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Playing Banjo In Sgt. Zygote's Ragtime Band

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Playing Banjo In Sgt. Zygote's Ragtime Band

by Aklani


It started with a wet dream, or so Clark thought when he woke up feeling somewhat sticky in the shorts after a "rousing" and very sexy dream about doing Lex on the hood of the Mercedes. The garage was someplace they had not yet tried, and for some reason the idea of having sex on the still warm hood of a car switched Clark's sex drive into overdrive.

No pun intended.

When he shuffled off to the bathroom to clean up, he was rather alarmed not to find what he expected to find in his shorts. No semen, but a pink tinged, clear fluid with a rather jelly-like constancy. Lube? Not unless he was having sex while sleep-walking. More puzzled than really afraid, he examined himself and found nothing particularly amiss down there. Except for feeling rather horny, he didn't feel any different from any other morning either.

"Hmm." He shrugged, finished undressing, and started the water.

The horniness he cleared up while in the shower with a well placed hand and thoughts of the warm Mercedes, then he skipped down to breakfast whistling.

"Pancakes?" Martha asked as he sat down.

"Yeah, can I have extra, I'm really hungry. Oh, and sausage too."

She gave him an odd look, but complied, pleased that he was showing an appetite. He didn't usually eat all that much. Clark himself was surprised when he not only ate two helpings of pancakes drowning in syrup but three sausage patties and four eggs with toast on the side. He was polishing off a tall glass of milk when his father came in and Martha set Jonathan's breakfast down before him.

"Clark, I swear, if you're going through a growth spurt again, I don't know what we're going to do to find clothes." Martha joked. "Are you okay?"

"Uh-huh, just hungry for some reason."

He was also starting to feel rather horny again, and had to turn his thoughts away to something other than sex before he could get up from the table without embarrassing himself completely. Idly he wondered if he would have time to stop by and see Lex before school started. Since they'd started fooling around a year earlier, Lex had illustrated a rather open door policy regarding Clark. This was primarily due to the fact that between the two of them, Lex was generally more randy than Clark and welcomed any and all visits.

"Why is that?" He'd asked once. "What is it about you that turns me on so badly?"

"Alien pheremones?"

God, would his parents kill him if they knew Lex knew everything. They'd forgive the sex part way before they forgave that little indiscretion.

"You can screw him, just don't say anything about the alien stuff." They'd tell him.

Clark hid a grin behind his napkin as he thought about how he couldn't say anything if he were busy giving head, and then groaned silently as he realized he very much wanted to be doing that right now. He bit his lip. He was extremely turned on and he'd have to get up and catch the bus in a few minutes.

Something was wrong with him, he decided. He was never quite so - lusty.

He waited until his parents weren't looking, and then snuck off to the bathroom to relieve himself. A wet dream and jacking-off twice in one morning? Had someone slipped him some super enhanced Viagra?

Missing the bus and having to run to school took his mind off things, but also made him hungry again. Before class he stopped in the cafeteria and raided the vending machines, shocking Chloe and Pete by eating three bags of potato chips, two packages of chocolate cupcakes, and washing it all down with a twenty ounce bottle of cola.

"Are you having PMS?" Chloe demanded. "You're going to make yourself sick."

Clark licked the white cream filling from the cupcakes off of his fingers, and almost immediately thought of something else. He hesitated, finished cleaning his last finger very slowly as he thought, then turned to look at Chloe.

"Do you get really horny when you're PMS'ing?"

She gawped at him like a fish for a minute or two before slapping him. They watched her stalk off rubbing at her sore hand before Clark turned to Pete.

"What?"

Pete shook his head. "Man, what is wrong with you?"

"It was an honest question. I didn't mean did Chloe herself get horny when she was PMS'ing, I meant girls in general."

Pete continued to shake his head. "Go to class Clark, and try not to get slapped again. It's going to ruin your reputation." He left the cafeteria in Chloe's wake, heading for his first class.

With a sigh, Clark fed the vending machine some more quarters, and stalked off to class eating a Twinkie.

Twenty minutes later he had a hall pass and was in the bathroom again.


"You have got to seriously fuck me."

Lex looked up from his computer and gave Clark a rather amused look. "I beg your pardon?"

Clark shut the doors behind him and came over to lean on Lex's desk. "Do you know how many times I've jacked-off this morning?"

A burst of laughter. "No, do I want to know?"

"Five times, six if you count the time I didn't even touch myself. I think my sex switch is stuck."

One eyebrow went up in curiosity. "Do you have a sex switch? Is that some sort of alien thing?"

"No, I just - I'm - really horny." Clark thought he sounded lame, particularly when Lex's expression shifted into neutral and he got up from his chair. "I'm a little bit worried about it," he added.

"I'm a little worried about it too." Lex said quietly. "You look a little shaken, Clark. Not yourself."

"I don't feel like myself, I feel like some hyped-up over-sexed version of myself." He fidgeted, suddenly overwhelmed by the scent of Lex's cologne and the desire to tackle him. "I got sent home from school because I couldn't sit still in class. I lied and told the nurse I had the runs. I masturbated in the bathroom before I left and stopped at the Dairy Swirl on the way over here. I ate two banana splits with extra hot fudge and a basket of chili cheese fries."

"A comment here regarding obesity and blindness would be inappropriate I assume?"

"Very," Clark said quietly, and sobered. "I'm starting to get scared."

Lex moved a little closer. "I don't blame you. Have you considered that it might be the onset of puberty?"

"I've already gone through puberty." Clark stuffed his hands in his pockets to keep from grabbing Lex. He was so hard it hurt and he was having a really difficult time breathing properly.

"You've gone through what you thought was puberty, based on your parents' knowledge of human children. It's possible that whatever species spawned you has a different reaction to becoming sexually active."

"Okay, now I'm officially scared. You mean I could be like this all the time?"

Stepping up to him, Lex put a hand on his chest, and kissed him lightly. "Perhaps, or more likely, just until your body has finished adjusting to the onslaught of hormones. Just like with your other abilities, you have to practice control." His tongue flickered against Clark's lower lip.

Clark whimpered. "You're really testing me."

Lex put a hand on the bulge in Clark's jeans. "Am I?"

"Lex...." His hips bucked, and that was it. He came, moaning, and pulled Lex in for a rather rough kissing session as he ground against him like a dog humping it's owners leg.

"Jesus, Clark!" Lex pushed him off. "You aren't kidding."

"I told you, and it's been like this all day!" He shifted his weight nervously back and forth. "Maybe if you do me it will be better."

"Clark maybe you should just lay down."

"Sex first, lay down later."

"You're panting for God's sake!" Lex blinked, and in the time it took him to blink, Clark was standing in front of him sans clothing.

"Please?"

Clark was not so obtuse that he didn't realize how sexy Lex found him, despite the fact he'd totally over looked the same thing in Chloe, and knew seduction would be relatively easy. He advanced carefully, not wanting to scare him, and guided him back towards the loveseat sitting near the fireplace. Lex resisted only mildly.

"Okay, Clark, but..." He was immediately de-frocked, and pushed down into the loveseat. "Clark - ah!" His fingers dug into the leather cushion as Clark's mouth devoured him.

It was short lived. Clark licked him hard, but then raised himself up to straddle Lex's thighs. He leaned over for kissing, sucking at Lex's mouth and lips until they opened to admit him. Tongues worked, and Lex was hard pressed to keep breathing under the onslaught. Clark had never been so forceful nor so passionate before.

"Lube?" He gasped, when Clark finally let him go. "Drawer...."

"No." Clark's eyes were slightly glazed, and he wanted to waste no time with condoms or lubricants, foreplay or philosophy. Instead he moved his hips upward, thrusting a little against Lex's erection, before easing down and taking it deep within his body. Lex was rather surprised that it went very smoothly and painlessly.

Clark kissed him again, then drew back, and blinked in confusion. His body was filled with pleasure from the connection point outwards, which increased as he began moving his hips. It felt better than any sex he'd ever experienced before, but he was most decidedly unnerved by it. He braced his hands on the back of the loveseat, and let Lex caresses and kiss him. Lex was apparently enjoying himself as well. He thrust upwards in time to Clark's movements, pushing deep as their bodies moved together.

There was just one problem, and Clark, overwhelmed with how good it all felt, decided to keep it to himself.

They weren't having anal sex.

Wherever Lex had gone, it wasn't in that particular opening. Clark had gone down on him, and he'd slipped a little, finding penetration somewhere else. Where, Clark had no idea, but Lex was definitely inside him and it very definitely felt extremely good to have him there. So good, in fact, it was making that morning's hand sessions seem pathetically pale in comparison. He found himself practically howling when the orgasm hit him. He threw back his head and arched his back, grinding his pelvis hard against Lex as if he wanted to break bones. Lex was very lucky Clark didn't smash his pelvis to smithereens.

To add to the mystery, Clark didn't ejaculate. He didn't even get a full erection. He came, but the sensation seemed centered in his testicles and deep within his pelvis and there was no cum at all. There had been that morning, that was for sure, but none now when it counted. Lex of course was firing off very healthily. Clark could feel it inside.

But inside where?

He collapsed, and Lex held him. After a moment he felt the withdrawal. Abruptly he got up and got dressed.

Lex's voice was scratchy. "Are you okay?" He was somewhat short of breath.

Clark nodded. "I feel better," he said, and he did. The ravenous hunger was gone, and so was the constant nag of needing to get off.

"That was good." Lex ran his hands over his face, wiping away a thin film of sweat. "But odd. It felt different."

"I was really relaxed." Clark lied, and finished buttoning his shirt. "I've got to go. My parents will wonder why I didn't come directly home after the nurse called."

"As long as you feel better."

With a smile, Clark approached him and leaned over to kiss him. "I do, thanks. I just needed a good screw I guess."

"Glad to service." Lex joked softly. "I was concerned for a while. You looked somewhat frantic." His hand stroked Clark's cheek. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"I think so." He broke away. "I'll call you."

"Hmm, all right."

On the way out, Clark ducked into the bathroom and shed his pants again. His fingers went questing, and discovered more of the pinkish gel he'd found that morning. This time it was mixed with what was unmistakably cum, Lex's most likely. He probed again, and nearly passed out when one finger slipped inside a slick opening just behind his testicles.

"Oh, man, what the hell does this mean?"


"I'm not hungry."

Martha stared, her hand poised just prior to doling out a massive pile of scrambled eggs and bacon onto Clark's plate. He had a granola bar and a glass of milk sitting before him untouched, and turned his nose up at the eggs.

"You were starving yesterday?"

"That was yesterday. I must have gotten it out of my system. I'm not hungry today."

"Are you sick, Clark? You look a little pale."

He was pale because he'd gotten up that morning and done another self examination. The mysterious new entryway he'd had the day before, had disappeared, along with the ravenous hunger, and the strange sexual urges. It was as if the day before hadn't happened at all. He was confused, and a bit nauseated by the whole experience, but was determined to put it out of his mind. Whatever funky alien thing had happened to him, was apparently finished.

Martha drove him to school when he missed the bus, stating that she was concerned. Clark shrugged it all off, and hurried to find Chloe before class started so that he could apologize to her for his stupid remark of the day before. All was well.

He went to see Lex on the weekend, and they fooled around a little, but it was nothing like it had been that mysterious day. Nor did it repeat itself again...

Until two months later when he work up with a straining erection and a mad craving for French fries dipped in chocolate milkshake.

This time it was worse than ever, and he completely cut school that day after spending hours playing with himself in the bathroom and eating a whole box of Pop-Tarts for breakfast - a family sized double box. He went directly to Lex and dragged him off into the garage, where they had sex twice in the back seat of the limo. Clark was careful to make sure, once again, Lex did not get unnerved by the fact he was fucking Clark in a place that wasn't supposed to be there. He reasoned that perhaps Lex shouldn't be in there either, but again the amazing orgasm that resulted was well worth the risk.

It was all over again the next day, and like before, Clark was embarrassed and wanted nothing more than to forget it ever happened.


Two, then three, months passed without what Clark dubbed his "Fuck Me Now" experience happening again. He joked about it with Lex, who said it had been rather fun while it lasted. Their relationship became very comfortable, making Clark wish that he dared tell his parents he was involved with Lex. Lex insisted on prudence, and they decided that if the affair lasted until Clark was eighteen, they would tell everyone about it at that time. They made love, cuddled, talked, and on occasion snuck off to Metropolis together for dinner.

In the spirit of "togetherness" Clark hooked Chloe up with a guy from his astronomy club, and started pointing Pete in Lana's direction. Since Clark had found Lex, Lana had fallen out of favor with him, and she missed him. He felt bad about his defection, so he decided to play matchmaker ala Lex, sending Pete and Lana off to a concert together. He was pleased when Pete took her to the winter holiday dance at school.

It was right about that time Clark started feeling out of sorts.

"You are definitely sick." Martha told him. She'd caught him standing in front of a spaceheater in the kitchen, which was unusual because Clark never felt cold. He was wearing a T-shirt, a flannel shirt, and a big sweater over all, but still shivered as he stood in front of the heater.

She took his temperature, and frowned when it came out, for him, normal. "I don't get it."

"I'm just tired I guess." Clark murmured, trying to grin at her as he cuddled a cup of hot cocoa in his hands. "Dad's been working me too hard."

"I'd buy that if it weren't the middle of winter Clark. You clean the barns and shovel snow. There just isn't that much to do around here in the wintertime." She shook down the thermometer and put a hand on his forehead as if her "mom senses" could read his temperature more accurately. "You seem cold."

"I am cold." He sighed. "It's probably some freaky alien thing again."

"Are you hungry? I can make some hot soup."

His stomach did a queasy roll. "No, thanks. I'm not really hungry." He winced as it lurched around. "In fact," he said softly. "I think I'm going to throw up."

"What?"

In a burst of speed he was gone, slamming into the bathroom where he heaved up what little breakfast he'd eaten that morning. He ended up sitting in the floor, panting over the toilet bowl, and occasionally dry heaving as his stomach continued to purge itself. Martha came in to kneel beside him.

"Have you been near any meteor rocks?" She asked, rubbing at his shoulders.

"No." His voice was almost a whimper. "Mom, I'm never sick!"

"I know honey. Don't be scared. You'll be all right. Come on upstairs to bed and I'll call school and tell them you won't be back in this afternoon." She tugged at his arm, urging him to his feet.

Normally Clark would have protested her fussing over him, but he felt too badly. He sat on the bed as she pulled off his shoes and allowed her to remove his shirts for him. It was almost as if he were too weak to lift his arms over his head on his own, and he was glad she was there to help him. She went to his dresser and returned with pajama bottoms and a big sweatshirt, then frowned as she noticed the top button of his jeans.

"Clark, are you gaining weight?"

He looked at the unbuttoned button, and sighed. "Yeah, I just didn't want to ask you to buy new ones. You just bought these." His smile was wan. "Probably because of my eating binge a little while ago. It went straight to my stomach."

Lex had noticed it too, commenting a few weeks earlier about the bulge of Clark's formerly well sculpted abs. Clark brought up the eating binge, and Lex had dropped it. Still, concerned Lex would suddenly find him unattractive because of the weight gain, Clark had started working out. It hadn't lasted long because despite his alien strength and stamina, the crunches he did left him feeling wrung out and exhausted. Plus they hadn't seemed to make much difference.

"Maybe you have worms."

"Mom!" Clark was appalled.

"I'm just trying to rationalize, Clark. Your odd eating habits lately, the weight gain, the exhaustion, they all could indicate worms. Just because you don't get viruses or bacterial infections doesn't mean you couldn't pick up a parasite."

"I'm not a puppy, Mom." He grinned. "Besides, I'd only buy that if it weren't the middle of winter."

Martha laughed. "You have a point," she said, helping him out of the jeans and into the pajamas. She pulled the sweatshirt over his head and kissed his forehead. "Of course it could also mean you're pregnant," she added with an additional chuckle.

Clark froze in the act of turning down his bed covers. He looked up at her and felt the color drain from his face. "What?"

"You've got all the symptoms I had when I was pregnant." She sighed a little. "Before I lost the baby of course. Morning sickness, where just brushing your teeth made you queasy, odd food cravings, and often feeling just totally exhausted. It's not easy on your body carrying around another life."

Slowly, Clark swallowed. "Mom, can I ask you a really weird question?"

"Sure, but get into bed first."

He obeyed, completing the turning down of his sheets and blankets and sliding beneath them. As she had not done for many years, Martha tucked him in, fluffing his pillows and pulling the blankets up around his shoulders. She sat down on the edge of the bed. Her fingers lightly brushed his hair out of his eyes.

"Okay, what's the question?"

It was accompanied by a faint blush. "When a girl is - well when she's - you know, PMS'ing. Does she get - urges?"

Martha frowned. "Like sexual urges?"

He nodded.

"Not everyone does, but yeah, it's not uncommon. Right before her period is when a woman is most fertile, and so it makes sense that her body is telling her that is the time to be considering a mate." She looked at him with a mischievous glint in her eye. "Did someone come onto you, Clark?"

"No," he whispered hoarsely.

"You can usually tell. She'll get moody and crave chocolate and salty snack food too." Martha laughed. "I used to send your dad off for banana splits at the Dairy Swirl once a month."

Clark groaned.


Martha bought a bigger pair of jeans, and Clark wore them for two weeks before unbuttoning the top button again. He himself delved into his savings and bought three new sweaters, each one twice the size he normally wore, and hid the unbuttoned top button beneath them. He cut Lex off, using the bad weather as an excuse not to go to the mansion, and hid from his mother the fact he continued to throw up every afternoon after lunch. Pete noticed, and urged him to go to the doctor.

It wasn't until Clark passed out while shoveling the driveway that his parents became concerned. He came to his senses lying on the couch as they hovered over him arguing whether or not they could risk taking him to the doctor. They didn't notice him stumbling off to the bathroom to pee, something which he was doing with ever increasing frequency, but stopped arguing when he came back into the room and sat down in a chair with his head in his hands.

It was time to confess.

"I'm not sick," he said.

Jonathan started to protest, Clark waved a hand to silence him.

"Maybe you better sit down."

Both adults sank down into the couch.

"Is it a new ability?" Martha asked worriedly. "Remember when the X-ray vision gave you those nasty headaches."

Clark nodded. "Yes, and no," he murmured. "I'm not sure if it's a new ability, or just a change in physiology that's come along with puberty."

"What is it, Clark?" Jonathan asked. "Whatever it is, it's making you ill."

"That's probably just temporary."

"Probably?"

Looking down at his hands, Clark rubbed absently at his stomach. It wasn't fat, he knew that now, simply because it felt different. It was rounder, and firmer, and getting bigger on a exponential basis different from that of a simple weight gain.

"I think I'm pregnant."

Silence.

"That's not funny." Jonathan stated flatly. "This is serious, Clark."

Clark looked up into his glare. "I'm being serious!"

"Oh, come on, Clark! Don't be ridiculous."

Martha, however, was not so skeptical. "All those questions you asked me, about PMS..."

"When I went on those eating binges, I was also - craving - other things." He bit his lip. "And there was something else, a physical change that disappeared later but..."

"What kind of physical change?"

Hesitantly, he told them about the strange excretion, and the "opening" he'd found. He said nothing about how he'd first discovered the place, nor a word about Lex's involvement. That, he figured, would come to light eventually.

"Every two months?" Martha murmured. "It's cyclical."

Clark nodded. "But I am male, I know I am. I looked once, with the X-ray vision. Everything looked the same as the pictures in the health book at school."

"Maybe where you come from it's different. There are certain species that can act as either a bearer or inseminator..."

Jonathan held up a hand. "Wait, wait, Martha are you insane? You believe this could happen?"

Martha sighed. "I don't want to, but it makes sense, Clark knows his own body, and for God's sake Jonathan, the boy can see through walls. Should anything surprise us anymore?"

Clark started crying.

"Honey...."

"I feel so gross," he croaked. "Just the idea of it is making me sick. I don't feel like an alien, I feel like I'm in Aliens, and some horrible monster is going to come out of me."

Jonathan snorted. "Depends on who...."

He stopped abruptly, and exchanged a look with his wife. Clark looked up in time to see his blue eyes narrow suspiciously.

Both of them turned to look at Clark.

"If you're - pregnant." Jonathan said quietly, making a face as if the word left a bad taste in his mouth. "What, and/or who, did you do to get that way?"

Clark winced. "I'd rather not say."

He didn't have to say it. Jonathan made his own conclusion.

"I'm going to kill that bald-headed son-of-a-bitch."


It took hours to get Jonathan calmed down. There was a fight, harsh words, and tears, until the three of them agreed that Clark had been wrong to tell Lex about his origins, and that Lex needed to be kept in the dark about this latest development if it were at all possible to do so. Martha was curious to have Clark actually look and confirm things, but Clark refused on the basis that he was too afraid.

Instead he called Lex's pothead doctor friend, Toby, who actually agreed to a visit if he would be served a home cooked meal and given a place to crash for a night. They told him to round up an ultrasound machine, and were astonished when he managed to procure one. He was completely non-plussed upon being directed at Clark with the machine.

He was, however intrigued by the pictures sent back from the wand slipping over Clark's stomach.

"Fuck me," he said. "There's a baby in there."

Clark groaned miserably. Jonathan left the room, but Martha stayed at Clark's side, looking at the screen with interest.

"It looks like a womb, but it seems to be more of a connecting tube between the upper part of the two vas deferens. See." Toby pointed with one crooked finger. "Right in front of the bladder." He chuckled. "I hope there is another way out because I'd hate to think about trying to get that thing out the urethra."

"I'm going to hurl." Clark muttered.

"It's small." Martha commented.

"It's not very far along I'd say, but it's got a steady heartbeat." He shook his head, his wispy grey hair flying. "I'm not going to ask how it got in there."

"Don't." Martha agreed. "Can you print that picture?" She asked.

Toby did.

Much to Clark's horror, his mother pinned it up on the refrigerator.


Clark poked unhappily at his lunch. He was going to school as long as he could reasonably do so, but he felt extremely self conscious about being out in public. His baggy sweaters, and the new, bigger, jeans, hid the fact that his "fat" looked odd, but his appetite was still waning and he tired easily. Chloe said he looked particularly pale.

Clark thought about leeches and nasty, life-sucking parasites and thought he had a good reason to look pale.

"...baby." Chloe said, startling Clark out of his miserable sulking and back into the conversation.

"What?"

"Debbie Smith is pregnant, didn't you hear about it?"

"No," he said.

Pete nodded, sipping at his milk. "I heard. She got knocked up by last years tail-back, Todd Welter."

"Pity, she was a shoe in for valedictorian." Chloe shook her head sadly.

"How come she can't still be valedictorian? It's based on academic grades. If she can keep up her grades what does it matter?"

"Because she's preg-nant." Chloe explained, speaking slowly as if Clark had a problem with comprehension. "They aren't going to let her waddle up onto the stage and give a rousing speech about academics with her belly sticking out a mile. Get real, Clark. Valedictorian is supposed to set a good example."

"So. Maybe they're engaged or something."

"I doubt it." Pete muttered. "Todd was a womanizer big time."

Clark scowled. "I don't think it's fair that she's worked so hard all this time just to have it taken away from her because she made one little mistake."

"Tell that to the school board."

"I might."

"It's going to be about a seven pound mistake in a few months." Picking up her empty tray, Chloe got up from her seat. "I've got to go. I'll see you at the Torch tonight. You want a ride home?"

"Please. Thanks, Chloe."

" 'Kay, see you then."

Clark got up as well.

"Where are you going?" Pete asked.

He sighed. "I've got to go to the restroom."

"Again?"


Clark withdrew from school in March, under doctor's orders. Martha would home school him for the rest of the school year and he would take his exams via home computer. The "doctor" was Toby, but he had a colleague still registered with the AMA sign off on the papers. Officially, Clark had a bad case of mono. Unofficially, he was five months pregnant.

Pete and Chloe stopped by often, but were frequently not allowed to see Clark.

"He's asleep." Martha told them, and more often than not it was the truth.

He was tired all the time, and although he had not lost any of his abilities, using them exhausted him. Still, Jonathan needed help and Clark did what he could around the farm until his father sent him inside. Jonathan was disgusted by the whole situation, but he loved his son. If anything happened to Clark he would be devastated.

Clark came in from feeding the chickens and Martha sat him down for a sandwich. Toby, who had been sworn to utmost secrecy, had been there the day before for Clark's checkup. He'd fussed about the baby's size, causing Martha to start nagging Clark incessantly about eating more regardless if Clark were hungry or not.

Trying, for his mother's sake, to choke down the sandwich, Clark sat at the kitchen table feeling bloated and sick. He missed Lex, and he was becoming more and more frightened of the prospect of having the "thing" (he refused to refer to it as a baby) inside him come out. They had no idea how long the gestation period would be, but guessed it would be roughly the same amount of time as a human baby. That would work out well. It would be born just before school started again.

"We're going to Metropolis this afternoon, Clark, to get some things." Martha said, poking around in a pile of paperwork looking for her car keys. "I'd be happier if you were coming with us."

"No," he said.

Martha and Jonathan were going to Metropolis to buy things for the baby. They didn't dare do it in Smallville, where people all knew each other and rumors would fly. Martha wanted Clark in on the shopping, stating that he should have some input, but Jonathan had told her not to press the issue. Clark, after all, was not being particularly enthusiastic about the idea of "motherhood" and had no interest in picking out nursery themes. When asked about colors, he'd replied, "Black."

"Suit yourself," she came over and kissed his cheek. "Oh, Clark. Can't you eat more than that?"

He'd only had a fourth of the sandwich, and couldn't eat any more of it. "Mom, I can't."

She sighed. "All right. You have Toby's number, right, in case of an emergency?"

"Yeah."

"Okay sweetie. We'll be back later tonight."

Clark sat poking at the remains of his lunch for a few minutes after they'd left, and then went upstairs to bed.


He woke bleary eyed, and blinked to clear his vision. He was lying on his side in his bed, covered in his blankets and an extra quilt, curled almost protectively around his middle. Warm, still sleepy, and feeling more content than he had in months, Clark did not want to get up for any reason.

As his vision cleared, however, he noticed he was not alone. Lex stood in the doorway, and when he saw Clark was awake, he entered to sit down on the edge of the bed. His hand was warm against Clark's cheek.

"You've been avoiding me," he said quietly. "And now I have just come from the Talon, where I was informed by Lana that you have been sick."

"Mono." Clark murmured.

"That's bullshit, Clark. What's really going on?" When Clark did not answer right away he continued. "I know Toby has been here. He won't tell me anything, but I know he's been here. If your parents weren't concerned they would have never allowed it."

"I'm okay, really." With some effort, Clark sat up, propping himself up with the pillows behind him. Lex assisted. "Don't worry."

"You look pale, and it's not like you to nap in the middle of the afternoon." His voice dropped to a softer tone. "I am worried."

Clark beckoned him closer, and exchanged a kiss, then another. "It's nothing to worry about, okay?"

Lex's blue eyes were sharp. When he got that look, people jumped to do his bidding, but Clark had always been stubbornly resistant to it. "Are you going to tell me?"

"No."

Lex let out his breath in a frustrated sigh. "Clark..."

"Trust me, you don't want to know, and besides, I swore I wouldn't tell." He reached out a hand and took one of Lex's. "I promise I'll be okay, you don't have to worry, and I'll tell you in time."

"You promise?"

"Absolutely." They exchanged a third kiss. "Can you stay a little?"

"Sure, a little bit. Where are the parents?"

"Metropolis. I just feel like some company." He hesitated. "But I can't - you know..."

"Not if you're unwell."

Clark tipped his head sideways and gave Lex a small smile. "Which isn't to say I can't cuddle."

Lex toed off his shoes and got into the bed with him.

After a moment: "Clark, is it me, or are you getting bigger?"


"They say the greatest weight gain is in the last three months." Martha said gently. "We should have expected it."

Clark growled at her. "You should have expected it. Like I have any experience in these things."

He wheezed as he descended the stairs into the kitchen, and had to pause for breath at the last step.

Jonathan looked up from where he sat reading the newspaper. It was now hard to miss the fact that Clark was not just fat, but really pregnant. Hence the pained expression on his face as Clark ambled into the kitchen. "Waddled" could not be used to describe the way Clark moved, for with his long lanky build, made lankier by the fact he was still having a hard time eating, only his middle section was big. He resembled a portly flamingo, and moved with a slow amble reminiscent to the careful steps of the long legged wading bird.

If the whole situation weren't so weird, and if he had not been so worried about Clark's health, Jonathan would have laughed his ass off.

"The best I can figure it, " Toby had said on his last visit. "Is his immune system is trying to reject the fetus, and the baby is fighting back. Is the father human?"

"Regrettably." Jonathan had growled, and they had reluctantly revealed that it was Toby's buddy Lex.

Which made Toby collapse into hysterics. They had to wait until he recovered before getting anything else out of him, including his oath not to tell Lex himself.

"Well, that explains a lot. If it were anyone else, I think it wouldn't have happened. Lex was exposed to the radiation from the meteor shower. His immune system is tough as nails, and there must have been a mutation to his wigglies to enable them to fertilize an alien egg."

"Is Clark in danger?" Martha had asked. "He's not eating, and he can barely get out of bed."

"Honestly, Martha, I can't say one way or another."

Or he wouldn't say, to avoid undue worry.

Clark sat down at the kitchen table with a plop. The chair groaned under his weight. He leaned his elbows on the table and put his face in his hands with a little moan.

"Good morning." Jonathan said quietly. "Did you get any sleep?"

"No. I can't get comfortable. This thing has a tentacle stuck in my bladder, I have to take a leak every five damn minutes," Clark raised his head. "And it seems to be nocturnal."

Martha came the rest of the way into the kitchen and mouthed, "He's grumpy," behind Clark's back, as if Jonathan couldn't tell.

"Kicking 'eh?"

"Playing major league soccer." Clark reached for the toast, which delighted his mother. "There were a few times I felt like yelling goal!"

Jonathan chuckled.

"Can I have jam?"

Martha scurried for the jam. "Strawberry?"

"Please."

Clark ate one triangle of toast with jam and half a glass of milk.

"Clark. Is that all? Don't you want something else? A piece of bacon, or a hard boiled egg." Martha pleaded.

"No. I think anything else would make me puke." He smiled apologetically. "I'll try to do better at lunch. Okay?"

He knew they were worried. He was worried. He could practically feel the growing baby leeching off of him as it sought the nourishment it needed to survive. A low grade fever had become commonplace as his body fought back and failed. If he ate more he could keep up with it, but eating more than just a few small ounces at a time, made him extremely ill. It was hard enough just to be in such a state, without having to fight with the thing. The constant battle he waged with it was starting to wear him down.

"I'm going to the loft for a little bit," he said quietly.

"Clark I don't like you climbing all those stairs."

He pushed away from the table and stood up waveringly, which underlined his mother's concern. "I'm okay. I just need to get out of the house."


"Psst, Clark."

He started, surprised by the unexpected voice coming from the barn floor below. He'd been lounging in the loft all day, catching up on the pile of Astronomy magazines he'd been lately neglecting to read. At the sound of her voice he swung his legs down off the couch and levered himself out of it with a grunt. He peered over the railing feeling very much like Rapunzel.

"Chloe?"

She grinned broadly. Every attempt she or anyone else had made to see him that summer had been thwarted by Martha or Jonathan, or Clark himself. He should have known that her tenacity would get her through the defenses sooner or later. His parents must still be in the house.

"Hey!"

"You aren't supposed to be here," he blurted.

"Why?"

"Because - I'm sick."

"All the more reason I should be here. I'm coming up."

"What?" Clark squeaked. "No, wait. Give me a minute."

He backpedaled to the couch and sat down, pulling a blanket over him, and holding a pillow over his middle. The pillow made him look bigger. He discarded it, and settled with the blanket alone, fluffing it to make it look like it was only blanket and perhaps a pillow underneath.

Chloe appeared at the top of the stairs a minute later. The bright smile she gave him faded when she saw him.

"You are sick."

Clark scowled. "Do I look that bad?"

"Yes."

"Oh, thanks, Chloe."

"It's the truth, Clark. God! You're white as a sheet, and your face is all - gaunt. Are you okay?"

He nodded. "Just tired."

She bit her lip. "Maybe I should go."

"No! No, I could use the company."

He suddenly realized he did need the company. His reading was progressing slowly, as his mind kept wandering to the creature growing inside him. What would it be like? Would it have his gifts? Would it be normal? How would he raise it? Should Lex be told? Too many questions assaulted his mind, just as the physical presence assaulted his body. Chloe would be a pleasant distraction.

"Well, " she said slowly. "I came to see how you were doing, but I also need your help."

"Sure, if I can."

"There's another meteor mutant loose in Smallville," she said, sitting down at the end of the couch and handing him a folder. "Sam Anderson. I don't know what happened exactly. He'd gotten a job with one of Lex's groundskeepers. From what I understand he was given the task of cleaning out the stagnant water from one of the fountains out in the formal gardens."

"The one with the sea monsters, I like that one." Clark murmured, leafing through her file. She'd included a picture of the fountain in question.

"Something in it bit him. It's turned him into some sort of a reptile-like thing. Pete and I found a piece of meteor rock embedded in the stone at the top of the fountain's sculpture."

Made sense to Clark. He liked that fountain, but had always felt a bit iffy around it. "So whatever bit him must have infected him."

"He's living in the pond at the mansion and he's eating groundskeepers right and left. Lex is pissed."

Clark grinned. "Maybe you should call the Crocodile Hunter, Chloe." He poked her with his foot. "Crikey!"

She swatted the offending foot. "Funny."

Sobering, Clark looked at her notes. "How come Lex didn't say anything to me? I talked to him on the phone the other day."

"Probably because you're sick, dolt. He knows you'd worry."

He felt her gaze, and looked up to meet it. "What?"

"I know, Clark," she said quietly. "About you and Lex."

Clark pretended to find something in the folder very interesting. "Yeah?" He murmured uneasily. "You think?"

"Yeah. He may think he has a poker face, but he doesn't, and you sure as hell don't. You two radiated sugary sweetness every time you were together." She shrugged. "Plus I was there when Lana told him you were sick. He was extremely upset, and practically bolted out of the Talon."

"He came over that day." Clark sighed. "Who else knows?"

"Just me. I think Lana might suspect, but you know the ice princess, she's not going to open up to me about anything." Chloe raised an eyebrow. "How serious is it?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean," she blushed, and made a circle with thumb and forefinger, then pantomimed sex using the other forefinger.

"That's a pretty personal gesture-question, Chloe."

"Hey, it brought your color back up," she laughed. "And the blush is answering the question."

He shrugged.

She raised her hands. "Hey, whatever. Personally I don't see the appeal."

"You haven't seen him naked." Clark joked.

"Okay, ew." Her smile was bright, but it gradually faded. "Clark, this illness...."

"It's not what you're thinking, Chloe, so don't even go there." He sighed and closed the folder. "So what are we going to do about Sam the Reptile Man?"

She appeared vastly relieved, and let the subject of his illness drop immediately. "I don't know. Trap him or something?"

"I don't want Lex thinking he can go out and do - ow - damnit." Clark's breath caught as the other half of his symbiotic relationship (he still had a hard time processing the concept of "baby") planted an elbow in his stomach, or at least what felt like an elbow.

"What is it?"

"Cramp," he gasped, and stifled a yelp as it happened again. He ducked a hand under the blanket and rested it atop his stomach. It rippled and bulged beneath his touch as the "critter" rolled over. Clark rubbed at the hard knot that swelled under his fingers and recognized it as the head just as he realized a foot was now poking at his bladder again. His touch seemed to settle it, however, and it stopped its movement as he caressed it.

"You okay?"

He nodded, and handed the folder back to her. "I must be getting hungry."

Chloe nodded, and stood up. "Listen, don't worry about this, okay. Just concentrate on getting better."

"But..."

"We'll figure something out. Maybe I will call the Croc Hunter." She looked around nervously towards the stairs. "Besides, if your mom catches me here she'll hit me with a broom."

Clark accepted her kiss on the cheek with a grin. "Call me," he said. "And keep me updated, okay?"

"Get better," she said, and hurried down the stairs.

It was just in time, as it turned out. Martha came to tell him she had lunch ready, and Clark really had to pee badly.


"You're insane, Kent." Clark muttered to himself as he eased the truck quietly up into Lex's driveway.

It was dark, past midnight, and after a long night of fretting and fussing uncomfortably, he had decided to investigate the problem of the reptile man himself. His greatest fear, which the "Blob" had rudely interrupted him expressing to Chloe, was that Lex would try to take matters into his own hands and get hurt. Likewise Clark did not want Chloe or Pete to get hurt. Even if they didn't understand the full scope of previous mutant encounters, it was obvious to Clark that the only person able to stop them was Clark himself.

Lex knew, because Clark had told him, and that is why he'd not said anything to Clark. Lex was afraid Clark would get it into his head to do something about the problem, and knowing he was ill, wanted to prevent it. It was, of course, a legitimate fear, for Clark had gotten it into his head to do something about it.

He'd snuck out of the house, not easy when climbing down the stairs made one wheeze like a freight train, and taken the truck. He could have run, but the very idea had made him tired, and Martha's car, although quieter, was too low to the ground to make getting in and out of it comfortable.

So here he sat, dressed in dark blue sweatpants (the only thing that fit anymore) and an oversized grey T-shirt, looking out of the truck window into the garden beyond. The pond's water was still in the warm summer night, and the only sounds were the creak of crickets and frogs along its banks. Casting an uneasy glance towards the dark mansion, Clark eased out of the truck. He stood there for a moment, gathering himself, and then walked slowly across the driveway onto the lawn. He proceeded towards the pond with caution, using his X-ray vision to scan the immediate area, but saw nothing.

At first.

On the second sweep he saw, just under the surface of the water, the outline of a skeleton. It was not a body, as it was moving towards him, and he let his vision slip back into the normal view just as a dark shape emerged from the water. It opened green glowing eyes.

It was the Creature From the Black Lagoon, or so it resembled. Dark greenish skin, scaled like that of a fish, reflected the light of the moon as it moved. Although it was man-shaped, it looked more like a snake or a lizard, and had round, slit-pupil eyes like a reptile. A broad mouth split open in an inhuman grin as it saw Clark, revealing a nasty set of shark-like teeth. A forked tongue flickered.

Then it was gone.

Clark blinked. Instinctively he lashed out an arm, making contact with the creature and sending it flying back into a row of bushes. It was fast, nearly as fast as Clark, and like the other mutants he'd encountered, very nearly as strong too.

"Sam, don't," he called quietly. "I can get you help...."

There was a hiss, and it came at him again. This time Clark swerved, letting the dark body rush past him, before giving it a shove that sent it crashing into the ground. In a flash it was up again, lunging at him with claw tipped fingers curved for slashing. Clark dodged again, clumsily, his motion decidedly hindered by the bulk of his abdomen, and this time it caught him by the arm. Belatedly he remembered Sam Anderson had been on the high school wrestling team.

He was swung around and flipped onto his back, landing hard enough to force what little breath he actually had out of his lungs. He lay there wheezing and groaning as the creature pinned his wrists with its clawed hands and hovered over him. The only thing Clark could do was stare at it and fight to suck more air into his lungs. At the moment, it far exceeded his ability to fight.

It's tongue flickered against his cheek as if tasting him, then traveled over the rest of his body. Abruptly it stopped, and reared back to sit on Clark's thighs, swinging its feet up to pin Clark's arms down at the elbows and thus free its own hands. The claws slipped beneath the edge of his shirt, raising it, and pushed down the top of his sweat pants to reveal the tell tale bulge of his belly. Its hands were cold as it caressed the swollen flesh like a fortune teller running ringed fingers over the surface of a crystal ball. Its tongue emerged from between the ugly protruding teeth, and joined the caressing fingers. Clark flinched as a drop of cold saliva dropped onto his skin from the descending mouth.

"Clark?"

Lex's voice, coming from the house.

The creature jerked its head up and Clark finally caught his breath. He lunged upward, very nearly knocking heads with the creature, and grabbed it by the shoulders. Muscles straining, he yanked it up and over his head, throwing it behind him, adding still more momentum to his throw by falling back to the ground. It shrieked. Clark tipped back his head to see it flying through the air towards the sea-monster fountain.

With a crash it struck the base of the statue, which tipped on its base, and as if in slow motion, fell forward to pin the flailing creature beneath the snake-like muzzle of one of the sea-monsters. It struggled briefly, then was still.

Clark's eyes rolled back, and everything went black.


"Augh!" He jerked awake, startled into consciousness by something cold against his stomach that was very much reminiscent of the lizard creature's drool.

It was the gel from an ultrasound, and the only thing attacking him was the grizzled form of Toby who was brandishing the wand from the machine. "Are you mental, or just stupid?" The old hippy inquired. "Seven and a half months pregnant and you're running around tossing monsters around? I should be using this thing to examine your head."

Clark blinked, and looked past Toby to the monitor. The curled form of the fetus was very clearly defined now, and, he realized with some relief, it didn't have any tentacles. It was also very much alive. As they watched, it shifted around, and they could see its hands clench. It was sucking its thumb. For the first time since the whole nasty ordeal had begun, Clark felt a sense of awe regarding the little life inside him. He had made it; they had made it, he and Lex. It was a symbol of their affection for each other. It was made up of a little part of each of them.

Suddenly "the critter" became "the baby", and from the evidence presented upon the monitor screen, "it" became "her." His eyes widened as he looked at it, and he was suddenly filled with fear as he realized how close he'd come to losing her.

"It's a girl." Clark breathed.

"Yep."

"Is she okay?"

"Yep." Toby said. He printed out the picture, and switched everything off, wiping away the gel with a monogrammed towel.

LL

Clark was still at the mansion, he realized, lying in Lex's guest room. From the faint light coming through the bedroom window, he could tell that it was very nearly dawn. He wondered what Lex now knew.

"The baby is fine, but you're not. You weren't up to playing pro wrestler, boyo, and you've added to the trouble that baby is causing you. I'm going to round up a heart monitor, and I don't care if it's this bed or your own, you aren't to get up again until you pop out that kid."

"That's nearly two months!"

"Stay in bed." Toby intoned gravely.

It was hard to take Toby seriously, particularly when he was dressed like Jimmy Buffet and looked like he had a hangover, but the concern in his normally unconcerned voice got Clark's attention.

"You get up and run around any more Clark and it's going to kill you. Not only is your immune system waging war with this kid, but you're showing signs of toxemia. Just keep putting a strain on your heart. You'll see where it gets you."

Clark sighed. The whole thing was ridiculous. Guys just weren't supposed to have babies. He put a shaking hand to his forehead and watched Toby leave. Toby muttered under his breath something about "hard headed alien bitches" as he opened the door.

The open door revealed Lex on the way in, and Toby pointed a finger at him. "You make sure he stays put."

"Sure, Toby." Lex said quietly.

The doctor disappeared, and Lex shut the door.

He looked somewhat ill, particularly after he picked up the ultrasound picture and examined it. Biting one corner of his lip in an all too familiar gesture, he raised his eyes to Clark, and flipped the paper slightly.

"What the fuck is this?"

Clark opened his mouth.

"And if you dare say, 'nothing', I'll never speak to you again, Clark."

"I'm pregnant." Clark whispered.

"I see that." Lex replied, throwing the picture back down on the foot of the bed. "I've given up pinching myself because I don't seem to be waking up, so this must be reality, but it's pretty fucked up version of reality."

"I'm not human."

"That was established before, when you failed to die after getting run over by my car."

"Mom defines it as bi-sexual in a very literal sense."

"Would have be nice to have let me know."

"I didn't know myself, Lex. It was a recent revelation." Clark pushed himself up into a sitting position, feeling very vulnerable trying to defend himself lying down. He paused as his vision grayed, and completed the act at a slower pace. "Remember the 'fuck me now' episodes?"

If it were possible, Lex lost even more color. "You're kidding?"

Clark gestured to his stomach. "Do I look like I'm kidding? Piecing together what we could, we determined that every two months I lay an egg and then go on a rampage trying to find someone to fertilize it. Whether its a permanent cycle I'm going to have to live with, or just some weird stage, we don't know, because it only happened twice before this happened."

Lex sat down heavily. He looked extremely ill.

"What is it?"

Pointing, Lex nodded towards the picture. "So, that - it's - mine?"

"Who else?" Clark demanded. "I've never slept with anyone else but you, and I certainly didn't do it all by myself."

Lex scrubbed at his face with his hands. "God, I hate this fucking town. There's a mutant crocodile in my fountain and my supposedly male lover is pregnant. Oh, not to mention said lover is a fucking alien!" He got up and started pacing, knocking the chair down in his fury. "Thanks, Dad. Thanks a whole damn lot!"

Clark had two options: get mad himself, or cry.

Considering his current state, neither he nor Lex should have been surprised when he chose the latter. As Lex continued growling curses down upon the parental unit that had sent him to Smallville, Clark's eyes started filling with tears. By the time Lex noticed, the sniffling had turned into sobbing and the tears were falling freely. Breath hitching, and nose running, Clark ended up bawling his eyes out.

Lex was at first unsympathetic. "What?" He demanded. "What's wrong now?"

"You hate me."

"I don't hate you, I'm just - this is just really - odd - Clark."

Clark refused to be swayed. "I'm a freak...."

Lex said nothing to that point.

"I'm fat and gross and...."

"Acting like a girl at the moment."

That made Clark cry harder. "I don't want to be a girl!" He wailed.

Sighing deeply, Lex came back to the bed. "Scoot over."

Clark scooted over, and Lex sat down beside him, putting one arm around his shoulders and letting him lean against one shoulder. "Stop crying before you get snot all over my favorite shirt." He said quietly, pushing back the dark bangs from Clark's forehead. "And if Toby comes in here and sees you this upset I think he'll shove that ultrasound machine up my ass."

The speech had its desired effect. Clark snuffled, but he laughed a little. "I'm sorry."

Lex reached over to the bedside table, and handed Clark a box of tissues. "Dear Dad, " he said. "Congratulations. I've gotten my alien boyfriend knocked up. You're going to be a grandpa." He lowered his voice into a gravelly imitation of Lionel. "You should do as the ancient Greeks did son, and leave the baby in the woods for the wolves."

Clark snickered.

"Sure Dad, and then he'll come back later, kill me, marry Clark, and then be forced to put out his own eyes because of committing the heinous acts of patricide and incest. I read Oedipus Rex myself, in Greek no less and backwards too."

Clark blew his nose. "She," he said.

"Hmm?"

"She. It's a girl."

Lex glanced down at him. "Yeah?"

"Yeah."

They sat together in silence for some time. Clark sat up after a moment and blew his nose again. Shoulder to shoulder they stared down at the foot of the bed where the picture still lay.

"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" Lex asked finally.

"Because I was afraid it would freak you out."

There was a derisive snort. "I think you would have been hard pressed to avoid the freaking out part, so you might as well have told me before. At the risk of setting off your water works again, Clark, this is far from normal. I mean the whole alien thing was pretty out there from the beginning, but this..."

"I know." He sniffed. "I'm not exactly thrilled myself."

"What do your parents think?"

Clark sighed. "Well, now that the initial shock has worn off, I think they're both actually sort of excited about being grandparents. Dad is more upset that it was you than the whole concept of male pregnancy itself."

"Peachy."

"They turned mom's sewing room into a nursery." He smiled wryly. "They decorated it with moons and stars." Turning his gaze down to his hands, Clark twisted a tissue around and around one finger. "It's kind of cute really. Mom's trying not to be overly excited, but I can tell she's very happy at the idea of having a baby around."

"And you?"

Clark glanced over at him. "I've tried not to think about it at all, Lex. It's weird, and it's scary, and I just don't know what to think."

There was a long pause. Lex let out a breath in a long sigh. "I think, that you should concentrate on pulling your health together, and let me worry about everything else."

"Lex..."

"Shut up, Clark. I don't want to hear it. This is as much my problem as yours, and you've dealt with it alone long enough. Yes, I'm completely at odds with it, because it's just not something that happens everyday but," He looked up and met Clark's eyes. "You know I care very much about you and your family. I've always wanted to be a part of your family. Now it seems I don't have to be part of anyone else's, because now I have my own."


Clark was set up in Lex's guest room, much to the dismay of his parents. They could not, however, argue with Lex's logic.

"No one is getting in here without my permission, and he's not getting out of that bed without my permission. I have the resources to take care of him that you do not, and I'm willing to get Toby in here to stay twenty-four hours a day until the baby is born. I will not sacrifice Clark, or my daughter, just because of your stubborn dislike of me."

It was, of course, primarily directed at the huffing and puffing Jonathan, who calmed down almost immediately as he comprehended Lex's statement. It would be better for Clark, and the baby, if they were to stay with Lex, at least temporarily. The details for what would happen afterwards were still up in the air, including who's surname the child would carry and where she would live.

"We have to get through this next part before we can worry about that." Martha said quietly, as she and Lex sat with Clark one afternoon.

He was going stir crazy, and yet he was so ill the idea of getting out of bed just made his stomach churn. Lex and Martha rotated shifts, trying to keep his spirits up and his mind occupied with conversation, reading, and simple companionship as he watched movies or television. He actually felt worse than he looked, or that he was letting them realize, and he'd sworn Toby to secrecy regarding the extent of his weakness.

Clark was sitting up in bed, propped up on a veritable mountain of pillows, looking at a list of names. "I like Katherine," he said. "It's pretty."

"It comes from both sides." Martha said. "Lex has an aunt named Katherine. It was my grandmother's name."

He made a star by it with a pen. "Who put Origonia Belle here?"

"Your father. He was being a smart ass."

"Peanut?"

"Toby." Lex and Martha said in unison.

"Yeah, and I suppose her middle name would be Butter." Clark laughed, but the laughter turned into a coughing fit.

"Clark...." Martha half rose from her chair.

He waved her off, and took slow, shallow breaths until the coughing subsided. "I'm okay," he wheezed. "Just give me a minute."

Lex was not the type of person to give away minutes. He crossed the room and pulled the tubing off the bedpost, looping the end over Clark's head and tucking it behind his ears. It led to an oxygen tank, which he flipped on as he adjusted the tubing at Clark's nose.

Clark glared at him. "I'm not helpless."

"Don't take it off again."

Grumbling, Clark went back to reading his list. "Have either of you talked to Chloe?"

"She stopped by the other day." Martha remarked.

"What did you tell her?"

"That you were at your grandparents' house in Metropolis. I don't think she believed me."

"She didn't." Clark said. "She sent me an e-mail and said I'd better fess up or she was going to start searching all the hospitals in the state of Kansas."

Martha scowled. "And what did you tell her?"

"That I was here, I'm fine, and she'd better not entertain any ideas about sneaking in or Lex's guard dogs will get her."

"I don't have guard dogs."

"She doesn't know that."

Apparently Chloe did know Lex didn't have guard dogs, because she appeared in his room that very night looking like a character from Mission Impossible. Clark laughed when he saw her all dressed in black with a black knit cap pulled down over her blonde hair.

"What are you supposed to be, a cat burglar?"

"Lex needs better security," she said, scowling. "I got in too easily."

"Yeah, well you better this a quick visit because he just went downstairs to take care of some business and will back up here shortly. He'll be mad you got through the security he does have."

"I'm quaking in my boots," she quipped, and gave Clark a hard stare. Her eyes started tearing.

"Chloe, don't cry. What's the matter?"

"You look horrible. You look - swollen," she frowned. "What's wrong with your stomach? Oh, God! It's a tumor! I knew it!"

She burst into tears and launched herself at him, throwing herself down into the chair beside the bed, and burying her face in the mattress. "Oh, please don't die!"

"I'm not going to die. The tumor is going bye-bye next month and I'm going to be perfectly fine by the time school starts. Calm down, Chloe!"

Her eyes were red and damp when she looked up at him. "Surgery?"

"If necessary," he said, and it wasn't exactly a lie. They had discussed a cesarean, primarily because Toby couldn't figure out where the hell the baby was going to come out.

"You might have to shove that puppy out your prick." He'd said, much to Clark's horror. He'd gotten smacked in the back of the head for that little comment when Lex saw the look of terror on Clark's face.

Chloe sniffed.

"There are tissues on the table." Clark said helpfully.

She reached for one, and blew her nose. She laughed a little. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were pregnant."

"Ha ha." Clark winced. "That's really funny, Chloe."

"If you were so sick, why did you go out after Sam?"

"Because he needed to be stopped."

"You can't save the world, Clark. You aren't some sort of super human."

He made a wry face. "I guess."

"You aren't going to die?" Chloe asked again after a moment. "You swear?"

Clark held up a hand. "Scout's honor."

She laughed. "You really do look pregnant."

"Thanks."


They discovered Clark slept better with Lex there, although it was still difficult. He could lay only on his back, and the baby still seemed to prefer to start her gymnastics after dark, much to Clark's annoyance. He grunted as she sucker punched his bottom-most rib on the right side.

Lex was curled up on his side with his head on Clark's shoulder, watching the rocking and rolling of Clark's abdomen. "She wants out," he said quietly.

"Do you blame her?" Clark whispered back. "It can't be very hospitable in there. It's not even a proper womb."

"Maybe for your people it is."

"Yeah, but she's half human. Look, you can see the outline of her foot." Sure enough, there could be seen a tiny foot pressing against the inside of Clark's belly. Lex stared, and watched the undulating motion that followed the disappearance of said foot somewhat squeamishly.

"She's not happy about something." Clark sighed, wincing slightly. "She's pretty active today."

"You shouldn't have eaten that strawberry. Too acidic."

"It looked good - ow." He craned his head and looked at his stomach. "No more rib punching," he told it.

Lex chuckled.

Clark sighed again. He thought Lex fell asleep, but after a moment heard his voice again.

"Clark."

"What?"

"I can hear her heart. It's beating just slightly out of sync with yours."

"Yeah, it's a little faster."

"It's strong."

"She's a tough cookie." Clark said softly.

They were straying into territory he wanted to avoid. He knew if Lex had been listening to his heartbeat then Lex knew it wasn't nearly as strong as their daughter's. She, it seemed, was winning the war.

As the day grew closer that Toby had designated the due date, the baby became stronger and more active. Clark, on the other hand, was getting weaker, his pulse had become most decidedly erratic, and sometimes getting air into his lungs was a monumental effort. He only hoped Toby's guesses would be accurate. He was afraid if her sapping of his strength went on much longer, it would eventually kill him.

Lex held him tighter.

He'd come to the same conclusion.


"I'm dying."

"No you're not." Toby said quietly. "You're just a little past due, but we don't even know that for sure. You could have another four or five months to go. Don't whales gestate for sixteen months?"

Clark groaned. "I'm not a whale!"

"Look kinda like one." Quickly, Toby moved out of Clark's reach. He'd found out the hard way that even as weak as he'd become, Clark could break things like fingers very easily, and that being pregnant had decimated his sense of humor.

"Can't you cut it out?"

With a long suffering sigh, Toby reached into his bag and removed a scalpel. It was extremely sharp, as illustrated by drawing blood from the ball of his thumb, but when he applied to Clark's stomach it bounced back without leaving a mark.

"No."

Clark moaned again.

"You're going to have to get it out the old fashioned way."

"That's brilliant, Toby." Lex said quietly from a chair on the opposite side of the room. "In this case we don't know what the old fashioned way means." He didn't take his eyes from the laptop computer he held. "You'd better figure it out soon, or I think Clark is going to break something more than just your pinkie finger."

"I'm going to explode." Clark growled. "Get it out. I don't care how, just get it out!"

Toby grumbled under his breath.

"I'm not a freakin' vet."


The room was a decent sized room, but the number of people in it made it seem smaller. There seemed to be a lot of people in it. Clark gazed rather dazedly at them trying to remember why there were all there.

He'd woken in the middle of the night, and at first thought he'd simply wet himself. A call for Lex brought with it not only Lex, looking frightened and rumpled and thus completely out of sorts, but light. Lex flipped on a lamp, and Clark made a tactile exploration. Closer examination revealed a lot more dampness than what he'd expected, and a familiar pinkish goo. There came directly after that, some serious cramps, and Clark had lost some time somewhere.

He blinked, and his mother leaned forward in her chair to take his hand. Jonathan stood behind her with his hands on the back of the chair. "Hi, honey."

Turning his head, he saw Lex and Toby standing on the other side of the bed. The covers were turned back, and Toby was looking....

"Hey!" Clark croaked. He'd meant to sound indignant, but the faintness of his voice ruined the effect.

Toby turned the covers back down and pulled off the gloves he wore. "Be glad you aren't a female boyo, or you'd have a lot more probing down there going on."

"Hands off." His words were slightly slurred. He felt extremely tired. His chest ached and he could feel the hard pounding of his pulse in his throat. There was also some mild cramping going on in his midsection. "I feel horrible," he muttered.

Martha soothed his forehead. "Well?" She asked Toby.

"Well, the water broke, that's for sure, but the place where it came out is already sealing itself again. That baby is not coming out that way."

"What way is it coming out?" Lex growled.

Toby slung a stethoscope around his neck and switched places with Lex, turning the covers down from the top this time. "I have no idea." He pushed up Clark's T-shirt. "Okay, this is different."

"Holy Mother of God." Jonathan murmured.

Clark raised his head to look. "I've been deflated." His voice broke in a small burst of laughter before he fell back to the pillow. "Oh, great."

It did resemble a slowly deflating balloon. The skin that had once been stretched so tightly was collapsing and altering in appearance. Instead of smooth, pink, and elastic, it was becoming wrinkled, dark, and almost leathery in appearance. It was very clearly collapsing around the still curled form of the baby like plastic shrink wrap, and as they watched, she moved, kicking against the ever decreasing walls of her prison. It hurt. Clark jerked and moaned.

"She'll suffocate." Lex whispered in horror.

"Not as long as the umbilical is still attached." Toby said distantly. He did, however, pick up his scalpel. A careful probe indicated this new development was just as tough as before. He pulled the T-shirt back down but left the covers off. "Here's my guess. We wait. Apparently what we've got is a cocoon effect. Eventually she's going to get out on her own."

"Hurts." Clark shook his head.

Toby patted his hand. "She's going to hatch."


Clark had very limited experience with pain beyond some vague memories from childhood, the short period of time he'd had broken ribs (thank you Eric), and his pain racked encounters with meteor rocks. Having seen the screaming and the contortions of women going through labor on T.V. and in the movies, he decided the closest comparison would be the gut wrenching cramps of a meteor rock encounter.

This felt nothing like any of those things. This felt like he was being skinned alive, or badly burnt, but on the inside of his skin instead of the outside. It hurt to move, it hurt to breathe, and if the baby so much as twitched a toe an agonizing pain shot through his guts and up his spine. He didn't understand what was happening, and didn't care. He just wanted it to stop. It didn't stop. It went on for hours.

He lay moaning in the bed. They didn't dare touch him. He was still strong enough to crush anything he might grab onto just from sheer reflex alone. His chest ached. They tried to soothe him; Toby was afraid his heart was going to give out on him. Clark didn't care. At that point he wanted nothing more than to die and make the pain go away. He remembered screaming at one point, then darkness, and light once again.

"Make it stop," he pleaded. His lips moved, but no sound came out. He was fading. He could hear his own heart starting to falter.

The last thing he remembered before the darkness dragged him down, was Lex's voice:

"Ah, there...."

Then nothing.


His eyes opened.

"Uhmm."

"Clark?"

Clark turned his head and saw Lex sitting in the chair where he'd last seen his mother. Martha, Jonathan and Toby were gone, and it was only Lex who remained with him. His face was haggard and pale, with dark circles of sleeplessness under his eyes.

But he was smiling.

"How do you feel?"

"Uhmm." Clark repeated, and did a careful assessment. He frowned. "I feel fine."

"Look." Lex pushed down the covers, and pulled up the T-shirt Clark wore. It was a new one, one of his gym shirts, and it fit.

It fit because where there once was a swollen bulge, there was now a perfectly flat stomach covered in what appeared to be brand new skin. It was pink, and very soft. Clark ran his fingers over it, puzzled. He looked up at Lex with widened eyes.

"What happened?"

"The cavity sealed itself off, and severed the cord. She kicked herself free and everything just sloughed off. It was very much like a cocoon." Lex tucked him back in, and sat down again. "But we thought we'd lost you. Your heart stopped."

Nodding, Clark carefully drew himself upright. Lex stacked the pillows behind him. "I think I actually remember that." He rubbed idly at his chest, which was still bugging him. The nipples were sore. What had Toby done, hooked him up to a set of jumper cables?

"When it started again, you lashed out and knocked Toby halfway across the room. He's still sore and still more than a little upset with you."

Clark chuckled. "Poor Toby." He looked up, and met Lex's gaze.

"You are all right?" Lex whispered.

"Good as new. Just tired, and really really hungry."

"Fuck me now hungry?"

He grinned. "No, not that hungry."

Lex stood up, and leaning over the bed, kissed him. "Don't," he said sternly. "Ever scare me like that again."

"Don't get me knocked up again."

"Brat."

"Bastard."

The moment was broken by the sound of the door creaking open, and Martha entered. Her expression was one of concern. "She won't take a bottle," she said, but she brightened as she saw Clark sitting up. "Clark."

"Let me see."

She brought her little bundle to him, climbing up on the bed to sit next to him on the side opposite Lex. Opening the blanket wrapped around the bundle, she revealed the little hellion who had given Clark so much trouble for the past nine months.

"Ten fingers and ten toes." Martha said proudly. "No tentacles, and no tail."

"And she's got hair." Clark joked, winking back at Lex.

"Funny."

She did have hair, swirls of dark red-brown curls, and finely arched eyebrows that dipped into a frown as she screwed up her face to fuss. Her fists clinched, and she mewled unhappily.

"She's hungry." Martha explained. "But she won't take a bottle. Clark you're going to have to breast feed her."

"I - what? Oh no! No. I thought this ordeal was finished!"

"You want your daughter to starve?"

He looked at her wrinkled up (and really pissed off) little face, and decided that he really didn't want her to starve. In fact, he had a very strong desire to cuddle her.

"How do we know I even can?"

"Toby looked. You are a little swollen, so there is something in there."

Clark sighed. There was the explanation for the chest discomfort. He pulled off the T-shirt, shivering a little as he put it aside. Martha showed him how to hold the baby, and instinctively, the little one knew exactly where to go and what to do once she got there. Within a minute she was happily enjoying her breakfast.

"She's making me hungrier." Clark grumbled. "And it feels weird."

"You'll get used to it. I'll bring up some lunch." Martha kissed him, and slid out of the bed.

Lex sat down next to him when she was gone.

"If you so much at hint at a cow joke, I'll break you in half." Clark said quietly.

"I wouldn't dream of it, Clark." He reached out a hand and ran one finger over the baby's soft cheek. She continued to nurse hungrily, making soft murmuring sounds as she suckled. "You are such a freak."

"Yeah, well. What can I say." Looking down at the baby, Clark grinned. "But what a cute little freak junior we've made."


Clark met Lex at the door. "Hi."

Lex looked at his broad smile and immediately got suspicious. "Where's the munchkin?"

"With mom," Clark said, and kissed him.

The scowl on Lex's face deepened. "Did I just taste chocolate."

Clark picked up his hand, and pressed a box of condoms into it. "Fuck me now."

"Oh no!"

"Oh yes!" Clark replied, and jerked him off his feet into the house.


EPILOGUE

She had the height, the build, and the face of a fashion model, and was the most admired and the most despised member of the Smallville High School junior class. It was Friday morning. It was her sixteenth birthday.

On what should have been a very happy occasion, she was not particularly happy. The night before she'd taken a permission slip in to her father so that she could join the field hockey team, and had been turned down flat.

"No team sports. You know that Kitty."

"But Daddy...."

"No team sports Kitty," he'd said firmly, and then softened when her eyes filled with tears. "You already have cheerleading, and track. Why field hockey?"

"It looks like fun, and my friends play..."

"Kitty, honey. You are extremely strong. You could do someone a serious injury playing field hockey."

"Yes, Daddy," she'd said, then added. "Auri would let me play."

"Auri would not let you play. Auri knows better."

She'd pouted.

"Won't work, Kitty."

He had not relented, but he had given her an early birthday present. When she'd come down for breakfast he'd handed her the keys to a pretty new car. A shiny red Porsche sat in the driveway, and she'd driven it to school with only the admonishment that she "stay way the hell below the speed limit" or he'd take it back.

She was her father's daughter, and went way the hell over the speed limit all the way to school.

In homeroom she tried to sink under her desk when her full name, all five parts, was read over the intercom during the birthday announcements. She rained curses down upon the parental units under her breath as the entire class tittered and joked afterwards. Only royalty had more names than she did, and certainly not any other kid in Smallville. Of course in Smallville, having the name Katherine Alexandria Cecile Kent-Luthor, meant she was royalty.

"Why don't we live in Metropolis?" She'd complained on more than one occasion.

"Too dangerous." Her father would answer. "Why should we live there when I can commute and Smallville High is just as good as any private school there?"

"Auri is there."

"Kitty, Auri is there because it's too dangerous. You do understand that don't you?"

"I want my Auri."

Grandma asked her last weekend what she wanted for her birthday. "As if, " she'd added. "You don't have everything you ever wanted anyway. Your father has spoiled you rotten."

"I want Auri." Kitty answered, and Grandma had hugged her.

It was lunchtime. The day was almost over. Kitty slunk through the lunchroom past the other cheerleaders, who thought she was stuck up, and past the other science club members, who also thought she was stuck up, and past the geek patrol. The geek patrol did not think she was stuck up, but they were all afraid of her. She was too pretty, and too rich, and too unapproachable.

Instead she sat down at a table all by herself, and poked unhappily at her lunch.

"Happy birthday."

She looked up, and smiled shyly. "Thanks, Mrs. Fordman."

"You look a little blue for someone celebrating her sweet sixteen." Kitty's English teacher sat down with her at the table. "You want to tell me about it?"

Kitty shrugged. "Daddy won't let me play field hockey."

"Ah, well I'm sure he has his reasons."

"Did you play sports, Mrs. Fordman?"

"Nope. I was about as athletic as your grandpa's one legged chicken." Mrs. Fordman smiled broadly. "I was content with the Torch. You should join the Torch staff Kitty, you're a good writer."

"I don't know..." She considered. "Maybe. I'll think about it."

"Good girl."

"Can you come to my party?" Kitty asked hopefully. "Tonight at seven."

"Sure. I'll stop in."

Buoyed by this, Kitty went through her afternoon classes in a much better mood.

On the way home she stopped at Grandma's, breezing into the lane in her bright red car and waving at Grandpa as he fiddled with his truck in the driveway. He stood up, rubbing a sparkplug with an old rag, and regarded the car with a scowl.

"What is he thinking, giving a sixteen year old a car like that?" He grumbled, as Grandma came out to hug her visitor.

"Shush, our Kitty is a good driver."

Kitty winced, wondering what they'd have thought if they'd seen her doing eighty on the way there. "You are coming tonight?" She asked. "Please, please?"

"Of course, sweetie!" Grandma smiled, and gave her more hugs. "We wouldn't miss it."

Kitty gave them both hugs, then continued on her way home.

The conservatory was decorated for the party, and the servants were all bustling around making last minute preparations. There was already a large pile of gifts, which Kitty poked through looking for a familiar scrawl. She did not see it, and deflated, she wandered out of the room and into the den where her father sat working. He did not look up as she plopped down in a chair.

"Your Papa Lionel sent you a present." He said quietly.

"Yeah I know." She replied. "George showed me when I got home. She's nice."

"He wants you to ride in the A Circuit shows next summer."

Kitty sighed. "What about Rags?"

"Rags can be retired. Ride the new mare."

She sighed again.

"Kitty, if you are going to sulk, go do it in your room." He turned his head to give her a sharp look. "You are not going to play field hockey."

"I know."

"Then what is all the sighing about, you're trying my patience."

"Auri didn't send me a present."

"Auri is notoriously bad about presents," he replied, and turned back to his work.

Kitty got up, and went to sulk in her room. Just before seven she reappeared, clad in a pretty green dress that brought out the green of her eyes and the red in her dark hair. She'd painted her nails, and made up her face, and she looked much older than sixteen. Her father gave her the once over, then chucked her under the chin before giving her a kiss.

"My pretty girl, happy birthday."

The conservatory was full of people, most of whom Kitty did not recognize. Several people from school were there, and they appeared uncomfortable. Mr. and Mrs. Fordman drew them out, making them feel more welcome. There were people from the community, who talked and joked with Grandma and Grandpa, and people from Metropolis who talked quietly with Daddy in another part of the room. Kitty wandered among all of them, receiving hugs and kisses and happy birthday wishes, but never feeling quite comfortable herself.

Eventually she wandered outside onto the balcony and stood there looking out at the stars. The one thing, out of all the gifts she had received, that she wanted the most, was not there.

"Auri," she sniffled.


"You're late." Lex said.

"I know," Clark grinned as his mother hugged him. "I got caught up in a bank robbery thing, and then had to take care of a high rise fire." He pushed his glasses up further on his nose and looked around the room. "Where is she?"

"Sulking." Lex drew him aside into an alcove and gave him a lingering kiss where no one could see.

"You spoil her, Lex." Clark whispered softly.

"She's my only child, I'm allowed," he sighed. "We've missed you."

"I know, and I promise next time I'll stay a while."

"You're going back?"

"In the morning."

They kissed again. "Ah, good." Lex breathed. "So Metropolis is without her guardian angel for one night?"

"Superman has a previous engagement." He broke away with a faint smile, and went searching.

He found her standing on the balcony, alone, looking up at the stars, as he used to do when he wondered about his origins. She had it much easier. Her gifts were not like his. She was strong, but not invulnerable, and fast, but not quite beyond the scope of human norm. She did not fly, nor see through walls, but she sometimes got flashes of insight that her grandmother said was similar to a psychic gift.

"She's a wonderful girl, Clark."

When she first started talking, they weren't sure how to call Clark. "Mommy" was definitely not an option. Lex had always been "Daddy" and was still such. In the end they decided just to call Clark, "Clark," but little Katherine, at two, could not get her hard "C" sounds. "Clark" came out "Auwi" then mutated to "Auri" once she picked up her "r" sound. There it stuck.

Bad dreams, scraped knees, or the desire for something to eat, were addressed when she cried for her "Auri, Auri."

When Clark moved to Metropolis, due to the fact Superman could not easily operate from Smallville no matter how fast he could travel between the two, Katherine had gone into a serious funk from which she had never recovered. She'd bawled on his shoulder for hours when he came home to visit the first time after moving out of the mansion, begging for him to take her with him.

"Kitkat," he'd said. "I can't. You stay here with Daddy. I'll visit."

"It's like getting a divorce," she'd wailed. "You'll be fighting next."

Lex had rolled his eyes and gotten frustrated. "Kitty, you're being melodramatic. You're a big girl. You don't need your Auri all the time."

"I want my Auri."

It tore Clark's heart out every time he had to leave her. If he hadn't been, technically, her biological mother, it might have been easier. Lex adored her, but he never seemed to have the same gut wrenching feelings Clark did.

"You carried her around for months." Lex murmured, after they'd made love and were curled around each other in the same bed where Kitty had been born. "You nursed her. Of course you feel a bond with her."

"I won't have her in Metropolis, it's too dangerous."

"She understands. She doesn't like it, but she understands."

Sixteen years. Clark thought, as he stood watching her watching the stars. She was the same age he'd been when he'd birthed her. Much too young, but then, he'd not exactly figured on being able to get pregnant either.

It was time.

"Are you snubbing your party guests, Katherine Alexandria Cecile?"

Kitty turned around, and her face lit up with joy. "Auri! Oh! Oh!"

She was, perhaps, the only person in the world who could hug his breath away. "Hey, not so hard."

"You came, you came!" She kissed him happily, leaving lipstick marks all over his cheeks. "Oh!" And hugged him once more.

"Of course I came! I wouldn't miss this for the world."

"Present! Present!" She laughed as she searched his pockets. "I know you brought me a present. Aha!"

Clark followed her over to the ledge, and sat down with her as she opened the envelope. Inside was a folded piece of paper, and on the paper was a picture. She looked at it, and then up at him, her brows creasing.

"What is it?"

"An ultrasound."

"Yeah, I see that." Her long fingers turned it this way and that.

"It's you."

Kitty froze, and she looked at the picture again, but this time she ran her fingers over its surface, tracing the outline of the odd shaped womb surrounding the tiny fetus. "This is me?"

"Yes."

She chewed on her lip, a gesture she'd picked up from Lex. "Where did you get it?"

"I've always had it," he said gently.

Her eyes were bright when she met his gaze. "This is going to be the big speech isn't it? Where you finally answer all those questions about my real parents."

"Yep."

She folded the picture, and sniffed a little bit. "Auri, you and Daddy are the only parents I've ever known, and I'm no longer sure I want to know the truth." She leaned over and hugged him, resting her head on his shoulder. "Because I love you so much."

He put an arm around her. "I love you too, Kittykat, but I think it's time you heard the truth."

Her sigh was pitiful. "Okay."

Clark kissed her hair. "Daddy," he said quietly. "Really is your father."

"I'd sorta guessed that."

"You did?"

"Uh-huh. Papa Lionel said I look like Lillian." Her brow furrowed again and she looked up at him. "But Grandma says I look like you."

"You do, a bit." He beeped the end of her nose with a forefinger. "And just where do you think you get that nasty right hook of yours?"

Her confusion was written all over her pretty face. "I don't understand. Are you my real father too? How does that work?"

"When I was about your age, and up until I was about twenty or so, I went through a really weird stage. Something to do with Kryptonian puberty I assume. I still don't really know all the details. But it happened right around the time your father and I first started seeing each other." Clark sighed. "It was just a fluke, but because of this stage, and your father's unique physiology, we were able to - make you."

Kitty stared at him in silence, then turned her head to stare at the French doors and the lights and people beyond them in the conservatory.

Clark shook his head. "The passing of time doesn't make this any less odd, Katherine," he said. "But, biologically, I am your mother."

When she still said nothing, he leaned over to look into her face. "Kitty?"

"I'm okay," she said quietly. "I'm just - sort of stunned."

"Believe me, we all were," he remarked, relieved that she hadn't gone totally into shock.

"Auri," Her eyes were bright when she turned to look at him. "Does this mean I can fly?"

Clark laughed. "No, I don't think so. You're a tough cookie, but you're still half human."

"Darn. That would be so cool." Kitty hugged him some more. "But that's okay, this is still the best present, knowing my Auri is really my mom."

"Yeah, well, keep it under your hat, kiddo. I'm still a little unnerved by the idea." He shuddered. "I'm glad it only lasted a short time. I think I was wearing your father out with the rampant sexcapades every two months."

"This is a better present than the car," she said brightly.

"Car, what car?"

Kitty jumped up, and guided him back towards the doors. "Daddy gave me a Porsche."

"A what?"

"Bright red convertible. It's suave, Auri. The speedometer goes up to 180! and I - ow - Auri wait...."

Clark burst in the conservatory with his daughter in tow, and bellowed over the crowd. "You gave her a PORSCHE?"

Silence descended, all eyes turned to Clark and Kitty standing in the doorway.

Lex only grinned. "Worked for us," he said, and raised his glass in salute.

"Aaaugh!"