Li'l Clark and Li'l Lex. Also? Footie pajamas.
On the Evening He Heard Them Talk
Lex knows all the ways around the house, every place to hide if he wants to listen. Doctors talking to Dad about Mom, the old nanny who was fired last month, and now, he's crouched outside his dad's study, hidden by shadows and a potted plant.
Martha just started a few months ago, bringing her son into the house. Lex hadn't thought he'd like that, Julian still fresh in his mind, but Mom had said it would be good for him and gave him the suite beside Lex's. Clark's kind of hyper and spends a lot of time outside or in brightly-lit rooms--Lex is still working out why, but he always looks interested when people talk to him and never jumps on the furniture. He also likes to listen to Lex read Warrior Angel and never touches them unless Lex says he can.
It's actually pretty cool to have him around. Like a little brother, but better, because he's old enough to play with. The housekeeper thinks Martha and Clark should be in the servants' quarters, but Lex doesn't quite see the point of that. Martha's more like Mom's friend, and she and Clark eat dinner with them every night.
"…and you're seriously trying to tell me it's normal for *any* child to break a *solid silver candlestick* by accident?"
Oh damn. Dad doesn't sound happy. Lex frowns, leaning into the wall, trying to get a better position to listen. He likes Martha. She makes cookies after the cook goes to bed and lets him eat them on the counter. Dad wouldn't like that if he found out, but then, he and Martha don't tell him. Mom always laughs when he tells her, and Martha always makes sure that he has some cookies to take up to Mom.
"I'll pay the expense from my salary, Mr. Luthor." Martha's voice is tight and hard, and Lex has never heard her sound like that before.
"That's not the point. I want to know what that child *is*. Was he affected by the meteor shower?" There's a pause and Lex's hand goes automatically to his head, still a little surprised by the feel of smooth skin. Clark too? "Martha...."
"That wasn't in the terms of our agreement."
Lex hears his dad snort something.
"In less than an hour, I can have that child under observation by the best scientists in the world."
"And that file I have goes straight to the Inquisitor and the Daily Planet, Mr. Luthor. My father's firm has instructions from me if you think you can make either of us disappear, and I don't think even you can get inside my father's law firm and get rid of everything before it would be irrevocably public. You accepted my desire for privacy when I took this position."
File. Lex grins a little. Dad's not used to people standing up to him. He tends to go for that better than groveling. Throws him off somehow.
"This isn't about privacy. This is about--" Lex hears his dad stop, obviously frustrated. Cornered. Lex snickers to himself. Take that, Dad. "That child is extraordinary. Martha, I've watched him since you both came here. Perhaps being a mother, you don't pay attention. I *do*."
"I have no idea--"
"Please. You and Lillian think you can keep this under wraps, but the fact is, Clark's different. Either affected by the meteors--" He stops, and Lex leans closer. He knows that tone. It's the paydirt one. Like the way he pretends not to know what you did wrong all along and then drops the knowledge on you like a bomb. "Or does it have something to do with the ship my people unearthed in Riley's field?"
Ship? Lex tenses, feeling a rush of shock that ends at his toes. Ship. *Ship*. That would be--oh wow.
Spinning on the balls of his feet, Lex sees Clark, small and rumpled in blue flannel footie pajamas, looking at him with wide, slightly dazed eyes, dark hair severely rumpled. Lex knows the signs by now of a bad night. Lex remembers waking up to hear Martha going into his room to stop his screaming more nights than he can count. Dark, he'd say, and other things that didn't sound like normal words. More like that Korean gardener they have, but Lex has picked up enough from him to know that Clark doesn't speak that, either. He couldn't even say 'Alexander' when he came, twisting it into 'Lex'. Lex likes it. He's been wondering if he can get Mom and Dad to start calling him that.
Clark still doesn't talk much in front of people, but when he's with his mother or with Mom or with Lex, sometimes it's hard to get him to shut up. Very bad thing right now.
"Shh." Before Clark can make more noise, Lex reaches out, grabbing one little hand and jerking him behind the planet. Clark tenses instantly, and Lex belatedly remembers that Clark's claustrophobic. There's no help for it. Lex sits back on his heels and pulls Clark into his lap, stroking his hands down Clark's arms. "Shh. Everything's okay. Dad's talking to your Mom, so let me listen, 'kay?"
Clark's tension diminishes by degrees, small head nodding, and it's only a few seconds before the dark head's against his shoulder, drifting off. Nightmare again, Lex thinks, getting an arm around Clark's waist and shifting against the wall again.
"…he's my son! He's not going to be sold to the highest bidder for your--." Shit, he's missed part of the conversation. Shifting Clark, Lex presses an ear to the wall. Okay, bidder? Huh. She knows Dad *really* well.
"Jesus, Martha, you think I'd share *this* with anyone?" Dad sounds honestly shocked. "Waste that potential for the sake of--what? Science? The *government*? Have you lost your *mind*?"
Lex feels Clark getting heavy--falling asleep, no surprise--warm, even breath against his neck. Another shift, and Lex can balance the weight and still keep close to the wall.
"What would you do?"
"Teach him." His dad's voice sounds almost eager. "Strength, speed, intelligence--who knows what else?"
"You want to use him." Martha's voice is very low and Lex rolls his eyes. Of course Dad wants to use him. Dad wants to use *everyone*.
"Do you think it would be in my best interests to hurt the child?" There's shifting--Dad's restless. "Do you have any idea what kind of potential he has?"
"I see what you do to Alexander." Martha's heels click loudly on the wood of Dad's floor. "I can't allow that."
So someone *does* notice how bizarre Dad's been acting.
"What else does he have, Martha? You can't hide him forever and he's going to know very soon how different he is. I can protect him. Prepare him."
"Train him." Her voice is low.
"Do you have a better option? Set him loose on the world where his gifts have to be hidden, where you have no resources to get him the things he needs to adjust? Among people who will never understand him and *will* sell him if they get the chance? You won't even send him to school because of his--unique abilities. I can give him what he needs--training, protection. Education."
There's a pause that seems to last forever.
"Ask Lillian," Dad says, like he's making a huge concession. "I'm quite aware of what you're capable of, Martha. I'm also aware that you have yet to tell your father exactly what Clark is and what he can do, despite requesting his assistance and mine when you formalized the adoption. You know as well as I do what would happen if anyone found out the truth."
Martha's voice drops suddenly, conversation becoming muffled, and Lex leans into the wall, trying to hear more. Damn. Damn--fuck. Fuck, yes. He can't hear, and damn, *Mom* knows and he didn't? It's not like Lex didn't see the weird things Clark could do, but--
Looking down, Lex studies the sleeping child. He looks like any other kid Lex has seen. Shifting his grip, he grins. This is the coolest thing ever. An alien--Clark's an *alien*, and Lex wants his comic books like, *now*. Aliens can do all kinds of cool things, and Lex wants to see if Clark can do anything else.
Man, does this explain Clark liking Warrior Angel so much. Clark's like a undergrown superhero. Lex is really tempted to wake him up and start asking questions. Except Clark doesn't wake up well and Dad and Martha haven't stopped talking yet. Damn.
The door opens and Lex freezes.
"What are my guarantees?"
"I'm aware that my wife is leaving you the entirety of her LuthorCorp stock." Lex freezes at the casual tone of his father's voice. Mom--Mom's just sick. Pushing it aside, Lex refocuses. Mom will be okay. "I suspect you could make life very difficult. And frankly, Martha, it's in my best interests to keep both of you happy."
That's true. Lex wonders if Mom has made any more arrangements for Martha and he thinks probably. Mom knows Dad, and Dad sure knows Mom. Pulling Clark closer so he won't be seen, Lex tries to get a glimpse of his dad in the dark hall.
"I'll start searching for appropriate instructors." Dad sounds really pleased. "Both boys could benefit from some instruction at home."
"I want Lillian and I to have veto on everyone you hire, Lionel. Anyone who comes in contact with Clark for--this arrangement."
"Of course." There's a pause. "Is there anything else, Martha?"
"You'll hear from me if there is."
Lex feels Clark mumble something against his neck and he's vaguely aware the kid's drooling on his shoulder. Great. He can't move more without waking Clark, so Lex has to content himself with the view of Martha's low heels and his dad's expensive shoes.
With that, Martha walks off, heels clicking, and Lex waits breathlessly as his father stands silently, obviously thinking. Lex could have told Dad that Martha really isn't someone you want to get on the wrong side of.
Agonizingly long moments later, Dad goes back to the study, and Lex breathes again, looking down. Clark's knocked out, mouth open, definitely drooling.
Alien. And he can *do* stuff. Like Warrior Angel, or Spiderman. Sort of. Frowning, Lex tries to decide what to do. Clark wakes up badly and Lex really doesn't want to draw attention to them--Dad's got ears that can hear miles away, it seems like, so waking him up is so not an option. Shifting Clark, Lex gets an arm under him and balances on the floor for a second before pushing himself up. Luckily, Clark's not heavy, and the tiny arms twist around Lex's neck trustingly.
It's not easy, but not that hard either. Alien, he thinks as he navigates the house. He's going to buy more comics this week and take Clark with him. So what if the housekeeper freaks out--Mom likes him to play with Clark and even Dad doesn't make the usual speeches about being a grown-up and how it's beneath Luthors to play like kids.
Of course, now it makes sense. Dad's got plans for Clark.
Lex pauses at Clark's bedroom door, pushing it open with a foot and slipping inside. It's all in primary colors--bright yellows, reds, and blues. A bright room even in the dark, and yeah, that makes sense too. Carefully, Lex begins to deposit the little boy on the rumpled bed.
And tips over, since Clark apparently isn't quite ready to let go.
"Clark." Reaching behind his neck, Lex tries to pull his hands loose. Not happening. Damn. "Clark, I've got to get to bed. Dad'll kill me if he finds out I was up this late."
Huge dark eyes open, staring into Lex's with an intensity that's vaguely frightening. Clark's scared--not just normal-scared, like Lex used to be of the dark when Dad first took away the nightlight, but real-scared. "Dark."
"It's night, Clark. Of course it's dark." Shifting into a sitting position, Lex stops fighting him and Clark relaxes into his lap again. Clark's very strong, and Lex thinks of the solid silver candlestick that Dad mentioned. Huh. Looking down at the dark head, he considers carefully. "What scares you about it?"
"I can't get out." The tiny face burrows against his shirt and Lex twitches, but Clark's so tactile that Lex is getting used to being touched. "Can't breathe. It--it tries to hold me down. I can't--" And he's shaking, just like that, sweat breaking out even through the flannel and Lex soothes him with slow strokes down his back, like Martha does when Mom's coughing and can't seem to catch her breath. Clark shudders harder, like he'll fall apart if he's let go. "It won't let me *go* and I can't get out and I can't breathe and it's in my mouth and I can't--can't--"
"Shh." He catches himself rocking Clark, like he remembers Mom did Julian before he died. "It can't get you here."
Clark doesn't answer.
"Your mom won't let it." Thinking for a minute, Lex glances at the door. Martha just got to bed and he really, really doesn't want to wake her up. Then he'll have to explain why *he's* up, and that will--no. She might not tell Dad, but she'll tell Mom, and Mom will ask Questions that he's not quite ready to answer. Not until he's thought about it more. "I won't let it, either."
Clark tilts his head up, and Lex can see the tracks of tears on his cheeks. Jesus, what happened to him anyway? Martha never talks about anything before she came, and he's *asked* her and then when he asked Mom, she said not to ask any more at *all*, that he didn't need to know. Well, damn, yes he does. Brushing his fingers across the little cheek, Lex tightens his hold.
"You won't?" And the first thing Lex is going to ask Clark is to not actually believe *anyone* who says that, especially Dad. Except Mom and Martha. And Lex, of course. Nodding, he waits as Clark begins to relax.
"Promise." Clark's hold isn't loosening, and Lex runs a few excuses through his head as he pushes the rumpled covers back further and lays down, Clark still attached like the biggest leach ever. He heard Clark crying and came to check on him and fell asleep with him. Mom will like that, Lex thinks drowsily, as he pulls up the covers around them. Clark burrows into his chest, falling dead asleep as if a few seconds ago, he *wasn't* scared to death. She'll say he's being responsible and a good influence and stuff like that. Like he would have been a good brother to Julian.
Clark makes a sleepy, satisfied sound against him, and Lex grins, closing his eyes. He might even tell her that he thinks that he likes doing it.
Tomorrow, though. Totally going to show Clark all his comic books and see what they can find out. A kind-of-little-brother-alien. The coolest thing *ever*.