Title: Gingerbread Boys (Nourishment: Second Helpings 14)
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
Feedback to: jfc@freeshell.org
Archive: Mailing list archives only--others please ask permission!
Category: Vignette, Martha POV
Spoilers: None ever anymore
Rating: Y (suitable for younger teens and up)
Pairing: Clark/Lex established relationship
Summary: Merry Christmas!

DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me. Smallville is the property of Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Tollin-Robbins Productions, and Warner Bros. Television, and based upon characters originally created by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster. This story is just for the entertainment of my online friends and myself, not for any profit.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: All parts of "The Nourishment Series" and "Second Helpings", which precede this story, can be found on elsewhere on this archive - Enjoy!

AUTHOR'S ADDENDUM: The show as we knew it no longer exists--we've gotta write it ourselves now.

DEDICATION: For my fanclub: Tiff, Sandra, and Henry!

COPYRIGHT: (C) Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, February 23, 2006, jfc@freeshell.org

Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.



Clark will always be my little boy. He may tower over me as he helps mix the fruit salad, and be able to put the star on top of the tree without a ladder. However, when I look at him, I still see that cute little guy next to our upside-down truck, far away from home, helpless, and just wanting to be loved.

Christmas always brings back the sweet family memories of holidays gone by, and this year is no different. I reflect on the difficult times we've had during the past twelve months, but they seem far away when I can smell the cookies baking in the oven and hear Jon's scratchy old Nat "King" Cole album on the stereo. (He claims that the album is mine, that he wouldn't own anything but the Oak Ridge Boys or Garth Brooks, but I'm not the one who gets it out every December first.)

The frosty morning of the twenty-fifth finds me already downstairs cooking and hearing heavy "tiptoeing" around overhead. Finally I give up and holler up the stairs, "Get down here, Clark! You're not six years old anymore! Your father may have given you the morning off, but when you're up this early on Christmas Day, you can pitch in around here and help me!"

At normal boy speed, which still involves slithering down the edges of the steps on sock-clad feet, he arrives in the kitchen. He grins and peeks out the pass-through at the bounty under the tree. "Did Santa come?" he asks with no irony whatsoever, and I silently thank the hardware store that located the lead foil I can use as wrapping paper.

"Later, bub," I scold him, handing him two loaves of day-old bread. "Wash up, then start ripping."

"The bags, too?" he asks, teasing.

"Fill this bowl with breadcrumbs, and don't get any on the floor. The method is up to you."

I am pleased to note that he opens the first wrapper and starts tearing up the bread carefully in his fingers, just slightly faster than I would do it myself. He works quietly for a few minutes, then asks me, "Do you think Lex will like his present?"

Throwing him a glance over my shoulder as I saute the onions and celery, I answer, "I'm sure he'll love it, since it's from you. You're sure he doesn't have one already?"

"Nope--I checked. What time is it?"

"Seven-oh-five. Once I get the turkey in the oven, we can have a little breakfast so you won't starve before dinner."

"That's okay," he answers, dusting off his palms and handing me the bowl of crumbs. "I'm not that hungry. I'll just go sit by the tree awhile." I notice that the seat he chooses has a good view of the driveway, and he's looking out the window more than at the twinkling lights. It is then I realize that he's not antsy about dinner or even the gifts. He's counting the hours until Lex comes over.

There was no question that I'd invite Lex for Christmas day. After all, his father cannot join him at home, and his boarders, the Sullivans, have gone to the city to celebrate with family. I couldn't bear the thought of him all alone in that old, chilly house on the biggest holiday of the year.

Recent events, those I know all about as well as those at which I can only guess, have been challenging for Clark, but I'm glad that he's had Lex around to support him. Had any of his father's schemes succeeded in destroying Lex, I imagine Clark would have been so devastated that he would be unrecognizable. I don't want to think about my boy trying to survive alone in the real world without somebody strong like Lex by his side. Jon and I won't be here forever, so he's going to need someone in his life who loves him without question.

Clark doesn't get a lot of break time, because I keep finding more tasks for him to do around the kitchen. Luckily, none of them require much concentration, since his mind seems to be elsewhere, probably sneaking under that lead foil giftwrap!

Before long, Jon has returned from tending the animals, then vanishes upstairs for awhile, returning all showered and freshly dressed. Only then do I dismiss Clark to get ready, since I have another warm body to help me.

Apparently, though, Clark isn't the only impatient one who will be at our dinner table today. A full hour before he is expected, Lex drives up and soon is bustling in with a carrier containing several bottles of wine. I go to help him with his coat, welcoming him with a warm hug and a small kiss on his cheek. When he looks happily stunned, I point out the sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling light fixture.

At that very moment, huge feet, this time wearing shoes, come running downstairs. "Mo-oooom!" Clark whines in a mock-horrified voice at me smooching his honey.

With a giggle, I take the wine bottles and leave Clark to step into Lex's arms, while Jon pointedly arranges marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes without looking at his son's greeting of the new arrival. Soon, Lex's coat is hung up, the beverages are stowed at the appropriate temperature, the oven is full and working hard, and we have some time to open presents.

We may not have a lot of gifts under our tree, but they're all from the heart and carefully wrapped. However, it doesn't bother us that the wrappings all end up in a wadded heap in the middle of the living room floor when we're done. Clark is the pleased recipient of several books and CDs and a dressy topcoat that he'd been needing. Jon wears new house slippers and holds a shiny new power tool that he'd asked for by name, though I have no idea what it does. I get to feel all girly with some lovely cologne from Clark and some pretty earrings and a new nightie from Jon.

Lex seems content to watch us, but I hop up and hand him the box that I'd hidden under the tree for him. I believe I see a small blush grace his cheeks when he opens it to reveal a scarf and stocking cap in the same purple yarn I'd used to knit his mittens back when he was in the hospital. Clark immediately urges him to try on the cap, which he does to a round of approving laughter and applause.

"This is very nice. Thank you, Mrs. Kent!" he says, only slightly embarrassed.

"I've got something for you, too, Lex!" Clark announces, bounding up and out of the room, leaving Lex looking a little worriedly after him. "I couldn't really wrap it," says Clark's voice as it precedes him into the room, accompanied by a brand-new double-runner sled that is big enough for two.

Lex wears an overwhelmed smile, but eagerly goes to hug Clark. "Thank you, baby. Maybe we can break it in this afternoon!" he adds, sneaking a peek out the window at the snowy fields outdoors.

"You really like it?" Clark asks, breathless and impressed.

"I love it, Clark! I don't know why, but I've never had one before..."

Clark looks over at me, and I shoot him a secret "I told you so" glance.

Finally, Lex shoos him back over to his spot on the couch, but stands there like he wants to make an announcement, so we hush up and listen. "Thank you all for your gifts--they mean more to me than I can say. I wanted to do something special, to show you just what you mean to me, as friends and as extended family." Holding up his hand to take a moment, he steps to the hook where his coat is hung and pulls something out of an inside pocket. "Now, it's not a sled or anything like that," he continues, throwing Clark a fond smile, "but I hope you will accept this and put it to good use. This is for Clark." Standing before Jonathan's easy chair, he hands him a business-size envelope, then straightens and looks hopeful.

Jon opens the envelope and nearly drops it when he looks inside. "Lex, I..."

The young man, suddenly shy, hurries to explain. "There are no strings attached. I know you folks sometimes struggle for funds, but Clark should be able to go to whatever school he wants, so I hope you'll let me pay for his education."

With shaking hands, Jon silently pulls a check out of the envelope and stares at it. Curiosity gets the best of me, so I dart to his side so I can look over his shoulder. It's a personal check, made out to Jon and me, for $250,000. "Oh, Jon!" I gasp, grabbing the back of his chair before I collapse.

Clark leaps up as if to catch me should I faint and steals a glance at the check, which I notice because of the huge intake of breath behind me. I turn to our benefactor and scrabble about, my eyes blurring and making it difficult to find him to give him a big hug. "I don't know what to say..." I blither, still out of reach.

"Say you'll make him study for his entrance exams," Lex answers, his smile audible.

His hand comes to rest lightly on my arm, so I fall carefully against his chest and hug him tight. "Thank you, Lex. This is wonderful."

"It was the least I could do," he answers, his head tucked over my shoulder.

Another arm swoops around my back, and I can feel Clark rest his chin on top of my head and squeeze us both warmly. We stand there, a huge, sniffly, hugging heap, until I notice Jon rise from his chair. The huddle breaks up and we wait, holding our breath, for his reaction.

At last he says, "Thank you, son," and holds out his right hand. Lex beams as he grips it firmly and shakes it, then is surprised by Jon's other arm clutching his shoulders in a hug of his own.

It's a good thing Clark is nearby, because I might have fallen over in shock at that image had he not been there to hold me up. My men all smile and make grateful harrumphs, while my breath hitches and I cry a little into Clark's sweater.

We all get dinner on the table after that, working together like a happy family, and partake of the good food and loving atmosphere, making it one of our best Christmases ever.

After the dishes are done and Jon is snoozing in his chair, I can see Lex and Clark near the back door, bundling up to take the new sled out for a spin. Lex wears his new purple hat, and Clark snugs the scarf under his boyfriend's chin with a sweet smile. I watch them through the pass-through without a sound so I don't disturb their sweetly romantic kiss under the mistletoe before they head outside.

Clark may always be my little boy, but as I see the grown man he has become, I am proud and hopeful, letting the memories of the past fade to allow in the visions of possibilities for his future.



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