Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Clark/Lex, Jonathan/Martha
Genres: Drama, Holiday, Horror, Mystery, Suspense
Rating (this chapter): G
General Summary: Something wicked lives in McCready’s Marsh.
Chapter Summary: Clark and Lex arrive at the mysterious Lydia Kraven’s cottage.
Date Of Completion: November 23, 2017
Date Of Posting: September 22, 2018
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1076
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
All chapters can be found here.
In the deep
Of the forest.
The cottage wasn’t very big, but seemed as if it was part of an enormous oak tree. There was a small front porch, a slanted roof, and a small window with diamond panes and weathered blue shutters.
“Seems deserted,” Lex said.
“She’s often gone. I was hoping she was home.”
“Where does she go?”
Clark shrugged. “Deeper into the marsh. Who really knows? Lydia keeps her own counsel.”
They approached the cottage. Herbs were drying on the porch, suspended from the ceiling. A butter churn was set next to a rocking chair.
“No broom?” Lex cracked.
Clark rolled his eyes and called softly, “Lydia?”
Crickets could be heard in the silence. Lex wasn’t sure if he was disappointed or relieved.
Smallville’s getting to you.
Wind sang in the trees as the temperature dropped. Lex was glad for his heavy coat. Clark seemed unaffected by the cold, but he seemed distracted.
“Should you leave a note?” Lex asked.
“I guess so.” Clark fished around in his coat pocket and drew out a crumpled piece of paper and a pencil. He wrote a short note with broad, confident strokes and left it on top of the butter churn with a rock as a paperweight.
“Let’s go,” he said.
Lex drove Clark back to the Kent farm as the sun began to sink in the sky. Clark’s hand was on the door handle as he asked, “Want to stay for supper?”
Lex was tempted. A soft glow could be seen in the kitchen window, much more inviting than his cold, dark castle.
Clark put his hand over Lex’s. “Please, Lex. I’d like you to stay.”
That did it. Lex smiled and said, “I don’t want to wear out my welcome.”
“You won’t.” Clark squeezed Lex’s hand.
Lex shut off the engine and got out of the car. Clark said, “Go on in. I’ve got a few chores in the barn.”
Lex knocked on the kitchen door and Martha opened it. Lex immediately smelled the tantalizing aroma of fresh gingerbread as she invited him in.
He hung up his coat after removing his boots. Martha grinned. “What happened to the Guccis?” she asked as she took a pan of gingerbread out of the oven.
“Tramping around in the marsh.”
“Ah.” She smiled. “Have a piece of gingerbread, Lex. I’m going to start supper.”
“Can I help?”
“Thanks, but it’s pretty easy. Just chopping up a few things.”
Lex took the gingerbread and a glass of apple cider that Martha handed him and enjoyed the treat at the kitchen table while she chopped up carrots, celery and onions with long-practiced strokes.
The sound of the outside faucet going on meant that Clark was finished with his chores and was washing up. He came in and immediately said, “Gingerbread for me!”
“Yes, dear,” Martha said with a smile. She handed him his snack and he sat at the table.
“I invited Lex to supper,” Clark said.
“I figured as much when he came in.” Martha threw the chopped vegetables into the large pot on the stove. “Did you boys find out the latest on Bull’s disappearance?”
Clark sipped his cider. “Not really. None of the people who saw him last had really much to say.”
Martha opened the refrigerator door and took out a cut of beef. “What did Sheriff Adams have to say?”
“You know Sheriff Adams. Plays things close to the vest.”
Martha started cutting the meat. “Law people are like that.”
“Well, I’m not going to say 'lawmen’.”
Clark and Lex grinned. Clark said, “Gingerbread again?”
“Oh, no, you don’t. You’ll spoil your supper,” Martha scolded.
Lex laughed while Clark drained his glass with a cheeky grin.
Clark and Lex set the table and Martha put garlic bread into the oven. The warmth of the kitchen seemed fitting to Lex as wind rattled the windowpanes. He could smell the beef stew simmering on the stove and the garlic bread baking in the oven.
While the three of them were chatting, Jonathan came home. Lex was grateful that Jonathan wasn’t running him off with the shotgun, but he didn’t fool himself into thinking that if he hurt Clark, the shotgun wouldn’t come out again. He smiled to himself and sat down with the family for supper.
The talk inevitably turned to Bull’s disappearance. Jonathan hadn’t heard anything new in town.
“Big, strong kid like disappearing?” Jonathan paused while eating his stew. “Sure a mystery.”
“Is it really much of a mystery here, though?” Martha asked.
“You mean meteor freaks?”
“I put nothing past Smallville.”
Clark nodded sagely. Lex had to admit that it was a smart sentiment. Living in Smallville made you look at things differently.
The warmth of the kitchen and the acceptance of the Kents relaxed Lex. He listened to the speculations about Bull, noticing that Clark didn’t mention going to Lydia Kraven’s cottage, so he kept quiet about it. Clark was looking especially handsome in the soft kitchen light as dusk fell.
“Lex, you have any ideas?”
Lex looked up, startled. Jonathan was asking him? “I, uh, do think the meteor freak theory is best.” He broke a piece of garlic bread off. “As you say, Bull Rush is a big guy. Who could overpower him? Someone with powers.”
Jonathan grimaced. “I’d hate to see another one pop up. All of them mean trouble.”
Lex slowly ate his garlic bread. He wondered at the easy way the Kents spoke about meteor freaks when their own son was one.
Or was he?
Was the genial, mild-mannered Clark Kent something else? As far as he could tell, Clark had multiple powers: speed, strength, and an acute sense of hearing. What else did he have up his sleeve?
Lex took a sip of cider. That line of thought only led to frustration. Probing Clark’s secrets would lead to disaster.
“I think meteor trouble could be the cause, but Bull’s got his enemies.” Clark ate a spoonful of stew.
“Who?” Lex asked. “He’s a popular football player.”
“Popular football players get the huzzahs, but there’s always someone resentful,” said Jonathan.
Lex was almost amused at the optimistic Kents, layering out humanity’s dark side. He crunched another bite of garlic bread.
“It sure is a mystery,” Martha said.
‘Mystery’ was the word for it, all right, Lex thought.
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