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by Asa Meda

by Asa Meda

They had seen Lex's car pull up and park. Watched as he got out, dressed all in black, his eyes briefly looked in their direction before focusing on the barn. With determination he walked up the large double doors, opened one side then entered without a word.

It didn't matter, they knew. Clark was expecting him. Jonathan had warned their son, nearly begged him not to do what he intended. But their little boy stood tall, suddenly showing the man he was becoming, asking for their trust to do what he believed needed to be done.

Destiny. They knew this day would come. What else could be said? They had cared for their son, protected him from harm for so long. Now they had to trust that Clark would do the same for them.

Long silence followed as they lingered in the kitchen, near a window that was just cracked open at the top. It was their little secret. When Clark was young they had discovered that the position of the window and a nearby wall amplified sound from the house to somewhere near the barn. It was their way to monitor their active young child and later to protect him. For years they hadn't tried to eavesdrop, respecting son's privacy. But tonight they were desperate. They hardly breathed as they listened, staring at each other in frustration as only silence reached their ears.

Distantly the horizon glowed with the touch of first light. Martha gazed at her husband, each of them blinking at other, sharing their blurred exhaustion. With a sigh she ordered her husband to bed, promising to follow shortly. Jonathan hesitated, his mouth opened in protest. But when she gives him a look that spoke volumes, Jonathan sighed then raised his hand in a single wave as he walked away mumbling something about saving her a place in their bed.

Martha drew her robe closer around herself and tied the belt. Cool, pre-dawn air caused her breath to mist as she walked to the barn. Distantly, she could hear stirrings of animals common to all farms. In front of her she saw Crystal, their most cherished farm cat, walk across her path with purpose, hunting. Awkwardly she entered the barn, her senses alert for any sound or movement from above. But there was only the silence, the stillness. Forcing down rising her anxiety, she carefully climbed the wooden steps.

"Fortress of Solitude". That's what Clark called it when they set up a corner of the loft for him when he was eight. Their son had been growing tense, more needful of being by himself. Jonathan had worked for over a week, building small pieces of furniture from lumber. Clark had been thrilled, had hugged and kissed them both before disappearing for the rest of the day into his own place, his own space.

For a moment, Martha hesitated. They never entered their son's private space, unless he had given them permission. She felt she was violating sacred space. But then she assured herself there was need this morning. This involved all their futures.

As she reached the top step, the sun broke over the horizon, sending misty rays through the huge opening that served a window on their son's world. To one side was a pile of hay, topped with old blankets. On top of this her son slept peacefully, his bare chest exposed, showing the terrible bruises he had suffered when bullets from an automatic weapon had struck him.

Tears came unbidden to her as she relived the moment he had told them, about the attack... about Lex. Her son could have died that night. Her little boy... her little prince fallen from the sky...

There was movement, then a shifting. Martha tensed, not wishing her son to catch her here. But Clark remained deeply asleep, his face unusually content. Yet the hay rustled and another figure rose. His pale head gleamed in the sunlight. His eyes moved quickly. His hand touched Clark's bare shoulder protectively, carefully avoiding the bruises...

Lex Luthor. Martha swallowed as her gaze met the son of their enemy, as she really understood what she was seeing, as her mind made sense of the scattered clothes, the nudity of the young men in front of her. Shock and guilt fought within her soul. Clark and Lex? Her son loved---

"You never have to fear me again, Mrs. Kent," Lex assured her in a near whisper. His hand softly brushed over Clark's bruised skin. "You son saved me last night... from myself... from my father's legacy."

Yes, she realized as she continued to stare. Yes, Lex was changed. Her son was changed. Last night the universe was changed. Her son...

A warm flush crept through her as she realized she was still staring, still shocked. This was something a mother shouldn't see, something that belonged to her son and this young man alone. With effort, she nodded to Lex then drew herself together and backed down the steps, letting the silence resume from where it had been interrupted as she returned to her husband's side.