WIP NOW COMPLETE: You Can Call Me Al (Part Fourteen)
Okay, so it's taken me a year and a half, but "You Can Call Me Al" is FINALLY finished. *collapses into a heap* If I ever try to post another work in progress, someone kick me really hard. *g*
Life without Al is a different kind of grief than losing his parents, but it is still grief, and Clark is still himself. He falls back into his old ways, the same manic industry as those first months after his parents' accident, heading out to the fields well before dawn, losing himself in the plodding, never-ending care of the vines, working long past sundown, until there are only cold pinpoints of starlight to see by. He wears solitude like a reassuring blanket around the shoulders, and ignores the phone as if he doesn't even hear it ringing. He avoids town at all costs and lives off whatever's left in the pantry, canned beans eaten cold out of the tin, a jar of olives, fancy ones that Al bought. It's not as if Clark is hungry or can taste what he's eating.
He doesn't bother listening to the messages left on his machine, because he knows with a sad certainty that none of them will be from Al. So it's hard to tell, really, how many times Pete has tried calling before he just shows up one day, stomping out to the field, planting himself in the path of the tractor. "Get your ass down here, Clark. Get down here now."
Clark sighs and turns off the engine and trudges back to the house with Pete. There's a six-pack sitting on the porch, and Pete doesn't bother asking. He just hands Clark a bottle. They settle onto the steps and drink their beer, and Clark wishes it would stay like this, no words, no questions he doesn't want to answer.
But, of course, that's too much to hope for, and Pete breaks the peace and quiet all too soon, "So, you want to clue me in about what happened?"
Clark pushes at the bottle's label with his thumb. "Not much to tell that you can't figure out for yourself. I had a chance to come clean with Al…with Lex in Seattle, and I didn't. I thought I'd have time later, but it didn't turn out that way. His father showed up, and Lex remembered everything, and now he hates my guts, and he's back in Metropolis."
"And you didn't try to stop him?" Pete's voice rises incredulously.
"What part of 'he hates my guts' do you not understand?" Clark's temper flares, just for a second, before he sinks back into glumness, "His father brought along the hired goons. They hustled Lex out of here before I could explain anything."
"You could have stopped them. Used your," Peter waves his hand, "you know."
"In front of Lionel Luthor?"
"Oh. Right." Pete's shoulders fall. "Have you tried calling him?"
Clark shakes his head. "He isn't going to want to talk to me."
"How do you know?" Pete asks, exasperated.
Clark meets Pete's eye impatiently.
"You could at least make sure he's all right," Pete insists.
Clark sighs tiredly. "I'll think about it."
Pete's visit doesn't really change anything--Al is still gone, and Clark still doesn't have any clue how he's supposed to just go on without him--but at least, it shakes him out of his reclusiveness. He ventures into Blue Cove for groceries and a list of supplies he needs for the vineyard. He's no stranger to the ways of small towns, and yet, it still comes as a surprise that the news of Al's departure has apparently spread to every last resident. People nod and wave, the same way they always do, but some can't quite bring themselves to look him in the eye. Others are all too eager to meet his gaze, the pity in their expressions a shock to his system. He hurries through his errands and is relieved when he can finally get back home.
There's a knock at door as he's putting away the groceries, and for a second, Clark's heart lurches, Al!, before reason catches up with him. He finds Mrs. Henderson standing out on the porch, a casserole dish in her hands. He lets out his breath and opens the screen door, trying to marshal up some energy for the usual reassurances, no, no, I'm fine, honest, no reason to worry.
Mrs. Henderson cuts him off before he can even start, "Now, Clark, I have no intention of intruding. I doubt you're much in the mood for company right now. I just brought you over some supper, and I wanted to say that if you need anything at all, a shoulder to lean on, someone to listen, you know where I am."
She hands over the casserole, with a firm air of no further conversation necessary, and the kindly understanding in that makes Clark's throat tighten up. "Thanks, Mrs. H."
She pats his arm. "I can only imagine hard this must be for you, dear, but I'm very optimistic that things will work out in the end. I don't know when I've seen a couple better suited than you and your Al."
Clark eats his shepherd's pie right out of the dish, standing at the kitchen counter. Occasionally he glances at the phone and wonders what Al, what Lex, is doing, but that's as close as he gets to making the call. He spends another interminable night on the sofa, not even trying to sleep, just staring up at the ceiling. What if I'd told him the truth in Seattle? What if I'd been honest from the very beginning?
It's past dusk when the sheriff stops by the next evening. Clark is just finishing up his work for the day.
"I was on my way home, and thought I'd stop off," Sheriff Nelson greets him. "Hoped you wouldn't mind a spot of company."
Clark shakes his head politely, even if he's not much in the mood for a social call. He's still his mother's son and says, "I'll go pour us some lemonade."
The sheriff follows him up onto the porch and settles on the swing. "I'd be much obliged. Summer seems to get hotter every year."
Clark brings back two glasses, and they sip at their lemonade, the swing creaking softly.
"Ain't seen your mister around lately," the sheriff observes.
"No. He's gone back home. He, um--" The words stick in his throat. "He left me."
The sheriff nods. "Heard as much, but you know how rumors are. Can't take them seriously half the time." There's a long beat of silence, and then he says slowly, "I'm going to tell you something my pa once told me, Clark. It was way back a long while ago. Flora and I hadn't been married no time, and we got into it over…well, truth be told, I don't even remember what. But Flora got real upset, and she packed up and went home to her mamma. I was a young know-it-all, had my dignity to think about, and I figured she'd come to her senses eventually. So I kept waiting and waiting and getting lonelier and lonelier, and finally my pa came over to talk sense into me. He said, 'Earl, you can be a proud man or you can be a happy man. The choice is up to you.'" The sheriff meets Clark's eye. "I can tell you this, son. I haven't ever regretted choosing happiness."
Clark shakes his head. "It's not the same. Al and me-- We weren't exactly-- See, I did something that you should probably--"
The sheriff holds up a hand. "Clark, I may be just a country peace officer, and folks can pull the wool over my eyes about a lot of things, but I sure do know people who love each other when I see it." He smiles and gets to his feet. "Think about what I said. I'm sure he misses you as much as you miss him."
It takes two seconds of googling to find the phone number for the LuthorCorp executive offices, but several days of fretting before Clark finally works up the nerve to call. He sits at the kitchen table, fingers wrapped tightly around the phone, fully expecting to get the brush off when he tells the receptionist, "Hi, um, my name is Clark Kent. I was hoping I could talk to Lex Luthor?"
Much to his surprise, she says, "Please hold while I connect you." He lets out his breath. At least, his name isn't on any black list, apparently.
The real shock, though, is when Lex actually answers, "What is it, Clark?"
If Clark was ever in any danger of forgetting that his Al and Lex Luthor are not entirely the same man, just Lex's tone is enough to remind him, cool and clipped, all business, the man known in corporate circles as the shark of Metropolis.
Clark stumbles over his words, "I just wanted to-- I didn't have a chance before to explain. I never meant to hurt you. I swear, Al-- Lex. I only wanted to--"
Lex cuts him off, "If you think a feeble apology is enough to fend off legal action, that's sadly naïve of you."
Clark shakes his head, as if Lex can see him. "That's not why I called. I just-- Are you okay? Has your father done anything-- "
"Don't call here again," Lex tells him in no uncertain terms, and the line goes dead in his ear.
Clark has never much considered the matter of inertia--or any of the laws of physics, really--but the force of it seems to take hold of him once he's talked Lex, the urge to keep calling pretty much irresistible. He varies his times, first thing in the morning and late in the day and during the lunch hour. At first, the receptionist's tone is all professional courtesy, "I'll see if he's available." He never is, of course, but Clark persists anyway. The more he calls, the more wariness starts to creep into the receptionist's voice, and her answer becomes a stock, "I'm sorry. Mr. Luthor is in a meeting. Can I take a message?"
Clark is pretty sure he has made the black list now, but he can't bear to give up. The receptionist doggedly keeps up the charade of taking messages until one afternoon she lowers her voice to a whisper, "Look, I get that you're desperate. I really do. But he's not going to talk to you, and they have me documenting your calls. I get the idea they're trying to build some kind of stalking case or something. So do us both a favor and cut it out, okay?"
Clark hangs up slowly and just sits there for who knows how long, staring off into nothing.
In the morning, sunlight trickles into the living room and slowly inches along the floor. By midday, it's a full-out slant across the rug. Clark watches it idly from the couch, not bothering to get up, no point really. By suppertime, he's finally hungry enough that he stirs, trudging into the kitchen for a bowl of cornflakes, the ticking of the old clock like an insult, underscoring the emptiness of the silent house. When he does manage a thought about the vines and looks out the window, they just seem to taunt him, as if he can still hear all the promises he and Al made about their future singing through the leaves.
This is the aimless shape Clark's life takes, a good week of doing nothing before Pete pays another hectoring visit. He finds Clark in his usual spot, sprawled on the sofa, beer bottle in hand. Pete puts his hands on his hips, staring indignantly.
"You want one?" Clark gestures with his beer.
"No," Pete snaps at him. "You want to tell me why your vines look half wilted and that new part you needed for the irrigation system is still sitting where I left it a week ago when you were going to, and I quote, 'get right on that'?"
Clark shrugs. "Been busy, I guess."
"Doing what?" Pete asks sarcastically. "Sitting on your ass, pretending that you can actually get drunk?"
"Don't you have anything better to do?" Clark asks with a sigh.
"Hey. No. That's my line. Are you just going to let everything that you and Al, and all right, hey, me too," Pete jabs his thumb into his own chest, "that we all worked hard for just fall to pieces? Because that's a hell of a thing to do, Clark. A hell of a thing."
By now, anger is starting to edge Clark's lethargy, and he raises his voice, "Just go away, Pete. Get the hell off my property."
Pete sets his jaw and grabs Clark by the arm, hauling him to his feet. "I'll go, but not before you take a good a look at what all this sulking is accomplishing."
Clark could break free of his grip, of course, could hurl Pete halfway to Idaho if he really put his back into it. Thankfully, he isn't that far gone yet, and he lets Pete hustle him out to the fields, Pete muttering the whole way, "stubborn as a mule, never learn a thing." And then Clark stops in his tracks, the lackluster leaves and drooping tendrils sending a hot wave of guilt sizzling through him, because he is his father's son too, maybe not in blood, but in all the important ways.
He bows his head and says quietly, "You're right, Pete. I'll-- take care of it. I mean that this time."
Pete nods, and his expression takes a sympathetic turn. "Look, Clark, I know you love him. And I'm pretty damned sure he loves you too, even if he does kind of hate your guts right now. So why don't you quit moping around and go do something about it?"
"I've tried! He doesn't want to talk to me."
"So, what? You're just going to give up? Go back to being miserable and alone? Leave Lex to fend for himself, let his father do whatever he wants to him?"
Clark can't deny a prickle of worry, but he insists to Pete, "He doesn't want me bothering him. He made that very clear."
"Yeah, well, did you ever think that maybe he only said that because he doesn't want you getting in the middle of this and getting hurt? It's not like he knows you're," Pete waves his hand, "you."
It's a possibility that Clark has failed to consider, and he breaks into a cold sweat that lasts maybe five seconds before the phrase grasping at straws forms in his head.
"I just have to," he swallows hard, "accept that he's not coming back."
"Fine." Pete throws up his hands, as if he's had just about enough of Clark. "But if you ever decide to get off your ass and actually do something to get him back, you know where I am." He turns and takes maybe two steps before swinging back around. "You're not the only one who misses him, you know."
Pete stomps off, and Clark hears his truck door slam and the engine gun. He sighs and heads to the shed for the tractor, time to start repairing some of the damage. He works for hours, and when he quits at last and goes inside, the phone is ringing.
He picks it up wearily. "Look, Pete, I know you think you're helping--"
"Clark, stop talking and just listen. I don't have much time."
She doesn't pause for a breath. "I found out what Lex has on Lionel. It's a video. I haven't seen it yet, but I have reliable source, and he described what's on it. This is huge, Clark. A confession made by a Dr. Dinsmore, research scientist who worked for LuthorCorp, about all these creepy experiments being conducted under the direct supervision of Lionel Luthor. We're talking real Dr. Mengele stuff here. Dinsmore gives details, dates of experiments, enough corroborating evidence to send Lionel Luthor to prison for a long, long time. I'm working on getting my hands on the tape, so I can take it to the police. But you know Lionel will do whatever he can to keep that from happening. You've got to protect Lex."
"He's not here!" Clark paces frantically, a small circuit from the sink to the table. "Lionel showed up, and Lex remembered, and he went back to Metropolis with his father."
"When was that?"
"Three weeks ago."
There's a beat of silence. "Clark, Lex hasn't been at LuthorCorp. I have a contact there. There's been no sign of him."
"But I talked to him--" He replays the conversation in his head and realizes that what he interpreted as coldness could just as easily have been duress.
"Listen, Clark. Lex could be in really big trouble. This is the kind of thing," Chloe hesitates, "I don't think it will matter to Lionel that Lex is his son."
"What about you?" Clark says sharply. "You can't go after Lionel Luthor by yourself. Wait for me, and we can--"
"I'm covered. I've got Wally helping me. You need to get to Lex. Sorry! I've got to run."
Clark hurriedly dials Pete. "I'm going after Lex," he says in a rush. "I don't know how long it'll take. Can you keep an eye on the farm for me?"
"Now you're talking! Go get him, Clark."
Clark hangs up and races out the back door. He takes a nervous look around, focusing his vision, but there's no one, not for miles. He clenches and unclenches his hands and takes a big breath and…nothing. I can't have forgotten how to fly, right? His palms start to sweat, and his stomach is doing nervous flip-flops, and the thing he realizes, even as he's desperate to get to Lex, is how much he's enjoyed not using his powers, not having the weight of salvation on his shoulders. He likes being just a man, like everyone else, with a spouse and a mortgage and a business plan, even if that ordinariness is largely an illusion.
He wipes his sweaty hands on his jeans and thinks, I can do this. I can remember how. I have to. He concentrates, and coils his body, and this time his feet actually leave the ground. He takes a breath and makes an effort of will, and then he's rocketing upward, a messy zigzag until muscle memory takes over, and then he streams smoothly through the air.
He makes it to Metropolis in less than ten minutes, goes into a holding pattern over the city, under the cover of clouds, trying to figure out what to do. Planning will never be his strong suit. Then he spies the Luthor Towers, and he knows from his reporter days that Lionel Luthor has the penthouse apartment in that building. It seems as good a place as any to start looking for Lex. If he doesn't find him there, maybe at least he'll stumble across some clue.
Clark lands on the balcony, trying to look casual about it, even if that is a ridiculous notion. He breaks the lock on the sliding glass doors and says "sorry" out loud, to no one in particular. Using his powers for good has always led down a slippery slope to doing things his parents would never have approved of, destruction of private property and breaking and entering not the least among them.
But Lex needs him, and that's all that matters right now. He forces away nagging thoughts about how he's never been particularly good at this cloak and dagger stuff, and sneaks inside. As he tiptoes down the hall, he catches the sound of a heartbeat, a sluggish lub-dub coming from nearby. He realizes with a start that the sound is familiar, slower than usual, but still. Lex. Clark doesn't know how he knows that. He just does.
He breaks into a run, forgetting all about being careful, but then, the apartment is strangely still, as if he and Lex are the only ones there. He tracks the sound to a room at the end of a long corridor, tests the knob, and it's not locked. Clark is beginning to wonder if perhaps Lionel has already gotten the information he wanted, and he feels an urgent stab of worry for Chloe. You'd better keep her safe, Wally.
Inside, Clark finds an unused bedroom, empty except for Lex, who is slumped in a corner. He's painfully thin, wearing just a T-shirt and sweatpants. His eyes are unfocused, dark circles beneath them. Clearly he's been drugged. Clark makes a mental note, kill Lionel Luthor for this, in the same matter-of-fact way he might add take out the trash or stop by the grocery store to his to-do list.
He hurries over and kneels down, and Lex flinches away before Clark even makes a move to touch him, eyes wide and frightened.
"Oh, hey, hey, no," Clark says gently. "I'm not going to hurt you. I promise."
Some of the tension eases from Lex's shoulders, and he stares at Clark, eyebrows knitted together, as if just focusing his vision takes a profound effort of will.
"Do you know who I am?" Clark asks.
Lex doesn't answer, and Clark ventures a hand to his shoulder, patting reassuringly.
"It's okay," he tells Lex. "I know things are confusing right now, but you're going to be fine."
Lex is still staring at him, and finally he manages in a rusty voice, "They said I just imagined you. But I didn't believe them." He blinks, and then smiles a dazed little smile. "Clark."
Clark puts his arms around him. "Yeah, it's me, Lex. It's me. I came to get you."
Lex's head sags against Clark's chest, and Clark rubs his back, presses kisses to his temple. "I'm so glad to see you."
Lex nods and mumbles into Clark's shirt, "Can we go now? I don't like it here."
Clark hugs him, a hot prickle in his eyes that has nothing to do with heat vision. "We sure can. I don't like it here, either."
He helps Lex up, and they head slowly down the hall, back toward the balcony. With each step, Lex seems to get heavier on his feet, and murmurs "sorry" when his knees buckle altogether.
"It's okay." Clark swings Lex up into his arms. "I've got you." He carries Lex out onto the balcony and tells him, "Just hold on. I'm going to get you out of here."
He lifts off, and they surge forward, and he swears he hears Lex whisper, "wow," but then again, maybe it's just the wind. There's an empty loading dock around the back of Metropolis General. Clark lands there and rushes Lex inside to the emergency room.
He flags down the first doctor he sees and lays Lex on a nearby gurney. "This is Lex Luthor. He's been drugged by his father or someone who works for him. I don't know what they used."
This catches the attention of a police officer hanging around in the corridor, probably waiting to talk to a victim or a suspect in some other case. Clark is about to launch into excuses why he can't stay and give a statement--not that he wants to leave Lex, but he's in a panic about Chloe--when the television playing in the waiting room grabs everyone's attention. We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for this special news bulletin, and then there's footage of Lionel Luthor being led away in handcuffs.
"Details are still sketchy," the anchorwoman reports, "but we're receiving information that LuthorCorp founder and CEO Lionel Luthor has been taken into custody on a long list of charges, ranging from unlawful experiments conducted in at least one LuthorCorp facility, violations of federal regulations banning human cloning, mishandling of corporate funds, and the false imprisonment and drugging of his son Lex Luthor at the Belle Reve psychiatric institution more than a year ago. The story appears to have been broken by Daily Planet reporter Chloe Sullivan--"
Video of Chloe from the scene of Lionel Luthor's arrest flashes up on screen, and Clark breathes out in relief.
"I've got to tell my sergeant Lex Luthor is here." The cop rushes off to use the phone at the nurse's station.
The doctor calls over an orderly, "Help me get this patient into exam room three."
They wheel Lex away, and Clark starts to follow, but then a picture flashes through his head, the look in Lex's eyes when the drug daze clears and Clark is once again just the man who tried to trick him. He slips out a side exit and tells himself it's better this way.
What really went on at LuthorCorp? takes hold of the media for a good two weeks. Clark follows the sideshow just long enough to make sure that Lex is all right, released from the hospital, no cloud of his father's wrongdoing hanging over him, and then he turns off the television, stops buying the paper, time to get back to work.
The vines have bounced back from their neglect--a nice few days of rain helping the cause--and fruit is beginning to appear in small, green clusters, making Clark practically giddy with anticipation. Fixing up the winery is the next order of business, and his boots crunch on the gravel path as he heads out to work there. Much of the equipment needs to be repaired, if not outright replaced. He has the motor to the basket press lying on the floor in pieces, and he hunkers down to start tinkering with it.
You didn't want to stay with Lex? Clark doesn't know how many times Pete has asked him this since he got back from Metropolis. Maybe he keeps at it because Clark never has much of an answer. It's hard to explain how he felt walking away from the hospital, like some kind of cosmic scales had shifted. He wanted to rescue Lex from his father--that's how this all started in the first place--and now Lex was safe. The things Clark took for himself along the way-- well, he's not proud of that, and he's not going to take anything else. Whatever happens next, if anything happens at all, is completely up to Lex.
Clark whistles to himself as he cleans away many decades of grease from the engine parts and figures this alone could be the reason the basket press isn't working all that well.
"I trust it's not as hopeless as it looks," comes a voice from the doorway.
Clark starts at the sound, and then his heart begins to pound, and he scrambles to his feet. Lex leans casually against the doorjamb, looking like he just stepped out of a magazine in his sleek black suit and dark plum shirt. Clark knows he must be staring, but he can't help himself.
Lex drifts around the place, his sharp gaze taking in a new piece of equipment that just arrived the day before and repairs Clark has made to the building itself. "It's really shaping up." He stops and asks, "I'm not interrupting, am I?"
"No, no, of course not. Please." Clark waves his hand feebly, inviting Lex to continue looking around.
Lex rubs his hand idly along the side of an oak wine barrel. "Do you still think it's possible to bottle the first vintage next year?"
"As long as the vines keep coming along, and we know what we're doing-- um, I mean as long as I know, uh-- with the right expertise."
Lex nods, and Clark expects his next observation to be something about winemaking, but instead it's, "You didn't come to the hospital." His tone is perfectly inflectionless, but his eyes are bright with questions.
Clark swallows hard. "I just-- didn't want to presume."
Lex scrutinizes him and then moves closer. "I asked for you when I woke up, but no one knew where you'd gone."
Clark reaches out and then stops himself, remembering he doesn't have any right to touch. "I'm sorry, Lex. I didn't mean to-- Are you okay?" He almost adds, "because you look really good," but again, no right.
Lex smiles faintly. "I'm fine, although I can't say the same for LuthorCorp. You've probably heard that the company has gone into receivership, and there's a pending RICO investigation. My father, naturally, is vowing to fight to the end from his jail cell."
"You don't think he'll beat the charges?" Clark feels a frisson of alarm.
Lex looks speculatively into the air. "I don't think even my father has that many strings to pull."
He's standing close enough now that Clark can feel the heat of him, can smell the clean citrus of his cologne. "Lex," his voice is half strangled and desperate, "I don't deserve it, but if you would-- I'd really-- Because I'm so sorry, and I just wish we could--"
He doesn't even see Lex move. Just suddenly Lex is pressed against him, and Clark's babbling gets lost in Lex's kiss, fierce and maybe a little angry. "Don't ever lie to me again, Clark, even if you think it's for my own good."
"I won't, I won't," Clark promises earnestly. "I swear."
Lex studies him appraisingly. "As long as we understand each other."
And then somehow they're hugging.
"Wait." Clark can't quite keep up. "Does this mean--"
"Yes. It does."
Clark goes a little crazy then, raining kisses everywhere, to Lex's cheek and his shoulder and his lips. "Thank you, thank you, oh God, I missed you so much."
Lex reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out the wedding ring that Clark gave him and slides it resolutely onto his finger. "I trust you do intend on making an honest man of me at some point?" He raises an eyebrow inquiringly.
Clark breaks into what he suspects is the goofiest smile of his life, which is saying something. "I love you."
Lex kisses him. "Why don't we go up to the house, and you can-- help me get reacquainted with the place?" His voice is deep and bedroomy.
"Yeah. That's-- Yeah." Clark reaches out for his hand.
"I never thanked you for saving my life," Lex says as they walk to the house. "It's funny. I could have sworn-- You'll laugh. That we flew away from my father's penthouse."
Lex casts a sidelong glance at him, and denial bubbles up in Clark, a hard habit to break.
He takes a breath and then does what he promised, his voice catching in his throat, "You didn't imagine it. Do you remember the Angel of Metropolis?"
Lex's eyes widen, and Clark smiles softly, because Lex looks so beautifully kid-like when he's filled with wonder.
But then, Lex's expression turns, and he abruptly stops. "Wait. You're from Smallville. Oh God, Clark. The LuthorCorp plant. My father's experiments. Was that how you--"
"No, no," Clark is quick to assure him. "It's-- I always knew I was different, not just because I was adopted, and when I turned fifteen, my father told me the whole story, about how they'd found me, that I-- wasn't from around here."
He glances meaningfully up at the sky, and Lex's eyes go even wider. "Wow."
Clark grins, and they walk on.
"Who knows about this?" is Lex's next question, and Clark interprets this to mean, how many people need to be bribed, threatened, or meet with a freak accident for you to be safe?
Clark shakes his head. "Only people I trust." He squeezes Lex's hand affectionately.
The house comes into sight, and Clark hesitates. "Are you sure this is going to be enough for you? I mean, I can't imagine there'll be much of your father's fortune left after-- and we're not going to get rich running a farm."
Lex kisses him. "This is exactly what I want, Clark, and while it's true my father will most likely exhaust in legal fees whatever assets the government doesn't seize, I do have a small inheritance from my mother. Only a few hundred million or so, but we should be able to manage on that."
"A few hundred--" Clark stares, open-mouthed. "I'm never going to be able to give you anything, am I?"
Lex smiles and pulls Clark impatiently up the front steps. "I'm home. What more could I ever ask for?"