"What's in the bag, Ma?" Clark asked cautiously removing a folded-over sandwich baggie from the back of the spice cupboard.
"What does it look like, Clark?' Lois asked as she put forks around the table small kitchen table.
"I don't know. What is it ma?"
Clark's mother looked up from the large pot of tomato sauce that she was stirring, but didn't say anything.
"Ma-a-a." Had Clark just whined? Lois could have sworn he'd just whined.
"It looks like a bag of oregano," Lois said critically. "Maybe basil. But basil's a bit lighter isn't it? I'm going with oregano. Just give it to your mom. I want to eat some time this century."
Clark pushed his glasses up and put a hand on his hip, holding the sandwich bag in front of his mother's face. "Ma. Really. What is this?"
Martha Kent looked back at Lois. "You're so smart, Clark, you tell me."
And then Clark Kent blushed. "Ma. MA." He rubbed his forehead. "Ma, really?"
His mother grabbed the bag out of his hand, opened it and dumped the herb in the sauce. "It's oregano, Clark. The jar broke, so I put it in a bag." She sighed.
Clark looked out the window and down the road. "There's a volcano. In Appalachia. Gotta go."
And with a gust of wind dragging the hot air out of the oppressive kitchen, he was gone.
"There are no volcanoes in Appalachia, as far as I know," Lois pointed out dryly. "What's his deal? Did he REALLY think you'd keep your pot in the spice cupboard?" Lois really didn't care where Mrs. Kent kept her stash, though she really wasn't sure the older woman was the type.
The sauce that Martha had been working on when she paused mid-stir to chastise her son gave a glub, all over the white surface of the gas stove. With that, the tension popped and Martha chuckled and readjusted her glasses in a very Clark-like manner. A moment later she couldn't hold back the laughter. "I have no idea what his obsession is with marijuana. Really."
Lois finished setting the table and sat down. "Do tell." Anything she learned here can and would be used against Clark whenever the whim struck her.
Martha turned down the heat, gave he pot a final stir and put the lid back on. Grabbing a dishtowel, she wiped up the sauce and looked everything over, deciding there was nothing else for her to do at the moment. "When Clark was in fifth grade, his powers started coming in. Nothing like they are now, mind you. But he could leap thirty yards without hardly trying, and his hearing was a positive nuisance, especially in school. That boy got into more trouble for not paying attention that year… well, it was a tough year all around."
Lois didn't have to work for the Daily Planet to know there was a story in this one. Being the ever-supportive daughter –in-law, she pulled two mugs out of the cupboard and poured fresh coffee for herself and Mrs. Kent. "Oh, really?"
Martha gratefully took the mug. "Well, you see, when Clark started getting around faster than normal, he took to exploring the farm. Which would have been fine, except he found the back forty. Jonathan had never done anything with it, because it was cut off by a stream and was full of boulders. We just let it overgrow for the deer, then rented it out to hunters in the winter. It was a nice extra bit of cash come winter."
"But." There was always a but. This was Clark they were talking about.
Readjusting her glasses with one hand, Martha sighed. "Well, we didn't know Clark had found it. He kept it to himself, but we should have known something was wrong be cause he was quiet the whole rest of the night. We really didn't know what was happening when the police showed up and hauled Jonathan off to the county jail."
Her mouth was hanging wide open, Lois knew, but she wasn't quiet sure how to close it again. She blinked a few times and finally had the decency to cover her gaping yap with her hand. "What did he DO?"
"Well, someone in town knew we didn't go back there and had decided to start growing… contraband."
"And instead of coming and talking to you, Super-Scout told the police?"
Martha shook her head and took a quick sip from her mug. "No. It wasn't like that. But YES I wish he'd have spoken to us, first. Jonathan would have burned the whole field down right then and there. No. He wasn't paying attention in Mr Wilson's math class, because he was listening to what was going on in the Teacher's Lounge. Mr. Wilson was always on Clark to pay attention by that point, and the teacher sent him to the principle's office."
Clark was so dead when he ever bothered to show up again. This was the best dirt ever. Better than finding out he'd cried on his first night at summer camp until his dad had come to pick him up.
"And the principle asked him what was on his mind."
"Because Clark is transparent like that."
Martha nodded. "And Clark just told him. An hour later, Jonathan's being hauled off to jail, and I'm trying to reassure child-protective services that I had NO IDEA what was going on, on our property." Martha rubbed her forehead. "It took us a week to get the charges dropped." She sighed. "He's been weird about marijuana ever since."
"Oh. My. God. He got his dad arrested for growing and distributing pot."
"Yeah. Jonathan never let him forget it, either." She smiled. "I love that boy, but I have no idea why he automatically assumes his parents are drugies all the time."
"All the time?"
Martha rolled her eyes. "When he was fifteen he had an honest-to-gosh panic attack because I thought I was taking my antibiotic, but I accidently popped two Vicodin left over from my tooth extraction right before his parent-teacher conference. They looked damned near identical, and I didn't have my glasses on, so I didn't read the bottle."
That sounded like only the greatest parent-teacher conference in the history of the sport. Clark really and truly took his parents for granted.
"AFTER he and his dad dragged me out of freshman homeroom, and all the way back home, Clark started hyperventilating. Which turned the downstairs into a wind tunnel, which…"
"Ma-a-aaaa! We're not telling this story? Are we?"
The embarrassment in Clark's voice was equivocal to a teenager enduring the circumcision photo album at the dinner table with a date.
When she turned around, Lois wasn't sure what was more surprising, that Clark was ACTUALLY covered in soot from his volcano in Appalachia, or that he was blushing underneath the dirt, from his ears all the way to his nose, his hairline to his collar.
"No, Clark, I think this is important for me to know. I don't need you destroying half of Metropolis because you go into some sort of drug-anxiety panic attack because I took an extra Motrin."
The answer snapped out of him like it was some sort of automated reaction. "You should only ever follow the instructions on the medication bottle, unless your physician states otherwise."
Lois got up from the table, snatching her half-full mug and taking it with her to the back door. "Clark, you're enough to drive anyone to drink. Or smoke." She turned to Clark's mother who was checking on the sauce again. "I need some air. Martha, do you have any of that" she made flamboyant air quotes "'special oregano' left?"