Notes: Many thanks are owed to my beta readers - capnzebbie, blackpsychi, and fishsanwitt. All of them did an absolutely wonderful job under tremendous time constraints. A special thank you is owed to fishsanwitt for going above and beyond - during the week she started a new job, too. Any remaining errors are entirely my own fault.
It Happened One Weekend by mahaliem
"You can't do this to me." Kal-El tugged at the gold kryptonite collar fastened around his throat as he scowled at his father.
"I can and I did," Jor-El replied.
"It won't stop me." Kal-El paced back and forth in the crystalline structure that formed his room before turning his fury back onto his father. "You can take away my powers, but it won't keep me away from Lana Lang. We're over eighteen and we're getting married whether you like it or not."
"I refuse to have that... that fluff be a part of the future of the Kryptonian race. And the Kryptonian age of consent is thirty-five."
"Then it's a good thing we're on Earth, because we're getting married. We're in love."
"Love? Bah. It's your duty to find a worthy mate. A duty I expect you to fulfill."
Kal-El crossed his arms in front of him and pouted. "All you think about is duty." His voice changed pitch to mimic his father. "Kal-El, you must always wear your family crest. Kal-El, the underwear goes on the outside. Kal-El, you will conquer the planet." He released a breath in a huff. "I'm tired of you running my life."
"I wouldn't have to run your life if you didn't get involved with people like Lana Lang. I thought for sure giving her another technological patent would shut her up about her parents, but she's still yapping about it."
"She's suffered," Kal-El shouted.
"And she's passing the suffering on," Jor-El shouted back.
For a moment, they glared at each other in silence. Finally, Jor-El spoke.
"Tomorrow, we head for our Arctic fortress and you're not going to leave there until you've listened to reason.
The crystalline door hissed as Jor-El passed through it, leaving Kal-El alone, fuming.
Lex stood alone, a sea of calm in the ocean of humanity hurrying toward the docks and the ferries that waited there. Becoming the main headquarters of the only known aliens in existence had definitely caused a rise in tourism on Nantucket. When the Kryptonians, who had crashed in Kansas, had inquired where they might settle, the United States had rushed to offer them Greenland. Soon, however, calmer heads prevailed, pointing out that Greenland was not actually part of the United States and thus couldn't be offered.
The aliens had chosen Nantucket, and an area in the upper reaches of Alaska. They hadn't realized that, wherever they settled, they were going to be descended upon by tourists.
Now families, pushing baby carriages, hung with diaper bags, moved past Lex. Sticky-faced children, still clutching the remnants of Spaceslushies and Kryptopops in their grubby hands, followed in their wake. A group of teenaged girls bobbled past wearing printed t-shirts: 'I was Probed by an Alien' and 'The Truth is on Nantucket' were the more sedate sayings.
The ringing of his cell phone brought Lex back to his present situation. Flicking it open, he was unsurprised to hear his father's voice.
"Lex, I was highly disappointed when I was informed of your actions this afternoon. LuthorCorp needs the contracts those aliens are offering."
Lex stiffened. "I did as you requested. Every salient point was made at the meeting."
Lionel's voice was harsh and biting. "You wore a wig, Lex."
Closing his eyes, Lex took a deep breath before answering. "And all this time I thought that my chief asset was my skill at negotiation. Not the fact that I was a meteor freak."
"Lex, if you were the businessman you claim to be, you would know that every advantage must be pressed. That Lang creature recently acquired a new patent by batting her eyes at the youngest alien and continuing to bemoan the loss of her parents. I certainly don't expect less from you."
"Sorry, Dad, but I don't think that subject was covered in college."
"Nonsense. From the type of scrapes I've had to bail you out of, I'm surprised you didn't earn a degree in the subject." Lionel's voice hardened. "Get the contract, Lex. Or don't bother coming back to Metropolis."
A sharp click and Lex knew his father had hung up on him. "Thanks, Dad," he muttered.
Glancing up, Lex could see the three other members of the negotiating team bearing down on him, so he spoke loudly into the dead phone. "You want me to come home? You've decided that you can't run LuthorCorp without me by your side?"
The trio were close by, hovering behind him, their puzzlement showing on their faces. Lex pretended he didn't know they were there.
"Well, I quit. I'd rather run that lousy crap factory in Freaksville than work for you anymore. With a loud snap, he flipped the phone shut and shoved it into his pocket, before turning to face the three LuthorCorp stooges.
"Gentlemen, if you'll excuse me. It seems that I have a ferry to catch."
Snatching up his overnight bag, which was on the ground, next to his feet, Lex joined the rest of crowd.
Lex knocked on the ferry's bathroom door for the fourth time.
At the lack of an answer, he turned and shrugged his shoulders at the harried mother standing behind him.
She shifted the various cheap souvenirs she was holding, onto a nearby seat, and then leaned forward. "Billy Ray Dermatt, you open this door right now," she ordered, to no avail, before looking once more at Lex. "Please, sir, if you could get Billy out of there, I'd really appreciate it."
"Perhaps you should find a steward and see if there's a key. Or maybe some tools to take the door off the hinges."
After making sure the woman had ventured out of hearing range, Lex squatted down next to the door.
"Billy. I'll give you five bucks if you come out."
Some movement could be heard on the other side, then a muffled high-pitched voice responded. "Twenty."
"Ten," Lex counter-offered.
Lex swore under his breath. There was no way he was letting some barely-out-of-diapers brat get the best of him. His gaze fell on the souvenirs next to him.
"Five," Lex said. "And your Krypto, the Wonder Dog toy, doesn't somehow fall over the side of the boat."
Seconds later, the door swung open and a small boy ran out, quickly snatching up the threatened toy in his arms while giving Lex an extremely dirty look. Rising to his feet, Lex reached into his wallet, and pulled out a five-dollar bill.
"Let this be a lesson to you, kid. If a good, legitimate offer is made, take it. Putting the screws on someone just because you can tends to piss people off."
He would have said more, but the boy's mother appeared, with one of the ferry's workers following behind her.
"Oh, how wonderful. You got him out." She swept her son into her arms, while he continued to look sullenly at Lex from over her shoulder.
"I guess I just have a way with children," Lex said modestly, while staring right back at the boy.
With a grateful smile, the mother, hand firmly latched onto her son's wrist, ventured off to find a set of empty seats near the front of the boat. Lex sighed and took a step towards the bathroom, to wash his hands, when a tall young man pushed past him, closing the door in his face.
Raising his hand to bang on it, Lex hesitated when he heard the unmistakable the sound of someone being violently ill.
"Hey. Are you okay in there?"
The only reply was more retching.
Ten minutes later, when the door opened once more, Lex was prepared. The man who emerged would have been attractive if it wasn't for the distinctive green cast to his skin.
"I got you a patch." A blank look greeted this remark. "For motion sickness," Lex explained further.
Opening the package, Lex peeled off one of the patches and placed it behind the man's ear. "I also bought some Dramamine, but I wasn't sure if you could keep it down.
The man collapsed on the seat nearby and moaned, "I'm going to die."
Lex perched next to him. "According to ancient legends, Theseus, who killed the Minotaur, set Ariadne, the one who helped him, ashore, to recover from seasickness. By the time he returned, she was dead."
Green eyes looked up at Lex from under dark heavy lashes. "Thanks. That makes me feel so much better."
Standing, Lex wrapped his hand around an arm and pulled the man to his feet. "What you need to do is to go to the stern. Get some fresh air. I'm surprised you didn't figure that out when you took the boat over to Nantucket."
"I didn't take a..." There was a long pause. "I didn't."
"Well, no harm done. At least, no harm to me."
"You don't get seasick, then?"
Lex shook his head as he pushed the doors to the deck open. "I never get sick."
As the man stumbled to the rail, Lex thought he heard a mumbled, "I used to be like that."
Kal-El felt himself being nudged, but ignored it.
"If you're expecting a kiss, Sleeping Beauty, you can forget it. At least not until you've brushed your teeth."
Opening his eyes, Kal saw a pair of blue eyes staring down at him from much too close a distance. Blinking a bit, he realized he must have fallen asleep on the stranger's shoulder. Carefully, he extricated himself and scooted a few inches down the bench.
He was still on the ferry, but the rocking motion was slower, gentler. Looking about, he could see that they were coming into port. Although it was past seven in the evening, the summer sun was still up and the air was warm. The noise from the interior of the ferry grew as passengers gathered up their things and prepared to disembark, tired and rumpled from the journey.
The man who'd helped him, however, didn't appear rumpled in the least. Even after having one large alien pressed up against him for who knew how long, his suit still looked pristine. He wasn't acting tired, either.
Kal-El, on the other hand, knew he was a mess. Plus, he felt weird. Kind of hollow inside and wearier than he could ever remember being. Even that time when he'd spent several days repairing a space station hadn't tired him out like this. Pushing himself up, he managed to stand, though his limbs felt shaky. The stranger stood as well and when Kal-El stumbled, on his way to the rail, he felt warm fingers against his back, steadying him.
Kal-El nodded his head. "Um... thanks. For helping me when I was sick and letting me..." His voice trailed off, not exactly sure how to put it.
"You mean letting you sleep on me?" The man waved his hand dismissively. "Forget it. Although most of the time, I at least get a name."
"I'm Kal..." He bit off the last syllable wishing he hadn't spoken so quickly. It might have been smarter to come up with an alias.
"Hmm," the man said, studying him. "You seem a bit old to be part of the Kal, Mag, Jor, and Teb fad that swept the world when the Kryptonians landed.
"It's... it's more of a nickname," Kal-El stammered.
They shook hands. "The name's Lex. Lex Luthor." Blue eyes flicked over Kal. "So, are you planning on spending much time in Hyannis?"
Kal-El shook his head. "I'm going to Metropolis."
An eyebrow arched. "Really? I'm heading there myself."
It occurred to Kal-El to wonder if the man was telling the truth. He was eyeing him so strangely; it practically caused shivers up his spine. No, it had to be a coincidence. It was much too soon for his father to realize that he was missing, much less assign a human to keep track him.
This Lex Luthor must just be the friendly sort.
"I'm sorry Mr. Luthor, but those are my orders."
Lex pushed his face menacingly close to that of the limo driver's. "I hope you appreciate those thirty pieces of silver you sold me out for, Hawksworth." Seeing fear flare in the man's eyes gave Lex enough satisfaction to draw back and walk a few steps away.
"What's going on?"
Crap. He'd forgotten about the kid.
"A little power play between myself and my father. He wanted me to do something and I refused. Now it seems as if I'm on my own. No limo, no corporate jet, no company credit cards and no access to my own accounts until Monday morning."
Kal stared at him blankly, so Lex explained further. "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be able to keep my promise to take you to Metropolis."
Lex turned away and stared out over the water for a moment, trying to decide which of his old acquaintances he could spend the weekend with. There was Shelby Atkinson, but the last time they'd talked, she'd been angry about that little incident with her father's company. Theodore Bingham was another possibility. Of course, that was assuming his live-in boyfriend had gotten over his jealousy at finding the two of them together.
Lost in his thoughts, he was surprised when the kid he'd befriended tapped on his shoulder.
"I have some money. We could use it to get to Metropolis." In Kal's hands were several wadded-up bills. As Lex watched, Kal unfolded them and started counting out how much he held.
Kal was acting as if he were foreign and unused to the currency, examining each bill before adding its value to the total. True, Kal's speech was a bit... off, but Lex hadn't heard much of an accent. And the way he just offered up what seemed to be the entire contents of his wallet to a total stranger. Unless there was something wrong with his brain, no-one on Earth would...
Lex's gaze shot up to Kal's face. No-one on Earth.
Kal appeared to be the right age, the right coloring. He couldn't be sure, though. There weren't too many photos of the youngest Kryptonian and those that existed were blurry. Being faster than camera shutters didn't help matters. Lex remembered a brouhaha years ago when it was discovered that the aliens possessed technology that altered their appearance in order to afford them some privacy. It had taken months before the furor had died down, though there was still a small faction that believed the aliens were, in reality, man-eating lizards.
"If I hadn't shown up, what were you going to do?"
Green eyes glanced up at him. "I thought I'd take a plane."
Lex shook his head. "You'd need I.D. to buy a ticket. Also, by the time your flight arrived in Metropolis, your father would be at the airport, waiting."
"What do you know about my father?" Kal stumbled away in surprise, still clutching his money in his hand.
"Hey, relax," Lex said. "I'm not going to turn you in." Kal was still eyeing him suspiciously and Lex huffed out a breath. "Look, if you want to get to Metropolis, I'll help you."
"You mean, besides the fact that one of the few Kryptonians in existence will owe me a really big favor? And the fact that you aliens plan to periodically release more of your advanced technology as time goes by and some of that technology might come my way?"
"I guess that makes sense," Kal conceded.
"Of course it makes sense." Lex smiled. "What doesn't make sense is taking any form of conveyance that can be tracked. As soon as they find out you're gone, they're going to be looking for you - planes, trains, even buses.
"So, what are we going to do?"
Lex thought for a moment. "How much money did you say you had?"
Kal smiled and settled more comfortably in his seat. He looked over at his companion, who still appeared to be feeling disgusted by the situation.
"I can't believe you did this to me," Lex muttered.
"I like it. Besides, you said yourself at the used car lot that, with our lack of funds, we didn't have much choice."
"Everything's foreign to me."
He smiled widely when Lex shifted his head to glare at him for a moment before returning his attention to the road.
"It's blue," Lex snarled.
"I like blue."
"I know. It's pretty."
"Damn it! It's a Pinto!"
Kal listened as Lex started mumbling about how the mighty had fallen.
"I've never ridden in a car before," Kal said softly.
"You still haven't. This isn't a car it's... it's a tinker toy with an engine." A few moments passed before Lex once more eyed Kal. "You've never ridden in a car?"
"Why would I? I can run faster than this."
"Well, that's not saying much. I can probably run faster than this."
"Also, I fly places a lot."
"I'm not particularly fond of planes. Driving, however..."
Lex paused for a moment before continuing. "There's the open road with its endless possibilities. Under you, through you, you feel the thrum of a well-tuned engine - purring, then roaring, on command. You become one with the machine, eating up the miles, hugging the curves, going so fast that your cares, your responsibilities, your doubts - can't keep up. All your thoughts are on the 'here' and 'now'."
"No, there's nothing like driving a great car." Lex seemed to shake off his thoughts, returning to the reality of the situation. "And this is nothing like driving a great car." He sighed. "We could try getting that thing off your neck again. Then you could just whoosh and we'd be there."
"No." Kal shook his head vehemently. "We already tried every way we could think of to remove the gold kryptonite. It wouldn't do me much good if the only solution was to remove my head as well."
More miles passed in silence before being broken by Kal. "We're on our way to Kansas now, right?"
Hetudied the map, and then looked out the window at the stars in the sky. "We appear to be heading south. Kansas is to the west." He pointed with his finger in the correct direction. "Which is that way."
"We're taking a shortcut."
"Is this some sort of human science? Because I believe that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line." Again, Kal pointed west. "And it is in that direction."
Lex turned on him. "Do you want to ride in this hunk of junk the entire way back to your precious Miss Lang?"
"The method of our transportation doesn't matter. However we get there, we are still not headed the right way." Again he pointed. "Which is west."
"If we go south," Lex said slowly, "we'll arrive in Gotham, where an old friend of mine lives."
Taking one hand off the wheel, Lex placed a finger on Kal's lips in an effort to shush him. "I'm sure my old friend will have no problem sending us home in his private jet."
Kal thought for a moment. "Are you sure your friend will do this?"
Lex nodded. "Of course he will. In fact, he'll enjoy doing it. Bruce Wayne doesn't get much excitement in his life."
Twisting in his seat, Lex looked at the sleeping figure next to him, for a moment. Despite having been ill on the ferry, dragged around Hyannis to several used car lots, and then squashed into a Pinto for several hours, Kal had never once complained.
Flipping open his cell phone, Lex dialed a familiar number.
"Lex, you disappoint me. I estimated that you'd hold out for much longer before crawling back." Lionel failed to hide the smugness in his voice.
"Sorry, Dad, but that's not why I'm calling."
"Really. Enlighten me then, since I'm sure you're dying to do so."
"Do you remember telling me how Lana Lang was using the youngest alien and you expected no less from me?"
"Watch the news, Dad."
Without saying good-bye, Lex disconnected and returned the phone to his pocket. Next to him, Kal hadn't stirred throughout the entire conversation.
It was strange, Lex thought, once more staring at Kal, that this person next to him wasn't human. He could have easily passed himself off as a normal teenager, albeit an exceptionally pretty one. It was just hard to believe, listening to the breathy sounds he was making, that those lungs didn't work like those of humans and that they could send out a gust of freezing air. Lids hid those eyes able to see through walls, and then blast them apart with a burst of heat. The same eyes that looked at Lex in a way that made it hard for him to turn away.
In the alien's lap were his hands. Hands, Lex reminded himself, that, under normal circumstances, could break him in half. Long lean legs were folded into the small space under the glove box and Lex followed their lines, thinking of muscles hidden from his view, warm skin that...
Part of him twitched and Lex ruthlessly suppressed it. This wasn't a pleasure ride. This was business. Angry with himself, he shook Kal a little harder than he'd intended to.
"Hey. Time to wake up."
Sleep-blurred eyes showed panic for a moment, before clearing, as if Kal had forgotten where he was. A smile lit his face. "We're there? In Gotham."
"Not quite. It was too far to drive in one go, so we're stopping for the night."
Kal peered out the window at the large sign nearby, then turned to Lex. "Motel 6? I have never been to a motel before."
"That makes two of us."
"Why is it called Motel 6? Are there six of them?"
"The world should only be so lucky," Lex muttered. "We're in room 124." Opening the car door, Lex reached behind to grab his bag, then headed for the row of doors. Kal hurried after him.
"Is a Motel 6 better than a Super 8 Motel?" Kal asked while Lex stuck his keycard in the slot at the door and opened it. He followed Lex into the room, peering curiously around. "It must be worse, because..."
Lex stayed quiet when Kal's voice trailed off as he looked at the room, or, more accurately, at the one bed that stood in the center of the room. Green eyes swung to stare at him accusingly.
"I've heard of people like you."
An eyebrow arched. "People like me?" Great, Lex thought. I've a homophobic alien on my hands.
"Yes. You think that just because I'm alien that I don't know things. Well, I do."
"I saw a movie once about just this kind of thing."
For a moment, Lex was startled by the thought that aliens watched gay porn. That amazement grew at Kal's next statement.
"I know all about bad touches."
"Bad touches?" Lex couldn't help it. His voice squeaked. "How old were you when you watched this movie?"
"Seven, but I have a very good memory." Kal folded his arms across his chest as he glared at Lex.
"Listen, Kal, I have no intention of touching you, bad or otherwise. I thought you aliens were known for your gratitude."
"I'm supposed to be thankful that we're sharing a bed?"
Lex took a step closer, causing Kal to back up. "The way I figure it, anytime now, the news is going to break that you're missing. Everyone and their grandmother will be on the lookout for you. If I'd rented two rooms and someone - the clerk, the maid, another guest - had seen you, you'd be back on Nantucket faster than you could rhyme with it. With us sharing a room, they'll think we're a couple and won't suspect your true identity."
Kal's face flushed and he looked at the floor. "I'm sorry."
"From here on out, if anyone asks - you're my boyfriend. And as for touches, I have never, never touched anyone who wasn't asking for it. Heck, most of them were begging for it. And, no-one has ever complained that my touches were anything but good."
"I said I was sorry." Kal was once more staring at the bed. "But how are we supposed to both sleep..."
Walking past Kal, Lex snatched the cover off the bed, and began to fold it lengthways, then lengthways again, and again until it was less than a foot wide. He then laid it down the middle of the bed.
"Behold the ancient walls of Troy. For ten years, they held back the Greeks and only succumbed to trickery. I think your virtue will be safe for one night."
The look Kal threw Lex's creation could only be described as dubious.
"I sleep on the left, so I'm claiming this side. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to bed."
Shrugging off his jacket, Lex pretended surprise that Kal was still standing by the door, watching him. "I usually don't undress in front of an audience... except for that one time in college. But feel free to indulge yourself." Lex undid his cufflinks and set them on the table next to the bed, before starting on the buttons of his shirt.
"I'm not sure how familiar you are with human anatomy, but I'm a bit different than most everyone else. He opened up his shirt. "As you can see, unlike the majority of adult males, I have no hair on my chest." The shirt came off and Lex did a little twirl. "Also, no hair on my back or arms.
Kal visibly gulped, but it was ignored.
Sitting down on the bed, Lex began untying his shoes, placing them on the floor before removing his socks. "Please note that despite my Luthor heritage, I do not possess hairy toes or feet, a fact for which I'm eternally grateful to the meteors."
"You're a meteor mutant?" Kal's voice was shocked.
"Of course. You didn't think all this beauty was natural, did you?" Lex teased.
"I didn't realize."
Standing, Lex began to undo his belt and pull it from the loops. "My father made the mistake of visiting Smallville on the day you Kryptonians crash-landed. I was with him."
"What's wrong with you?"
"You mean besides the obvious?" Lex placed the belt on the end table near the cufflinks and unbuttoned his pants. "I have accelerated healing."
"Oh, don't apologize. The technological patent that my father gained in recompense for my defects was more than enough. That patent, along with all the others he managed to convince the citizens of Smallville to sell to him, skyrocketed LuthorCorp to its current prominent position in corporate America. I do need to tell you one thing, though."
The pants dropped to the floor and Lex stepped out of them. "You are about to learn the answer to one of the many mysteries of the modern world. Many have sought to discover it, which has resulted in me getting laid a truly remarkable number of times. The question of whether or not Lex Luthor is hairless all over."
Lex's hands went to the waistband of his underwear.
"I sleep in the nude."
There was a loud bang as Kal slammed the door to the bathroom shut. Lex did his best not to laugh. If he hadn't known it was impossible, he would've sworn Kal had used a touch of super-speed.
Jor-El turned as Teb-It, one of his fellow Kryptonians, entered the chamber. "Has there been any news?"
"We know that he took the ferry to the mainland. However, we cannot discern where he went from there."
"He's heading to Metropolis. To Lana Lang. I know he is."
"Perhaps," ventured Teb-it, "it would be best just to wait in Metropolis for him to arrive."
Shaking his head, Jor-El began to pace. "You don't understand. He's powerless and it's my fault. I'm the one that put the gold kryptonite on him." Jor-El paused in his pacing. "Inform the humans. Offer a reward for his return - a new patent. I want him back. I want him safe."
"I'll see to it immediately."
"Good." Jor-El breathed out a deep worried sigh. "We've sheltered him. Protected him. Now who knows where he is. What he's been reduced to. He could be hungry, thirsty, begging..."
"Give me," Kal-El ordered, after waking up and smelling coffee. Lex held the steaming paper cup just out of reach.
"Please give it to me or the moment I get my powers back, I'll fry your brains until they ooze out of your ears."
Lex laughed and handed over the coffee, which Kal began gulping. "I thought I knew most everything there was to know about Kryptonians, but I never knew you people slept so much. It's after nine."
"Sleeping is a Kryptonian defense mechanism," Kal muttered. "We employ it when faced with obnoxious humans."
Lex laughed again. "I didn't know Kryptonians were grumpy in the morning, either."
Lowering his cup for a moment, Kal glared at him and wished that he still possessed heat vision. Lex continued to chuckle. Determined to wipe the smile off Lex's face, Kal carefully placed the now empty cup onto the nightstand, threw back the blankets, and stood.
It worked. Lex froze, his mouth hanging open slightly.
"I guess you didn't know that Kryptonians also sleep in the nude," Kal said as he gathered up his clothes and made his way to the bathroom, to shower.
Kal was just finishing up in the bathroom when he heard the door to the room slam amid loud cursing by Lex.
Exiting, he cautiously approached his traveling companion. "What's wrong?"
The world is full of some sick-ass people, that's what's wrong." Lex kicked at the nightstand. "Fuck."
Kal looked at him, waiting for him to calm down.
"You know that Pinto we've been driving?" Lex said, eyes wild. "The one I hate? The one that makes me want to buy a industrial compactor simply so that I can have the pleasure of smashing it?"
A smile played around Kal's lips. "The bright blue one?"
"Yes. That one." Lex kicked the bed this time. "Some fucking idiot stole it last night."
Despite the situation, Kal couldn't help himself. He grinned. "Maybe he thought it was pretty."
Lex lifted his cup of coffee and took a sip, his gaze fixated on the sight across the table. "It's a good thing that pancakes aren't animals," Lex pointed to the dwindling stack in front of Kal. "Thanks to you they'd be an endangered species."
Although Kal's reply was muffled by his current mouthful, Lex figured it was something disparaging.
"As it is, the poor little maple trees in Vermont are going to have to put in some overtime."
This time Kal let his fingers express his feelings.
Lex smirked. "I'm shocked. Completely shocked. Wherever did you learn such a thing?"
Kal took a deep swallow of coffee before replying. "From you. Last night, when that guy cut you off when you were getting onto the freeway."
"Do you even know what it means?"
"Not exactly." Kal started cutting another pancake into bite-sized pieces. "But from the words coming out of your mouth and the way the veins stuck out in your neck as you screamed at him, I'm sure it's appropriate in this situation."
"For all you know, making that gesture could be interpreted as 'I am driving a Pinto and am, therefore, suicidal, so get out of my way'."
Kal let out a snort, and then resumed eating. A moment later, he raised his eyes to Lex. "Speaking of the Pinto, why aren't you reporting the theft to the police?"
"Because they might actually find and return it."
Lex huffed when he received only a flat look in response.
"I really don't think we want the police involved."
"Policemen are our friends."
"Did you learn that in the same movie about bad touches or a different one?" Lex leaned forward across the table and lowered his voice. "Most cops are pretty good guys. I've met enough to know that. But if I waltz into a station with you to report a stolen car, there is no way you're getting out of there until your old man flies out to pick you up."
Kal seemed to absorb that information before nodding. "How are we going to get to Gotham, then?"
"Taxi? When we took one in Hyannis to the car dealership, it was expensive. I thought we didn't have much money."
"We don't. But we're only a couple of hours away and once we get there, we won't have to worry about money anymore. Bruce will take care of us."
"We could buy another car."
"No, we can't. We could barely afford the Pinto. I shudder to think of what we would be reduced to buying." Lex pointed at his arm, which he wobbled around a bit. "See? This is me - shuddering."
Once more, Kal returned his attention to his food. Lex stood and headed for the door of the diner. "I'm going to pick up a paper. You finish up."
A few minutes later, Lex returned, holding a newspaper in his hand and wearing a scowl. "I think we'd better get moving."
While Lex paid, Kal looked at the paper. There was a fuzzy picture of him on the front page under a headline that blared "E.T. PHONE HOME".
The cabdriver, whose name, according to the posted license, was Ernie, tilted his head up so that he could look in the rearview mirror at them.
"You guys heading for Gotham?"
"Yes," Lex answered. "Which is why we're paying you to take us there."
"Gotham's got some strange people." Ernie gave a slight shake to his head. "Running around dressed up as birds and such. Don't hold much store with that."
"I'm sure all of them would wither if they were aware of your opinion."
Lex glanced over at Kal, whose eyes were bright with amusement.
"Don't know what the world's coming to. Don't know why people feel like they have to be different. I mean, why can't we all just be normal church-going, God-fearing Americans?"
"Unlike most of the world's populace, I happen to agree with you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to take a nap. My boyfriend and I didn't get much sleep last night."
Lex ignored the outraged look on the driver's face and curled up and laid his head on Kal's broad shoulder. For a moment, Kal seemed startled before the tightness in the muscles, under Lex's head, eased.
As Lex relaxed against Kal, he noted that, although he could smell the motel's cheap soap, underneath, there was a warm, delicious scent. He wondered if all aliens smelled that good.
The driver was filling the gas tank while Lex stood outside, stretching his legs. Kal was still inside the convenience store, trying to make up his mind on what sugary snack to purchase. He'd tried to solicit Lex's opinion, but Lex had refused to expound on the positive and negative aspects of snowballs, slushies, and gummi bears.
Lex watched as the driver, after hooking the nozzle back on the tank, shifted his gaze to him and he straightened as the man approached.
"I figured out what's going on. He's not your boyfriend, is he? To get right down to it, he isn't even a man."
Looking around to see if anyone was watching, Lex grabbed the driver by the arm and pulled him around the back of the station, to a grassy, tree-filled area.
"Saw the paper when I was paying," Ernie was saying. "He's that alien everyone's looking for. The one they've posted a reward for."
Lex did his best not to snarl. "What if he is?"
The driver got a calculating glint in his eyes. "Those aliens crashed, killing all those people, messing others up, and then making the survivors millionaires. Never seemed fair to the rest of us."
"Everyone should be so lucky as to be the beneficiaries of a tragedy," Lex intoned.
"Right. They way I see it, we can be in this together. Fifty-fifty."
Clapping Ernie on the back, Lex said, "Good man. I knew you were one of us by the way you were talking earlier. Most people think we're crazies, terrorists, even just because we want to rid the world of the alien menace."
Ernie stepped back, eyes wide. "Menace?"
"It's a glorious cause - exterminating aliens. We're always on the lookout for more recruits for the Legion of Doom."
"Doom?" Ernie's hands were up as he backed further away, his face pale.
"Of course, the aliens will seek revenge, but we at the Legion of Doom don't care. We are all prepared to die for the cause."
"Die?" Ernie squeaked. "I never said nothing about dying."
Lex furrowed his brow as if just noticing Ernie's reaction, which was now close to full-out panic. "You're not having second thoughts, are you? Traitors to the cause are dealt with harshly."
"No. It's just I don't think my wife would approve... of me dying, that is."
"I've never had that problem with my wives." Lex hummed, as if in thought. "It's too bad you can't contribute something to demonstrate your support, to our leaders. If you did, they might be more willing to allow you to stay here, where it's safe." After a moment, Lex shook his head. "No, I don't think there's anything. You'll have to come with us and die valiantly."
"My cab!" Ernie frantically dug into his pockets for his keys and tossed them at Lex, who caught them in one hand. "Take my cab. Then you'll know I support you, just not in the dying way."
Lex rubbed his chin with his hand, pretending to consider the offer. "I don't know."
Ernie was sweating profusely. "Please. My wife would kill me if I die."
Sighing, Lex nodded. "Fine. It might be a good idea, after all, to have someone who can take up the reins when the rest of us are consumed in a fiery burst of glory."
"Yeah, that's just what I'll do. Now you and that alien had better get going. I'll just stay here and wait."
Before turning to leave, Lex grabbed Ernie's hand and shook it vigorously. "Vaya con Dios."
"Um... same to you," Ernie said, trying hard not to show his relief.
Less than a minute later, Lex eased into the driver seat. Kal chewed on a gummi bear and looked at him for a moment, before moving to the empty, front passenger seat.
As they pulled onto the road, Kal said quietly, "Do I even want to know?"
"Okay." Kal leaned back and popped another gummi bear into his mouth.
"Wow. This place is pretty creepy."
Lex glanced over to where Kal was staring out the window at the city. Even though it was the middle of the day, dark shadows clung to the buildings and pooled in the alleyways.
"Gotham has one of the highest crime rates in the world. Coincidentally, it also has one of the highest populations of psychopaths. Fortunately, there are also psychopaths on the side of good."
"You mean Batman?" Kal's voice expressed his disbelief. "Batman isn't bad. Batman is-"
"Our friend," Lex finished for him in a singsong voice. "Or he is as long as there are criminals and other crazies around from him to focus on. But I ask you, what would happen if you stuck Batman in some peaceful, bucolic setting? In my opinion, there would be a sudden decline in the cow population."
"That's not true. Batman's not crazy."
"Of course not. Every sane, well-adjusted man at some point decides to dress up as a creature of the night and prowl around looking for dangerous people. I think when I do it, I'll be an opossum."
Kal tried to hide a smile behind feigned irritation. "Shut up. He's a hero."
"I'll be one, too. I'll have Possum Power. It will be great."
"Stop," Kal said, between little snorts of laughter.
"You can be Lightning Bug. Pretty to look at. Not too bright. You flash your ass at criminals and they surrender."
"Okay, okay, I give up. Dressing up as a bat isn't exactly normal."
"I'm glad you agree," Lex said, satisfied. "And I didn't even have to pull out any of my Possum Paraphernalia that I keep in my Possum Pouch to convince you."
Kal glanced out the window again, the city falling away behind them as the cab sped into a less-populated area. "So, tell me about your friend."
"Bruce? Lex shrugged. "There's not much to tell. He and I met at school. I see him at a lot of charity functions, usually with a 'woman de jour' on his arm. He likes to cultivate the playboy image, but..."
"I knew Bruce a long time ago and we were close. Very close." At the blank look on Kal's face, Lex took a deep breath. "We were lovers."
"And even though Bruce dates a lot, as far as I know, every night he goes home, where he lives with his young, athletic, quite nice-looking male ward."
This time Kal's "Oh" was a little softer.
"I wonder if Dick Grayson ever saw that movie about bad touches," Lex mused as he drove.
Lex had just figured out that they were only a few miles away from stately Wayne manor, when a black car roared up next to them. He had just enough time to process Kal's shout of "That's the Batmobile!" before something pierced his left rear tire.
Tightening his grip on the steering wheel, he was slowing down and pulling over to the side of the road when the front tire was pierced as well. Struggling to maintain control, Lex managed to force the cab onto a large grassy patch at the side of the road without injuring either himself or Kal. The fact that neither of them were hurt didn't stop him from being royally pissed.
Exiting the cab, he slammed the door, and stalked toward the dark figure climbing out of the Batmobile.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
"Lex Luthor?" Batman closed the distance between them. "I was informed that a crazy terrorist was holding Kal-El hostage with the intent of ending his life."
"What?" Kal, who'd hurried forward to stand next to Lex, turned to him in disbelief.
"Obviously, your informant was mistaken," Lex said coolly.
"The informant also said that you would be driving a cab."
"A cab bearing the same license plate as the one you're driving."
"The best liars sprinkle a little truth in for seasoning."
There was a moment of silence and then Batman said, "Be that as it may, I believe I should take possession of Kal-El, for his protection." Batman reached out to grip Kal's arm.
"He's mine!" Lex snapped, knocking Batman's hand away. Batman looked at Lex questioningly. "I mean, I'm helping him get to Metropolis, so you can just stay out of it."
"I don't want to be protected," Kal said. "And I'm not a thing to be possessed. I should be able go and do what I want and I've decide I want to be with Lex." Now Batman was staring at Kal. "You know," Kal continued, as his face suffused with color, "because we're going to Metropolis together."
Batman folded his arms across his chest. "I can't allow that."
Lex saw red. "You can't allow it? You can't allow it? Who do you think you are? No-one tells me what to do."
"Just because you're completely undisciplined Luthor, doesn't mean that you'll always get your way," Batman thundered back.
"I'm not going to let you take him."
A smirk appeared underneath the cowl. "Who's going to stop me?"
Lex watched in astonishment as Batman dropped to the ground, unconscious. He turned to Kal. "How did you do that? Do you have your powers back?"
Sheepishly, Kal shook his head and showed Lex his hand. In his fist was a large rock.
"Better not let the Joker or Penguin know. They keep trying to defeat him with elaborate schemes."
"So what do we do now?" Kal asked Lex. "He might not be bother us any time soon, but two of the cab's tires are destroyed."
It took Lex less than a second to think of something. When he did, he began to smile widely.
"Lex," Kal asked with a note of wariness in his voice. "What are you planning?"
Turning to face Kal, Lex's grin became even wider.
"How would you like to ride in a really, really hot car?"
He was going to die. Kal closed his eyes and braced for an impact that didn't come. Sneaking a peek, he saw that somehow Lex had managed to pass the truck without slamming into the cars that had been coming their way.
"Did you see that?" Lex whooped. "Inches! Inches to spare."
"Oh and look in the rearview mirror and see what happens when I push this button."
Wincing, Kal watched as Lex pushed the button in question and the Batmobile hurtled forward.
"The tail's freaking on fire," Lex crowed.
"Why did we decide not go to your friend for help?" Kal asked, trying hard to ignore the countryside that was blurring past his window.
"Because Bruce is a total wuss when it comes to the caped crusader. Supports him in everything. I don't think he would've approved of us tying Batman to a tree so that we could steal his car."
"You know, Batman is going to get free."
"Not too soon, he won't. I stole his utility belt, too."
"But when he does, he's going to come looking for his car."
Lex shifted in his seat uncomfortably. "Probably."
"He's going to be pretty mad, too. And for all you know, he has tons of devices hidden in the dashboard, just waiting to go off and trap us."
Scowling Lex nodded his head. "Fine. We'll find a place to ditch the car."
"But you know what?" Lex asked. "Even though I still think it's nuts to dress up as a bat - it would definitely be worth it if I could drive one of these babies every day."
"I'm hungry," Kal complained as they walked along the side of the road. They'd left the Batmobile in a clump of trees several miles back. Slowly the surrounding area was becoming less and less rustic and more suburban.
"We just ate, remember? When the gummi bears didn't hold you, I stopped for food."
"That was hours ago."
"So is the power of whining the only one of your abilities that's not affected by gold kryptonite?"
"No. I've recently discovered I also have the ability to survive near death experiences in a stolen vehicle driven by a car-crazy idiot."
Lex bumped Kal's arm in retaliation. Kal bumped back, hiding a smile.
"Fine, I'll feed you," Lex conceded.
"Good. I don't think Lana would appreciate it if I returned, only to be at death's door from starvation."
Sticking his hands in his pockets, Lex let out a "humph".
Kal turned his head to look at him. "What?"
"From what I know about Miss Lang, she might prefer you dead. Then she could plant you next to her parents and spend more time mourning the hand that fate has dealt her."
"That's not fair," Kal said, heatedly. "You don't know the real Lana."
"And you do? How did you meet her anyway?"
"Two years ago at the annual Alignment of Planets Gala in Metropolis."
"Ah, yes. The premier 'we shouldn't really be celebrating the crash landing because a lot of people died, but what the hell' event of the season." At Kal's inquiring look, Lex shrugged. "I've never been, despite being invited each year, but my father attends religiously. You've probably met my father - long-haired, heartless, amoral."
Kal shook his head. "Sorry. I've only been to a couple."
"Don't be sorry. Be thankful."
For a few minutes, they walked in silence, preoccupied by their own thoughts.
"Why don't you like her?" Kal finally asked.
"I never said I didn't like her," Lex replied, keeping his eyes on the horizon.
More distance was covered before Lex spoke again. "Recently Lana Lang was given a new patent from your people for a substance which is both inexpensive and environmentally safe and which can be used to make an object impenetrable by water. There are hundreds, thousands of possible uses for it, but Miss Lang has approved one and only one use for it. And do you know what that is?"
Without waiting, Lex answered his own question with growing indignation.
"For tear-proof mascara, that's what." Lex made a sound of exasperation. "At least her Aunt Nell, and most of the others who you aliens paid off after the crash, knew enough to sell off their patents to people who could develop them properly."
"Like your father?"
"Exactly like my father. He might be a controlling, manipulative bastard, but he's never failed to exploit something to its full extent. And what Lana Lang is doing is a crime."
"Maybe she doesn't realize..." Kal began, then stopped and took a breath. "I'll talk to her about it."
"Do that. Oh, and your prayers have been answered. Behold the Temple of Food that people flock to around the world."
Kal looked for a moment at the building Lex was pointing at, and then tilted his head in puzzlement. "McDonald's? What's that?"
"Do you know what that is?" Lex asked.
Kal studied the object he was holding, for a moment, wondering if it was some sort of trick question.
"A cheeseburger?" he finally ventured.
"That's not any cheeseburger." Lex leaned across the strangely bright yellow table. "That, my dear Klaatu, is a Big Mac."
Kal stared again. It still looked like a cheeseburger to him. Lex, however, seemed to be launching into another one of his lectures.
"Big Macs. Songs have been written that glorify them. Movies have been made that revile them. Billions have eaten them."
"So," Kal said hesitantly, "is this some sort of human rite of passage?"
As Kal bit into the cheeseburger, Lex smiled. "Next, I'm going to introduce you to an apple pie, the likes of which you've never seen before. It is not a pie, nor, according to many scientists, does it contain actual apples."
Valiantly, Kal suppressed a shudder and desperately wished, yet again, that he was still invulnerable. At least, he decided, it couldn't be worse than that Taco Alarm place where they'd eaten lunch.
"Now what?" Kal asked, as they exited the fast food restaurant and began walking away from the spot where they'd ditched the Batmobile. "We're still nowhere near Metropolis."
"That's true. But I have a plan. While you were in the restroom, I asked around and found out that, less than a mile down the road, there's a truck stop."
Lex rolled his eyes. "At truck stops, you find truckers. Truckers who drive trucks across the country. Even to places like Metropolis."
"And I suppose they're just sitting there, waiting to take us with them."
"You forget who you're talking to. I'm Lex Luthor. I make multi-million dollar deals every day. I could convince a trucker to give us a ride in my sleep."
"In your sleep, huh?"
"I am an excellent negotiator."
"How did you plan to convince them?"
Lex voice took on the tone of a lecturer. "There are several ways. First, I will appeal to their sense of avarice."
"In case you haven't noticed, Lex, we really don't have much money on us."
"Not necessary. There is always the promise of money."
"And if that doesn't work?"
"I plan to appeal to their sense of adventure. All it will take is a bit of mystery. A hint that we aren't quite what we seem."
Kal let out a snort. "We aren't. You're a bald millionaire and I'm an alien."
"Hush. The final approach is to appeal to a trucker's loneliness and his need for companionship."
Kal stopped in his tracks. "Are you nuts? You may not have much of a reputation, but I, for one, am not that type of alien."
Lex rolled his eyes. "I didn't mean that type of companionship. I just meant that it must get lonely driving a truck all day and maybe they might like someone to talk to."
"Oh." Looking slightly abashed, Kal began walking again.
There was a long pause and then...
"Also, I'll have you know that I do have a reputation." A smirk played at Lex's lips. "It's just not what many people would call a good one."
Kal sat at the counter and watched Lex approach a trucker. Smiling ingratiatingly, he sat down next to the man, who was eyeing him askance. A few minutes later, there was a definite shake of the head.
Looking a bit flustered, Lex moved to a different table and a different trucker. Again, there was a refusal.
Lex glanced at Kal, who gave him a small smile of encouragement. Emboldened, Lex eased up to a trucker, who was paying for his meal at the cash register. The trucker shook his head and left.
With a sigh, Lex returned to the empty stool next to Kal.
"None. Something must be wrong with these people. Otherwise, I'm sure they'd be glad to take us."
"Maybe you're using the wrong tactic."
Lex arched an eyebrow. "You think you can do better?"
Shrugging, Kal stood. "I can try."
Moving to a spot where everyone could see him, Kal stood for a moment, looking over the crowd of mostly men, but with a few women sprinkled here and there. He thought of how much he and Lex needed to get to Metropolis and how he really didn't want to be returned to his father. He cleared his throat.
"Excuse me." The noise of the diner obscured his words and only a few people at nearby tables even heard him. Kal spoke louder. "Excuse me."
This time, most of the crowd heard, looking up, from their plates of food, to stare at him. Slowly the quiet spread through the diner.
"My friend," Kal indicated Lex, "and I need to get to Metropolis. We don't have much money, so we can't pay you anything. We're not very interesting and both of us are pretty much exhausted, so we probably won't even be very good company."
Kal shifted his gaze to the floor for a moment, before raising his eyes to look at the crowd. "We really could use your help." Then more softly, "Please."
Lex sat next to the window while Kal beamed happily between him and the trucker. "I can't believe you did that," Lex said.
"Did what? I just asked them to help."
"You didn't just ask them to help. You used puppy-dog eyes. In a room full of truckers, you stood there and puppy-dog eyed them and they melted. We could've had forty rides to Metropolis."
"Do we need forty rides to Metropolis?"
"No, but... but that... that just didn't seem right."
Kal grinned. "Don't feel bad. Maybe it's just another alien power that's unaffected by gold kryptonite."
Lex groaned. "It's a good thing then that your people came to Earth in peace. It would've been a sad day for the human race if our planet had been conquered by aliens using puppy-dog eyes."
Jor-El sighed. Did the girl own anything that wasn't pink? Two hours before, Lana Lang had arrived at his hotel suite in Metropolis, at his request, to talk about the current situation involving Kal-El. She was still talking.
As she explained how she and Kal loved each other and how she was so happy she'd found someone who would never leave her, he discovered that he kept losing track of the conversation. Instead of listening, he found himself watching her bob her head and smile. The thought occurred to him that she might have been infected by the meteors. She certainly had a hypnotic effect.
"I'm just glad we could discuss this together. Communication is so important in families."
Jor-El blinked at the sudden silence that followed that statement. With a start, he realized she'd finally finished and was waiting for him to reply. He stood and walked to the window. The huge expanse of Metropolis, with all of its dangers, lay before him. He'd lost Lara when she'd decided to stay behind on Krypton to try to prevent the catastrophe that had destroyed the planet. He couldn't lose Kal-El, too. "This entire business has convinced me that what's important is my son's safety and happiness," he said slowly. "I've decided that I won't stand in your way any longer."
Again, with the head bobbing, only now, suspiciously bright eyes accompanied her smile.
"Can I call you Dad?" Lana asked.
Jor-El wondered how large a dose of green kryptonite he would have to take if he wanted to kill himself.
Kal slowly woke to the feel of heaviness on his right side and warm breath against his neck. He and Lex had spent all night riding in a truck, going to Metropolis, until the next morning, when the driver had needed to stop to rest. He had kindly found another trucker headed for Kansas and had bid them goodbye and good luck.
Henry, the new truck driver, had talked with them for several hours before Lex and Kal had both succumbed to fatigue, falling asleep propped up against one another.
Slitting open his eyes, Kal gazed at the man next to him. He'd never met anyone quite like Lex before. Of course, Jor-El and the others had kept him isolated from most humans, but Kal was pretty sure that Lex was unique.
There was no doubt that he was intelligent. He seemed able to lecture on any subject, for hours. Although Lex had said his father tried to control him, Kal wasn't sure that anyone could. And despite being adversely affected by the meteors, he steadfastly refused any apologies or sympathy that Kal might offer. Proud. Fiercely independent. Lex was truly a remarkable human being.
Lex shifted a bit in his seat, his body rubbing up against Kal's side and Kal took a deep breath. Besides all his other attributes, there was also no ignoring the fact that Lex was beautiful.
Lex's beauty had crept on him. At first, Kal had just seen Lex as different. Somehow, though, he'd found himself admiring the way Lex's eyes flashed with humor, even when he kept his smile hidden. Soon he noted how Lex's every movement seemed graceful, as if it were all secretly choreographed. Lately, Kal had found himself remembering the smooth skin he'd seen that first night; so often, in fact, that part of him was glad that he didn't currently have x-ray vision. He'd be too tempted to violate Lex's privacy by scanning past his clothes.
Focusing his attention to the trucker, he asked, "Where are we?"
"We're coming up on the turn-off to Topeka," Henry answered. "You might want to wake your friend."
Nodding, Kal nudged Lex gently, but instead of waking, Lex snuggled closer until his head nestled in the crook of Kal's neck.
Barely breathing, Kal turned his head. It wasn't a kiss. Really it wasn't. He couldn't help it if his lips happened to brush Lex's skin. Repeatedly.
The driver was saying something about letting them off in a small town just a few hours from Metropolis and how sorry he was that he couldn't see them all the way, but Kal was barely listening. He was too intent on the feel of Lex practically in his arms.
But... but this wasn't right. He was taking advantage.
Heaving a sigh, Kal nudged Lex harder and said in a voice striving for normality, "It's time to wake up."
He watched as Lex opened his eyes and smiled up at him, his face lighting up with pleasure, before comprehension about where they were sank in and his expression became shuttered. When Lex moved away, Kal swallowed his disappointment.
"Should be able to get a ride to Metropolis from here," Henry said, as he pulled off the freeway and headed for a cluster of buildings that looked like they made up the town. "Used to be - this was the sticks - but over the last ten, fifteen years, the place has grown. Still lives up to its name, though."
"Where are we again?" Lex asked, with a slight edge to his voice.
"Doubt if you folks have heard of it," Henry replied affably. "It's called Smallville."
Lex and Kal looked at one another, but said nothing. A few minutes later, the driver let them off, waved away their thanks, and rumbled off. For a long moment the two of them stood in silence in the town where, to some extent, it had all begun.
Sitting at a table in the Beanery, Kal twisted his head so that he could see where Lex was paying for their coffee, and then glanced again at the paper on the nearby table. The headline proclaimed - "Father, Fiancée Unite in Efforts." Snatching it up, Kal quickly scanned the article. Ignoring the quotes by people who swore they'd seen him in various locations he hadn't been anywhere near (and he'd never been accompanied by Elvis), it seemed that Lana and his father had settled their differences. Jor-El would no longer stand in the way of their engagement.
"Ready to go? There's a couple that owns a farm not too far out of town. I thought they might help us."
Surreptitiously, Kal slid the paper under the table and stood up to join Lex. "Sounds good."
The screen door of the yellow farmhouse opened to reveal a lovely, middle-aged, redhead.
"If you're here to see Jonathan, I'm afraid he's gone to Wichita," she said.
"I'm sorry to hear that, but perhaps you could help us," Lex replied.
The woman began to smile, then looked from Lex to Kal, standing behind him, and froze. Her mouth opened slightly and Lex thought he heard her emit a small gasp.
"You may not remember me, Mrs. Kent, but we met many years ago. The day the aliens landed. You helped me. You and your husband.
"Of course I remember you, Lex." She smiled at him briefly before once more focusing her attention on Kal.
Lex nodded. "I'm glad. What you did that day, rushing me to the hospital, probably saved my life. And I was hoping to again take advantage of your kindness." Lex took a deep breath. "I'd like to introduce you to-"
"I know who this is," she interrupted. She moved closer to Kal, then slowly, tentatively, almost as if she was afraid he might disappear, she cupped his cheek. "You're Kal-El, son of Jor-El." She took a deep breath and let her next words spill out. "And, for one brief moment, you were mine."
Kal froze. Martha Kent was also still, her eyes filling with unshed tears, as she stared at Kal-El. It looked as though she was trying to memorize the sight of him.
Lex was just perplexed. "What?"
"The day of the meteor shower," she began, in a voice barely above a whisper. "Jonathan and I were returning from town. The truck flipped. When we came to, we saw a small boy outside the window, smiling at us."
Her fingers stroked Kal's cheek. "I'd know your smile anywhere."
Kal swallowed hard and Lex realized that he probably didn't remember having a mother.
"What happened?" Lex asked softly.
"We wrapped him up in a blanket and were about to set off to find his parents but, before we could, one of Ethan's deputies came by, shouting about how aliens had landed in Smallville and that everyone should go hide in their storm cellars."
A smile flitted over her lips. "Naturally, we assumed he was crazy, but with everything that was still coming down from the sky, we thought it might be good advice. Jonathan found a truck for us to use and we set off for home, Kal with us. It was as we were driving back to the farm that your father hailed us, Lex."
"I always thought I dreamed you," Kal said hoarsely. "I never knew you were real."
"For three days." Martha choked back a small sob, then resolutely continued. "For three days, you were ours. Jonathan's and mine. We knew it might not last. That you probably had parents out there, alive and searching for you. But we were thinking they were human parents. It was only when we saw a television broadcast that we realized that the aliens looked like us. And that they were desperate to find you."
Lex cleared his throat. "Mrs. Kent? Would it be all right if we went inside?"
"I think you should give your father a call. He's probably worried."
Martha Kent softened the remark by patting his arm. Kal wasn't sure how he felt about the constant touching. Used to being around Kryptonians, Kal had been under the impression that Lex was an excessively tactile person. Lana rarely initiated any contact, except for the occasional brush of her lips on his.
In the last few days, he'd experienced more touching than he had in the prior eighteen years of his existence.
"I don't think that's a good idea at this time, Mrs. Kent," Lex said.
Martha shook her head, obviously disagreeing, but she let the matter go. She stood and moved to the kitchen counter. "Would anyone like more coffee?"
Both Lex and Kal murmured their assent. She refilled their mugs, and then returned the pot to the stove. "Both of you must be hungry. Can I offer you some apple pie?" she asked, one hand already reaching for a knife to use for slicing.
"No. But thank you," Kal said. "I tried it recently and didn't particularly like it."
Lex leaned forward. "Kal, that was an apple pie from McDonalds. Although I've never tried Mrs. Kent's cooking, I'm sure there's no comparison."
A moment later, Kal slid a pie-laden fork into his mouth and was immediately overcome by a feeling of bliss. Too soon, his plate was empty. Another piece replaced it, but, unfortunately, it too disappeared quickly.
Seated next to him, Lex was trying his best to stifle a grin. Mrs. Kent was beaming with pride. "Would you like another piece?" she asked.
"No," Lex said quickly, cutting off Kal's happy acceptance. "He really shouldn't, since he's still adjusting to not having a Kryptonian digestive system. Wouldn't want him to burst."
"Perhaps my people can offer something in trade to acquire more of this most wonderful thing called pie."
At that moment, a young girl of about eight burst into the kitchen. "Mom, you'll never guess what Lisa told me." The girl stopped in her tracks when she saw Lex and Kal sitting at the table.
Martha moved to stand behind the girl, her arms wrapping her into a hug. "This is Dorothea."
"Dorothy," the girl corrected, leaning back in her mother's arms and turning her head to give her dirty look.
"For years I wanted a baby. But it never happened. Then the aliens came and new medical techniques were made available." Martha smiled down at her daughter for a moment before looking over at Kal. "I could spend the rest of my life baking pies for you and it still couldn't repay what I owe."
Lex spoke softly in understanding. "Dorothea - gift from the gods."
"Are you okay?"
Covered by only the sheet, Kal lay on his back on the ratty pullout sofa that the Kents' stored in their barn loft and thought about Lex's question.
Martha Kent had invited them to spend the night in the guest room and on the couch, since the guest room only contained a twin bed. However, for reasons neither wanted to examine too closely, they hadn't wanted to be separated. When she'd mentioned the sofa bed, they'd jumped at the offer.
An old blanket was serving as the Walls of Troy, but it had been rolled up haphazardly and wasn't much of a barrier.
"I guess I'm all right," Kal finally answered. "It's just weird in a way. Realizing that there's this entire other life I might have had if things had gone a bit differently."
Lying on the other side of the rolled blanket, Lex made a noise of agreement.
"I often think about what might have happened if I hadn't come to Smallville that day when your people landed. Or if Julian, my brother, hadn't died as an infant. Or if my mother had lived. Or if I hadn't caved and agreed to work for my father."
Kal propped himself up on an elbow so that he could look at Lex over the blanket. "If you weren't working for your father, what would you be doing?"
"I used to think it might be nice to live on a deserted island. That was before my second wife tried to kill me and I ended up marooned on one for three months. Now, I think how it might be nice to live in a small town like this - maybe run that crap factory. Perhaps even own a small lab where I could do a few scientific experiments when I felt like it."
Lex folded his hands behind his head. "It would be peaceful, finding a place to belong. But even more important would be finding someone who I could belong here with. No-one I know would even bother coming to visit a small town like this. Too out of the way. Too hick. Where can I find someone, who, no matter where we are, no matter what the situation, would be willing to be with me?"
"I would." Kal's reply was so soft that Lex could've pretended not to hear it. The shifting of the mattress, however, was much harder to ignore as Kal rolled his body over the blanket that was serving as the Walls of Troy.
Large hands cupped Lex's face. "I'd be with you - whenever or wherever you went."
Lips pressed against his and Lex groaned. He'd been trying so hard to be good - denying his attraction to Kal for so long - that it seemed like an eternity. Reaching up, he wrapped his arms around Kal's neck and pulled him down so that their bodies were separated only by the sheet trapped between them. Taking control of the kiss, he thrust his tongue inside Kal's mouth and began to taste him thoroughly.
Kal stilled, and Lex wondered if he was surprised, but soon enough, Kal was nipping and tasting as well. As Lex moved his attention to Kal's throat, he sent his hands gliding down the broad muscled back he'd admired, and then skating up over Kal's firm ass.
Kal let out a loud gasp and Lex smiled between licks. "Been a while, huh?" Lex asked teasingly.
"Yes. As in forever," was the moaned reply.
Lex began to knead the flesh under his hands, but his mind stuttered on Kal's words. "Forever?"
"Mmm-hmmm. I've never been touched there before."
Using all of his strength, Lex pushed Kal off him and sat up, breathing heavily. "You're a virgin?"
"That's... not good?" Kal looked stricken.
Lex ran a hand over his face. "No. There's nothing wrong with being a virgin, but this... this between us - that's what's wrong. You're engaged to Lana Lang. She's the one you should do this with."
"But it's not Lana that I love," Kal burst out. "It's you."
For a moment, Lex looked at Kal. The sheet had fallen away, revealing a body that caused Lex's breath to hitch. He could feel his erection that had slowly been easing spring back to full arousal.
"This isn't love," Lex said coldly. "It's hormones." Part of him wondered if he was directing the comment to Kal or himself.
Whatever its purpose, it seemed to cause Kal to shrink into himself. Turning his back on Lex, he curled up and covered his entire body and most of his head with the sheet. Without thinking, Lex extended his arm to touch Kal, to give him some measure of comfort, but stopped before making contact and drew back.
Tomorrow, they'd be in Metropolis and all of this would be over, Lex reminded himself. Kal would be back with Lana. They'd get married and have extremely cute, if slightly dim, babies. In the meantime, Lex would get on with his life. His association with Kal would be extremely beneficial to his future. In no time at all, and with appropriate backing, he could soon be the head of a company that would rival his father's in power and prestige.
Years from now, he and Kal would meet over conference tables to negotiate new contracts and barely remember the weekend they'd spent together.
Instead of feeling satisfied at the thought, Lex felt panicked. He didn't want Kal to not remember him. He also didn't want Kal to not care. And he definitely didn't want to not care about Kal.
"Kal," he said softly. "Did you mean it? Did you mean it when you said you loved me?"
When there was no reply, Lex left his side of the bed to walk around and peer at Kal's face. In the moonlight that filtered through the barn window, Lex could see a single tear track on his face. Evidently no-one had ever taught him that human males didn't cry.
Not being able to contain himself, Lex dressed, then bounded down the steps to the loft. It was all well and good for Kal to love him, but there was no way in hell Lex was going to live off him like a sponge. Sure, he had the money his mother had left him, but in terms of real money, it wasn't much. He needed to make sure that he had a future that would include Kal, without using him.
His eyes scanned the barn, as if hoping some answer would magically appear, when he saw it. It gleamed. Its beauty called to him. If there was any justice in the world, a chorus should have appeared to sing "Hosanna".
Wearing a grin, Lex stole Jonathan Kent's motorcycle and headed to Metropolis.
"This is an unexpected pleasure, Lex." Lionel tightened the sash of his robe and glanced around the room. "And where is your little friend?"
"You didn't really expect me to bring him here, did you Dad?"
"Of course not. I've taught you much too well." Pouring two drinks, Lionel handed one to Lex before settling into a leather chair with the other. "Now tell me what you felt was important enough to call upon me at such an ungodly hour."
"As you've probably figured out by now, I'm about to become a very influential man."
"I'm sure your friend will be quite grateful to you when he's reunited with Lana Lang."
Lex took a sip of the Scotch. "He's not going to be reunited with Lana Lang. It seems the time apart has caused him to have a change of heart. He's now interested in someone else."
Lionel laughed and leaned closer. "You? Are you telling me that this alien has fallen for you?"
"Come on now, Dad. We've never had the type of father-and-son relationship that shares that sort of information. And, as I'm no longer a LuthorCorp employee, I see no reason in doing so."
"Do you want your job back? You can have it."
Lex took another sip of his Scotch, then set his tumbler on the table. "Maybe I don't want my job back. Maybe I want yours."
Lionel stilled for a moment, before relaxing with a chuckle. "Try it. Your defeat will be spectacular."
"I wouldn't be so sure, if I were you. I've spent quite a bit of time at LuthorCorp. You wouldn't believe how much I've learned. I know exactly how much you're counting on further contracts with the aliens. Now, if, for some reason, you never received another contract in your life, well... that might make things a bit sticky, wouldn't you say?"
Lionel's voice this time was razor sharp. "What do you want, Lex."
"I'm willing to step away. Leave the field to you and your friends - for a price."
Lex let a smirk play over his lips. "I believe you own property in a town called Smallville."
Kal opened his eyes to see a young girl staring at him. It took him a moment to remember her name - Dorothy.
"Hi," he said gently.
Glancing around the loft, he saw that they were alone. "Is Lex with your mom?"
The girl shook her head. "I don't know where he is, but he's in trouble."
"In trouble?" Kal tilted his head quizzically. "Why is Lex in trouble?"
"Because he stole my dad's motorcycle. It was gone this morning and so was he."
Kal's heart began to race. Lex was gone? He knew that Lex had rejected him, but he hadn't realized that he was going to abandon him as well.
After the girl left, Kal rose and dressed. Then, with a heavy heart, he left the barn to go knock on the farmhouse door.
When it was opened, he lifted his gaze to a kind, but sympathetic face.
"Mrs. Kent, I was wondering if I could use your telephone."
Lex raced the motorcycle down the road back to Smallville, feeling freer than he ever had before. It had taken the lawyers what seemed like forever to hammer out a deal, and his inheritance from his mother had been significantly depleted, but he was now the proud owner of a minor, unimportant lab called Cadmus and a honest-to-goodness crap factory.
In his opinion, his future had never looked brighter.
He figured he was only a few miles from the farm and, more importantly, only a few miles from Kal, when he heard the sound. It was a sound he'd only heard a few times before in his life, but it was absolutely unmistakable.
It was the sound of aliens flying overhead at supersonic speed.
By the time Lex lifted his face to the sky, they were gone.
Jor-El glanced worriedly at his son, who was sitting in a chair, staring out the hotel suite's window, looking down at Metropolis. Kal-El had been sitting there for more than an hour, but Jor-El would've bet everything he owned that he hadn't actually seen the city outside.
Striding over so that he stood behind the chair, Jor-El made his voice jovial. "Are you ready for your engagement party? I believe Miss Lang is outdoing herself. If you x-ray the banquet room on the second floor, you can see she's arranged for ice sculptures, pink balloons, pink streamers and pink... well, I'm not quite sure what they're called, but they're pink."
Kal-El simply sighed.
"You are happy, aren't you?" Jor-El moved so that he could see Kal-El's face. "You do still love her, don't you?"
"I don't think I even knew what love was before," Kal-El said quietly.
"And you know now?"
"Yes." Kal nodded. "Love sucks."
Jor-El smiled wryly, remembering his lost wife, Lara, and his worry when Kal-El was missing. "Yes. It certainly does."
Although it had been only a few days, his son had definitely matured during his time away. "Tell me some more about your adventures on the road. You've spoken so little of your companion."
"Lex?" There was a flash of pain in Kal-El's eyes that Jor-El couldn't miss.
"Yes. Tell me about him."
"There's not much to tell. He's arrogant and obnoxious and has something seriously wrong psychologically when it comes to cars."
"And is he the one who taught you that love sucks?"
Kal-El slowly nodded his head.
"I see." Jor-El hesitated for a moment, and then asked, "Should we cancel the engagement party?"
"No. That would make us all look stupid. Maybe in a year or two I can break it off, but not now." Kal-El sighed. "The only problem is that Lana wants to get married right away."
"I'll have to inform Miss Lang then that Kryptonian laws dictate the length of an engagement to be no less than five years."
Kal looked at Jor-El askance. "There are no Kryptonian laws about engagements."
Jor-El winked. "The humans don't know that."
Lex was clearing out the desk in what used to be his office when his father strode in.
"Don't worry, Dad. I'm just taking personal items, not any incriminating documents. Your security guards are welcome to check."
"They're already under orders to do so."
Lex nodded, not at all surprised, and slammed shut another empty drawer.
"I was fortune enough to receive in this morning's mail, an invitation to tonight's engagement party, of the lovely Miss Lang to Kal-El."
Despite his best efforts, Lex couldn't hide a small flinch.
"I must tell you, Lex, your ability to bluff is quite impressive." Lionel spun on his heel and headed for the door. Upon reaching it, he paused. "Just remember, son, often, it's much harder to hold onto something than it is to get it in the first place."
Less than five seconds after the door had shut, Lex collapsed in his chair. He dug the heels of his hands into his eyes, but the memories that played over and over in his head refused to disappear. Kal smiling. Kal laughing. Kal lying when he said he loved him.
The intercom buzzed, startling him.
Leaning forward, he answered it. "Yes?"
"Mr. Luthor? There's a Mr. Jor-El on line three for you."
Swallowing hard, Lex depressed the button and spoke. "This is Lex Luthor."
"Greetings. I am Jor-El, from the planet Krypton. We haven't met, but I believe you know my son, Kal-El."
"Good. Now you might not be aware of this, but when he was missing, I offered a reward - a new technological patent. It's yours, if you want to come by and claim it. We Kryptonians believe in always showing our gratitude to those who have done us a service."
"A service?" There was steel in Lex's voice. "You and your son can take that patent and..." Lex took a deep breath. "You know what? Why don't I come by and tell you exactly how much I appreciate your generosity."
Slamming down the phone, Lex grabbed the box he'd been dumping everything in and headed for the door, determined to show these aliens that he didn't care who they were or where they came from. No-one messed with a Luthor.
Jor-El looked at Luthor as he entered the room. The human carried himself well, confident and assured. He could see why Kal-El would be attracted to him.
"Please, have a seat."
"I'd prefer to stand. This won't take long."
Jor-El frowned. "The patent that was offered as a reward is very intricate. We should discuss its uses and ramifications before we sign any contracts."
"I didn't come here for the reward. I came because I was curious to see what type of person raises someone like Kal. And I think I have my answer. You aliens just think you can crash into someone's life, rearrange it so that he doesn't know if he's coming or going, and then throw money at it to make it better. That might have worked when I was nine, but it's not going to work now."
"You're a meteor mutant?"
"The meteors are something that happened to me. They're not who I am."
Jor-El shook his head. "I'm a bit confused. If you don't want the reward, what do you want?"
"Nothing. I don't want anything from the entire lot of you." Jor-El watched as Lex dug into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. "In fact, here's a refund of the money Kal handed me when we started out for Metropolis." Several bills were flung on the desk. With that last gesture, Lex turned and strode to the door.
"You're quite upset," Jor-El said, calculatingly. "I can only assume that it's because of my son. Do you love him?"
"Your son shouldn't be allowed out without a keeper."
"I've often thought so myself, but do you love him?"
"He's worse than a horde of locusts when it comes to food and sleeps like the dead."
"You're not answering my question. Do you love him?"
"An ordinary human would have to be insane to get involved with an alien."
"Do you love him?"
"Yes, but no-one ever accused me of being ordinary," Lex snapped, reaching for the door and yanking it open to leave.
Dressed in his tuxedo, Kal-El headed towards the rooms his father was using as an office. He wanted to let him know that he would be leaving soon to meet up with Lana, so that they could arrive at their engagement party together. When he saw Lex come out, shutting the door hard behind him, Kal froze.
The eyes that flicked up to meet his were cool and unyielding. "Well, if it isn't the happy groom-to-be."
Straightening his spine, Kal returned the look as best he could. "Come to get your reward?"
"Like there's anything I want from you." Lex's gaze moved over Kal's tuxedo and he rolled his eyes. "You'd think the product of an advanced civilization could manage to learn how to tie a bowtie." Reaching up, he pulled it apart, then retied it with quick, efficient fingers while Kal struggled not to moan at the feel of knuckles brushing his skin.
"All done?" Kal asked, hoping the tremor in his voice wasn't too obvious.
"Yes," Lex turned away, then immediately spun back to face Kal again. "No. I just realized that I haven't given you anything as an engagement present."
Before he realized what was happening, Kal found himself slammed against the wall. Lex pressed against him, ravaging his mouth with tongue and lips. Hands held his hips as their bodies ground together. Much too quickly, Lex pulled back, leaving Kal breathless and shaky.
"Just a little something to remember me by," Lex said, before stalking off.
Kal was still trying to gather his wits when his father appeared.
"Are you well?"
Using his x-ray vision, Kal followed Lex's path into the hotel elevator. "I'm fine."
"Interesting man, your Mr. Luthor." Reaching out, Jor-El put a wad of cash in Kal-El's hand. "He gave me this money to return to you when he refused the reward."
"He refused the reward?"
"He did indeed. Right before he told me he loved you."
"He what?' Kal-El twisted around, once more seeking out Lex's form through the concrete and steel of the building.
"Yes, definitely an interesting man. One might even consider him a worthy mate."
Kal looked down at his tuxedo. "But Lana... the party."
"I'll convey your apologies." When Kal still hesitated, Jor-El scowled. "I suggest you use your super-speed. You wouldn't want a man like that getting away, now would you?"
With a whoosh, Kal disappeared leaving Jor-El alone in the hall with a wide smile on his face.
"Tell me more about the Greeks and Trojans," Kal said, as he lay on the bed facing Lex across the top of a blanket serving as the Walls of Troy.
"Well, the Greeks had been camped outside, trying to fight their way inside for ten years."
"That long, huh? They must have wanted in pretty badly."
Lex gazed for a long moment at the expanse of bronzed flesh bared in front of him. "You have no idea."
"Then what happened?"
"The Greeks built a wooden horse and hid inside. The Trojans brought the horse within their walls and, when night fell, the Greeks attacked.
Kal looked up at Lex from underneath his eyelashes. "Do you have a horse?"
"No," Lex shook his head. "But I once owned a Pinto."
Whipping away the blanket that separated them, Kal smiled. "That's good enough for me."