Lex chose the nearest guest bedroom closet for the evening's expedition. The closet was both dark and deep, and had the added bonus of holding the overflow from Lionel's wardrobe. The night nurse would never look past the first layer; Lex might manage to stay hidden all night. He left the door open a crack and pulled a cashmere sweater from a shelf. Wrapping the sweater around his body, Lex settled in behind the coats.
He awoke sometime later when the bedroom door opened. Hearing his father's voice and feminine tones, Lex's first thought was that his mother was home. After returning from the hospital, she usually slept in this room. With the sweater dragging behind him like a cape, Lex moved towards the closet door, grinning at the thought of surprising her. But when he peeked around the door, he saw his father with a lady he'd never seen before. She wasn't smiling. Lex hovered behind the closet door, uncertain.
The lady and his father were talking. As usual, his father's voice was clear. ("Speak up Lex," he always said. "Luthors always project. No fear, boy.")
"Lillian adores toile. Myself I could never abide it."
Lex could barely hear the lady, whose low voice now reminded him of Pamela's.
"There's really no point in talking about the furnishings now is there, Lionel?"
His father laughed. "Straightforward, I like that. Or is it eager?"
The woman's laugh sounded funny--forced like that of the LuthorCorp employees who pinched Lex's cheeks and told him he was growing into a fine boy. "You know exactly why I'm here."
"Then come here and remind me."
Lex heard a belt unbuckle, a zipper slide down, and peered out the closet once more. The lady was kneeling in front of his father, who faced the closet, eyes closed, his hands in the lady's shadowed hair. Lex shrank back from the door and tried to stop the whistling of his breath. He didn't have asthma anymore; the doctors said so. He held the sweater's sleeve in front of his mouth and whispered the word the butler had said that time Lex had hit him with the cricket bat. Mouthed it again and felt a little braver.
His father's harsh breathing filled the room for interminable minutes, quickened, then paused. "Enough. Get on the bed."
Lex heard the rustling of clothes and the creak of the 18th century bedframe adjusting to weight. The lady was on Mommy's bed. The wood creaked again. His father must be on the bed too. Lex's stomach felt quivery, achy. Rubbing it made it worse. He tried covering his ears but that didn't help either. The feeling stayed in his belly. He put his hand back down there and curled up away from the door. He thought about his mother's promise that they would go to the observatory when she got back this time. Just the two of them, alone, all day. Lex closed his eyes and pretended he was looking up at a darkened ceiling with his mother, waiting for the stars. He ignored the soft wet noises, like those of the barn cats eating their supper. He dozed.
There was a smacking noise and a gasp, and Lex started awake. Shook his head to erase the memory of his father's belt, hot against his legs. ("No tears, Lex. Never let them see you cry."). What had she done to deserve that? The lady didn't cry though, not out loud, anyway. His father laughed.
"Shall we try that again?" Another smack, and the lady sighed, a softer sound, less scary.
"Found the spot, have I?"
She didn't answer, at least not that Lex could hear. Another slap, different wet noises, another sigh, and the creaking resumed, steady this time. Lex heard knocking noises too, like when stupid Elliott Chambers kicked Lex's chair at school, over and over. Who was kicking what? He considered checking, but his belly still felt weird, and...
The lady was breathing loudly now, steady sharp pants. His father grunted. The knocking accelerated. Lex rubbed his belly in time with the noises, hiding his face in his father's sweater. The lady whispered unintelligible, frantic things. Was that his father's name? Something crashed to the floor. The lady cried out; his father did too.
The rest of the noises stopped.
Lex edged towards the door, relief overwhelming his fear, and then hung back as he heard the bed shift. Again he heard the clink of a belt buckle, the whispering of clothes. The light from the hallway now shined through the crack of the closet door. Lex saw part of his father's silhouette and the glint of his eye as Lionel looked towards the bed and spoke.
"Ah, Martha, what a formidable wife you would have been. A shame you're being wasted in Smallville. The papers are in the nightstand. One adoption, legally binding. A Luthor never goes back on a deal-at least not one as delectable as this has been."
Lionel paused in the doorway. "I believe your husband is parked outside. You'll excuse me if I don't see you out."
The lady lay still a long time after Lex's father left.
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