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Thread: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

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    NS Senior Member Senior Member sydsvaughn's Avatar
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    Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    ENTIRE v4.1 NOTE: All stories here are rated PG, perhaps PG-13. They should be safe for everyone to read, keeping in mind we tried to write what would appear on a TV screen. Hence, no graphic sex, no major drug use, no violence (at least not graphic or major-TV acceptable).

    ENTIRE v4.1 DISCLAIMER: We don't own anything but the plots created for v.4.1. All the characters belong to their DC/WB creators. No copyright infringement intended.

    So with that said ... and thanks to all ... off we go!

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Title: “Guilty” (v.4.1-Episode 1)

    Written by: SaraC & Impress

    Notes: Character thoughts are in italics

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    COURTROOM - METROPOLIS

    “Objection!”

    Lex Luthor tensed as his father’s lawyer jumped from his seat as if it were on fire. It wasn’t that he hadn’t been expecting this reaction, but the fury expressed in those three syllables by Lindsey Kane was a powerful thing to behold.

    “The defense received no prior notification of this witness.”

    The judge looked intently at the younger man who looked like he was struggling for composure. Next to him, his client, the once and still feared Lionel Luthor, looked on with a placid expression. He would never admit it, but the judge was extremely unnerved by the unchanging eyes that always seemed focused on his. He was distracted by the smooth voice of the prosecuting attorney Michael Vincent.

    “Your honor, we ourselves only received notice of the witness several hours ago.” The lawyer paused and looked over at Lindsey, whose face had become stoic.

    The judge simply looked resigned.

    “Mr. Vincent, surely I do not need to explain to you the legal requirements to disclose witness evidence to the defense prior to the trial?”

    “The defense was notified,” Michael’s voice was calm and steady as he nodded to the other lawyer sitting next to him. “My associate sent a letter stating the witness and our intent to the defense this morning. We received no reply so we assumed there was no contention and that the defense would have the time to formulate its questions.”

    “I received no such letter.” Lindsey turned to look questioningly at his assistant who had been sitting behind him. The cowering young man’s expression of guilt forced the rage he had only moments ago suppressed to surface once more.

    “Lyle, did you check your desk before coming here this morning?”

    The young man turned bright red, fidgeting in his seat. “Not exactly. I figured there was no reason. You had everything wrapped up and we were ready to go-”

    “Incompetent fool!” Lindsey hissed. It was only the light touch on his arm that helped him find restraint.

    “Mr. Kane, perhaps your energies would be put to better use dealing with this…inconvenience rather than getting angry over it.”

    Lionel watched as his lawyer clenched his fists, but slowly relaxed. His own nerves felt quite fine, as he was used to such occurrences in the life he’d chosen to lead. His gaze moved to where Lex sat watching, a blank expression on his face. However, there was a hint of a smile at the corner of his lips. It was barely there, hardly noticeable unless you knew what to look for.

    I’ve trained you well, Lex.

    Lionel couldn’t help wondering if he had trained his son a little too well as recognition of the expression set in and a slight wave of anxiety passed through his body.

    I wonder what you’re up to Lex.

    “Permission to approach the bench?”

    The judge nodded and waited as Lindsey and Michael walked up to him. Steepling his hands, he waited to hear their proposals.

    “I request a recess so that I may be briefed about this witness.” Lindsey’s voice was calm and clear, any sign of frustration gone.

    “That sounds reasonable. Any objections, Mr. Vincent?”

    Michael looked carefully at Lindsey, before nodding to the judge. “None, your honor.”

    “I’ll grant a two hour recess for the defense to be briefed on this witness. Mr. Vincent you will provide Mr. Kane with a summary of this witnesses testimony and other relevant information. Step back.”

    Lindsey forced his blood pressure under control. It wouldn’t do to look as unsettled as he felt. But he had two hours; he could do a lot in that time and had before.

    The judge struck his gavel and the room quieted. “Court is in recess for one hour.” He struck the gavel again and rose, walking quickly from the room. He had a feeling he might be dipping into a bottle of Jack Daniels to wash down that extra strength aspirin to get through the next few hours.

    Lex watched as Michael and Lindsey disappeared into the hall, and he decided now would be the time to stretch. He had a feeling things were going to get tense very, very soon. He was only glad that the trial was very small, with no public audience or press allowed inside. It was no surprise the Luthor connections and money had contributed to the agreement of a private trial.

    “Son.”

    He stopped as he heard his father’s voice call to him. Wanting to ignore it, yet somehow powerless to stop his movements, he walked slowly over to Lionel.

    “Dad.”

    Lionel eyed him intently for a moment, but remained silent. He knew Lindsey would fill him in as soon as he learned the basics but it never hurt to hedge his bets.

    Lex knew the trick, try to intimidate with silence. Well, it wasn’t going to work. He’d learned from the best. He stared his father down, refusing to speak. Lionel finally sighed and broke the stalemate.

    “You know, things did not have to be like this.”

    Lex snorted.

    “You mean you didn’t have to drug me, send me to an insane asylum, rob me of weeks of my life or poison me and leave me for dead?” The bitterness in his tone was obvious to Lionel and for one brief moment he felt something shift dangerously near his heart. He quickly masked the feelings.

    Lex turned and left the room before he could let his father needle him more. He strode outside, ducking away from the main hall, happy to find no one seemed to be paying much attention to him at the moment. When he finally reached a deserted bench, he sank down onto it, his face blank as he thought about his father’s words. About how the bastard still had the ability to make him feel … something.

    He refused to acknowledge it as the longing that still remained in some corner of his heart for his father’s approval. That had been forced aside as he’d lay dying on the floor of his study, his mind awash with how horribly wrong everything had gone.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Flashback

    Pain. Agonizing and unbearable pain, coursed throughout his body. Unnoticed went the cuts and prods from the glass shards he lay rolling in, as a fire seemed to consume his entire being. A vice attached itself to his lungs at the same time his windpipe began to swell, and the struggle to take in even the smallest breath became more and more difficult. Somewhere in his pain filled mind an image of his father hovering over him, mouthing “I Win!” came unbidden and unwelcome. Finally, as blessed darkness began to overtake him, the awful vision of his father was replaced with Chloe’s determined face.

    Sometime Later...

    He was alive.

    At least he assumed he was. If the burning sensation he was feeling in his limbs was any indication. After all, one didn’t feel pain if they were dead, did they? Then again, he was a Luthor so it was within the realm of possibility that he had in fact died, and the burning he was feeling was his soul suffering its eternal damnation in Hell.

    A steady beeping sound began to make its way into his conscience. Along with this came the realization that he was in fact breathing. Could in fact feel the rise and fall of his chest, feel and hear himself taking in air that had, at least to his hazy mind, only a short while ago, been very difficult to take in. The bright white (and immediately painful) light that greeted him after he won the struggle to open his eyes, confirmed what he had suspected. He was indeed among the living. Judging from the sterile atmosphere, he guessed he was in the hospital.

    Closing his eyes again, he sank back against the pillows, thanking whomever for small miracles. His eyes flew open again as the questions began to pound at his mind.

    “Mr. Luthor. Good to see you back among the living.”

    He jumped at the nurse’s voice as she walked into the room, looking almost too cheerful for how he felt.

    “What happened? How did I get here? Who found me-”

    “You were poisoned. All we know for sure is that your butler found you after you collapsed. We pumped your stomach but the residual effects of the poison will take a few days to wear off. You’re a very lucky man, Mr. Luthor.”

    Lex closed his eyes, struggling to grasp what he’d been told. Obviously, Enrique had found him and gotten him here. His butler had once again saved his life. He made a mental note to give the man a huge bonus when things settled back down.

    “How long till I can be released?”

    The nurse looked amused at the impatience in his voice. “Not for a few more days Mr. Luthor. The poison wasn’t like anything we were familiar with. We need to make sure it has run its course and left your body completely.”

    He looked at her carefully, wondering what kind of lethal cocktail his father had managed to create this time. He made another mental note to find out – as well as never to drink from another open bottle of alcohol in the mansion.

    Suddenly, something else hit him.

    “How long have I been unconscious?”

    The nurse looked at him steadily. “One week.”

    He drew in a harsh breath. One week! Shakily, he ran a hand over his forehead. This was NOT good. Everything depended on timing and he might have seriously screwed up any chance he had of getting any of them out of this mess.

    “I need my cell phone.”

    The nurse looked irritated now. “You’re not ready to do more than sleep Mr. Luthor-”

    “I need to make a phone call.” He stared the woman down, but not to his surprise, she looked like she would not budge.

    “Excuse me, Mr. Luthor?”

    Enrique’s voice interrupted their standoff and he waved the man inside. “You may leave us now.”

    The nurse looked as if she wanted to say something about his regal demeanor, but wisely chose to leave as directed. She’d heard enough about her patient to realize that it would be better all around if she did not stir things up too much.

    Lex watched as Enrique approached, his usually stoic expression thawing a bit.

    “Thank you, Enrique.”

    The man nodded. “I believe you need to make a phone call.” With that, he held out the small cell phone he’d hidden in his jacket pocket.

    Lex grabbed for the phone. “Remind me to double your Christmas bonus,” he muttered as he punched in the familiar number and waited for a reply. Closing his eyes as the phone continued to ring, he could only pray that his father hadn’t somehow managed to get the upper hand once again.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    PRESENT DAY-METROPOLIS

    He jumped at the light touch on his arm. Looking up, he saw Michael Vincent standing over him with a slight smile.

    “It’s time to bring this thing to an end once and for all. You ready, Lex?”

    Taking a deep breath, Lex concentrated his energy on the present, all thought and emotion for the moment, locked away for possible later contemplation.

    “I’m ready.” The words were calm and steady as he rose and followed the older man down the hallway.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    “All rise!”

    Lex settled back into his seat. His father was staring straight ahead, wearing his usual mocking expression as the lawyers took their seats and the judge made himself comfortable on the bench. He saw Lindsey lean over and whisper something to his father.

    “The prosecution may call its final witness.”

    A small, barely noticeable smile crossed Lex’s features as Michael’s voice rang out clear and true in the dead silent courtroom. Turning his attention to the double doors near the back, he waited for them to open.

    Across the room, despite the sick feeling in his normally cast iron stomach, Lionel stared straight ahead. Deep inside, he felt something like pride for what his son had managed to accomplish. It was a feat of which he hadn’t thought him capable. Still, he would not give his son the opportunity to see him flinch at the unexpected turn of events. He was Lionel Luthor. He would remain strong and stoic. Even if his life was about to change for the worse.

    “The prosecution calls Chloe Sullivan to the stand.”

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    KENT FARM - SMALLVILLE

    Jonathan Kent snorted as he held the Smallville Ledger away from him as if it disgusted him. The front page featured a rather scary looking image of Lionel Luthor and the headline “Metropolis Trial of the Decade.”

    “Why do I get the feeling that Lionel Luthor will once again get away with his crimes?”

    Clark Kent looked up at his father. Guilt ran through him as he noticed the slight tightening around the older man’s eyes and heard the tiniest hitch in his breathing as he shifted on his stool. If it weren’t for his superior hearing and the fact that he had taken to watching his father more closely when they were together, Clark would not have noticed the lingering effects from Jonathan’s encounter with Jor-El a few months before. Clark knew his father was doing his best to hide his discomfort in an effort to keep his son from feeling guilty.

    It wasn’t working.

    If he had not used the red kryptonite to make himself into the unfeeling Kal-El, his human father would not have been forced to make a deal with his Kryptonian father to bring him home. If he had simply followed Kara to begin with, the elder Kent would not have spent weeks in the hospital, struggling to recover from the effects of Jor-El’s power. Shoving the feelings of guilt down, hating to dwell on them around his parents, he tried to concentrate on the conversation the two people in question were now conducting.

    “Jonathan, I’m sure the prosecution wouldn’t be going through with this three ring circus if they weren’t confident that they could get a guilty verdict.” Martha’s voice was calm and rational, comforting in many ways to both of the Kent men.

    “Most of the prosecution’s case relied on the testimony of Chloe. With her…”

    Jonathan stopped at the warning look his wife was giving him. Mentally cursing his slip, he looked toward his son and saw the guilt that seemed always present now in the young man’s demeanor.

    “It’s my fault she’s dead.” Clark’s words were precise and hard, the bitterness and pain behind them making both the elder Kents look concerned.

    “No son, Chloe made a bad choice when she chose to get involved with Lionel and Lex. Sometimes, bad choices have horrible consequences.”

    Clark knew there was some sense in his father’s words, but the anger and guilt were still blinding him to rational thought at the moment.

    “But I should have been here to protect her. She is…was my best friend.” He hated the way he had to remember to speak of Chloe in the past tense. It made it all seem so real, that Chloe was gone, never to return. It only deepened his frustration. “If I hadn’t given in to Jor-El. If I had stayed in Smallville maybe I could have gotten her out in time. Maybe I could have…”

    “Clark, you didn’t know Chloe’s safe house was going to explode.” Martha put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Even if you had been here, unless you knew someone had planted a bomb in her safe house, and where her safe house was, it would have been impossible for you to reach her in time.”

    Martha watched her son struggle with the truth of the situation. She knew he shouldered great responsibility and because of that struggled constantly with a myriad of nearly overwhelming emotions that no one, let alone a teenager, should have to deal with. Had she been able, Martha would have taken the responsibility from her child or at least helped him to shoulder the burden. It pained her to know that she couldn’t do more to ease her son’s torment.

    “I can’t help feeling it’s all my fault. Chloe would never have gotten mixed up with Lionel Luthor in the first place if it weren’t for me.” While Clark knew Chloe had a mind of her own and did what she wanted most of the time, he knew it was his relationship with Lana that had pushed her into her deal with the devil.

    He was also responsible for his father’s deal with another kind of devil… a deal that nearly cost the elder Kent his life. “Just like dad wouldn’t have had to spend weeks recovering from whatever Jor-El did to him, if I...”

    “Stop right there, Son. We’ve been through this. I made my choice. And I would make the same one again. Just as Chloe made her choice.” Jonathan’s voice was stern, broking no argument.

    “Maybe, but that doesn’t change the fact that my choices led you to your choices.” Clark was on a roll now, the anger and sadness mixing to create a maelstrom of emotion. “And because of my choices, you will probably never be as healthy as you were before, and Chloe is dead.”

    Jonathan opened his mouth to dispute his son’s claims but quickly found himself staring at an empty space, the kitchen door swinging on its hinges from where Clark had shot through it at super speed. He closed his mouth and looked at his wife.

    “I’m not sure we’ll ever convince him that he can’t save the world,” Martha sounded sadly resigned and Jonathan could only shake his head at his wife. Whether in denial or acceptance, he wasn’t sure.

    “Give him a little time, it’s what he needs right now.” Martha stood and walked over to wrap her arms around her husband’s neck. “I’d stay, but I need to get to the Talon. I’ll see you later?”

    Jonathan nodded, turning to give her a kiss goodbye. Watching as she gathered her things and blew him another kiss before disappearing out the door he tried to fight the unease he felt every time she left for work. While he didn’t like the idea of her working for a Luthor again, he knew it was something she really wanted to do. He was only slightly reassured by the fact that Lex took little interest in the business, letting Martha run most of it. The less interaction she had with the Luthors, the better.

    He was also relieved to see Clark backing off from his friendship with Lex, but at the same time, he could see how much his son was hurting over losing another friend. And while he might not like Lex that much, he knew that the younger Luthor had helped Clark in numerous ways his parents and other friends could not over the past few years.

    Sighing, he rose and walked over to the window, watching until Martha and the truck disappeared from sight. Turning back to the table, he picked up the paper again, wondering how their lives had gotten so complicated.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Clark streaked through the back roads of Smallville in a vain attempt to outrun the thoughts swirling in his head. He knew, somewhere in the logical part of his mind that there was truth to what his parents said, had been saying for the past few months.

    But it didn’t stop the flood of remorse that swamped him whenever he let his mind go and started thinking and remembering. He slowed his pace as he recognized the path he’d unconsciously taken and the familiar place it had led him.

    He stared at Chloe’s headstone for a long moment, taking in the simple chiseled lettering on the slate colored background. Slowly, he knelt down and placed a hand on the gravestone, finding it cool to the touch. He’d done the same thing the first time he’d visited her grave, shortly after he returned from his time with Jor-El.

    Barely hearing his parents calling out to him, he’d rushed directly to the cemetery, unwilling to believe their words. It wasn’t until he’d seen the tombstone bearing her name, touched and traced the lettering, felt the coldness of death it embodied, that it had sunk in.

    Now, as he had then, he whispered a familiar litany to the stone.

    “I’m sorry I wasn’t there. But sorry doesn’t really mean a lot right now does it? I always seemed to be saying I was sorry to you.” He stopped, his throat clogging as he struggled with his emotions. “I know I wasn’t always there for you, but you have to know I would have done anything to keep you safe. I guess some part of me believed that Lex could and would keep you safe when I couldn’t. I’m so sorry I was wrong.”

    Despite his mixed emotions about the state of his friendship with the bald billionaire, Clark had truly believed Lex would do everything in his power to keep Chloe safe. If for no other reason than that Chloe was a valuable asset in Lex’s continued struggle for supremacy over his father.

    It made the news of her death even harder to take; increased the guilt he wondered if he would ever stop feeling. Clark had come to depend on Chloe being there if and when he needed or wanted her, both as a friend and on rare occasions, as more. Now, she was gone and there was nothing he could do to bring her back. All the powers he had and none of them could reverse death.

    Coming back to the present, he found himself sitting in front of Chloe’s grave, leaning slightly against the headstone. Thoughts and emotions were still swirling inside of him and he wondered if Chloe could sense his presence.

    Then again, she was probably better occupied looking down at the Metropolis courtroom where Lionel Luthor’s future was being debated. A future that could allow the murdering bastard to remain free, now that Chloe was not there to provide the smoking gun. The feelings brought back his anger—at himself for not being there to save Chloe and at Lex for not being able to keep her safe.

    Sinking back into his thoughts, he allowed his mind to return to the angry conversation he’d had with Lex shortly after paying his first visit to Chloe’s grave.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Flashback

    With a burst of speed, Clark ran towards the Luthor mansion. Avoiding the main entrance, he sped around to the side door that he used when delivering Lex’s produce orders for his mother. Knowing exactly where Lex would be, he moved quickly through the dark hallways and pushed through the study doors with a burst of irritated energy.

    Lex was startled by the doors crashing open with so much force they slammed against the wall. He was equally startled to see Clark come barreling through said doors. The farmboy had not been in the mansion, much less tried to contact him, since discovering the “Clark Room” before the summer of hell had begun. Years of control however allowed him to quickly mask his surprise at the sudden intrusion.

    “Clark…”

    “You were suppose to keep her safe.”

    Lex sighed internally knowing this particular confrontation had been inevitable. “I see you heard about Ms. Sullivan.”

    “She put herself out there to help you and you repay her by letting her die?”

    Clark watched Lex turn away from him and walk towards the small desk that served as a makeshift bar. He clenched his fists trying to keep his temper in check. There were brief moments, such as this, that Clark wished he had Kal-El’s lack of restraint. His alter ego wouldn’t have had an issue with using whatever means necessary to get the information he wanted out of the man who had just turned back to him.

    “I did everything I could, Clark. I had a team go over her safe house. Unfortunately, I found out to late that one of those men wasn’t as loyal as I thought.” He kept his words cool, his gaze focused intently on Clark.

    “I want to know who was responsible. Tell me what you know, Lex. Chloe was too valuable to your case against your father for you not to have done a thorough investigation.”

    Lex grimaced at the raw pain mixed with anger in the young man’s voice. It was getting harder to keep his own emotions in check as he watched Clark struggling before him.

    “There is nothing to tell. The bomb destroyed the house, and leveled much of the surrounding area. By the time I discovered who and where the traitor was, it was too late, he was already dead.”

    Clark stared at the man in front of him for what seemed like an eternity before turning on his heel and leaving with a bit less force than he entered, but with just as much barely suppressed fury and guilt.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    PRESENT DAY-SMALLVILLE

    Clark snapped out of the memory suddenly and returned his gaze to his lost friend’s memorial.

    “I promise you Chloe, I’ll find out what Lex is keeping from me, and who was really responsible for your death. Then I’ll make them pay.”

    He shivered at the menace he could hear in his own voice, realizing he sounded more like Kal-El than Clark Kent. Forcing the image down, he rose and with one final, wistful look at the gravestone, he took off at breakneck speed.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    METROPOLIS AIRPORT

    Lana felt a strange sense of peace as she stepped off the plane and into the bustling crowd thronging the gates of Metropolis International Airport. It was a completely different feel than when she’d walked off the plane a few months ago at De Gaulle International Airport.

    Despite the enjoyable months she’d spent in Paris, the shocking news of Chloe and Gabe’s deaths had forced her to admit she missed Smallville and a few of its residents. She’d meant what she said about wanting to start over, to figure out who she was and where she was supposed to be. But stumbling over the article of the Sullivan’s murder while surfing the Net, had also forced her to realize that in her effort to find who she was supposed to be, she had completely cut herself off from those she cared about most.

    Sadness swept through her as she thought about the family that had taken her in so she wouldn’t have to move to Metropolis. She had never asked Chloe why she did it. The two of them weren’t really friends at that time, in fact Lana would have gone so far as to say Chloe didn’t like her at all. So the offer had made no sense. But Lana had been too relieved, and admittedly too self-centered, at the time to question her good fortune.

    Somewhere along the way, the two unlikeliest of people had actually managed to become friends. At least that was how Lana viewed them. She was pretty certain Chloe viewed them that way as well, at least until Lana’s confession while Chloe was under the influence of the truth serum. Guilt swept through her as she remembered the look on Chloe’s face, and remembered that she had made no effort to apologize. Now she would never have the chance to make it right.

    Still, despite the sorrow of losing someone she considered a friend, her first thought after hearing the news had been how Clark would take it. She’d been frustrated to realize that even an ocean was not enough to push him from her mind. But she knew how much he valued Chloe’s friendship, despite whatever strain it had been under.

    It was rather ironic, she thought, her need to escape her life had instead brought her back to it, although she wasn’t sure why.

    Her thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of her cell phone, which she’d switched back on as soon as the plane landed. Looking at the caller ID, she sighed, flipping it open and placing it to her ear.

    Despite it all, it was good to be home.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    METROPOLIS COURTROOM

    Chloe took a deep breath as she observed the scene that greeted her as she stood in the open doorway to the courtroom. The murmurs that greeted her appearance would have amused her if her heart had not been in her throat.

    Almost without thinking, her gaze flew to Lex, who was watching her with an almost vacant expression. But as her eyes locked on his, she saw a spark of something resembling pride in those blue depths and she felt her courage return.

    Tearing her gaze from his, she strode confidently down the aisle, nodding to the prosecutor as she took the stand. Settling into the uncomfortable chair, she crossed her legs, thankful she’d decided on a pantsuit for the occasion. She looked sharp, professional, and hopefully older than the 18 she would turn in several weeks.

    Feeling a strange sense of calm settle over her, she finally turned her gaze to the man watching her with an impassive expression. She almost hoped he would show some emotion, be it anger, fear, surprise, even that all knowing smirk he wore so often. But he remained staring at her, no expression visible on his face.

    She felt a slight flutter of the butterflies in her stomach as she waited for the questioning to begin.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Lionel Luthor was nothing if not a good strategist. He knew when to cut a deal and when to surrender, although he’d never had much occasion to do the latter. This trial had been of little consequence to him a few hours ago. He knew full well without Chloe Sullivan’s testimony, there was no way to convict him.

    Now, staring at her composed expression, he had to admit he was if nothing else, impressed by her determination –and his son’s resourcefulness.

    It really was, when he thought about it, very Macedonian. After all, hadn’t Alexander the Great been the downfall of his father? And now, Lionel’s own Alexander would one day be the downfall of him. Thanks to his son’s cunning and skillfulness, Luthor traits that, until now, Lionel hadn’t been certain Lex had inherited, it appeared as though he might very well be forced to serve time behind bars. The thought sent a slight chill down his spine. He didn’t show it however. To do so would be a sign of weakness, and Luthors never showed weakness.

    Lionel took some comfort in knowing, thanks to this little power struggle, that there was enough of his blood running through Lex’s veins to always keep the Luthor name in power, feared and perhaps even revered.

    He glanced over at his son and was struck with not a little warped sense of pride to see the gleam of triumph in those dark blue pools, so like his mother.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Lex wasn’t sure what he was feeling. The sight of Chloe standing tall and proud in the doorway had almost made the past four months worth it. He caught her eye, sensing her hesitation, and attempting to boost it with some confidence of his own.

    He’d learned a lot about Chloe Sullivan during that time and he wasn’t sure he was happy with all of it. But that was neither here nor there. The important thing was she was now confidently seated in the witness box, looking cool, professional, and definitely older than the 18 he knew she would be in a few weeks.

    Looking over at his father, he took note of the calm expression on Lionel’s face. It took a lot to surprise the old bastard. For a moment, he felt a pang at the thought that he was really going to do this; that he was really going to help send his father to prison.

    But the fact of the matter was that Lionel had hired Morgan Edge to kill his parents and for that, along with many of his other deeds, deserved to be punished. Lex knew it, accepted it, was happy to see it finally come to fruition.

    But as he watched his father eye Chloe with a cool expression, he wistfully remembered the disastrous birthday party from years ago, and the soft expression Lionel had worn on giving him the special box to put his fears in.

    Quickly steeling his gaze as he heard the Judge call the court to order, he focused again on Chloe, willing her to be strong and to finally see this through to conclusion.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    SMALLVILLE

    Lana smiled as she walked into the Talon, that sense of home returning once more, as she smelled the familiar scent of coffee and cookies. Something twisted in her heart as she noted Martha Kent happily chatting with several patrons at the counter. She looked completely at ease in the atmosphere that Lana had for so long considered her own.

    Taking a deep breath, preparing for the questions she knew would be coming, she walked towards the counter. Her heart felt a slight surge of happiness as she saw disbelief, then a genuine smile appear on Martha’s face.

    “Lana, what a nice surprise.” Martha walked over and hugged the young woman.

    She’d been startled to look up and see Lana watching her with a wistful expression. Considering the girl was supposed to be in Paris, she wondered briefly if everything was all right, noting the girl looked tired, but strangely peaceful. Her clothing color, Martha was happy to note, seemed subtler, with decidedly less pink. Overall, it served to give the girl a slightly more mature air, but Martha sensed more was going on beneath the surface. For a moment, she wondered if this would only make Clark’s life more complicated.

    She could only hope the girl’s return, whether temporary or permanent, would be a good thing. If for nothing more than providing Clark with a friend who could sympathize over the loss of Chloe. And while she knew the three friends had a long and complex history, she knew that Lana was most likely the best person to help Clark grieve and move on.

    Leading Lana towards the counter, she wondered if Chloe were looking down on the little scene with irony. Her death had brought everyone back to where it had all began. Whether that was a good thing or not, remained to be seen.

    “Mrs. Kent, things look wonderful. I’m glad business seems to be going strong.” Lana heard the wistful tone in her voice and quickly tried to focus. It wouldn’t do to let Mrs. Kent think she regretted giving this up—even if she somewhat did.

    “Well, you got it back on track, I just added a few little things since Lex has given me free reign.” Martha watched as Lana gently ran a finger across the counter. She could sense the young woman needed to talk, and she had to admit, she was curious about the return.

    “So, are you back for good, or just a visit?”

    Lana smiled as she accepted the coffee placed in front of her. “Actually, I’m back for good. Paris was wonderful, but,” she paused, looking longingly around again, “it wasn’t home.”

    Martha nodded but remained silent, sensing the girl wasn’t through.

    “I guess I left because I thought I needed to get away. I enjoyed my time in Paris but the whole time I was there, it was like a part of me was missing. It only got stronger when I heard about Chloe’s death.” She stopped realizing that she would never see Chloe sitting in her favorite corner booth again. Looking sadly towards it, she felt Martha squeeze her hand.

    “It was a beautiful funeral and I’m sure you were there in spirit.”

    Lana only nodded before looking back at Mrs. Kent. “I never figured out what it was that was missing, but I just knew it wasn’t there and that I needed to find it.” She twisted her napkin, unwilling to admit that she was beginning to suspect the missing piece had been Clark. That would just be complicating things even more.

    “Sometimes you need to get away from things to see what you are missing.” Martha watched the girl digest her words, satisfied that they’d started her thinking. She wondered if what Lana had been missing was her son, but she was not going down that road just yet. That was something they’d have to work out themselves.

    And no time to start like the present.

    “Clark,” she motioned to her son who had just entered the Talon. “Come see who’s come back to us.” She stepped back as Lana took a deep breath and turned to meet Clark’s gaze. Watching them stare at each other, she decided to make herself scarce for the moment.

    Clark felt his heart do the strange summersault it always performed at his first glimpse of Lana. This time was no different although the butterflies were slightly tempered by the thought of how Chloe would have rolled her eyes at his reaction.

    Walking forward, he smiled awkwardly as Lana did the same. She looked different, he noted. She wasn’t wearing pink and there was something about her that just seemed off. Not a bad off, just different.

    “Lana, when did you come home?”

    Lana refused to acknowledge the flutter in her stomach at the warmth mixed with confusion in his statement. The fact he still considered Smallville her home said a lot.

    “Just a few hours ago. Paris just wasn’t for me.” She shrugged, trying to look sophisticated, but probably not pulling it off. As it always did around Clark, her self-confidence got confused.

    “So, you’re back for good? You’re going to stay here for senior year?” Clark knew he probably sounded more eager than he would like, but the thought of having someone, even with the history he and Lana had, that would help him walk the halls of Smallville High without seeing Chloe everywhere, was like a balm to his soul.

    Now if only his stomach would stop somersaulting.

    Lana smiled, sensing the almost desperate plea in his words. And she knew it wasn’t just because of her. The idea of facing the halls of the high school without Chloe brightening them was not something she looked forward to. At least with Clark, it would be a bit easier.

    Now, if only her heart would stop pounding.

    They sat in silence for a few moments, unsure of what to say to broach the months they’d missed. Lana sipped her coffee, twisting her napkin, while Clark sketched patterns with his fingers on the countertop.

    Finally, he decided to break the silence.

    “You know, they’re still not sure what to do about The Torch.” It was the easiest way he could think of to bring up Chloe. He knew they’d need to talk about it, suspected that Lana might even want to. Despite their strained relationship, he knew Lana and Chloe had been somewhat of friends.

    “Do they want to assign another editor?” Lana kept her voice even, although she felt tears building behind her eyes. Suddenly, all the petty grievances she’d held at times for the blonde reporter didn’t look so monumental. Swallowing hard, she realized she was truly going to miss her friend.

    “I think they’ll have to. Chloe would laugh.” Clark felt the bitterness creep into his tone, but was powerless to stop it. “If I’d only been here, maybe I could have saved her-”

    “You weren’t here when Chloe died?” Lana wasn’t sure why this surprised her, but it did. She watched as he tensed up and instinctively knew he was not going to tell her the truth. It reminded her vividly of why she’d wanted to get away in the first place.

    “I couldn’t get to her in time. I should have saved her-”

    Lana cut him off by placing a hand on his arm. The usual tingle that accompanied such touches was still there, not to her surprise. “I don’t know why you think you can save everyone Clark, and heaven knows I’m glad you try, but Lionel Luthor is a dangerous man. Nothing and no one could stop him when he planned something and it sounds like Chloe, sadly, was another casualty of his sad and twisted life.”

    Lana sounded bitter now, wondering what had caused Chloe to decide to help Lex take down his father. If only she’d stayed away from Lionel, things would have never gone this far. She herself had relatively little to do with Lionel, meeting him only on a few occasions, but it was enough to know she did not want to get tangled up in whatever web he was weaving.

    “Now that bastard is going to walk. He killed the only person who could have made him pay for the hell he’s put everyone, even Lex, through.” Clark hit his fist on the counter, causing Lana’s cup to jump.

    Looking contrite, he quickly placed his hand back in his lap, noting Lana was looking at him strangely.

    “He’ll get his one day, Clark.” She wished she were more certain of that.

    The two remained sitting in an awkward silence until Martha returned.

    “Clark, your father called and wants you to run over to the hardware store and help him load up the order.” Martha thanked her husband’s timing, sensing Clark and Lana were at another impasse. She noted Clark looked slightly wistful, but more relieved at her words.

    “Okay, Mom, I’ll go help him.” Clark turned to Lana with a hesitant smile. “I’ll see you later Lana?”

    “Sure, Clark,” Lana said softly in reply.

    Clark smiled, made his goodbyes and shuffled out the door. It did not escape Martha’s notice that Lana watched him until he disappeared.

    “So, Lana, do you have a place to stay?”

    Lana looked at Martha in surprise. In all her musings, she hadn’t even thought about finding a place to live. Of course, with Gabe and Chloe gone, she couldn’t go back to the home she’d had for a short time.

    “I don’t know. I really hadn’t thought that far ahead.” She felt really stupid now, wondering if she had enough money to rent a small apartment somewhere.

    Martha sensed her confusion, wondering even more at what had prompted the girl to rush home with so little preparation. Still, she had a suggestion that might solve some problems.

    “Well, the apartment above the Talon is empty and I really don’t think I need to get references on whether you’d be a good tenant.”

    Lana’s face lit up. “You’re sure? I don’t have a lot of money right now, but I can pay the first month’s rent and I’m sure Nell will help out-”

    “Don’t worry about it, Lana. The apartment’s yours.” Martha smiled. “And if you’re interested I am in need of some part time help around here.”

    Lana wondered if there was anyone kinder than Mrs. Kent. Right now, she didn’t think so.

    “If you’re sure it wouldn’t be a problem?”

    Martha smiled. “Let’s get the cleaning supplies and clean the place before we move you in.”

    Taking the offered hand, Lana realized that despite everything, she’d truly come home.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    (episode continues in next post)
    Last edited by sydsvaughn; 13th September 2009 at 21:56.

  2. #2
    NS Senior Member Senior Member sydsvaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    METROPOLIS COURTROOM

    “Miss Sullivan, you stated to the prosecution that the alleged voicemail recording of Mr. Luthor was taken in a private room at Metropolis General Hospital?”

    “Yes I did.” Chloe looked Lindsey directly in the eye, her voice steady as she answered.

    “Why were you at the hospital Miss Sullivan?”

    “I had come into contact with a chemical agent that had been known to have lethal side effects.”

    “And how did you come into contact with this chemical agent?”

    “I came in contact with it during my visit to the LuthorCorp plant the previous day.”

    “Miss Sullivan, was this visit made with permission from either the defendant or his son?”

    “Objection Your Honor. This has no relevance to the case.” Michael’s voice was strong and steady as he rose from his seat.

    “Your Honor, it goes to character.” Lindsey kept his gaze on the judge.

    The judge paused, considering.

    “I’ll allow it. But only so far. Continue.”

    Lindsey couldn’t help smirking just a little. “Did you or did you not have permission from either the defendant or his son to enter the plant.”

    “No. I did not.” Chloe waited patiently, having expected and prepared for these questions.

    “So you were trespassing, weren’t you Miss Sullivan? Tell me, how did you gain access to the plant?”

    “I borrowed a security card from an old friend of my Dad’s-”

    “Borrowed or stole?” Lindsey cut in quickly. Chloe tried to answer but Lindsey was quicker.

    “Did you have permission to take the security card?”

    “No.” She hadn’t been prepared for how much effort it took to keep her controlled, calm demeanor. She wondered, not for the first time, how the Luthors’ managed it so well.

    “So you stole it, Miss Sullivan.”

    “Yes, but it was only so that I could-”

    “So you admit you stole it, and while trespassing, came into contact with a chemical agent that made everyone tell you the truth. Do you really expect us to believe that?” Lindsey’s voice was pitched in a way to make the jury think it was a joke, and it only infuriated her more.

    “It’s true!” She heard the desperation in her voice but quickly tried to control it. “The scientist in the lab I was in were working on a secret project started by Lionel Luthor, and I was exposed to the chemical in the lab. That’s why Mr. Luthor couldn’t help but tell me the truth” She waited, resisting the urge to look to Lex for support, as Lindsey smiled feral-like. She’d known from the start this part she had to do on her own.

    “You expect the jury to believe the word of a 17 year old girl, who has confessed to committing criminal acts?”

    “I stopped being a “girl” a long time ago Mr. Kane.” Chloe’s voice was full of conviction. “Having to grow up in Smallville, and dealing with some of its residents,” here her gaze slid towards Lionel before focusing again on Lindsey, “forces you to put away the idealism of youth.”

    Lindsey quickly switched topics. “Tell the court what you were doing at the plant that day Miss Sullivan.”

    “I was trying to help my father, who had been blacklisted by Lionel Luthor, making it impossible for him to find a job.”

    “And how would breaking and entering help your father?…Unless,” Lindsey paused as if suddenly struck by an idea, “Unless you were hoping to find something you could blackmail my client with. Was that it Miss Sullivan? Was that how you planned on helping your father, by adding yet another crime to your list?”

    “No..Yes…I”

    “Which is it Miss Sullivan? Are you even capable of doing anything but lying?”

    “I don’t lie unless I’m forced to.”

    “You faked your own death, making your closest friends and family believe you had perished in an explosion. Sounds like a rather huge lie to me. I have no further questions.”

    Chloe took a deep breath, trying not to shiver at the look in Lionel’s eyes. Tearing her eyes away, she focused instead on Lex, who was staring directly at her. His face was blank but his eyes were determined as they bored into hers.

    “Thank you Miss Sullivan.” The compassion in the judge’s voice steadied her as well, and she sat up a little straighter.

    “Do you have any more questions Mr. Vincent?”

    “Yes, Your Honor.”

    Taking a deep breath, she looked away from Lex, focusing on Michael and preparing for the next round of emotional torture.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “The prosecution rests, your honor.”

    Chloe breathed a sigh of relief as she was told to step down. Walking on slightly unsteady legs she managed to make it to where Lex was sitting, sinking down onto the bench next to him.

    “You did fine.”

    The words were barely a whisper against her ear, but she felt the impact of them through out her body as she finally relaxed, shoulders slumping, the weight of the past four months, hell, the past year, finally falling off.

    “If there are no objections,” the judge paused for a moment, nodding as silence reigned. “Closing arguments will take place at 9AM tomorrow morning.”

    The pounding of the gavel echoed loudly through the courtroom.

    “And now we wait.” She muttered the words under her breath, leaning back against the hard wooden bench and wondering if she would sleep at all tonight.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    SMALLVILLE

    Clark slowed down his brisk pace as he noted a familiar figure leaving the hardware store two doors in front of him. He’d decided to drop in on his mother at the Talon and perhaps get his mind off the depressing thoughts that had been plaguing him lately. Seeing Lana appear before him only a few doors away from his goal, he almost gave into the urge to avoid her by ducking into a doorway. But avoiding things only tended to make them worse—he’d learned that the hard way. Taking a deep breath, he slowed to a casual walk as he approached Lana, deciding this was as good a time as any to try and get past their awkwardness.

    “Lana.”

    Lana turned quickly at the familiar voice. “Clark. What are you doing here?” She was not surprised to feel the familiar flutter in her stomach as she watched him approach.

    “I was on my way to meet my mom at the Talon. Let me help you with that.” He reached over and took the bag of what looked like wires and cables from her arms with a smile.

    She smiled at him in turn, but felt a little disappointed with his response, although she wasn’t sure what she’d wanted him to say. Mentally kicking herself for feeling that way, she decided the safest thing to do would be the usual, ignore it.

    “So where are you going?” Clark hoped he didn’t sound too eager, but he couldn’t help but notice that she looked a little more relaxed than when they’d last talked.

    “The Talon actually. Your mom was kind enough to let me rent the room there.” She watched his face for a reaction, noting surprise and perhaps pleasure cross his handsome features. One thing Clark was not good at was masking his emotions, and part of her was grateful for that.

    “You’re staying at the Talon?” Clark was glad to hear she’d gotten settled, a bit surprised he hadn’t wondered earlier about where she was going to stay.

    “With Chloe and her dad…gone,” Lana’s voice cracked a little and Clark could have smacked himself for making her think of Chloe. Because now he was too, even as she continued. “I didn’t have any other place in town to stay. Guess I should have thought of that before I came rushing home huh?”

    “Yeah.” It was all Clark could think of to say. They continued walking, but the easiness to their earlier conversation had disappeared, replaced now by a strained silence. Clark felt a sense of relief as they approached the Talon and rather quickly, he moved forward, holding the door open as Lana followed him inside.
    Martha looked up to see her son opening the door for her new tenant while holding a bag. It was clear that the awkwardness between the two from earlier was still present. She sighed quietly as she watched the two young people move towards the stairs, stopping at the foot of them.

    She kept her expression neutral as Lana took the bag her son had been carrying, giving him a small smile in thanks. Her ears picked up on the soft “good night” directed towards her son, and she returned the small wave in her direction Lana gave as she ascended the staircase, never looking back.

    Her heart ached for Clark, who watched until Lana disappeared inside the apartment with a look of longing that held more than a touch of frustration. She began bustling around, taking care of little insignificant things while waiting for her son to move in her direction. Moments later, she breathed a sigh of relief as Clark made his way to the counter and took a seat in front of her. Without speaking, she poured him a glass of milk and set it on the bar in front of him. They remained silent before her motherly concern kicked in and she decided to get the conversation rolling.

    “I take it your second meeting didn’t go any better than the first.” She kept her voice neutral, waiting see where Clark wanted to take this.

    “I don’t know why it’s so hard to talk to her.” There was a genuine confusion in his words that made her heart clench in sympathy.

    “Communication can be very simple, or extremely difficult. But if what you want to say is important enough, the words will come when the time is right.” She hoped her son could understand what she was trying to tell him.

    “Maybe…” She followed her son’s gaze as he looked up towards Lana’s room and sighed.

    “Maybe…?” She wasn’t sure where his mind was at the moment.

    “Maybe Lana’s coming back from Paris is a sign. A sign that I should tell her.”

    “Tell her what?” She needed to ask although she already suspected she knew the answer.

    “The truth. All of it.” The hope mixed with desperation in his voice nearly broke her heart again.

    “Clark, that’s a big…”

    “Responsibility. I know,” he cut in, leaning his head against his hand as he looked at his mother intently. “It’s just that…I don’t know.” He sighed in frustration, running his free hand through his hair. “One of the reasons we couldn’t make a relationship work was my secret. And now with Pete gone, and any idea I might have had of telling Chloe out of the question, I feel so … alone.”

    He hated admitting that; didn’t want his mother or father to think he didn’t appreciate all they’d been through and done for him to help keep his secret. But it wasn’t the same as having someone his own age to confide in … especially with the things he’d learned in his disturbing time with Jor-El, although he wasn’t sure he could speak of that to anyone, had yet to even talk to his parents about it.

    “Clark, sweetheart, I know it’s frustrating for you to have to keep your secret. I know how much you want those you care about to know the truth.” She reached over and laid a hand gently on his arm. “But the truth comes with a great burden. Look at Pete and what he went through protecting you and that truth.”

    Clark nodded, although the guilt was gnawing at him again, remembering his friend’s fears over unconsciously revealing Clark’s secret and the responsibility that knowledge had on his life as well as Clark’s. He did not want to saddle anyone with that, it was enough his parents had to deal with it daily.

    But it didn’t change the fact that he’d always liked having Pete to talk to about the changes he was going through or even to show off his skills and abilities in harmless ways.

    Martha watched his face, knowing him well enough to realize what he was thinking. When she sensed his mind was focusing again, she leaned closer and gently touched his cheek with her palm. She wanted to say this delicately but make sure he understood clearly the repercussions.

    “That secret that we all protect so tirelessly can either strengthen your bond with the person you tell, or completely destroy whatever feelings there may have been. So if and when you decide to take someone into your confidence, you need to be sure of that person and the reason you are confiding in them.”

    As she watched the reluctant acceptance of the truth cross her son’s face, Martha Kent wished, as she had so many times over the years, that she could take the weight of her son’s gifts upon her own shoulders.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    METROPOLIS COURTROOM - NEXT DAY

    Chloe avoided looking at Lionel from her seat next to Lex as she tried to ignore the slight shaking she felt in her legs as she crossed them. She’d barely slept at all and only hoped the makeup covered the dark circles under her eyes.

    Lex, she noted in annoyance, looked completely rested and cool as a cucumber. Only a Luthor could sleep easily the night before such a monumental day. However, her annoyance was tempered some as she caught a flash of something in his eyes as Michael began his closing arguments.

    “Lionel Luthor admitted to having his parents killed. There is no question that is his voice on that tape. Experts have testified to that fact. What seems to be in question is Ms. Sullivan. But she isn’t the one on trial here. Lionel Luthor is. Ms. Sullivan admitted, truthfully how she came about Lionel Luthor’s confession. She admitted to faking her own death. Not for kicks, but to protect those she cares most about from being hurt. She risked everything to see that that man paid for his crimes. She is a hard working, honest young woman. There should be no doubt in your minds that the testimony she gave regarding Lionel Luthor and his confessing to having his parents killed is true. And without doubt, you must find Lionel Luthor guilty.”

    Michael’s words were elegant, powerful and simple, and by the time he was done, Chloe felt much more relaxed. Turning slightly she looked up at Lex to see if he would show any reaction.

    Not to her surprise, he looked completely stoic, although the tension lines that tended to appear around the edges of his mouth had lessened slightly. Feeling only slightly relieved, she focused her attention back on the proceedings as Lindsey cleared his throat and approached the jury.

    She tensed up immediately, shuddering at the picture Lionel’s lawyer began to paint, his voice strangely hypnotizing as he wove the strands of his arguments together.

    “The prosecution’s entire case rests solely on the testimony of a 17-year old girl who has confessed to breaking the law. Several times. Ms. Sullivan admitted she planned to blackmail my client, an upstanding businessman. She would have you believe that she was infected with some sort of truth serum. But instead of making her tell the truth, like one would believe a truth serum does, it supposedly makes others tell the truth. Truth however seems irrelevant at times to Ms. Sullivan, who admitted to deliberately lying to her friends and family about her death. It’s a fanciful story, one that if used to find my client guilty could most certainly qualify Ms. Sullivan for an interview, perhaps a job at any newspaper, something she has admitted to wanting. Intelligent, law-abiding adults, such as yourselves, have to wonder if anything Ms. Sullivan has said is the truth. And if you do wonder, then that is reasonable doubt. If you have reasonable doubt, the prosecution did not do it’s job, and you must find my client, not guilty.”

    Chloe bit her lip, admitting that Lindsey had valid points and had presented them in a compelling way. If she hadn’t been confident he was wrong, she might be tempted to believe him herself.

    That scared her and she felt a tremor go through her body.

    Lex felt her shiver and had to admit that if he had been prone to showing weakness, he might have done the same. They’d known from the start that Lionel’s lawyers would be the best of their kind and would go all out, as they had, to make sure they discredited Chloe.
    So far, they’d done a pretty good job – and his father’s smug expression was not helping his nerves.

    But he wasn’t counting them out just yet. Taking a deep breath, he leaned just slightly into Chloe’s side, allowing their shoulders to touch. He felt strangely comforted as she leaned lightly against him.

    Chloe felt herself steady at the slight pressure of Lex’s shoulder against hers. It was very subtle, he might not even be aware of doing it, but she was grateful nonetheless.

    Looking up at him, she noted he still sat tense and straight next to her, his face calm and collected. She could only imagine what he was feeling behind that mask. Despite the evil deeds his father had done, Lionel was still his father. And it could never be easy to watch the man who’d given you life be made out to be the devil, even if he might be.

    She liked to think she’d gotten to know him better in the months she’d been forced to play dead. He had been the only one who knew where she was and once he’d left the hospital, he’d made sure to pay her safe house a visit whenever he could without blowing their cover, which was not that often. She knew it was risky, but she’d grown to welcome his visits, even if they only were to finalize information and the great plan he’d laid out to bring everything to fruition.

    It frightened her a little at times in those visits, when she’d see the darkness that lurked in Lex. He would protect her to the end, but only because she had the means to help him bring down his father for good. She held no illusions on their relationship being anything more than convenience on his part and a need for help on hers. And she knew there were aspects to this plan she was better off not knowing. She chose not to question that, content for the moment to stay alive and focus on what needed to be done on her end.

    Despite their rather formal meetings, they had talked a little, and she’d been surprised to find in Lex a dry sense of humor that she’d never realized he possessed. Not that the time they spent together had been filled with laughter, but she’d made him smile a few times and that had been worth it. And she always felt a little better, a little safer, when he left.

    While she wouldn’t exactly call them friends, they were definitely more than the acquaintances and conspirators they’d spent most of last year being. She wasn’t sure if she was all that comfortable with the fact.

    “The jury is dismissed to consider a verdict.”

    The words and the sound of the gavel echoing through the court room brought her back to the present and to the knowledge that for better or worse, one of the worst parts of this ordeal was over. She felt her stomach twist however, at the thought of what was yet to come.

    Lex watched as the bailiff led his father away in handcuffs, noting the man did not acknowledge him at all. He wasn’t sure if it was dread or relief that curdled in his stomach.

    “You think we have a chance?”

    Chloe’s soft voice startled him, and he mastered his expression as he turned to look at her.

    “I hope so.”

    There was nothing more to be said. The two sat in silence as the courtroom cleared out around them.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Outside, masses of reporters flocked the courthouse steps. Word was out that the jury was in deliberations and every reporter knew they had to be ready at any moment for a verdict. This was for Metropolis, the trial of the decade and no one wanted to miss a moment.

    Word had already leaked that an unexpected witness had taken the stand and all but handed the case to the prosecution. However, despite all the efforts to find out more, no one had uncovered the identity of the witness. It made for a tense situation all around as reporters could do nothing but speculate and wish cameras and reporters had been allowed in the courtroom.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    SMALLVILLE

    Jonathan Kent was surprised at the number of people gathered at the Talon. Though he knew the coffee house was popular, especially among the teens of Smallville, it had never been, at least to his knowledge, this full of people.

    “I bet he gets off.”

    “Yeah he probably bribed a few of the jurors.”

    “I say the jury is deadlocked. And they have to declare a mistrial.”

    Jonathan heard the various comments from those around him as he made his way to the counter where his son was sitting, talking to one of the football players. He spied his wife at a nearby table talking with a few of the patrons. Catching her gaze, he waved and felt his heart speed up as she gave him that sweet, familiar smile she saved only for him. It made his heart feel a little lighter each time he saw it and it was something he sorely needed today. Especially if the look on his son’s face was anything to go by as he approached and took a seat on the empty bar stool Clark pushed towards him.

    It was only as he settled onto the stool that he noticed the two medium sized TV’s that graced either end of the bar, were turned on, both on MNN’s coverage of the Luthor trial. The TV’s were a recent addition to the Talon, despite Martha’s worries it would turn it into a sports bar. But some of the patron’s had been asking and after a consultation with Lex, Martha had decided to try several small sets to see how it went over. By the looks of things today, with crowds gathered around each set, it was working.

    “We can’t switch the channel to something else?” He tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice, but he was thoroughly tired of hearing about the “Trial of the Decade.” His son’s words, however, tempered his thoughts.

    “The jury finished deliberating. They’re reading the verdict within the hour.” Clark tried to keep the nervousness he felt from showing in his voice, but his father’s knowing expression told him he hadn’t succeeded.

    Jonathan sighed, opting for sarcastic humor, feeling rather unsettled himself. “So everyone in town decided to gather here to see if the devil himself gets his due.”

    Clark could only manage a nod as both father and son turned their attention back to the TV screens.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    METROPOLIS COURTROOM

    Once more Chloe found herself seated next to a stoic Lex as they waited for the jury to return. It had been a long five hours, and many had been certain the jury would go another day if not longer.

    But within the next half hour, it would finally be over, for better or worse.

    She and Lex had spoken a few words to each other, but neither felt inclined to say much of anything. Surprisingly, Chloe found the silence comforting. Still, it allowed her far too much time to contemplate how Lex was handling things. She tried not to be too obvious as she watched him, his face expressionless as his gaze followed Michael and his counterpart whispering quietly while Lionel did the same with Lindsey.

    For his part, Lex wasn’t sure how to feel and he could only be glad that Chloe seemed to sense this and was not pestering him to talk. He’d been worried she’d try to make him express what he was feeling, but strangely enough, she’d remained silent. And to his surprise, he found it not an awkward, but a comfortable silence.

    They’d been through a lot together over the past year and he knew today’s outcome would have just as big an impact on her as it would him. Perhaps it was that shared sense of finality that put them in tune with each other, but regardless, he’d never admit it, but he was glad she was there.

    “All rise.”

    The words sent a chill down Chloe’s spine as the Judge entered the courtroom, even the jury going silent at his approach. When he had settled himself on the bench, the judge turned towards the middle-aged man standing in the front of the jury box.

    “Has the jury reached a verdict?”

    “Yes, your honor, it has.”

    Without thinking, Chloe found herself reaching for Lex’s hand. The touch of his skin reassured her, as did the way his fingers curved into hers, holding on tightly. She suddenly felt as if she could handle anything as long as Lex’s hand was locked with hers.

    Lex wasn’t sure what made him clasp Chloe’s hand in his own, considering Luthor’s never did something so childish as holding hands, especially with a girl who wasn’t even legal yet. But he wasn’t going to fight the feeling of comfort he felt as her fingers lightly squeezed his, or the knowledge that he had something to hold onto during one of the most important moments of his life.

    He knew without a doubt he would never have made it here without the young woman sitting beside him.

    Across the room, Lionel stared straight ahead. He had no clue which way things were going to go, but he was not going to show emotion however it went down. The last thing he would do would be to give Lex the satisfaction of seeing him affected in any way by the outcome.

    However, as the Judge’s “What say you?” rang through the courtroom, he couldn’t help but slide his gaze over to where Lex sat, wearing a blank expression similar to the one on his face. They were so much more alike than either wanted to admit. With a small sigh, he focused forward as the jury foreman cleared his throat. Masking his expression, he waited for the blow.

    “On the charge of second degree murder, we the jury find the defendant, Lionel Luthor, guilty as charged.”

    The courtroom erupted into noise, completely oblivious to the judge’s pounding gavel and calls for order.

    Lex closed his eyes for a moment, flashes of his father at the varying stages of his life confronting him with a clarity that hurt. All the hurts and angers of a child searching for his father’s love surfaced for a moment as he realized he’d put the final nail in his father’s coffin. He’d just sent his father to prison, perhaps for life. And even if Lionel deserved it, it was going to be something Lex would have to live with for his entire life.

    Chloe closed her eyes, her heart resuming its beat after a moment. A sense of relief flooded her veins as she realized her nightmare was over. Lionel Luthor had been found guilty. They’d done it!

    “Very well, sentencing will take place next week.”

    Opening her eyes at the judge’s words, she took a deep breath, looking over to where a stoic looking Lionel was now conferring with Lindsey. She wished she could feel pity for the man, but couldn’t find it in herself to wish him anything but a long life in prison.

    It was the son she was more worried about.

    Turning her gaze to Lex, she noted had the same blank expression on his face, but his eyes were closed. Wondering what he was thinking, she lightly squeezed the hand he still held in his.

    “Lex?”

    His eyes opened and her breath caught at the wealth of emotion visible for a second in the blue depths. Her heart ached as she realized the reality of what they’d done had settled in. He’d sent his father to prison and there was no easy way, despite what Lionel deserved, to forgive himself. She knew this without him having to say a word.

    His eyes were quickly masked and with an awkward move, he squeezed her hand before letting it go.

    “I’m okay, Chloe.”

    Lex wasn’t sure he meant the words, but for the moment, he wasn’t ready to look any deeper into his battered psyche. Rising to his feet, he watched as Lionel was led through the doors. Just before he disappeared, Lionel turned and looked directly back at him.

    To his surprise, instead of hatred, he could almost swear he saw a look of pride in his father’s eyes. Their gaze was broken as Lionel was led away and Lex was positive he’d mistaken the look. It was only the soft touch of Chloe’s hand on his arm that made him remember where he was.

    “You ready to finally get on with our lives?”

    Chloe swallowed hard after her words, realization hitting her that they both were finally free. The guilt would linger and especially for Lex, she knew, it would not be so easy to go on, but she had every confidence he would. He was strong. He was a Luthor.

    Lex saw the understanding in Chloe’s eyes, glad however that she chose not to acknowledge it. Words would only add something to the moment it did not need. Now was the time to pick up the pieces of his life, of Chloe’s life and get them back into the world.

    “I’m ready. Are you ready to reintroduce yourself to the world?”

    He watched her carefully, knowing her road would not be any easier. There would be lots of questions, most likely guilt from her friends in Smallville over being kept in the dark. His own confrontation with Clark over Chloe’s “death” still haunted him and he knew things would not ever be the same again.

    But as he looked down into Chloe’s eyes, filled with concern for his well being, he realized that if nothing else, he’d gained an ally out of this entire mess. And in his weaker moments, he might even be pressed to say he’d gained a friend.

    “Let’s go.” Chloe smiled as Lex fell into step behind her, his hand resting lightly on the small of her back. Making their way to the doors, they finally reached the courthouse exit. Chloe swallowed as she noted the horde of media clogging the path to Lex’s limo.

    “Come on, you want to be one of these people someday, don’t you?”

    Lex’s words and the irony behind them gave her the courage to move. Taking a deep breath, feeling his hand steady at her back, she pushed open the doors and stepped out into the world.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    SMALLVILLE

    Back at the Talon the cheering had finally settled down upon the announcement of the verdict. Clark wasn’t sure if he believed it, but from the reaction around him, it was over.

    “I knew that jury would find him guilty, unexpected witness or not!”

    “He deserved it for killing his parents!”

    “Now if only they could do something about the son.”

    Clark frowned at the last snippet of conversation overheard, turning back as he felt his mother’s hand on his arm. His mind turned immediately to what Chloe would say if she were here and a bittersweet feeling flooded his body. Despite it all, the bastard had finally gotten his due. He only wished his best friend could have seen it.

    “It’s over, Clark. He can’t hurt anyone, ever again.”

    Lana, who had been watching with them as well, moved to Clark’s other side, her voice soft but strong. “She’s happy, Clark. She’s looking down and laughing to see Lionel get what he deserves.”

    Clark swallowed hard. “If only,” he began turning his attention back to the TV, unwilling to let his family or Lana see the tears in his eyes. His mouth dropped open at the sight that greeted him as he took in the pictures now filling the screen of the two people walking through the hoard of reporters outside the courtroom.

    “Chloe?”

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    End of Episode 1

  3. #3
    Happy-ending addict Senior Member lexie's Avatar
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    Re: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    I read this one a few days ago and have to say I loved to see the court scene they didn´t give us on the show just to nip the Chlex in the bud and deprive us of the awesomeness that was watching Chlexionel in action. Thanks for writing it.

    You´ve managed to stay true to all characters and give us the Chlex interaction that was missing on screen.

    I´m eagerly awaiting the two following instalments because the next episode I was able to get was number 4 and I had to "guess" what had happened in between.

    Thxs to Esther25jm for creating the banner for me and to beeej for the avi

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  4. #4
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    Re: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    Amazing episode.
    Chlex scenes are great. I like Chloe's strength and determination in that courthouse.

  5. #5
    An Accused Heretic Senior Member Kit Merlot's Avatar
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    Re: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    This was just excellent!

    I loved seeing Chloe's strength and resolve, Lex's determination but also his sorrow, Clark's remorse and Lana's maturity.

    Wonderul work and I can't wait to read the rest of the episodes
    KATHY

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  6. #6

    Re: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    I remembered reading this fic a while back, but could never find it. When I first joined NS, I saw that hfce had referenced the Smallville Virtual 4.1 season in an icon or something. And although we were unable to find the fics, I appreciated all of the kindness and assistance offered to me as a new member of NS. After a long hiatus I am back online and happy to have found this fic. Of course, it means with all of those chapters there's a lot to read and review. Though what I do remember was thinking that this fic was far better than what they put on tv. Thus my desire to re-read the fic. Thanks to whomever found and posted it here.

  7. #7
    NS Full Member kcsgirl82's Avatar
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    Re: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    Looking forward to reading more. Can't wait to see everyone's reaction to Chloe being alive.
    Loved Chloe and Lex holding hands and drawing strength from each other while waiting for the verdict.
    THANKS!!! can't wait for more.

  8. #8
    Raelis
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    Re: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    Well, this is certainly very well written. I really love the idea of an alternative season 4 (the fact that I just loathe the real season 4 might have something to do with it). The trial scene was impressive, I could really feel the tension in both Lex and Chloe. I'm looking forward to see where their relationship wil be taken.

    I like the characterization of Lana - she seems to be more mature and less self-centered that canon!Lana. This fic's version of Clark seems to be based on Clark's characterization in late season 3/season 4. It hurts that he's so dismissive of his past friendship with Lex.

    I must say I was upset when Clark said this:

    He killed the only person who could have made him pay for the hell he’s put everyone, even Lex, through.
    No matter what state the Clark/Lex relationship is currently in, I still think he wouldn't trivialize Lex's past experiences with Lionel like that, not least because Clark himself was very much emotionally affected by what Lionel had done to Lex in Shattered/Asylum. JMO. But then again, Clark was exactly like that in the show itself, so...

  9. #9
    NS Full Member TrinityR's Avatar
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    Re: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    It's amazing!! You did a great job with creating the right mood. I liked that moment when chloe held Lex's hand. It seemed so natural.

  10. #10
    NS Senior Member Senior Member malugargula's Avatar
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    Re: Episode 1 - "Guilty" (PG)

    Great fic
    I'm starting reading sv virtual season 4.1 now
    Malu

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