Apologies & Promises

by Caro

Thanks to Bexless for the kickass beta, the hand holding, and helping me slash this down to 1000 words.

A/N: For Slodwick's A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Challenge (http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=slodwick&itemid=90712)

Disclaimer: Not mine. No harm or profit intended.

He'd spent an hour at the florist. Nothing seemed to be right and they didn't actually have any arrangements that said, "I'm sorry that I've been fucking your baby boy through the mattress for over two years now. I'm even sorrier that you walked in on us doing bad naked things because your son isn't bright enough to lock his dorm room door. But most of all, I'm sorry that you're making me have lunch with you when I'd rather be elsewhere...like say Siberia for instance. I hear it's nice this time of year."

He ended up with a bouquet of white roses. They don't suit her and he realizes this when he hands them to her. They're elegant but cold, and Martha Kent isn't cold. It's part of the reason he's almost terrified of this lunch with her.

He'd known sooner or later that he and Clark would have to come clean. He's even tried to picture the conversation in his head, made up a top 101 list of reasons for Jonathan Kent not to shoot him on sight, but nothing could have prepared him for this moment. Especially with it being the day after she'd caught him on his knees and oh god, he doesn't need to think about that right now. In hindsight, he supposes he should be grateful that Jonathan was busy parking the car.

They're having lunch at Caf Rouge - her choice. It's not a well known spot and he'd been momentarily surprised by her taste - but of course Martha Kent is from Metropolis. The city's still in her, and he's reminded of this as she watches him decide what to order. It's unnerving. He's wondered about this ability the Kents have; Lex has always been the focus of attention and dealt with it with stone cold pragmatism. Yet in front of the Kents, he feels as awkward as the teenage boy Clark was when they'd met.

Note to self, mentioning the fact that Clark was just a boy when you met him is not likely to win you any points.

If he can still win points...

The Kents are easy to like, even Jonathan with his staunch distrust of all things Luthor. When it comes down to it, Lex knows that it's more about protecting Clark than anything else. And Lex is pretty damn devoted to Clark himself. So he knows how that feels.

For all the times Lex has pictured this conversation, he's never actually imagined he'd be having it with Martha. He'd always thought it would be Jonathan that he'd have to defend the relationship to, and Jonathan's stance was always foreseeable. In Jonathan's eyes, Lex isn't good enough for Clark, and probably never will be.

Martha, on the other hand, could actually care for him.

Martha's the real challenge, because she's the one within reach. She is, after all, Clark's mother, and she's the one who taught him about love. Did a pretty good job too, in Lex's opinion. Even now, with Martha regarding him coolly over the table and Lex trying not to appear too terrified, he knows. She's going to make him work for it. But if he passes, it's forever.

The waiter takes their menus away. So far, Martha hasn't said anything other than the usual pleasantries but as her mouth opens now, he knows that she's going to ask him about his intentions. God. Intentions.

"I love him." The words leave his mouth before he even realizes that he's the one who's spoken.

Martha smiles, looking unsurprised. "I know that."


"Lex, I know how you feel about Clark. I think...I think I've always known. I'm just worried. You're both so young..."

"Mrs. Kent, you're concerns are valid and I can understand." He can. There's a response on his 101 reason list that deals specifically with the age issue. "But um...we're...um...determined to make it work." That wasn't on the list, dammit.

She actually grins at him now. Lex knows that grin. Clark has it. It's the 'I'm going to make you suffer because I'm evil and my last name is Kent' grin.

He sips his water.

"And you've both discussed what happens if this gets out?"

"I'll protect Clark from the tabloids, Mrs. Kent. I promise."

"And who'll protect Clark from you?"

The question is asked quietly, without malice, but Lex's heart still plummets. He knows the question has nothing to do with his last name, and in some ways, that's more cutting. It's as if she's looked at him, measured up his merits, and found him lacking.

His hand clenches around the water glass. "Mrs. Kent, I know that I've given you reason to worry in the past, but I promise you, there is nothing I would do to hurt Clark. Before Clark, I was a different person. But Clark's saved me, more times than I can count." Lex lifts his eyes up to Martha's, willing her to see the sincerity in his words. "If anything, Mrs. Kent, I think I might need protection from Clark more than he does from me."

It's a heart-pounding few seconds before he can feel Martha relax, before he can see in her eyes that she's willing to give him a chance.

"Okay." She leans forward and squeezes his hand. "What do you think about dinner tonight? You, Clark, Jonathan and I."

Lex doesn't realize he's been holding his breath until he exhales. "That sounds good," he replies.

Later on, when he's walking from the parking garage to his office, he spies them. Bunches of flowers in a bucket outside a convenience store. He's not sure what they are exactly but it's the color that catches his eye. It looks like the flower is blushing, like Martha does when she smiles at him. Like Clark does when he catches Lex looking at him.

He buys one, intending to give it to her tonight when he sees her. It's not an apology this time. It's a promise.

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