My First Taste - Ep 4 Frailty
MY FIRST TASTE
It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you.
~ Lady Bird Johnson
"I can't believe each one of these bruises was a bullet," Martha commented in disbelief as she pressed a cold cloth against Hudson's shoulder.
"Oww!" Hudson winced and reflexively moved away from the touch.
"Sorry." Martha pulled the cloth away and moved to another, touching her daughter's skin a little more gently.
Hudson looked up as her father tossed the paper he had been reading onto the table, the page folded to show Bob Rickman's picture and an article regarding his suicide. "Guess that answers that question." He frowned.
When her mother was finished tending to the bruises, Hudson slipped her shirt back over her shoulders and secured the last few buttons. Last night's events were still in the realm of stunned disbelief for her. She glanced down at the table, her brow furrowing. "It's weird... I get shot at and the bullets are fired by my best friend."
Her parents exchanged a glance. They had discussed what had happened briefly late last night when their daughter had finally come home. She'd been shaken up - worse than they had ever seen her. When she admitted that Lex had shot at her, Jonathan lost his temper but Martha quickly calmed him. The only reason Martha could claim for her daughter's silence during her father's diatribe against Lex had been that she doubted he would have listened to reason at that moment anyway. Truthfully, it could have been anyone. The identity of the shooter mattered little compared to the fact of it happening. That it had been Lex though, only provided Jonathan with more fuel for his anger. After they went to bed, Martha finally convinced her husband to understand that Lex had no idea what he was doing. It could have just as easily been one of them shooting at their daughter.
"What do you think happened to Kyle?" Jonathan asked, preferring to ignore the comment about Lex being her best friend.
Hudson scratched at an eyebrow for a moment. "I don't know. But I think he's out in the world making a difference now."
Out in the world, knowing what he knows about her. He didn't know the complete truth but it was enough to worry Hudson -- that someone besides her parents was out there, walking around, with the knowledge of what she could do. Sometimes, it was awfully tempting to see who else she could hope to trust with her secret.
A knock at the screen door drew the family's attention and they turned to see Lana push it open and peer in. "Hi." She smiled a little nervously, her gaze flitting over Hudson before looking to Martha and Jonathan. "I... uh... hope I'm not interrupting."
All Hudson could wonder at the moment was when she would ever be given a break. Forcing a smile, she stood. "No. Come on in."
Lana shuffled in, casting another nervous glance in Hudson's direction before dropping her gaze to the floor.
Noting that her parents didn't seem too interested in giving them a moment to talk, as they both walked over to the sink to begin doing dishes, Hudson waved her hand toward the porch. "Why don't we... uh... go outside?"
Lana seemed relieved to get out of there and hurried back out the door, Hudson following behind her. Once they were safely on the porch, Lana tucked her hands into the pockets of her jeans and finally focused her gaze on Hudson without looking away. She still appeared unable to think of much to say though, or maybe was too afraid to speak. She did find another tremulous smile though.
Hudson returned it before continuing down the steps into the yard. She should have grabbed a coat; it couldn't have been over thirty-five degrees out. Hopefully, Lana wouldn't think about it. They had enough to discuss; though Hudson would have preferred they ignore it.
Yesterday had just been... strange.
When it had been discovered that Kyle had escaped from the room he had been recuperating in at Lex's castle, Hudson knew that he had likely gone back to his place to pack up and leave town. She had headed that direction only to find Lana following her. When asked why, Lana had replied that she had the right to hear from Kyle Tippet that he hadn't meant to attack her, and if Hudson were right in all of her proclamations, then he would say so and apologize. Barely restraining herself from throwing her hands up into the air in exasperation, Hudson had finally agreed to let her tag along.
Kyle told an incredible story of how he and Bob Rickman had been able to `persuade' people, through the touch of their hands, to get them to do anything that they wanted, ever since the meteor shower. Trying very hard not to consider the fact that her arrival was directly responsible for the sale of her parent's farm, Hudson had looked on in amusement as Lana had flat out rejected Kyle's claim. She wanted proof. Hudson hadn't thought that was very safe but Kyle had assured her that he didn't plan on having Lana run out and kill anybody or anything. Then he had taken Lana's hand and asked her to show Hudson her true feelings. Having absolutely no idea what would happen, the last thing that she had expected was for Lana to grab the front of her shirt and pull her down for a kiss.
A kiss! Lana Lang had kissed her! When did the universe suddenly decide that the life of its lone alien female on Earth had become a great cosmic joke?
The worst of it was when Lana had realized what had happened; Hudson's minty mouthwash had given it away.
Hudson pulled from her thoughts to glance down at the petite girl beside her as they both came to a stop. "Yeah?"
"About yesterday... " Lana stopped and wrapped her arms around her waist defensively. "That wasn't... I mean... "
"Don't worry about it," Hudson interrupted, flashing a quick smile. "I mean, Kyle was just trying to prove a point."
Lana nodded, not appearing in the least relieved.
"I mean, he could make you do anything, right? So you had no control over it," Hudson assured her.
Lana made a face and looked away. "Yeah," she replied softly. "I just... I wanted to make sure you knew that."
Shrugging, Hudson gave her another smile. "Of course. No big deal."
Nodding a little, Lana finally brought her gaze back to Hudson and returned the smile. "Good. I was hoping you wouldn't... well, I mean, that we could still be friends." She unwrapped her arms, as if uncertain what to do with them, and finally just dropped them to her sides. "I never got to tell you how much it meant to me when you helped out with the blood drive. You did a lot more than just lie back and let someone poke you with a needle. I hadn't realized what a task it was that I had taken on. You were a lifesaver."
"I wouldn't say that." Hudson felt her cheeks redden at the praise. She turned and continued out of the yard, stopping only when she reached the fence to the west pasture. "I just felt bad that I'm so... you know, afraid of needles." She tried to laugh it off.
Lana shrugged as she stood beside her. "Lots of people are afraid of needles. Michelle Parker passed out at the sight of her own blood."
Now that Hudson considered it, she would probably do the same, considering she had never seen her own blood before. What if it was green, like a Vulcan's? She glanced down at her skin, peering at the veins for a moment. Maybe purple. Or blue. She really needed to stop thinking about this.
"Ready for our field trip through the woods tomorrow?" Hudson asked, changing the subject.
"Rock collecting." Lana nodded a little and smiled. "Never really pictured myself as the rock collecting type."
Hudson's gaze moved to Lana's neck at the comment, bringing to mind another kind of rock. Again, the necklace made of the piece of meteor that killed her parents was missing. She found herself wondering at it. Lana used to never go without it. And now, Hudson rarely saw her with it.
When she glanced back up, Lana was regarding her in return. It prompted Hudson to blurt out, "Why don't you wear your necklace anymore?"
Lana's hand reached up to touch her neck, her fingers grazing against the neck of her pink sweater a moment before she shrugged. "I don't know. I guess... I've been searching for who I really am, you know? And I feel that if I hold on to the past, if I keep trying to be that person I was before, I'll never discover who it is I really want to be. I don't always want to be the tragic fairy princess on a magazine cover."
Hudson smiled a little. She didn't know if she would ever have the chance to be anything other than who, or what, she already was.
After Lana left, Hudson went up to the loft, picking the loft up a little and then glancing over her homework, which she really didn't feel like doing. Deciding she could put it off until the evening, she settled gingerly onto the couch where she picked up the copy of `Idylls of the King' Lex had lent to her. Turning to the page she was on, she began reading of `Geraint and Enid':
And ever in her mind she cast about
For that unnoticed failing in herself,
Which made him look so cloudy and so cold;
Till the great plover's human whistle amazed
Her heart, and glancing round the waste she feared
In every wavering brake an ambuscade.
Then thought again, 'If there be such in me,
I might amend it by the grace of Heaven,
If he would only speak and tell me of it.'
Hudson sighed and squinted at the page a little. Really, Lex read some of the most boring books. Sure, it was pretty and all, but it made her feel that her attention span to seem shorter than she had ever believed it truly was. It couldn't be her; this book was really just that yawn-inducing. And she was fairly positive that if she could get headaches from anything other than her x-ray vision, the books Lex had her read would be the cause. Tossing it down beside her, she leaned forward, resting her chin on her hand, and stared out across the barn.
She missed Lex. Ever since Victoria had come to town, it was as if he were purposely pushing Hudson away. At first she had thought it was because of the day she had yelled at him when Lex had offered to try to help with Detective Phalen. Hudson hadn't meant to jump all over him like that, but she had been terrified of Lex learning the truth. It seemed everyone was finding out lately, between Phalen and Kyle Tippet. Her parents were becoming increasingly worried about her and, while Hudson believed she could take care of herself, there was the added fear of not being able to take care of those around her. Phalen's actions against her family and his death had taught her one important lesson - those who knew the truth of her origins were inherently in more danger than she was. If, by chance, one day she were to end up on a dissection table in some dingy lab, it would be her own fault. But she wasn't going to allow those around her to end up similarly harmed. Keeping Lex in the dark regarding the truth was no longer about the fear her parents had instilled in her; it was all about his protection. She couldn't always be there, especially when he insisted on pushing her away. Or shooting at her.
Wincing at the memory of the night before, Hudson lifted her blue flannel shirt up and glanced over the bruises on her stomach, brushing her fingers over them lightly. At least she knew exactly how vulnerable her skin was now. Like, she couldn't be shot at point blank range with an automatic weapon without suffering at least some damage. Fortunately, they didn't so much hurt as make her feel uncomfortable. The mere thought of their presence forced her to contemplate what had happened - and what could have happened had she been someone else. Lex would have been responsible for murder. Not to mention the fact that she would be dead instead of sitting there, remembering.
The problem was she had begun to feel the urge to tell Lex the truth, all of it. Hudson knew her parents would have been angry with her for doing so, but she was tired of lying, and she trusted him. She didn't want to be alone with the knowledge anymore; she wanted to be able to talk about it with someone other than her mom and dad.
Phalen had changed everything.
Everything she had experienced in that week had opened her eyes to how the world really worked, and why her parents were so afraid for her. The only police officers that Hudson had ever been exposed to were those like Sheriff Ethan and his deputies; generally good guys who enforced the law and spent most of their time harassing the high school students, especially as they attempted to cruise Main Street on Friday night. They were men and women who had attended high school with her father; they said `hi' to you at the county fair and somehow always knew how you were doing in school and what fellow student you had a crush on. They offered you rides home from school when it was raining or snowing and they sometimes watched football games with her father on Sundays.
With Phalen's attempt to destroy her family with blackmail to get what he wanted, Hudson's outlook on how the world worked came crashing to a very disappointing end. Everyone close to her was in danger of being hurt by those who might learn her secret. It was enough to make Hudson consider never allowing anyone close to her again, but she knew she would be too lonely to consider such a thing. So she just had to be careful; she had to guard her secret zealously. As much as she wanted to share it with people like Lex and Chloe, she knew that they would be safer, easier to protect, as long as they didn't know.
The situation with Kyle Tippet and Bob Rickman had only cemented that decision in her heart.
Hudson was so wrapped up in her thoughts she hadn't heard Lex pull up. Lifting her head, she flashed him a quick smile. "Hey." She rose as he approached, watching as he moved to stand beside her.
"You can tell your dad that I talked to my lawyers," Lex informed her, glancing at her with a half-smile. "Because of Rickman's... untimely demise, they're not expanding. They ripped up the contract."
"Thanks." Hudson flashed him another smile. "Your help is really appreciated, Lex."
Lex shrugged. "Hey. What are friends for?"
Hudson's smile faded a little as she remembered the rain of bullets from the night before. Forcing the memory from her mind, she glanced toward the back of Lex's head, searching for any signs of bruising or swelling. "How are you feeling?"
"Two concussions in about as many weeks... " Lex grinned over at her. "Luckily I have a hard head or they might not let me play with you anymore."
Hudson laughed softly at the comment, finding the situation humorous in it's own sick way. She hadn't meant to throw him as far as she had last night but he had been shooting at her!
"I still don't remember what happened," Lex continued, watching her closely.
"I knocked into you, hoping to push you out of the way so you wouldn't hurt Kyle." Hudson shrugged. "I just hadn't realized how close the shelves were. I'm sorry."
Lex didn't reply for a moment, still gazing at her. Finally, he asked, "Are you sure I didn't hurt you?"
Hudson patted her chest, held her arms out wide to indicate that she was fine. Her expression clearly said she wouldn't have been standing there if he had. Lex smiled a little at her assurance then moved forward, gazing out of the loft at the pasture beyond.
"Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn."
"What?" Hudson looked over at him, frowning a little at his strange comment.
Lex smiled at her then looked back out once more. "It's something Walt Whitman wrote: Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn a sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding; and haze, and vista and the far horizon, fading away. I always think of it when I'm here." He glanced over at Hudson. "I wonder where Kyle is now?"
She blinked for a moment at the abrupt change in topic. "I don't know." A pause. Bullets and suspicion and more lies. "It's still strange to think that he and Rickman were once best friends." Hudson turned to Lex, worry creasing her brow. "Do you think we'll end up like that?"
"Trust me, Hudson," Lex replied, turning to her. "Our friendship is going to be the stuff of legends." He gave her a smile.
Hudson tried to imagine anything that had to do with her being considered a legend and returned the smile out of humor at the thought. Maybe he meant that a Luthor being friends with a farm girl was what would become legend. Returning her gaze out the window, she found herself marveling over the easy companionability that she and Lex were able to share. They were so different from one another, far apart in age and upbringing, and yet they could just stand here and feel comfortable. They could say a thousand things to one another with a simple `hello'. If only she were a few years older...
Lex turned and walked over to the couch but didn't sit down, just stood there, glancing around the loft as if he had never seen it before. It had been a few weeks since he had last been there, ever since Victoria had arrived. At first, it had appeared that he was successful in his mission to put some space between himself and Hudson, but that had quickly failed as circumstances and events continued to throw them together. When he had needed her during Jeff Palmer's attack, she had been there, just as she had been there earlier for Victoria. Lex knew that Hudson didn't like Victoria Hardwick for a multitude of reasons, and when she had rescued her from drowning in the tub, he hadn't really been surprised. Hudson didn't judge people the way that others did. It was as if there was some innate inability to do so that was born within her. While Lex knew that some of it came from her upbringing - at least where Martha Kent was concerned since Jonathan Kent had judged him from the moment he'd come to town - he still believed that the larger part was simply Hudson's nature. It was what made her so unique.
"So... How're things with Victoria?"
Glancing over his shoulder, Lex caught Hudson watching him closely, her expression too easily discernable. It was amazing to him, the mixture of jealousy and acceptance that his friend displayed. Sometimes he wondered if she wasn't really just two different people.
Nodding, Lex replied, "Very well. Thank you for asking." He paused for a moment, noting how her mouth tightened just a bit. He added, "She's not a bad person, Hudson. I think you'd like her if you got to know her."
He didn't really believe that. Not that he thought Hudson wouldn't find anything to like about Victoria but simply because they were too different. And Victoria wouldn't like Hudson, and wouldn't allow herself to be liked in return. It was a problem with people of his social class - you couldn't allow yourself to actually enjoy the company of someone who might be beneath you in status. It didn't matter what they were like inside or how they treated you. Victoria harbored an innate dislike for Hudson simply because she lived on a farm. She hadn't even thanked her when she saved her life.
But that didn't stop Lex from pressing the subject. Maybe he enjoyed the idea of Hudson feeling such jealousy over him. Maybe he wanted her to feel as miserable as he did deep down - he was forcing this separation between them but it didn't mean he enjoyed it. He wanted Hudson to feel the pain. Then maybe she would make the choice for him; end the friendship before the pain cut too deep. He'd already discovered he wasn't strong enough to just walk away.
Hudson hadn't replied and Lex found a strange sense of regret building inside of him. Before he could stop himself, he told her, "I've missed you, Hudson."
The smile that spread across her face was unmistakable and made his words worth the sacrifice. "I've missed you, too, Lex. I was afraid... well, it seemed like you didn't want to be friends anymore. Like you had replaced me with Victoria."
Lex chuckled softly. "That would be impossible. You're irreplaceable."
"I'm glad to hear that." She walked up to him, still smiling. Cocking her head slightly, she asked, "The stuff of legends, huh?"
Reaching out, Lex brushed his fingers over her cheek and nodded. "Something like that, yeah."
Well, that answered that question.
Her blood was red. And not green, like a Vulcan.
After yesterday's field trip with her science class, Hudson had believed that the worst that could happen to her had already occurred. She'd been struck by lightning and felt a little weak afterwards. But this morning, she was either feeling the repercussions from that strike or something was seriously wrong with her. A simple task - the truck had been stuck in the mud and her father asked her to pull it out. It was nothing. She had been helping him with such tasks for years. But this time, her strength hadn't been there. She hadn't been able to remove the truck, and developed a bloody nose for her trouble.
Hudson stared down at the cloth, watching in fascination as the blood from her nose slowly dried, growing darker. Beside her, her father occasionally reached out and stroked her back soothingly, not speaking, likely because he was as confused as she. It wasn't just the fact that she suddenly couldn't lift the truck up; a momentary lapse in her strength wasn't enough to send any of them into a panic. But the blood... That was something none of them had seen before and it was sufficiently shocking enough to settle a brief pall over all of them.
The screen to the front door opened with a screech and her mother exited to join them on the porch. "Here's a clean coat, honey," she said softly, laying it over the railing beside Hudson. The blue one she had been wearing that morning was covered in mud, as her jeans had been. Hudson had changed into a pair of khakis but the coat was the only winter one she owned. The red one now lying beside her belonged to her mom.
"Are you feeling better?" Martha asked, brushing her daughter's bangs from her forehead.
Hudson didn't reply for a moment as she continued to stare down at the blood. "I just don't understand what's wrong with me." She lifted her gaze to her mother's. "Why am I bleeding?"
"Maybe it's just part of your development, like X-ray vision," her mother offered, her brow furrowed as she looked up at her husband beside her. "Or maybe the lightning had something to do with it. I don't know."
Making a face, Hudson returned her gaze to the cloth. She had saved Eric Summer's life the day before during their geology field trip. He'd been on the dam when lightning had struck, causing him to fall. When she reached for his bag, the pain caused by nearness to the meteor rocks swept over her. She completely forgot that some of the students had collected them for the science project. Fighting to forget the pain as she pulled Eric to safety, lighting struck again, only this time it had hit her. Hudson physically felt the shock move through her, and the sudden absence of her strength; luckily she already pulled Eric up enough to grab the railing and help her get him to safety. The biggest concern on her mind at that moment had been getting away from the meteor rocks. She hadn't even considered what part the lightning might have played in it, or if there would be ramifications to follow.
"I am going to be okay. Right?" Hudson glanced up for confirmation from her parents.
Her mother offered a small smile but no words of encouragement. Her father looked away, concentrating over her shoulder for a moment before telling her, "What you ought to do right now is go to school." He nodded toward the bus that was pulling up at the end of the drive. "And if anything else happens or it gets worse, give us a call."
Hudson noticed that her father didn't appear to believe it was anything to worry about. Maybe it was just part of her development, as her mother had suggested, or maybe it was just a bad day. Or something. Picking up the coat, she stood and kissed her father on the cheek before hugging her mother and moving down the steps.
Turning as she slid the coat on, Hudson commented, "You know, it's weird. I've never worried about being sick before." Secretly, she thought it was kind of cool, as well as frightening. Now she had a better understanding of those around her.
"You're not sick, H.C.," her mother insisted. She smiled. "You're just... not yourself."
"You just missed your bus." Looking down from his perch on the railing, her father told her, "You'd better hurry."
Maybe she was worrying about nothing. Nodding once, Hudson shouldered her backpack and turned, breaking in to a run to head to school. She waited for the moment when everything around her would seem to come to a stop as she sped past at speeds she didn't really want to comprehend.
Instead, nothing happened.
Shock and fear swept over her and Hudson stopped beside the fence, turning a worried gaze to her parents.
"Something wrong?" Her father called out.
"My speed," Hudson replied. "It's gone, too."
This time, both of her parents glanced at one another in concern and Hudson began to worry that this might not just be a stage of development.
"I'll drive you to school," her father offered before leaning over to kiss her mother's cheek and then move down the steps to join Hudson beside the fence. He laid his hand on her shoulder and held her gaze for a moment. "Everything will be fine, honey. I promise."
She wanted to believe him.
Unfortunately, the day continued to get worse.
Hudson had always been mystified as to why anyone would want to spend their day walking back and forth to their locker. It was much easier to simply carry all of your textbooks in your book bag from class to class. Whatever you didn't need at the end of the day, you could put in your locker before you headed home.
Textbooks were a lot heavier than she had imagined.
By third period, Hudson made the ultimate sacrifice and stopped by her locker, dumping any books she knew she didn't need and reducing her load to two. She would be back before her last period to grab her science book because she just wasn't going to allow herself to lug three around. Two still seemed too heavy.
Lunch was no better. With a backpack on one arm and a tray laden with enough food to fill her stomach, Hudson finally gave in and stopped at the nearest table to set her load down, even though she preferred to eat at the table in the back. Pete and Chloe followed behind, glancing in confusion for a moment at the fact that she had stopped in the midst of tables filled with jocks, before they finally joined her.
Hudson was certain she had pulled something.
"Are you all right?" Chloe asked as she opened the bottle of Green tea on her tray. "You've been abnormally quiet today."
"Fine," Hudson lied. "Just... freaked out from what happened yesterday or something."
Pete grunted. "You'd think you would be used to playing the `hero'."
"I'm not a hero," she replied. What kind of hero can't even carry textbooks?
They glanced up to see Lana standing at the end of the table, flashing them all a hesitant smile before focusing her gaze on Hudson.
"Hi, Lana." Hudson smiled back. "Want to join us?"
She shook her head. "No, thanks. I have an Adopt-a-Child committee meeting to go to. I was just wondering if you wanted to go riding this afternoon? Donatello has been restless this week."
"Sure." Hudson shrugged. "Give me a call."
"Great! See ya."
As Lana hurried away, Chloe turned to regard Hudson for a moment before replying, "You're getting awfully chummy."
"She's not bad once you get to know her."
Chloe frowned but didn't reply.
PE was torture. Usually, it was Hudson's favorite class. Even though she had to hold back and carefully gauge her participation in the events - never throw a ball to hard or too far, never swing the bat with all of her strength, never run much beyond a slow jog - she still enjoyed using her strengths. She could run lap after lap without breaking a sweat, typically felt more energy after class was over than before and occasionally loved hitting a ball out of the field. She'd only done so a few times in her school career, but each had been worth the reactions from the boys.
That day, though, sucked. One lap and Hudson was certain her heart was going to burst through her chest. And maybe her blood wasn't green, but what if her heart was? Or it could be shaped really funny or too big or too small and then, even if she was dead, they would still dissect her body into many different pieces in the name of science. What a crummy end to an otherwise only nominally exciting existence.
At the end of the fifth lap, Hudson came to a stop, leaning over with her hands against her knees as she attempted to catch her breath. She felt a hand on her back and then Chloe's face appeared upside down beneath her.
"Are you sick or something?"
Hudson tried to shake her head as she gulped in air. God, she felt hot and sticky and just... yuck.
"Well, you'd better finish the next lap or Coach Eppley will have you doing four more."
Hudson thought she would die first.
Chloe continued on while Hudson straightened and attempted to move her feet forward but they didn't want to budge. A few more of her classmates passed by before she noticed Eric running by himself. Curious to know if the lightning had affected him at all, Hudson forced herself back into a run to catch up with him.
"Oh, hey Hudson." He glanced over at her with a brief smile.
There was a time when Hudson had developed a crush on Eric. It had been in the second grade, during a time when he had always waited at the bus stop with her after school was over and they had played together during recess. That blissful attraction had ended one day when he had proclaimed to her that he thought the Power Rangers were dumb. He was still one of the cuter guys in school in her opinion, even if he did fall under the category of `geek', like herself.
"We didn't really get a chance... to talk... after what happened yesterday," Hudson gasped out. Okay, running and talking at the same time. Not a good thing.
Eric glanced over at her. "Yeah. Thanks for grabbing me. That was a pretty stupid move on my part."
Hudson didn't really want a `thank you'. What she wanted to hear him say was that he woke up this morning with all of these strange new abilities and he figured they must have come from her and would she like them back now because she really looked like she was going to pass out at any minute.
In the hopes that she would receive just such a response, she gathered her breath and asked, "So, you feeling all right?"
The boy beside her glanced ahead for a minute and then smiled. "Actually, I feel great."
Compared to her at the moment, Han Solo probably felt great when they dipped him in carbonate. Her lungs were going to burst. She just knew it. Giving up on subtlety, she pressed, "But... there's nothing different... about you?"
Eric shook his head, still smiling. "Why? Should there be?"
"Uh... " Gasp. "No. I'm just... " Pant. "Glad you're okay."
Hudson slowed, her legs turning to jelly beneath her as Eric continued on. Sniffling, she reached up to wipe her nose, only to pull her hand away and discover blood once more on her finger. Swallowing back the fear that crept its way over her again, she turned and made her way to the locker room.
Chores, she was to discover, were no easier than running. What normally took her five minutes to do, now took over two hours. She was forced to decline Lana's invitation to go riding, which she'd felt guilty over because Lana had sounded extremely upset over something on the phone.
All around, her day sucked.
"This could make one hell of a story."
Lex felt something switch in the back of his mind as he imagined Hudson's face plastered all over the front of the Daily Planet and people traveling from all over to touch the girl who could survive being hit by a car. He shook his head, trying not to show amusement at Nixon's audacity.
"No one's ever going to know about this," he told the reporter in a tone that suggested he was speaking to a slow child. "And if this story is `accidentally' leaked, you and I are going to have a serious trust issue." He returned to his chair, fixing Nixon with a steely gaze.
Nixon appeared amused. "As opposed to the close, personal relationship we enjoy now."
Lex allowed a hint of a smile. He didn't trust Roger Nixon. Not one bit. But so far, the man had come through for him with all of the information he needed. Still, he would have to watch him closely, for Hudson's sake.
Lex returned his gaze to the monitors in front of him as Nixon walked out of the study. Over and over again he watched as the animation before him proved what he had already known - he had hit Hudson that day on the bridge. Beyond the telling dent in the hood of the car that could only be made by a body, there was the memory. The flash of surprised green eyes staring into his; the brief regret that he would be taking the life of someone so beautiful with him. Before the car had careened off of the bridge, Lex had known that he was slamming into the young girl at the railing. The problem was he had awakened only to find her there, saving his life.
Memory conflicted with fact.
While he still planned on double-checking Nixon's sources, he knew the truth was in front of him. There was no other explanation, not for everything he had seen since meeting Hudson. Certainly not for the number of times she had saved his life, her ability to appear out of nowhere, the secrets he knew she was harboring.
So what was her secret? That she was affected by meteor rocks in the same manner as half the town of Smallville seemed to be? Lex had difficulty understanding why she was so protective of the fact. After all, it wasn't as if no one had seen such a thing before. Maybe the Kent's were afraid that scientists would want to conduct tests on her, take her away to some hospital where they would never see her again. Lex frowned. Not while he had a breath in his body. That much was certain.
As fascinated as he was by the idea that the meteors had affected her so much that she could be hit by a car and survive, Hudson meant a lot more to him than just some science experiment. It certainly wasn't important enough to destroy her life, not when there was plenty of other research out there that could be done.
There were questions; Lex could admit that much. So many questions that needed answering, but when he asked, he would promise Hudson that everything would be kept between them. He just had to know. He had to hear the truth; he wanted explanations for... well, everything. And he would protect her. He'd guard her secret as closely as her parents did, and never allow anyone to cause her or her family harm.
But first, he had to hear her say it.
Climbing to his feet, he grabbed his keys from the edge of the desk, glancing for a moment at the folder beneath the keyboard. The Hardwicks. He had a meeting in Metropolis with Victoria and her father in the morning. The charade would finally be coming to an end and once more, the Luthors would be on top. Victoria would be out of his life - likely for good this time - and that would mean no more buffer zone between him and Hudson. No more excuses. He would either have to face up to the fact that he wanted an underage high school girl who just happened to be his closest friend, or tell her that they simply couldn't be friends anymore because it was inappropriate and move on. Neither option seemed particularly appealing.
It was late when he pulled into the Kent drive and Lex found himself wondering if Hudson would be available to talk when the lights of the Jaguar flashed over her kneeling beside the fence of one of the paddocks. She was shaking her hand with a frown and cast another at the lights, wincing a little, which caused him to feel guilty for not being a little more careful. Pulling to a stop a few feet away, he climbed out of the car to find her rising to her feet, hammer and work gloves in hand, regarding him curiously.
"Lex." She flashed him a smile. "What brings you all the way out here?"
"I needed to talk," he replied as he approached, his gaze moving over her. It was amazing to think that this young woman, who appeared no stronger than any other girl her age, could withstand being hit by a car. And could then rip the roof off like it was a can of sardines. "Got a minute?"
Hudson's expression said she had anything but, though she was still smiling and her eyes were welcoming. "If you want to help me with this fence." She reached down to pick up one of the two by fours.
It was actually amusing. Lex had watched her haul around crates filled with produce like they weighed no more than cartons of eggs, toss hay bales into the back of her father's pick up and... well, there was the whole ripping the roof off of his Porsche and pulling him to the shore thing. And now she was asking for his help with a board. Either she was so used to the lie that she now lived it, or she suspected he was on to something.
He couldn't help but ask, "You can't lift that by yourself?"
Irritation flashed in her eyes as she glanced over at him, appearing to struggle a little beneath the weight. "Look, I've been baling hay for the last two hours," she explained with another frown as she half-lifted the board. "I can barely lift my own arms."
Not believing her, Lex stepped forward with a smile and offered assistance, helping her to set the board in place while she reached into the pocket of her coat for a nail.
"So what's up?" She asked.
Lex took a breath, contemplating his words for a moment before beginning with, "We're friends, right?"
Hudson was examining her thumb intently before glancing over at him with his question. Her eyes mirrored her confusion but she smiled and laughed a little as she nodded. "Yeah. Last time I checked." She hammered away at the nail a few seconds before flashing another look in his direction. "Why?"
The direct approach was always best, that's what his mother had taught him. "I want you to tell me what really happened the day my car went off that bridge."
The hammer stopped in mid-stroke and Lex watched Hudson closely, searching for any tell-tale signs that she might be preparing herself for another lie. Irritation swept over her expression again and she rolled her eyes. When she turned her gaze to him, Lex knew instantly that she was getting sick of hearing about that day and his rescue. It hurt a little that something which mattered so much to him meant so little to her.
"I dove in and I pulled you out," she replied, as if she had recited those words a hundred times over. Maybe more.
"And that's it?" Lex wanted more. He wanted her to offer the information freely. To trust him.
"Lex." She smiled a little and leaned against the fence. "Seriously, what's wrong?"
"I don't think you're being completely honest," he replied, moving past her to stare through the darkness at the cows in the next paddock over. He couldn't exactly look her in the eye while he accused her of lying. "And I think I know why."
"All right," Hudson commented behind him, her tone hinting at exasperation. "Well then, you tell me what happened."
A flash of green eyes, a look of fear and surprise. The deep regret that had filled him and then... Green eyes hovering over him. A promise of Heaven.
"I think I hit you at sixty miles an hour." Lex turned to find Hudson rolling her eyes again, shaking her head in disbelief. He didn't let her reaction stop him. "Then, you ripped open my roof, pulled me out and saved my life."
Gave him another chance, a better chance, a better future.
Hudson didn't say anything. Her eyebrows still raised in incredulity, she glanced over his shoulder at the herd.
He had to make her understand, make her trust him enough to open up. "You're the closest I've had to a real friend my whole life," he told her softly, fearing that he might appear pathetic by opening up like this. Not caring anymore; realizing that it was all because of Hudson, her belief in him. Lex tried not to consider that he was almost pleading with her. "You don't have to hide anything from me."
Hudson's head shot up at that. Her voice was quiet, concerned, "You think I'm hiding something from you?"
Lex didn't reply, he wasn't sure how to reply. How many times could you accuse a friend of lying to you before they turned away from you completely? He didn't know what it would take, what he should say to Hudson to make her understand. She meant so much to him, more than... He had to have a reason to continue to believe in her, in them.
He didn't receive the answer he was looking for as Hudson promptly burst into tears. Lex regarded her in shock, having never seen her appear quite so vulnerable before. For a moment he just stood there, watching as the hammer fell to the ground and she buried her face in her hands and just... cried. He made her do that. His words, his accusations, and here she was standing in front of him like any other young woman confronted with being called a liar by her friend, just crying.
Moving forward, Lex reached out to her, pulling her against him and holding her soothingly. "Shhhh," he whispered against her hair, the scent of apples surrounding him. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry to... I didn't... " He sighed, unable to think of the appropriate words. He asked quietly, "What is it?"
"This has been the most awful week!" Hudson wailed against his shoulder, a few tears brushing against his neck. "A classmate almost died, I got a C on my History exam, Lana kissed me, I'm tired and achy and now my best friend thinks I'm a liar!"
Lex blinked. "Lana kissed you?"
Hudson sniffled. "Lex..."
"Sorry. It's just... " Filing that information away for future inspection, he returned his attention to the matter at hand. "I'm not calling you a liar, Hudson," he assured her, squeezing her gently. "I just... It seems that there is some big secret you can't trust me with, that you're afraid to tell me, and I want you to know that you don't have to be. I care about you. I would never let anything happen to you."
"Then trust me." Hudson lifted her head to meet his gaze. "You have to trust me, Lex. Or we're going to end up just like Kyle Tippet and Bob Rickman. And I don't want that to happen."
"I don't either, angel," Lex replied, brushing some of her tears away with his fingertips before the backs of his fingers swept over her cheek. Her skin was like silk. "Sometimes it's... it's hard for me to trust. This is new. I can't... go off of blind faith here, Hudson. Everything... everything points to something remarkable happening that day at the bridge."
Hudson reached up to take his hand into hers, threading their fingers together. "Something remarkable did happen, Lex. We met."
Lex shook his head, fixing his gaze past her shoulder. There was a sinking feeling within him that he would never hear the truth from her, that there was no future between them. Like anyone else in his life, she would be untrustworthy, never really caring that their friendship was built on lies.
"What will it take, Lex?"
He returned his gaze to hers. "Tell me the truth, Hudson... "
She closed her eyes for a moment then reopened them, staring intently into his. "The truth is, Lex, that if you were to hit me with your car right now, at 60 miles per hour, I would die like anyone else."
Lex could see that she was telling him the truth; it was evident in her eyes. It left so many questions unanswered. What did that mean? That maybe his father had been wrong - there really wasn't an answer for everything out there. Or his father was right.
And not even your closest friend could truly be trusted.
Hudson pulled open the door to the old Talon movie theatre, peering through the dim lighting into the lobby. Covered in dust and scattered boxes, the wallpaper peeling, the ceiling tiles crumbling above, the theatre was far from the glory that she remembered as a child. Her parents had brought her to see Jurassic Park on opening night and Hudson could still recall the way she'd trembled with fear at the sight of the gigantic dinosaurs on the screen above her, the screaming of the Velociraptors that caused her to bury her face deep in the safety of her father's jacket. Of course, with technology the way it was, especially to those who could afford it, she could enjoy the experience just as much in the comfort of Lex's theatre, instead of having to drive to Grandville and pay seven dollars.
Stepping inside, she found she was grateful for the moment just to get out of the chilled air that had set in the night before. Hearing footsteps, she moved past the ragged curtains to find Lana descending one of the staircases that led to the tiny balconies located in the back of the theatre. Hudson smiled.
"Trying to score the last box of Jujubes before this place is sold?"
Lana glanced over and returned her smile. "Those things could probably survive a nuclear winter."
Hudson's smile broadened and she moved further inside. "Your aunt said I'd find you here. I was worried about you when you called the other night and we haven't had a chance to talk. You okay?"
Shrugging a little, Lana dropped her gaze to the floor. "Yeah, I'm fine. I just... When I heard my aunt was selling the building, I kind of freaked out." She paused and looked up. "My parents met here... My father worked the concession stand during college and my mom came to see `Close Encounters'. She got bored... "
"How do you get bored watching `Close Encounters'?" Hudson queried, deeply mystified by the idea that anyone could do so.
Lana smiled at the question. "I don't know. Maybe she had a thing against aliens."
Hudson ignored the irony of the comment, making herself comfortable on an old bench as Lana continued:
"She hung out in the lobby and spent the entire night talking to my dad. They'd only been a few years apart in high school but they'd never really noticed each other and that night... they just clicked." She glanced away, her gaze sweeping over the lobby. "I know it sounds crazy but I feel that whatever tangible evidence I have of my parent's existence is slowly being chipped away."
"I thought you were the one who wanted to put your past behind you?" Hudson asked, regarding Lana thoughtfully. "Maybe this is just another step that you have to take in order to let go?"
"Maybe." Lana sat down beside her, meeting her gaze for a moment. Finally she asked, "I'm surprised you didn't wait to talk to me at school."
Hudson shrugged. "I thought we could walk together... " Her face reddened a bit. "And, I was wondering if I could borrow your English notes? I kind of dozed off in class yesterday."
Lana laughed and reached for her binder. "Sure." She pulling them from the pocket and handed the paper over, asking as she did, "Have you been feeling okay lately?"
"Yeah. Great. Why?"
"Nothing." She shook her head. "You're just less... Hudson Kent-like. It's kind of nice. You seem more relaxed. Like you haven't got the weight of the world on your shoulders."
Hudson smiled at the comment, feeling exactly like Lana had just described. "I think I've finally realized that I can't control everything, that maybe I just need to act like a teenager for awhile."
"This change of heart wouldn't have anything to do with a certain strikingly handsome billionaire's son, would it?" Lana teased.
Feeling her smile dissolve a little, Hudson stared intently at the notes in her hand. After Lex had left the farm the other night, her anger had grown a little at his inability to simply let things go. She hadn't spoken to him since.
"I'm sorry," Lana said, apparently noticing the change. "Did I say something wrong?"
"No." Hudson shook her head and forced a small smile. "Lex and I, we just... well, we've had our problems recently."
"I'm sure you'll work it out. I think the two of you share a very special relationship."
Hudson glanced over at the girl beside her. "Lana, we're just friends."
She shrugged. "So? Who says it can't become more? I've seen the way you two look at each other. Everyone has. It's only a matter of time."
"Don't tell my father that."
"He's protective of you," Lana commented wistfully. "I guess that's expected."
"I suppose." Hudson slipped the notes into her backpack and leaned against the counter behind her. "How's Whitney?"
"Busy. Even though his father should be resting, he is insisting on getting caught up on all of the work he is getting behind in. He's running Whitney ragged."
"You don't get to see him as much lately?"
Lana shook her head. "No. Not really."
Hudson flashed her a sympathetic expression, considering how all of their lives seemed to be changing lately. Then she smiled as an idea formed. "You know what? You and I and Chloe should get together one of these weekends and have a slumber party. We can eat like pigs, do weird things to our hair, paint our nails and watch gorgeous guys on the TV screen. What do you say?"
Laughing, Lana nodded in agreement. "That sounds like the perfect plan!"
"And then, when it gets really late, we can crank call the Luthor castle... "
"H.C.!" Lana's eyes flew open in shock but she laughed harder. "You're horrible!"
"No, I just want to see what Lex would do to a crank caller. Do you think he has tracers to find out where you're calling from?" Standing up, Hudson slung her backpack over and her shoulder and nodded toward the door. "Come on. I've been late to school enough recently... "
Hudson was quickly learning her lesson about sticking her nose into other people's business. Sure, it had always worked for her in the past, but then she had been the one doing the tossing, not the one being tossed.
The strangest part was discovering that she was just as fragile as anyone else. Bruised ribs and a concussion were really the last things on earth that Hudson ever really wanted to experience again. Waking up on top of the roof of a car had been disconcerting - the ride to the hospital even more so. And trying to keep the nurses from taking x-rays, fearful of whatever strange difference that might appear, had taken every ounce of persuasion Hudson had within her. Too bad she hadn't been quite as persuasive with Eric.
She could understand where he was coming from. If her powers had just been handed to her this year, she probably would have made the most of their appearance - using them to gain the popularity and respect that she had longed for. But even she could see where this destructive behavior could lead him if she was unable to convince him that he needed to keep those abilities in check, hide them. Unfortunately, after what had happened in the high school parking lot, it was likely too late.
The day before, she and her parents had seen the news story regaling Eric's amazing fight with a purse-snatcher who had claimed Chloe as his victim. The entire account had been written from Chloe's perspective of the attack, and was newsworthy enough to be featured in the Ledger. Something of which Chloe had been extremely proud of, bragging about all that day in school. While Hudson had been happy for her success, she really wished it had been about something other than `Superboy', as Chloe had named him. What had irked her more than anything was the fact that everyone in town seemed `okay' with it. Here she and her parents had been spending every ounce of energy within them to keep her abilities a secret from everyone, when apparently, it just wasn't necessary. Hudson was beginning to wonder if Smallville wasn't much different from the town of Sunnydale on `Buffy the Vampire Slayer', where people just accepted what they saw and moved on with their lives. So, did that make her Buffy? Or, at least, she had been Buffy, before Eric got a hold of her powers and now she was just... an alien who seemed human.
At first, it had been a bit of a relief to know that she could be normal, that she might never have to worry about pulling back when playing sports or hugging someone or running or jumping or... anything. She had even been able to participate in her first game of friendly volleyball against Lana and Whitney that afternoon. Sure, she and Pete had gotten their asses kicked but the point was, Hudson had been able to hit the ball as hard as she could - and it didn't go very far. It certainly didn't explode into little bits of rubber. And she had fallen and scraped her elbows and knees and it had hurt - and felt wonderful. Hudson couldn't imagine the last time she had felt so alive, so a part of everything and everyone around her. She wouldn't have to be alone anymore. She wouldn't have to harbor secrets and feel like a horrible person because she was constantly lying to her closest friends.
She was free.
But at what cost? Eric was out of control and Hudson knew there was no one who would be able to stop him. Her parents had been lucky; she'd had time to grow in to her abilities, becoming comfortable with the most destructive of them as a child. Sure, she had broken furniture and dishes and punched a few holes in the walls, but it had all been easily replaceable and her parents had taught her, early on, how to be careful. Eric didn't have that luxury and there was no one around to teach him control.
"Just a little higher."
Hudson winced a little at Doctor Davis' request. She'd already been holding her arms up for what seemed like centuries and every time she lifted them just a bit more, sharp pain surged through her insides. It was like someone was continually stabbing her in the side with a sharp knife.
"How much longer is it going to hurt like this?" She asked, hoping to hear him reply `Oh, another five minutes or so'.
"Oh, you'll be fine in a couple of weeks."
Not five minutes. Hudson was certain the doctor had to be wrong. Or lying to her. Or something. "A couple of weeks?" Total disbelief.
"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."
Okay, so the good doctor needed to be shot for that remark. Drawn and quartered. Dropped in a vat of acid. Forced to watch `Barney' for the rest of his life. Whatever. Hudson really hoped her expression conveyed that to him. His amused smirk in response said it had.
Hudson turned to be enveloped in her mother's embrace and the pain shot through her once again. "Easy on the ribs, mom!" She protested, wondering if she was truly as much of a wimp as she sounded.
Looking up, she saw her father move up behind her mom, worry creasing his brow. Hudson was glad she was wearing her sports bra that day, and not the little lacy lavender thing she had recently purchased on the off chance that she would have to strip in front of Lex for whatever reason someday.
"How's she doing, doc?" Her father asked.
"Well, nothing seems to be broken," Doctor Davis replied, turning his attention to her parents. "We could get an x-ray just to be safe. Hudson has been insisting it wasn't necessary so I thought I would ask you?"
Hudson glanced in panic at her parents.
"Umm, I think we'll just take her on home," Jonathan replied with a nod.
"It's your choice but I want to see her back again in a week," the doctor instructed.
They nodded and Hudson offered her thanks as Doctor Davis walked out of the room. Her mother had already picked up her sweater and was carefully attempting to slip her arms into it, one at a time. Hudson winced at the movements and wished she had worn something simpler that day, like a burlap sack or something.
"You help her get dressed and I'll go take care of the paperwork." Her father looked at her for a moment before reaching out and touching her chin. "You sure you're all right, honey?"
Hudson met his gaze and nodded. "Yeah. But I could definitely do without the whole `pain' thing. I don't think I'll be taking up extreme sports or anything soon."
He smiled and leaned in to kiss her cheek before turning and exiting the room.
Martha moved around to the other arm, gently helping Hudson slip it into the sleeve before gathering the neckline into her hands and stretching it wider to lift it over her head. "What happened?" She asked quietly.
"Eric just flipped out," Hudson replied, wincing again as she ducked her head to put the sweater on. She reached up to pull it down around her waist and her mother helped her to her feet. "It was kind of scary."
"I wish you hadn't gotten in his way." Martha frowned a little as she placed her hand at Hudson's back, helping her from the room.
Yeah, Hudson was thinking that same thing. "I don't know what it is." She shook her head and glanced at her mother. "Even though Eric has my abilities, I still think of them as my responsibility."
Her mother gave her a small smile as they moved from the room.
Hudson and her mother turned to find Lex moving down the hall toward them, his gaze sweeping over her quickly as if assuring himself that she was all right. He stopped beside her, dressed in a dark suit and long black coat, looking more like he should be in a boardroom in Metropolis than a hospital.
"I just heard."
"Hi, Lex," Martha greeted with a small smile before glancing back up at her daughter. "I'll go see if you dad needs anything." She said goodbye to Lex then hurried away.
Hudson hadn't told her parents about Lex's visit the other night, and while they had parted on good terms, she still felt the gap that had appeared between them. During the past few days, she hadn't bothered calling him or stopping by. She really didn't want to deal with more of his questions at the moment. There was enough going on in her life. So his sudden appearance after her injury was a little too much. It made her angry - not at him but at herself for her continual lies. Now that her abilities were gone, it felt as if she were lying to cover up the lies from before. Lying about lying, or something like that.
Turning to start down the hall, Hudson asked, "So did you come by to make sure I was hurt?" It was low blow but she couldn't stop the words from forming.
"I wanted to make sure you were all right," Lex replied quietly behind her.
"Yeah," she responded with heavy sarcasm. "Never better. Maybe we can go out in the parking lot and you can hit me with your car."
Lex touched her elbow, bringing her to a halt. Hudson turned to face him and saw nothing but regret in his eyes. She immediately felt guilty for mouthing off.
"Hudson," he began softly. "What I said about you the other day -- I'm sorry." He sighed and looked away, shrugging a little. "Nothing appears to be what it seems lately."
He had no idea. Hudson blinked for a moment then brought her gaze up to meet his. "Does that mean you're going to stop snooping around my back now?" She asked hopefully. She was trying to imagine a friendship that existed between them were there were no lies to cover up, no secrets to hide, no private investigations.
"I had no right to question your honesty," Lex told her, his hand moving up to brush her hair back from her shoulder, his fingers lightly grazing her neck. "All I can do is plead temporary insanity and hope that we can find a way to put this behind us."
She wanted that. To just forget all of this had happened and move on with her life and maybe be normal. Of course, that meant figuring out some way to bring Eric under control, to help him understand the responsibilities that came with being so powerful. Until she found the answers, Hudson had more important things to take care of - like salvaging her friendship with Lex.
Smiling in a completely wicked manner, she asked, "Only temporary?"
Lex smiled and half-rolled his eyes, obviously both non-appreciative of her comment and pleased that she was comfortable enough to joke with him. "Do you need some help?" He offered.
Hudson nodded and Lex took her arm, allowing her to lean on him a little as he guided her down the corridor. His black coat was cashmere and she enjoyed the feel of it beneath her fingers as she laid her hand over his forearm. He smelled wonderful - a combination of soap and cologne and silk. She glanced over at him surreptitiously, taking in the purple tie and crisp white shirt. Lex was dressed more formally than she was used to seeing for Smallville.
"Do you have an important meeting or something today?"
Lex looked at her for a moment then nodded. "I was in Metropolis this morning." He glanced at his watch. "I have to be back this evening to close a deal."
Hudson frowned a little and stopped. "You... you drove all of the way back here because of me?"
"You're important to me, Hudson," Lex replied, squeezing her arm a little as their eyes met. "I... After my behavior the other day, I didn't want to lose you. I thought I needed to prove what you mean to me."
"I... " Hudson trailed off, uncertain of what to say. Then, she couldn't help asking, "Wait. How did you know?"
More suspicion. Lex obviously noticed because his expression became shuttered and he looked away. "I do have friends at the school, you know. As well as in the Sheriff's office."
Shifting a little, Hudson regretted the implied accusation. "I'm sorry. I just... It just means a lot to me that you would drive so far to check on me. You could have just... called." She shrugged and winced at the movement.
"I know." Lex began guiding her down the hall once more. "But I was worried." He paused for a moment as they neared the reception desk, then added, "Victoria is gone."
Hudson stopped, turning to look at him. "Oh... Why?"
Lex dropped his hand when he saw her parents looking in their direction. "Family obligations." He smiled a little. "The Luthors and the Hardwicks were never meant to join forces."
If she had been feeling better, she might have done cartwheels down the hall. "I'm... sorry." For lack of a better word.
"No, you're not." Lex flashed her a knowing smile. "I need to get back to the city but, if you need anything, please don't hesitate to call. All right?"
Hudson nodded. "Yeah. Thanks, Lex."
"I'm glad you're okay, angel." Leaning in, Lex kissed her cheek gently then moved off down the hall.
"What was he doing here?"
Hudson stared after Lex's disappearing form, her cheek tingling just a little where he had kissed her before she turned to answer her father. "He wanted to make certain I was all right."
Jonathan frowned a little but didn't reply.
"Come on, honey." Martha took her daughter's hand and squeezed it gently. "Let's get you home. You're probably starving."
Hudson smiled a little, deciding it wouldn't hurt to milk the injury for all it was worth. She nodded. "I am." Then added a wince for good measure. "I'm so hungry, I could eat a whole pot roast all by myself."
Jonathan chuckled. "That sounds like a request."
"But only if said pot roast came minus the cooked carrots but with extra potatoes and lots of gravy," Hudson continued, much to her parent's amusement. "And fresh baked rolls. With honey butter... "
"This is who I am, whether I have my powers or not."
Hudson knew she was going to regret those words the moment she had said them. And now, here she sat, her powers apparently returned to her, Eric laying beside her, in pain, confused. She reached out and touched his cheek, trying to give him a little comfort.
"It's all right, Eric. Help will be here soon. You'll be okay. I promise."
Of course, she had no idea if he was going to be okay or not. But it seemed like the right thing to say. Luckily, he'd had a cell phone in his coat pocket and she had been able to call for an ambulance. She had also called to let her parents know she was all right and everything had been taken care of.
When they returned from the hospital, her mother received a call from Maggie Sanders, Smallville's biggest gossip, telling her all about the police cars and fight that occurred at the Summer's home. That was when Hudson had understood that no matter if she had her abilities or not, it was still her responsibility to try to help Eric, to stop him from hurting more people. Her parents protested, saying she was injured, and obviously worried that she could receive further injuries. It was then Hudson had wondered if Eric would have the same weaknesses as her since he had her same powers.
Hurrying off to the nearby creek where one of the meteor strikes was known to have occurred, Hudson searched until she found a small gathering of meteor rocks. Making a mental note to tell her father about this place so he could dispose of the things, she slipped the rock into her pocket and went off in search of Eric, hoping that her hunch was correct.
By the time she found him at the dam, Eric had discovered exactly how indestructible he was. The knowledge seemed to knock him a little more off-balance and Hudson knew for certain that if she wasn't able to stop him now, a lot more damage would occur. He almost succeeded in knocking her unconscious before she could do much, but somehow she had pulled through, and with the help of the rock and the substation they were at, she had managed to get her powers transferred back to their rightful body.Her attempt at `humanity' was short lived.
At least her ribs didn't hurt anymore.
It was Eric she worried about now. Likely he would be tested, and he would have to face the consequences of his actions, and then there were his parents, who had been completely freaked out over the whole experience. Hudson couldn't help but feel plenty of guilt over her own part in all of this. If she had just been a regular person, none of this would have happened. None of this... If she had been a regular person, she probably wouldn't have been able to hold Eric when he had fallen from the dam in the first place. And he would have been dead.
Snapping out of her reverie, Hudson glanced down at Eric, laying her hand on his shoulder. "I'm here."
He opened his eyes a little and looked up at her and she found herself wishing this hadn't happened to someone so nice, with so much potential. Then again, had it been one of the jocks, Smallville would likely be in ruins.
"I don't understand... what happened to me?"
Hudson frowned a little and squeezed his shoulder. "I'm not certain, hon. Maybe it had something to do with the lightning strike?"
"I'm so cold." His eyes fluttered closed again.
Slipping off her coat, Hudson laid it over him. "You'll be okay."
"They're going to run tests on me, aren't they?" Eric opened his eyes once more, focused on Hudson. "My dad wanted to... now I can't get away."
"I don't see any reason for them to do something like that," Hudson replied with more hope than she felt. "You're just... a normal guy."
Eric was silent for a long moment. Hudson could hear sirens in the distance.
"I'm sorry I hurt you," he told her softly.
"It's all right," she assured him. "I'll heal."
He stared up at her and Hudson forced herself not to shift, not to falter beneath his regard or give anything away. Finally, Eric nodded a little and closed his eyes again as the ambulance and two police cars pulled up alongside the substation.
Grabbing her coat, Hudson stood as the medics arrived, answering the few questions they fired at her before she stepped out of the way. Sheriff Ethan caught her before she could get very far and demanded to know what was going on. More lies, and this time she had to think fast because she hadn't really considered what her story was going to be. She had no idea how much of the events Eric would remember or even feel like telling.
"Eric was a friend. I felt like I should try to help him, get him to calm down and give himself up to the authorities."
The sheriff stared at her as if he clearly didn't believe a word she had just said. "What happened?"
Hudson shrugged and glanced toward the medics. "He flipped out. Said he wasn't going back and I couldn't make him. Then he ripped one of the wires from the substation and... I guess it electrocuted him or something. I knocked him to the ground and found his phone. Called you guys."
Sheriff Ethan nodded as he wrote some notes on the pad in his hand. "We may be calling you if we need more information."
Turning, Hudson saw her father hurrying over to her, his brow furrowed in concern. He glanced once toward Eric as he reached her, then nodded to the sheriff who moved off to talk with the medics.
"Are you all right?" He placed his hands on her shoulders and looked over her closely.
"I'm fine." Hudson nodded, holding his gaze. "More than fine. Like... back to normal."
She thought her father winced. His expression definitely became more grim and Hudson felt the guilt stab at her. Life was easier when they didn't have to pretend she was just like everyone else. When a future free from lying and secrets seemed possible. She knew her parents worried about her; she knew they worried about the whole family. And it was all because of her.
"That's good," Jonathan commented, pulling her in for a quick hug. Stepping back, he looked towards the ambulance. "How's Eric?"
Hudson followed his gaze. Eric's father had arrived and was standing with Sheriff Ethan and one of his deputies. Mr. Summers looked angry, and continually cast that expression toward his son. Poor Eric.
"What do you think is going to happen to them now?" She asked quietly as her father took her arm and began leading her toward the truck.
"Not sure," her father replied. He took her hand and squeezed it gently. "They had problems long before he had your abilities, you know."
Hudson nodded a little in reply. When they were younger, Eric used to come by the farm to play and he seemed to never want to go home.
Pulling her to a halt, Jonathan turned her to face him, reaching up to cup her chin. "Honey, I know you were hopeful that you could be `normal' from now on but... I want you to understand, your gifts might be a part of you but they don't define who you are."
"I know." Hudson glanced away for a moment before returning her gaze to her father's. "But they complicate all of our lives."
Jonathan sighed, squeezed her hand again. "You know, seeing how destructive Eric got... it just reminded me how special you really are, Hudson."
She watched her father for a long moment, then smiled softly. "That's because Eric didn't get my two strongest gifts... You and mom."
Her father smiled at that and pulled her into a hug. She rested her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes for a moment, pretending that it really didn't matter if she had her abilities or not.
The day was beyond cold.
When Lex climbed out of the Ferrari at the Kent Farm and breathed in, his nose hairs instantly froze and tickled. He frowned at the sensation, hoping he could make it from the car to the back porch without his lungs freezing before he got there. For as long as he could remember, Lex hated cold weather. He knew it stemmed from the asthma he'd had as a child, the memories of how the cold affected him, the bronchial spasms that the loss of heat and moisture from his airways would cause. His nannies were always smothering him in scarves and masks to protect him and he'd positively hated being so confined. He spent his winters cooped up in the house, staring out the window while the other children played in the snow, sledding and having snowball fights. By the time the asthma went away, he couldn't find a friend to play in the snow with. His father had waved his tears away with his typical logic, "Playing in snow is highly over-rated, Lex. Read a book. Learn something."
Shoving his hands into the pockets of his coat, Lex pulled it tighter around him, forcing the memories away as he started toward the house. He wished that he could forsake pride enough just once to wear a stocking cap - his ears were freezing. The scents of autumn assailed his senses as he followed the path to the porch - smoke from the chimney, a hint of snow, decaying leaves on the wet ground. Moving up the steps, Lex was greeted by even more smells as he reached out to knock - the baked goods of the Kent kitchen.
Hudson opened the door and Lex was surprised to see her. After all, he was pretty sure it was a school day, no matter how evil it might be to send anyone out in weather this cold. She gave him one of those mega-watt smiles and he realized he wasn't quite so cold anymore.
"Lex. Come in." She pushed the door open and stood to the side as he stepped into the kitchen. "What brings you by?"
"I was just out for a drive when I remembered that Dodd wanted to change the produce order for the week so I thought I would stop in."
His gaze swept over the kitchen, which was invitingly warm and appeared as if a tornado had come through, piles of plates and bowls and pots covering the counter space. There was food everywhere, lending an explanation to the myriad smells that had hit him outside the door. Half a dozen pies sat cooling on the island counter beside a huge bowl of salad, a Jell-o mold, unshucked ears of corn and a strainer of fresh peas.
"Your ears are bright red." Hudson reached up and cupped her hand over one of them.
Lex started a little at how warm her touch was but didn't move away. "It's cold out there."
"Mom makes me wear earmuffs on days like this." She made a face and pulled her hand away.
"I'm not exactly the earmuff type," Lex replied with a half-smile. He turned his gaze back to the food. "Is there a Bake Sale or something that I didn't hear about?"
Hudson stared up at him for a moment before she shook her head and laughed. "Lex, it's Thanksgiving."
"Oh." Lex ran a hand over his scalp as he looked around.
He hadn't really paid attention to the week because he was supposed to be in Metropolis meeting with his father anyway. But Susan, his father's secretary, had called that morning to inform him that Lionel had cancelled due to an unexpected meeting with shareholders in Paris.
Thanksgiving. The last time he had celebrated this holiday had been the year his mother had died. His father had insisted that they would still observe the holidays like a family and forced him to sit down to a silent meal of goose and stuffing. They had both been so miserable without his mother's easy conversation and airy laughter that Thanksgiving had never occurred within the Luthor household again.
"I'm sorry," he said finally, glancing over at Hudson. "I didn't mean to intrude."
She grinned. "Seriously, Lex. When have you ever `intruded'?"
Lex was about to reply when Martha bustled into the kitchen, wearing an apron and oven mitts, carrying a baking sheet half-filled with cookies. Her face was slightly flush and her hair was a mess and she was beaming, and Lex thought he hadn't seen a woman so beautiful since his mother.
"Your father is eating half the gingersnaps, H.C.," Martha commented before noticing Lex. "Oh, hi Lex. How are you?"
"Fine, Mrs. Kent. Thank you," he answered as she slid the cookies on to a plate. "I just... I needed to change the produce order for this week."
If she found his request on Thanksgiving a little strange, she didn't say so. Grabbing a notepad and pen from one of the drawers, she handed them over to him. "Just write what you need and we'll take care of it."
Lex nodded and took the paper, following Hudson over to the table where he sat down beside her to write out the request. The chair creaked beneath him and he cherished the sound, knowing that nothing seemed so old and worn and used in that cold castle he called home. Not a single room in the mansion held the warmth and charm and love that could be felt inside the Kent kitchen. It was pathetic but he found himself taking his time writing out the order, just so he could stay there a little bit longer. He didn't want to interrupt the Kent's holiday but the smells and the sounds and Hudson's quiet presence beside him were things Lex found himself longing for more often. He could almost pretend that he was a part of a real family.
"You should stay for dinner."
At Hudson's whisper, Lex turned his head to look at her. She was leaning close to him, her eyes bright. "I shouldn't even be here now," he replied quietly. "I didn't realize... I had forgotten it was Thanksgiving."
Hudson's eyes widened with shock as if he had just told her he ran over a few puppies on his drive to the farm. "How could you forget it was Thanksgiving? It's like the best day of the year - all-you-can-eat turkey! Well, aside from Christmas, when you get food and presents!"
His smile was painful. "Not everyone has a family like yours, Hudson."
She frowned and glanced down at the table for a moment. Lex watched her, thinking that he really needed to stop dragging her down into his own personal Hell. Her life was beautiful, and so what if she was a little nave, a little sheltered from the real world. He wanted to keep her that way. Hudson didn't need to mire herself into the Luthor family pathos.
Knowing he needed to hurry out of there, Lex finished the order and moved to stand when beside him, Hudson said very loudly, "You should join us for dinner, Lex."
He turned to frown down at her, knowing she had spoken loudly on purpose. Behind him, he heard Martha Kent halt her preparations and knew she was looking at him.
"I'm sure Lex has plans," Martha commented, though there was a question in her tone.
Lex was about to lie and say that he did, but Hudson beat him to it.
"No. He doesn't. He didn't even realize today was Thanksgiving."
Now he was beginning to feel embarrassment and he hated that, and he wanted to tell Hudson to shut her mouth but she was looking up at him, challenging him. Her expression spoke volumes - he owed her his silence. Lex didn't appreciate it; he didn't like pity and he especially didn't want it from the Kent's. Fortunately, he knew he wasn't exactly a favorite in the household and hopefully, that much would save him.
"Well, you're certainly welcome to stay, Lex," Martha invited, pots once more resuming their clanging behind him. "We have plenty of food."
Lex turned and smiled at Hudson's mother. "I appreciate the offer, Mrs. Kent. But this is a family day and - "
"Family and friends," Hudson corrected, standing behind him and snatching the order from his hand. She walked over to the bulletin board and pinned it near the top before turning back to face him. "You can't turn down the food, Lex. I even made a few of the pies."
Martha laughed. "H.C., I thought you were trying to convince him to stay. Not chase him away with gastronomic-induced fear."
Hudson stuck her tongue out at her mother who snapped the dishtowel in her direction in response. Lex looked on in bemusement at the easy affection between mother and daughter. A couple of hours of watching the warmth displayed among the Kent family would be extremely uncomfortable. He felt enough of an outsider as it was - prolonged exposure would only make it worse. Turning to Hudson, he was about to really leave this time, come up with a solid reason why he couldn't stay and walk out the door. But she was looking up at him hopefully, and he had come so close to almost destroying their friendship earlier that week that he realized he would do just about anything she asked of him at that moment, just to prove that he was sorry.
"Please stay?" She asked quietly.
He nodded just a little and looked away, wondering what Jonathan Kent would say when he learned of their dinner guest, and just how long would it be before the man asked him to leave.
"Well, if you're going to stay, take your coat off and relax," Martha told him as she moved past him to the table, carrying an armload of plates.
Lex began to remove his coat, which Hudson quickly took from him to hang on the coat rack near the door.
"H.C., set the table, please." Martha hurried past once more, lifting the lid off a pot on the stove, which appeared to hold more than half a dozen large, boiling potatoes.
"Is there something I can do?" Lex asked, feeling as if he were in the way.
"Go tell my husband that the turkey will be ready to carve in about five minutes, please?"
Lex stared at the woman as if she were insane.
Martha caught his look and smiled. "He's not going to bite, Lex. It's Thanksgiving. Jonathan loves food almost as much as H.C."
Lex glanced helplessly at Hudson, who had paused in the distribution of the silverware to listen to the conversation. She gave him an encouraging smile and shrugged before nodding her head towards the front room. He had a feeling this would be the shortest dinner invitation ever.
There were times when Lex came over to the Kent household when he felt he had either walked into an episode of `Little House on the Prairie' or a Norman Rockwell painting. He had a feeling that all holidays at the Kent's were spent as Norman Rockwell paintings, and he quickly discovered that his intuition had been correct. He entered the family room to find Jonathan stretched out in the recliner, a beer in one hand and bowl of potato chips beside him on the end table, the matching bowl of dip mostly empty. A fire burned brightly in the fireplace and the annual Thanksgiving Day football game blared from the 27-inch television. The only thing missing was an old hunting dog sleeping on the carpet by the fire.
Jonathan glanced up when he entered, beer halfway to his lips, coming to an abrupt halt. A long stare between them began and Lex braced himself for the coming diatribe. He didn't think Hudson's father knew about their recent problems but he wasn't completely certain.
"Lex," Jonathan began, setting the bottle of Coors down on the table. "What brings you by?"
"I had to change the week's order with Mrs. Kent."
The man in the chair nodded. "Joining us for dinner?"
Just like that. He had stopped by, unannounced, likely unwanted, and yet everyone in the household expected him to stay, to join them in their Thanksgiving feast. Because it wasn't like anyone with the name Kent to ignore such an innate courtesy. Not even to someone they didn't particularly like.
"I don't wish to intrude, Mr. Kent," Lex began.
"It's Thanksgiving," Jonathan replied.
And that was the end of that. Just as when Lincoln had declared it a holiday during the Civil War and each side had laid down their arms for one day, an armistice seemed to be called between himself and Mr. Kent as well. Lex didn't know how to respond. He glanced at the television as Dallas' new quarterback was sacked.
Jonathan cursed good-naturedly from the chair. "That poor rookie's going to set a record for most sacks taken if he doesn't learn the fine art of scrambling."
Lex didn't know how to reply to that. He finally announced, "Mrs. Kent said that the turkey would be ready to carve in a few minutes."
"Good news. I'm starving." Jonathan rose from the chair, grabbing his beer in hand and walking past Lex toward the kitchen. "Been keeping up with the Sharks this season?"
Following, trying not to think too hard about what a strange conversation this was, Lex shook his head. "Not really. I haven't even been to a game yet."
Jonathan grunted as he headed over to the counter where Martha was removing the lid from the roaster. Lex glanced over into the dining area to see the table set, bowls and platters of food already crowding the surface. Stopping beside him, Hudson held up two glasses - one filled with an amber-colored liquid, the other champagne-colored.
"Homemade cider or white wine?"
"Water is fine."
She looked a little disappointed but moved past the refrigerator. "Mom, can I have a glass of wine?"
"No, H.C. We've discussed this."
Lex smirked to himself at the slight whine in her voice. He waited for Jonathan to agree with his wife.
"Now, Martha, maybe - "
"Jonathan, we've already agreed not until she turns sixteen." Martha turned a sharp look to her daughter and Lex knew that if she had ever given him the same, he would have shrunk away in fear. "You aren't going to impress Lex by getting tipsy on Thanksgiving."
Hudson turned an interesting shade of red at her mother's words and Lex politely found something very interesting about the back door to focus his attention on.
When they sat down to dinner, Lex found himself seated across the table from Hudson, who still wouldn't look at him. He couldn't believe her mother's comment had embarrassed her so badly, especially when he had simply found it amusing. Of course, teens didn't like to be laughed at, and parents had this strange affliction of forgetting something that they themselves had gone through when they were younger.
Jonathan set the turkey platter down in the center of the table then took his seat at the head. Clearing his throat, he said, "Martha, would you like to go first?"
She smiled and nodded, and across the table, Hudson groaned. "We're not seriously going to put Lex through this, are we?"
"H.C., this is a family tradition. We certainly aren't going to ignore it because of company," Martha replied, shaking her head. Looking over at Lex, she explained, "Grandpa Kent began the tradition of each family member giving thanks for at least one thing each year at the dinner table. Now, I am thankful for my wonderful husband and our beautiful daughter... "
Eye-rolling from Hudson, who caught Lex's eye and mouthed the words `She says that every year'. Lex smiled, thinking it was very sweet and at that moment, he would have traded... well, anything with Hudson to be in her place, to be loved so much by her parents, to be part of this family. He returned his gaze to Martha, and silently thanked his father for training him to keep his emotions buried.
"And for the good response I've had to my small catering business. And for all of our friends." She flashed a quick smile at Lex before looking over at Hudson, "Honey?"
Hudson sighed in resignation, staring for a moment in obvious hunger at the turkey before replying, "I'm thankful that we're going to get to eat in a few minutes - "
"Hudson Clark... " Jonathan warned in a threatening tone but there was a smirk on his face.
She smiled at her father, too charming for one so young, then lifted her gaze to Lex. Holding his gaze, she said, "I'm thankful I was on Loeb Bridge that day."
Lex swallowed, glanced down at the glass of water sitting at the top of his plate, worked to get that hold back on his emotions that he had been so proud of only seconds ago. Simple words, and yet they somehow erased the small gap that had appeared between them that week, the one he had unwittingly created. It was an acceptance of his apology, a small acknowledgement that everything was okay between them, that nothing had changed. He was forgiven, and he hadn't destroyed something which had become so precious.
"I'm thankful for the harvest we've had this Fall," Jonathan picked up, breaking the silence that had descended. "That we've made it through another storm season without a tornado, and that H.C. is passing history."
There was a slight chuckle from the family at the last, then they all turned their gazes to Lex.
They were looking at him, expectantly. He met each gaze, then shifted a little. They certainly didn't expect him to do it, too. Did they?
"Your turn, Lex," Martha prompted.
"It's the penalty you get for accepting our invitation." Hudson grinned across from him and he wished the table would just open up and swallow him whole.
They couldn't be serious. This was like a bad `After-School Special'. Lex forced himself not to shift again, to sit there calmly and think of something, anything that he might be able to say. It didn't matter what it was. He just had to get through this.
"We don't get to eat until you say something, Lex," Hudson commented impatiently.
"H.C., give Lex a moment," Martha admonished quietly. "We threw this at him unexpectedly. You don't enjoy it and you do it every year." She turned her gaze to Lex and reached out, laying her hand over his forearm. "You don't have to if you don't want to, Lex. It's all right."
Her touch was warm. It evoked memories he hadn't allowed to cross his mind in years. It gave him strength. Lifting his gaze, Lex looked across the table at Hudson. "I'm thankful... that my father exiled me to Smallville." Just a touch of arrogance that effectively hid the sincerity.
Hudson grinned and Lex knew that she understood.
Six hours later, Lex led Hudson out to the car, their arms laden with plates and bowls of leftovers that Martha had refused to allow Lex to leave without. He could only imagine what his cook, Dodd, would do when the Tupperware containers from Martha Kent's kitchen took over the perfectly stocked refrigerator. Opening the trunk, Lex set his bundle inside while Hudson placed hers beside it.
"No throwing this stuff away," Hudson commented as he slammed the trunk closed. "I'll be by tomorrow to make you some of my famous after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches."
Lex smiled. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
Reaching out, Hudson pulled the lapels of his coat a little tighter around him, protecting him from the cold. She flashed him a grin. "Admit it - you had fun today."
He had. Once he got past the discomfort of the opening of the meal, Lex discovered that the food and the company more than made up for how out of place he felt. He had the pleasure of watching Hudson and her father compete for eating the most food, enjoyed the easy interaction between the family when they were relaxed and having fun and even found himself involved in a couple of conversations with Jonathan.
After dinner, Lex helped Hudson with the dishes, walking away from it with more water and soap on his clothes than he thought ever touched the china. While no all-out water fight had occurred, Hudson still seemed to delight in splashing him at every opportunity. He hadn't bothered with retaliation - he thought it much more enjoyable to wait, let her worry about it for a while, and then get his revenge.
Shrugging, Lex affected a bored expression and replied, "I guess it beats going over expense reports."
"Uhn!" Hudson tugged gently on his coat. "Don't be a brat. Or I'll never bake another pie for you again!"
"My luck is changing for the better already." Lex smirked as Hudson huffed in outrage.
She had baked a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie. The pumpkin had been fantastic. With a large dollop of freshly whipped cream, Lex had finished it off much more quickly than he usually ate, and had complimented her on her baking abilities. Then she had insisted he have a piece of pecan as well. While the flavor and consistency had been fine, Lex's first bite consisted of a shell. Grimacing a little at the feel of biting into it, he'd sat there in silence, attempting to figure out how to dispose of the mouthful, when he glanced over to see Jonathan seemingly in the same quandary. Hudson's father had caught his gaze and smirked a little, as if they were sharing in some secret joke. Finally, Jonathan had shrugged and swallowed. Finding no other recourse, Lex had done the same, and then proceeded to finish off the slice of pie, shells and all.
Minutes later, Hudson had taken her first bite of the pecan pie. The stricken expression on her face had sent both Lex and her father into instant assurance that it was great, really, and they both asked for another piece. Luckily, Martha saved them from their fate, laughingly informing them that all great cooks have a few mishaps and that maybe this would teach Hudson a valuable lesson about paying attention to the ingredients and not the football game. The rest of the pie was thrown out.
"I'm glad you decided to stay, Lex."
"Like I had a choice in the matter?" Lex met her gaze as she brought her eyes to his.
"I believe Lex Luthor has a lot more say in what he chooses to do than he ever lets on," Hudson replied, still curling her fingers around his coat lapels.
Smiling, Lex nodded before taking her hands in his and lifting them, kissing her knuckles lightly. "You'd better get inside. Before your ears get cold."
Hudson laughed. "You too." She didn't move. "Don't forget about the interview you promised Chloe this weekend."
"That's this weekend?" Lex frowned. "Oh. Wait. I think I have some out of town busin - "
"I don't think so, Luthor," Hudson warned with a mock glare. "Besides, Chloe would probably kick your ass."
"Knowing your friend... " Lex trailed off and gave her another smile before squeezing the hands he held. "See you tomorrow?"
"Of course. We'll eat leftover dressing and turkey sandwiches with extra mayo and sit around watching Christmas movies... "
"Christmas? Hudson, it's not even December yet."
"I know." She laughed. "But it's what you do on the day after Thanksgiving!"
"Well, at least my hypothesis has been proven correct."
Hudson cocked her head. "What hypothesis?"
"The Kent family really is insane."
"One more crack like that and you won't be invited to Christmas," she warned.
Lex raised an eyebrow. "What was that I said about my luck changing for the better?"
Before she could react, Lex dropped her hands and stepped out of the way, moving over to the driver's side door. He turned just as she walked back up to him and leaned down to kiss her cheek. Only his aim was a little off and he caught the corner of her mouth instead. At least, that's what he told himself had happened.
"Thank you for inviting me, angel," he told her as he met her gaze.
Hudson was silent at first but then she nodded a little and gave him a smile. "Thank you for staying."
Lex watched her a moment longer then slid into the seat of his Ferrari, slipping the keys into the ignition and bringing the engine to life. Bringing his eyes back to hers, he flashed her a parting smile, then closed the door and headed for home.
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