Little Pitchers

by Pearl-o

Note: I'm greatly indebted to Jessica, who beta read and encouraged all through; Fox for title; the various people on livejournal talking and speculating on wee!kent; and Slodwick, who created the babyname I've stolen. I should give a small child cuteness warning, as well.

Her brother comes to visit wearing crumpled old suits and funny glasses. He changes into jeans and t-shirts after he's been there a little bit, but he still keeps the funny glasses, except sometimes when he shows Caroline neat tricks with the piles of leaves to be burned behind the barn.

Her brother always remembers to bring her a present, too, a book or some cute barrettes, and when she runs to greet him on the porch when he arrives, he always picks her and spins her around till she wants to barf.

Her dad used to do that, but he doesn't anymore. "We're both a little too old for that, I think, kiddo," he says, and the most of the time Caroline agrees. She's too mature for that kind of thing now. But Clark doesn't come to visit all that often, and once in a while can't hurt.

There are a lot of things like that, that she's really too old for, that Caroline makes allowances for when Clark's home.

She and Clark are watching TV in the living room -- or, really, Caroline is watching, and Clark is reading the paper -- when Mom calls out from the other room.

"Bed time, Caroline!" It's her no-nonsense voice.

Caroline sighs and grumbles loudly as she gets up from the couch, and Clark looks at her over the top of his glasses.

"You want me to tuck you in, Care?"

"If you want," Caroline says, shrugging one shoulder and keeping her face nonchalant, but she grins as Clark follows her up the stairs.

They got rid of the baby furniture and the duck border ages ago, but Caroline's walls are still the same shade of yellow that everybody painted it back when they weren't even sure if she was a boy or a girl. You can't see it over by Caroline's bed, though; the wall's all covered up there with all the news articles she's cut out over the last couple of years.

When Caroline comes back in from brushing her teeth and changing into her pajamas in the bathroom, Clark is sitting on her bed, looking at them. She pads across the carpet, and kneels up beside him.

Clark ruffles her hair, but doesn't look away from the clippings.

"Daddy lets me go through the newspapers the next day when everybody's done with it," she says, feeling like she should explain.

Clark looks down at her then, and smiles. "One of my friends used to have something like this."

He stands up, and Caroline scoots under the covers. "All about Superman?"

Clark shakes his head, his hands in his pockets. "No, there wasn't any Superman then. She used to collect all the weird stuff that would happen around here."

"Superman isn't weird," Caroline protests. "He's a hero. He protects the weak and the oppressed."

Clark smiles at her again a little, and fiddles with his glasses.

Caroline knows Clark and Superman are the same person, but it's in the same kind of way that she knows her mom and dad were once her age, or that the earth is really billions and billions and billions of miles away from the sun. She knows it, but it's hard to believe, really believe on a deep down level.

Clark is her big brother, and she loves him more than almost anybody, but Superman's a hero. Like in the comics Lex used to buy her, and now come in the mail each week.

When he leans over to fix the covers, Caroline says, "Clark? Do you think you could ever have Superman come and visit?"

Clark gets very quiet, and then says, "I don't know, Care. Superman mostly just comes when bad things are happening, and when people need help."

Caroline nods, feeling a little disappointed.

Clark sees it, though, and says, "We'll see. Maybe someday." He kisses her forehead and snaps off the light as he leaves the room.

One of the other good things about Clark's visits is how excited Mom gets about cooking. Muffins and cookies and pies and all Clark's favorite meals -- and Clark's favorites are mostly good stuff.

Caroline is munching through her second serving of French toast the next morning at breakfast when Clark says to Mom, "So Lex got to the mansion late last night. I thought I'd take Caroline over to visit later today."

Mom looks up from where she's rolling out pie dough and frowns. "There wasn't any need for him to open up the mansion. You both know he can stay here with you."

"I tell him that all the time, Mom. He doesn't like to impose." Clark flashes her a grin as he walks over towards her. "Besides, I think he likes being in charge of his own place better."

"Hmmm," Mom says.

Clark snatches one of the apple slices from the bowl on the counter. "Caroline and I'll bring him back for dinner tonight, okay? Kidnapping, if that's what it takes." He gives Caroline a serious nod, and she rolls her eyes and smiles at the syrup. Clark's so dorky.

When they ride over to the mansion in the pick up truck later, Clark sings along with the radio so loudly that people can probably hear it out on the road. He tries to get Caroline to do it with him, but she just shakes her head and watches him and laughs.

Caroline likes visiting the mansion. Clark says the first time she came over, she was only six weeks old -- "you could still fit in my two hands," Clark tells her. "You were tiny."

Clark likes to tell embarrassing stories about when Caroline was a little kid. They always used to make her blush, but not so much anymore, especially since Mom and Dad still tell all the embarrassing stories about Clark, too.

One of Clark's favorites is from when she was three or four, and she announced to them all about how she was going to marry Lex when she grew up.

Caroline hasn't minded that one much ever since the time that Lex whispered into her ear that he had been tempted to take her up on the offer, too, only he was worried that Clark would be too jealous.

Now when Clark tells that story, Lex winks at her and Caroline just giggles.

Lex has known Caroline since before she was even born. Of course, in Smallville, it seems like it's true about practically everybody sometimes. Everybody knows her mom and her dad and Clark, and how she was an unexpected "surprise baby", and everything else about them.

But Caroline has lots of memories of Lex from when she was little, and the mansion, too. Lex used to buy her toys and dolls -- really pretty ones -- and take care of them for her, and then let them live at the mansion in a special room that only he and she had the key for.

Caroline's too old for that sort of thing now, but Lex is still the coolest.

"I'll race you to Lex's office," Clark says at the front door on the mansion, and Caroline gives him a look.

"No cheating."

"No cheating," Clark promises. "Cross my heart."

She squints at him, but Clark has on his innocent face. "Okay," she says finally.

It's a close race the whole way, and Caroline doesn't feel any less victorious at the end knowing that Clark could have gotten there in a couple seconds, if he wanted. She still won.

"Lex!" she shrieks, bursting into the office, and Lex looks up from behind his desk and smiles.

"Hello, Caroline."

She feels a little awkward suddenly, but she's not sure why. "Hi," she says softly.

Lex comes right over and gives her a big hug, though, and then she feels a little more comfortable again. "Have you been missing me terribly?" Lex asks.

"Well," Caroline says, hugging back, "not terribly."

When she pulls away, Clark is standing in the doorway, watching them, looking happy.

"Clark," says Lex, "I am going to kidnap your little sister and take her away with me. I can't resist her charms any longer."

Clark looks from Lex to Caroline. "It's the old Kent charm. Never fails." He takes a few steps into the room. "A word of advice, Caroline: don't listen to his fancy talk. I'd hold out for a better offer, if I were you."

Lex just snorts at that and changes the subject to ask Caroline if she wants to watch any movies, or swim in the pool, or play in the gardens, or do something else entirely.

Lex is Clark's boyfriend. They don't act like it, exactly -- they don't wrap themselves around each other and give each other movie-type kisses, the way her mom and dad sometimes do in the kitchen after dinner (right in front of her, even. Ew.) or anything like that. But sometimes they hold hands, or lean against each other, and every summer Mom and Dad let Caroline go and spend a weekend at their apartment in Metropolis.

When Caroline is over at the DVD cabinet, biting her lip and trying to decide which of Lex's new movies she needs to see, she can hear them talking over on the couch.

"I told my mom I'd rope you into dinner tonight," Clark says quietly.

"I'm sure I'll be getting the usual lecture about my not staying over."

"Probably. But there's Mom's apple pie and fried chicken to make it up for it. Plus, you know, my company."

Lex snorts again, but Caroline turns around and says brightly, "And mine!"

"Well, in that case. I'm helpless against the combined will of three Kents," Lex says, in the sort of tone of voice that's not quite sarcastic, but not totally serious. Her mom talks like that a lot.

Caroline slips the DVD in the player, and goes back to the couch to sit next to Clark. Lex does something to dim the lights, and Caroline leans against her brother on his free side. Clark puts his arm around her, and she snuggles in.

Clark doesn't come to visit very often, but she loves it when he does.

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