Title: Bleeding Kansas (11-17/27)
Pairings/Characters: Cal/Jaz (OCs), Clark/Lex, Jonathan/Martha, Eben/Sarah (OCs), Chloe/Lana, Evelyn Kendall (OCs), Lionel Luthor, Nell Potter, Pete Ross, Nancy Adams
Genres: Angst, Big Bang/Challenge, Drama, First Time, Holiday, Mystery, Romance
Rating: R overall
Warnings: (Ch. 1: Implied whipping; Ch. 10: Homophobic comments; Ch. 15 & 25: Homophobic slurs; Ch. 25: Whipping, Ch. 25 & 26: Violence; Ch. 26: Homophobia, Fire victim)
Beta: The wonderful me_ya_ri! All mistakes are mine.
Art by: The talented
Beta: The wonderful me_ya_ri. All mistakes are mine.
Art by: The talented silvervalley. All art can be seen here.
Summary: A Secret from Smallville’s past haunts Clark and Lex.
Dates Of Completion: June 1-July 15, 2011
Date Of Posting: October 28, 2011
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC and Warner Brothers do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 26,558
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author's Note: Written for the 2011 Smallville Big Bang. Also written for my 2011 DCU Fic/Art Halloween Challenge Prompts: Smallville, Houses Decorated for Halloween, Pumpkins/Jack O’Lanterns, Pumpkin Bread, Trick-or-Treating, Masquerade Ball/Halloween Party, Ghosts/Spirits and for saavikam77’s 2011 DCU Free_For_All Autumn Challenge. Prompt: T12; P14: Haunted and Special Prompt No. 7: Possession.
All chapters can be found here.
I touched your hand,
I knew that
My heart was true.
"The First Time"
“Are you sure you’re all right, Lex?”
He and Clark were sitting on the couch in the den at the mansion.
“I told you, I’m fine.” Lex smiled. “It was almost dream-like. I woke up in my own bed.”
“But it wasn’t a dream.”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“So you remember feeling sad?”
Lex nodded. “It pressed down on me like something physical.”
“And you heard a voice?”
“Yes.” Lex frowned. “Something about wanting to be together. I have no idea who, though.”
“I’ve felt sadness, too.”
“When I’m up at the ruins on Stone Hill, I feel a terrible sadness, but I’ve always felt that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, Pete and I would play up there sometimes when we were kids, and I would always feel that melancholy.”
Interest sparked in Lex’s eyes. “Hand me my laptop, will you?” Clark did as requested and Lex worked the keyboard. “Do you know the story of the ruins?”
“Just that there was a fire there sometime in the 19th century.”
Lex kept searching and then said, “The house burned on October 31, 1856. It was the house of the Stone family, who had sent their son to build a fine house as they were ardent Abolitionists and wanted to make Kansas their base.”
Clark remembered an entry in Cal’s journal. His eyes were very green. “What was the son’s name?”
Lex scrolled down. “Jasper Stone.”
“Jaz,” Clark whispered.
“Jazz? They didn’t have jazz back then.”
“No, Jaz with one ‘z’. The nickname Cal uses for his friend in his journal.”
“May I read that journal?”
“Yeah. In fact, I have it with me. I came directly from the library, so I still have my books.” Clark went to the hall table where he had put his backpack.
When he returned, Clark handed the journal to Lex, who took it with interest.
“What, no popcorn?” Clark teased.
“I’m sorry. Let me get some.”
“No need. I know where the kitchen is.”
Clark left the room and Lex began reading.
Clark easily found the boxes of popcorn, using his X-ray vision, and got out the drinks while the popcorn popped. When the food was ready, he brought it all into the den.
“So your ancestors were a stop on the Underground Railroad?”
“Yeah.” Clark set the food and drinks on the coffee table. “Pretty cool, huh?”
Lex smiled. “Yeah, considering mine were probably slaveowners.”
“Well, a lot of people were back then.”
As Lex read, his eyebrow rose. “It appears he had another secret.”
Clark looked down at his bowl of popcorn. “Um, yeah.”
Lex smiled fondly at his young friend. “Well it was pretty rough back then, loving someone of the same sex.”
“Not much better today,” Clark muttered.
“What do you mean? Have you had trouble?”
Clark sighed and recounted what had happened that afternoon at the library. Lex’s expression darkened.
“Sounds like behavior I encountered at Excelsior.”
“Your boarding school?”
Clark frowned. He was not thrilled with the thought of Lex running up against bullies at the snooty boarding school. No doubt a child bold and brilliant had been a target, drawing the bullies like magnets. Clark had always hated the tendency in the human heart to despise and fear those who were different.
“You took care of them?” Lex asked.
“Actually, Ms. Kendall did.”
Lex lifted an eyebrow. “Good.” He set the journal on an endtable next to the couch. “This Calvin Kent and his parents were brave people.”
“I admire people like that.” Lex ate a handful of popcorn. “Though I suppose living in this town qualifies as being eligible for combat pay.”
Clark laughed. “I would say you’re right.”
“Well, let’s start the movie.”
Lex drove Clark home, and Clark made him promise not to investigate any strange phenomena on his way home. Lex readily agreed.
Clark talked with his parents for awhile, Martha asking, “How’s Lex, dear?”
“He’s fine.” Clark set his books down on the coffee table. Jonathan was watching TV but listening to the conversation. “Everything quiet here?”
“There a reason it shouldn’t be?” Jonathan asked.
“No, just curious. You know how crazy it can get around here.”
Martha laughed. “Tell me about it.” She sipped her tea. “Did you thank Lex for the chocolates?”
She smiled. “How’s the Social Studies project coming?”
“We’ll be finished by the end of the week.”
“Good.” Martha glanced at the T.V.
“Well, I’m going to do a little studying, and then turn in.”
“Okay. Good night, honey.”
“Good night, son,” said Jonathan.
Clark went upstairs with his books. Sitting on the windowseat, he opened the journal.
April 12, 1856
I learned a lot from our fugitive family. Sam and Hetty were extremely protective of their girls, understandably so. I would listen to their Southern-accented voices and wish things could be different. A world where slavery exists does not seem like a world fit to live in.
Addie and Jolene were sweet girls. I hate to think of them as slaves. Or their parents, either.
I hate to think of anyone as slaves. It is injustice at its worst.
Clark wholeheartedly agreed with that sentiment. He anxiously went to the next entry, taking great care with the aged paper.
April 14, 1856
I saw Jaz at his place, the lilacs in full bloom in the dooryard, and we spent an amiable evening playing cards and drinking ale. It was butter rum, the finest available in the country. Jaz had it shipped in from New England.
We talked about abolition, though of course I kept quiet about my family’s involvement with the Underground Railroad. Some secrets have to be kept, even though I really wished that I could tell my best friend.
Still, we could discuss the issue. The Reverend Ezra Perkins is railing with much fire and brimstone against abolition, but of course we do not attend that church. We have our own.
Jaz said that the Reverend Perkins was full of it. Not gentlemanly words, to be sure, but then, neither is the ‘good’ reverend. He would have gleefully returned Sam and Hetty’s family into slavery.
So the night went well, and I kept my yearnings to myself, prepared to go home unfulfilled when our hands touched reaching for the deck of cards.
Our eyes met, and I had to remember to breathe.
The entry ended there, frustrating but understandable. In fact, Clark wondered how this journal ended up in the town library and not even in the special collection, locked away. Anybody could read this. He wondered what his father would think of all this.
He accepts me as an alien, but I wonder if he would so readily accept me being gay. And in love with a Luthor, no less!
Suddenly tired, Clark went to bed, dreaming of Lex in a yard filled with lilacs as he slowly floated toward the ceiling.
Our lips met,
I knew that
Our love was forever.
"The First Time"
Clark was in Parker’s Feed Store when he overheard a conversation between two farmers that chilled him.
Ed Beckley was a grizzled farmer who was not one to scare easily. His wispy gray hair barely covered his shining pate as he scratched his head. “Durnedst thing, Al,” he said. “I heard some awful caterwaulin’ and moanin’ last night out in the cornfield.”
“Ya did?” Al Mason was dressed in overalls like Ed. His blond crewcut framed a weatherbeaten face. “Could be just kids this close to Halloween.”
“Or one of ‘em meteor freaks.”
“Lawdy, I hope not. We get enough of those.”
“Thing is, the wailin’ sounds more sad than menacin’.”
Al sighed. “Well, jus’ be careful out your way, Ed. You know what them freaks are like. If they’re not doin’ weird stuff, they’re flippin’ out! Every danged one of ‘em is loonier than a ‘toon.”
“Well, ya got that right.”
Clark paused in his hauling of feed sacks. So he and Lex were no longer the only ones to hear the strange wailing. Maybe he should do a search tonight. He finished loading the sacks on the truck and drove home.
After unloading the truck he went inside the house, looking forward to supper.
“Honey, Lex called,” Martha said. She was stirring a pot on the stove, the smell of onions and potatoes simmering with leeks and carrots. Freshly-baked bread warmed in the oven.
“Thanks, Mom.” Clark dialed the familiar number. “Hi, Lex. Mom said you called.”
“That’s right. Can you come over tonight?”
“Well, it is a school night, but I’m caught up with my homework. Let me see.” Clark turned to Martha. “Mom, can I go over to Lex’s after supper?”
“You said your homework’s done.”
“All right. Don’t stay too long.”
“I won’t. Thanks, Mom.” He let Lex know.
After hanging up, Clark enjoyed supper with his parents, helped clean up, and then donned his red jacket and walked briskly to the mansion, keeping his eyes open for anything strange, his super-hearing also keyed in.
He reached the grounds of the castle without incident, expecting to go up to the front door, but Lex was waiting for him at the entrance to the garden. It was already dark, and the outside lights were on.
“What’s up?” Clark asked, a little apprehensive.
Clark obediently followed, noticing the strain in his friend’s voice. He glanced around but saw nothing unusual.
“See anything unusual?” Lex asked, echoing Clark’s thoughts.
Clark looked around at the flowers and trees, beautifully-cultivated by Lex’s gardeners. He saw splashes of purple, orange, and red as he surveyed the garden.
“I don’t…” His gaze fell on the Greek statues. Alexander and Hephaestion were no longer embracing in the way of warriors.
They were kissing.
Clark wondered if his eyes could get any bigger. He was stunned.
“I know.” Lex looked slightly befuddled, amazed, and even a tad hysterical. “I ordered a new statue for this garden, but this is the old set of statues.”
“I know that Alexander and Hephaestion were rather friendly, but this is ridiculous!”
Lex had to laugh. “Never change, Clark.”
Clark flashed a smile. “I can say the same.” He was proud of Lex’s near-unflappability.
“Well, I’d say we’re dealing with meteor mutant powers. Whoever it was rearranged stone.”
Clark had to admit that it was amazing as well as disturbing. He touched the thigh of the Alexander statue, snatching his hand away.
“What’s the matter?” Lex asked anxiously.
“There’s some kind of energy in that statue!”
Lex touched Hephaestion’s leg and pulled his hand away like Clark had done. “That’s some spark!”
Clark looked at the statues with his X-ray vision but saw nothing. Lex was busy examining the statues so missed the intense look to Clark’s relief. Lex was already mildly suspicious of his abilities.
“You saw the glow around the statues before, right?” Clark asked.
“Yeah.” Lex crossed his arms, amusement playing around his lips as he surveyed the statues’ amorous positions. “Well, at least we’ll be entertained, anyway.”
Clark laughed, but suggested, “You should come home with me. It’s too dangerous for you here.”
Lex’s smile was fond. “First of all, I have plenty of security around here, and secondly, what would your parents say if you brought me home to sleep in your guest room?”
Clark looked uncomfortable. “We’ll tell ‘em the truth.”
“Which you haven’t told them yet.”
Clark looked down. “No.” He tensed. He was already feeling guilty about keeping his Secret from Lex, and now he was doing the same thing to his parents.
“I don’t think they would be too rattled, considering their experiences here in Smallville.”
Clark looked up and saw no condemnation in Lex’s eyes, just curiosity. He moistened his lips, cursing his dry mouth, missing the expression that flashed over his friend’s face.
“I guess this phenomenon is not going to be just limited to us.”
“No, it won’t.” Lex frowned. “Has anyone else seen or heard anything?”
“A couple of farmers. I overheard them in Parker’s Feed Store.”
“I’m surprised they don’t have the torches and pitchforks out.”
Lex grinned. “Okay, so I’m painting with a broad brush.”
“Some people have that attitude but not everybody.” Frowning, Clark looked down at his shoes. “Though I suppose small towns aren’t known for open-mindedness.”
Lex smiled. “Believe me, Clark, the people of cities like Metropolis and Gotham think they’re all sophisticated, but they can be just as ignorant and venal despite their veneer of that sophistication.”
“I suppose. I know big city folk do look down on us, though.” Clark looked at Lex. “You must have felt like you were exiled to Siberia when you were first sent here.”
“Oh, I’ll admit that I wasn’t happy but I’ve grown to appreciate small-town living.”
Clark felt warmth spread through him at the look that Lex gave him. He thought of the statues in the garden and wished that for once in his life, he could be bold.
“How are you going to explain those statues?”
Les grinned. “It’s Smallville.”
Swings and swirls,
Leaves blow ‘round,
In dips and curls.
All Hallows’ Eve
Sarah Jean O’Reilly
The leaves drifted down from the trees, a shower of lemon-gold, scarlet, and burnt-orange. The days and nights grew colder as more houses and businesses were decorated for the coming holiday.
Pumpkin was literally the flavor of the month. The local bakery, Maria’s, was offering pumpkin muffins, cakes, cupcakes, and pies for a special price. The Beanery was featuring pumpkin-flavored lattes and shakes while Martha Kent baked up a storm, filling the farmhouse with the wonderful smells of pumpkin bread and other goodies.
Lex was invited over and helped with carving and painting the pumpkins. He was amused by the tradition and happy to be a part of it. He even proved to be creative.
“A very convincing Witch,” Martha said approvingly as she studied the painted pumpkin of Lex’s.
Clark put the finishing touched on his carved pumpkin, cutting out the last whisker. “Nice kitty,” he said, a twinkle in his eyes.
Lex laughed. “Every Witch should have her familiar.”
Clark grinned as he put his cat pumpkin next to Lex’s Witch pumpkin.
“They go together like peanut butter and chocolate,” Lex said with a twinkle of his own.
“Will you stay for pumpkin bread, Lex?” Martha asked.
“Martha Kent pumpkin bread? How can I resist?”
“Oh, darling, you’re a charmer.”
Lex smiled, Clark shaking his head fondly. He followed his mother and best friend inside the house while his father put the carving tools away.
Martha served the pumpkin bread with rich cream and a maraschino cherry on top.
“Absolutely delicious, Mrs. Kent.”
“Thank you, dear. “ Martha poured freshly-squeezed lemonade into glasses. “Everything’s pumpkin lately.”
Clark and Lex grinned. “And lucky for us,” Lex said with a laugh.
Martha smiled. “A definite charmer.”
Lex blushed slightly as Jonathan entered the kitchen. He took a seat and said, “Thanks for helping out with the pumpkins, Lex.”
Lex looked mildly surprised at Jonathan’s approval but quickly said, “Glad to do it, Mr. Kent.”
“How’s everything over at your place?” Jonathan asked as he poured himself a glass of lemonade.
Lex started minutely, but Clark was certain that he was the only one to notice.
“Everything’s fine. The staff has done a great job decorating the place.”
Clark felt a little sad that the decorating at the castle was by staff and not family, but somehow he doubted that Lionel was into painting faces on pumpkins. The carving of pumpkins, he could see, he thought with a shudder.
“I’ve found the celebration of Halloween here in America fascinating. Canada and the U.S. celebrate this version of the holiday, as Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead,” said Lex.
“Yes, different cultures celebrate different ways.” Martha ate a piece of bread, “Though I thought I read that countries like France and Japan were adapting the holiday.”
“That’s right.” Lex smiled at her. “France set out Jack O’Lanterns on the Champs Elysees, and Japan is huge on the costumes.”
“Doesn’t Japan celebrate Valentine’s Day, too?” Clark asked.
“It does, though differently. The women give the men chocolates on that day, and receive presents from the men a month later on White Day.”
“That’s fascinating,” Martha said.
“Love always finds a way,” said Lex with a smile.
Clark felt his stomach flutter.
I wish I could.
After the snack, Lex had to get back to the castle, Clark walking him to his car.
“You be careful,” he said.
Lex smiled. “I’d say the same to you.” He got into his Porsche and drove away, tires squealing on the gravel.
Clark went up to the loft. He watched Lex’s progress with his telescopic vision, satisfied that his friend was safe as he went into the mansion.
Clark sat down at the desk, opening the journal.
April 19, 1856
I cannot believe how fortunate I am: Jaz loves me, too! I have been trying to savor the thought, my memories of the night I spent with him invading my waking hours. I am like a schoolgirl as of late. Oh, happy day!
Clark had to smile. It was wonderful to read about such joy.
April 22, 1856
I have found more and more excuses to spend time with Jaz. He brought over a porcelain vase full of lilacs yesterday, ostensibly for Ma, but I knew they were for me. I do not think my parents suspect anything. I usually tell them everything, but I doubt this is the kind of thing you speak of over dinner.
Clark had to laugh. He could certainly agree with that last sentence. He enjoyed reading several entries written by a man in the first bloom of love, interspersed with entries detailing the family’s work on the Underground Railroad. One was particularly disturbing.
April 30, 1856
Word came to us that the Kendall farm was burned last night. It was said that the raiders suspected that it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Pa said that we have to be even more careful than ever.
The attacks are coming more frequently throughout the state. There was a murder over in Granville by the Border Ruffians last month, and another burning in Missouri, right across the border.
I fear for my country. We are heading toward a conflagration, and Kansas is right in the middle of it all.
We received The Daily Star today and the lawyer for the Metropolis Abolitionist Society, Hiram Clark, says that the attacks must stop; otherwise we are all doomed. He may be right.
Clark perked up at the name of the lawyer. He knew that his mother’s family had also settled here in the 19th century. They had been active in the Abolitionist Movement, one ancestor a newspaper editor of an Abolitionist paper until a pro-slavery crowd had dumped his printing press in the river and shot him dead as Andrew Clark tried to stop them.
Clark read through more entries, alternating between the trouble in Kansas and Cal’s private romance.
May 2, 1856
Jaz and I spent a happy afternoon at the swimming hole. It is secluded, much more private than Miller’s Pond. We enjoyed each other’s company, talking of many things, including Jaz saying that he wanted to take the Grand Tour of Europe and bring me with him.
I was stunned into silence. To see Europe has always been a dream of mine. I wanted very desperately to say yes, but how could we do it? It would be one thing if I was his betrothed or new bride, but as just a friend? Dubious at best.
Jaz laughed and said, “There is always a way.”
Clark wondered what it would be like to tour Europe with Lex. It would be a great adventure.
He rested his chin on the palm of his hand as he stared out the barn window. Fireflies flickered in the growing dusk. The smell of roast chicken, baked potatoes, and carrots wafted up from the kitchen.
It was Smallville at its best, idyllic and peaceful, though any resident knew that could change lightning-quick.
He resumed reading the journal as the breeze picked up.
May 21, 1856
By the end of the day news had come to Smallville: a group of Border Ruffians poured into Free-State settlement Lawrence where they burned the hotel, ransacked homes and stores, and destroyed two newspaper offices and their printing presses. Pa says the pro-slavers are growing bolder, and we must be ready for anything.
May 22, 1856
The telegraph once again brought us dire news: Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, an advocate for our Cause, was brutally attacked in the very Senate itself by Preston Smith Brooks, Congressman from that rebellious state of South Carolina. There is no word of Senator Sumner’s injuries, but Brooks used his cane to attack the Senator about the head, so the worst is feared.
Word spread like wildfire throughout town, and men and women have rifles at the ready, though I cannot help but think that the world has gone mad. What an abomination to occur on the floor of the U.S. Senate!
Will Kansas Territory go up in flames?
May 25, 1856
John Brown, that most ardent of Abolitionists, attacked pro-slavery settlers last night at Pottawattomie Creek with a group of men that included four of his sons. They killed seven men and have tasted blood now.
Heaven help us!
Clark saw a flicker of light out of the corer of his eyes, a voice whispering in his ear, borne on the wind. He set aside the journal and hurried downstairs, using his super-speed to go to the source of the light.
The whispers kept drawing him forward, the cornfields whizzing by in ribbons of gold and green. The smell of lilacs was strong.
When he stopped, he was standing in the ruins of Stone Hill.
Through the dark,
Like stars in the sky,
Quiet and glorious.
Watch their magic..
Lex gazed up at the Greek statues, admiring the form and flair of the artwork. It was a kiss worthy of the Guiness Book of World Records for longevity alone.
He was surprised that none of his staff had noticed, or maybe they just thought his new statues had arrived.
Or they might not have noticed. People do tend not to notice familiar things, simply taking them for grated. Either it's being unobservant or discreet.
Lex noticed the ardor with which the two legendary lovers embraced. He began to daydream, seeing him and Clark in place of Alexander and Hephaestion. He could imagine feeling that warm body pressed close to him, lush and ripe and delicious.
And if I keep this up, I'll be in trouble. He smirked. Or at least my pants will be.
He pulled his jacket tighter around himself. October was in full swing, the days cool and the evenings cold. There was a purity in the country he could not experience in the city.
Could this place, this Smallville, be a place where I can find my heart's desire?
The wind blew, leaves scattering around the garden. He frowned as he thought he heard whispers, but everyone was in bed or gone home if they lived in town. He could smell lilacs, which spooked him as they were long past blooming.
"Who's there?" he asked sharply. If someone was having a late-night tryst, fine, but he wanted to find out just what was going on. At the continued silence, he said, "You won't get in trouble. Just show yourself." Only the wind answered him.
Lex moved deeper into the garden, unaware of the sparkling glow surrounding the Greek statues. He made a systemic sweep but found no one.
Suddenly, the whispers drifted on the wind again, and the glow appeared several yards away. Lex immediately walked toward it.
He followed and followed, unaware of the passing of time and place, until he reached Stone Hill.
His heart dropped into his shoes as he saw Clark standing in the middle of the ruins, the glow surrounding him, caressing him as if he was a lover.
Lex tried to say Clark's name but his throat was constricted, his limbs heavy as he tried to reach out to his friend.
Clark looked mesmerized, his green eyes glassy. He was staring ahead, but seeing nothing. Lex tried speaking again.
"Clark," he managed to rasp out.
Clark made no response. He remained in the center of the golden glow, the sparkles like fireflies, and Lex thought he looked beautiful, but he was afraid for him. Smallville weirdness could be dangerous.
The whispers grew louder and intelligible.
"We must be together. We have waited so long."
Fear seeped into Lex's bones. More than one entity was behind all this.
"Clark," he said in a stronger voice, fueled by desperation.
Clark's eyes flickered, and he seemed to be listening. Lex pushed himself forward.
"Come on, Clark, use some of those meteor powers of yours and break out of this spell or whatever it is."
There, he had said it. His suspicions were no longer unspoken, but none of that mattered now. What was important was keeping Clark safe. Nothing was more important.
Clark's hand moved and Lex pleaded. "Come on now." Shaking, he tried to get past the sparkling barrier.
Suddenly Clark pushed out of the golden aura and fell into Lex's arms.
"Together," came the agonized whisper as Clark mumbled, "Get me out of here, Lex."
Lex's limbs felt back to normal as he brought Clark away from the ruins, both of them staggering.
Finally they were back in the castle garden, Lex helping Clark sit on a stone bench.
"Are you all right?" Lex asked anxiously.
"I...I think so." Clark rubbed his forehead. “What happened?"
Lex twisted his mouth and explained. Confused, Clark looked at him. "You saved me."
Lex smiled a little. "I guess I did."
Clark put a hand over the one of Lex's that gripped his shoulder. "Thanks, Lex."
Lex smiled, suddenly overwhelmed.
This crazy place will kill us both.
He couldn't stand it any more. He leaned forward and kissed Clark.
Clark was surprised but was suddenly kissing Lex back, grabbing onto his jacket like he would never let go.
Clark was inexperienced but enthusiastic, Lex knowing that there was promise in that youthful ardor. When they separated, Lex murmured, "I shouldn't have done that. You're too young." His hand cupped Clark's cheek.
Clark grabbed his hand. "I'm old enough to know my heart, Lex."
"Your father will get his shotgun out."
Clark laughed, kissing the palm of his friend's hand. "You're got good reflexes. I'm sure you'll be fine." He did not let go of Lex's hand.
Lex felt a jumble of emotions but mostly was happy that his love was reciprocated. He had hoped and dreamed for so long...
"You really love me?"
Lex smiled. "Yes, Clark, I do."
Clark's smile was brilliant, like the sun coming out on a cloudy day, warming Lex's lonely heart. He reached out and brushed glossy bangs back from his young friend's brow.
"You really are beautiful."
Clark blushed, ducking his head shyly. "Aww, Lex."
Lex grinned. "Let's get inside."
Clark nodded, letting Lex help him up. He was still a little wobbly, Lex noted.
Inside, he brought Clark to the kitchen. He poured him a glass of apple cider, wishing that he could have the hard version. He settled for soft cider, too.
"Do you think that you ought to tell your parents?"
Clark sighed. "I suppose so. It's getting too weird now."
"Want me there when you do?"
Clark shook his head. "I don't want them thinking that you knew everything before they did. Dad would say that you should've said something."
"Maybe I should."
Clark shrugged. "Like you say, this is Smallville."
"Well, I'd better drive you home. It's really dark."
"I'll be fine walking."
"No way am I letting you walk the dark roads after that."
"Looks like I've got no choice." Clark smiled.
When they reached the foot of the Kent driveway, Clark changed his mind and asked Lex to come with him. Lex was more than happy to oblige and turned the Porsche into the driveway.
He had made some decisions on the quiet ride over: if this thing with Clark was going to work, he had to win over his parents. He was doing better with them, and Martha was close to full acceptance, but he resolved not to keep any more secrets from the family.
Okay, I know Clark's a meteor mutant and would love to study his powers, because unlike the rest of them, he seems to have more than one power. He keeps lying to me about it, but considering people's fear of mutants, I can understand it.
As Lex pulled up and shut off the engine, he was a little hurt that Clark did not trust him enough to admit to him his condition, but he was determined to prove that he could be trusted. Maybe someday Clark would feel able to tell him the truth.
The lights were on in the living room as Clark led Lex onto the porch, the Witch cut-out shimmering in the light of the tiny pumpkin lights framing the door. Someone had added little black bat cut-outs flying around the Witch. The Jack O'Lanterns flickered, sending little tongues of flame dancing crazily on the walls. Crickets chirped as a breeze blew, the windchimes at the end of the porch tinkling merrily.
Lex pulled his coat around himself tighter. Smallville did not need to get any spookier!
Footsteps sounded and the door was yanked open. The lights flickered eerily across Jonathan's worried face.
"Clark, where have you been?" He frowned at Lex.
"I'll explain, Dad."
Martha appeared at the entrance to the kitchen. "Oh, honey, are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Mom, thanks to Lex."
"Let's get settled," Jonathan said.
Everyone took seats in the living room, Jonathan and Martha sitting in their favorite chairs and Clark and Lex taking the couch. The coziness of the farmhouse calmed Lex's nerves. It was going to be all right.
Clark related the strange occurrences to his parents, who were understandably concerned.
"Thank you, Lex," Martha said.
Lex nodded, accepting her heartfelt gratitude graciously.
"These lights and voices...you've heard them, too?" Jonathan asked.
Lex nodded. "I was drawn by those lights and voices to Stone Hill."
"Stone Hill's always been a strange place. " Clark shuddered. Lex put a hand on his friend's arm, realizing too late how it might look, but he kept his eyes on Clark. "I've always felt so sad there." Lex squeezed his arm. "I keep smelling lilacs."
Martha frowned. "They're long past blooming." She leaned forward. "Stone Hill is just a ruin, honey."
"Yeah, it burned over 150 years ago," Jonathan said.
"A man named Jasper Stone lived there," Lex said. "He was mentioned in your ancestor's journals."
"I heard stories while growing up that the Stones were prominent Abolitionists."
"But only Jasper lived here."
"Yeah, his parents were still in Boston," Clark said.
"And he was building a new home so that his parents would join him," Lex continued.
"Did they ever find out how the fire started?" Martha asked.
"Not that I ever heard," Jonathan replied.
"Hmm," Lex mused.
"What is it?" Clark asked.
"It's just that Stone Hill seems to be the focal point."
"But I’ve always felt depressed there. That's nothing new."
"But the lights and voices are."
Jonathan frowned. "You think there's a link?"
"There could be."
The wind blew, the windchimes singing their song as the Kents and Lex sat in silence.
Swirl around me.
Fall upon me.
Why am I
Shunned and despised?
Clark could still go over to the mansion but his parents insisted on driving him, or Lex came and picked him up. As irritating as it was, he had to admit that it made sense.
He was sitting in his loft, feeling a lot like Calvin Kent after he and Jasper Stone had realized their feelings for each other.
So, tonight he would be going over to the mansion for Movie Night, and Jonathan was driving him over.
First, though, he wanted to finish reading the journal. Not only did he want to start work on his paper, he felt anxious to read the remaining entries.
Opening the journal he read the next entry:
May 30, 1856
Jaz and I have been getting together when we can. Another slave family arrived last night, and they are hidden in the barn. I have to stay around, but Jaz came to the farm today. He bought some corn, liking the freshness of the ears.
I knew it was an excuse to see me, and I was happy for his subterfuge. We stole a kiss in the cornfields and headed back to the house.
That night Ma, Pa and I thought we heard riders, but luckily that was not true, or at least the riders were not Border Ruffians. Pa and I will still have to keep watch.
June 6, 1856
I have not had time to write very much. We had to get the slaves off to the next stop, and it was a perilous week. Ma thought she had heard someone around the barn a few nights ago, but no one was there. Still, it meant that we got the slaves out ahead of schedule.
Clark read the next several entries that covered more liaisons with Jaz, and more slaves arriving and departing. The next entry was disturbing.
July 4, 1856
Smallville does itself grand with the Fourth of July. There were games and wrestling matches and horse races. We played base ball and ate wonderful food like corn-on-the-cob and cherry pie and fried chicken.
Jaz and I met while watching one of the wrestling matches. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder as we cheered on Junior Carter against Malcolm Britt. We both had bets on Junior.
The Reverend Ezra Perkins was giving us the evil eye, as Mrs. Rossetti would say, but at the time I really took little notice. He does the same to everyone.
Ma won two blue ribbons, one for her cherry pie and one for her strawberry preserves, both well-deserved. I got second place in the horse race, and my real prize was spending time with Jaz.
Later, during a break in the fireworks, Ma and Pa left in the wagon for home, and I was going to ride Strawberry home.
That was a mistake.
Clark shuddered. His hand trembled as he turned the page.
We were enjoying the fireworks when a voice said in my ear, “Sodomites.”
I turned and saw Melchior Ames, a big, raw-boned boy with three of his equally large or disreputable friends close by.
I scowled and pretended great outrage. “You had better watch your mouth, Melchior.”
He sneered and said, “Or what? You think you can thrash me, nancy-boy?”
Jaz heard this and added his own two cents. It was chilling to hear him say, “Listen and listen good. You Neanderthals can threaten all you want, but I will crush you like the bugs you are. Money always talks.”
Melchior and his cohorts were taken aback, but he continued to bluster. Jaz and I walked away cool as cucumbers, hiding the fact that we were shaken.
Had someone seen us? We had been so careful!
Clark felt nauseous. He could only imagine how shaken that he would feel if either of his Secrets were discovered!
He sat there for awhile as twilight began to fall, tiny stars beginning to show in a violet sky.
Mentally girding himself, he continued reading.
July 5, 1856
Somehow we had been found out. Jaz and I discussed our situation. We resolved to keep living our lives, but more carefully.
Clark read about a new slave with the name of Charlie arriving at the farm, and how Cal and Jaz continued to meet but with almost paranoid caution. He could not blame them for that paranoia.
Throughout the rest of July, they continued their romance while Charlie came down with what Sara Kent diagnosed as ague, delaying his journey.
It was also increasing their danger.
July 29, 1856
As Charlie was still sick, he could not be moved, and tonight the Border Ruffians set fire to our fields. Pa, Ma, and I worked hard to put it out, neighbors coming to help once they saw the flames. Jaz came, too.
Ma checked on Charlie, who had been scared to death. I really cannot blame him. I was scared, too.
If the Border Ruffians keep watch on us, how will we get Charlie out of here?
August 2, 1856
Jaz came up with a plan. He came with a wagon and loaded corn on it with my help, and Charlie was hidden in the wagon. Pa and I had not seen any signs of spies, so we took the chance. My heart was in my mouth as Jaz drove away.
Fortunately, Providence was with us. Jaz rode back on his stallion, Bucephalus, and told us that Charlie had gotten away safely. We were happy that both Jaz and Charlie were safe.
Pa sent word that we would have to be taken off the Railroad stops, at least for a time.
Clark quickly read through the August entries, mostly centered around Cal and Jaz, and the September entries went into more detail about their romance.
September 27, 1856
Jaz and I spent a glorious day together. The light was as golden as the leaves, and we made love at the swimming hole, our hearts united.
Jaz says that I can come with him next summer to Europe. He will employ me as his secretary and will hire a crew of field hands to help my parents with the farm while I am gone.
I am sure they will let me go. It is an opportunity I could only dream of, to see London and Paris and Rome, and the great museums and cathedras and other grand places.
Such thoughts will keep me warm this winter.
Several entries later, Clark’s blood chilled.
October 31, 1856
October has been a strange month. I have enjoyed great happiness with Jaz, but the attacks on anti-slavery people have grown. Our side fights back, but the violence is escalating and the blood running freely into the soil of Kansas.
Several times when I have been in town, Ezra Perkins has been watching me. Today he approached me as I loaded the wagon up with supplies. He always makes my skin crawl. His eyes are lit with messianic fervor, and zealots always make me nervous.
“You are full of sin, boy,” he hissed at me.
“We are all sinners, Reverend,” I answered.
“Some are worse than others.”
“Perhaps.” I continued loading, hoping that he would go away. No such fortune, alas.
He came closer. I could smell his sweat. “You are doomed, Calvin Kent. You and your sodomite lover.”
He turned away, leaving me trembling. I was both frightened and enraged.
As I turned away, I saw Jedediah Milbank talking to Perkins. That man was not to be trusted. A leading citizen of Smallville, he was nonetheless a scurvy type. Suddenly, I wanted to get out of town as quickly as possible and get back to the farm.
Once home, Pa helped me unload the wagon. We had to stay alert tonight. It was All Hallows’ Eve, the Night of Mischief.
I was very uneasy as I took up my post by the cornfield.
Something was going to happen tonight.
Clark turned the page and frowned. It was blank. He checked the other pages. They were blank, too.
Why had this been Cal’s final entry?
STARING UP AT THE STARS
In the night.
Clark thanked his father as he got out of the truck, carrying the journal. He watched Jonathan drive away, his father satisfied that he was safe. He rang the doorbell and Lex answered it.
“I see you made it in one piece.”
Clark laughed. “I was chauffeured.”
“Good.” Lex smiled. “Come on in.”
“Are Alexander and Hephaestion still making out?”
It was Lex’s turn to laugh. “The boys are having a good time.”
“Glad to hear it.”
They settled in the den and Clark handed the journal to Lex. “The entries end abruptly on October 31st.”
Clark nodded. “Cal wrote that he and his father had to keep an eye out because it was a night for mischief.”
Lex read the final entry. “A rather ominous ending.”
“I’ll go back to the library and see if there’s another journal.”
“I’ve been doing some more research.” Lex offered Clark the bowl of fresh popcorn. Clark grinned and filled a smaller bowl with the treat. Lex’s smile was fondly affectionate.
“So what did you find out?”
“That Jasper Stone stopped building the house for his family.”
“Well, the record I found was dated January of 1857. It said that the orders for building materials had been cancelled.”
“Hmm, that’s strange. He seemed so determined to get it built.”
“Well, plans change. Even though his family were Free-Staters, maybe the escalating violence made them think twice. I’ve done a lot of searching, but haven’t come up with much, except that the site for the new house was this one.”
“Wow.” Clark ate a handful of popcorn. “You said you did a lot of searching? On-line, you mean?”
Lex nodded. “And you hadn’t heard about the history of Stone Hill before?”
“No.” Clark opened a bottle of Diet Coke and poured glasses for himself and Lex. “Just that it had burned down. No one seems to know the details.” He crunched another handful of popcorn. “Y’know, since there’s not much on-line, maybe we should check out the library and the Historical Society. Cal’s journal was languishing in obscurity until I found it on the shelves.”
“You’re right, sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best.”
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying a very bad action movie, both men throwing buckets of snark at the screen.
They smiled at each other and Clark shyly took Lex’s hand. Lex squeezed it and they continued commenting, but both were wearing silly grins on their faces.
Clark felt butterflies in his stomach, grateful that his hand was not sweaty. He did feel like he was on his first date.
Though I think Lex and I have been dating for awhile now; we just haven’t known it.
When the movie finished, Lex got his keys, ready to drive Clark home. He went to the garage and got the Porsche out. When he could not find his friend, he called his name.
“I’m out here!”
Lex found Clark out in the garden, gazing up at the kissing statues.
“Has anyone commented on these two?” Clark asked.
“Oddly, no. Or maybe people just chalk it up to Smallville weirdness.”
They both laughed, and Clark smiled at Lex, whose eyes softened as he gazed at his young friend.
Suddenly Clark felt a surge of emotion, reaching out and drawing Lex to him, kissing him gently.
Lex responded, putting his arms around Clark and slipping his tongue inside his lover’s mouth. Clark whimpered as he pressed Lex closer.
Suddenly, the sound of hounds baying could be heard in the distance as Clark felt dizzy. Lilacs’ scent was strong, and the breeze sprang up, rattling the trees as the leaves swirled down in a shower of gold and ruby.
As he and Lex parted, Clark could see flickering lights in the distance, but they were not the sparkling lights he and Lex had been seeing. They flickered like torches.
He winced as his back began to burn, and now he could see the sparkling lights in front of his eyes. Even though his limbs felt like lead, he grabbed Lex’s arm as fear surged through him.
“We have to get out of here!”
Lex did not protest as he ran with Clark. The hounds sounded closer, and Clark could smell the burning torches. They ran wildly, bypassing the mansion and heading for the road, a part of Clark’s mind decrying the illogic but unable to stop his blind panic.
Lex stumbled and Clark helped him up. They kept running, Clark’s back burning even worse. Just as he felt that his lungs would burst, the headlights of an approaching car caused Clark to push Lex off the road, gasping as they rolled into a ditch.
Clark stared up at the stars, his chest heaving as he still tightly gripped Lex’s hand. He could hear shouts and felt himself being lifted up, the smell of the earth clinging to him.
He could not stop staring up at the stars.
HOT VEGETABLE SOUP
Lana nervously nibbled on a nail as she sat on the couch in the Kent living room. Chloe grasped her hand and her charm bracelet jangled as she squeezed Lana’s hand. Her chandelier earrings swayed as her blue eyes were clouded with concern.
“Do you think Clark will be all right?” Lana asked.
“He’s strong. A lot more than Smallville weirdness is needed to get him down.”
Lana attempted to answer Chloe’s smile. She certainly hoped that Chloe was right.
Jonathan came down the stairs and the girls stood.
“How is he?” Chloe asked.
“Doing all right.” Jonathan wearily sat in his chair while Chloe and Lana sat back down on the couch. “He’s at least aware of his surroundings now.” He looked solemnly at the two of them. “You girls helped save him from further injury.”
“How’s Lex?” asked Lana.
“Worried about Clark, but he seems all right otherwise.”
Chloe and Lana exchanged a little smile that was missed by Jonathan, who ran a hand through his blond hair.
“Mr. Kent, what’s going on? Do I have something new for my Wall of Weird?” asked Chloe.
Jonathan smiled grimly. “I’m afraid you do.” He glanced upstairs. “We might as well tell you. You’re in this with us now.”
Chloe and Lana leaned forward. Jonathan almost laughed at their eagerness. He began the whole story as Martha came down the stairs.
“He’s sleeping. Lex is with him.” She went into the kitchen and emerged a few minutes late with apple cider and oatmeal raisin cookies. She offered the girls both and sat down in her chair, drinking her cider. Jonathan had snagged a glass and sipped it, then related the rest of the tale.
Lana supposed that she ought to be more shaken, but she was a Smallville native. The weird and unusual was just par-for-the-course.
“What can we do to help?” she asked, warmed by the looks of approval given to her by the Kents.
“Keep your eyes open for these strange manifestations. It appears that Lex is affected by them, too.”
Lana was pleasantly surprised to hear the note of concern in Jonathan’s voice. She knew that he loathed Lionel and mistrusted Lex, or at least had mistrusted him. She knew that the hostility had upset Clark, because he considered Lex his best friend, though he diplomatically kept that to himself around Pete. Chloe vacillated between mistrust and acceptance, her journalistic instincts always seeking ulterior motives, and Luthors always had those, according to her.
Lana liked Lex and knew that he was good for Clark in ways she never could be, just as Chloe was better for her than Clark had been.
It all works out.
“We’ll keep an eye on them, Mr. Kent,” Chloe promised.
Lex sat by Clark’s bed, anxiously keeping vigil. He was greatly relieved that both he and Clark had managed to break out from whatever spell they had been under. He shivered at the memory of the baying hounds and the flickering torches.
Like Frankenstein’s Monster being hunted down by the pitchfork-wielding villagers.
His heart constricted. He knew that Clark was afraid of being found out as a meteor freak, but Lex would protect him with everything he had, and he had a lot.
He brushed back a wayward strand of hair off Clark’s forehead. The tenderness he felt scared him. He had never felt this way before. His fingers ghosted over Clark’s lips.
“We’ll always be together, Clark.”
He drew his hand away as footsteps sounded on the stairs and Martha came into the bedroom.
“Come on downstairs, Lex. You need something to eat, and then you’ll be spending the night in the spare room.”
“Mrs. Kent, I…”
“No backtalk, young man.” Martha smiled. “Clark will sleep. Come with me.”
Lex took one last look at Clark and rose from his chair, following Martha out.
Downstairs he was plied with hot vegetable soup and a mug of hot chocolate. He described his strange experience to Chloe and Lana, who were now sitting at the kitchen table along with the Kents.
In the warmth of the kitchen, surrounded by love and concern, Lex had to admit that he was glad he was not returning to the cold, empty castle tonight.
After Chloe and Lana left, Lex spent some time talking things over with Martha and Jonathan before sitting with Clark until Martha packed him off to the spare room, handing him a borrowed set of Clark’s pajamas.
Lex put on the bright blue pajamas, shivering as the cotton slid along his skin. Clark had worn these pajamas.
Shaking his head over his mooning, Lex climbed into bed and pulled up the covers, including a beautiful quilt handmade by Jonathan’s mother. Relaxing, he fell asleep and dreamed of fields of lilacs.