AU - Lex Luthor is banished to Smallville to live out his teen years.
THE BOY IN THE IRON MASK
Startled, Lex sat up, at a loss as how to help his rescuer who lay at his feet, eyes closed. He yanked his cel phone from his pocket, wincing as the tiny handset dripped with brown water.
No signal, of course, and with an angry noise Lex tossed it into the creek.
"Hey," he said, gingerly shaking the soaked shoulder. "Say something. Are you okay?"
Green eyes fluttered open. "What .. where ..." Lex's rescuer suddenly sat up. "Oh," he said, shaking his head, flinging water droplets everywhere. "I'm okay." Concern creased his brow when he looked at Lex. "Are you all right? Can you stand up?"
"I think so, but if it's okay, I'm going to sit for a minute." Lex blew out a long breath. Jesus, just when you think you're as good as dead ...
He examined his rescuer, who seemed so worried, Lex couldn't help but break into a chuckle. The chuckle turned into a full-fledged laugh and after a minute of looking at him strangely, the other teen tentatively joined in.
Pretty soon, they were practically rolling on the riverbank, laughing hysterically.
"Oh, man," the other boy wheezed, when the hilarity ground to a stop. "I'm in so much trouble. My mom's going to kill me. This coat is brand new."
Lex wiped his eyes with the back of his gloved hand. "If it's any consolation, my guardian's going to kick my ass to hell and back."
Concerned again, but Lex shook his head. "Don't worry about that. So, what's your name?"
Lex held out his hand. "Glad you meet you, Clark. I'm Lex Luthor."
To Lex's delight,Clark shook his hand without hesitation. "You're Mr. Luthor's son, aren't you?"
"Yeah, but try not to hold that against me, okay?"
"No problem," Clark said. He looked down at his soaked coat and jeans with a troubled expression. "Man, I can't go to school like this. I'm going to have to head home and change." A pause. "Do you want to come with me? You can stick your stuff in the dryer for a few minutes."
Lex hesitated. It would be incredibly convenient to dry off his clothes but he didn't want to get Clark into trouble. "Your parents will probably be totally pissed at me for nearly running you down. I'd better just go to school."
In answer, Clark reached out and pulled a muddy plant off of Lex's shoulder. He dangled it with a disgusted expression. "I'm not sure you want the first impression you're going to make if you go in like this."
It can't be much worse than the impression I would have made he thought, but Lex just shrugged. "I don't care."
Rising, Clark held out his hand to Lex. "Come on. It's about half a mile to my parent's farm and we can sneak into the barn. The washer and dryer are under the loft. They won't even have to know you were there."
Lex thought about it for a minute. Not only did this kid save his life, but here he was, offering friendship in the guise of a laundry room. He could turn him down right there and then, letting his natural friendless state remain intact, but something told him that Clark wasn't like those kids in Metropolis.
In fact, he had a feeling Clark Kent was like no one else he'd ever met.
Lex took Clark's hand and found himself easily hauled up. He took a minute to check himself for any bones sticking out at odd angles, but everything seemed in its proper place. "Lead on," Lex said, starting to feel really cold. The half-mile to the warm barn was sounding longer by the minute.
Clark noticed him shivering. Stripping off his coat, he put it around Lex's shoulders. "The shell is wet, but it's still insulated down. It'll probably keep you warmer than nothing."
Teeth chattering, Lex nodded. "But what about you?"
"I'm okay," Clark shrugged. "The cold doesn't affect me that much." Frowning, he glanced back at the river. "Not much affects me, I guess." He took a short hop up the steep incline. "Come on. If we hurry, maybe we won't get a tardy."
"A tardy?" Lex muttered, taking Clark's offered arm, helping him up the rocky slope. "Jesus ..."
"And detention," Clark said. They reached the top together, with Lex feeling wobbly, like an exhausted swimmer who'd found dry land. He took a minute to catch his breath, glancing at the fence he'd tumbled over. There were deep scratches where metal hit metal, parts of the motorbike strewn across the roadway, its undercarriage scattering on impact.
There was another item at the crash site. A red knapsack, wedged between the railings. "Is that yours?" Lex asked incredulously.
"Uh, yeah," Clark replied, jogging over and retrieving it. "Weird," he said, quickly slinging it over his shoulder. "Let's go, before you die of hyperthermia."
"Hypothermia," Lex absently corrected, still wondering about that bookbag. "Hyperthermia is distress caused by the body's temperature rising too high. Hypo is too cold."
"Wow," Clark replied, impressed. "Looks like I can use your help in biology class."
Lex snickered. At Excelsior he charged a thousand dollars for "helping" a fellow student, right down the custom made crib sheets. But maybe, he'd cut Clark a discount. "No problem," he said, following as Clark set off a good pace north. "You're sure this is only half a mile, right?"
"Sure as a farmer's son," Clark said, as soon enough, the swaying sign proclaiming "Kent Organic Farms" came into view right above the next ridge.
The barn smelled like the Montana ranch Lex and his mother used to visit before she died. Warm and musty, it was filled with the all-natural scent of hay and animals and immediately, Lex felt warmed straight to his toes.
"Hurry, the dryer's over here," Clark whispered, peeking out the double door for any sign of his parents. "I'll go upstairs and change. Put it on the highest setting. It's a pretty good dryer; fifteen minutes should do the trick."
"What do I wear in the meantime?" ask Lex, stripping out of his black turtle neck and soaked black jeans, toeing his shoes off as Clark bounded up the creaky loft stairs.
An Indian style blanket fluttered down. "Here. Wrap this around yourself for now. And keep an eye out for my Mom. Sunday is laundry day, but she might have stuff she wants to put in today."
Lex blanched at the thought of Clark's mother finding some strange teen in her barn wearing nothing but a blanket. He kept his underwear on, as uncomfortable as they were, just in case.
Upstairs, he could hear the sound of drawers being searched, clothes being dumped on the floor. A minute later, Clark came down the stairs, wearing an almost exact replica of the outfit he'd been wearing by the river.
"You like plaid, huh?" Lex asked, trying not to chuckle at the big blue checks that reminded him of a picnic.
"Listen, a guy wearing a blanket shouldn't pick on the style choices of other people," Clark noted. He noticed Lex's leather jacket, draped over a hay stack. Picking it up, he shook his head sadly at its condition. "This is really nice. We'll have to try to save it." He hung it on the makeshift laundry line strung over the washer. "Maybe it'll dry out."
Lex didn't want to say the jacket had been consigned to the trash heap the minute it hit the water, so he changed the subject. "Have you always lived on a farm? Were you born here?"
"Yep. Although I wasn't born here, I was adopted. The farm's been in my father's side of the family for generations. My mother moved here from Metropolis, as weird as that must sound to you."
"That doesn't sound weird. Living on a farm must be very ..." Lex paused, searching for the right word. "Peaceful. Yes, it must be peaceful."
Clark laughed, a deep sound that seemed to be coming from somewhere low in his broad chest. "Sleeping past five and not having to milk thirty head of dairy before breakfast sounds more peaceful to me."
"I guess." Lex sat on a hay bale, jumping a little at the sharp poke he received from an errant piece of straw. "Ow." He listened to the clacking sounds made by his jeans zipper hitting the dryer's insides, hoping they'd be done soon. Clark sat across from him, hugging his bookbag and waiting patiently. "I don't think I thanked you yet for saving me." Lex tried to let all the sincerity he felt show on his face. "Thank you, Clark."
Clark pulled his bookbag closer. He shrugged. "I'm sure you would have done the same for me."
Would he have? Lex could only wonder. "And thanks for taking me here to clean up. It might save me some grief later on." The dryer dinged and Lex lunged toward it, gratefully removing his dried clothing. He pulled on the jeans quickly, then the shirt. His shoes were still wet, but that was the least of his concerns. "Come on, let's go. It'll suck if you get detention."
"It'll suck if you get detention too," Clark amended. "By the way, you'll need a jacket. It's too cold out to go without one. I brought one down, but ..." Sheepishly, he held up a bright red hoody. "I'm not sure if it's your style."
Lex grabbed it and shoved his arms into it. "I'm all about the postmodern desperate this year, Clark."
"Okaaay," Clark said, raising an eyebrow. He slung his bookbag over his shoulder, motioning for Lex to follow. "It's kinda of a walk, but I know a shortcut." He paused. "Well, I don't know if it's shorter ... it's less hilly."
"Oh boy," Lex sighed. Sneaking across the barnyard, he followed Clark to a dirt path that had been oddly cut right through the past season's corn fields. "I have feeling we're going to be tardier than the tardiest thing ever."
"Yeah, but you can tell me more about hypothermia. In detention."
Chapter Four: Lex meets the SV High gang. Romy stresses taking care of Luthorcorp property. Strange happenings strike.
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