prodded her fingers to curl around his cock. She was surprised that she had enough presence of mind to take care not to scratch the blue-veined, tender skin with chipped, work-worn fingernails. The sensation of him in her hand made her melt inside; he twitched under her grasp, and she drew back her hand and touched a finger to her mouth to taste the sticky strand of precome that clung to it.

His usually clear gaze was dark and unreadable as he placed his hand over hers. She lay her head back on the desktop and closed her eyes. Then she felt him between her thighs, parting her, inside her, filling her. Long, smooth strokes, deep. Lex was quiet, just the occasional muffled moan or whispered, bitten-off gasps that could have been curse words; she couldn't tell for sure. But thrusting as though he'd been sex-deprived for months, love-deprived for his entire life. Tapping into a need of her own that she wasn't even aware had been there. Kisses on her throat, face, and mouth, like something she'd waited for forever.

She could tell absolutely when he climaxed, bursting and blossoming inside her, her arms wrapped tightly around his shuddering shoulders. She came just the way she liked to, as he was finishing his orgasm, clenching around him in spasms of her own, prolonging the divine moment for both of them as long as possible. Then he collapsed on top of her, and she caressed him, back, scalp, then let her hands move down to stroke his shoulderblades through the fabric of his shirt as his breathing gradually slowed.

She'd never seen Lex at a loss for words before. Quiet, yes, but only for effect. Now, he raised himself to his feet and zipped up efficiently, though more slowly than she would have expected, saying nothing. She sat up, buttoned her blouse with shaking hands, pulled her skirt down. Lifted a weak hand to smooth her hair, brushed a hesitant tongue over her bruised lips.

She felt a moment of pure panic. Dear God, what do I say now?

Lex was always pale, but he had two unusually bright pink spots high on his cheeks. Small beads of perspiration decked his upper lip. His gaze was usually cool and sharp, but his eyes looked closer to glazed than she'd ever seen them. He drew a deep breath. "Thank you," he said, and she nodded in surprise. She'd never heard Lex thank anyone for anything.

"We should both get back to work," she said, fearing she sounded too much the mother telling her child playtime was over. Except that her voice was trembling. How in the world could she concentrate on work after this?

He looked as though he wanted to say more, but she could have been mistaken. He nodded, then turned, strode out without looking back, closed the door behind him.

Martha managed to complete her work day, but afterward she had no idea what tasks she'd tackled . Part of her felt the urge to jump in the nearest shower, part of her never wanted to wash again, wanted to remember the brief escape from humdrum, everyday life, the unexpected, exciting interlude such as she'd never experienced before.

Occasionally during the day she'd be brought up short by the memory, and gasp in astonishment. How in the world could she have done such a thing? What in heaven would Jonathan do if he found out? Then, a half hour later, she'd think: it happened, for real, and break into a smile that warmed her from inside out.

They'd been really good together.

The thought of seeing Lex again filled her with fear, stained her cheeks red with a combination of shame and guilty pleasure. He usually was around for a good portion of any given weekday. But, for the rest of the morning and the afternoon, she worked alone, entering data into the computer, making phone calls, her voice sounding even and calm for every transaction.

It was nearly dark when it was time to go home. In the foyer by the front door, she fumbled in her purse for her keys. Then Lex appeared out of the shadows. He reached out as though to touch her arm, but let his hand drop.

"Wait," he said, and the sound of his voice went right through her.

"Mrs. Kent," he began again, then stopped, as though reconsidering what he intended to say. "My relationship with your family is one of the most valuable things in my life. I'd never do anything to jeopardize it."

She regarded him for a long moment, and then sighed heavily. "Lex, I think we already have," She reached for the door handle, and he put his hand over hers. Her heart leapt. But he didn't look at her as he continued speaking.

"Much as I'd enjoy being closer to you all, this wasn't the way to go about it. I realize that, and I'm sure you do, too."

She let it sink in. So it was true. He was in love with her son. No wonder he put up with so much rudeness from Jonathan, month after month.

"You don't have to worry," he went on, "I won't mention it. No one will ever know. Jonathan, my father...Clark..."

She could tell just from the way he said his name.

"Stop, please." She shook her head abruptly and held up a hand. He stopped.

"Let's just put it behind us, Lex. That would be best. Call it spring fever." She put a hand on his arm, and gave him a calm but genuine smile. "I won't say anything, either. It will be our secret."

For just one moment, he looked about the closest Lex Luthor ever could to abashed.

"Anyway, Martha, protect yourself. Go back to your home, and the people who love you. What you have there is too important. Here, you're not safe. From Dad, or from me."

She really thought he was being overly bleak and dramatic. But she knew he was right. And very much a gentleman, considering she'd practically thrown herself at him. She drove home in a haze, And, later that evening, she'd been especially nice to Clark (even though she couldn't meet his eyes, his best friend, for God's sake) and Jonathan, not asking for help with the dishes, curling up with Jonathan on the couch to watch the basketball game, in spite of the fact that she hated sports.

As luck would have it, the next day was Saturday, and on Monday, when she got to work. Lex was already gone, on a two-week business trip to Japan. Martha was just a shade disappointed, but mostly desperately relieved. Now she had time to wrestle with the realization of how perilously stupid her brief madness had been. What if Lionel had walked in? Even blind, she was certain he'd have been able to divine what was going on. Or any of the servants. There could be legal issues. No condom, either, and with Lex's history...she'd gone to have a blood test right away, despite being terrified she might run into Helen Bryce at the clinic. Negative, thank goodness, and the baby, which no one else knew about yet, was fine, too. She'd breathed a giant sigh of relief. She'd been more fortunate than she deserved.

But, however hard she tried to feel remorse, she couldn't regret it. Every woman must yearn for one indiscretion, at some point in her life. She almost thought every woman deserved one.

Well, maybe not. But it had happened. No reason to agonize over it. As long as it wasn't repeated. Lex was always right about a lot of things, but he was particularly right about one. It mustn't happen again.

There was a good side. The nightly snuggling session on the couch with Jonathan was becoming a regular thing. However disgusting Clark seemed to think it was, rolling his eyes with an uneasy grin as he headed out to the barn.

Jonathan leaned over and teased her lips open. She felt her lips curve into a smile during the kiss. Kisses from Jonathan were much more welcome now that he was shaving regularly again. And, perhaps the fling with Lex wasn't such a bad thing after all, because her interest level was higher than usual tonight.

She continued to grin as his hand wandered down between her thighs and stroked through her jeans. Hmm. Maybe she could teach Jonathan to try that one thing Lex had done with his tongue...Some night, when he was in an adventurous mood. Maybe even tonight.

The rest of the story would stay her secret.

Now to go back to being a good wife and mother, and she had no doubt that Lex would stick to his resolve, and his word. She'd keep it to herself.

Unflinching honesty. Lionel's compliment echoed in her mind. Well, not always.

She could handle it when Lex came over to see Clark. She knew she could. Poor Lex needed mothering, and that was all she intended to give him from here on out.

But still...

Her son's best friend...

She had to quit.

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