One for the Road

by Marisol

Feeback always welcome.
None of these characters are mine.

Pamela often walked into Lex's room without knocking. She wasn't quite sure if it bothered Lex or not, but with adolescence only weeks away, she had been telling herself that it was a habit that had to stop. This would be her last time.

She peered in to find him sprawled out on his bed, eyes wide open, still in his suit. "Alexander," she called out in a loud whisper, "is it alright if I come in?" He didn't even acknowledge her presence, although something told her that he had heard her. She assumed silence was consent.

She walked over to his bed (a canopy bed that took some effort to get into) and hoisted herself up. Lex still didn't respond. "Alexander," she called again. She didn't want to ask it, but she was at a loss for words. "How are you doing?"

With those words he turned to her, still silent, with a pleading look in his eye. The glare was so plaintive, yet so eerily calm, that Pamela had to actively resist erupting into tears. She would have given anything in the world to take her place, and yet the absurdity of the thought made her feel even more hopeless.

"Why," Lex said finally. It was a statement not a question. Pamela wouldn't have had an answer anyway. "Two in barely a year." He returned to staring at the canopy above his bed.

In the last several days, Lex had matured greatly, and had seemed to leave behind the twelve-year-old that had been on no-TV punishment just the week before. Pamela watched his with desperate feeling of nostalgia.

Suddenly, he stood up, and alighting from the bed, walked over to his entertainment center. He flicked on his TV, stuck a game into his Nintendo and started playing, cross-legged on the floor.

"Alexander," Pamela called to him. He ignored her completely. Following him off of the bed, she walked over and stood in front of the TV.

Lex looked at her with a cold irritation. He dropped his controls, folded his arms, and closed his eyes, turning his head to the side. Apparently he was even too mature to protest. Seconds later, the video game made noises that sounded like a massacre was going on.

Pamela stooped down in front of him, and cupped his face in her hand. He pulled away, but opened his eyes. He picked the controls back up, leaned to the right, and resumed playing.

Pamela was taken aback at his sudden turn. Of all days, why was he resisting her? She stood, and watched the screen, almost resigning herself to join him in his delusion.

All of a sudden a huge explosion could be heard, and the TV announced "GAME OVER." Lex scowled at the TV, then hurled the controls into the screen, and stood up. He pushed the TV off of the entertainment center, and it cracked with a thud, and even smoked a little. Pamela rushed towards him and grabbed him, but he dodged her and ran for his walk-in closet. He began throwing clothes, games, CD's, trinkets, magazines, books and whatever else the closet held all over his room and throughout the closet. He was too out of control for Pamela to physically intervene, but she didn't know what to do. She impulsively started picking up the smaller items, and piling them on a nearby table.

His tirade suddenly slowed when he came across a book called "Stories with Holes." It was a book of lateral thinking puzzles and riddles, and it had entertained him and his mother for hours. Flipping through a couple pages seemed to incense him even more and he hurled the book before collapsing onto the floor, then sitting upright. He was breathing hard, but otherwise, returned to his former calm.

Pamela waited several moments before deciding to approach him. At first he didn't see her, but when he did, he suddenly stood and raced for the door. He ran down the stairs, through the billiard's room, and out of the back door, beyond the cellar. Pamela chased him all the way outside, past the maze, through several statues, around the pool and finally into his mother's garden before he stopped. He was much faster than she was, but when he finally did stop, he looked around, as if he was waiting for her to catch up to him. She arrived, very much out of breath, and now, even a little angry.

"Alexander, you have got to calm down," she said, more as a plea, than a command. She leaned on both knees, and tried to catch her breath.

"Remember, Pamela?" he asked, almost cheery, but a little frantic, like maybe she didn't.

"Remember what?" she asked, in between pants.

"Remember when we planted these with Mom?" He was pointing to several hibiscus plants, some rhododendrons and some bloomless azaleas they had shipped in from Virginia.

"How could I forget?" she replied, regaining her breath. Her affirmation of the event calmed him. He dropped to his knees, and stared deep into the soil, like if he gazed long and hard enough, his mother would reappear, weeding and digging with her handtools. His breathing slowed to almost imperceptible levels, and he closed his eyes. She knew this was her moment - her final one.

She placed her hand on his shoulder. "Alexander" she began. He turned around with a pained face, and a body aching to be held. She embraced him, firmly and with love enough for herself and Lillian. She pulled him back, and his face was mute. "You know you can if you want to?" She wasn't sure if he would understand.

He did.

As soon as the words crossed her lips, he dropped his head and eased into a tearful whimper. He drew his breath in for several seconds. It was the calm before the storm. When he exhaled, he let out a gut -wrenching wail, excruciating in both volume and intensity. He convulsed with each sob, and abated only to catch his breath. Pamela gathered him into her arms, caressing his back and kissing the top f his head. She too had fell into hysteria, her own loss compounded, even trumped, by the grief of this motherless boy. She wished despairingly that he was four again - cherubic and all curls - and that she could scoop him up and carry him to his room, then let him cry himself to sleep in her arms. But this was so much greater than a skinned knee.

"My father doesn't want me crying," he somehow managed to declare through the tears. She hated Lionel at that moment.

"Shush," Pamela urged, "there's no shame in it," she said, just as much to herself as to Lex.

She had the sudden impulse to grab Lex, pack him an overnight bag, and flee the Luthor estate and Metropolis forever. But she knew she'd never make it pass the city limits.

Besides, he wasn't hers.

His tremors had stopped and his sobs had calmed, but he was still crying audibly. She was resolved to sit there until he had let out every drop. Several minutes passed and his crying ebbed.

Finally, he stopped.

After a moment, she took his chin into her hand, and with her free one, she took a Kleenex from her pocket and dabbed his eyes and nose. Her blouse had caught most of his tears, but she couldn't have cared less.

"There," she said, with half a smile, before attending to her own face.

The average child would have had several such episodes before coming to terms with their loss, but she knew that this would probably be the only chance he got.

"Now, here," she said, pulling a candy from her pocket and presenting it to him. It was his favorite kind of taffy. He stared at it blankly for several moments, and then, without taking it, hugged Pamela tightly. She returned his embrace with all her might. She knew it was just a trifle, but pressed the candy into his hand.

"Here, take it. One for the road." He tucked it in his pocket and stood up, helping her up as well. He looked up at her for several moments. She brushed away an errant tear from his cheek with her thumb.

"Now run up to your room, Alexander, and don't tell anyone we did this." He nodded.

"You're not coming?" he asked, perplexed.

"I think I'm heading in early tonight," she said, choking back tears. He nodded again, understandingly, and, stuffing his hands into his pockets slowly made his way back to the house. Several yards out, she saw him unwrap the taffy and pop it into his mouth.

"I'll never see you again," she whispered.

She walked towards the townhouses near the garden that housed all the staff. She unlocked her door and walked in. She had a lot of packing to do, and only a few more hours to do it.

Her bottom lip quivered, but she stilled it. She had done enough crying for today. She looked around with a heavy sigh.

She walked over to a cardboard box, opened it, and started packing.

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