Authors Note: This story is an Alternate Universe of Smallville the TV show. In my story Clark and Lex meet much earlier in life. Clark is 12, and Lex is 18. Written – January 2004 – Revised September 2009.


Friendship Chapter 1

Clark was bored. He wasn't looking forward to summer break this year. His best friend Pete was going to be gone all summer. Pete was visiting both sets of grandparents, and then at the end of the summer, he was going with his parents to Disneyland. Clark had some other friends, but they lived too far away from the farm to visit them very often. He could just run to their houses, but his parent's wouldn't let him go that far alone yet, and he wouldn't have a way to explain how he got there when his friends asked. Lana lived next door, but he was much to shy to talk to her.

The first week of summer break had been okay, because he didn't have to go to school and classes. He was having a good time hanging out with his father, and helping out around the farm for a while, but not for long. He didn't mind helping out, but he could do the chores so fast that he had way too much spare time. His dad had taken him fishing one day that week, and that had been a great day, but his dad had to spend most of his time working.

The second week of summer break, Clark was whiney. He begged his parents for a video game system, but they couldn't afford one, and Jonathan didn't think it was a good way to spend time any way. On Monday morning on the third week Clark had finished his chores before breakfast, and he thought he had a long and tedious day ahead of him. After his father went out to milk the cows, Clark said, "Mom, are you sure we don't have the money for a Nintendo system?"

Martha sighed and said, "I'm sorry Clark. We barely have the money to keep clothes on you, and you know your father doesn't want you to be spending the summer playing video games anyway. Why don't you go read a book?"

"I'm out of school. I don't want to read. I want to have fun."

"Reading can be fun sweetie, but if you don't want to read, why don't you just go outside and play?"

"Play what? It's so awful without Pete here. We'll never have the money to go on a vacation like him. It's not fair," Clark pouted.

She gave him a hug and said, "I know you think things are bad right now, but someday you'll look back at this time and wish you had it back to have fun with."

"What a load of crap."

With a frown, Martha said, "If you can't be civil this morning, then you can spend the rest of it in your room."

Looking at the ground, Clark apologized. "Sorry mom. I'm just so bored."

"Well, I'm planning on taking the eggs, and some of the fruit into town today, and I thought maybe you would like to come with me."

With a hopeful smile he said, "Really? That would be great!"

"I've already told your father about it, so lets get the breakfast dishes cleared up, and we'll head out. And if you help me out when we get to the store, I'll take you to the library and see if we can find a book you want."

"Okay."

Clark was on his best behavior when his mom was bargaining with the store clerk for a price on the eggs. She took him to the library, and they picked out a few books. Then they went to the general store in Smallville. It had groceries, clothes, electronics, tools, and toys. Martha had to buy some groceries, and let Clark go look at the toys while she shopped. He went straight into the electronics section and looked at the Nintendo sets. He'd been there many times, but the usual clerk wasn't there. It was a new person, and Clark didn't recognize him. It was a busy day, and the clerk was helping three people at once. Clark thought it was incredibly unfair that everyone else he knew got to have things like Nintendo systems, and trips to Disneyland. He knew everyone said he was lucky just to have good parents who were still together, and actually cared about him, but sometimes he didn't think it was enough. The more he thought about it the more angry he got. He kept looking at that Nintendo system, and he thought, 'I could just take it.'

He gasped at his own thought, knowing it was wrong. His parent's would be ashamed of him just for thinking it. But then he thought about how easy it would be. He could move so fast that normal people couldn't even see him, and the Nintendo was behind a glass case with a cheesy lock. It wouldn't take any effort at all to break the lock without breaking the glass. He could have it hidden in the back of the truck, and be back in the store isle before anyone even noticed he was gone. And if the alarm went off, when he went out the door, no one would be able to see him. He would be back in his isle before the alarm even started going off. He thought, 'Why shouldn't I have something just for me. Pete gets to go to Disneyland. Dad and Mom are busy on the farm. I'm done with my chores so quick that I have all kinds of time to myself. I could tell them I was going out to play, and then sneak back in the house when they're working outside.'

The more he thought about it, the better it sounded. He looked around, and noticed that the clerk was still helping two people. He knew no one was paying attention to him. He started breathing quick and sweating a little thinking about what he was about to do. Going as fast as he could, he opened the case, took the Nintendo set, and two games, and closed the case back up. He ran them to the truck, and hid them in a corner under a tarp, and got back into the store isle before the clerk even finished a sentence. Clark stood there thinking about what he had done. He didn't hear the alarm go off, so he thought he must have been too quick for it to register the game system. He instantly started thinking about getting caught. His face got red when he thought about what his father would think of what he had done. He was seriously thinking about putting it back, when he heard his mother's voice.

Martha hadn't noticed Clark there, and was asking the clerk about Nintendo's and prices. Then she was asking about other cheaper game systems, and how much they differed. She even asked if the clerk knew if the thrift store ever got them in used. Clark felt really bad now. He went as fast as he could over to the toy section before his mom noticed him there. He stood staring at the same section without really noticing anything until his mom came to get him. She could tell something was wrong when Clark didn't have anything to say the whole ride home.

During dinner that night Clark couldn't eat. He just wanted to take it back. He felt so guilty about the whole thing, he didn't even want to plug it in and play with it. His dad kept trying to get him interested in talking, but all Clark could do was give one or two word answers. By the end of dinner his mom said, "Clark honey, something is wrong. We can tell something is bothering you. You know you can tell us anything. You'll feel better if you let it out."

Jonathan said, "Your mother's right Clark. You know you can tell us anything."

Clark couldn't take his parents being nice to him after he knew he had been rotten. He started to cry. Martha moved her chair next to his and pulled him into a hug. She said, "I know this summer isn't turning out the way you wanted, but if we all work together, I'm sure we can come up with some things for you to keep yourself busy."

Clark shook his head and said, "No mom. You shouldn't be nice to me. I did something."

Holding him tighter she said, "No matter what, we still love you."

"I… I took something," Clark admitted.

Martha looked to Jonathan who asked, "What was it son?"

"When we… we were at the store…. I…. I took something."

"You stole something?" Martha said.

With a nod, Clark buried his face in his hands, and cried harder. Jonathan motioned for Martha to let Clark go. She did, but kept a hand on his knee. Jonathan said gently, "Clark look at me."

With his stomach twisting, Clark looked into his father's face. He was expecting to see disgust, but what he saw was love. Jonathan said, "Whatever it is, we'll make it better. Just tell us the whole story, and we will make things right. There's nothing you can do that will make us stop loving you."

Looking at the floor, Clark tried to stop crying, and said, "I took a… a Nintendo set, and a couple of games."

Martha was shocked, and had no idea what to say. Jonathan asked calmly, "Where is it?"

"I put it in the back of the truck under the tarp. I'm really sorry. I was just upset that everyone I know gets to have things like that, and we don't. I know it was… wrong. It was bad. I'm really sorry."

After a minute to think about it, Jonathan said, "Okay Clark, I can understand you feeling bad when other kids get to have things that you don't get, but you know that stealing isn't the right thing to do."

"I know," Clark agreed.

"I can tell you've been feeling bad about this since it happened, and I'm proud of you for telling us."

Feeling a little better, Clark looked at his father. Jonathan said, "If I could, I'd make you go to the store and tell them what you did, but I can't since you used your abilities to steal it. What you will do is go back to the store tomorrow morning, and use your abilities to put things back where you found them."

"Okay Dad." He'd been expecting that.

"As for tonight, well son you know how I feel about stealing. I want you to go wait for me in your room."

The blood rushed from his face, and Clark stammered, "But….. I told you what I did, and I'm really sorry."

Not without sympathy, Jonathan said, "I know you're sorry Clark, but it doesn't excuse what you did. If you hadn't told me about it, and I found out what you did later, you'd be getting two spankings. One for stealing it, and one for hiding it."

After turning bright red, Clark vanished before Jonathan's eyes. Jonathan sighed, not looking forward to what he was about to do.

Already knowing the answer, Martha asked, "Are you sure?"

"Yes."

Not wanting to be in the house to hear it, Martha said, "I'm going out to the barn to check on the horses. Come get me when you're done."

He gave her a nod, and went to the kitchen to get the little lead box out of the cupboard. Going up the stairs to Clark's room, he found the door open, and Clark lying on his bed crying. Jonathan set the box down on the dresser, and opened it. A little green meteor rock glowed at them from the box, and Clark groaned, feeling the effects. Jonathan said, "I know son, lets get this over with."

He sat on the bed, pulled Clark face down across his lap, and started swatting the seat of the boy's jeans. Clark wasn't used to feeling pain, so on the few occasions when his father spanked him, he found it excruciating. He yelled loudly and kicked his feet with each swat. Twenty swats later, when Jonathan stopped, Clark was crying loudly. Jonathan rubbed the boy's back while he calmed down, and then helped him to stand up. Clark kept his head down, looking at the floor, and rubbing his bottom. Jonathan knew the meteor rock made the kid feel sick to his stomach, so he reached over and shut the lid to the box. Clark's butt instantly felt normal again, and he stopped rubbing it, but continued to cry. Jonathan pulled his son into a hug, and when the crying tapered off he said, "What was the lesson son?"

"Don't steal."

"Good boy."

"I'm sorry I took it," Clark whispered.

"I know. I want you to spend the rest of the night in your room, and then tomorrow after breakfast we'll go to town to return the Nintendo box and games."

"Yes Sir."

"I love you Clark. Everyone makes mistakes. You're still a good person."

He pulled out of his father's arms and said, "You mean it?."

Jonathan smiled, and mussed Clark's hair. "Absolutely. I'll send your mom up to say good night, and you can get ready for bed. You can read a book until nine, and then it's lights out."

Picking up the little box on his way out, Jonathan put it back in the kitchen, and went to get Martha. He found her in the barn, and said, "I'm done. You can go see him. I told him he had to stay in his room tonight, and he'll be going to bed at nine."

She went to her husband, and put a hand on his cheek. Looking into his eyes she said, "Are you okay? I know you hate it."

Putting his hand over hers, he leaned down to give her a kiss. "I love you, and I'm fine."

She nodded, and went to say good night to Clark. When she got there, he was already in his pajamas, sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for her. She sat next to him on the bed, and put an arm around his shoulders. "You okay sweetie?"

He nodded, and she kissed him on the head before asking, "You know we love you right?"

"I love you too mom. I know I keep saying it, but I'm really sorry that I took it. And… and I heard you asking the guy at the store about it. That made me feel even worse that I'd taken it. I don't need it. I know we don't have the money."

"I was thinking about trying to get you one, but now I don't think so. Maybe for Christmas."

She kissed him again and said, "Good night."

The next day Clark had no trouble putting the game system back into the store. He was back out to the truck where his dad was waiting for him before Jonathan had even blinked. Jonathan gave Clark a hug and said, "Good boy. Now it's over as far as I'm concerned. You know I forgive you right?"

"Yeah Dad."

After they were home, Clark asked his mom if he could go for a walk down to the covered bridge. It was a few miles from the house, but Martha knew Clark could be there in a few minutes. It was on a road that was rarely used, and it was a beautiful spot to sit and think. She knew her son needed some alone time to think about what he had done, and he liked to stand on the bridge and toss twigs and rocks into the water. She said, "Okay, but I want you to be home by lunch time."

Clark yelled, "Thanks mom," as he ran out the front door.

# # #

Lex was bored. It was summer break, and his father Lionel had decided to spend the summer at the mansion in Smallville. Lex had pleaded with his father to spend summer break in Metropolis, but after all the trouble Lex had gotten into last summer, Lionel had not agreed. Summer had just started, and Lex would be going to college next year. His father had wanted him to work at Luthorcorp with him, but Lex had not agreed. As usual, the summer started with them both being angry at each other's decisions. Lionel spent most of the week in Metropolis working, and Lex had spent most of the first week hanging out in the mansion playing video games, making life miserable for all the servants, and trying to break into his father's safe.

Lex couldn't decide if he was happy, or if he was depressed that his father was spending most of his time in Metropolis. Sometimes he would wish that his father were more like the parent's of his school friends. He wanted someone to be there when he got home, and he wanted someone to tell him he had done a good job, or that he couldn't go out drinking all night. All his friends seemed to think he was very lucky, and sometimes when he was in the middle of a bar tossing money around with girls hanging on him, he was glad his father let him do whatever he wanted.

He thought about his mother almost every day, and still missed her even though she had died years ago. They had been very close, and he knew he would have a better relationship with his father if she were still around.

By the second week in Smallville, Lex couldn't take it. He had been to 'town', and thought it was pathetic. All the bar owners knew exactly who he was, and wouldn't serve him no matter how much money he put in front of them, because they had already been paid off and most likely threatened by his father. He didn't find much enjoyment in driving fast through town, because no one would race him. There were no cars he wanted to steal, because his was by far the best in town. There were no prostitutes that he could find. There weren't even any girls his age that wanted to hang out with him.

On Monday when his father had headed off to Metropolis for the week, Lex had decided to go to Metropolis too. Lionel called every evening to check up on Lex, so Lex told the staff at the mansion to tell his father to call his cell phone, and Lex would make up a story. He took the nicest and fastest car that was at the mansion, and drove to Metropolis with a wad of cash and a plan to have as much fun as he could without getting caught.

Lex spent the next week playing. He couldn't remember a good portion of the week because he was drunk or high most of the time. He had hired a very expensive prostitute to spend the week with him, and he had made all kinds of new friends at various bars. His fun ran out on Saturday. He had lost track of the days, and didn't realize his father would be home at the mansion. He was with his new friend Mark, and his prostitute Jenny at a bar. He had done a couple lines of coke that night, and he had just started on his third drink. Mark said, "This is boring. This is all we ever do. Let's do something better"

With a gleam in his eye Lex said, "Like what?"

"We could go find a car and 'borrow' it for a while. Maybe see who we could find to race."

Rolling his eyes Lex said, "We did that two days ago. Don't you remember?"

"Oh yeah! That was great."

Rubbing his hands together Lex said, "Have you ever shot a gun?"

"No."

"Wanna see what it's like?"

Mark got very excited and said, "That would be so cool! Do you have one?"

"Getting one will be part of the fun stupid."

Jenny sighed, "Lex, I'm tired. Can I go back to the hotel room and wait for you?"

He grabbed her and kissed her before he said, "Yeah, but when I get there I may wake you up."

The two young men got in Lex's car and went to find a sports store. Once they found one, it was easy to find the section with guns. They asked the clerk to see a variety of guns from behind the case. Lex found one that he liked and said; "I'll take this one."

The clerk laughed and shook his head. "Well you don't look twenty one to me kid."

Lunging over the counter, Lex smacked the guy in the face with the gun. The man went down bleeding from the mouth, and Lex used the gun to brake a glass case and grab some bullets. Mark just stared at him for a few seconds, as if he couldn't comprehend this behavior. Lex yelled, "Run!"

They ran towards the front of the store, only to be stopped by three large security guards. Lex didn't even have the chance to pretend the gun was loaded, or hit anyone else with it, because the guard tackled him from behind.

Two hours later Lex was riding home with Lionel. The drugs were starting to ware off, and he asked, "Where's Mark?"

Lionel said, "Someone has to take the fall."

"Bastard!" Lex spit out.

"I will not waste my money paying for the low life people you get attached to. I already lost about fifty thousand dollars tonight just to get you off the hook. Is there anything else you have been doing here that needs to be cleaned up before we go home?"

"I need to go pay my bill at the hotel, and tell Jenny to get out in the morning."

Lionel sighed. "Why do you have to pay for women? There should be plenty of girls your age who are interested in you."

Lex laughed and said, "Have you seen my head Dad? Any way I don't want a lover. I just want someone to fuck."

"Don't you want to find someone to be with. Someone that you could be close to..... Someone like your m.."

Lex yelled, "DON'T talk about MOM!!!"

Resignation showed in his voice as Lionel said, "Which hotel?"

Late that night they got home to the mansion and Lionel made Lex stand with him while he fired half of the staff. Lex had to listen to Lionel telling them that they were losing their jobs because they had covered for him. Lex was already obsessing over Mark and feeling bad, but when the cook that had been with them for four years started crying, Lex found it very hard not to attack his father. Lionel was ranting about how he was in charge and that if anyone was going to take Lex as the authority figure, they could pack and get out. Once that was done Lionel took Lex into the office and said, "Okay son what are we going to do about tonight?"

Pouring himself a scotch Lex answered, "I think you took care of everything. You are the coldest person I know. How could you just fire all those people? People that are loyal to you should be kept. Maybe you could just cut their pay for a week or something."

"When are you going to figure out that your actions have consequences for others Lex? Haven't we been over this often enough for you? You are a rich man, and a powerful man. Everything you do will have long lasting effects for others. You are untouchable, but those around you aren't."

Lex snorted at the untouchable line and said, "You're right about that Dad."

"Aren't you done with this adolescent stage yet? I am very tired of it. It's time for you to grow up and be a man instead of some sniveling little child."

"Right Dad, I'll try harder to be the perfect image of what you want in a son. I'll get on that right away."

"So, I guess I'll be hiring a new staff tomorrow, and I'll be very clear about what I expect when it comes to you. I want you here in the house every night by ten. You can't have a car for the next month. I'm taking all the keys with me."

"I'm an adult! I can stay out as late as I want, and I can buy my own fucking car!" Lex was livid.

Witha sigh Lionel said, "I'm guessing you'll find it difficult to buy a car if I close out your accounts. Until you get a job and make your own money, you're stuck living by my rules. Unless you'd rather live on the streets."

Lex felt his stomach clench at that thought. He sipped his drink and muttered, "Whatever."

"That's what I thought. And I'll also be clearing out the bar."

"Asshole."

"Oh, and Lex, I do have security camera's here. There is no point in trying to break into the safe. You aren't smart enough to figure it out, and there isn't anything you would want in there anyway," Lionel said with mild humor.

Lex tossed the glass of scotch against the wall, and flipped his father off as he stormed out the door. He headed up to his room, and collapsed on his bed. He tried to block it out, but thoughts of his mother came to him. He thought about Mark, and the staff. He tried to fight it, but soon the tears started, and he cried himself to sleep.

# # #

The next day he tried to avoid his father as much as possible. He swam laps, and practiced fencing until he was worn out. He couldn't wait until his father left on Monday. He hated his father, but he couldn't help but remember what he was like when his mom was around. He wasn't the best father, but he had been better, and his mom had been great. He could remember sitting on her lap when she read him stories. He could remember the gentle touches, and the warm smile. He could remember her teaching him about history, and about the right way to treat people. The more he thought about her, the guiltier he felt about the people he had hurt, and then the more angry he got about his life in general.

Monday Lex spent the day in the mansion trying to break into the safe again. He had flipped of the security camera before smashing it with a hammer. But by the end of the day he still hadn't gotten into the safe. He hated it when his dad was right. He wanted to break something, and he picked up the blue vase that was in the room. He held it over his head with the intention to smash it on the floor, but then he took another look at it. He could remember his mother telling him the history of that vase. He could also remember her swatting him once when he almost broke it by running through the room, and bumping the stand. He put it back on the stand, and smashed his fist into the wall.

He went to bed early that night, but he couldn't sleep. He got up about three in the morning and went to the garage. He hot wired one of his father's cars, and drove it in to town. He broke into one of the bars, and laughed himself silly when he realized it didn't even have an alarm system. He drank until he couldn't feel the pain any more. Around eight in the morning, he stumbled to his car and drove aimlessly. He was trying to change the CD while he was driving down a country road with no one around. He swerved around the road, and once he got the right CD in, he looked up just in time to see the boy in front of his car. He turned the wheel to miss the boy, but he ended up hitting him, and sending both of them flying off a covered bridge, and into the water.

# # #

Clark was taken by surprise, and didn't have time to get out of the way of the car as it slammed into him. He went down into the water. It had hurt a little bit, but not much. Nothing like when his father had spanked him, which was what he had been thinking about when the car hit him. He swam to the surface, and looked for the guy who had been driving. He didn't see him, so he swam back down to the car, which was rapidly sinking. The guy behind the wheel had been knocked out. Clark couldn't tell if he was dead or not, but he was bleeding from a cut on his head. Clark ripped the car door off the hinges, and dragged the guy up to the surface. He swam with the guy back to the shore. The guy was breathing, but not waking up. Clark said, "Hey mister, are you okay?"

When he didn't get a response, Clark ran home as fast as he could, and found his dad. Jonathan said, "What's wrong son? Why are you all wet?"

"There's a guy at the bridge. He went over the side. He's breathing, but he won't wake up. He's bleeding! You have to come Dad!"

"Calm down son. I'll get the truck, and I'll meet you there. You go tell your mother what we're doing, and then go stay with the man until I get there."

Clark ran, and appeared in front of his mom, which made her jump. "Oh! You startled me."

"Sorry. Dad and I are at the covered bridge. There's a guy that's hurt. We'll be home soon."

Before Martha could say anything, Clark was gone. He ran back to the guy. The whole trip took him about two minutes. He sat with the guy talking to him and asking him if he was okay while he waited for his dad. Jonathan pulled up with the truck ten minutes later. Clark was really nervous because the guy wouldn't wake up. He yelled, "Dad! He's not waking up!"

"Calm down Clark. You getting upset won't help the kid wake up."

Jonathan reached down and checked for breathing and a pulse. He saw that they were normal, and checked the gash on the kid's head. It wasn't that bad, and probably wouldn't even need stitches. He looked close at the face, and said, "Clark, do you know who this is?"

Clark shook his head.

"Lionel Luthor's son Alexander. People call him Lex."

Eyes wide with surprise, Clark said, "Wow."

Jonathan put a hand on Lex's shoulder and shook it as he said, "Lex, can you hear me?"

He'd heard plenty of gossip about Lex, and bent down to smell Lex's breath. He got a distinct wiff of alcohol and said, "Lex won't wake up because he's drunk. Not much to worry about, he just has to sleep it off. Why don't you help me get him in the truck, and we'll let him sleep it off on our couch."

When they got home Martha came out of the house and said, "What happened?"

Clark was helping his dad get Lex out of the car, and when they started for the couch Martha said, "Oh no you don't! He's all wet. You boys get him in some dry cloths so that he doesn't catch a cold, and so that the couch doesn't get ruined."

They headed for the bathroom, and set Lex on the floor. Jonathan went to get some of his old clothes, and they got Lex dressed without him waking up. Clark carried Lex to the couch, while Jonathan cleaned up the mess in the bathroom. He came out with a first aid kit, and cleaned up the cut on Lex's head, and bandaged it up. Martha came in and covered Lex with a blanket and then said, "Okay now that he's settled, you go change your clothes Clark."

Clark went very fast, and was back down in dry clothes before Martha could tell Jonathan to go change his shirt. As soon as they were all back in the living room Martha said, "Tell me the story."

"I was just standing on the bridge, and I guess I wasn't paying too much attention to what was going on around me, because I turned around just in time to see Lex driving his car straight at me. He was looking at me and turning the wheel, like he was trying to miss me, but he hit me, and we both went over the bridge and into the water."

Looking worried, Martha asked, "Are you okay Clark?"

"Yeah. It didn't hurt much, and I can't feel it at all now. So anyway, I swam to the surface, but I didn't see Lex anywhere, so I went back down to get him. He was passed out, so I ripped the door off the car and pulled him out. Then when he wouldn't wake up, I came to get Dad."

Jonathan said, "That was the right thing to do son. I'm proud of you."

"Thanks Dad," Clark said with a grin.

Martha hugged him. "You saved Lex's life today."

As an after thought she asked, "Shouldn't we be taking him to the hospital? Why hasn't he woken up? Do you think he has a concussion?"

With disgust Jonathan said, "He's drunk."

Anger tainted her face as she said, "A boy his age shouldn't be out drinking in the first place, but then getting in a car and driving. That is inexcusable."

Nodding in agreement, Jonathan said, "Let's let him sleep it off, and then we can have him call his dad when he comes around."

# # #

Lex didn't feel right. He was sick to his stomach, and his head was pounding. He felt someone rubbing his arm, and said, "Mom?" He opened his eyes, and saw a woman sitting next to him smiling. He shook his head a little, and then groaned as the pain shot through his head.

The woman said, "Your name is Lex right?"

"Yeah."

"Here, take this aspirin, and then we will see if you can keep down some toast."

Lex took the pills, and washed them down with the glass of water she handed him. He watched her walk over to the kitchen and put a slice of bread in a toaster. He tried to sit up to figure out where he was, and what had happened, but found it much too difficult. He reached up and felt the bandage on his head. He said, "What happened?"

With disapproval she said, "You, young man, got drunk and drove your car over a bridge and into the water."

Lex was shocked at the woman's tone. No one talked to him like that. Then he remembered the boy. He thought for sure that he'd crashed into the boy on his way over the bridge. Distraught by that thought he whispered, "The boy…."

At that moment, said boy ran into the house and said, "Mom, Dad says he's almost ready for lunch."

Lex could see the boy from where he was lying on the couch, and couldn't believe his eyes. "You're the boy on the bridge…"

Smiling, the boy said, "You're awake! Mom, he's awake."

"Yes, I see that," the woman said, as she brought over the toast.

The boy said, "You were driving really fast, and you went over the bridge!"

The woman said, "Okay Clark, let's let Lex wake up a little before you start talking his ear off."

"But Mom I just…"

Not willing to argue, she simply said, "Clark."

Sounding disappointed Clark said, "Okay."

"Go finish helping your father."

Clark sighed and walked slowly out the door. The woman put the toast on the coffee table, and said, "Okay Lex, let's see if you can sit up without getting sick."

She gathered some of the pillows off the end of the couch, and helped Lex to sit up while she piled the pillows behind him. Lex felt a wave of nausea, but it passed once he was leaning back. Handing him the toast and a drink, she said, "Sprite. Try a little of each, and see if it stays down. There is an empty garbage pail by the end of the couch if you need to throw up."

She walked back into the kitchen to make lunch. Lex just stared at his toast and Sprite. He was confused, and in pain. He though he had hit the boy, Clark, but now he wasn't sure. He couldn't understand why these people were being nice to him when he had almost killed their son. He wondered how long he had been there, and where his clothes were. He took a sip of the Sprite and a bite of the toast while he was thinking. Soon half the toast was gone along with the entire glass of Sprite. He felt better, and he said, "You know my name, but I don't know yours."

The woman wiped her hands and came over to get his cup and plate. She said, "My name is Martha Kent. My husband is Jonathan, and you met my son is Clark. You're on our farm. Lucky for you, my husband is a good swimmer."

"What happened?" Lex asked.

Martha put the dishes in the kitchen, and then came back to sit beside him. She put a hand on his knee and said, "Jonathan and Clark were out fishing, and Clark had gone up to the bridge to look around. You were drunk, and driving too fast, and you almost hit Clark. When you swerved to miss him, you ended up going over the bridge, and into the water. Jonathan saw the whole thing from the shore, and jumped in the water to help you. You were unconscious, so he pulled you out of the car, and took you to shore. He could smell the alcohol, and he didn't think you had any major injuries, so he brought you home in our truck to sleep it off."

Lex said, "I thought for sure I had hit the boy, Clark that is. I'm so glad he isn't hurt."

"Me too."

At that point Jonathan came in with Clark. Martha said, "Lunch is almost ready why don't you guys clean up."

Jonathan glared at Lex on his way to the bathroom to wash up. Lex decided it was time to go. While Martha was taking sandwiches to the table, Lex said, "I think I should go. If you could tell me where my clothes are, and if I could use your phone, that would be great."

She said, "After we are done with lunch. You just sit back and relax while we eat. You hit your head pretty hard, and you need to give the aspirin time to work."

Lex really didn't want to deal with Jonathan and started to protest, "I really think…"

In the same warning tone she'd used for Clark earlier, Martha said, "I think you'll do what I tell you to do."

With his mouth agape, Lex sat and stared at Martha while she went back into the kitchen to get the chips and milk. Lex didn't have any built in responses to that type of parental authority coming from a stranger. It took him so long to figure out how to handle the situation, that by the time he'd decided to demand to use the phone, the whole family was sitting at the table eating. He made eye contact with Clark, who'd been staring at him. Clark smiled and said with his mouth full, "That was a cool car you were driving."

Martha said, "Not with your mouth full please."

After swallowing Clark said, "Was it your car, or your dad's?"

Lex said absently, "My fathers."

"Oh man, that's too bad for you," Clark said.

After some momentary confusion from that statement, Lex said, "I'm really glad you're okay. I hope I didn't scare you too bad. I must have come pretty close to hitting you."

Clark shrugged. "It surprised me, but that's all. I'm fine."

Shaking his head, Jonathan said, "You're lucky that you're okay Clark. Lex could have killed you."

Clark rolled his eyes and took another bite of sandwich. Focusing on Jonathan, Lex said, "Thank you so much for saving my life. Mrs. Kent told me that you pulled me out. I'm sure my father will be grateful."

"What the hell were you doing driving drunk at nine in the morning?!" Jonathan demanded.

Lex swallowed hard and stammered, "I… Well I…. I just was."

Jonathan growled, "What do you mean you just were? Do you make it a regular habit to go endanger yourself and others?"

Lex had to break eye contact when he said, "Sometimes."

Gently, Martha said, "Jonathan, let's finish eating without yelling please."

"I'm sorry Martha." He looked over to Lex and added, "I'll save the yelling for after we're done eating."

Everyone was silent through the rest of the meal. Clark was done first and said, "May I be excused?"

Martha nodded, and Clark ran over to where Lex was sitting. Speaking quickly, Clark asked, "How come you were driving your dad's car? Do you have a car too? Does he have more than one?"

With a smile Lex said, "My father has eight cars, and I have two that he bought for me. I was driving my dad's car because mine weren't available."

"Wow that's a lot of cars. What kinds are they?"

Martha and Jonathan listened quietly while Lex and Clark talked about cars. Soon they were done eating, and Martha cleared the table, while Jonathan went to get Lex's clothes out of the dryer. Jonathan came out and said, "Clark, I want to talk to Lex alone. Please go feed the horses."

Clearly disappointed Clark said, "Okay."

Jonathan handed Lex his clothes as Clark went out the door. "If you don't feel too sick, go get dressed, and then we will make a couple of phone calls."

Lex nodded, and was able to get up and get to the bathroom without too much trouble. He really wanted to get out of the house, and away from Jonathan Kent, who made him feel very nervous. He came back out and saw Jonathan sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter next to the phone. Jonathan motioned for Lex to come and sit by him. Once he'd sat down Jonathan said, "You could have killed my son today. You almost killed yourself today. You have no business drinking at your age in the first place, but to then get in a car and drive is just wrong."

Blushing, Lex stammered, "I… I'm sorry Mr. Kent."

With a nod, Jonathan handed the phone to Lex and said, "Call your father, and tell him what happened."

Lex grabbed the offered phone, and dialed Lionel.

"Lionel Luthor, how may I help you?"

"It's me Dad."

"What do you need?" Lionel asked.

"I… I drove your car off a bridge, and…. I…"

Sighing in annoyance, Lionel guessed, "You need me to bail you out of jail again?"

"No! I'm at a farmhouse. A man named Jonathan Kent pulled me out of the car when I was passed out. He saved my life, and he thought you might be concerned enough about me to want to know."

Lionel was silent for a few seconds before asking, "Are you injured?"

"No."

"Did you injure anyone else?"

"No."

Lionel said, "The man probably just wants money. Let me speak with him please."

Lex almost hung up on his dad, but instead handed the phone to Jonathan and said, "He want's to talk to you."

Jonathan took the phone and said, "Hello?"

"Mr. Kent. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for saving my son. I'm more grateful than I can say, and I'm willing to pay you a healthy reward for saving him."

Jonathan's confusion turned to anger, and he said, "I don't want your money Mr. Luthor."

"Come now, let me show you my gratitude somehow. There must be something you want." Lionel prompted.

"Mr. Luthor, your son almost died today, and he almost killed my son with him because he was out drinking and driving. He has completely totaled your car, which is lying at the bottom of a river. Why are you not on your way here?" Jonathan demanded.

Realizing this was more serious then he'd suspected, Lionel said, "I didn't know he almost killed your son. I am willing to pay you quite a lot of money to keep this quiet. How does one hundred thousand sound?"

Jonathan took the phone from his ear and glared at it. Turning to Lex he said calmly, "Why don't you go out to the barn and help Clark?"

With a dry emotionless laugh Lex said, "Don't worry that you might upset me. I know he's trying to buy you off."

Jonathan glared at the boy and put his hand over the phone so Lionel couldn't hear. "Let me rephrase that. Go to the barn and help Clark, right now."

His eyebrows went up in surprise, and Lex said, "There's no need to try and protect…"

Interrupting, Jonathan stood up and towered over Lex. "Did I not make myself clear?"

Lex scrambled off stool, and found himself at the front door, without making the conscious decision to do so. He paused in confusion until Jonathan took a step towards him. Stumbling in his haste to get out the door, Lex tried to convince himself that he wasn't intimidated, and looked around for the barn.

Putting the phone to his ear again, Jonathan could hear Lionel asking, 'Hello? Is anyone there?'

Jonathan said, "Listen up Mr. Luthor. I don't want your money. I want you to assure me that Lex isn't going to be out driving drunk tomorrow. If I call the police now, to tell them about the accident, he will have plenty of it still in his system for a DUI. If you can tell me that you'll make sure Lex isn't going to do this again, then I'll wait until tomorrow to call the cops."

Lionel thought fast and said, "Okay Mr. Kent. I swear Lex will never bother you again. I don't think there is any need to call the police at all. I'm sure there is something that you might want. Something that might persuade you to not call them."

Jonathan was disgusted and hung up the phone. Looking at Martha he said, "No wonder Lex is the way he is. What an ass."

With concern Martha said, "What should we do? I don't think we should call the cops today. Lex seems lost to me. He looks like he needs someone to love him."

Rolling his eyes Jonathan said, "He isn't a stray, Honey."

The phone started ringing, but they both ignored it. Clearly annoyed, Martha said, "Don't you patronize me Jonathan Kent, I know very well that he isn't a stray, but he still looks like he needs a home. His father obviously isn't as involved as he should be. He is probably too busy running his company to even notice Lex. If Mr. Luthor was offering you money, then maybe he will make a deal with us. Lex could spent the summer here."

"Are you in…. um… joking?" He couldn't believe what he was hearing. He'd almost said 'insane', but caught himself in time, not wanting to spend the next week sleeping on the couch.

Trying to make him see her point of view, she said, "You said you wanted to make sure that Lex isn't out there driving drunk. Well here's your chance to do that. It sounded like his father didn't even know he was gone. The poor boy didn't even seem to find it odd that his dad was offering you money."

Jonathan didn't like where this was going at all. "But Martha, what about Clark? Lex can't be a good influence for him."

She wasn't swayed. "Clark is a good boy. He knows the difference between right and wrong. Clark will be a good influence on Lex, more than the other way around."

"But…. But I don't think it's a good idea," Jonathan said, sounding desperate even to his own ears.

Crossing her arms, Martha said calmly, "I've made up my mind about this Jonathan."

Jonathan had only heard his wife use that phrase two other times. The first was when she was talking to her father about marrying him, and the second was when she had decided to keep Clark. Knowing he'd lost the argument, he groaned and picked up the phone. "Hello?"

Lionel said, "Okay Mr. Kent. Tell me what you want. How does five hundred thousand sound?"

Rolling his eyes, Jonathan said, "It sounds ridiculous. Listen Mr. Luthor. I do have a proposition for you."

Relieved, Lionel said, "Ah. Good. What is it?"

Jonathan closed his eyes and gritted his teeth when he said, "My wife and I would like to have Lex stay here with us for the summer. He can work on the farm to make amends for almost killing my son."

Lionel was so shocked, that he didn't know what to say for a few seconds. "I could hire some men to help you on the farm."

"I don't want anyone else. Just Lex."

As they were talking, Lionel realized he should stop arguing with the man. He was sure that one of two things would happen over the next few days. Either they would get tired of Lex's behavior and toss him out, or Lex would come running back home, unable to stand being on a farm. Smiling because he hadn't had to pay anything for this screw up, Lionel said, "All right Mr. Kent. You may keep Lex there for the summer. If he gets to be too much trouble, you can just send him home. How much should I send you for his room and board?"

"Nothing. I'm sure we'll be fine with one more mouth to feed. I'll need someone to bring over some of his clothes. Tonight would be good, but tomorrow would be okay too."

The more he thought about it, the more pleased Lionel became. He was almost giddy to hear that he didn't even have to pay for Lex's room and board. "Yes I will call and have his things sent right away. Now as for the police, I will call and report the car stolen right now. I would really appreciate it if you didn't tell the police about the car wreck at all. It would be helpful if you could call the city tomorrow and tell them you saw some damage to the covered bridge. Maybe they will figure it out, and maybe they won't. Either way, Lex won't be to blame."

Jonathan knew it wasn't the right thing to do, but he could see the logic in Lionel's thinking, and he knew he would do a lot to keep his son out of jail. "Okay Mr. Luthor. We have a deal."

Once he'd hung up, Martha came over and gave him a hug. "Thank you. You'll see. It won't be bad at all."

Jonathan scoffed, "Sure. I'll go get the boys, and you can give them the good news."