My First Taste - Ep 6 Repressed
MY FIRST TASTE
Sliding the warm black tongue highway,
your hands there, so smooth, between my legs
the cornfields sigh with freedom
Feel the world open wider
~ Open Wider, Bird York
If there was one thing Lex had come to hate more than the LuthorCorp Christmas party, it was the LuthorCorp New Year's party. Whereas the Christmas party was open to any employee who could attend, the New Year's party was reserved for management and above, clients, shareholders, board members - generally those who kissed ass better than everyone else. Clients brought their daughters and mistresses; and every year Lex had a gathering of conniving, greedy, half-plastic females swarming around him. They would brush up against him, press their breasts into his arm, lay their hands against his ass, whisper invitations to join them in the coat closet. And a few years ago, he gladly accepted those invites, banging daughters/mistresses/wives among the clutter of mink and cashmere coats.
Not this year, though. Lex found he was bored with it. Bored with the flashy jewels, pungent perfumes and meaningless five-minute fucks. The same women who were one moment sucking him off, returned to the party only to kiss their husbands with that same mouth, then turn to their current best friend and tell them how they don't see the lure of Lex Luthor - he's a bald freak with a bad attitude. Victoria used to love these parties.
And there was his father in the midst of it all, arm sliding around the latest `bed-warmer', laughing at something a client was saying, likely thinking to himself how much he hated the man and would have to remember not to invite him next year. Frowning, Lex took a sip of champagne from the glass in his hand, glancing at his watch as he did so. At least time was passing quickly. He'd made it through dinner and mingling and horrible speeches from the board members and finally, the time he had been waiting for all evening, was approaching.
It was almost midnight.
Glancing around to make certain no one took notice, Lex quietly slipped back into the shadows and made his way to the hall. He grabbed an opened bottle of champagne from a passing server before taking the familiar steps to the coat closet, the one place he had avoided all evening and now he couldn't wait to get there. Opening the door, he peered in for a moment, making certain it was empty, before slipping inside and shutting the door behind him. Finding a spot towards the back, he leaned against the wall and slid to floor while pulling his cell phone from the inside of his coat pocket. He hit the appropriate number on speed dial and waited.
"I was beginning to think you'd never call."
Lex smiled at the complaint. "Does this mean you've been sitting by the phone, waiting for me? I'm flattered."
"Well, don't be," Hudson replied waspishly. "It was either that or continue to watch Dick Clark with my parents." She paused. "I don't like Dick Clark."
"How could you not like Dick Clark?" Lex was surprised. "Everyone likes Dick Clark. That's very un-American, Hudson."
"Have you looked at the man? There's something infinitely creepy about a guy who doesn't age. Besides, he's short."
Lex nodded in the darkness. "You're right. That alone makes him creepy. Let's shoot him."
"Oh... bite me, Lex."
He chuckled. This was much better than the party outside.
"So, how're things in LuthorCorp central?"
"I refuse to believe that. Anything has got to be better than New Year's at the Kent farm. Dad burned the popcorn and mom sliced her finger open on a can of peaches."
"Is she all right?" Lex asked in alarm.
"It's nothing. It doesn't need stitches or anything. But she cussed up a storm." A short pause. "It's weird to hear my mom cuss."
"I can believe it." He took a swig of champagne from the bottle and asked, "Did you convince your parents to give in?"
Hudson gave a displeased grunt. "No. They made me buy sparkling cider. I told them that if I become an alcoholic at twenty-one, it's all their fault... Oh! Two minutes and counting. Have your champagne?"
Lex glanced at the bottle, deciding not to tell her how much of it he had. "Yes."
"Probably something really expensive, like Dom Perignon," she commented without rancor. He could hear a cork `pop' in the background and the sound of her filling a glass with the non-alcoholic version of champagne. "Have any New Year resolutions?"
Lex lifted his bottle up and told the darkness around him, "I resolve to never attend another boring LuthorCorp party again."
Hudson laughed. "That's a good one. Ummmm, let's see - "
"Hudson resolves never to stick a wool cap on Lex's head again."
"Hey! I would never make a silly resolution like that," she replied. "Besides, you looked cute, I tell ya. Oh! Fifteen seconds. And the ball in New York is dropping once again... Geez. My parents are getting all weepy and sentimental. Ten, nine - Next year, you and I are spending New Year's at Dairy Queen."
Lex smiled a little, as outside the door he heard the party attendees counting down. "Sounds good."
"Three, two, one... Happy New Year's, Lex."
"Happy New Year's, Hudson." He took a sip of his champagne. Everyone was singing `Auld Lang Syne' drunkenly, loudly. Through the phone, he heard Hudson humming along. "Don't know the words?" He asked curiously.
"Oh, I know them if I pay attention. But, for some reason, I always start singing the National Anthem."
Lex almost choked on his champagne.
He could hear her snicker. "You okay?" She continued humming, singing a little, as out of tune as everyone else, "Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?... It's kind of a sad song, isn't it?"
"A little." He finished the last of the champagne and set the bottle down beside him. "You never did make a resolution."
"Oh. I made it earlier tonight, before you called."
"What is it?"
"I resolve to make Lex Luthor change his mind about us. I have a year. Shouldn't be too hard."
Swallowing, Lex closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the wall. "That determined, are you?"
"Sounds like a lot of work," he remarked quietly, reminding himself that New Year's resolutions are rarely ever kept. Then again, rarely had he met anyone was tenacious as Hudson Kent. He could admit to himself that he was a little afraid. "What if, in the end, it isn't worth it?"
He could feel her smile through the phone. "Oh, it'll be worth it, Lex. It'll definitely be worth it."
Hudson lay awake, staring at the clock beside her bed. Just as the numbers switched to 5:00AM, she flicked her hand out to turn it off. Not even a note of whatever song had been playing made it through the speaker, and for that she was grateful. She wasn't in the mood for music. She felt cranky and irritable and... well, it was all Lex's fault.
Ever since that night she had spent in Lex's arms, she hadn't gotten much sleep. Too much dreaming - dreams unlike any she'd had before. Delicious, slightly disturbing dreams that she always awoke from aching deep inside, left feeling empty and bereft. Dreams that had her blushing the next morning when she remembered them.
It was entirely Lex's fault. He had made her feel all trembly and achy and weird inside and then he had told her to go home, because she was too young, because he didn't want to hurt her, and a million other excuses that she probably could have outlined for him. He'd asked if she had been avoiding being around him and she hadn't really answered because, in a way, she had been. And her reasons had nothing to do with what had happened at Club Zero and everything to do with how he had kissed and held and touched her and how right it had felt to sleep beside him in his bed. She'd lasted a whole week and then on Christmas Day had she given in to the desire to see him, finding it was impossible to stay away from Lex for too long without missing him terribly. Her fingers brushed against the necklace he had given her and she smiled a little, missing him again.
Sighing, she swung her legs out of bed and glanced once more at the clock. Chores were waiting and it was the first day back to school after her two-week vacation.
Her father was already in the kitchen when she sped down the stairs moments later, dressed and ready to go. He was making coffee, grumbling to himself at how long it was taking to brew, when he glanced over his shoulder and flashed her a warm smile.
"I'm only a few minutes late," Hudson replied with a smile as she opened the refrigerator to grab a bottle of milk. "Where's mom?"
"I told her to get a few extra minutes sleep. She was up late finishing those sugar cookies for the bake sale."
Hudson's gaze moved over to the center island where dozens of perfectly decorated sugar cookies - varying animals, shapes and people - were stacked on trays. Her stomach gurgled in joy at the sight and before she knew it, she was snatching one off of the top, glancing guiltily at her father. He just grinned and shook his head.
"I've already had two," he commented before pulling out a coffee mug from the cupboard above him.
"Well, in that case... " Hudson grabbed two more, tucking them into the front pouch of her hooded sweatshirt, to save for later during chores. She poured herself a glass of milk, then sat down on the stool to enjoy first her cookie. After nibbling off the legs and arms of the smiling cookie man in her hand, Hudson stared at the cookie for a moment and recited, "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well," before biting off the head.
When she looked back up, her father was staring at her strangely.
"It's from `Hamlet'," she told him.
Jonathan nodded. "I know what it's from. But, why are you quoting it?"
Hudson shrugged. "The last Sunday I was at Lex's, I was looking over his collection of Shakespeare and commented that none of it made sense. So he made me read `Hamlet' with him. It's kind of stuck in my head now."
Her father frowned a little and set his half-finished coffee down. "We'd better get to work. Your mother will be down soon with breakfast ready."
Hudson's nose hairs instantly froze and tickled as she stepped outside with her father. She hated that. It always made her wrinkle her nose in a really strange fashion and she thought she probably looked pretty damn funny doing it. And not amusing funny, either. Her father was slipping on his work gloves, his gaze already straying out to the empty south pasture.
For the past month, it had been the same thing every morning. Jonathan Kent would stand there on the bottom step of the porch and gaze out where there should have been a herd of cattle. His brow would furrow a little, and then his expression would darken and his head would turn in the direction of the LuthorCorp plant. His fists would clench at his sides and his body would grow tense then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the strength would seem to spill from his body and his shoulders would drop. With a heavy sigh, he would shake his head just a little and head off toward the barn to begin the morning chores.
Because there were still chores to be done, even without the herd. There were chickens and pigs and one goat to be fed and milked and the horses, who also needed to be turned out and their stalls cleaned. And even though they had lost the herd, they still had their one bull, Spike. Hudson believed that Spike had to be the oldest living creature on the farm, and he was mean and ill-tempered and loved to charge after anything and anyone, didn't matter if you were holding his feed or not. Feeding him was Hudson's job once she was old enough. Age hadn't slowed the old boy, either. She had even heard her mother once comment to her father that she was surprised Spike could still `get it up', and there were just some phrases you never wanted to hear your mother utter.
Lately, everything seemed to come back to sex. And it wasn't so much that the issue of sex seemed to be all around her that bothered Hudson; it was her reaction to it. Chloe couldn't make some off-hand comment that she had always made without Hudson turning varying shades of red. She couldn't watch `R' rated movies without becoming all fidgety and uncomfortable during sex scenes. And every time she tried reading some of the fanfiction that Chloe wrote online, she would invariably close the window before getting too deeply into it. Whereas before sex had been a curiosity, something that was likely in her future and she hadn't given it much thought, now it was much more than that. She was looking forward to it, imaging it, dreaming about it, fantasizing about it. And all with one particular person in mind.
After turning the horses out into the pasture, Hudson returned to the barn to find their tomcat humping one of the female strays outside the doors. She laughed a little nervously at the sight before shooing them away, her face growing red when she almost ran into her father as she entered the barn. Sure, he couldn't read her mind or anything, but that didn't make her feel much better.
"I'm heading off to town to see if I can't get a new steering arm for the tractor," he told her. "Let your mom know I probably won't be back in time for breakfast."
"Okay." Hudson watched him walk off toward the truck before continuing on her way into the barn.
Thinking about having sex with your best friend wasn't... well, Hudson didn't think it was entirely appropriate. Somewhere along the way, he had ceased being Lex Luthor and simply become Lex - a twenty-one year old boy who was really no more mature than any other. She'd learned that dirty little secret when their foray into Shakespeare had turned into a burping contest. Yes, she, Hudson Clark Kent, had the rare privilege of watching Lex Luthor down an entire can of Coke and belch rather loudly. Of course, she had been sworn to secrecy over the entire incident with the threat of death but still, it was a memory she would always carry with her. Whenever Lex decided to climb back onto that occasional high-horse of his, she would just quietly remind him that he couldn't beat a fifteen-year old girl when it came to burping.
It was a hell of a lot simpler than admitting to dreaming of having sex with him.
There, in fact, was the problem. Hudson was terribly attracted to the son of a billionaire, who glided more than he walked, made innocent girls like herself think dirty things when he drank from water bottles and somehow turned something as pompous as wearing driving gloves into a fashion statement. Yet she also adored the boy who packed one hell of a snowball, sucked at burping, and loved doing doughnuts in his sports cars at her school parking lot on weekends. The two conflicted, and she had trouble merging them. She was afraid that one could easily overpower the other, and she really didn't want to lose either.
After cleaning out the stalls and feeding the animals, Hudson headed inside to the smell of bacon and eggs cooking on the stove, her mom busily spreading toast with butter. "Smells good," she commented, her stomach rumbling in agreement as she made her way across the kitchen to the refrigerator to grab the milk. "Dad is in town. Said he might not be back for breakfast. I'll eat his."
"Along with the cookies you snatched?" Martha commented in amusement.
Hudson flashed a guilty grin as she pulled a glass from the cupboard and poured the milk. "Dad's not entirely blameless, you know. He ate one first."
Her mom rolled her eyes before filling a plate with three eggs and almost a dozen strips of bacon and handing it over to her daughter. "Ready to get back to school?"
"I'm overjoyed. Can't you tell?" Hudson sat down at the table and began devouring the food in front of her.
"Slow down. You might choke," her mother warned, sitting across from her with a cup of coffee and two slices of toast. She watched her daughter eat with a slight frown.
"Do you think I can?" Hudson glanced up, contemplating the question for a moment. "I mean, is it possible for me to choke? And would the Heimlich maneuver even work on me?"
"I would prefer we never find out," Martha replied, watching as bacon crumbs scattered onto the table. She couldn't help reaching and scooping them into her hand, cleaning up even as her daughter continued to make a mess. There were a few things Hudson took completely after her father in; rarely cleaning up after herself was one of them. She glanced at the clock on the wall. "You don't have much time to shower or you're going to be late for the bus."
"Aren't I always?" Hudson smirked as she gulped down her glass of milk, leaving a trace of a white mustache across her upper lip. She jumped up from the chair and leaned over to kiss her mother's cheek. "Great breakfast, mom. Thanks!"
Grinning as Martha sighed and wiped away the milk that was left behind on her cheek, Hudson raced up the stairs to prepare for school.
"So, was Smallville as exciting as ever over the Christmas break?"
Hudson turned to see Chloe walk up beside her and flashed her a welcoming smile. "Hey! I've missed you."
Chloe rolled her eyes but smiled a little. "Oh, I'm sure you did. Somewhere in between mooning over Lex and mucking out stalls, you had time to think of poor little old me."
"Chloe, don't start." Hudson shook her head as she stepped up to her locker, dialing in the combination. "How was Colorado?"
"There was a lot of snow," Chloe replied, leaning her back against the locker as Hudson shuffled through her backpack. "And dad caught a cold our second day there. There was a lodge about a mile up from the cabin that was great. Talk about hotties in snowsuits and Ray-bans! You should go with me next time. I met a few of the guys who work there during school breaks."
"It snowed here on Christmas day," Hudson commented, closing her locker. "Like a foot. It was gorgeous." She contemplated telling Chloe about Lex playing in the snow with her but decided against it. If Lex ever found out she was telling people about his very unlikely behavior, he'd pitch a fit. Then again, she'd like to see him lose control just once. It would be amusing. "Of course, it all melted the next day when the weather decided to shoot up to sixty."
They started back down the hall towards class. "So why weren't you on the bus?" Hudson asked.
"You actually made it in time for the bus this morning?" Chloe glanced at her with a smirk. "I'm impressed."
"Yeah, yeah. You didn't answer my question."
"I came in early to work on Torch stuff," she explained, stumbling back a little as one of the football players knocked into her shoulder. Chloe turned to flash him a glare. "Why don't you watch where you're walking, Cro-Magnon man!"
"Up yours, Sullivan!" He called back as he disappeared into the crowd.
Hudson sighed as Chloe gave him the finger. "You were saying?"
"Huh? Oh. Yeah, Kwan wants me to get in touch with the `student body', focus more on the pulse of the school or some bull. So I'm trying to come up with a poll question that I could ask and include in the next issue."
"A poll?" Hudson couldn't hide the laughter, ignoring Chloe's frown. "Chloe Sullivan, Ace reporter, conducting `lunchtime polls'. Should I start calling you Heather now?"
"Sometimes I hate you, H.C."
"No, you don't." They stopped outside the door to their English class, peering inside to see a few of the seats filled but Mrs. Mackay hadn't arrived yet. Hudson leaned a shoulder against the door frame. "So, what have you come up with so far?"
Chloe dug into her bag and pulled out a sheet of paper. "Let's see, I thought about asking what everyone wants to be when they grow up, but then realized that half of the answers would be a `rock star' and the other half a `porn star'. Then I thought about asking what the worst Christmas gift they had ever received was but it's not timely enough with the holiday already past."
Hudson peered over her shoulder and pointed at a sentence that appeared to be scratched out. "What was that one?"
"Oh, that question was what they thought of the mutant freaks that keep appearing in Smallville and if they think they are caused by the meteors or LuthorCorp."
"Always thinking like a journalist, aren't you, Chloe?"
She shrugged. "I knew Kwan wouldn't like that one." She looked up at Hudson. "Can you think of anything? And please don't let it have to do with Snipe hunting."
Hudson grinned as the bell for first period rang. "You could always use the lunchtime poll in `Heathers'. With Ed McMahon and the end of the world and all."
"Clich much?" Chloe asked as them walked into the classroom and took their seats next to each other in the back. Smiling suddenly, she leaned over and asked Hudson, "So, if Ed McMahon showed up on your doorstep and handed you a million dollars and then these space aliens appear and say they are going to blow up in the world in 24 hours, what would you do?"
It depends on if the aliens look like me or not. "Buy Lex a car this time, and tell him to take me for a long drive."
Chloe rolled her eyes, still smiling. "How very."
The two girls giggled.
"Ms. Sullivan. Ms. Kent. Something you'd like to share with the class?" Mrs. MacKay asked from the front of the room.
Reddening a little, Hudson shook her head while Chloe continued to smirk beside her.
They were instructed to pull out the book they were reading that quarter, `Ragtime', having already been assigned to read through the first chapter over Christmas break. Cecily Mathews, self-proclaimed teacher's pet and darling of the English department, raised her hand instantly when Mrs. MacKay asked for a volunteer to read aloud. Chloe and Hudson glanced at one another with a simultaneous rolling of their eyes. Smiling a little, Hudson stared out the window while Cecily's voice droned on.
"... He smiled. He touched Mameh's breast. Mameh fled, taking the dollar. The next time, the same thing happened. She told Tateh she was doing more work. She became accustomed to the hands of her employer. One day two weeks' rent due she let the man have his way on a cutting table. He kissed her face and tasted the salt of her tears... "
Was everything today coming back to sex? Hudson shifted a little in her seat, wishing that entire paragraph hadn't brought Lex to mind or made her feel so warm and uncomfortable. She dropped her gaze, glancing up surreptitiously through her lashes to watch the other students, noting that a few of them looked just like she felt. Okay, so sure it was that time of their lives when hormones were running rampant and sex was the one constant in their minds but... well, none of them had to deal with a best friend who smelled like everything forbidden to her and just... just looked like sin itself. And a few of them probably understood it all a little bit better than her; understood the feelings and sensations and how to make them go away. Or make them better.
She rubbed a hand over her eyes and tried to focus on something else. Like the chalkboard. Or the clock just above it. She watched the hand tick slowly by and Hudson was just certain she was going to lose her mind before class was over. An annoying clicking sound interrupted her thoughts and she glanced over to see Chloe playing with her nails. Her friend felt the stare and looked up and shrugged then picked up her pencil and wrote something across the notepad in front of her. She carefully tore the corner away, folded it and discreetly tossed it onto Hudson's desk.
Looking up to make certain that Mrs. MacKay was still focused on the book in front of her, Hudson opened the note to read: Don't you think Lex is kind of a big, walking dong?
Hudson felt her face flame and she glanced up quickly to make certain no one was looking as she crumpled the paper in her hand. How was she ever supposed to look Lex in the eye again?? And how was she ever supposed to get that image out of her head? She actually felt a bubble of laughter welling up inside of her and god, she wasn't supposed to be picturing her friend as a big, walking penis in Armani, let alone be laughing about it!
When the bell rang, Hudson practically flew out of her chair and into the hall. She heard Chloe running up behind her to keep up.
"I'm not talking to you," Hudson muttered.
Chloe laughed as she finally moved up beside her. "I was just playing. Good thing Mrs. MacKay didn't get her hands on that - I would have died of laughter."
"Well, I am going to probably die of mortification the next time I see Lex."
"Jesus, girl. Lighten up." Chloe smirked. "You've been far too sheltered."
"If being sheltered means not picturing your friend as a... you know, then I prefer to remain so, thank you very much."
Chloe laughed. "Oh, H.C. If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were a complete prude."
Hudson sighed and shook her head and kept walking, only to practically run Lana over as she appeared out of nowhere in front of her. "Oh! H.C. I've been looking for you!" She was flushed and a little out of breath.
"What is it?" Hudson was waiting to hear that some giant, green mutated chicken was currently barreling its way down Main Street.
"There was an accident of some kind out on H highway. Your father was apparently a witness and had to rescue the guy who crashed."
"Is my dad all right?" Hudson asked quickly, panic sweeping through her at the thought of anything happening to him. Especially when she hadn't been there to protect him.
"I don't know. I only just heard."
Hudson looked at Chloe and Lana only a moment before asking," Mind taking notes for me?" Then she hurried away from them, down the hall to head for home.
When she got to the farm, she was greeted by the sight of her mother and father making out on the island in the center of the kitchen. She instantly flashed back to the passage of `Ragtime' from class that morning, and the entire moment was much like hearing her mother comment about a bull being able to `get it up'. Hudson was beginning to wonder if she was going to need therapy when she was older. She could see it now - sequestered away in a convent somewhere, visions of sex and her parents haunting her the rest of her life.
Turning away from the scene before her, she let out a small breath and commented, "I sooo did not need to see that."
She heard her father chuckle. "Hey, honey. Just getting the old hero's welcome. You know what I mean?"
Hudson turned around just in time to see her father slap her mother's ass and Martha exclaim, "Oh!"
"What's going on with dad?" Hudson whispered as Martha moved to stand beside her.
"I don't know," her mother whispered back as they both stared at Jonathan while he grabbed a beer from the refrigerator. "He's been acting strange ever since he got home."
"H.C., they're playing `North Dallas Forty' on TV in a bit," her father commented. "You wanna watch it with me?"
Hudson's eyes lit up at the idea of skipping school all day until her mother flashed her a warning look. Knowing that idea was out, she asked, "Don't you have work to do, Dad?" She couldn't remember the last time he had taken a day off, except Christmas when he was forced to because of the snow.
"Nah. Chores can wait." He held the beer bottle up to the edge of the counter and popped the cap off, causing beer to foam everywhere. "Besides - Whoa! I've earned a rest. You can pick up the slack for me, can't ya?"
Martha and Hudson watched in further shock as he grabbed the corner of the kitchen curtain and wiped the bottle.
"Jonathan!" Martha whipped a towel over to him.
Hudson made a face. "It's a good thing you didn't let this whole hero thing go to your head, Dad."
A knock on the door caused her to look away from the fascinating behavior of her father to see Lex peering in from the other side of the screen. A smile instantly appeared at the sight of him.
"I hope I'm not interrupting," he called out.
"Hi, Lex," Martha greeted. "Come in."
Hudson forced herself not to run over and give him a big hug or something. She hadn't seen him since the day before New Year's Eve and had missed him terribly. He was dressed in Lexian Casual - black slacks with a light grey pullover that had always been one of Hudson's favorite shirts. Over it he wore a simply black jacket. He had obviously been planning on spending the day at home.
"What's up, Lex?" She asked.
"Hey, Hudson." He flashed her a smile. "Looking for Mr. Kent."
Jonathan moved over to stand in front of Lex, right into his personal space. "What do you want?" His tone was excessively belligerent and unwelcoming.
Lex either didn't notice any difference from his usual greetings or was ignoring it. "I heard you pulled one of my employees out of a car today. I wanted to see if you were all right."
"No, you didn't," Jonathan countered. "You wanted to see if I was going to sue you or not. Of course, that would put an end to all my financial difficulty, wouldn't it?"
Hudson blinked at her father's accusation and glanced at her mother.
"Jonathan, that's enough," Martha told him, shock evident in her words.
"No, it's not enough, Martha. You see, I don't like Lex Luthor," Jonathan began, causing Hudson to wince, her gaze immediately going to Lex, watching as he seemed to shut down, the protective walls of apathy instantly erecting themselves. "I don't like Lionel Luthor, and I don't like your friendship with my daughter. In fact, if all of you Luthors were to dry up and die, I wouldn't shed a tear."
Hudson couldn't stand it any more. "Dad, that's enough," she called out, embarrassed, angry and hurt that he would treat her friend like that.
Her father glanced over his shoulder at her, looking for all the world like he wanted to say something else. Instead, he turned back to Lex as he took a swig of his beer, then belched loudly in their guest's face before commenting, "I think I'll take a nap." Moving back across the kitchen, he passed between Martha and Hudson, glancing down at his wife and smiling. "Hubba hubba."
Disbelief continued to register across the faces of the three people left in the kitchen as Jonathan headed up the stairs. Martha turned to say something to Lex, trying to apologize, but she seemed at a loss. Finally, she gave a small shrug of her shoulders, looked over at Hudson and hurried upstairs after her husband.
Silence filled the kitchen for the next few moments as Lex and Hudson stood staring at the empty staircase, identical expressions of confusion on their faces. Hudson couldn't recall ever having seen her father so blatantly rude to anyone, even if their name was Luthor. Sure, Jonathan Kent had plenty to say behind Lex's back, but when it came to Lex being in his presence, her father generally either said as little as possible or excused himself to the barn. He certainly didn't speak to him with such vehemence or wish death on him! Hudson winced once more at the words her father had spoken and looked over at her friend, who was still silent and staring.
"Lex," she finally spoke softly. "I... don't know what to say. I'm sorry about that. I'm not certain what's going on with him."
Lex shook his head a little, as if to say don't worry about it or maybe that he had always been expecting something like it. He brought his gaze to hers. "How many beers has he had?"
"That was his first as far as I know."
Lex's eyes widened a little and he looked back at the staircase. "I... " He couldn't seem to think of anything to say, much as her mother had behaved a few minutes before. He seemed to change his mind, ran a hand over his head and glanced toward the door behind him before focusing on her once more. "What're you doing home?"
"I heard about the accident and came to see how my dad was."
"Ah." He nodded, shifted a little as if he couldn't decide how to make his excuses and leave.
Hudson took pity on him. "Mind driving me back to school?"
"Huh?" He blinked at her for a moment, his mind obviously elsewhere. Then he nodded. "Sure. Come on."
As they stepped outside together, Hudson glanced ahead to a silver car she had never seen before. Her eyes widened a little because it was gorgeous and sleek in appearance, the Ferrari emblem gleaming on the hood. "New car?" She asked as she moved to the passenger side and opened the door.
Lex nodded as he slid into the leather seat. "360 F1 Modena. Every year for my birthday since I was sixteen my father has given me a new car. Even after I started buying my own."
"Did he - Wait! What? Your birthday?" Hudson turned and stared at her friend as he started the engine and backed the car down the drive to the road. "When? Why didn't you tell me?"
"The twenty-seventh." Lex glanced into the rearview mirror as he whipped onto the road then shifted gears. "Birthdays aren't a big deal to me, angel. I usually prefer that people don't know. My father always used to say that anyone can live year after year, that's no cause for celebration. Your existence only means something if you've achieved greatness. Then you've earned the right to celebrate."
Hudson frowned and turned her gaze out the window, hoping she never actually had to speak to Lionel Luthor. She'd likely recite the words her father had just spoken in the kitchen. And then end it all with a well-placed kick. It upset her that she had missed Lex's birthday; it upset her even more to think that Lex himself seemed to miss his own birthdays. Besides, she thought he was great as he was - he didn't need to achieve anything.
Glancing back over at him, Hudson watched him silently for a moment before asking, "You'll come to my birthday party though, won't you?"
There was the barest hint of a half-smile. "I wouldn't miss it, angel."
Hudson smiled brightly. "Good. Mom always makes my favorite cake - "
"Vanilla with strawberry filling," Lex supplied quickly, flashing her a quick look.
"You do pay attention to me." Hudson was inordinately pleased. "And here I thought half the time you only heard `blah blah blah'."
Lex's smile grew a little at that. "Only when it's `blah blah blah I'm hungry'," he teased.
"Uhn!" Hudson gave him an outraged look, though secretly she was happy that he had relaxed enough after the confrontation at her house to tease her. She regarded him for a moment longer before telling, "I wish I could have given you a birthday gift, Lex."
Pulling into the school parking lot and shifting the car into park, Lex looked over at her and reached out to touch her cheek lightly. "Just saying it was enough, Hudson. Thank you."
Warmth filled her at his touch and she really couldn't help herself from moving against his fingers just a little. Her gaze dropped to his mouth and she realized she really wanted him to kiss her again. For the past few weeks, she'd had nothing but her dreams to remind her of the kisses they had shared that night and Hudson was beginning to worry that she might forget how it had felt. She didn't want to. She wanted to feel his body against hers again and touch his skin and have his tongue in her mouth and -
Lex snatched his hand away and glanced back out the windshield, growing all tense and expressionless. "You'd better get back to school."
Obviously he had seen too much in her eyes. Sighing inwardly, Hudson nodded in reply, mumbled her thanks and exited the car.
The next twenty-four hours went by in a blur for Hudson. After school, she was walking through town to visit Lana at the Talon when she saw her dad's truck tear down the street, nearly running over two pedestrians. She hurried after it, catching up when he parked outside the bank and climbed out, shotgun in hand. His inexplicable behavior only peaked when she tried to take the gun from him and it went off, the bullets driving into her chest. Luckily, no one had been around to see it happen. Her dad had stared at her in shock before collapsing.
She ran into the bank to call an ambulance and her mother met her at the hospital as the paramedics wheeled her dad in. Frantically, Hudson explained everything to her mother as they waited for Doctor Davis to examine him. When he finally came to speak to them, the news wasn't good. They weren't certain what was wrong with him. The man he had rescued earlier that day, James Beales, had suffered from the same symptoms. By late that afternoon, Mr. Beales had fallen into a coma. The doctor was certain that if they didn't isolate the problem soon, the same would happen to Jonathan Kent. Hudson spent the entire night in the hospital with her mom, holding her hand and assuring her that dad would be all right.
The next morning, and school, came too quickly.
Hudson had her head in her arms, catching a few moments rest in the Torch office before deciding whether or not she should go to her next period. She hadn't slept all night, had returned to the farm earlier that morning to get the chores done, eat, shower and hurry to her first class. She hadn't made it on time and was handed a detention for her third tardy, until she explained her situation to Principal Kwan.
It would have been easier had she convinced her mom to simply excuse her from school and ask one of the neighbors to feed their livestock. Unfortunately, her mom had insisted that they do exactly as her dad would have wanted - take care of the farm and focus on school. Besides, there was nothing that the two of them could do for him and they would only be in the way of the nurses. Her mom had stayed though, and Hudson couldn't help but feel a slight twinge of jealousy at wanting to be able to be with her dad.
"Planning on sleeping the day away?"
Hudson opened her eyes at Lana's voice and smiled a little before lifting her head up. "Something like... that." She stared in stunned silence at her friend, who was lounging against the doorframe in miniskirt and knee-high boots. It was a new look for her. And it wasn't bad.
"What's the matter?" Lana asked with a smile.
"Nothing." Hudson shook her head, sitting up fully, blinking the sleep away. "It's just a... change."
Lana moved into the office, twirling in display in front of Hudson, with another confident smile. "You like it?"
"Ummm, I guess. Sure." Hudson thought it was something she was going to have to get used to. Lana was usually inclined to pink and soft sweaters and jeans. She dressed... well, like girls who grew up in smalltown-Kansas dressed.
Sitting down in the chair beside her, Lana leaned over, smelling like a lot of perfume and hairspray. Hudson held back the impulse to sneeze at the overpowering scents. Lana was watching her, her eyes roaming over her slowly from head to toe.
"Listen, I know things are rough. But you can't let them get you down."
This from the girl who visited her parents' gravesite almost nightly. Hudson made a face for a moment. "It's kind of hard not to, Lana."
"The key is to keep your mind off of it. Let your friends be your friends." Lana's smile grew and she leaned in further, her gaze lingering over Hudson's mouth. "Let them distract you. Trust them." She licked her lips.
Hudson shuffled a little in her chair, wondering where Lana was going with this. "I do trust you, Lana."
Lana smiled brightly and laughed a little. "Good. Then follow me." She jumped up from her seat and grabbed Hudson's hand, pulling her along.
Allowing Lana to lead her away with only a slight smile of confusion, Hudson found herself wondering what was up. They passed through the hallways, which were deserted since everyone appeared to be in class except them, and then Lana was leading her through the gym and the locker rooms towards the school's pool. Of course, they couldn't actually be going in there because the pool was closed and you had to either be on the swim team or signed up for the swimming class in order to be allowed inside. This thought crossed her mind just as Lana pulled open the doors and tugged her inside.
"Ummm... what are we doing in here?" Hudson asked as they moved alongside the pool, the smell of chlorine filling the humid air.
"It's quiet," Lana replied as she let go of Hudson's hand and stepped away from her.
"It's also completely off limits." Hudson stared in question as Lana lifted a leg up onto the diving board and began removing her boot. Her friend flashed a smile and laughed with abandon as she kicked off both boots and climbed up onto the board. Frowning a little, Hudson commented, "Lana, I don't think I'm really up for this."
Lana danced a little along the length of the diving board, then turned to Hudson as she removed her belt, tossing it away. "You think too much, H.C."
Having never actually seen `Invasion of the Body Snatchers', Hudson wondered if it were anything like this. You go to school one day and a good friend that you've known since the first grade seems to have gone completely stark raving mad. She tried not to laugh because seeing Lana, who deep down inside really wasn't much more experienced in the ways of the world as Hudson was - boyfriend or not - behave in this outrageous manner was mind-blowing. She kept waiting for Pete and Chloe to jump out and yell `April Fool's!' yet it was nowhere near April.
"Right now I'm thinking you don't seem like yourself... " Hudson trailed off with her quip as her frown deepened. Something wasn't right here.
"Or maybe I'm more me than ever," came the reply as Lana stripped off her skirt and tossed it to Hudson.
Hudson stared at the skirt for a moment before dropping it. "Lana, this is crazy. Please come down from there. We're going to get into trouble."
Lana stretched her arms out dramatically, flaunting her red lace panties as she moved along the diving board gracefully. "That's the point. If life doesn't drive you crazy, then why bother living it?" She turned to smile at Hudson, and her gaze drifted over her again.
Memories of the kiss they had shared thanks to Kyle Tippet's suggestion flashed through Hudson's mind and she lowered her gaze for a moment, her face flushing. She thought her heard Lana giggle at her reaction and wondered what was going on with her mind lately. Maybe it was an alien thing that was sending her hormones all wacko -- because damn it if she didn't just find herself thinking that Lana had really nice legs. And hips. And stuff.
"I know that's how I want it," Lana finished pointedly.
Hudson looked back up in time to see her friend pull her tank off over her head, so that she was clad in no more than her panties and matching bra. Lana smiled seductively - seductively! - at her, then moved back down the board, leaning on the handrails.
"The question is," Lana continued, her voice playful. "Do you want what I want?"
Not bothering to ask what that might be, especially when she was so confused at the moment that she felt as if she had just walked into the middle of a four hour movie, Hudson stared in shock as Lana winked at her then did a back-flip off of the diving board into the pool. Her mouth fell open a little and it was hard not to laugh because her life just seemed so... strange suddenly. She couldn't stop thinking about sex with Lex and she was just about certain that Lana was coming on to her with those suggestive looks and flashing her body around in her underwear and now she was surfacing from the water, all wet, her skin glowing, grinning like she was the wickedest person on earth.
"Don't you want to come in, H.C.?"
Hudson shook her head. "I... I don't think so, Lana."
Shrugging a little, Lana swam over to the ladder and climbed out, all dripping with water, her bra and panties clinging to her even more tightly, nipples hard through the fabric as the air touched her skin. Hudson focused her gaze on the far wall and wondered what Chloe would do in this situation. She remembered Lex teasing her about wanting to join in and wow, she really couldn't let herself imagine what that would be like at the moment. Maybe her species just liked pretty things?? Lana was pretty and Lex was pretty. Then again, she had always thought Chloe was pretty too and she had never felt like this around her. Of course, Chloe had never gone strutting around in her underwear in front of Hudson before. Nor did she wear red lace. Nor had they ever kissed.
"I broke up with Whitney," Lana told her as she drew close, steam rising from her body, chlorine, perfume and hairspray mixing together.
She had no choice. Hudson glanced down at her. "What? Why?"
Lana shook her head, reached out and drew her fingers along Hudson's shoulder. "I don't want Whitney, H.C. I want you. You know that. The kiss we shared out at Kyle Tippets, remember?" Hudson nodded, causing Lana to frown. "Well, I don't remember it, H.C. But I want to... "
Hudson blinked. Okay, now she knew there had to be something wrong here. "Lana, I don't think - "
"Stop thinking so much," Lana whispered, her fingers moving over Hudson's lower lip. "We're young. It's time to experiment. To see what we like. I know I like you. You're gorgeous and sweet and have the finest ass in school."
"Lana -- !"
Her protest was cut off as Lana grabbed her by the hair and pulled her down for a kiss, soft, lipstick-covered lips closing over hers. Hudson remained still, staring in shock for a moment, trying to get over two different thoughts - one, Lana was kissing her for a second time. And two, she might be mistaken but... she thought she was enjoying it. Her eyes drifted closed as her friend continued to kiss her, mouth slightly cold from the water, tasting of chlorine and bubble gum, slim tongue pushing past her lips, exploring. It wasn't like kissing Lex at all - his kiss made her weak in the knees, her stomach do flip-flops and her heart beat so hard in her chest she was certain it would explode. No, kissing Lana wasn't like that at all but that didn't mean it wasn't nice. If she could just get past the fact that this was the same person who had stolen her favorite Barbie when they were little...
What was she doing?
Hudson grasped Lana's shoulders and pushed her back gently. "Lana, stop. This isn't... You care about Whitney and - "
"You chicken shit!" Lana spat, going from seductive to pissed in one point two seconds. "I'm finally honest with you, let you know exactly how I feel and you're all too goody-goody to accept the tongue of another girl in your mouth?"
"No, that's not - "
"I don't have time for your immaturity, bitch." Lana moved forward before Hudson could understand what was happening and pushed her into the pool.
The water was cold, even at a regulated temperature, and shocking to say the least. Hudson quickly kicked her way back to the surface, her sweater feeling itchy and heavy against her skin, her jeans more than uncomfortable. What was worse was that she didn't find Lana anywhere in sight as she broke through the water.
But she did look up to see Principal Kwan glaring down at her.
Lex listened to the scientist, Dr. Krebill, on the other end of the line as he explained the difficulties they were having in studying the specimens that Lex had sent over earlier that day. Without being able to study the affects on an actual human being, they were extremely limited. The rats only got them so far. But they had made a few breakthroughs and believed that they had isolated the problem. Now the trick was developing a cure.
It was practically impossible to hold on to his patience, but Lex knew his team was doing everything they could to find an antidote for the toxin emitted by the Nicodemus flower. Currently there were two people whose lives were hanging in the very balance dependant on a resolution being discovered quickly. And these weren't just nameless, faceless victims either - they were people Lex knew and cared about. More importantly, they were people that Hudson cared about. If for no one else, Lex had to find the answers for her.
He paced alongside the curb on Main Street, nodding occasionally as Krebill spoke. He had allowed Teresa to go ahead and close the Talon after Lana's announcement because of the lack of employees able to handle the shifts. Better to have no service than bad service. He wanted to go back to the hospital to sit with Hudson and Mrs. Kent but it would make keeping in touch with the team in Metropolis difficult. After seeing Hudson's face at the hospital when she had just brought Lana in, standing there staring at her father as he lay in a coma, Lex knew he would do everything in his power to keep her from knowing that he'd had a hand in it. Maybe not directly but he was the one providing Hamilton with the funding necessary to do such research. He should have said something the moment he had learned what the doctor had been up to but... he just hated seeing the disappointment in her eyes. The past month had been filled with those moments and it seemed they were just getting back to the closeness and trust that they'd shared previously.
Returning his attention to Dr. Krebill, Lex listened as he was informed that they hoped to have a cure by morning. "Good," Lex replied with a nod as he glanced over his shoulder to see Hudson approaching.
He stared at her a moment, noting the tired expression, the lack of a smile. He missed the carefree girl who always had a way of making even his worst days somewhat better. She shouldn't have had to go through something like this. Cutting off Dr. Davis, he told him, "I'll call you back," before hanging up the phone. Slipping the phone into his pocket, he told her, "I just got off the phone with the doctors. They think they've isolated the problem."
Hudson nodded a little and dropped her gaze, staring at the ground between them for a moment. Lex thought there was something significant in that, in her expression but he couldn't pinpoint the thought. She lifted her gaze back to his.
"Does it have to do with the Nicodemus flower?"
Lex remained impassive though he felt his heart give a small lurch.
"Chloe told me that you checked the diary out of the library," she told him.
He steeled himself for the ensuing confrontation. "Yes, I did, Hudson," he admitted.
"Why?" Her tone was demanding, a tone she never would have used with him in the past.
"Because my property was built on the site of the original settlement," Lex lied smoothly, wondering when it had become such an easy thing to do to his friend. He had promised her that their relationship would be the `stuff of legend'. Maybe he had simply meant by how many secrets they could keep from one another.
"I always thought it was an interesting story," he continued, thinking something personal like that made it sound truer, made it all right. "When I heard about your dad's symptoms I remembered it and tracked it down to see if it could be any help."
Hudson glanced away frowning, before looking back over at Lex. "Why didn't you tell me about it?" She asked quietly.
She wasn't going to let this go. Lex looked away, started walking toward the Talon. They might as well go inside and have some coffee together. "Hudson, it was a crackpot story," he explained calmly. "I was grasping at straws."
"Do you know Dr. Steven Hamilton?"
Lex felt a brief wave of panic at her question. No, it was impossible that she could link them together. Unfortunately, he had already paused for too long but he still replied, "Who's that?" He was unprepared for the strong hand that grabbed him by the arm, pulling him around to face her.
Hudson focused her gaze on him, her green eyes flashing their annoyance. "Don't lie to me!" She snapped.
Lex stared at the hand that held him, surprised that she had exerted force against him and more than a little angry that she would even consider doing so. "Hudson, calm down," he commanded. "I know you're worried about your father but I checked the book out of the library. That's it."
She dropped her hand and lowered her gaze at his tone. Lex remained silent, watching her, knowing that there was more she wished to say, he could see it in her eyes. He waited, wondering where this well-spring of patience had erupted from, while at the same time preparing himself for more deceit. This was too much; already Hudson was doubting him. He had to keep up the charade, cover his association with Hamilton or she might never believe in him again.
Finally, she met his gaze once more. "You stood there in the hospital, just a few hours ago, Lex, and apologized to me. At the time I thought you were doing it simply out of sympathy, out of the desire to help. Now I'm not so sure. Why were you apologizing, Lex? Why did you feel the need to do that? Guilt?"
Lex winced at her accusation and looked away, collecting his temper, not wanting to be angry with her for not trusting him when he was lying to her about the whole thing anyway. But why did it seem it was okay for her to have secrets, for her to lie time and again to him, but when he had the need to protect himself, suddenly a double-standard was tossed into the mix? He almost felt the need to scream out Hudson's favorite saying `It's not fair!'
Turning back, he told her, "I'm not responsible for what happened and I am doing everything in my power to fix it. That's the truth, Hudson." It was the truth. He wasn't responsible, he had only helped the process along. And he was doing everything he could to make it right, make it better. Why couldn't she see that?
She turned away from him, took a few steps and Lex thought she was going to leave and that would simply be the end of it. Just a few months that he'd been a part of her life, a glimpse at a world he could never be a part of, something he would never forget. Lex shook his head a little, wondering if it were simply his destiny to fuck the good things up.
Hudson stopped though, and looked over her shoulder at him. "I want to believe you, Lex," she said quietly.
He wanted to beg her to do so. Instead, he found himself shrugging, as if it didn't really matter to him either way. "I can't make your decisions for you."
"Yeah. I know." Hudson nodded, her eyes watching him. Finally, she seemed to force a half-smile and said, "I'll... Let me know if you come up with anything?"
"I will," Lex replied, clenching in his hands into fists in his pockets. He didn't know what there was he could do. "I promise."
He remained standing there as he watched her walk away before he spun around and headed back to his car. Once he slipped inside, slamming the door behind him, Lex sat and stared ahead, his mind whirring with possible ways to make this right, to erase the distrust that had haunted Hudson's eyes as she had looked at him. There had to be a way.
It would take too long to get to Metropolis to oversee his team's research and Hamilton was so overprotective of what he had in his lab that Lex knew he wouldn't get anywhere near it. He made a face as he considered his options, tapping a finger against the gearshift. His brow furrowed as the ghost of an idea formed.
Jonathan Kent had become infected when rescuing one of his father's employees from a wreck that had occurred after Beales had, apparently, stolen the flower from Hamilton's lab. That meant the flower had been at the crash site. Lana could have only become infected from the same flower because there was no chance Hamilton would have allowed her near his small collection. If Chloe had informed Hudson that he had checked out the Nicodemus Diary, then she must have been doing some snooping of her own. It was possible she had gone to the crash site with Lana in tow and Lana had somehow stumbled across the flower.
So the question became, was the flower still there?
Turning the key in the ignition, Lex pulled away from the curb and raced down Main Street, thankful that the streets were empty. He followed the main road out onto H highway, driving slowly with his brights on until he noticed the skid marks along the road. Pulling over, he stopped the car, leaned over to the glove compartment and withdrew the mini-flashlight he kept inside. Flipping the `on' button, he checked to see that it worked before opening the door and stepping out onto the dark road.
As typical this far west in Kansas, the road was deserted. Lex knew that his car could have stalled and, without a cell phone, he would either have to hike to the nearest farmhouse or wait a good hour or more for someone to come by. At the moment, the lack of traffic was in his favor. Sweeping the flashlight from side to side, Lex walked past his car to the ditch on the other side where an enormous patch of burned weeds and grass left from the truck's explosion spread out in a random shape. He walked the perimeter of it, stopping occasionally to closely examine an odd item before moving on to the next shape caught by the flashlight. He circled the area two more times before coming to the conclusion that there was nothing to find. Sighing with frustration, he ran a hand over his head as he glanced around in the darkness, wondering what Chloe and Lana had found that he had overlooked.
Lex's gaze traveled to the road, where it lingered for a moment before his eyes narrowed. It was possible that the explosion might have scattered objects to the other side. Moving back up the ditch, Lex made his way across the asphalt to the shoulder opposite his car and walked slowly, swinging the light around on the ground before him. He found the rearview mirror, a ridiculous Hula doll and a McDonald's cup. His temper was beginning to flare when the light finally flashed across a lone flower lying closer to the road. Hurrying over to it, Lex knelt down and stared at it a moment, his relief at finding the item quickly diminishing as he realized it appeared quite dead. Decayed, wilted, it wouldn't be much good to him in this condition, not without a way to check the pollen. He poked at it with the edge of the flashlight, turning it over, checking the petals, wondering if there wasn't something he might be able to learn from it, dead though it might be.
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a handkerchief and gently lifted the flower into it before rising to head back to the car. Crossing the road, he got to the Porsche and laid the flower down on the top of the car while he opened the door and tossed the flashlight back into the glove compartment. Straightening back up to grab the flower, Lex's eyes widened in surprise as it seemed to move before him, the petals coming back to life, going from black to a bright orange. Just as it pulled back, preparing to deliver it's poison pollen, one thought crossed Lex's mind:
Returning to the hospital to sit with her mom, Hudson stopped in to check on Lana's condition before making her way to the room her dad was in. She got two cans of Coke out of a nearby machine, then paced in front of the door to the room for a few moments, thinking about her argument with Lex before gathering the courage to face her mom. Hudson pushed open the door and quietly stepped inside.
Martha was still in the chair beside the bed, slouching a little, her arm against the back, head resting against it. Hudson stopped, trying not to make a sound, not wanting to wake her. She glanced over at her dad, watching his still form, worrying that she might never see him move again. Even with all of her abilities, Hudson still believed her dad was stronger than her, braver than her, more deserving of being saved. He had taken in a strange child and loved her more than any biological child had ever been loved... and this was his thanks?
"H.C., I didn't hear you come in."
Hudson turned to see her mother blinking up at her, stretching a little to work out the sore muscles. "I didn't want to wake you. You need your sleep."
Martha shook her head. "I'm fine, honey." She patted the chair next to her. "Sit down."
Hudson walked over and sat beside her mom, handing her the other can of Coke she had been holding. They were silent as they sipped at their sodas and watched over the still form in the bed in front of them. Playing with the tab on the top of the can, Hudson's gaze drifted to the floor as she recalled her conversation with Lex for the fifth time. A niggling voice in the back of her mind insisted that he was lying to her, that he knew all about the Nicodemus flower and Doctor Hamilton's research. There had just been so many accusations and secrets between them lately - she just wanted to let it go. She wanted to pretend this never happened. But if something happened to her father, to Lana, and she discovered that Lex could have stopped it...
"Mr. Beales died half an hour ago," her mother told her quietly, her gaze still on her husband.
Hudson sucked in a sharp breath and her vision blurred for a moment as tears arose at the implication. She swallowed them back. "Dad... Dad's going to be okay," she replied, knowing she didn't sound very certain.
"Yes. Of course he is," her mother agreed, and Hudson thought she didn't sound any more sure of herself than Hudson felt. Did I ever tell you about the first time I ever saw him?"
Smiling a little, Hudson shook her head. "No."
"He came to Metropolis U. to take a finance course and he was sitting by a fountain all denim and flannel eating an apple," Martha told her, smiling at the memory. "And I asked to borrow his notes. He didn't know that I was the note-taker for the class. He still doesn't."
"You were sly, Mom," she said with a slight laugh.
"He was so cute. So I asked him for his notes and he just handed over his notebook without even asking my name and I said, "How can you be so sure I'll bring it back?" And he said, "I prefer to believe in people"."
"That sounds like Dad," Hudson commented softly.
"And I remember looking at him, completely embarrassed because I was thinking the dumbest thing. I was thinking God, I hope he marries me. I still think that." Martha returned her gaze to her husband, reaching out and touching his shoulder, tears in her eyes. "Every day there's part of me that says, God, I hope he marries me." She started to cry.
Hudson couldn't remember the last time she had seen that - her mother crying. She reached out and took her in her arms and held her close, refusing to allow her own tears to fall, feeling the need to be strong for her mother. She had to believe that her earlier words had been correct - her dad would be all right. He was strong.
"I'm sorry, honey," her mother pulled back, wiping at her eyes. "I didn't mean to break down like that."
"It's all right. You've been through a lot, mom." Sitting back, Hudson scratched at her eyebrow and glanced over to find her mom watching her. She smiled a little self-consciously. "What?"
"You're just growing up so fast," Martha said quietly, reaching out to touch her hair. "Before I know it, you'll be off to college and living on your own. Getting married, raising a family of your own."
Hudson grimaced. "I don't see how that can ever happen, mom. If I can't ever tell anyone... I'm certainly can't marry some man without him discovering the truth."
"No, of course not. You would need to tell him." Her mother smiled softly. "And someday you'll meet someone worthy of that trust."
"Unlike Lex," Hudson commented, looking away.
Martha was silent for a long moment as she regarded Hudson before replying, "I didn't say that, H.C. I've never said that Lex is unworthy. His family is what makes him dangerous. Can you imagine having Lionel Luthor as a father-in-law?" She gave a mock shudder. "Your father wouldn't allow that to happen and I doubt I would either."
Hudson flashed an angry smile. "So in essence you are saying that Lex is unworthy."
Her mother didn't reply. She took another sip of her soda and turned her gaze back to her husband. Hudson flicked the aluminum tab again impatiently, knowing that it would be wrong to start the familiar argument regarding Lex now when her mother had more important things to worry about. What was worse was that at the moment, after the Nicodemus Diary and Lex's slight hesitation when asked about Doctor Hamilton, she found herself wondering if maybe her mom and dad might not be right.
"Have you checked on Lana?" Her mother asked.
Hudson nodded. "Yeah. Aunt Nell is with her. She's in stable condition... for the moment."
Worrying her lower lip as she remembered the events of the morning, she finished off her Coke, burped and quickly excused herself as her mom flashed her a warning look. More silence followed. Hudson fidgeted, tapped her fingers against her jeans, took the two empty cans to the recycling bin in the hall, then returned to pace in the tiny room. She could feel her mother's eyes watching her as she moved back and forth.
"H.C., stand up straight."
She squared her shoulders but continued to pace.
"You're making me exhausted, honey. Why don't you go home?" She suggested with a slight smile.
"I should be here."
"Someone needs to watch the farm. And you don't need to be falling asleep in class - "
"Mom, have you ever kissed another female?"
Martha stared blankly at her daughter for a full thirty seconds before she seemed able to grasp the unexpected path that the conversation had just taken. Smiling, she shook her head a moment before looking back up at Hudson. "Well, that was an interesting change of subject, I must say. Is there a particular reason you're asking?"
Hudson shrugged. "I just need to know."
"Oh. Okay." Her mother licked her lips and looked over at her husband for a moment. Finally, she replied, "No. I've never actually kissed another woman, though I have been attracted to one before. My freshman year in college. She wasn't beautiful exactly, but very striking. She seemed to command a room when she walked into it and she had the most beautiful voice." She returned her gaze to her daughter. "Why?"
"Lana kissed me today, after the infection. She said she wanted me. Stuff like that." Hudson wandered back over to the chair and sat down. "And it wasn't the first time, either. Kyle Tippet made her kiss me, too. But I don't think she minded."
Martha tried not to appear too shocked but she was failing miserably. "I see." She watched Hudson thoughtfully before asking, "And? What did you think?"
Hudson sighed and slouched in her chair. "I don't know." She picked at her fingernails. "She... I found myself noticing that she was really nice to look at. And the kiss... it wasn't bad. It was kind of nice. Not as nice as when Lex kissed - " She stopped herself abruptly and turned to look at her mother.
"Lex kissed you?" It wasn't a question so much as a comment.
Flushing, Hudson nodded. "Yes. After we returned from Metropolis when I saved his life. He kissed me then."
"And you never planned on sharing this with your father and me?"
"Mom, I - "
"Hudson Clark Kent, that boy is twenty-one years old!" Martha informed her, her voice soft but angry.
"And?" Hudson asked in exasperation. "He's never tried anything else and it's not like I can't stop him if he did. Mom, I want him to kiss me! I want... I want to date him and be his girlfriend and - "
"You know that can never happen." She was shaking her head. "We just discussed that there would have to be honesty in an important relationship for you, H.C. And I just don't see that happening with Lex."
Hudson realized she couldn't argue that point. Not after the past month. Instead, she told her, "He would never hurt me, Mom. Never." She knew that for a certainty.
Martha sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, growing silent. Raising her gaze back to her daughter's, she told her, "I know he wouldn't hurt you, honey. But the very world he lives in could be dangerous for you. I just... Your father and I don't want to see you get hurt. You're young and I know you care about Lex and I know what being fifteen and believing you're in love can do to a girl. I've been there." She took Hudson's hand and squeezed it. "But H.C., you won't be the person you are now in ten years, let alone fifteen or twenty. And neither will Lex. And once you share your secret, you can never take it back. That's all I'm saying. That's why you need to be cautious."
"You're afraid that Lex will become his father." Hudson didn't mean it as an accusation. It was what everyone believed - some people even believed it had already happened.
"I want to believe in Lex, H.C. I really do," her mother told her with a small smile. "And maybe he will be strong enough to overcome his father's influence... And maybe he won't." Teasing her, Martha's smile grew as she commented, "And there's always Lana."
"Mom!" Hudson rolled her eyes with a laugh as Martha leaned over to hug her tightly.
Brushing her fingers through her daughter's hair, Martha told her quietly, "In the end, H.C., it doesn't matter what your father and I want. It's what you want. All that matters is what your heart tells you, who it decides to love. Be it Lex, Lana or a little green man from Mars."
"Oh, there's a pleasant thought," Hudson replied, pulling back and flashing her mom a grateful smile. "Thanks, Mom. I know I shouldn't be bothering you with this stuff right now."
"Honey, nothing about your life could ever bother me," Martha said, cupping her cheek. "I love you. And I want you to be happy. Especially in times of sorrow." She watched her a moment longer before leaning over and kissing her cheek. "Why don't you go home now and get some rest? Besides, I haven't seen you do any homework and I'm sure you have some."
Hudson almost whined, "But I want to stay with you and Dad!"
"Go home," her mother commanded, pointing to the door. "I'll call you the moment there are any changes."
Familiar with the tone her mother was using, Hudson knew that the argument was over. Not that there had been much of one to begin with. In truth, she couldn't remember a time in her life when anyone had ever really argued with Martha Kent. Sure, her father tried and she certainly took the chance whenever the opportunity arose, but they never really got very far. Climbing to her feet, Hudson moved to stand beside her father where she leaned over and kissed his cheek.
"Goodnight, Daddy. See you tomorrow. And make certain Mom gets some sleep!"
Kissing her mother goodbye and promising that she would get her homework done and go to bed, Hudson flashed one last look at her parents before leaving the room.
Hudson stared at the homework spread out across the desk in front of her and knew she would never finish it. The farm was too quiet without her dad here, rifling around below at his work bench, banging around in the shed, clanking tools against the tractor or barking up at her to turn her music down. Her mother would stay at the hospital all night, and somehow she expected Hudson to just go about things like normal - do the chores, do her homework, eat regular meals, go to school. But there were two problems with that - one, her father could die and that was something she just refused to face. Not having him around anymore. And two, Lex was very possibly involved, had known about the Nicodemus flower and lied to her about it. She didn't want to face that either.
She leafed through the pages of `Ragtime', knowing she had two chapters to read and she just didn't care. She probably should have gone inside because it was cold, the severe chill of January already sweeping through Kansas, but she didn't want to be in the house because the barn made her feel closer to her father.
For as long as she could remember, Hudson had associated the smells of old wood, fresh hay and tractor oil with her dad. On special occasions, when he would take her mom to the city or the three of them would drive in to Abilene to eat at the Brookville Hotel, he would wear Old Spice, and in the mornings, after his shower, he would smell like Irish Spring. Other than that, it was always the smell of the barn that reminded her of her dad. When she was little, and thunderstorms had scared her, she would hide beneath his workbench, knowing that the thunder and lightning could never find her there because her dad would always protect her. Now she that she was old enough to understand that it was impossible to hide from the things that scared you, she still found herself wishing that something as simple as climbing beneath his workbench could make her feel better.
The sound of an approaching car pulled Hudson from her thoughts and she jumped up from her chair to peer out of the loft and see one of Lex's sports cars pulling into the drive, the headlights flashing over the gravel in the darkness. Smiling at the simple thought of seeing him -- not to mention that she didn't want to be alone any longer, no matter how upset she was with him - Hudson hurried down from the loft and out of the barn to approach the car as it pulled to a stop. Moving alongside it, she stopped as the driver's side door opened and flashed a smile.
"I'm surprised you're greeting me with a smile after the way you left in town..."
"I had no right to jump all over you the way I did, Lex. I'm sorry for that. Just... worried about my father, I guess," she replied, her smile faltering as she watched Lex approach her.
It was a new look for Lex, that was for certain. At least, it was something Hudson had never seen before. She'd seen the black leather coat - it was Hugo Boss, three-quarter length, so soft she would have gladly worn it around and nothing else. But the black leather pants and snug-fitting black t-shirt were something else entirely. She swallowed as her eyes lingered over the pants a little too long before she quickly lifted her gaze up to his.
"Um... Lex? What's up?"
"Jump all over me. Interesting choice of words." He leaned a hip against the car beside her, smirking a little. "I was on my way to Metropolis, hoping to find something to do that this boring little hamlet can't seem to provide... then I thought of you."
"Of... of me?" Hudson thought her voice squeaked.
Lex's leg touched hers as he moved in closer. Then he was leaning over, his mouth against her ear. "I thought you could give me that birthday present... " He moved his head slightly, his lips grazing over her cheek. Breath hot against her skin. "Or maybe I could give you yours early."
Hudson's eyes widened. She'd never heard Lex's voice sound like that before. It was deeper than usual, like the rumble of thunder or a strong wind blowing against her. It sent a delicious chill from the top of her head straight to her toes. Her heart was racing.
"Lex - "
He moved into her personal space, pressing his body into hers, pushing her back against the car. His hands settled on either side of her and he leaned in once more, his mouth hovering over hers. "What's the matter, Hudson? I thought this was what you wanted?" A hand moved up her arm, the fingers caressing.
"It is - I mean, I thought you didn't want this," she replied, grabbing hold of the edge of the hood, staring into his gaze. She trembled a little as his other hand pressed against her waist, moving in circles until it reached the hem of her flannel shirt where his thumb drifted over the bare skin of her belly.
"I never said I didn't want you, Hudson," he told her softly, holding her gaze before pressing his lips against hers in a brief kiss. His tongue swiped across the corner of her mouth, then he pulled back slightly. "Only that it wasn't right."
Hudson leaned back further, searching his gaze. Something just wasn't right about all of this. "And it's right... now?"
Her voice hit another pitch again and it really wasn't fair that Lex had the ability to throw her so completely off-guard like this. She could barely think straight with him standing this close and smelling so good and she could taste traces of brandy left behind by his tongue. Or maybe it was scotch. Or something alcoholic. She had trouble remembering which was which.
Lex smiled, followed her movement, his lips hovering over hers again. "Something like that," he whispered before his mouth was against hers and his tongue was pushing inside and...
She'd actually forgotten in the past weeks how truly wonderful his kiss was. The outside world fell away. Lex had a presence that commanded attention - when he entered a room, you felt the change in the air, everyone noticed it, whether you liked him or not. When he focused his full attention on you, brought you within his sphere, where you felt the warmth and electricity that seemed to emanate from his body, where his very aura seemed to engulf and envelop you - well, then you were completely lost.
As his tongue plundered her mouth, Hudson forgot everything but the man who was pressing her back against the car, moving his hips into hers, one hand tangled in her hair, the other beneath her shirt, flat against her back, stroking, caressing. When he finally moved his mouth away from hers, traveling over her cheek, down to her neck, she gasped for air, her hands clutching his shoulders for support. She blinked, trying to remember what she had been thinking before the kiss but then her earlobe was in his mouth and he was sucking on it and her knees turned to jelly.
"I'm going to make you feel so good, angel," he whispered into her ear. "Like you've never felt before." He traced the shell of her ear with his tongue then moved back down to her neck.
Hudson's senses were whirling. His hands and mouth were everywhere and she couldn't keep up. Since when had he developed super speed? Was this what her mother had meant by `roving hands'? Her shirt was unbuttoned halfway down the front - and how the hell had that happened? His mouth was on her collarbone, teeth grazing lightly, tongue following. Her legs felt weak and the fluttering in her stomach had dropped lower, she was all warm and achy just like she felt after those far-too-realistic dreams she had. One hand had moved to her hip, where it moved in circular motions; the other brushed against the underside of her bra, then moved to cup her breast. She could feel the heat of his palm through the material and suddenly she was lying back across the hood and his mouth was between her breasts where he kissed her skin.
"Lex," she began.
His thumb moved over her breast, teasing the nipple until it hardened into a tight bud and then his fingers were pushing her bra away and his mouth was on her and Hudson gasped at the sensation, her eyes widening in surprise. She had never imagined anything could be so sensitive - each swipe of his tongue, the greedy suckling that caused sounds to issue from her throat that made no sense whatsoever. When parents warned you about the evils of having sex at an early age, it seemed they purposely left out the part about how good it felt.
Lex lifted his head, blew lightly over the raised, wet skin, smiled as she squirmed, her hips now moving in time with his. "Do you like that?"
Hudson nodded a little, silently reminding herself how to breathe.
"You have no idea what's ahead," he told her, the hand against her hip slipping past the waistband of her sweats, her panties. He continued to caress the skin of her hip as he had before while he watched her. "No idea, angel."
He took her mouth again, tongue stroking over hers, filling her completely. His fingers continued caressing her breast, flicking over the nipple until Hudson could think of nothing other than having his mouth there again and then she felt his hand move between her legs and she froze, her eyes flying open.
Lex pulled away from her mouth but didn't stop. "You've never been touched by a man like this before, have you? Do you touch yourself, Hudson? Do you touch yourself and think of me?"
Hudson bit her lip, pleased for the darkness because she knew her face was flaming by this point. She felt so stupid, like such a little girl, and she was just certain that Lex must be laughing at her inside. So innocent and nave and just... stupid.
"Relax," he whispered, brushing his lips over hers briefly, his fingers continuing to explore, moving through the curls in slow circles, trailing against the cleft before pushing deeper. Still, only stroking, back and forth, lazy and unhurried. He smiled. "You're wet. Is that all for me?"
Relaxing was the last thing Hudson thought she could do at the moment. Above them were stars and she could smell the pastures and the chill air around them and Lex's cologne and they were in the middle of the driveway with her shirt open and Lex's fingers touching her, making her feel things she never could have imagined. They moved upwards, flicking against her clitoris and she jumped at the contact, the weird feelings inside increasing tenfold. It almost felt like she had to pee or something; it burned like that but it wasn't the same. Something instinctive made her want more, made her hips move into his touch, knowing that Lex would be able to help, Lex would be able to make it better. The smile he was currently flashing told her he would, even as he centered his thumb against the swollen flesh that burned the worst, and rubbed harder.
"Oh!" Hudson gulped in a large breath as tiny tremors began to move through her. All she could think was that she wanted more, even as the burning, aching need continued to grow. Her hips lifted more insistently into his hand. "Oh... oh, Lex... "
"Let it go, Hudson," he told her, leaning his head back over her breast. Before taking her nipple once more into his mouth, he whispered, "Come for me, angel."
Metal molded like Jell-O beneath her fingers and Hudson's head slammed backwards into the hood of the car as an explosion rocketed through her, a pent-up release that seemed to consume her, body and soul. She cried out as her hips lifted one last time, vibrating beneath his hand, her blood pulsing, heart racing, mind filled with one thought - Why hadn't anyone warned her?!
Hudson was still trying to catch her breath when she felt Lex remove his hand, pull back a little, fumbling with something. She lifted her head to see him snapping the button open on his pants and panic filled her as she realized his intention. This had just been the beginning.
"Lex, what... what are you doing?"
"Taking what's mine, Hudson. You belong to me. We both know it."
Her eyes widened with his words and Hudson grabbed his hands, pushing him back from her carefully as she slid to her feet. "No, Lex. This isn't - "
"You fucking tease!" Lex roared, stepping back up to her threateningly. "You spend half your time with me lying and the other half flaunting what you damn well know you never plan on giving me!" He grabbed her arm. "I think you owe me. You owe me an explanation and you owe me a fuck. Which will it be first?"
Lex was infected. Hudson blanched as the realization hit her. From the moment he had pulled up the drive, he hadn't really been Lex. If he was infected, then he was dying, just like her father was, and she couldn't allow herself to think about that right now. She just had to get him to the hospital.
Adjusting her clothing, she gently pulled his hand from her arm. "Lex, you're sick. You're not - "
"Don't change the fucking subject again, Hudson!" He shouted. "I know you're hiding something, don't pretend I'm stupid! How the fuck do you explain those?"
Hudson turned to see what he was pointing at only to find that her fingers had left impressive dents in the side of his car. There was a larger dent from her head in the hood. Taking a deep breath, she looked back at Lex and held out her hand.
"Lex, please. Let me help - "
"Get the fuck away from me!" He started for the car then stumbled, his legs collapsing beneath him as Hudson grabbed him, lowering him gently to the ground while she held him. Lex blinked up at her, his eyes slowly closing. "Hudson... what... "
Watching as he drifted into unconsciousness, Hudson gathered Lex into her arms, and raced for the hospital.
Hudson watched her mother from the doorway of her father's room as Martha hovered over him, holding his hand and gazing at his face. The doctors were losing hope, though her mother was still trying to hold on to hers, and Hudson knew she wouldn't let go either. Three people important to her were on the edge of death and she had never felt so helpless in her life. All of these amazing abilities - she had traveled here from another planet! - and yet, she couldn't save her father or Lex or Lana. Suddenly keeping her secret safe just didn't seem all that important anymore.
"I brought you some coffee," she said softly, moving in to the room and over beside her mother.
"Thank you, honey." Martha reached up and took the paper cup from her, sipping at it gingerly before setting it on the stand beside the bed. She glanced up at Hudson before taking her hand and squeezing it gently. "H.C., maybe you should go - "
"Don't say it, mom." Hudson shook her head. "You know I can't."
Her mom gave her a small smile and nodded. "I know. But I thought I would try." She brushed a strand of hair from Hudson's cheek. "How is Lana doing?"
"Getting worse," Hudson replied quietly. "Her aunt and Whitney are here."
"That's good. I think, in some small way, it helps when someone is there for them." Martha turned her eyes to her husband for a moment. "He might not be awake, but I'm sure your father knows I'm here."
Hudson began chewing on her thumbnail, thinking about Lex and how he had no one. Well, his father certainly hadn't shown up yet. She wanted to go sit with him but she wanted to be here with her father as well. It was difficult to know what was right and what was simply selfish. Her father had been in the coma for so long now, the doctors feared they could lose him at any time. But there was this part of her that didn't want to wait until Lex slipped into a coma to be there for him. She wanted to be there now. Even if suspicion nagged at her that Lex had a part in all of this somehow. If not a direct involvement, then it was possible he at least knew something long before the rest of them did.
Her mother took hold of the hand she had up to her mouth and tugged it away. "Don't chew your nails, H.C.," she admonished gently.
"Sorry." Hudson dropped her gaze to her lap. She fidgeted for a moment.
"You want to go to him, don't you?" Martha asked.
"I... I should be here with dad."
"Your father will be fine," her mom assured her, even if her voice wasn't as strong as Hudson would have liked it to have been. "I will call for you the moment anything changes. Go on. Let Lex know you're there for him."
Hudson smiled and stood and leaned over to hug her mom tightly. "Thanks, mom," she whispered, before turning to go. She stopped at the door, guilt gnawing at her. Finally, she blurted, "I think... I think Lex might have been involved with all of this somehow."
Martha was silent. When Hudson turned her gaze to her, her mom was staring at the edge of the bed, her brow furrowed, her eyes sad.
Continuing, Hudson picked at the paint on the doorframe, "But I also think he might have gotten infected while trying to find a cure and help Dad and Lana. He... he promised he would make things better. He asked me to trust him." She paused and took a deep breath. "I ask him to trust me all of the time, and I know that when I say those words, it really means `Yes, I'm lying to you. But I can't tell you the truth'."
Her mom sighed, her hand gripping the rail on the hospital bed. "What do you want me to say, H.C.?"
She wasn't certain. She wasn't certain why she had admitted her fears to her mom, especially when there were so many cards stacked against Lex in regards to her family all ready. "I don't know," she admitted quietly.
Watching her silently, Martha finally nodded towards the hall. "Go sit with Lex, H.C.," she told her before returning her attention to her husband.
Repressing the urge to apologize, when she wasn't sure why she felt that need, Hudson left her father's room and moved down the hall towards Lex's private room. The nurses and doctors knew her, knew that she had brought Lex in, had dealt with Lex and her family enough to know that if she weren't allowed in and Lex recovered enough to hear about it, they would likely all lose their jobs. So Hudson met no resistance as she made her way inside the darkened room and sat down in the chair beside his bed. She glanced over at the clock on the wall to see that it was just past two in the morning, which made it a very long night between their argument, his visit at the farm and the three hours already spent in the hospital. Sighing, she took his hand in hers and cradled it gently while she watched him.
Minutes passed before Hudson reached up and touched his cheek. "You got sick because you were trying to help, huh?" She asked softly. "I'm not certain if I should `thank you' or cuss you out," she told him with a small smile. "I guess I'll just wait until you wake up to decide... Because you are going to wake up. Somehow I just don't picture Lex Luthor letting a little flower get the best of him."
Nothing. No response. Hudson tried not to lose heart, but found herself wondering how her mother did it. How she could just sit there and watch her husband, the man she loved, as he slowly died? Martha Kent had been doing so for over twenty-four hours now and after only a few minutes, Hudson wanted to break something. She wanted to scream and cry and throw things and maybe if she got loud enough and rude enough, Lex would wake up and tell her to calm down and behave.
Because he was going to wake up. There was no way he couldn't.
Laying her head on the bed beside his arm, she ran a finger alongside the IV that was attached to him as she stared at his face. "Lana kissed me today," she commented quietly. "I mean, really kissed me. It's weird but... I kind of liked it. Not the way you kissed me which... well, I still think about that all of the time. And I really will after tonight." Her eyes widened with her words and she lifted her head, still staring at him. "Oh god, Lex. I hope you don't remember any of that. I hope by some fricken miracle you wake up and it's all gone, everything that happened. I don't think I could face you, knowing that you know... And besides, I don't think you would want to know either. I mean, losing control like that and stuff. You'd probably hide away from me and we wouldn't even be friends anymore... "
Sighing, Hudson leaned back in her chair, her hand still holding his. She watched as her thumb idly stroked his palm. "Why... why does everything have to be so difficult between us? I don't understand. I mean, I care about you and I know that you care about me so why are we always lying to each other? Why are we always denying ourselves the one thing we want?" She returned her gaze to his face. "I think, with you, it's a control issue. You have to deny yourself what you want because it's a lack of control to give in to those baser instincts. I've seen you do it so often. The bullshit that you spout to me that your father has said to you... I never say anything because, well, he's your father and I really have no right. It would be like you telling me that you think my father is too strict or something." Hudson shook her head. "I hate being no more than a lesson that was taught to you by your father, Lex.
"For me," she continued, her gaze moving to the blankets that covered his chest. "It's fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the truth, fear of... losing you." She frowned. "Do you think that has to do with control, too?" Hudson nodded as if Lex had just confirmed her thoughts for her. "Maybe it does. Maybe we're both so used to having full control over the environments around us, as a way to protect ourselves, that we fear letting that go. So the question becomes, how do we get around it?"
More silence. Hudson hated it. She hated that she couldn't just rely on her strength or other abilities to make everything right. If the past few days had taught her anything, it was that she really knew nothing. Nothing about herself, nothing about the people around her, nothing about sex or life or secrets - her entire world had been turned on its ear. She wanted nothing more than to crawl into her dad's lap and ask him to make it all better, just like she used to do as a little girl. And her mom would make hot cocoa with marshmallows and they would all sit around together in the family room and everything would just be better.
Only it might never be that way again.
"I wish I could forget you," Hudson said finally, bringing her eyes back to Lex's face. "I wish you didn't matter. I wish... I wish I didn't think about you constantly and I wish it didn't hurt when I did so. I wish your smile wasn't so beautiful and I wish you didn't care about me. And I really wish I didn't know that you did."
She leaned back over and laid her cheek against the top of his hand. "I'm going to tell you this now because when you wake up - and I know you're going to wake up because in my world Lex Luthor doesn't lose - when you wake up you'll just tell me I'm silly and childish and don't know anything." She took a deep breath and continued, "But I think I'm mature enough to know the difference between a schoolgirl crush and love. And I ---"
Hudson lifted her head to see her mom peering into the room. "Yeah?"
"They may have found a cure," she told her as she stepped inside, tears falling down her face. "A Doctor Hamilton and some specialists from Metropolis just arrived. They say they know how to cure it! Isn't that wonderful?"
Standing up, Hudson moved into her mom's outstretched arms and they held one another tightly. "They'll be okay," Hudson whispered. "They'll all be okay."
Her mother nodded against her before pulling back and cupping her cheek. "Of course they will. The doctors are with your father now since his case was the most advanced. I heard one of the nurses say that Lionel Luthor was on his way in to take Lex to Metropolis General." She frowned a little. "Apparently, he doesn't feel that his son will receive proper care here."
"At least he's showing an active interest."
Martha forced a smile. "I'm going to go wait outside your father's room."
"Okay, I'll be there in a sec."
Hudson watched her mother leave the room before she turned and moved back over beside Lex's bed. Reaching out, she touched his shoulder lightly. "Did you hear that, Lex? Doctor Hamilton came through. You're going to be all right. Just like I knew you would."
She smiled at him, quelling the worry inside that he would remember everything that had happened and she would still lose him in a way. Bending down, she kissed his lips lightly. Why did it always feel so right?
"Get well quickly, Lex," she whispered, brushing the back of her knuckles over his jaw. "I love you."
Watching him a moment longer, Hudson finally turned and left his room to join her mother.
Hudson entered the mansion through her usual route via the kitchen. Dodd was busy pounding away with a tenderizer on some piece of meat that she couldn't identify. He paused mid-strike as she walked through the door and she thought he looked like he was enjoying the preparation a little too much.
"Good evening, Miss Kent," he greeted in his thick Eastern European accent before giving her a stiff bow.
Hudson has once asked Lex where Dodd came from only to learn that Lex really had no idea. Dodd had spotless credentials but little was known of his past. She had no doubt that there was some deep mystery revolving around him and she was dying to know what it was. One of these days, she figured she would simply ask him.
"Master Lex is in the study. Will you be joining him for dinner?"
"No. I'm just dropping in to see how he's doing. Besides, I'd be scared to eat that meat after what you appear to be doing to it." She flashed him a saucy grin as he glared back at her, then exited the kitchen into the hallway and made her way upstairs to the study.
Lex was at his desk but didn't appear to be working. He was staring off at something across the room, his brow furrowed. Hudson watched him for a moment before moving further into the room.
He glanced up, staring at her briefly before offering a quick smile. "Hudson. I didn't hear you come in."
"That much was obvious. Solving the meaning of life?" She dropped into one of the leather chairs across from him and smiled.
"No." He shook his head and glanced down at his hands folded in his lap. "Nothing quite so earth-shattering." Looking back up, he fixed her with an intent stare for a few moments before asking, "How's your father?"
"Making his apologies to Jim Alexander at the bank. We discovered a recording on the phone messages of my dad telling Mr. Alexander off in a not-so-nice way. I thought dad was going to crawl under the table. We still haven't told him about the rest of his behavior. I don't think he could take it."
Lex nodded and dropped his gaze again. "I know how he feels."
"How are you feeling?" Hudson asked.
"Like I'm missing a few pages out of my life," Lex replied honestly. He paused a moment then asked, "I didn't... Did I do anything, Hudson?"
She watched him quietly, noting how he couldn't seem to meet her gaze, obviously fearing that he had behaved exactly as he had seen her dad behave. Smiling softly, she told him, "Nothing bad, Lex. You were a little... well, you weren't the person I'm used to but there was nothing wildly over-the-top."
He looked up, meeting her eyes. "What do you mean?"
Hudson shrugged. "You were wearing leather and talked about going to Metropolis because Smallville was so boring. Then you passed out. That was all I saw, Lex."
"I see." He focused his gaze on the desk, silence falling between them. When he spoke again, he didn't take his eyes away from the monitor in front of him. "You wouldn't know anything about the dents in my car, would you?"
"Nope." She shook her head. "You must have had an accident or something."
Lex allowed a half-smile. "There were ten small ones on the side, above the tire, and a larger one in the hood. Strange accident, wouldn't you say?" He raised his gaze back to hers.
"Really strange," Hudson replied with a nod. "Maybe it was an animal or something. There was a mutated calf born here a few years back."
"A mutated calf." Lex turned his head, looking at the stained glass windows behind him.
Hudson knew he didn't believe her. She really hadn't come up with a viable explanation and telling him the truth... that wasn't an option either. Knowing Lex as she did, he would be horrified at what he had done and likely distance himself even further from her. She would never get the chance to tell him that she had caused the dents because he wouldn't be able to get past what had occurred between them. So she let the mutated calf comment just sit there, knowing that the gap between them was slowly growing.
"Thank you for coming by, Hudson," Lex said finally, still not turning around.
It was a dismissal. Hudson tried very hard not to let that hurt. She knew he had questions and she just couldn't supply the answers. But she wished so very much that things could be different, that he could make her feel those sensations again and she could admit her feelings without having to whisper them while he slept. She wanted... she just wanted to reach out to him. But, if Hudson had learned one thing in the past few days, it was that some things were better kept inside.
Climbing to her feet, Hudson stared at Lex a moment longer, wishing he would at least look at her but knowing that he wouldn't. He wanted her to leave - it was evident in his voice and his body. "I... I'll see you later then, okay?"
She waited for his nod, the briefest acknowledgment of her words, before Hudson turned and headed home.
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